Last of the NYC Leathermen

Uploaded by vice on Jul 18, 2012


THOMAS: It's the gift booth, right?
Or the accessories booth?
CHRISTOPHE: The leatherman booth.
THOMAS: It's a working elevator
here inside The Eagle.
Oh, wow.

Leathermen used to be the deepest, darkest mystery that
the gay subculture had.
The sex lives and drug intake of these tough homos made even
the rowdiest, straight Hell's Angels look like pussies.
They were like a gang of butt-fucking werewolves.
CHRISTOPHE: Splits your balls, your left and your right.
THOMAS: When AIDS came on the scene, the leathermen were
right on the firing line.
Today, catching one in full regalia outside the small
handful of leather clubs that remain is like spotting a
Fearing that they may soon be totally extinct, I decided to
dive head first into their world.
The last of the great New York leather bars is The Eagle, so
I started my quest there.
Luckily, I soon met the best guy I could have hoped for.
Christophe Andre is a long-time leatherman.
And he was the winner of last year's Mr.
Eagle beauty pageant.
He also sells handcuffs and dildos in an
elevator at the bar.
CHRISTOPHE: So that's $287.74.
Do you want a bag for this?
Now what happens tonight is tonight we call Code on
Thursdays at The Eagle.
I think I saw that sign.
CHRISTOPHE: And basically what we try to encourage here is
for men to come in in leather gear, all leather gear, as
much as possible.
We encourage no running shoes.
We encourage no dress shoes or suits, ties, dress shirts,
polo shirts, and definitely no cologne.
CHRISTOPHE: Gay men do not like cologne.
CHRISTOPHE: No, we like the natural smell of a man.
THOMAS: Is that enforced under punishment of expulsion if you
catch somebody with cologne who sneaks in?
They're out.
CHRISTOPHE: So the only thing that I will do for you is just
give you that leatherman look, a little crease.
Just kind of fold you up here a little bit.
THOMAS: Nice and flabby.
CHRISTOPHE: Make you look a little more relaxed.

CHRISTOPHE: There you go.
THOMAS: The leather scene supposedly started with guys
coming home from World War II who missed all the
freewheeling sex and bro-ing down the army provided.
As a result, a big military vibe runs
through the whole scene.
That baker hat they all wear was swiped from the Nazis, as
was a lot of other gear, like jack boots and riding crops.
On my first night in The Eagle, I saw a couple dressed
completely like biker cops.
CHRISTOPHE: I spoke to you guys about this before.
This is the current Mr. Eagle.
This is Rick Weber.
So he's Mr. Eagle, the year 2007.
This is Thomas from Vice magazine.
THOMAS: Pleasure to meet you.
RICK: Nice meeting you.
CHRISTOPHE: And the camera man.
This is Matthew.
This is Rick Weber.
THOMAS: Since grooming is so vital, a lot a leather bars
have their own house barbers.
This is Jake, The Eagle's barber.
The second he saw me he said, I can't wait to get rid of
that little Harry Potter thing you've got going.
He was hands down the scariest fag I'd never met.
So I said all right.
I have to hold this mic up to my mouth because it's loud as
shit in here.
So we're over in the barber's corner.
There's some pretty heavy guy on guy on harness with guys
around him action going on on a screen above the bar.
I've been watching, people have got wrist
and arm bands on.
And I'm going to ask Christophe in a little while
if this stuff about left and right arm is
really adhered to.
They fetishized the living shit out of the
whole haircut process.
They've got an actual barber's chair in one
corner of the room.
All the products they use are these 1950s era old man
things, like pomade and talcum powder.
And they keep the chair facing the dick
porn to keep you hard.
The whole thing's a production.
Over the course of my shave, I was slapped in the head,
kissed on the neck, and gingerly humped.
All while Jake assured me that he was taking it easy on me.
I guess this is the leather equivalent of watching the big
game in a La-Z-Boy while being serviced by Hooters girls.
CHRISTOPHE: Look at you!
THOMAS: New person.
CHRISTOPHE: Look at you.
THOMAS: I'm now getting showered with adulation for
having sat through a haircut.
MALE SPEAKER: It's beautiful!
CHRISTOPHE: You're a new man.
MALE SPEAKER: Jake is a great barber.
CHRISTOPHE: Have you looked in a mirror?
This new hair will get you a lot of attention.
THOMAS: Oh, yeah?
CHRISTOPHE: Yeah, I think so.
THOMAS: Getting back to my question about the arm bands.
CHRISTOPHE: You know, flagging is not done as much anymore.
And it's something that you see very little
of now in New York.
You see, it started out, I believe, in San Francisco.
But you really don't see it as much in New York.
So anyone that wants to flag whatever
they're in the mood for.
So anything that's on the left pocket, or the arm, or the
wrist indicates usually that you're a top.
You're the dominant of the two.
THOMAS: You're giving it.
Anyone that has it on the right means they want to
receive it.
Some of them are very common sense.
Yellow, you kind of know what that means.
It's piss.
Red is fisting.
The light blue here is cocksucker or cock-suckee.
THOMAS: Can I ask what the other colors are?
What's after light blue, if it's cocksucker?
CHRISTOPHE: So we did these.
So that's fisting, piss, cocksucker.
There is the navy blue, which is just basic fucking.
Black is S&M. Pink--
what do you think pink might be?
THOMAS: Dresses?
I don't know, transvestites?
OK, that makes sense.
I don't even think I want to even discuss brown.
THOMAS: That's fine.

CHRISTOPHE: Oh, we got a cab, yes!
And a big one.
Just the ones I like.
THOMAS: We went home and got a couple hours of sleep.
Then I had to go help Christophe move his bike for
the street sweeper.
So we're back in Christophe's apartment.
So far the leather community doesn't seem too bad.
Due to fair warning, I didn't venture into the upstairs
bathrooms, where supposedly a lot of the action is.
The one thing everybody bought and, like, one after the other
sliding in was the amyl nitrate poppers.
I think it's just, like, kind of a concentrated stimulant,
or something.
I thought it was supposed to relax your ass.
But he was saying that most commonly use it just right
before getting in the sack.
Or I don't know if they have a sack.
I'm really not sure what it does, actually.
We'll give that a shot when the mood is right.
Eager to see what that scene's all about.
We're back at Code night again.
I'm actually dressed to code tonight.
The shirt's a little blousie.
Now that we've been introduced to the scene, I think we'll
just cut back and enjoy the--

I don't know what it would be called, the fringe benefits?
It's not even that.
Enjoy some things.
Well, this is a collar.
You know, basically what a collar can
stand for, many things.
Someone gets collared, they're a boy, they're a slave.
It really identifies with being more submissive, a
bottom, maybe [INAUDIBLE] a submissive boy.
These are what we call a ball stretcher.
Your balls come through.
THOMAS: They go through that?
How much are those?
CHRISTOPHE: It's a range from $12 and up.
THOMAS: Can I try that one on?
I guess I'd have to figure out my size, wouldn't I?
CHRISTOPHE: Well, we start at one inch.
CHRISTOPHE: And they're not easy to get on.
Some guys can get them on really quickly.
Some guys you need to really struggle.
So it's a matter of just taking this like this.
And just kind of--
THOMAS: Dropping them in.
CHRISTOPHE: --popping them in.
As soon as you've got them in, you're able just to pull out
and push this up that way.

I may have to help you.
THOMAS: Oh, and now I'll drop in like that?
OK, and then you let go?
Oh, that's funny.
CHRISTOPHE: It can hurt.
THOMAS: It's not bad, though.
Do you want a shot of my disgusting looking balls in
this thing?
new frontiers here.
THOMAS: I don't know if you can show that or not.
And so you just wear this around?
CHRISTOPHE: You can wear this around the entire day.
So let's say you're going to be--

you choose your pocket.
THOMAS: All right.
Christophe helped me get fully geared up.
And finally, I was ready to experience the leather world
as a leatherman.
First stop, the fabled upstairs bathroom.
I'll see how it turns out.
How do I get there?


So it's an intense scene in that bathroom.

Jake had previously told me [INAUDIBLE] urinals, kind of
with a wall in between them.
And then once the wall stopped around here, like chest level,
it was chain-linked fence.
And you were standing across from people kind of pissing at
the same time.
What they didn't tell me is that pissing here usually may
mean having some guy go down on you while another guy's
getting butt-fucked right next to you.
But it's pretty Roman.
And it smelled genuinely unique.

I couldn't begin to describe the elements I assume are
going into that aroma.
Shit, piss, and tile cleaner being only three of many.
I decided to go up to the roof to cool off and get a
little fresh air.
We just came up to the roof, which is kind
of the cigar lounge.
And there's some dudes, like, maybe 10 yards that way.
When we got up here and walked down, one of them was going
down on the other.
And now they're just fucking.
It's kind of empty otherwise.
It's like a nice little smoker's lounge, or whatever,
cigar area.
And they're just totally going at it.
You know, I really had a lot of fun with the leathermen.
All the weird rules, the fancy clothes, the butt grabbing and
close contact and camaraderie.
It was like being in a secret club for tough guys.
At the same time, though, it never got me hard or made me
want to fuck any of the guys I was hanging out with.
So I guess there's this sort of disconnect there between me
and the folks who are really into it and get off on being
tied up, whipped.
In any case, dudes know how to party.
Oh, no, no.
CHRISTOPHE: He's a wimp!
THOMAS: I've got sensitive nips.
There we go.