Monday, April 23, 2012

THE NAKED BARBER AND HIS STRAIGHT RAZOR: Ready to Liberate Your Mind and Your Hair!

An Interview With Richard Savvy, Mr. Sydney Leather 2012!

It’s no mystery why the shaved head has become so popular in gay male culture. For a lot of guys, it’s a sign of taking back masculinity. It also means freedom from the tyranny of hair care products. And, it’s just SEXY! But is actually getting your head shaved a sexual turn-on for you as well? How about getting your head shaved by an impossibly hot Aussie guy (with a smooth head himself, natch!) who proudly defines himself as a masculine Leather Kink? Meet Richard (Dick) Savvy, AKA The Naked Barber, who promises a close shave from the head to, well… “down under”! He tells me, “From nude to full Leather, a buzz cut to a ball shave, The Naked Barber offers the kinky men of Sydney a HOT grooming experience. Just ask the boys who are lucky enough to be put in his sling!” Indeed, many who have experienced Savvy’s straight (ahem…) razor have blogged about the experience… and let’s just say that the descriptions are guaranteed to provoke some carnal desires. Is there a name for that sexy mixture of lather and sweat?

Richard discovered Leather in 2005, when he first arrived in Sydney. He hasn’t looked back, and earlier this year he was named Mr. Sydney Leather 2012. As The Naked Barber, Richard has become one of his town’s most wanted men, offering his one-of-a-kind fetish grooming business to those lucky bad boys of Harbour City. Richard has also taken The Naked Barber to the stage, performing at most of Sydney's major Leather and Kink events. He has used his unique skills for a greater cause, plying his titillating trade for such organizations as Sydney Leather Pride, Harbour City Bears, and various other charities in his home town. His mission is twofold. On the home front, he is committed to strengthening and bonding Sydney's Leather and Kink communities. On a more global level, he will represent Australia at International Mr. Leather in Chicago this May. Mr. Savvy spoke with Jed Ryan about The Naked Barber, his endeavors for the upcoming year, and his very offbeat celebrity crush as a kid:

JR: Hi Dick. Thanks for speaking with me. First off, I have to ask: How did “The Naked Barber” come to be born?!
DS: At the time, I was managing a barber shop is North Sydney. I knew I needed a change in what I was doing, but I had been doing hair for more years then I spent at school-- so I felt like it was the only thing I was good at and I didn't know what else I could do! After feeling this way for a while, I guess it started to show and you could tell I was not happy in my work life. One night at a dinner party, a friend of mine brought up the fact I did not seem happy in my life, as I once was. After a little chat about my circumstance and a few glasses of red wine, the idea flew out of my mouth and It was such a good idea I just could not let it go!

With the concept born over a few glasses of red wine, I then got to thinking, Where do I want to take this idea?... Who is the Naked Barber and what is fetish grooming? I saw the Naked Barber as a kink (a lot like me), who provided man with an experience like no other! No matter what the request, I wanted to make The Naked Barber everyone's fantasy groomer-- whether that means I am butt naked or in full leather, I want to deliver... every time! With that down, the fetish grooming part came easy. I just wanted to offer a service that no-one else was, no matter if that was a beard trim or a ball wax!

From this whole experience, the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is the trust that guys have in me. Think about it: I put guys my sling, legs in the air, cock in one hand and razor in the other! That is a lot of trust to have in one person. I am proud that guys feel comfortable enough with me to do this.

JR: Damn! That sounds hot! So, congratulations again on your Title of Sydney Mr. Leather 2012. How has your Title year been treating you so far?
DS: Thank you! It sure has been keeping me busy, I can say that much...
I have only had the title since February 26th 2012 so it's only been for two months, but it's been one of the most amazing two months of my life and with my first trip to the States for IML coming up in May. I say it's just going to get better!

Since winning, do you find that you get hit on more?! Or, are guys intimidated by the Sash?
DS: I have been in the public eye here in Australia for about four years with The Naked Barber business, and erotic fetish shows I have performed in clubs around Sydney and Melbourne--- so I would say that was when I noticed that guys started hitting on me more. To be honest, I find everyone is different: some get intimidated and others get attracted to it. I guess the Sash just give the guys who have never known what to say to me a chance to pop up and say hi...

JR: Gotcha! So, one of the duties of a Titleholder is to raise money and awareness for philanthropic causes. What causes or issues are you dedicated to?
DS: Firstly, within the Leather community, I would like to use my Title to lift the profile of the Leather scene in Sydney. I look to use my title as a platform to find new ways to promote Leather in our city. I am planning Sydney's first slave auction, taking place on May the 6th. Part of the goal in organizing the slave auction is to provide Sydney with a new type of leather event: one that I hope will bring together all aspects of the Sydney alternative fetish scene, old and new. Secondly, still within the Leather community, I will also look to raise awareness for safe play within our scene. With men and women opening up their experiences to the Leather scene, I feel it is important that we, as experienced members of the community, pass on our knowledge of safe kink and S&M play. Looking wider than the Leather scene, I would to use my title, to work and raise money for ACON (The New South Wales AIDS Council). I am hosting a community forum around Drugs and Alcohol: something that I strongly believe we need to open a dialogue about, to understand the impact that drugs have on all of Sydney's LGTB community. The slave auction I will be hosting will also be raising money for ACON and the work they do across New South Wales.

JR: Damn, you‘re gonna be busy! So, in your opinion, who is a true role model for the Leather community?
DS: Wow, role model huh? I guess when I think of a role model for the Leather community, I just look at my mates who have been around in the scene for a longer time than I have. They have lived through the worst of the AIDS epidemic, watched friends get sick and some pass. These men still get out of bed everyday, throw on their leather and walk outside. These are men who are still out there and active, organizing Leather parties and events. These are the men that we should look up to. I know they are the men that I see as my role models.

Speaking of role models: As a role model yourself, what can every guy and girl in the Leather community do, on a day to day basis, to keep our community thriving?
DS: Be proud. Leave the websites and mobile apps behind at home. Throw on your leather, get to a club, and meet up with some friends, or maybe even make a few new ones.

JR: Amen brother! Now, a lot of Americans only know about Australia from what makes its way into our pop culture: like Foster‘s Lager, Kylie Minogue, and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”! But what would be the biggest thing that Americans DON’T know about your homeland that they SHOULD know?
DS: What about a leathered-up Hugh Jackman kicking ass as Wolverine? (Laughs)
If Americans want to know what makes the country a great place, apart from the beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife, wide open spaces, and exciting big cities.... It’s the people. I love how welcoming, open, and generous the people in Australia are. I have traveled overseas and loved every minute of it, but coming home to the great people of Oz is a very warm feeling.

If you haven't already, come and check us out!

It’s on my list, trust me! I had a lot of fun with The Sydney Convicts, Sydney’s gay rugby team, when they came to play in The Bingham Cup in New York in 2006. Now, what makes the Leather community in Sydney different from other cities that you have visited?
DS: I lived in London for a while, and in that time I went to Amsterdam for a visit. Both cities have a larger Leather scene… with more bars and clubs than Sydney and a lot more leather and fetish shops too! I think it has a lot to do with a smaller population and the fact that we lost a lot of Leathermen in the late 80s to the mid 90s to AIDS. That said, the heart of the Sydney Leather scene makes up for the smaller numbers. Being smaller in number, the one thing I will say is that the sense of family is amazing. As a young man new to the scene, I was revived with warm and open arms… and every step forward I have made, I have had my Leather family right there supporting me all the way. We have a very cool alternative Kink and Leather scene in Sydney, one that I am proud of being a part of. I guess it's up to me and people like Ms Tokyo (Sydney Ms Leather 2012), to start building our numbers back up!

JR: If one of your American Leather brothers or sisters comes to visit Sydney, what stops should he include on his or her visit?
DS: Well first off they should come and visit me at The Naked Barber Studio for a scotch on the rocks and maybe a haircut or shave!

JR: (Laughs) Yes, definitely!
DS: Then I would make sure they stop into The Oxford Hotel on a Thursday night for BUZZ, a night that I run with a good mate Ben Drayton. The Oxford is Sydney's top Leather bar, so its a great place for any of my Leather brothers or sisters to start. Then... its whatever exciting Sydney is throwing at you that week! There is always something going on around the scene....

JR: Wow… Now I can’t wait! So, Dick, do you have a celebrity crush?
DS: I did have a crush on Tony Danza from “Who's The Boss?” when I was younger; I have a thing for short guys. Nowadays, no crush to mention. I find my crushes play out more in real life. The chemistry I find with a guy forms the basis for most of my crushes these days.

JR: I can understand that! Lastly: Leathermen are often seen as the epitome of masculinity and sexiness. As a sex symbol yourself, what makes a man sexy?
DS: Cheers for the complement, but I think I am far from being a sex symbol... Confidence is the sexiest quality of any man. No matter what shape or size, what colour or creed, as long as a guy is confident and respectful, he will have sexy coming out of his arse. A cheeky smile always helps too!

JR:Or, smiling cheeks…! Thanks, Dick!

Can’t make it to Oz? You can also visit Richard Savvy, The Naked Barber, at and


An Interview With Tarsus, Mr. Oregon Leather 2011

One of the first questions I ask the ruggedly handsome Tarsus, Mr. Oregon Leather 2011, is: “When a fellow Leather brother or sister visits Portland, Oregon, what should be some essential hotspots he or she should visit?” He responds, “Portland has gone through some changes over the past few years, and I feel that we finally have cause for going out again. There are a few new places I like to venture out to: Hawks PDX is one of them-- an all-male sex club; and The Syndicate is a great place for men and women to come together and play. The Eagle Portland is a must in the Leather tradition and has nekked pool on Thursday, as well as LURE (Leather, Uniform, Rubber and Etc.) on the 4th Saturday of each month.” Nekked pool?! Oh, sorry… I got distracted. (Where‘s my plane ticket?!) Anyway, it was in August 2011 when the man who goes only by Tarsus became our newest Leather ambassador to the Beaver State. The bearded and inked Leatherman works as a bartender at Embers, the oldest gay bar in Portland, and he has been an active member of the Leather/BDSM family for six years. The artist and activist spoke to me about his plans for his Title year, the Leather community, what he personally sexy in a guy, and more…

JR: Hello, Tarsus. Congratulations again on your Title of Mr. Oregon Leather 2011. How has the Title year been treating you so far?
T: The Title has been great. I have been a longtime member of this community and have worked with past Title holders over the years. When I decided to run, the general comment I got was “It’s about time!”

JR: (Laughs) Since winning, do you find that you get hit on more when you go out? Or, are guys intimidated by the Sash?
T: Getting hit on is always welcomed. (Chuckles). I do not find that the Leathermen in my community intimidate easily. It may be that the younger generation grew up with more freedom than I did. They come up to me and ask about the sash and what it means. I get a lot of exposure as a bartender at Portland’s oldest gay bar.

JR: Very cool. So, while we are on the subject: What's the most unique thing about the city of Portland? What makes it stand out from the others?

T: The one thing I hear more than all others is that Portland is a great big-little city, that people are nice, and that it’s still an affordable place to live. Portland has a long, rich Leather history. Riches lie in its people and their stories: Tony DeBlase, the creator of the Leather Pride flag, for example. I never tire in hearing about the sexcapades days, before AIDS; or stories from Leatherwomen while the men were off fighting in World War II. It is these people that gave me the strength to carry on the traditions that is Leather.

JR: It’s the responsibility of a Titleholder to raise awareness and money for philanthropic causes. What causes and/or issues are you dedicated to?
T: Very much so, there is still cause and need… and as long as that is true, I feel that with the Title there is responsibility. The main cause I am dedicated to is equality. If we had equality, then many of the issues we are fighting for would not be issues at all. For example: gay marriage. We are citizens of this country, we pay taxes… but yet we are not equal. In many states, a gay civil union is still not recognized. It is this prejudice that trickles down to our children, and to our neighbors’ children… and the effect is bullying.

JR: How true. So, as a role model for the Leather community, who do you consider a role model yourself?
T: There are so many, but here in my community the first to come to mind is Andy Mangles. His vast knowledge and experience within the Leather community is approachable and forthcoming.

JR: Along those lines: What can every member of the Leather community do, on a day to day basis, to keep our community thriving?
T: I have asked myself this question before I decided to run for my Title, and the answer was clear: communication. It‘s a simplistic thing. We refer to brotherhood, but do we show it? There is a great divide between the older generation and the new generation. I hear it from both sides. The older generation has paved the way and at great cost. The younger generation may not know what life was like 20, 30, or 40 years ago. So I urge for both sides to communicate: to tell their stories and to help each other understand the Leather history and future.

Well said! Now, on to a more titillating question. Leathermen are often seen as the epitome of masculinity and sexiness. What do you find personally sexy in a guy?
T: For most, and that includes myself, masculinity and sexiness are physical traits. The ideal man: tall, dark, handsome, wrapped in leather-- someone that you secretly want to meet in a dark alleyway. However, now that I am in my mid 40’s, I find that this was a scene played out more times then I care to recall. Sorry, I went off on a tangent! (Laughs) It’s eyes. I always look at the eyes. And facial hair. That is what I find masculine.

JR: I agree. While we’re on the subject, do you have any celebrity crushes?

T: Other then the hot men I will find myself among at IML?!

JR: (Laughs) What color hankies would I find hanging from your pockets?

T: Left: gray and purple. What color do you flag?

JR: Light blue and royal blue, usually left but occasionally right. Purple is always great too but not too much success with that. And I am gradually introducing some new colors too… like yellow! (Smiles) So, where can people catch up with you this upcoming year?
T: Outside Portland, I am in Seattle a lot. Chicago in May for IML. In July I will be at Dore Ally in San Francisco.

JR: Finally, just for fun: According to popular reports, for better or for worse, mainstream America still identifies the late Glenn Hughes of The Village People as the most widely recognized Leatherman in American pop culture. How do you feel about that?

T: I thought it was Isaac from “The Love Boat”, with that handlebar mustache!

JR: Well, I have one thing to say to that: Welcome aboard, it’s love!

Visit Tarsus, Mr. Oregon Leather 2011, on his Facebook page at:!/profile.php?id=100002803517340

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


"Tough Sh*t": A Review

The subtitle of multi-hyphenate (director-producer-actor-writer) Kevin Smith’s new book, “Tough Sh*t”, is “Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good”. Oh, Kevin! Wouldn’t “Mellow Bear With a West Coast Mentality Who Did Good” be better? Anyway, the author’s boy-next-door-style modesty can’t hide the fact that Smith has left his unique paw print on the entertainment biz in many ways… and we learn all about them, from Kevin himself, in this no-holes-barred, wild bumper car ride of a book. This is the 41-year old guy from New Jersey who, after making “Clerks” in 1994, became an inspiration to legions of aspiring filmmakers who learned that they didn’t need the big studios to make their movie. The guy who--17 years after “Clerks”-- directed, innovatively raised funds for, and self-distributed the movie “Red State” … with money to spare. The guy who taught people outside the gay community what a “Bear“ is. The guy who made podcasts cool again. And, in the true spirit of DIY artistry, he did it all HIS way. Not too shabby…

It all started with “Clerks”, a black-and-white film with a cast of fledgling actors which cost $230,000 to make. The movie became a Cinder-fucking-rella story of sorts when it was picked up by Miramax and went on to make over three million bucks. (Smith writes that his sister Virginia advised him: “You don’t have to want to be a filmmaker, just be a filmmaker.”. After that million dollar advice, Smith states, “A slacker hit the sheets that night, but the ’Clerks’ guy got out of bed the following morning, ready to do the impossible.”) Perhaps more importantly, “Clerks” became something of a sacred artifact for the indie film juggernaut of the early 90’s-- a movement that that would change cinema forever. Smith has directed nine movies since then, with the upcoming “Hit Somebody“ to be the last one…before, as he tells us in the book, he hangs up his director’s hat. Somewhere along the line, the affable auteur discovered-- seemingly by accident-- that he had a lucrative career in speaking on the so-called “Q&A circuit”. Smith is always guaranteed to have a lot to say: In talking about his life, the audience learns not just about Kevin, but also more about the film biz than a whole semester at NYU Film School. It helps that he‘s so damn FUNNY in person. As anyone who has ever attended a public appearance by Smith can testify, this guy knows how to command attention. Picture a bunch of horny guys watching a peep show, eyes and mouths wide open in fascination (but without the naked chick and the sticky floor…) , and you‘ll get the idea.

By now you may be asking, “Why is he telling us this?” Well, here’s why: Kevin Smith WRITES the same way he talks, from the first “fuck” to the last dick joke. “Tough Sh*t” is an amazingly fun read. In the book, Smith recalls the highlights of his self-styled career, first stimulated when he and a friend drove into New York City in 1991 to see an indie flick called “The Dark Backward“. We learn of his turbulent relationship with Miramax Studios. We learn about the assorted run-ins through the years: with the religious right (“Dogma”), with the movie advertising departments (a rather innocent film entitled “Zack and Miri Make A Porno”), and with the crazy Westboro Baptist Church (“Red State“) among them. He devotes an entire chapter of “Tough Sh*t” to his not-so-fun experience of directing a dour Bruce Willis in “Cop Out“. (“Moonlighting” fans be warned: Smith’s reflections on Mr. Willis may make you forget David Addison forever...) 
Before you ask, he also talk about that notorious “Too Fat to Fly” incident in the Chapter “The Sh*t That Happened on the Plane“-- an event which stimulated a lot of chatter in the celebrity gossip pages. It also made Smith a hefty hero for those of us who don’t hesitate to grab that second (or third, or fourth…) Twinkie. In one of my favorite passages, Smith also rants against movie critics: “I’m expected to show critics, bloggers, and other members of the movie media my film free of charge. The audience has to pay to weigh in on my art, but the critical crowd? They get a free meal, then get to throw it up in my face, shit in my sink, and head out the door, unscathed.” So, for full disclosure, this critic is revealing that I did buy this book with my own money… and, to make one last nod to “Clerks”, it was the most bang (in a non-sexual way) I got for my buck in a long time!!

Fans will be delighted to know that Smith uses the same deliciously dirty, in-your-face dialogue in the book that we hear in those guy-to-guy conversations in his View Askew movies. How much of this you’ll be able to take may be put to the test with the chapter “My Wife Is the Shit“, which is a very… shall we say, “unique” tribute of devotion to his lovely wife Jennifer. This chapter gets pretty graphic… and given the voyeuristic quality of Smith talking about his own personal life (with V-E-R-Y specific deets about his and Jennifer’s first, uhm… “date”. Ouch!), it may be a little too intimate for some tastes. Still, the perv in me can’t help but imagine the couple’s first consummation of their love being reenacted by a new class of young actors discovered by Smith himself-- if and when a biopic about Kevin‘s life is ever made. If that ever happens, expect yet another MPAA brouhaha.

“Tough Sh*t” is available in hardcover and audiobook.

Friday, April 13, 2012


Musclebear, Hot Daddy, Leatherman… WOOF!

Finland may be known for its midnight sun, its lakes and forests, reindeer, and Nokia… but that picturesque Scandinavian country is also known for exporting two of the hottest men of male erotica. You certainly know about Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland, who is credited with creating the quintessential ideal of sexy masculinity that exists to this day. Fast forward to 2012, and there’s another hot Finn who has become an ideal of sexy masculinity in his own right. For lovers of Leathermen, muscle Bears, and DILF‘s (Daddies I‘d Like to Fuck), Pete Finland is truly an icon for admirers of hot and hairy male beauty. Indeed, the 5’11”, 45-year old star is one of the busiest as well as most recognized men in both printed erotica and adult movies. As Eric York, he appeared in over 60 titles since the mid 90’s, including “COPilation”, “Prowl“, “Courting Libido“, “Dads Doin’ It 2”, and “Truckstop Daddy 2”. Through the years, you can see how Pete’s looks have changed: He is now far more muscular and sports much more ink. Most recently, the sex god can be seen in that infamous (and, unfortunately, banned from TV) Bluetooth commercial “Jawbone“, which has become a YouTube sensation. Pete plays a hot-to-trot rugger who gives new meaning to the term “male bonding”! He also has a cameo in the upcoming Doug Langway film “Bear City 2”. You will soon be able to see Pete Finland-- ALL of Pete Finland-- in an upcoming issue of “ALL BEAR” magazine.

Pete Finland spoke to Jed Ryan about life as a Leather, Bear, and Hot Daddy icon:

Hi Pete! Thanks for speaking with me. So, how does it feel to be featured in an upcoming issue of “ALL BEAR“?

PF: I'm honored. I've seen several issues, and I'm a big fan.

JR: Let’s start out with your actor’s name: Pete Finland. I know that you are Finnish in background, but I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that it was also inspired by Tom of Finland, the man who‘s largely credited with defining our ideals of masculine beauty. True?

PF: Yes, that is exactly what Tom has done. My real last name is a very typical Finnish last name: long, and something no one here can pronounce-- so it just made sense to change it. It’s not just because of the name, but also because I've been influenced by Tom of Finland in so many ways that I would not even know where to begin. Let's just say that I'm a HUGE fan. I've been an Advisory Board Member at Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) since 1999, and the Foundation is the only family I have here in the U.S. Durk Dehner, the president of ToFF, saw my picture online and send me a very nice note saying that I look like the type of man Tom would've love to drawn. When I told him that I actually am from Finland, he had a hard time believing it. And we have been very close ever since.

JR: That’s grrr…eat! Now, in your bio, you’ve told us that you have lived in many parts of the world. Is New York City your home now? What do you like most about living there? What’s the worst thing?

TF: I love the energy of the city. I hate the winter. It was my first winter in 22 years....and it was tough.

JR: In your videos and photos you can really see the progression of muscle mass that you’ve acquired through the years. When did you first get into bodybuilding?

TF: That was back in 1994. But the transformation didn't happened overnight. Now I'm a grown MAN/BEAR, and I think I carry my weight so much better now.

JR: I agree! You are really in outstanding physical shape! Do you want to spill any of your health and fitness secrets with us?!

PF: Keep it simple: White meat only. No sodas. Only juices and tons of water. Nothing fried, and no snacks. That's all.

JR: It sounds so easy when you put it that way! Now, what was it like when the first time you did a nude photo shoot? Was it a turn-on for you?

TF: I was just a kid from Finland, far from the Hollywood porn scene. My first time was not hot. It was cold warehouse in San Francisco at 7AM. I was very nervous. At the time, there was no Viagra, so all you have there on a set is your filthy imagination. But I got used to it pretty fast ... and it became HOT! (Winks)

JR: No doubt! You wear Leather in a lot of your photo shoots. What’s sexy about Leather?

TF: What I like the most of wearing leather is the attitude that comes along with it. It just makes you feel so ...SEXY!

JR: That’s for sure! Now, a lot of guys would imagine that being making gay erotic movies-- getting to have sex with really hot guys and getting paid for it-- is an amazing job. What would you say to a guy who wants to get involved in “the business”?

TF: Be smart with your money. Have fun with it, and keep your feet on the ground.

JR: (Laughs) I could make a really dirty joke about feet being up in the air, but I’ll skip that! So, while we’re on the subject, do you have a particularly memorable experience from a video shoot that stands out-- like, a really amazing chemistry with one of your co-stars, or an especially hot scene?

TF: I think the most interesting experience was doing a soft core for the Playboy channel. It was such a professional production. Big budget. Really fascinating to see and experience.

JR: Do people often recognize you in public from your photo and video work? What is that like?

PF: It's been really good. I can not complain. But like everything in life, I try to focus on the positive and don't give negativity any power.

JR: Out of all the movies that you have been in, which ones are “essential” for your fans? In other words, which movie should they go out and order IMMEDIATELY after reading this article?

PF: Tough one. I don't own or have seen any of my films. But the making of "Prowl" was very hot. So that would be the one.

JR: I gotta check that out! Now, I’ve always had a hard spot for rugby players! That hot commercial for Bluetooth which you starred in was banned in the States, but became a YouTube sensation. As someone who comes from a much more sexually liberated part of the world, what do you think about the commercial being banned in the U.S? Are Americans too prudish?

PF: It's just so sad that two men kissing is an issue to show on TV in the US, while two men ripping each others eyeballs out is "ok".

JR: As a bona fide sex symbol, I have to ask you: What do you personally find sexy in a guy?

PF: Masculinity.

JR: Do you have a particular celebrity crush? Or, even better, who would be your ideal co-star in one of your films?

PF: My only celebrity crush is the original Colt man Pete Kuzak. He could sit on my face anytime!

JR: Nice! Now, you must have a lot of admirers out there. Have you ever had a problem with, shall we say, “overzealous fans”?

PF: Never a problem. But there has been a few awkward and very uncomfortable situations.

JR: You have also dedicated a good amount of time and energy to raise money for charitable causes. Do you have a particular cause that you feel very strongly about?

PF: Yes. Tom of Finland Foundation does brilliant and very important work. They support starving gay erotic artists: artists who the rest of the art world thinks their work is porn, not art.

JR: So, “Bear City 2” is gonna be big... and hairy! So, do you want to tell us about your cameo in that upcoming movie?

PF: It was a lot of fun to make. I'm playing the captain of a whale watch boat, and my scene partner is sexy Dru Bruin. Three days on the ocean near Provincetown! Don't wanna give anything away. It was just hairy and hot. Go see it! (Winks)

JR: Tease! So, what else does Pete Finland have in store for his fans in the next few months?

PF: Just going around the country making appearances in Bear clubs and bars. Being around all that hair and beef… I can't complain!

JR: Sounds like fun! Finally: How can your fans contact you, or even better, where can we meet you in person?

TF: Follow me on Twitter @PeteFinland or on Facebook… and I just might come to a town near you soon!

JR: We‘ll be waiting! Thanks Pete!

You can see MUCH for of Pete Finland in an upcoming issue of “ALL BEAR”. Visit for more info.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


 The Imperial Court of New York Brings Timeless Glamour to The 26th Annual Night of 1,000 Gowns.

Just how many fabulous frocks will you see at The Imperial Court of New York’s (ICNY) legendary Night of 1,000 Gowns? Even the most astute observer may stop counting when he or she reaches the triple digits… and that’s BEFORE many of these ladies change into their second or even third wardrobe selection. Of course, it’s not just the “girls” who get into the act. The men rival their sisters with equally over-the-top ensembles… from full formal Leather to looks inspired by vintage royalty through the centuries. It’s a photographer’s wet dream: Seemingly anywhere you point your camera, you’ll get a fabulous shot.

There was certainly no shortage of glitz, glamour, or gaiety at this event, which started in the evening and lasted way past midnight. The Night launched with the Presentation of the Flags and a greeting by Gary Cosgrove (H.I.M. Emperor X Gabriel Della Notte), ICNY President. Then it was on to the first Imperial Performance of the evening: “Welcome to Wonderland”, performed by The Court. It was a fittingly over-the-top choice for the ICNY’s most important night of the year. For those of you not on top of your theater trivia, that song was one of the few memorable numbers from the not-so-memorable Broadway show “Wonderland” from 2011. Indeed, it proved to be an appropriate anthem; for that night, the New York City Marriot Marquis was transformed into its own unique Wonderland: an empire populated by colorful characters and larger-than-life situations. (Mercifully, despite all the royalty, there was no Queen of Hearts demanding, “Off with their heads!”) This was a soiree where everyone who attended got to feel like bluebloods; a night where Imperial Court members from as far away as Alaska and Canada got to click cocktail glasses with New York City‘s regal family. The first Court member I spoke with was, appropriately enough, H.I.M. Empress I Sybil The First, AKA Sybil Bruncheon. She told me, “What is amazing is that so many people got caught up in the FUN of the Imperial Court. People ask ‘What is The Imperial Court?’, and I say, ‘It's kind of like Mardi Gras, but for every OTHER city in the country.’ Whereas New Orleans has its own Mardi Gras, we have a Mardi Gras here. We elect our own Emperor and Empress, and Dukes and Duchesses, and Counts and Countesses, and Marquis, and Earls... and all the other major cities do as well. So, you have people from Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Boston, Houston… all over the country! It’s very exciting. I believe there are 83 Imperial Courts in the United States right now. Eighty-three Imperial Courts, all throwing their own Coronations and Balls. There are only 52 weeks in the year! So, there's always a Ball going on SOMEWHERE in the United States raising money for charities. It’s cool! This is New York, and we do it well! I love the other Courts and the other Balls... but this is the one that everyone comes to every year. It's beautiful. BEAUTIFUL! The Marriott Marquis is a wonderful hotel to hold it at. My Coronation was 26 years ago at the Ballroom of The Waldorf Astoria. But we have now been at the Marquis for many years, and it's a wonderful, wonderful place to throw this in!”


Members of the Court then proceeded to walk down the red carpet alongside celebs from all venues of entertainment: TV (Miguel Allure of “Jerseylicious”, daytime drama diva Ilene Kristen), fashion (celebrity hair stylist Eric Alt), nightlife (uberpromoter Sir Mark Nelson, the omnipresent Amanda Lepore), music (singer Sir Ari Gold), and more. Attendees were treated to a wide variety of live entertainment, from a performance by the cast of “Chicago” (Amra-Faye Wright belting “All That Jazz” encircled by a troupe of shirtless men and sexy women) to the self-proclaimed “Cuntess of Comedy” (and Honorary ICNY Chair) Lisa Lampanelli. When Ms Lampanelli was asked about her affinity for the GLBT community, she responded “You know what? I thought the cornholer community enjoyed me because they feel like outcasts and so do I as a human being. And then some queens told me, 'No, no... We just like MEAN GIRLS!' So, either way, they still pay for tickets to my show and I'm happy!" Amen! Other performers that night included Adam Barta, Reina, Teresa Genecco, Ebonee Excell, and Sarah Atereth. Singer Kelly King, who performed the National Anthem that night, told me, “I feel I was born from the womb of a drag queen! So, I definitely feel an affinity and a kindred spirit with the drag queens. Everything I've learned about show business and about putting myself together comes from them. They have my heart. If only I could be one (Sigh!)... but I don't have the parts!” Awww! Well, at least she has the voice!

Of course, the night wasn’t just solely about pageantry and partying. The Imperial Court has been committed to community service and raising money for philanthropic causes such as GLBT equality, HIV/AIDS awareness, and the interests of GLBT youth. Many of the members reiterate how the Court puts the “fun“ in fundraising. This year, the beneficiaries of the event were the NYC chapter of P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and New Alternatives, which provides a safe space for homeless GLBT youth living in New York City. It is estimated that ICNY has raised approximately one and a half million dollars in their 26 year history. A great deal of money raised comes from The Night of 1,000 Gowns’ famous Silent Auction, which this year featured such diverse items as jewelry and vacation packages, to a fabulous portrait of the late great Divine (who certainly knew a thing or two about transcending gender!).

One of the ICNY’s Honorary Chairs present that night was skater Johnny Weir, author of the book “Welcome to My World”, who knows how to expertly balance being a celebrity, athlete, AND fashion icon. He told me, “I am training for the next Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. I just made that decision earlier this year and I’m literally training every day-- so for me, to even get off one night from my coach to go out is a big deal. But, I couldn’t miss this event tonight. It’s a chance to get fancy, it’s a chance to give back, and I needed to be here! My training is the main thing that‘s happening, and I’m working hard to make a strong, competitive comeback. And, the second season of my TV show ’Be Good Johnny Weir ’ is coming to LOGO this year!” When I tell him, “Johnny, be BAD. We like you better that way!”, he retorted, “Well, that’s the whole point. I’m always bad. That’s why the show is so good!” Other Honorary Chairs named this year are Tabitha Coffey, Elvis Duran, Lauren Rae Levy, Rose McGowan, Chris Sarandon, and Joanna Gleason. Photographer/director Mike Ruiz was the Recipient of The Imperial Diamond Award for his contributions to the GLBT community.


Later on that night, attendees got to enjoy one of the Night of 1,000 Gowns’ most deliciously anticipated traditions: the Venetian hour dessert buffet (That was a photo opp in itself!), which was-- at the risk of overusing a common clique-- fit for a king (or, more accurately, an emperor and empress!) With sweets like that, who needed dinner? But the true climax of the night was the Coronation of the new monarchs, when Emperor XX Vanity Society and Empress XXV Pepperica Swirl passed the crowns to Imperial Crown Prince Royal Ritz Kraka and Imperial Crown Princess Royale Witti Repartee. It was a unique moment which meticulously honored tradition, yet allowed the new royals to engage in a once-in-a-lifetime volcanic explosion of self-styled creativity (Pink glittery lava, anyone?) At the final hour of the night, Empress XXVI Witti Repartee summarized her feelings: “I feel fantastic. It’s been a 17-hour blur of fabulousness!” Emperor XXI Ritz Kraka added, “It was great! There were THREE HUNDRED more people than last year!”

In New York City today, many of us believe we have “seen it all”… which was especially obvious while I was en route to The Marriot Marquis that night, surrounded by so many blaring sights and sounds. It makes this journalist commend the creators of The Night of 1,000 Gowns for making this an event that can even stand out in the city that (reportedly) never sleeps. So, let’s get back to the initial question: Just how many gowns were seen that night? My answer to that makes me think of what Holly Woodlawn (ANOTHER performer who knew about transcending gender!) retorted after being fed up with so many people asking her if she was a man or a woman: “Oh--who cares? As long as you look fabulous!" Indeed!

The Imperial Court of New York has events all year long. Visit for more info!