This upcoming Sunday marks the annual Folsom St. East festival which is one of my favorite days in New York. I often bill it as "Leather Day" and next to Rainbow Day (Pride) it is one of those not-to-be-missed have-fun gay events.
Although it's before my time I am familiar with the once strong and outstandingly popular leather scene and community which once thrived in NYC. In fact, my first NYC gay bar was The Lure which, like everything else seedy/fun, is now closed.
It seems as though from my research and reading into 1970's gay based literature that leather and leather theme used to rock NYC. If you delve into John Rechy's "Rushes" or Kramer's wincing satire "Faggots" you'll get a glimpse of how popular leather and leather scene use to be. (Older readers: I know these might not be the best or most extensive pieces of literature depicting this scene - so if you have more information or leads then please point them out.)
Now leather seems to have gone from Heavy Leather 70's/80's to Leather 90's to Diet Leather 2000's to "Ugh he has his shirt off again at The Eagle" or "OH MY GOD, look! Those two guys over there in the corner are getting off, quick point and laugh! Point and laugh!" in 2008.
If it's not coming across in the above mentioned I detest this type of judgment upon men who enjoy 1) taking their shirts off and celebrating that liberation or just simply enjoy it or 2) have the confidence to be free enough, or are turned on enough, to shrug and get off semi-discreetly right then and there.
Regardless of my tangent above I'm glad that Leather is still recognized enough for this day to be offered to the New York public and it is certainly a wonderful day spent with men, friends, leather and beer.
Go ahead and check out the fascinating blog Jeremiah's Vanashing New York where he does a wonderful then and now expose on New York's leather hangouts and what they have become.
"If you long for the days when the streets of the Village and Meatpacking were filled with men in assless chaps, instead of fratboy assholes, then go to Folsom Street East this weekend. In celebration of those vanished men in leather--many taken by the AIDS epidemic--enjoy my visual retrospective of the city's lost queer fetish clubs, showing them as they were yesterday...and what I discovered in their places today."
Then (The Anvil)
Now (The Liberty Inn)
Then (The Badlands)
Now (Badlands Video)
His blog is pretty incredible be sure to check it out! Loving his motto: "Still hunkered down in the East Village, waiting for the wrecking ball of gentrification to find me. Until then, I'll write this ongoing obituary for my dying city."