There’s no doubt about it. The hottest Santa in town was at the LONG ISLAND EAGLE last Saturday night, where the Long Island Ravens, a gay men’s leather/motorcycle club, held their Christmas party. Among the 40-something guys sporting all degrees of black-leather get-ups–from simple vests and chaps to head-to-toe attire–Santa had to have been the youngest guy in the room. But that didn’t stop the revelers from sitting on his leather-jockstrap-clad lap to whisper their holiday wishes into his ear. For five bucks, the naughty and nice boys could even have a Polaroid shot taken of them with Daddy Christmas–just like at the mall!
Something they probably didn’t ask Santa for was a pair of trendy Gap leather pants. If they’re anything like Al–the Ravens’ founding president who’s been into leather for 25 years and counts a leather jockstrap as part of his collection–they’ve got plenty already. While such passion for expensive cowhide is fetish gear for most, some say it’s simply a part of their personality. “It’s just kind of who I am,” says Ravens president John Deitz. “I just have fun.”
Though he usually prefers practical gear–you know, like jackets and chaps–he joined some compatriots and dressed as an elf for the Christmas party, adding a leather vest to green tights, stocking cap and pointy shoes for a bad-boy elf look. “This is one of the young whippersnappers’ ideas,” Deitz said, looking around the room.
Not every one of Santa’s little helpers saw the humor in the situation. “I’d rather be strapped to the Wheel of Fortune than dressed like this,” snapped one tights-clad guy. And Vinny the bartender was brave enough to say that leather gear just doesn’t do much for his libido. “To me, I’m afraid of people in leather,” he admitted. “That’s the way I grew up.” But in the time that he’s worked at the Eagle, he said, he’s learned that most of the guys are just “pussycats.”
He might even overcome his fear enough to join them. Though he usually tends bar in a pair of Calvins, he’s considering the switch to a pair of leather shorts for the new year. After all, he said, “that’s how you make the tips.”
LONG ISLAND EAGLE 94 N. Clinton Ave, Bay Shore, 516-968-2750.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 28, 1999