The Los Angeles Band of Brothers is a Los Angeles-based organization of titleholders founded in 2010. There is only one criterion for entry: that the titleholder competed in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest. It was founded by Mike Gerle.
The club grew out of the titleholder system created by William Schindler and the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC) in the year 2000. Somewhere between nine and eleven Los Angeles area community bars, businesses, and organizations produce their own leather contests. The winner of each of those “feeder” contests goes on to compete for the Mr. Los Angeles Leather title. The winner then goes on to compete at International Mr. Leather where he represents Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Leather Coalition.
More than 100 men have competed in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest, and subsequently they were all invited to join the Los Angeles Band of Brothers. On April 15, 2010, 42 of those men formally accepted their invitation and the Los Angeles Band of Brothers (LABB) became an official organization. Each man competing in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest will become eligible to join the LABB. It is his decision to make.
LABB is a mentoring and fraternal organization whose primary mission is to help new titleholders maximize their abilities and provide fellowship for past titleholders.
The Los Angeles Band of Brothers is an extension of the Los Angeles Leather Coalition (LALC). In 1999, William Schindler won the Mr. Los Angeles Leather title and that same year also founded the Los Angles Leather Coalition (LALC). The coalition was, and is, a collection of highly diverse kinky organizations in and around the city of Los Angeles.
Many of the organizations in the LALC hold their own leather contests and the winner of each contest goes on to compete for the Mr. Los Angeles Leather title. Only the winner of the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest goes on to compete at International Mr. Leather. The Mr. LA Leather contest is produced entirely by the LALC. It is currently the second-largest leather contest in the world. Only International Mr. Leather (IML) has attracted more contestants over the last several years.
This chain of preliminary contests that culminates with the Mr. Los Angeles Leather event creates the local “title season.” The three month season brings many diverse aspects of the local LA kinky community together.
The Emergence of the LA Band of Brothers
Each year the men competing in the Mr. Los Angeles Leather contest (LAL) share an intense and often life changing experience. Each man wins a leather title to qualify as a competitor in the LAL contest. Many of them watch their fellow LAL competitor’s win their qualifying titles.
They start sharing many things together: a bar crawl to promote the contest, rehearsals, photos and video shoots, and all the excitement and angst that come with the journey. They participate in an elaborate number draw produced by Avatar in the parking lot of the Faultline bar where they all ride in on the backs of motorcycles that have been graciously organized by the Oedipus Motorcycle Club.
They then go through the crucible of a major leather contest known as Mr. Los Angeles Leather: Interview, jock strap, speech, and a written fantasy. Their efforts are all offered up to a panel of the seven judges and a large audience. They wait together, laugh together, some hook up together, and some cry together. Some of them find the experience exhilarating, and some nearly break down because of it. They ride the surging highs and endure the mind numbing lows together. And then, suddenly, it all ends.
Rather then having it end completely, many of the current titleholders often joined together to finish out their title year as a group. In the past they were often referred to as the “LA Ten,” more or less, depending on how many men competed that year. Each year a new crop of contestants would be chosen and the colorful cycle of LA’s leather title season would start all over again.
In 2008 David Farah suggested that the “LA Eleven” work together on a number of measures including a titleholder travel fund. Along with some of that year’s “LA Eleven” the men began to explore the solutions to challenges they faced as title holders.
Mikel Gerle attended the second meeting of these men and read a speech challenging the men present to think of themselves not as ephemeral titleholders with only a single year to make an impact on the community, but as an established brotherhood whose intention was to create a foundation that future titleholders could build on.
As more of L.A.’s experienced titleholders became involved, meetings quickly outgrew the Mt. Washington patio. Because of the generosity of Bob Tamasino, the owner of Oil Can Harry’s, LABB was able to meet in the loft bar of Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City.
The LABB quickly became a visible presence throughout L.A.’s leather community as it organized events and raised money for a variety of causes. It also produced the memorable YARD gear/fetish/play parties in the winters of 2008, and 2009. We added a summer YARD party in 2010 and just held our fourth play party in November 2010.
Along the way, LABB developed rituals for inviting new titleholders into the brotherhood. After a new titleholder wins a feeder contest he is guided by the outgoing titleholder to a group of LABB members. It is usually in an out of the way corner of the bar. LABB members rest their hands on him, and then his title predecessor speaks to him and gives him whatever words he believes are appropriate. When he is done, the rest give a loud salute.