Hot and hirsute duo Jack Lundy and Charles Langnehs were recently named "Louisville's Newest Bear Couple"... but this handsome pair actually met over 30 years ago, when they were both 17. Fast forward to 2013, and the two are as hopelessly devoted as ever: not just to each other, but to the furry fraternity at large. Jack and Charles have found an innovative and (dare I say?) intellectual way to get their fellow Bear brothers off their couches and to socialize more-- with an alternative to the bar or Bear run. In April 2013 they created Jack and Charles Book Club Quarterly, a four-times-yearly meeting where friends, both new and old, meet to socialize and discuss books. Jack and Charles spoke to "ALL BEAR"'s Jed Ryan about their Book Club, how they met, and what to do when you're visiting their native Louisville, Kentucky. These two prove that yes, Intelligence is sexy!
JR: Hello guys! Congratulations about the new book club. So, what made you decide to start this social group?
Jack: It occurred to me that a book club would be a fun thing to do, and I mentioned it to Charles. Charles loved the idea and started to think about the shape of it. Charles and I brainstormed and were able to establish the structure of the club. We then bounced the idea around others, and they also thought it was a great idea! That was when I knew we were on to something great!
JR: Jack, when we first met in Kentucky back in February, you stated how you wanted to initiate an event that would get some of the local Bears out of their houses and socialize more. Is that how the idea came around?
Jack: Yes, this is something that branched off of that original thought. So many functions are at bars or Bear runs or leather events. There isn’t anything wrong with those venues, and I believe that everything has a time and a place. I felt there needed to be something that men who really aren’t into the bar scene can get involved with and meet with other men. This is more on an intellectual level. Hopefully this can reach many people that wouldn’t normally seek out the bar scene.
JR: That sounds GRRR-eat! So, how has the response been so far?
Charles: The response for the book club has been great! We had 12 members at our first meeting and 26 people ‘like’ our Facebook page. At the first meeting we had drinks and dinner, which was nice, but the discussion was phenomenal. Our secretary, Bruce Lafontaine, lead our first discussion by summarizing the book and giving his opinions and views of the story and author. The discussion then took on its own synergy and the group took over. It actually gave me cold chills. We were afraid that we would not be able to fill up enough time with the discussion but before we knew it almost an hour passed before we adjourned. The comradery was awesome. People we see out are telling us about what they are reading for the next meeting, asking when the next meeting is, and have many suggestions. People that weren’t even at the meeting are telling us they are planning on being at our next gathering. To add to the closeness of the group, we send each member a birthday card and plan on sending a Christmas card. The five or six people who have received birthday cards so far have all expressed their gratitude and how nice it is to be a part of a group that cares enough to send them a birthday card.
JR: So, what books are you two reading now? Is there any book you really recommend to your bear brothers?
Jack: The second meeting the idea arose that everyone has differing tastes with reading material. We decided at this time that everyone can choose a book that they want to read and describe it at the second meeting. Some people like bibliographies while others like fiction or sci-fi. This will give everyone an opportunity to shine in their area that they are comfortable in. It will also open up new ideas as to what direction the book club should go in. I am revisiting some Ann Rice material in keeping with the vampire theme.
JR: Nice! Recently a local magazine declared you two "Louisville’s Newest Bear Couple". Inquiring minds want to know: How did you two first meet?
Charles: Jack and I met over 30 years ago in a holler in Knob Creek, Kentucky. I grew up with some of Jack's family and they invited me over for a sleigh ride. Jack was in town and that’s when we met. We were both 17 at the time. We saw each other again on a Bear web site and met a few times but it wasn’t until November of 2012 that we realized who each other were. The rest has been great ever since!
JR: Thirty years ago? Wow! That's what I call a LONG courtship! (Laughs) So, when you’re not participating in the book club events, what else do you like to do for fun?
Jack: Charles and I have been getting to know one another better by doing several things. We love going camping, which is something that Charles has more experience in doing. We also go to a local lake and pontoon with family and friends. We like to hang around the pool this summer at a local men’s camp called Stag Run. Wednesday night is our date night and we meet with a local Bear group of friends for cigars and then it’s off to Teddy Bears, a bear bar that has Karaoke, for drinks and singing. I just like spending time with Charles-- even if it is just catching up with old episodes of "Dr. Who" or watching movies that Charles hasn’t seen... which are a great many! Setting on our Old Louisville front porch together is one of our favorite things to do.
JR: Living in crowded old New York city, that sounds pretty heavenly! Now, if someone is visiting Louisville, Kentucky-- particularly a fellow Bear-- what are some essential things to do and see?
Charles and Jack: Of course the obvious thing our city is known for is Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby. The week of Derby is one big party for the city. The Derby brings so many celebrities and famous people here. The races are fun, even when it’s not Derby time. The Derby Museum is open year round; it a must see! The Louisville Slugger Museum is excellent as well as many others on what is called Museum Row. For many years, Connections and Triangles were the city’s premier gay bars. However, recently, many bars have sprung up throughout the city including Big Bar, Chill, and No Where. The city is also known for its selection of restaurants.
JR: If some guys want to be a part of the Jack and Charles Book Club but don’t live in the Louisville area, how can they participate?
Charles: We have a Facebook page and would love for people to ‘like’ us and follow along with the discussions. Its Jack and Charles Book Club Quarterly on Facebook. We have had a few friends of ours in other cities ask us how they can start a Jack and Charles Book Club. We had never thought it would be so popular but are excited to think that we might be able to help others start their own. We developed a starter kit for anyone interested in starting their own chapter of the Book Club and we would be happy to send it to interested ones. All they have to do is contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JR: Anything else you'd like to tell us?
Jack and Charles: We are both amazed that, although we have only been "out" for less than three years, we have met so many interesting and talented people. We live in such good and exciting times for gay people. We are so thankful for the brave people that have done so much so that we can enjoy the rights and freedoms that we have. Thank you!
JR: You are welcome... and "WOOF!" to both of you!