Chicago Leather Club
A Decade of Dedication and of course…Debauchery
By Squire L (CLC Founding Member)
It’s seems like only yesterday when Jack F and myself called upon a few members of Leather United Chicago (LUC) to put a plan in motion to kick start the then disbanded club with hopes of reigniting it to its former glory as Chicago’s first pansexual leather back patch club. Jack had reached out to the club’s incumbent president who had no intention of revitalizing LUC as most of its members had moved on and became more invested in other more prevalent leather clubs. After a few nasty letters back and forth and being blocked because of financial and registration information not legally contracted to Jack, frustrated, he reached out to another LUC founder, Nancy W to seek guidance. Her prompt reply was to not play into the politics that often destroy clubs, imploding from within, and suggested we try our hand at building our own club. From there Jack and I invited anyone and everyone who might be interested in starting a new pansexual club based on the same principles and tenets as LUC.
As Jack tells the story, those first few meetings were held at the old Ann Sather’s restaurant and I do believe we had approximately 40 people in attendance. By the second and third meetings, many had dropped out for other obligations, etc. but we still had quite a few interested people. Jack had agreed to take on the brunt of the responsibility agreeing to the presidential role. Eventually after months of planning, and letting go of the intent to revive LUC, the Chicago Leather Club (CLC) was officially born on September 8, 2002 and its founding members named at that time were Jack F, Janice F, “N,” Lisa Lo, Rick Sa and I. And thanks to Nancy’s continued efforts on our behalf, CLC officially made her an honorary member on October 9, 2002.
My memory is not as good as it used be, but I do remember some moments in club history that need to be mentioned. CLC’s first club run was in St. Louis to celebrate with the Gateway MC guys. Since Jack, Janice, Nancy and I had attended Gateway events as part of LUC it was an even greater pleasure enjoying their event while representing CLC this time around. I think the most significant thing that came out of that event was CLC’s official club drink Jaegermeister. Yes, it was all a blur, but I can recall shooting pool against fellow founding member Lisa Lo. Hmm…it was intensely hot! But not so hot for (one of our members) whose favorite friend that night was the toilet bowl. I can still see her air mattress covering the bathroom floor where she slept for most of the evening. Ah….but she wasn’t the only one who made a shot of Jaegermeister a regular past time. I still enjoy drinking it and I keep plenty of bottles on hand. Some of you may have seen one of those bottles at CLC’s recent Cigar 101 class we did last October (2012).
Not all CLC events are laced with alcohol and cigars as we are committed to helping other organizations and providing educational outreach within our community. We have been a part of Toys for Tots through the years, in fact, at their 25th Anniversary in December of 2002, we all volunteered, grabbing the toys from the bikers as they drove by quickly and placing them in the big bin outside. Of course that’s where I discovered the magic of hot chocolate mixed with peppermint snaps as it was below freezing that Sunday. But despite the cold, it was important that CLC participated in that historic event, not the content of my thermos. Another wonderful memory I have was in 2003 when the Knights of Leather came to town. CLC members that attended Gateway had met the Knights also in attendance and thus began an ongoing love affair as they are also a pansexual club. The folks that came in from Minneapolis helped with our bar night fundraiser at the old Cell Block and stayed at Jack and Janice’s home. It was massive, tons of bodies strewn across the floor of their living room wrapped in pajamas and sleeping bags. It was quite a spectacle but it was a ball. It was one of those perfect moments where everyone could feel safe and gather in the home of fellow founding members sharing the love for leather and of course, taking advantage of the beautiful dungeon space in the basement of Jack and Janice’s home. What a rush! Even today, CLC continues to attend events in Minneapolis with the Knights and vice versa.
Through the next couple of years CLC’s attention was on educational seminars and fundraisers for organizations like ISNA (Intersex Society of North America) and TNGC (The Next Generation Chicago). We added a few more full and associate members, but on the downside, founding member Jack F relocated to Texas and Rick Sa was called up to active service duty for the US Army. But in between the ups and downs, we still made time to attend other events for clubs like the Castaways / Argonauts in Wisconsin, Grand Rapids Rivermen and locally, for Pantheon, and IML , with the intent of keeping CLC in the public eye. And for all you Dash historians, CLC held their very first Dash on September 3, 2005. We also received a nomination for Pantheon Small Event of the Year.
In 2006, CLC was involved with both the Leather Quilt Project and the Southeast Leather Conference Quilt Project and began planning our 2nd Dash. This year the CLC full members were sporting black uniform shirts with our CLC logo and the Chicago Flag Emblem on the sleeves. It seemed we had arrived, getting through the first 4 years was monumental and despite a couple of obstacles here and there, we were still strong heading into our 5th year, spending more time attending other club functions, having movie nights, doing cocktail parties in and out of the Chicago land area, meeting at non-leather bars and finally, a few card and game nights. CLC wanted to expand their visibility through other sources of outreach and social gatherings.
In March of 2007, CLC participated in the first ever National Pig Day. To commemorate this occasion, CLC put together a pink stuffed pig that would showcase all the national pig of the year awards. Each year a member was selected as pig of the year and a name tag would be added to the pig. I’m proud to say I was selected twice in my tenure as pig of the year. 2007 was a fun year, CLC had their first ever Zoo outing at the Lincoln Park Zoo in June, the Nine-Tails Newsletter was gaining stride being released three times a year as it was a good way to keep the CLC name on people’s minds as members would drop off copies at various leather events letting folks know what we’re up to. August through October were busy months as the CLC full members attended GLLA in Indianapolis and plans for the club’s 5 year anniversary was in the works settling on a major buffet that was held at the home of full members N and T.
Rolling into 2008 and 2009, some notable successes should be mentioned. Most noteworthy, associate member Ms. Simone won GLLA’s Ms. Leather Pride contest. In addition, full members Rick St, Louis L, Daddy T and N attended the Corn Haulers run and CLC’s cordial and cigar cocktail party attracted over 40 guests at a new gay bar in Des Moines. 2008 was yet another difficult year as a few members resigned, but it was also the year that CLC’s current president Mike S and current Secretary, Angie S joined CLC and eventually became full members. Standing strong in the face of adversary, CLC plunged ahead and hosted a party at IML in 2009, a first for CLC as an organization. And one more matter of significance, Daddy T was elected for a third term as President of CLC which had never been done in the past.
2010 was another outstanding year as full member Mike S rode in the Toys for Tots Parade and the CLC’rs headed back to Iowa for yet another successful Cigar and Cordial night at the Corn Haulers run, but this time, CLC received a certificate of appreciation from them. Then in 2011, CLC sponsored Tribe Remembrance Day to remember those lost in the community from HIV/AIDS. The event was so successful that CLC was asked again this year to sponsor Tribe Remembrance Day again. I would say my fondest memory of 2011 was when CLC hosted a Cigar 101 class at the Blue Havana in Chicago. Thanks to the experience and knowledge of Daddy T, I’m now a fan of cigars. But CLC was not done yet for 2011 as Mike and Angie participated in the Illinois Leather Pride Master/slave contest and by the end of the year it was unanimous to begin making plans in 2012 for yet another DASH to celebrate CLC’s 10 years in the leather community.
Whew! What a Journey we’ve had thus far and 2012 is just starting to heat up. But before our heads begin to swell, let’s not forget all the contributions made through the years that kept CLC a float through the bad times as well as the good. CLC’s first President and founding member Jack F was very clear that this club and its members are to be equal in standing and all people’s ideas shared. He wanted this club to belong to everyone, not just one person. Through years of transitions and a few changes of the guards, this philosophy continues today as evident by current president Mike S’s ongoing efforts and actions, ‘creating a space for everyone to be who they are and enjoy their kink,’ as quoted by another founding member N, who has remained the most active member throughout CLC’s entire 10 year run. My own personal accolades go out to her for her vigilance. She above all continues to keep CLC in the forefront. I share my love and respect to her and the many members that have passed through our midst. And as we move into the future, we remain steadfast in our convictions, philosophies and ongoing efforts to make CLC the best club ever.