by Brad Benedict, NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
The State Palace Theater on
Canal Street in New Orleans
was the site of the 1998 Mr. and Ms. Louisiana Leather contest. It was a star-filled extravaganza as only the Lords of Leather in the Crescent City can put together.
Once again, the extraordinarily handsome Frank Nowicki took on duties as Master of Ceremonies, but the headliners for the entire show and the judges made up a who's who of important leatherites from across the country. However, it was the crowning of Drake Higginbotham as Mr. Louisiana Leather 1998 and Lorna Pierce, as Ms. Louisiana Leather 1998 that brought everyone to their feet in approval of this couple and the prestigious titles they won.
Higginbotham, sponsored by Le Petite Bastile, won out over first runner-up, Chris Hall, sponsored by Knights D'Orleans, and second runner-up, Scott Garrett, sponsored by Gargoyles Leather. Others in this contest were: Alex Holmes, sponsored by Dr. Billy; Ricky Henry, sponsored by the Phoenix Bar; and Al Loupe Jr., sponsored by the Marrero Veterinary clinic. Pierce, a crowd favorite, was sponsored by Knights D'Orleans. First runner-up was Lorraine Aslakson, sponsored by Alternatives Tours and Travels, and second runner-up was Raven Greywalker, sponsored by the Phoenix Bar.
Others vying for the title were Esther Gail Norton, sponsored by Rubyfruit Jungle and Aria Da Capo, sponsored by the Phoenix Bar.
The list of judges was quite impressive, but this is usually the case with this contest, and it is a credit to the Lords of Leather for their excellent choices and the amount of work that they put into this event. The list included: Melvin Knight, Mr. Louisiana Leather 1997; Mitch Pierce, Mr. Louisiana Leather 1996; John Taylor, Mr. Louisiana Leather 1995; Kevin Cwayna, International Mr. Leather 1997; Mark Malin, Mr. Piston's Leather 1997; Larry Everett, International Mr. Leather 1995; Lenny Broberg, International Mr. Leather 1992; Jill Carter, International Ms. Leather 1996; and Scott Rodriguez, owner of The Cuff, Seattle's great leather bar.
The program opened with a fantastic Second Line Mardi Gras Mambo which put everyone in the spirit of the occasion. Where else but in New Orleans could you find such a fabulous introduction to a contest?! Categories for this event included leather streetwear, swimwear (jockstrap for male contestants and casual wear/fantasy for female contestants), and the all-important speech presentation category.
Throughout the contest there were some exceptionally talented and beautiful people. Jay Cooper and Danny Alford performed along with Sister Beat, a duo drum presentation, and Voodoo Priestess Ava Kay Jones, doing a spectacular snake dance. (At one point, one of the judges left his position as the huge reptile slithered around and attempted to come off the stage.) Other highlights of this contest included the final appearance by Knight, who passed on his crown to Higginbotham. The appearance of Cwayna was quite nice, but this is one of the most gorgeous of all leather men, and he definitely wears the title well.
Represented in the audience were the Mardi Gras krewes from New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport, including the present royalty title holders and newly-announced title holders for the coming bal masque season.
From the front entrance of this spacious theater to the individual seating areas, the place was packed with beautiful people, young and old, enjoying the top competition event of the leather year.
The group acknowledged Jared Campo for his work on this event, which was met with approval through the applause it generated. The winners and all the other candidates met with much attention from those present when the show ended.
As the theater emptied, the crowd merged onto Canal Street, some leaving for home and others heading for the Southern Decadence celebration taking place in the French Quarter. It was the close of another proud and enjoyable presentation from the magnificent men of the Lords of Leather.