Keeping Community First At The Dallas Eagle

If 2020 were a hula hoop, it would be made of barbed wire.  Individuals and businesses are having to make difficult decisions with no good options.  The Dallas Eagle is no exception.  Last open on March 16, of this year, the bar has remained closed as a precaution for both employees and patrons. 

We all have a place that is a home away from home, and for many of us it has been the Dallas Eagle.  Owner Jeffrey Payne takes that responsibility seriously.  Upon the announcement of closures, he immediately contacted the mayor’s office pushing for a comprehensive plan from the City of Dallas and various agencies to assist those within our community with lost revenue and lost wages.  Regardless of the city’s response, though, he has continued to look out for his community’s best interest.  “Money is not at stake,” says Jeffrey. “Our patrons, 

my staff and my families’ lives and health are what is at stake…Do I need to open

for financial reasons? You bet your ass, I do. But I will never value a person’s life and well-being over my making a buck.”

As a place where many of us have made lasting memories, had unforgettable moments, and found many friends, we feel the loss of our gathering place acutely.  Founders Matt Miller and Mark Fraizer first opened the doors of The Dallas Eagle in 1995 to meet a perceived need in the DFW Leather Community.  Since the opening of the bar, through moves and changes of ownership, numerous clubs and organizations (some still around, some now defunct) have called the Eagle home. Across the years, on any given night, one could attend meetings and gatherings of a myriad of clubs such as the Leather Knights, NLA-Dallas, Discipline Corps, Lone Star Cigar Men, Eagle Bears, United Court of the Lone Star Empire, Dallas Bears, Texas Gay Rodeo Association, DFW Leather Corps, Dallas Diablos, and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Other highlights we are missing include themed bar nights, community fundraisers, weddings, and a variety of contests traditionally held at the Eagle.  Annually we have hosted many contests – South Central Leather (Sir, Boy, BB), Great Plains Olympus Leather (Mr, Ms, Mx), Dallas Eagle (Mr, Ms, BB), and Texas Leather (Mr, Ms, BB).  Bartender Dylan Brown had this to say, “The Dallas Eagle has been my home even before I started bartending there. I’ve made lifelong friendships with the people I work with and awesome customers I have grown to know. I’ve seen people learn to be comfortable with fetishes, kinks, people who are different than them and, of course, themselves…I’m proud to be a part of a bar family that cares about the community and the employees.”

Since Covid hit, our home away from home has been staying closed for our welfare and safety.  Throughout the crisis, Jeffrey has consistently chosen to err on the side of caution to protect his people.  “We could take precautions that could limit the potential spread of COVID-19,” he says, “however, I do not feel the risk involved in potentially spreading this within our community is a risk worth taking.”    He assures us that he and the staff miss each of us immensely, but they will remain closed at least till the end of September or there’s a better outlook.  We can rest easy, though, knowing that when the time comes, the doors will open again, and we all can go back to the place we call home and enjoy drinks and cigars with all of our friends and family.

Jeffrey in front of The Dallas Eagle

NLA-Dallas Member Spotlight: Valerie

A long-time member of NLA-Dallas, Valerie first came to a meeting with Big Ray in 1998 when meetings were held at the Resource Center at the corner of Brown and Regan.  What began with her friend’s discovery of the organization has led to friendships that feel like home.  She is pleased with the group’s improved community outreach among new members, and she would like to see a heightened online presence of the group’s history.

Valerie believes that Leather is what is in your heart and sees it as a part of one’s everyday life.  She sees it as a guiding code of conduct by which one lives one’s life.  As one who embraces life’s passions, she has found particular joy in the kink world with paddles (on humans who say yes), tea service (attending, participating, and educating), and shoes (enough said).  Her passions of charity work, helping others, and organization are easily seen in her commitment to community education and service as a former treasurer for NLA-Dallas, her role as Her Majesty…Empress 45 of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire, and working closely with the Dallas submissives Mentors Program.  “You must live what’s in your heart,” she says when asked about her passions.

Valerie’s first experience with Leather was as part of ROTC in high school, and the set of values and morals made an impression on her.  The year the Ms. World Leather contest came to Dallas was a memorable moment on her Leather journey that expanded her circle of acquaintances and friends.  As you might imagine given her wide social circle, she answers to a variety of names from Your Majesty, Empress 45 of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire to Hey, Tie-Dye to just Valerie.  

Next time you see her, be sure to say hello. In the meantime, she can be reached at valerienladallas@yahoo.com.

Endnote: Valerie met best friends Big Ray and Gator on a camping trip in 1993.  Gator would later become her husband, and Big Ray would push her further into the Dallas community.  Sadly, Valerie and Gator lost a piece of their hearts on 08/24/2020 when Big Ray passed away.  They are heartbroken with his loss but grateful for the gift he brought to their lives every day that they’ve known him.

Valerie (she/her)

Leather Protocols…Then and Now

-Article written by Slave robin and Sheri /Leather Heart Clan (www.leatherheartclan.org)

When I was five, back when the earth was cooling, I knew I was a Junior G-Man because I had a secret decoder ring and a secret handshake known only to other Junior G-Men (yes, it was pretty sexist back then…).  That was then.  Now, I wear my leather boots, vest and cover.  Does that make me Leather? I would say no: we wear our leathers proudly, but others prefer furs, or pup masks, or latex, or….  So that can’t be it.  I believe you know members of the leather subculture by how you see them enact their leather values.  

A great deal has been written about leather values, but after considerable debate here’s what our leather family settled on:

Honesty

Integrity

Loyalty

Community

Radical Sexuality

With our leather values agreed on, the debate turned to protocols.  Not the personal protocols participants in a D/s relationship may choose to use, not the ones our leather family observes among our family, but the public ones we enact and observe when we are in a group of leather folk.  While the details of these behaviors evolve constantly, we believe the purpose of these protocols is to affirm our commitment to the shared values of the leather community.  By observing someone’s enactment of leather protocols, you can get an initial read on how well the person intends to exemplify the community’s shared values, and thus, whether they “are one of us.”  Until you know the person better, these observations are a place to start.

A historical perspective:  the protocols we observe are evolutionary descendants of some of protocols observed by various gay leather communities as they came together after the military experience of World War II.  To understand where the current protocols originated, have a look at Larry Townsend’s The Leatherman’s Handbook II – Updated 2nd edition.  It includes a synthesis of protocols he observed in the gay leather communities he knew.  Writing it was a very gutsy thing to do!  Remember that at the time it was written, the gay community, and especially the gay leather community, was underground.  Protocols of dress and behavior had the important purpose of protecting the community from interlopers.  As the community “came out,” it grew to be more inclusive of gender and sexual identities, as well as race and ethnicity.  The process of evolution by natural selection added new protocols and adapted others. Some fell into disuse.  This is a continuous process that leads to different results in each local leather community.

Given this constant evolution, all I can do is take a snapshot of some of the “public” protocols our leather family observes in leather community contexts.  Space does not permit a complete list, but here are some examples:

  • Introductions:  the first time you meet, inquire about the person’s scene name, pronouns, and how they are affiliated with the leather community (independent, in a leather family with…, in a D/s relationship with…, etc.).  Until you know these things, use Sir (remember that Ma’am or Boy could be an insult).  Do not make assumptions about a person; ask, “should I assume that you…”  As an aid to introductions, we wear bar vests with patches and pins to symbolize our leather identity and experience.  Read those symbols before you talk.  [Pro tip: the pins serve as great conversation starters!]
  • Subs: the community is very protective of subs.  Maintain a respectful distance.  Do not talk to or touch a sub until you have inquired, may I?  or are you in service?  If you wish to communicate with a sub, first try to find their Dominant and ask permission (this can be easy: the sub may be standing to the side or behind their dominant, often with hands behind their back, unless they are performing a service for their dominant).  If you can’t find their Dominant, ask the sub if they have permission to talk, shake hands, hug, etc. If the sub initiates conversation or contact with you, then it’s OK to assume they have permission (agency) to do so, and you can reciprocate using the same terms, touches, distance, etc.
  • Dominants:  If you’re not sure of a person’s status, treat them as a Dom until you know otherwise.  Approach the Dom, but maintain a respectful distance and do not initiate or interrupt a conversation until recognized verbally or non-verbally.  Do not touch the Dom or anyone in the group without asking first, may I? — until you know their wishes.  For anyone new to you, follow the protocol for introductions, above.  
  • Surroundings:  Be aware of your surroundings.  Be prepared to help:  open doors for people; offer to carry things.  Don’t barge through, or cut someone off, or invade their space.  Notice if a person looks confused or lost, and offer to help.  Notice the conversation groups that have formed, and observe them until it becomes obvious who is the senior member and what their hierarchy is.  If you need to approach that group, treat the senior member as the Dominant until you know otherwise.  Always stay within visual contact of your D/s partner, so you can assist if needed.  Know where the other members of your group are, so you can help if needed.  Listen and smile more than you talk.

What do these protocols have to do with leather values?  By following them, we demonstrate loyalty to the community.  When we converse or touch using these protocols, we demonstrate integrity and honesty.  And, of course, part of radical sexuality is consent.  

In conclusion, these protocols are our ways of showing respect for our peers in the leather community.  Are any of these protocols specific to leather?  Of course not!  When we were debating what protocols to follow, JlubeJack, our family Elder, gave us all copies of Fulgham’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  At base, leather protocols are just applications of the Golden Rule your mother taught you!

Bootblack Corner: jade

Meet jade.  Jade first got into the Bootblack trade when he practiced on his own leather mask last July. It was in a Mentors Program where he was first introduced to bootblacking. According to jade, “As soon as I got my hands on a brush and started shining, I felt at peace really zenned out. My classmates told me it was the quietest I had ever been.”

“When I started watching the bootblacks at the Dallas Eagle, I noticed the pride a person had in their boots, their shared stories, and the special attention for each pair of boots.The bootblack cares for the physical manifestation of shared oral history; that’s a pretty powerful, intimate exchange. You’re like a traveling curator for these live pieces of history. I have this vision where I’m in 1920s-30s style: knickers, long socks, dress shoes/boots, suspenders, 

and newscap. At SPLF, I wore that as my “armor” to give me confidence, and I absolutely loved it! I’ve always imagined myself as an old school shoeshine boi ready to send the businessperson on their way with a clean pair of shoes. 

Zahira (Rt 66 BB) is my mentor and I have been working with her, taking notes for my kit, and advice on how to get started. So far during COVID-19, I’ve kept in touch with my mentor virtually and have been building my kit and working on a friend’s pair of boots. I keep up with the Community Bootblacks Facebook group and plan to purchase the online course they offer. Caring for someone’s leather is a huge responsibility and part of their legacy and I want to help make it shine.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a bootblack?

I don’t think the fear of failure should keep you from becoming a bootblack. Messing up is every newbie’s biggest fear (I know it was definitely mine). It may look like a lot at first with all the polishes and creams, but each bootblack has their own unique style. Just dive right in with a notebook, a bunch of questions, and a lot of enthusiasm. Also if you know any of your local community bootblacks follow them around, observe and ask for advice. They’re really friendly and always willing to help without judgment. It’s a great way to gain knowledge to help make things more comfortable if you’re socially awkward at a bar like myself lol – jade

Bootblack jade
Bootblack jade

Leather Education: Let’s Talk Leather

Leather is a beautiful thing, not just as our lifestyle, but also as a material used to make our boots, chaps, pants, skirts, corsets, shirts, harnesses, gauntlets, gloves, collars, hats, whips, floggers, paddles, and more. From various types of hides to a variety of production processes, the options are endless when it comes to choosing your leather.

Hides come from all sorts of animals, with the word “hide” typically used for larger animals (i.e. cowhide) and the word “skin” typically reserved for smaller ones (i.e. kidskin).  Most leather is made from cattle hide, but other popular ones include sheep, lamb, and deer, as well as reptilian skins such as alligator, crocodile, and snake.  With all of the variety out there, how do you know which one to choose?  Well, there are several things to keep in mind when choosing your leather:

  • Hide: The hide is the skin of the animal from which the leather is made.  Each animal’s hide has unique characteristics that will influence its use and look once processed.
    • Cowhide:  Easy to care for, strong, warm, durable.
    • Sheepskin:  Soft, smooth, lightweight.  
    • Deerskin:  Soft, breathable, flexible.
    • Lambskin/Calfskin:  Soft, supple, thin, warm.  
    • Goatskin:  Durable, warm, breathable, lightweight.
    • Horsehide: Durable, abrasion resistant, natural markings.
    • Kangaroo skin:  Thin, strong, abrasion resistant, soft.
  • Grade:  Based upon the layers of the hide included in the leather, the grain is closest to the hair, followed by the grain & corium junction, the corium, and the flesh.
    • Full Grain:  The top layer of the hide including all of the grain and the grain & corium junction, it develops a patina with use and becomes more beautiful over time.
    • Top Grain:  The grain, grain & corium junction and a portion of the corium, this has been refinished to get rid of scars or scrapes, it is durable, breathable, and could develop a natural looking patina over time, though will show its age over extensive use. 
    • Corrected Grain/Genuine:  a fusion of many layers of leather, bound together with glue, and painted.  Typically used for belts, shoes, and bags with a lower price point.
    • Bonded:  The Chicken McNugget of the leather world – scraps are ground down and bonded together with polyurethane or latex and treated to look like a real hide.  Poor durability.
  • Finish: Leather can be finished in a variety of ways that greatly impact their appearance, durability, cost, and purpose.  Characteristics impacted can include texture, flexibility, color, and finish.
    • Aniline:  Most natural leather type, it maintains its natural characteristics, including marks and wrinkles and is only colored with dye.  It can be damaged by exposure to water and sunlight.  This includes oily pull-up leather (aka waxy leather).
    • Semi-aniline:  Maintains its natural characteristics, a slight pigment removes light marks and blemishes.  It is durable and can withstand exposure to water and sunlight.
    • Pigmented:  Full grain pigmented leather has the solution applied to the surface with the grain intact, while corrected grain pigmented leather has the surface scrubbed to minimize imperfections before the solution is applied to the surface.  Durable and ultra-resistant to water and sunlight damage.
    • Finished Split:  Created from the corium after the grain has been removed from the hide, it is sprayed with a polymer and embossed to make it look natural.  
    • Antique Grain:  Uses layers of coatings to simulate the appearance of worn leather.  
    • Nubuck:  A top grain leather that has been lightly buffed or sanded to give it a suede-like appearance with the strength of top grain leather.  It is susceptible to sunlight and water damage.
    • Suede:  Made from the underside of the animal skin, it has a unique, easily-identifiable nap.  It is a lightweight, delicate material, susceptible to stains.

Patina is the term used to describe the variations in wear and discoloration via oxidation that comes naturally to a high-quality leather over the course of time. Highly dependent on the environment of its owner and type of use (including contact with sweat, body oils, lotions, and sunlight, etc.), each leather piece’s patina is unique and personalized. Just as we all follow our own paths and forge our own journeys, so, too, does our leather, alongside us.

Of course, not everyone – including leather folk – is comfortable with wearing animal hide.  Today, there are a multitude of options for vegan or faux leather.  Often made from polyurethane, it can also be made from innovative and sustainable materials limited only by the ingenuity and creativity of the manufacturers.

One’s leather choice is as personal as one’s leather journey.  Options exist that can fit your pocketbook or your desire or your fashion sense or whatever may be your motivating factor at that moment.  In the end, though, Leather is who you are, not what you wear; it’s in your heart.

Article written by Miss Velvet Steele

When selecting leather, it’s important to consider hide, grade and finish.

Clubs and Charities Spotlight: Team Friendly

Team Friendly has a goal – to eliminate the stigma of HIV in the world.  Education is the key to making a difference.  After the 80’s AIDS pandemic, the 90’s saw a decrease in conversation about HIV, leading to a quiet resurgence with no media coverage.  Soon, with new cases soaring in the southern states, critical numbers necessitated talking about it, particularly with younger generations.

Mr. Friendly (now Team Friendly) grew out of a speech given by Dave Watt during his run for Mr. Michigan Leather in 2008.  He saw the need to encourage people to treat everyone with respect both online and in person.  As a safe sex advocate for many years, he noticed he had the greatest impact sitting and talking to people about HIV.  In 2015, a casual meeting in a hotel lobby with Dave Watt, Mr. Friendly Board Member Mark Eddy, and Mr. Friendly Dallas Visionary Gauge Xavier gave birth to a vision that would officially become a Texas Nonprofit Corporation named Team Friendly DFW in October of that year.

The local chapter, itself a 501(c)3, Team Friendly DFW champions the mission of reducing the stigma of HIV in the greater DFW area through one-on-one conversations and interactive activities designed to recalibrate the community on HIV-Friendly conversations.  They firmly believe that conversations lead to educational opportunities, which directly result in more HIV testing and increased quality of life for people living with HIV.  All of these things collectively reduce stigma and contribute to the decrease of HIV in our community. 

Though paused right now due to COVID-19, the group typically hosts several events a year, such as the Team Friendly Winter Dance, Weiner Fest during GPOL Weekend, Pride Dance during Dallas Pride, Friendly Splash in August, and Warm Hearts Warm People during the Winter holidays.  In addition, they set up tables at many events where they sell pins and have those conversations. 

For now, anyone interested in getting to know Team Friendly and becoming a Team Friendly advocate can enroll in the F.L.O.A.T. (Friendly Learning: Online Advocate Training), an online training program designed to help navigate the sea of stigma filled conversations by teaching the learner simple changes in their conversations to eliminate the perpetuation of new stigma.Mr. Friendly was carefully designed with equal weight for both a positive and a negative symbol. It was important that the symbol is for EVERYone without indicating the person’s status. Poz or neg, we are all in this together!  As such, a new redesign is in the works to make him more gender-inclusive, as well. Make sure to check out Team Friendly DFW (http://www.teamfriendlydfw.org/) and https://www.mrfriendly.org/ and look for Team Friendly DFW reps at your next event if you’d like to buy a pin for your vest!

Team Friendly DFW

NLA-Dallas Member Spotlight: Absolem

Absolem identifies as a male, heterosexual Asshole with a tendency towards being a service dominant.  His experience with Leather goes back to his teen years.  After cowboying in the Granbury area, he moved to deep South Texas to make a few extra bucks. Wearing his “uniform” of jeans, t-shirts, and boots, he scoffed as he watched the seasoned veterans adorn themselves with leather chaps, gauntlets, and other leather accouterments, thinking they had watched too many movies. After a time of the scrub brush and cactus ripping his clothing and flesh to shreds, he had a new appreciation for leather. He now regards leather first and foremost as an armor, one which induces a mental shift when he puts it on. 

Away from the cacti and the brush, leather becomes a different sort of armor to Absolem, one to defend the flesh and mind from outside influences. He feels a security knowing that protection is there.  As an extension of his resolve to take the best care of himself he can, he sees it as an outer manifestation of care of himself and those around him.

When asked what attracted him to NLA-Dallas, Absolem’s unhesitating answer was inclusiveness. “I have been around the the kink, bdsm, and leather lifestyles since the late 80’s…and I can honestly say I’ve never seen, nor had I heard of, such an openly inclusive fetish/kink friendly organization as I find in NLA-Dallas.”  Leather crafting and quirts are both Leather/kink passions for him, but his greatest passion is community. He has jumped feet first into the NLA-Dallas community by teaming up with his business and life partner, patience, to redesign our website, thus marrying one of his vanilla passions (family) and Leather (community). Oh, and if cigars are on the menu, he is always happy to join you for a good stick and good conversation. To get in touch with Absolem, email TX.Absolem@gmail.com or through his kink-friendly IT, web and marketing business at fr@consultdfw.com.

Absolem (he/him)

NLA-Dallas Eye on Art: Shawn Ewert

Shawn Ewert

Before 2012, I had never really considered picking up a paintbrush. For most of my life, I have been happy to spend my time behind the lens of a camera. Whether that was shooting weddings, still life, or figure studies, I love capturing moments of time the way I see them. While I still love to go out and shoot, the switch from film cameras to digital definitely marked a change for me. 

In 2012, I picked up my first set of paints, and a handful of brushes.  Painting has offered me a way to create something, but also to decompress at the same time. After a drastic change in my work life, I felt the need to try my hand at new things in my creative life. I tend to lean more on queer/kink and dark/horror art, but have a hard time getting an idea in my head and not putting it on canvas, so I work with a wide variety of media and subject matter. 

Through this journey, I’ve landed on a slightly different way of dealing with the issue of money. I don’t price my Work. I would rather my work go to someone that really likes it. I don’t like money being a barrier to that. I tell everyone that likes my stuff that they set the price. Whatever it’s worth to them, and whatever they can afford to pay for it is the price. Money should not be a reason that someone cannot have art they enjoy. I would personally rather make a connection to the person that enjoys my work. There’s no “insulting” me, there’s no haggling. It’s worked out great for me and for my patrons.  

Photo courtesy of Shawn Ewert
Photo courtesy of Shawn Ewert
Photo courtesy of Shawn Ewert

Community Spotlight on “ONYX and ONYX Lone Star”

In 1995, Mufasa Ali sat at a dining room table with four other men, and together they formed a new organization – ONYX.  As leathermen of color, they wanted a safe space where they would be able to network and to explore issues germane to all men of color within the wider leather community.  With nine chapters across the US, these nonprofit groups have impacted their communities with strong volunteerism and ongoing educational outreach.  Voting members are bisexual and gay identifying men of color, and associate members are men and women of every race. Additionally, the group has committed to embracing its transgender brothers and welcoming them into the fold. 

Serving the Central Southwest region, Onyx Lone Star was organized by Walter Houston, III, in 2017, to ensure that men of color who enjoy the leather lifestyle would have a voice and a seat at the table.  The region’s response can best be summed up by TC, who said, “When I saw y’all walk through the door [of the Eagle], I thought, ’it’s about goddamn time!’  Y’all have done nothing but good!” 

The group uses its love of community and brotherhood to host fundraisers and events in support of the leather community and beyond.  Even in these uncertain times, they have raised funds for COVID relief and delivered snack baskets to front line workers at a rehab center. 

If you would like to further explore Onyx and Onyx Lone Star’s rich history and ongoing mission and for membership information, be sure to visit https://www.onyxmen.com/ and https://www.onyxlonestar.com/

Photo courtesy of ONYX Lone Star.  Members of the current ONYX Lone Star board pictured above
Photo courtesy of ONYX Lone Star.  Members of the current ONYX Lone Star board pictured above

Leather Masters: This Isn’t Goodbye. It’s See You Later

On May 30th, 2020 at 6:03pm, Leather Master’s Markus posted a picture on its Facebook page with its final customer, Ronin. When asked how he felt about being the final customer before Leather Masters (LM) shut its doors permanently, Ronin had this to say, 

“It was saddening, I took pictures and recorded a few words. I can’t believe it’s gone. Thanks for the opportunities, the knowledge, and most of all the memories. This isn’t the end.”  

The history of Leather Masters stretches back to 1989, making them 31 years old as of April 2020. Starting in a single room above a bar called “The Heat” in San Jose, California, founders David Carranza and Tony DaCosta recognized the need for high quality leather clothing in their community. They eventually moved and expanded to 969 Park Ave. and began selling their products online in 1996. In 2001, they opened a store location in Allentown, PA and ran that location successfully until forced closure due to harassment from the city of Allentown.  In 2004, a bar owner contacted David and Tony and they opened a spot in San Antonio.  Unfortunately in 2005 both the Allentown and San Antonio locations had to close, but in June 2005, Leather Masters opened in Dallas, Texas, along with adding a 25-year legacy from Leather by Boots, including new unique designs and a manufacturing department. 

Markus, who has been working with leather since he was 13 years old, met David and Tony at a kink event about 7-8 years ago where he filled in at their vendor booth due to an emergency. From there, they began building a relationship with each other, with Leather Masters selling House of Markus products, until, eventually, both businesses decided to merge, and Markus took over the business while David and Tony retired. During the year 2020, Leather Masters moved from its Deep Ellum location to a bigger location in Dallas with plans to open an over 14,000 square footage of space that would have included a 60-person classroom meant to serve the community, with the idea of being a central education hub for the DFW leather and kink community. However, due to COVID-19 and the mandatory quarantine, Leather Masters was forced to postpone its Grand Opening and remain closed. During the pandemic, Leather Masters faithfully served the Dallas Kink and Leather Communities and beyond by making masks during the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Shortage.

Leather Masters, to Ronin and to the entire community, was more than just your average leather goods store. It was an information hub for the Dallas kink and leather community.  Numerous educational events sponsored through his group H.O.M.E (House of Markus Endeavor) were held at Leather Masters, to include classes that sometimes crammed up to 60 people in the manufacturing section at the Deep Ellum location, or the all-day intensive which hosted 4 classes on various topics in one day.  

 Sometimes though, the education was not always taught in a formal setting.  There was a welcoming atmosphere in which to make  connections at Leather Masters, even through casual interactions and conversations, and that really drew Ronin and others to keep coming back to the store time and time again,“…It was more about etiquette and social norms learned from conversations,” Ronin said. 

 For those who are not necessarily leather but are into kink, Leather Masters served as a safe space for those in the lifestyle looking for gear, connections, or an all-around unique experience.  “Anytime we went, we were always greeted by a friendly associate, and when we had questions about something, there would always be more than one associate trying to help us, by making suggestions or other recommendations if they didn’t have exactly what we were looking for.” says Taylor, a member of the Dallas Kink Community. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a revolutionary place. Putting a place that promotes and normalizes kink right in the middle of Deep Ellum.’”

On top of providing education, high quality leather products and goods, and a friendly welcoming atmosphere, Leather Masters also made a name for itself through its numerous donations to Raffles, Run bags, Vests, Back Patches, and Medallions for various events and title runs, large and small, throughout the country supporting events such as Mr. and Mrs. Texas Bootblack, GPOL (Great Plains Olympus Leather), SPLF (South Plains Leatherfest), a primary sponsor for ILSB (International Leather Sir and Boy), and for IMSL (International MS Leather) for which they provided Medallions and Lanyards. 

They’ve been a sponsor for numerous events as well as a vendor selling their products. Countless title holders and contestants around the world have worn or currently wear Leather Masters clothing and/or products.  When asked what they would like Leather Masters to know, numerous voices from the community had this to say: 

  • “If I could say anything to Leather Masters, it would be, thank you. Thank you for helping me grow as I first came in as a little boy and grew into a leather man that is now standing here in front of everyone as a proud leather woman.” (Maria “Rev Angelique” Trevino) 
  • “I’m proud of them. Their vision for the future of the business as a core part of the community was remarkable. They saw a need for classrooms and meeting space and included that in their plans.” (Giant) 
  • “Thank you, for all of the time, resources, and energy you have put into the community through the years.” (Bootblack Zahira, 2020-21 Route 66 Bootblack) 
  • “I think it’s admirable that they’ve been serving the community as long as they have. And so efficiently.”   (Da Kollector)
  • “I think I would like to say that what you have done for the kink Community by creating a space for kink education and offering quality leather goods is something we are thankful for and that we are going to miss. And that we hope that you are able to make a comeback and continue to make leather goods after this Coronavirus stuff is over!” (Taylor) 
  • “It saddens me to lose such an iconic place where people would come to Dallas just to visit and the leather world will never be the same.” (Master TC)

When speaking of any future plans, Markus already has ideas in the works. He intends on getting back to his roots with custom leather work and House of Markus high end custom made pieces, with that being his main focus and missed passion while running the business of Leather Masters. While stuff from the old store location has been moved into storage, Markus does plan on donating rich pieces of history from Leather Masters to put into the Leather Archives Museum in Chicago, IL, such as Dave’s Original Mail Order Catalogue and IML posters that are autographed by title winners and runners from 1989. As for Leather Masters, as a brand, there is hope as he shops around for local leather businesses looking to pick up the product lines.  He has found a manufacturer in Kansas that can produce vests and he is currently in talks with someone to produce harnesses.

In the end, another chapter in the exemplary story of this historic business in the community comes to a close.  However, due to its versatile history, the only question that remains is, when and where will Leather Masters begin another chapter?