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Leather On Film
by Mikel Wadewitz

A look in to the world of gay leather; the men, dominant and submissive who comprise a slice of the leather community. Director Jochen Hick shows us some beguiling footage of the Intemational Mr. Leather contest in Chicago as well as the Mr. Drummer competition in San Francisco. What happens in this film is not so much a real in-depth look into the community, but rather some well placed sound bites from various contestants and past winners of the contests already mentioned, with a couple of miscellaneous types thrown in. Hick's look at "Tom of Hamburg", a previous Mr. Leather winner who is now sick with AIDS seems shallow and unfinished, while his interviews with others are either charming or fall flat when they get too wrapped up in the surface meaning of being a 'top' or a 'daddy'. The footage is priceless for its visual access in to a world that many outside of the leather community will probably never see; and it is always nice to see the burly top-man giggling about finding Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right-Now, but serious documentary this is not. Those with a leather or uniform fetish will be happily entertained -- those with questions looking for real answers will have to settle for spectacle.

"Bloodsisters" hits the mark which "Menmaniacs" misses. This enthralling video focuses primarily on the leather S/ M dyke community in San Franicsco, with some New Yorkers thrown in for variety. What Handelman achieves in her video is all of the right notes emanating from the different voices within the community. The issues of feminism, women's sexuality, history, and serious critique of sexual practices are woven together by fabulous interviews with notables such as Pat Califia, Wickie Stamps, and Queen Cougar, as well as with various winners of Ms. Leather contests and activists and educators. Many of the women interviewed are intelligent, well-spoken, funny, and captivating. These women (all of them) have given tbought to who they are, what they do, and why, making the film speaks on more levels than simply a sexual one. While Handelman seems to sometimes sacrifice content quality for overly playful film footage (split screens and tinted film, for example) her finished work is one that will certainly give those who consider the leather S/M community sick or even not worth noting a retort to reckon with. With sexy montages and performances sprinkled through the monologues and stories, "Bloodsisters" is a film that gives visibility to a community that should not be ignored.Menmaniacs: the Legacy Of Leather Directed by Jochen HickGermany, 1995 86 Minutes Bloodsisters*****
They said...
You don't know how difficult it has been being a closet heterosexual. (David Bowie)

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