Hundreds of leathermen and women came together at Voyeur Nightclub, in the heart of the Gayborhood, on November 6 for what is just the second Philadelphia Leather Pride Night (PLPN) fundraiser—co-produced by the tireless Cowboi Jen, Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman 2009, and Passion, and coordinated by Tina, Jen’s partner—but already feels like an established institution in the City of Brotherly—and Sisterly—Love.
The theme of this year’s PLPN was History, and representatives of “the Old Guard,” experienced activists devoted to preserving Leather/S&M/B&D history, were among its visible and vocal participants. These included indefatigable barker Jo Arnone, presiding over an auction of a staggering number of donated items and, as a founder of the Lesbian Sex Mafia, speaking earlier that day, at the host hotel, the Sheraton Suites Philadelphia Airport, on “the birthing of the Sex Positive Movement on the East Coast;” the Carter/Johnson Library of Leather History’s Jill Carter, International Ms. Leather 1996, who served as PLPN’s MC, and her wife Viola Johnson, author and Pantheon of Leather titleholder, who offered a lecture on Leather History; Leather Archives and Museum Executive Director Rick Storer, holding forth the following day about “the Old Guard in literature and artifact,” and David Rhodes, publisher and editor of the Leather Journal and founder of the Pantheon of Leather Community Service Awards and the Olympus Leather Contest, set to give a class on Leather History from 1987.
PLPN beneficiaries were the Leather Archives and Museum, dedicated to “the compilation, preservation and maintenance of leather lifestyle and related lifestyles history, archives and memorabilia for historical, educational and research purposes;” the Leather Heart Foundation, providing “assistance to members of our community in times of hardship,” such as “uninsured health expenses [and] loss of employment;” and the Carter/Johnson Library, “a traveling collection of thousands of books, magazines, posters, art, club and event pins, newspapers, event programs and ephemera showing leather, fetish and sadomasochistic erotic history.” A raffle, with which the Keystone Boys of Leather and others assisted, raised $800 for By the Grace of George, the charity founded by Jo Arnone in memory of her late pit bull George, to assist the sick, elderly and disabled in feeding and caring for their pets.
The lively, and lengthy, auction was the centerpiece of the evening, and Jo appeared to have great fun demonstrating the donated canes, floggers and flails on the more-than-willing models. Other Leather/SM/BD paraphernalia—including an “Irish school strap” and lengths of Romanian hemp rope, fetish items, and clothing; artwork; gift certificates; vacation packages; tickets for the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s season premiere of Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” and for Leather Community events; books; erotica; and historic issues of Drummer magazine—the final issue—and the Leather Journal—featuring Jill Carter’s selection as International Ms. Leather—were among the many items that inspired competitive bidding. The high ticket item, though, proved to be $5,000 worth of graphic design services by the young men of Opusia, who were responsible for PLPN web services and merchandising, including the design of PLPN t-shirts and towels, and who, willing to bare their buns for charity, helped Jo get the bidding up to $1,050 for their design services.
This writer and baritone had the honor of kicking off the proceedings by singing “Impossible Dream,” from “Man of LaMancha,” and “Some Enchanted Evening,” from “South Pacific,” and also served as the event’s official photographer. The women and man of burlesque’s Peek-A-Boo Revue performed, and Passional, the corset, leather and latex boutique, offered a fashion show. DJ Insomnia was responsible for the music.
At PLPN 2009, the Leather Heart Foundation had presented its Million Dollar Heart Award to Jo for raising over $1,000,000 for community charities, and at PLPN 2010, Jo, in turn, presented the first annual Jo Arnone Award for Community Service to Kali Morgan, of Passional, Sexploratorium, and the Diabolique Ball. Rick Storer was introduced, to talk about the Leather Archives, as was Sean, the new manager of the Bike Stop, Philadelphia’s leather bar for the last three decades, which hosted the Leather Archives and Museum Traveling Road Show to start off PLPN weekend. Proceedings were signed for the hearing impaired by Debbie and Meredith. The nearby Q Lounge and Kitchen hosted a pre-event dinner for PLPN volunteers.