The Short Story
(A 90 second version)
Our club grew out of the titleholder system created by William Schindler and the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC) in the year 2000. Somewhere between nine and eleven Los Angeles area community bars, businesses, and organizations produce their own leather contests. The winner of each of those “feeder” contests goes on to compete for the Mr. Los Angeles Leather title. The winner then goes on to compete at International Mister Leather where he represents Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Leather Coalition.
More than 100 men have competed in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest, and subsequently they were all invited to join the Los Angeles Band of Brothers. On April 15, 2010, 42 of those men formally accepted their invitation and the Los Angeles Band of Brothers (LABB) became an official organization. Each man competing in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest will become eligible to join the LABB. It is his decision to make.
We are a mentoring and fraternal organization whose primary mission is to help new titleholders maximize their abilities and provide fellowship for past titleholders.
The Long Story
(A detailed narrative of the same story.)
The LABB is part of a long LA Leather tradition.
Since we are only a part of a rich tapestry of fetish life in Los Angeles, it is impossible to tell our story without tossing in bits and pieces about our interconnected kinky world.
It started more than half a century ago when motorcycle clubs like the Satyrs formed. This lead to leather bars, which lead to leather contests, which lead to the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC), which lead to the Los Angeles Band of Brothers (LABB).
Our organization is the fruit born from a fertile leather legacy left by the kinky men and women in Los Angeles who went before us. Our brotherhood would not exist without the foundation they laid for us, and we are grateful for their efforts. We would like to express our gratitude to them for making our leather lives possible.
The Los Angeles Leather Coalition
Our organization is an extension of the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC). In 1999 William Schindler won the Mr. Los Angeles Leather title and that same year also founded the Los Angles Leather Coalition (LALC). The coalition was, and is, a collection of highly diverse kinky organizations in and around the city of Los Angeles.
Many of the organizations in the LALC hold their own leather contests and the winner of each contest goes on to compete for the Mr. Los Angeles Leather title. Only the winner of the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest goes on to compete at International Mister Leather.
The Mr. LA Leather contest is produced entirely by the LALC. It is currently the second-largest leather contest in the world. Only International Mr. Leather (IML) has attracted more contestants over the last several years.
This chain of preliminary contests that culminates with the Mr. Los Angeles Leather event creates our local “title season.” The three month season brings many diverse aspects of the local LA kinky community together. We play, debate, and celebrate what it means to be a member of the LA leather tribe.
The emergence of the LA Band of Brothers
Each year the men competing in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest (LAL) share an intense and often life changing experience. Each man wins a leather title to qualify as a competitor in the LAL contest. Many of them watch their fellow LAL competitor’s win their qualifying titles.
They start sharing many things together: a bar crawl to promote the contest, rehearsals, photos and video shoots, and all the excitement and angst that come with the journey. They participate in an elaborate number draw produced by Avatar in the parking lot of the Faultline bar where they all ride in on the backs of motorcycles that have been graciously organized by the Oedipus Motorcycle Club.
They then go through the crucible of a major leather contest known as Mr. Los Angeles Leather: Interview, jock strap, speech, and a written fantasy. Their efforts are all offered up to a panel of the seven judges and a large audience. They wait together, laugh together, some hook up together, and some cry together. Some of them find the experience exhilarating, and some nearly break down because of it. They ride the surging highs and endure the mind numbing lows together. And then, suddenly, it all ends.
Rather then having it end completely, many of the current titleholders often joined together to finish out their title year as a group. In the past they were often referred to as the “LA Ten,” more or less, depending on how many men competed that year. Each year a new crop of contestants would be chosen and the colorful cycle of LA’s leather title season would start all over again.
In 2008 David Farah suggested that the “LA Eleven” work together on a number of measures including a titleholder travel fund. Along with some of that year’s “LA Eleven” the men began to explore the solutions to challenges they faced as title holders.
Mikel Gerle attended the second meeting of these men and read a speech (see entire speech below) challenging the men present to think of themselves not as ephemeral titleholders with only a single year to make an impact on the community, but as an established brotherhood whose intention was to create a foundation that future titleholders could build on.
As more of L.A.’s experienced titleholders became involved our meetings quickly outgrew the Mt. Washington patio. Because of the generosity of Bob Tamasino, the owner of Oil Can Harry’s, we were able to meet in the loft bar of Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City.
In the summer of 2008 we conducted a retreat in Dino Garcia’s (Mr. Bullet 2008) rec-room to clarify who we wanted to be. We developed our original mission statement and had and excellent pot luck lunch.
The LABB quickly became a visible presence throughout L.A.’s leather community as we organized events and raised money for a variety of causes. We also produced the memorable YARD gear/fetish/play parties in the winters of 2008, and 2009. We added a summer YARD party in 2010 and just held our fourth play party in November 2010.
Along the way we developed rituals for inviting new titleholders into the brotherhood. Some of the initial rituals were a bit awkward and had to be scrapped. After some trial and error we’ve come up with a ritual the feels right to everyone involved. After a new titleholder wins a feeder contest he is guided by the outgoing titleholder to a group of LABB members. It is usually in an out of the way corner of the bar. We all put our hands on him, and then his title predecessor speaks to him and gives him whatever words he believes are appropriate. When he is done the rest of us give him a loud salute followed by hugs and whatever else the new guy might need. We also give him a gift of practical information, contacts, things to read, and an invitation to our next regular meeting.
On August 15 of 2009 we held our second retreat. It was on a sweltering hot Saturday in the loft bar of Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City. We began the long arduous task of crafting bylaws. With a set of bylaws drafted by a man who requested to remain anonymous, a subcommittee of five members was selected. It was headed up by J.R. McCurdy (Mr. Sanctuary Leather 2008) who was tasked with guiding the committee through the process of hammering out a document for the membership to ratify.
On Feb. 10, 2010 the bylaws were ratified by the membership at a regular meeting and we were prepared for incorporation.
The L.A. Band of Brothers Installation Ceremony
We conducted our founding ceremony of the LA Band of Brothers on Thursday, April 15, 2010. Forty-two (42) current and former Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest competitors gathered at the home of Russ Coleman (Mr. Sanctuary Leather 2010) in the Hollywood Hills. One by one, titleholders from the previous ten years stood on a platform silhouetted by the blaze of a poolside fire, received an LA Band of Brothers arm patch and pin, was given a salute by the members present, and signed his name into a leather bound scroll. Each man was formally welcomed into a fraternal organization that was now almost two years in the making.
The ceremony began with a short speech from the acting President, Mikel Gerle, a proclamation was read by our oldest member present (Daddy Don Anspauch, Mr. LA Leather 2002) and seconded by the youngest member present (Lloyd McDonald, Mr. Bullet 2010). The group’s acting Secretary, Billy Nakasaki (Mr. Sister 2009), and acting Archivist, Louie Pacheco (Mr. CSW 20010), signed the organization’s bylaws, completing our incorporation as the Los Angeles Band of Brothers.
The founding board members included:
Mikel Gerle, President
– Mr. Oil Can Harry’s 2007, Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2007, IML 2007
Ernesto Provencio, Vice President
– Mr. Ashram West Leather 2009
Billy Nakasaki, Secretary
– Mr. Sister Leather 2009
Don Anspauch, Treasurer
– Mr. Gauntlet II Leather 2002, Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2002
Jasun Mark, Communications Officer
– Mr. Eagle LA Leather 2009
During the annual election of board officers on July 14, 2010, the following board officers were elected:
Louie Pacheco, President
- Mr. CSW Leather 2010/2011, American Leatherman 2010
Alex Lindsay, Vice President
– Mr. Regiment 2009, American Leatherman 2009
Billy Nakasaki, Secretary
- Mr. Sister Leather 2009
Daddy Don Anspauch, Treasurer
- Mr. Gauntlet II 2002, Mr. LA Leather 2002
Marcus Hopkins, Communications Officer
- Mr. Pistons Leather 2010
Looking to the future, we are resolved to continuing our mentorship of current LALC titleholders and fraternal fellowship for those who have walked the same path
Speech read by Mike Gerle suggesting the formation of LA Band of Brothers
– the candle is lit
This was read on Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:00 PM to the current and former titleholders present on the patio of a private home in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles, CA.
My leather brothers,
If I have learned anything over the past fifteen months it is that you are my family. You are truly my brothers, my mentors, and my offspring. What happens to you and our extended LA leather/fetish family means a great deal to me. I love you all very much. It is from that place that I am speaking to you tonight.
I know we are here to talk about a title fund, but I would like to put that aside for a moment and think of broader possibilities.
I have given a lot of thought to the unique titleholder world we have here in Los Angeles and I think we, as titleholders, can achieve great things for ourselves and our community if we put our minds to it.
Something import and sacred is happening here tonight.
I would like us to light a leather scented candle that was part of my IML prize package and have the flame be a symbol of our power.
<Dave McFadden (Mr. Sister Leather 2008) lit the first candle. He was closest and had a lighter.>
When a medal is placed on the winner of a contest it is usually the end of an intense journey and the beginning of a new one that will make the road already traveled seem tame by comparison. The new titleholder is overwhelmed, thrilled, and full of gratitude. Hopefully he savors the moment and fully celebrates his success in a way that matters to him. He has won! He is a titleholder!
Over the next 48 hours he realizes that he is also exhausted and has only a vague idea of what is ahead of him as he goes on to compete for LAL. He begins to see in his mind’s eye a growing “to do” list: books to read, leathers to pull together, hotel rooms to book, email accounts to set up, business cards to print, schedules to be coordinated … the list goes on and on.
Currently this is where the titleholder’s journey often stalls.
He is thrust into the community and often does extraordinary things, but often months are wasted as the titleholder gets his footing. All the while listening to good intentioned people say, “Make it your own” and not giving him any real useful mentoring. By the time he finally starts to get the hang of things, his year is nearing its end. The contest season has started up again and a new man will soon be medaled.
He has finally learned how to leverage his title and, BAMN!, we have another new titleholder.
And the cycle continues…
But now, because we are here tonight, the journey does not need to stall. Because we are meeting here tonight the intense journey of the titleholder can instantly rocket to the next level the moment he steps off the podium.
Who better to mentor the current titleholders and segway the wazzies then the men who have already walked that path?
While contemplating the strengths and challenges of our group I did some research into community leaders and protectors. One group who’s lives impressed me are those of ancient Greek soldiers called Hoplites. Their role in their community is legendary and something we can learn from.
These soldiers came from every walk of life very much like we do.
They bought their own armor, very much like we do.
And they were trained to carry a shield and a spear, very much like we … can!
They took great care in teaching new soldiers when to use the shield … and when to use the spear.
They were taught they were stronger grouped together using their shields in a phalanx formation than they were operating alone.
But they were also taught the skill to stand on their own, to use their sword to fight hand to hand when necessary.
The most famous band of these groups was the Band of Thebes. They are believed to have been a band of 300 men who were not only warriors, but also lovers as well. Their fierceness was attributed to the love they had for each other and their fierce determination not to shame themselves in the presence of the men they loved.
They are legendary for their ability to protect the realm against overwhelming forces.
I believe that same power is in us.
I also believe that our strength as a pack will strengthen our tribe as a whole.
This is how it works:
Knowing that his title brothers have thought ahead, that they have anticipated his needs and began to support him even before they knew who he was, the new titleholder will know that we believe the title he has won is important. That we believe he should be proud to wear his vest. That we believe his presence in the brotherhood matters.
And he is not the only person who wins!
1) The community wins. A strong brotherhood will attract more contestants and build the character of those who compete. We all know, being part of a contest usually strengthens the character of the man who enters.
2) Sponsors win. Bigger contests mean more exposure, more brand identity, more ticket sales and more revenue.
3) The titleholder wins. More than just winning a vest, the Brotherhood creates an environment in which the medaled man can thrive.
We are talking about power and that often makes people nervous.
In case anyone is wondering about my intention for starting a titleholders group, let me be clear – my intention for the group is not to undermine the work of the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC). It is, in fact, meant to have quite the opposite effect.
I love what we have in Los Angeles and what the LALC has done to support it. I want to protect it.
Having just completed touring much of the leather world, I have seen what the world has to offer leather/kinky people, and nothing compares to what we have here in Los Angeles. I have not seen it in Vancouver, Tulsa, Berlin, San Francisco, or any of the small towns in between. The depth and variety of what we enjoy here is unparalleled. By comparison we are living in a utopia and a great deal of this existence can be attributed largely to the efforts of the LALC.
Our community is a union of very different people coming together as a family to support and celebrate who we are. We span the spectrum of sexual orientations, fetishes and genders. We educate, play, protect, dream, eat, ride, argue, plan, laugh and cry together. We are built on a long tradition of California leather history going back to the first motorcycle clubs, leather bars, and kinky publications.
I want to promote it and shine a light on it for the whole kinky world to see.
The current title holders are the beacons of light illuminating the individual houses of the LALC. They are the banner carries of our thriving packs, while Mr. Los Angeles Leather carries the banner for the entire Los Angeles Tribe.
Mr. Los Angeles Leather can make our tribe’s accomplishments known. He is the icon and the touchstone for those who only dream of an existence like ours. He carries our hope, dignity, and pride to fledgling communities and serves as an anchor within our own community when he is at home.
When the same group of men who competed for that position of honor come together in Brotherhood and unity, we send an important message to the leather world and our home tribe.
Our beauty is in our diversity, but our power is in our unity.
When we come together as titleholders to support each other and the man who was chosen as this year’s icon, we all win.
We support our brothers and sisters outside of Los Angeles by providing them an example of something that works.
Our LA Tribe builds on its own history by sharing it with leather folk who have not come as far, and We nurture our own dreams for the future by recognizing how many of our aspirations have already come true.
Tonight I am asking you to make a commitment to the LA Band of Brothers. I am asking you to be a protector of the realm by supporting each other and the current titleholders. I know our unity will strengthen you as a titleholder and as a man. It will strengthen your sponsoring house as a shinning facet of our tribe. And it will strengthen the leather world as a model of power.
International Mister Leather 2007
Mr. Los Anglees Leathr 2007
Oil Can Harry's Mr. Leather 2007