After hearing in The Villager that the New York Leather Weekend was canceled due to opposition from the Standard Hotel and the Food & Wine Festival, I keep wondering: Why is nobody organizing a protest?
Outsiders, freaks, rebels, queers, etc., are continually being driven out of the city by the New Normal. City life is becoming evermore standardized--sex is contained in a luxury glass box, the erotic is sublimated into food porn, and "Meatpacking" stands not for flesh, but the mere packaging of desire, sanitized for your approval.
Tim Murphy talks to Robert Valin about the controversy in 2007
As the Leather Fest's director, Robert Valin, put it, “The gay leather men put that place on the map.” The leather scene has deep roots in the Meat Market--but today its history has been wholly erased, as old-schoolers like Lenny Waller remind us.
The neighbors have fought against the Leather Festival from its beginnings. This year, with the High Line wielding its charms, queer-phobia has won, making MePa safe for hetero-normative brands of hedonism and exhibitionism to prevail.
Today, the Standard Hotel's guests waggle their willies at non-consenting High Line park visitors--yet queer sexuality is bad for the hotel's image.
Food fetishists argue that their gluttonous sublimations are somehow less about sex than those of leather fetishists.
And so we're confronted by yet another example of the Jonesifying of New York City. Smut is allowed only if it's wrapped in polished glass or couched in cute references to upscale foods, replaced by a vanilla version of the once-raw sexuality that found refuge in this part of town.
photo: NY Fest, by Alex Blevins
This coming weekend, instead of learning about something like safe bondage techniques, you can attend a Tea Seduction, "an aphrodisiac afternoon tea served with all the foods that stimulate the senses and arouse the appetite."
At Meatpacking Uncorked "chic boutiques will flow with a large selection of wines... tasting and shopping in the district will be infused with... sexy and sophisticated spectacles."
Sexy and sophisticated. Unlike those sexy, but unsophisticated spectacles put on by the leather crowd.
MePa billboard, photo: Blaise K
What if every one of us--freaks, queers, artists, outsiders, perverts, punks--crashed this party, dressed in leather? What if we refused to be erased?
Lenny & Leather
Men in Leather