The Novice Contestant

The Powerhouse, San Francisco, 1999

I’m at the Powerhouse for the Mr. Powerhouse Leather contest, whose winner will compete in Mr. San Francisco Leather during the Leather Week buildup to Folsom Street Fair. My buddies Doug and Leif are standing with me on our “perch”, the little raised platform on front of the second floor of the bar, from which we can survey the entire room. Over six years in SF, I will probably spend at least 200 evenings standing on that very spot.

The leather contest is being emceed by the eternal Mister Marcus, San Francisco’s (and indeed all of leatherdom’s) grand dame of leather pageantry. As is often the case for these contests, the festive mood of the bar’s customers are occasionally drowning out Mister Marcus as he questions the contestants, despite several acidic requests for the crowd to settle down and pay attention. “Gentlemen! Please! This is your Mr. Powerhouse!”

The usual suspects shuffle through their question and answer portions as Mister Marcus grills them about their leather expertise, their kinks, their fetishes. We’ve seen them all before, these guys. All of them perennial contestants, consistent non-winners. Like the rest of the bar, we’re pretty much ignoring the contest.

Suddenly, things liven up a bit. A really hot, really drunk guy has been cajoled into entering the contest. We’ve never seen him before tonight, although we’d noticed him staggering hotly around the bar before the contest. He clumsily climbs onto the stage and stands there swaying slightly (and hotly) as Mister Marcus peers skeptically over his reading glasses, from behind his podium.

The guy is clearly a novice on the leather scene and Mister Marcus gets annoyed after the contestant gives several clueless answers to some basic leathersex questions. Finally, Mister Marcus shifts to the basics. “Well, can you at least tell us if you’re a top or a bottom or switch?”

“Um, a…top?”

“You don’t seem too sure of that.”

“Top. Definitely.”

“OK, now we’re getting somewhere. And while you’re topping somebody, what scenes do you get into?”


Mister Marcus rolls his eyes. “Yes. Scenes. You know, like role playing, kinks, whatever. Do you do any of that?”

The contestant cocks his head, “Um, yeah man, I get dirty and all that.”

Mister Marcus’ eyes glint. He casts a conspiratorial look towards the audience and leaps on this opening. “Oh?? You get dirty? So you’re into scat??” The audience laughs.

The contestant furrows his brow. “Scat?”

“Yes. Scat! You do know what scat IS, don’t you?”

The contestant looks at the floor for a second, then snaps his head up. “Oh! Right! I know what that is! That’s where you do the dude…..and then you KILL him!”

If anything is said after that, nobody hears it. The screams of laughter from the audience go on and on and on.