James Kane (born circa 1929 and died in 2004) was an American gay leatherman and biker.
Involvement in Leather and Gay Life
Circa 1967, as Guy Baldwin recalled, Kane became the ﬁrst man Guy ever saw in full leather, which occurred in a Denver gay bar called the Pirate’s Den; Guy said of that: “All of a sudden a man walked in the door and leaned against the wall just inside the door of a long, narrow bar, and he was in full leather and dark glasses. And that was the moment… the instant the fulcrum moment at which my sexuality shifted…. That man was Jim Kane…. There was an aura that radiated around him for about 3-1/2 feet in all directions, and I moved so that I could be near him. As I got closer I began to encounter this force ﬁeld that the man generated.”
Kane was one of the founders of the Rocky Mountaineers Motorcycle Club, Denver’s first gay motorcycle club, founded in 1968.
Circa 1971, Ike Barnes became Kane’s BDSM slave, and Kane left the Roman Catholic priesthood (which he had previously belonged to) and moved to 11 Pink Alley, San Francisco with Barnes. There they set up a dungeon, which was written about in two stories by Sam Steward (under the pseudonym Phil Andros) in Drummer magazine – “Babysitter” in Drummer number 5, in 1976, and “Many Happy Returns” in issue 8. Their dungeon was also featured in an article in Drummer 17, about “Famous Dungeons of San Francisco”; however, Jim and Ike were called “Mel and Gary” respectively in that article.
Kane ofﬁciated gay weddings before they were legally recognized, and conducted funeral services for gay men who died of AIDS.
Papers of Kane’s are held at the Leather Archives & Museum.
Kane was inducted into the Leather Hall of Fame in 2016.
In 2017, the art installation known as the San Francisco South of Market Leather History Alley was installed; in it Kane (among others) is honored with a bronze bootprint displaying his name and a short statement about him.