Friday, September 26, 2014

Memories of Wolfs, the San Diego Leather Bar

Hundreds more articles like this can be found
at the Kink Mentoring Archives… Spread the word!

If you have memories or pictures of Wolfs to share, send them to me at papatony, and I will add them below.

Papa Tony:
For decades, San Diego's largest leather bar was called Wolfs, located at the corner of 30th and Upas in North Park. At various times, Moose Leather (a tailoring-shop for leather gear) was across the street to the south, and Ringold Alley (a shop that sold exotic and trendy new toys and gear from across the world, along with lube, porn and dildos) was next door to the north.

Image stolen from Vintage San Diego's Facebook page.

The Crypt leather shop mentioned in the poster was INSIDE the bar. It was nothing much - Just various toys, lube and small items of gear. Armbands, rings for fingers and cock-rings, minor stuff like that.

This picture shows the inside of the Crypt inside Wolfs bar. Taken September 1999.

The chain-link fencing provided a small enclosure around the glass case, and a SMALL space for men standing in front and behind the case, with camouflage netting over everything.

Back in the days before the Internet, bars like Wolfs were our biggest social centers, with 400-600 men showing up during the course of a busy Friday or Saturday night.

I used to love going there, but it was very lonely for me until I figured out what I was doing wrong. I would go through the internal doorway in full leather (flagging Top in every visible way), ducking my head because I am so tall, and then stop to shoot the cuffs on my leather jacket while I looked the crowd over.

Nobody would look at me. Nobody.

I'd push my way through the crowd, looking from side to side with a big, inviting smile. No responses. If anything, men around me would freeze in position, like stuffed animals in a diorama. This would baffle me, because I am an extreme extrovert, with high-level social skills. I just could NOT break through.

After taking several lonely circuits of the bar, I'd leave and go home frustrated.

Then, one time, I brought a buddy. Since I am so huge, I would push through the crowd ahead of him, making an easy path for him. When we came to a stop, he couldn't stop marveling at how everybody STARED at me. I was astonished, because I saw no such thing. He said "They are waiting until you go past, and then they whip their heads around."

I realized that each man was waiting for the Big Top to choose him, and was freezing in place, showing me his best side.

I've told many men this story as a parable for how NOT to snare a big Sir, or that cute boy. Passivity, stoicism and wishful thinking (in both directions) doesn't do anybody any good. Channel your inner slut and POUNCE upon the object of your desire. Yes, it increases the odds of a hurtful rejection, but it also vastly cuts down on the loneliness that divides us too often.

This photo was taken in August 1999, as decorative filler for the leather column I wrote for the Gay & Lesbian Times back then.

Wolfs was legendary for hosting "Back Room Parties" once a month. Toward the end of the bar's life, that was the ONLY profit-making night. There was a general opinion that the man who owned Wolfs was using it as a tax dodge for the many other properties that he owned in Palm Springs.

About the Back Room parties:

Wolfs was divided in half, with a door at each end of the bar to allow traffic between the two rooms. On the Back Room nights, guards were stationed at the two doors. Men were only allowed entry into the back room if:

- They were in some sort of clearly-identifiable leather or fetish gear, or,

- They were shirtless.

Naturally, many men chose to go shirtless. It saved money!

This image shows the Slave Auction at Wolfs, on Saturday, March 3, 2001. The man who is tied up is being flogged to raise money for AIDS charities.

Wolfs had a stage for contests and benefit auctions inside the back room by the Crypt mini-store, which you can see in the back of this photo. Look for the chain-link fencing.

The very first Leather Pride started the ball rolling in 1998, and it all started in San Diego. This moved the Mr. San Diego Leather contest to March of each year - the best time of the year, weather-wise, for this of us who like to WEAR LEATHER. I'm hoping that the powers that be move it back from AUGUST, which is the worst time of year for gearing-up.

To explain the photo - We always held a full week of events designed to celebrate leaders, volunteers, artists and artisans, affinity-group and businesses that catered to the kink/leather/fetish community. To spread the glory around, we would have events at various venues with different themes.

This pic shows two of the contestants for Mr. San Diego Leather 1999. Mike Hargiss is in the center, and he won the contest handily. The gentleman in the white shirt is wearing gear that belonged entirely to me, because I felt sorry for the poor schnook. He had no gear, and he wanted to run for the title!

That's me on the far left, many years (and pounds) ago. The gentleman on the far right was a buddy of mine, and I include him because he KNEW how to dress up right for a night on the town!

Promotional text:

Meet 'n Greet at Wolfs for Mr. San Diego Leather Contestants, January 9, 1999. Official "Meet and Greet," on Friday the 19th at 9PM at Wolfs. This where the judges for the contest meet the contestants, and so can you!

Wear your favorite leather-levi attire and meet some of the finest leathermen and leatherwomen anywhere, and have a great time of fellowship and fun.

Wolf's will be celebrating its anniversary on Friday, April 2, 1999, from 11PM to 2AM with a party including drink specials and food. This wonderful bar has filled an important function in our community for 12 years!

For those of us who REALLY like leathermen, there were some seriously flirtatious, humpy men at the Meet and Greet Party (and Backroom Night Plus) at Wolf's.

JUST before the end of Wolfs:

These are some of the happy men who made the Fetish party complete

I was doing everything I could to save the leather bars in San Diego, because the Internet was strip-mining our community at an ever-increasing rate. We were losing our social centers, and I was in full panic mode.

I tried to get a dance-party started at Wolfs, once they acquired a cabaret license, but it simply didn't take off like my Rampart Party at Shooterz.

Here was the publicity from August 29, 2004:


We now have a new place to dance - Wolfs got its cabaret license recently (after years of paperwork) and has a surprisingly well-laid-out dance-floor. Nobody can figure out where the pool-tables went! I attended the first official dance-party there last Friday, and it went very well - a lot of my buddies from the old days at Rampart showed up, sniffing around to see if they'd fit in - Sure enough, we all did!

It's a welcoming, satisfying place to dance, and the folks at Wolfs are happy to accommodate ideas and requests. Show up any Friday night from now on, and boogie with a bunch of nice guys. I've asked if I can host the first Friday of each month, and I sure hope that I can - I miss hosting parties!

On the following night, Perry and the crew from Ringold Alley hosted yet another successful Fetish party at Wolfs.

Once again, the party was very well-attended and fun - In fact, it was so crowded that the St. Andrew's Cross was difficult to use (it's hard to swing a flogger without unintentionally hitting a by-stander), but a few men succeeded!

Just like the first one, it was a smash hit - Perry is the kind of Daddy that knows how to bring everything together. John, Carl, Scott and the rest of the crew from Wolfs are really changing things for the better.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Folsom Tips For Newbies: Audio, Links and Advice

Hundreds more articles like this can be found
at the Kink Mentoring Archives… Spread the word!

This is an updated version of an earlier article.  Basically, I added some audio, and updated all of the links.

Papa Tony:
The Folsom Street Fair is coming up pretty quickly (Sunday, September 30, 2018). If you haven't yet made travel-plans, now would be a really good time to get that handled. Here is my previous post about tracking down lodging.

Every year, there are first-timers who might accidentally miss out by just showing up, without being on the right party lists, and not knowing where to go. So, I'm using this space to gather together everybody's suggestions and shared wisdom based on experience.

• Start by reading this article from Leatherati, posted in 2011.  It contains a lot of great wisdom, particularly on the best way to find private parties.

• If you're interested in a non-sexual kinky gay men's play-party like no other, I can certainly recommend the 15 Association's Folsom Weekend play party will be on Saturday evening, September 29th, 2018, from 6pm to Midnight. Be SURE to fill out the application beforehand, for an invitation to this event, if you aren't already friends with a man who is already on the list.  IF YOU ARE NOT ON THE LIST, YOU WILL NOT GET IN!

As I say in the 24-minute audio, the following is advice from an older, kinky and dominant gay-male, who has zero interest in big, hot parties.  If those are your interest, there is NO lack of fun for your tastes.

My audio recording talks about the PRACTICAL stuff, such as packing some bandage wrap.  Why?  There is a LOT of walking (San Francisco blocks are very long), and even the best-fitting boots can wear holes in your feet.

Lost Treasures

I am sad to say, I have had to delete a LOT of great recommendations from the previous versions of this article. Places like Stompers Boots, Worn Out West, Butler Uniform, Bear Magazine headquarters, Madame S and so many other long-time kinky destinations were driven out of business by sky-high rental costs, thanks to Silicon Valley millionaires driving up the value of the land.

I used to gather together at least twenty first timers together and give them a guided tour of San Franciscos Leather District.  We'd start at one end, and work our way over, street by street.  We NEVER made it to our final destination, though.  We'd be walking toward the last place on the list, and we would walk right by the Factory Outlet Lamps and Fixtures store display window.  These butch leathermen would squeal "Oh, my god!  Did you see those cunning little SCONCES?"

So, they'd head inside, and that would be the end of the tour.

Ah, well.  At least I have happy memories.  I've been going to Folsom Street Fair for 34 years.  A lot has changed, but in the case of the Fair itself, it's just gotten HUGE!

In my own case, I like to arrive EARLY for the Street Fair on Sunday, and then leave around 3:30, because it's just SO CROWDED.  As in, if somebody following closely around me gets separated, it can take them ten minutes to catch up to me.  From twenty feet away.  Bring sunscreen, drink lots of water, and carry a backpack if you plan to strip down.

Take the time in the days before the Street Fair to really, thoroughly visit the local gay-male tourist sites:

Mr. S Leather at 385 8th Street is a MADHOUSE in the days before the Street Fair, which makes it that much more enticing. Jammed with happy, kinky tourists from all over the planet, it's beyond entertaining, and the best shopping-opportunity you can find in one place. Beware of Squanderlust!  It's hard to leave without bags of great gear.

The day BEFORE the Street Fair is when you want to visit Mister S.  The place is JAMMED. See and be seen.  Cute boys are everywhere, serving free beer, answering questions and decorating the place with their beauty.

If I am bringing a newly-collared boy to the Street Fair for his first time, I will bring him to Mister S.  I always order him to strip down to his boots and nothing else, wearing my collar.  I tell him to stay away from me for at least an hour, and to talk to random people in the crowded store.

When he reports back in, he is dizzy with pleasure.  He has never been naked in public for so long, and everyone that interacts with him starts by asking "Who collared you?"  When he points at me, they say "You are very lucky!"  He is finally understanding what being collared by a Sir can be like.

One block away from Mister S at 1201 Folsom Street is Leather Etc. It is a treasure for those of us in the know.  Why?  It is run by a family that makes the leather shirts and pants that are sold at Mister S for a LOT more money.  You can buy them a block away at the factory outlet store for quite a bit less!  The staff is TRUSTWORTHY - they will never steer you wrong.  Let them help you find your heart's desire in leather form!

Wicked Grounds

As far as I know, it's the only full-time, entirely-kinky coffee shop on earth.  GREAT staff, and a warm, welcoming environment.  Highly recommended.


As soon as you pull into town and dump off your luggage, be sure to take the trolley to the Castro and have breakfast in a window-seat at The Cove on Castro at 434 Castro Street (across the street from the Castro Theater), particularly on Saturday before the Street Fair. The kinky tourists will be swarming past the place in full regalia, and it makes for a GREATLY entertaining meal.

If you are going to San Francisco for ANY reason, sample the superb restaurants.  North Beach has some spectacular Italian restaurants, all competing on the basis of their excellent reputations.  Expect to lick the plates when you are done.  I like to visit Mona Lisa when I am in town.

If you like seafood, I strongly recommend Tadich Grill.  It's a tradition for me to get my seafood urges satisfied there.

Obligatory San Francisco Joke

One time, my husband and I decided to do a few typically touristy San Francisco things while we were in town.  We rode the cable cars, visited several museums, and headed over to Fisherman's Wharf.  We wandered by an outdoor seafood restaurant, where tourists sat at picnic tables, eating seafood and tossing shells into 55-gallon drums.

I saw a King Crab carapace in one of the trash bins, and picked it up.  I pulled the legs off, and then placed it on my forehead.  In my deepest voice, I said "IT IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE!  I AM FISHERMAN'S WORF!"

What other places/parties/events would you recommend?

If you have more tips that would help others, please pass them along to me at papatony - I will archive them over the years, and keep sending them out!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Three of My Heroes

From Papa Tony:

I have a hero, and his name is Eric Paul Leue. This man is deeply wise, informed and has the courage of a lion. I urge everyone to read this interview, and to be properly informed about PrEP, an intensely valuable topic.

In my own case, I know how damaged I am, as a result of losing so many brothers to AIDS thirty years ago. It has warped my perspective, inhibited my ability to be truly intimate, and cut short my relationships due to misunderstandings and unreasoning panic.

I'm not the only one. I'm just keenly aware of my limitations (therapy has helped), and I am actively working to get past the damage, and to keep an open mind. Old attitudes that became locked in because of a frantic instinct for SURVIVAL have caused me (and my generation) to freak out about sex, inhibitions, intimacy and ecstasy. We've got serious hang-ups, but we are so close to it, we simply can't see the extent. Please forgive us - It's social PTSD.

If we as a culture are going to get better, we are going to have to TALK about sex, as it is, right now, rather than dragging around old decisions and attitudes that have become obsolete. If better days are going to come for us all, it's time that we start a whole new conversation.

Here is where it starts.

I have another hero, and his name is Mr. San Diego Leather 2012/American Leatherman 2013 Aaron Duke, otherwise known as "Leather Oprah" :->

His style is to initiate DEEP, meaningful and substantive conversations on Facebook that move the ball forward for the Leather/Kink/Fetish culture.

These online discussions can get contentious, and emotions can run high, but nobody gets outright mean, because they respect Aaron so much. He asks the questions that need to be asked, in order to bring about meaningful change in our culture's attitudes, traditions and expectations.

Like Oprah, he has an easy, warm and welcoming style. He is NOT a perfect example of a human being (have you ever met one?), and he lets it ALL hang out, without shame or pretense. He embodies "What You See Is What You Get". On one hand, this can mean that his opinions or reactions may discomfort you. One the other hand, you can TRUST that what he says is what is truly so for him. His stock-in-trade is his deep authenticity.

Every once in a while, I like to dive deep into one of the more contentious, LONG discussion-threads. In fact, Aaron's virtual salon is the only place on Facebook where I do so.

If you crave much more from our Tribe than you are normally getting, this is a great place to start.

I have another hero, and his name is Mr. San Diego Leather 2014 James. He has bravely come out publicly, telling his truth about his struggle with PTSD. Please watch his newest video, and you will find every reason to love and trust him, as I do. It takes a mature, masculine man to shed his tears without shame.