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A Brief History of the Utah Leather Community

Wasatch Leathermen Motorcycle Club (WLMC)

According to an article written by Greenie for her colors project that was written for the leather archives back in 1998 or 1999, the Wasatch Leathermen Motorcycle Club was a gay male SM motorcycle club that was founded by ten original members.

The organization consisted of a 1st Master, a 2nd Master and a 3rd Master. These titles were similar to what groups would call an organization hierarchy such as a presidency. There was a Pledge Master responsible for new recruits, a Record Master responsible for various secretarial duties and a Bond Master responsible for funds and treasury type duties. Membership was limited to only 15 Members at one time, but there were associate memberships available with no number limitations.

The Wasatch Leathermen hosted a motorcycle run starting in 1985 called the Falcon Flight. They would ride up Wolf Pass, Utah, which is 10,000 feet in elevation.

The Club Colors were designed by a cartoonist named Greg G, who was the 2nd Master of the Club and also a founding member. The six sides of the colors signify: Brotherhood, Harmony, Leather, Discipline, Pride, and Charity. If a member left the Club, they were required to return their member patch to the club.

Knights of Malta

There is not a lot of information on the Utah Chapter of the Knights of Malta that could be located. They were a Levi / leather social group that was around back in the late eighties and early nineties. Some of the activities they would be involved with would be to provide aid for people in need in the gay and lesbian community. An example of this was when they helped out a couple with Aids one Christmas by paying some of their bills and providing them with food.

Rocky Mountain Dragons

The Rocky Mountain Dragons was founded March 17, 1995 by Troy, Jim, Casey, Bill, Dusty, Harold, and Paul. They created the group because they believed that there was a need for a leather social group that didn't revolve around sex. Their mission statement was "Unity through Service." They met at member's homes and then at the Stonewall Center before it closed.

They helped the aid's food bank for several years by providing food baskets. A fundraiser for the Mr. Ms Utah Leather contest was held at the Sun called "Dungeons and Dragons." Some of the scenes included a mummification scene, a wax scene, and a musical number performed by the Rocky Mountain Dragons. The Rocky Mountain Dragons and The Wasatch Leathermen MC joined together to produce the first Leather Weekend in Salt Lake City. It was held on May 4th at King's, a private club, and it produced Utah's first leather titleholders. This group disbanded in January of 1999.

Utah PowerPlay ~

Utah PowerPlay was started by six Salt Lake City locals with an interest in BDSM and a desire to find others. Hazel J, Ronnie N, Sunny C, Beverly B (aka Phoenix), Rachael M (formerly Stephen), and Grant H first met to discuss the possibility in Hazel's parents' driveway, while Hazel changed the oil in her car. This meeting occurred in mid-April of 199and was the only planning/organizing meeting held before public meetings began. Among other things, they collaborated on a half-page flyer to advertise the group. Various people among those gathered volunteered to do the jobs that were needed to get the group started, including checking out the Stonewall Center as a meeting place and arranging to use a room there, typing up the information for the flyer, and getting several hundred printed for distribution. In the following couple of weeks, they distributed the fliers everywhere they could think of that seemed appropriate: all the sex stores, the few slightly kinky stores, the Stonewall Center, and, in June, after the group had begun meeting, at the Gay and Lesbian Pride celebration. Hazel set up a phone mailbox so that people could contact her anonymously for information and put up a 3x5 index card on the bulletin board at the Stonewall Center, although it's unknown if this was before or after the meeting in her driveway. It was a brief notice that people interested in sharing knowledge and information about BDSM could get in touch. It had the phone number for the mailbox and was signed with the pseudonym of Spike. Regardless of when exactly that was done, the phone mailbox was used for a number of years as a means for interested people to contact PowerPlay.

Utah PowerPlay was officially founded in May of 1994, with their first open public meeting held on Thursday, May 4th at the old Stonewall Center. It's Purpose: "PowerPlay is a non-profit, pan-sexual educational/support group open to all adults 18 years or older. They help to teach the safe practice of the many varieties of BDSM and other activities. They offer a place to meet others with common interests, while providing a supportive network for the leather community."

From the beginning, the six founders took responsibility for running the meetings and having topics and demos set up each week. In June a separate business meeting was held, at a separate time, day and place and officers were elected. Hazel and Ronnie became co-presidents and Phoenix was named the secretary, with Grant becoming the treasurer. From then on, Hazel and Ronnie took on the responsibility for arranging and running the meetings. There were no further business meetings, and no need for a secretary, so that office was quickly abolished, leaving Hazel, Ronnie and Grant as officers. After only a few months, Ronnie left the group, leaving Hazel in charge of arranging and running the meetings. 

Shortly after 1995 began, Grant resigned as Treasurer, turning that over to Hazel, leaving her as the only officer of the group. Near mid-1995 Hazel asked Sunny to take over as Treasurer, since she hadn't been able to find the time to keep it up, although she had all the receipts for expenditures. Within a few months after turning the office of Treasurer over to Sunny, Hazel also left the group. That left Sunny as the only officer for the group. However four of the founders were still involved, Phoenix, Grant, Rachael and Sunny and began taking turns with each one being responsible for one of the Thursday meetings each month (and collaborating if there was a fifth Thursday).

Eventually there was some disagreement about who would take which week and one of the other founders told Sunny that since she was the only officer, she was the only one with any "real" responsibility for the group. Sunny's response to that was to go to the meeting that Thursday and announce that anyone who wanted to see Utah PowerPlay continue needed to attend a meeting that would be held the following Saturday. It was at this time that the first Powerplay Council was formed and it continued to have responsibility for running the group until it closed in 2003. 

Elections for six council members were held at that meeting after a decision had been made at that meeting that some of the people would serve a six month term and some a three month term, and that all terms would be three months long after that, with the seats that were up for election alternating with each election. From then on the council was composed of five council members and one alternate, to eliminate the possibility of tie votes among the council members. Sunny agreed to be one of the council members and to continue to take responsibility for the treasury. Those six were all the people that could be mustered at that meeting who would agree to actually make the commitment and do the work to make PowerPlay continue. Once the Council was in place, PowerPlay began to stabilize and to become better organized, eventually becoming a legally incorporated organization. As things continued to get better and increasingly stable, council members were willing to commit to a six-month term. Grant left the group shortly after that meeting.

Some of the first activities of PowerPlay included walking as a group at the first Pride Day Parade in Salt Lake City and selling Pepsi products at the Pride Day Celebration as a fundraiser for the group. As mentioned above, they also handed out flyers to promote the group to interested individuals. They made an effort to have a booth at every Pride Celebration for several years after that. During their first couple of years they got a number of invitations to present information about BDSM and about PowerPlay, at a variety of different college classes, mostly Human Sexuality classes. Many of these were at Westminster College and a few were at the University of Utah. Four or five of the most active people in PowerPlay would volunteer to go and do a panel presentation. They usually dressed up in their leather and put on a good show, as well as providing information about BDSM and taking questions. However, after that first two years the liaison to the colleges moved on, ending that. Shortly after the weekly meetings began, many of the attendees started to meet at Dee's restaurant for coffee and more informal conversation after the meeting ended. Meeting at Dee's was never a Power Play meeting. It was always a social time after the regular meeting. It continued to be a regular practice for a very long time. The group met at Dee's most every week, though occasionally meeting somewhere else. Dee's got so used the group coming that they started having table space set up before the group arrived. In early 1997 some of the people started going to the Deer Hunter (a local gay bar) for drinks instead of to Dee's for coffee, so the after-meeting get-togethers became divided.

In late 1995 Phoenix and Rachael moved away from Utah, and Sunny also left the state in 1997 for 3 years, but returned after that. Due to the PowerPlay Council, which had many different members during the years, PowerPlay continued to operate, even during the three years all of the founders were gone.

After the Stonewall Center closed, in late 1997 the meetings were held at a private residence of several of the members until the Gay and Lesbian Center opened and the meetings were moved there. Sometime during this time, PowerPlay changed to meeting only twice a month. The first meeting of the month was a basic presentation and the second meeting was an advanced meeting and cost $7.00 to attend. Beginning in the spring of 2000 the group began holding their meetings at a private residence that had been converted for gatherings. The group dissolved due to a dispute, which briefly became a legal matter, due to a conflict between members of the current council in 2003.

During the time that they were holding the meetings at a separate residence after the Stonewall closed, there was dissention from a group of people who came from Ogden (a town about 45 miles away) as to how things should be run and they decided it was kind of far for some of them. So a small group of around eight members ended up leaving PowerPlay and holding their own meetings in a separate residence in Ogden. That group lasted less than a year before disbanding.

Journeyman III Academy

In early 1997 Michael A, who is a highly regarded and respected member of the Salt Lake leather and BDSM community, as well as a former council member numerous times for Utah PowerPlay, received an invitation from his long-time friend Grand Master Keith Edward E (KEE), headmaster of the Journeyman II Academy in San Jose, California. The invitation was to be a participate in a special ritual that was being held in conjunction with the monthly J II A weekend.

After receiving the invitation, Michael announced it during the social gathering after the next Utah PowerPlay meeting, finishing by saying, "He told me to bring my students along, but since I don’t have any students, who would like to go?" Several people who had been attending PowerPlay for some time and were serious about BDSM and leather raised their hands. Seven people ended up flying to San Jose for the event, including Michael and Sunny. Not only did they attend the ritual, but they were allowed to sit in on and participate in the Journeyman II Academy class that weekend. They were impressed.

During the spring of 1997, they repeatedly and enthusiastically asked Michael A, to create something similar to the J II A, here in Salt Lake City. After considerable insistence they convinced him to create a curriculum and open an academy in Salt Lake so that they could learn more and improve their knowledge of the leather lifestyle. They held a planning and development meeting in June of 1997, deciding (among other things) to call it the Salt Lake Academy I (one). After that it was announced at PowerPlay meetings for several weeks that advanced classes were beginning and that anyone interested was invited to attend an orientation class in late July. Twenty-five to thirty people showed up for that class.

During the orientation class Michael A read a letter he had received from Grand Master KEE granting the new academy, as a legacy, the use of the name Journeyman III Academy, if they wished. The cadets voted to accept, and adopted that name. They also voted that permission for a Journeyman IV Academy would not be granted. Michael A also presented a Code of Conduct written by KEE and used in the J II A. The cadets voted to accept that for their new academy, as well. The new academy was structured very much along the same lines as the preceding J II A and taught much of the same information.

The first JIIIA lasted 22 months and met one weekend a month, Saturday and Sunday both for approximately 8 hours each day. Of the twenty-five or so who attended the orientation class, eight cadets graduated in March 1999. During this time they had to read many books varying from self-improvement books to books on specific types of BDSM play to books that dealt directly with the leather community and its history, and many other subjects, as well. The purpose of this was to help the students broaden their knowledge of themselves, as well as learning about the leather community as a whole. They had several national presenters who came and did presentations for the class on various theories and techniques that were their specialities. They also had to learn the art of boot polishing, which was no easy task: in order to graduate, a student would have to get his or her boots polished so that they would pass inspection. This inspection consisted of holding a quarter next to the shined heels and toes of the boots, while shining a flashlight on each shined part. The date on the quarter had to be readable in the reflection. This may seem simple at first glance, but many students learned about patience through this process. This part of the class became known around the region at various BDSM events like Thunder In The Mountains, in Denver. People from other areas would see the cadet’s boots and ask if they were from Salt Lake. Not only did they have book reports and presentations to give, they would also cover things such as spirituality and energy and how it plays an important part in BDSM. The mandate for those who graduated was for them to pass on what they had learned to others by teaching, mentoring and training.

There have been additional classes on a regular basis since then and Michael A continued to be headmaster and lead teacher until 2007. The majority of the curriculum remained the same. However, the length of the time it took to graduate and the order of things that were done in each class varied due to the dynamics of how each group bonded and their willingness to learn. Also taken into consideration was the fact that these classes would have guest presenters from out of town who would teach on various topics as well. Not everyone who has started taking the classes has graduated. Some find that they don't like the idea of learning about themselves. Others simply decide that it is not for them. Most of those who have completed the class have come to have a greater understanding of and respect for the leather lifestyle and BDSM

In 2003 some of the structure and also the process for becoming a student in the Academy changed, but classes continued to be held. The final students of the Journeyman III Academy finished in October 2008.

Conservative Kink

Conservative Kink was founded in November of 1998, by Sandra B and Phillip G. It was founded as a special interest group to meet the needs and interests of the Male-Dom/fem-sub component of the Salt Lake BDSM community. Conservative Kink existed for nearly three and a half years, but was surrounded by too much controversy and too little interest from most of the community to make its existence viable. This group disbanded in August of 2001.

Utah Power Exchange (UPEX) ~

The idea for UPEX came as early as July of 1997, but the first official meeting was much later. The founding members were Michael G, Celeste M, Lannea C, Christopher B, and Jodi B. Celeste had met with the founders and leadership of Arizona Power Exchange, and she based her vision of UPEX on the values held in esteem there - fellowship and mentoring. She wanted a true and unique organization that not only preached the ideas of safety, but that gave people the tools to actually practice safety in their daily BDSM lives, while at the same time allowing the incredible diversity of the leather culture. Celeste and Michael talked about starting 'something' that would hold the Old Leather traditions in a place of honor while embracing New Leather values to ensure growth and opportunity for everyone. They believed firmly in the tenets of "Safe, Sane, and Consensual" and "Zero Tolerance for Intolerance" and the latter became the official motto for the group. Meetings were held at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and flyers were made and passed out at adult and leather businesses.

One thing that was imperative was the forming of the bylaws. They needed something comprehensive that got their views across, but was flexible enough to ensure the growth of the organization. They decided that the bylaws must be a "living document" subject to change as the needs of the organization changed and the leather culture grew. Majority rules and voting rights were instituted to all members in good standing so that no one person would be able to dictate the direction of their diverse culture.

The first board of UPEX was organized from the founding members, and the first election was held six months later; every board thereafter was voted into office by the membership body on an annual basis. Anyone who chooses to could run for any board seat as long as they were a member in good standing and did not hold a conflicting office with any of the other local organizations.

For the most part, those interested in the group tended to see themselves as submissives rather than bottoms, and Dominants rather than Tops. UPEX focused largely on the mental D/s aspects of BDSM a little more than the physical SM techniques, although of course those still play a major part. There's everything "right" and nothing "wrong" with either approach, simply a difference in the flavor of the group. Meetings were classes, demonstrations, and roundtable discussions with everyone having an equal voice.

The group dissolved in 2006 due to political disagreement between some members and gradual decline in interest.

Wasatch Leathermen's Association (WLA)

The Wasatch Leathermen's Association is a social organization for individuals who share a common interest in the leather lifestyle. It is founded upon the principles of Brotherhood, Pride, Respect and Service. It exists to facilitate the individual growth of its members; to foster a better understanding of the lifestyle; to teach safe, sane, and consensual sexuality; and to enhance the community through charitable events.

The Wasatch Leathermen's Association held its first meeting on April 29th, 2001 at Club Blue. Bryant B is credited as one the forces that helped lay the foundations of the WLA. The first chairperson was Neil S, the co-chairperson was Rod F, and Kenny was the secretary. There were 20 men in attendance at that first meeting. The officers in 2002 were:
    Neil S, Chair
    Tom G, Co-Chair
    Brett W, Treasurer
    Rich H, Photographer and Historian
    Evan P, Director of Media

In their short time, they established two major events: the "Mr Salt Lake Leather Competition" and the "Blue Alley Fair," which was held at the end of summer.

You could also find them arresting people on a regular basis at the UGRA rodeo and Pride day events for the Jail and Bail, to raise funds for a variety of charitable programs such as PWACU (People with Aids Coalition,) Utah Aids Foundation, and Angel Tree. People paid to have their friends arrested and placed in a cage and then the person who was detained needed to convince someone to pay their bail to get them out of the cage.

This group dissolved in 2005 or 2006 due to lack of those interested in running the organization.

Wasatch Women of Leather (WWOL) ~

In February of 2002 it was decided that there was a need for a women's group in the community. Ronnie N organized and set up the first meeting held on April 27th, 2002. It was decided at that meeting that anyone who attended a meeting during the first three months would be considered a founding member. There were 20 founding members with three elected officers. The original officers were: Chairman Ronnie, Co-chairman Bullet, and Secretary Lisa.

Their Mission Statement was: "Wasatch Women of Leather (WWOL) is a social organization dedicated to creating an understanding that leather and BDSM do not mean abuse." For them, nothing was more important than having fun together and building a safe place for women of leather to gather and support each other.

Their stated values included:
    * Integrity
    * Honesty
    * Tolerance
    * Honor
    * Striving for excellence
    * Community responsibility
    * Acceptance and overcoming challenges

WWOL sought to:

    * Create a strong leather community
    * Remove the guilt
    * Provide service to all parts of the community
    * Redefine the social definition of leather women
    * Holistically support their members

During its first 6 months, fundraisers were held for the Titleholder's Travel fund to help Ronnie N and Rod F (Mr Salt Lake Leather at the time) to travel as needed for their titles, and the Club Blue Legal Defense Fund. WWOL also had a booth at the Blue Alley Fair and the Pride Day Celebration. They collected donations for the Battered Womens' Shelter at the YWCA. Club pins were created to interlock with the Wasatch Leathermen's Association pin to show the unity between the two clubs and a patch was designed for the group.

The last official WWOL event held was a High Tea and poetry reading in 2005, and that year's students of the Wasatch Academy for the Refinement of Ladies and Gentlemen of Leather served those ladies in attendance.

Rocky Mountain Ms Leather 2002-2003

When Ronnie N decided to run for the Rocky Mountain Ms Leather Title at Thunder in the Mountains in Denver Colorado in 2002, it provided an opportunity for the four different leather groups to unite together in a common cause.

Utah Power Exchange, Utah PowerPlay and the Wasatch Leathermen's Association all donated money to her travel fund and sponsored her at the event. And even though the Wasatch Women of Leather was still new they provided plenty of support in helping her to prepare for the competition. She was the first Utah titleholder to bring the title home from Denver.

During her title year she helped organize a fundraiser to benefit the Club Blue Legal Fund. She participated in a fundraiser in Denver to raise funds for the Colorado Springs Gay and Lesbian Center that was burned down by vandals. In January of 2003, she resigned the title for personal reasons. Jae from the Denver area assumed the title and became the official Rocky Mountain Ms Leather 2002-03 from that time forth. Before stepping down, Ronnie took on this project of putting together as much information as she could on the history of the leather community in Utah so that people could see how the Utah leather community has evolved over the years. 

Current History, circa 2004-2009...

Here's where we continue to build on this record of the local community, detailing the end of most (if not all) of the above leather organizations, and the rise of new groups to take their place. Here's where the rest of the community can contribute:

A surprising number of changes have happened in the last 5 years...

EDITORS NOTES - The information herein was originally compiled in 2002 and 2003 by Ronnie N from myriad information sources and many of the past and current members of the Salt Lake Leather Community by way of emails, questionnaires, and personal interviews. I have been maintaining the history from time to time with major changes, and now I'm trying to compile a more up-to-date current history because I feel it could be a valuable community resource. If you can contribute further information (missing information such as when WWOL stopped meeting, or a current rundown on the history of other local groups such as The Path) please feel free to contact me by email at with whatever information you can offer. -- Christopher B

LAST GENERAL UPDATE: 20-October-2009

(Utah PowerPlay and Journeyman III Academy detailed histories updated by Sunny on 23-October-2009)
(Images cleaned up 4-March-2012)

All items included in this archive were donated by members of the Salt Lake Leather Community for the purposes of preserving the record of our local leather history. Ronnie donated three Items from the Wasatch Leathermen's Motorcycle Club: (1) A Falcon Fight T-shirt from one of the runs they hosted, (2) A Club Pin, (3) A book of matches from one of the Falcon Fight motorcycle runs. She has also donated a PowerPlay t-shirt, a Journeyman III t-shirt, one pin each from the Wasatch Leathermen's Association and the Wasatch Women of Leather connected together, a Wasatch Women of Leather Club Patch, a flyer from the first leather weekend produced by the Rocky Mountain Dragons and the Wasatch Leathermen Motorcycle club featuring the Mr/Ms Utah Leather contest, along with a blank form that the contestants had to fill out in order to compete in the contest (not pictured), a flyer for the Wasatch Women of Leather and the Wasatch Leathermen's Association Club Blue legal fund raiser (not pictured), and a copy of the first original flyer for Wasatch Women of Leather (which at that time had not been named yet) that was placed at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center introducing the group (not pictured). Christopher donated two of the original UPEX club patches and a bound copy of the UPEX by-laws (not pictured). An anonymous member of the Wasatch Leathermen's Association donated the Wasatch Leathermen's Association uniform shirt. Jodi donated the printing of a new banner for the Wasatch Women of Leather so that the original could be sent to the archives (not pictured). Also, much thanks must be given to Lady Athenea for spellchecking and grammatical corrections throughout this document.

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