Bikes Beer & Boys: a playful look at the roots of the leather bar by
Author/artist Thom Magister, who got into the gay leather scene in 1951 and remained an active leatherman well into the new century, shares his memories of how the post-WWII biker bar morphed into the modern leather bar, profusely illustrated with full-color photos of 12-inch action figures outfitted as bar patrons. Thom was only 19 when he joined his first group of bikers, back in 1951 in Los Angeles. Most of the guys were ex-GIs, and the bars they hung out in were grungy watering holes for thirsty men on bikes, no questions asked. When Thom moved back to New York a couple of years later, he found dozens of biker bars around Manhattan. As in L.A., these were for men only, and it was impossible to tell at a glance if a given bar was gay or straight. In the 1950s bikers mostly wore denim mixed with Army fatigues and brown leather bomber jackets. The now-standard black leather motorcycle jacket was a luxury. Times changed, and by 1980 the traditional biker bar had morphed into the modern gay leather bar with only an occasional motorcycle parked outside. And the patrons’ favored style had changed from the old casual, scruffy mix to gleaming, polished cap-to-toe leather. The biker bar had been a refuge for loners and outcasts, but the leather bar became a venue for parties, event nights, and contests. What had once been hidden was now proudly proclaimed. Today, in the 2010s, the classic leather look is giving way to newer styles, and in many cities the leather bar, too, is fading away. We’ll no doubt create new ways for kinky guys to hang out together. And for the biker, there is always the open road.
COMMENTS BY SOME WELL-KNOWN LEATHER WRITERS AND PERSONALITIES
“Like Tom of Finland’s drawings, Thom Magister’s photos of action heroes are a hot cruise through the biker bars of our tribal history. Awesomely illustrated, this clever memoir belongs on every leather player’s coffee table and holiday gift list!”
“Thom Magister lies! He claims that all of the characters in BIKER BAR are fictional. In fact, I have known almost all of them. I have even been one or two of them (but my mirror never noticed). Apart from that one entirely excusable falsehood, BIKER BAR is delicious in every way — a feast for the eyes and a warm, friendly history told by someone who lived it and still loves every bit of that world enough to invent examples that convey exactly the whole truth. What Magister has done here is grand. In one slim volume, he gives us a history, a memoir, and some of the sexiest gay art ever.”
“BIKER BAR lays out 50 years of leather history in a fun and visually innovative way. I’m taking this book to the toy store so I can buy some of these biker men for myself!”
“On back streets and down alleyways. In neighborhoods many feared to tread. Often behind doors marked so only those in the know could open them. ThatŐs where you would find them: lone wolves, strangers, friends, and bikers, banding together with the smoke, the jukebox, and the beer at their bars. Join these men, comrades in arms, as they take us on a leather-jacketed ride through time chronicled by Thom Magister, who was one of them.”
“Those who never set foot in some of the great leather bars of the past will find this book informative and full of rightfully loving nostalgia, while those who hung out in those establishments will enjoy this beautiful synopsis that encapsulates an era many of us recall quite fondly.”
FOOD and FILM
SMOKE and MUSIC
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NOTE TO RETAILERS
BIKER BAR is distributed by Perfectbound Press at the standard discount, no charge for shipping; no returns; 30 days net.