In Part 1 IAN ALLAN told PAUL STAG all about what it was like being gay and interested in leather when being queer was purely and simply illegal, shunned by society and dangerous, through the initial times of change with Stonewall up until the ‘backward step’ in so many ways and devastation to so many of the 80’s AIDS pandemic. Here we pick up in the 1990’s with the infamous Spanner Case, through the birth of Manchester Leathermen club on to the happy diversified International gay fetish existence we all enjoy today with so many rights won….but of course always with more work to be done for full equality Worldwide and with one eye on those who would love to drag us back into the hidden shadows of the 50’s and 60’s.
Were you aware of the infamous Spanner Case at the time? (The Spanner Case is probably the most famous gay fetish trial ever – see earlier AT features – where basically a group of gay fetish men were arrested and charged when In 1987 the Police acquired a videotape depicting CONSENSUAL sadomasochistic sexual activity between a group of guys, including a sequence in which one man passed a nail through a piercing in another man’s foreskin and hammered it into a block of wood, before making a series of incisions into the man’s penis with a scalpel (very similar to a interview for a job at Alphatribe!))
Yes, I did know of the Spanner case & contributed to the Appeal to assist the Defence prepare for the Trial & the subsequent Appeal. There are many viewpoints on the Spanner Case so I will limit my comments but I suggest that the Prosecution was brought through a misconception or perhaps misinterpretation of what `Consent` in relation to sexual activity meant.
On to happier times along with Saxon Whittle in the mid Nineties i believe you started the now Award-Winning Manchester Leathermen and you were its first ever President. What was the Manchester leather and fetish scene like at the time, what was the thinking behind the need for the association and how successful was it in the First couple of years?
To recap, in the 1980`s & 1990`s there was a very successful Leather & Fetish Club based in Manchester called MSC Manchester Sup Chain, or to give it`s full name, Motor Sports Club Manchester Super Chain – MSCMSC.
For varied reasons by the early years of 2000 2001-2 the Club Membership fell. I had been a member since the start of the Club in 1982-3 and helped at Club Events but was not one of the Club Officers. Then in 2001-2002 I was asked if I would become Hon Treasurer & then when asked to be Secretary managed to embroil a Friend into taking my place as Treasurer. In 2013 the then President, David Hall died suddenly & there was a need for a President. By this time the Membership had dropped to about 35 people with a number who for various reasons were inactive, either they lived at a distance or were getting older or had work difficulties etc. We had a meeting & I was invited to become President. I agreed but on condition that we took some form of action, either we expanded & attracted more Members or we closed the Club.
By great fortune a Friend, Andrew Moran, mentioned that one or two people of which Saxon Whittle was one who were talking about the possibility of forming a Group for those interested in the leather & fetish scene & coincidently I also met the late Sly Hands who was an inspiration to me at that time, & who was a vital part of the recently formed Manchester Rubbermen. Sly`s sudden death brought much sadness to both to me and so many others.
After several Meetings it was agreed to create a new name that of Manchester Leathermen uniting and aging Group of people that had some financial resources with a younger Group of people, a simpler name than the rather cumbersome MSCMSC – Manchester Super Chain Motor Sport Club.
By good fortune Saxon & I found that our varied ideas moulded together, we both felt that that given the success of Manchester Rubbermen that there was no reason why there should not be a successful Leather & Fetish Club in the North of England never mind Greater Manchester. It is greatly due to all the work that Saxon & the initial Core Team gave to Manchester Leathermen that created the foundation for the Club that continues today and my heartfelt thanks go to all those who have continued to give their own voluntary time so the Manchester Leathermen is still with us today.
Due to this faithful service Manchester Leathermen, or rather more especially `THE CORE TEAM & MEMBERS ` have tried to be mindful of others and part of this is a proud record of raising Funds for varied LGBT Charities, taking part in Pride Parades both in Manchester & further afield.
As Manchester Leathermen so to speak rose like a phoenix out of Manchester Super Chain we received much support from other Clubs both in the United Kingdom & mainland Europe with the Club Members of ECMC supported greatly by the Secretary the late Daniel Dumont approving the name change from Manchester Super Chain to Manchester Leathermen. Although not enormous the Records & Archives of Manchester Super Chain MSC, have been donated to Bishopsgate Library in London.
A personal highlight during my time as the 1st President was when our Member, Joe King said he was intending to enter the` Mr Leather UK` Event, I said that if he won, I would go to Helsinki to support him if he entered the `Mr leather Europe` Event. In Helsinki I then said that if he became Mr Leather Europe, I would go to IML (International Mr Leather) in Chicago, again in support, which we both did. A very special & memorable time for us both.
As a visitor old and new how have the fetish cities you know well like Amsterdam and Berlin developed from your First visits last Century to the present day?
I suppose there has been a combination of the increasing desire since the Mid20th century for people to Travel combined with the emergence of a much freer life style allowing many Gays with varied interests to seek out places of interest. The Netherlands & yes, Amsterdam were in the lead & the Parties at CCC & D.O.K & the emergence of Waarmstraat & the surrounding with its Bars, Cafes & Restaurants brought many to ask `why can`t we do this in our City` Some Clubs started to become famous by word of mouth, the Vavageur Club in Eindhoven being an example. Additionally, some Countries became more tolerant of the LGBT World leading to the reform of Laws relating to sexual activity, this led to the opening of Bars & Venues in many Cities & Towns in both Europe & further afield.
What are your thoughts on fetish diversification with rubber, puppies, bears, sportswear etc plus endless coloured and designed leather, kilts, crowns etc?
Since the 1950`s & 60`s there has been a vast increase in interest in what might be described as `non – trad leather – wear, Rubber, Puppies, Sportswear, Kilts & more. & to be brief – Why Not? It is splendid – as a additional comment, the arrival of so many `Puppies` in the Gay & LGBT World is amazing and fulfils a `need` for many.
What is your opinion of the State of the Leather Bar Scene & the rise of On-Line Sites & What`s App.
The Gay & LGBT Scene is changing, change happens all the time& whilst it is perhaps a sadness that Leather Bars are having a difficult time with many closing their doors for a variety of reasons not the least the often, high increases in a lease or rental costs & it remains to be seen how the 2020-2021 Covid Pandemic will affect the Gay Business World.
While some people are critical of On-Line Gay Internet Sites & What`s App the overall benefit I feel well outweighs what might be called faults & dangers. Prior to the evolution of the World Wide Web many Gay people who didn`t live in a large City or Town, could feel very lonely, that the phrase that comes to mind is -`The only Gay in the Village. The Internet is of fantastic value to them. & yes, I take into account the `oddballs` & troublemakers that can be on some Web Sites.
Q 14 – Can you believe the Internationalisation of the gay fetish scene with big circuit parties such as Folsom, Darklands, Leatherprides, MAL, Fetish Weeks etc attracting International travellers to week long events compared to what the ‘scene’ was like back in the 50’s-80’s?
The growth of Events often born out of Gay Pride Parades & Weeks has been a feature especially over the last twenty years or so & of course IML (International Mr Leather) Chicago, Folsom San Francisco/Folsom Europe, Darklands, Belgium/Antwerp & more have brought much pleasure for many. It is sometimes forgotten that the European Group ECMC has Annual Meetings, and has done long before the rise of many similar Events. Shhhhh don`t tell, of when I attended the ECMC meeting in Stuttgart & arrived at the main Party without my Ticket, but a nice Gentleman let me in.
BUT ABOIVE ALL PLAY HAPPILY BUT PLAY SAFELY.
How do you feel about the pretty universal acceptance of gay marriage and civil partnerships today?
Wonderful, I only wish that all those years ago I could have professed my love in such a way. The thanks of all of us are due to those pioneers who fought that Marriage & Civil Partnerships have become legal in a number of Countries but we should remember there are STILL so many Countries where Marriage or Partnership is banned or even worse terrible forms of oppression are the norm.
The arrival of PrEP and other medical developments along with Trans acceptance, darkrooms the size of 3 city blocks, gay people in positions of authority, less homophobia etc does this mean that young and old gay kinksters alike have never had it so good?
I pray that the day will come when there is a complete cure for HIV & Aids, for all people whatever their sexuality. The idea of Transgender is still a challenge for some people, often it is those who have forgotten the past when Homosexuality itself was only a subject one talked about in whispers. I remember an Aunt of my Mother talking in a low voice so I wouldn`t hear about a distant female Relative “shhhhh, – she, is one of those – you know`. There is still a long way to go so that Gay LGBT & Transgender Men & Women the world over can feel at ease and move freely no matter what Country they live in or whatever their colour, creed or race.
You were recently made Patron of ECMC, won the lifetime achievement award at the X-Awards: The World Gay Fetish Awards (And Manchester Leathermen the group you started have won Best Association in the World), you were kissed by President DeGaule and you carried Margarette Thatcher’s handbag and now you have been a judge at International Mr Leather (IML). You must be having the time of your life an as you reflect what has been your proudest moment & your personal favourite memory from the fetish scene?
Somewhere there is a recording of me slightly flippantly saying that my claim to fame was that I had been kissed by General (President) de Gaulle) & that I had carried Margaret Thatcher`s Handbag. I hasten to say briefly that one was at an Award in France & the other was in a work situation.
Memorable times – To give thanks for meeting my late Partner, Alexandre – & the sadness when he died as a result of a car crash that was not his fault.
The lives of all of us are full of ups & downs, if we all did a Graph of our lives there would be peaks & troughs. As I look back, I have been most fortunate, yes life has had it`s tough moments but there have been so many happy and memorable times that each day I say a personal, quiet thank you for all I have received. I have met, worked with & known countless wonderful people, so this is time to say THANK YOU ALL OF YOU PAST PRESENT and hopefully the future to those who have and still do enriching my life in so many ways.
Who would you say is the forgotten Hero of Gay Fetish?
It has to be a `Collective Prayer for all those whose lives so full of promise have died of Aids. May they never be forgotten.
Thank you for asking – Let the future be the future and as the old song says `Whatever will be, will be`.
ALPHATRIBE MAGAZINE would like to thank Ian Allan for being so generous with his time in the creation of this enlightening interview. We trust our readers have been entertained and educated by his fascinating answers, thoughts and anecdotes and we hope that if ever you see him at a fetish event you will buy him a drink and have a chat about any of the above with this truly fascinating man – after all he is and always will be the one and only LEATHER DADDY.