Full-time Leather Boy

By : Steve Blanchard
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St. Petersburg resident Dan Radowski is an organizer, communicator, planner and contest promoter. He’s also considered a boy in the Leather Community and is Mr. Tampa Bay Leather Boy 2010.

“A man always starts off as a boy,” Radawski says. “You just grow. I’m at the point now where younger guys call me Mister or Sir. Others laugh and say I’ve always been a boy. But bottom line, it’s all about respect.”

Radowski learned about that respect in his early 20s, at a time he says he was in the “bedroom community of leather” while living in New York.

“I liked Leather/Levi bars and I went to discos to dance and afterward I would go to dark, seedy bars with pool tables in Buffalo,” he remembers.

But it wasn’t until he moved to St. Petersburg in 1984 that he felt truly uninhibited and began his explorations into other aspects of leather.

“I didn’t have to worry about the small town mentality of people looking at me and saying, ‘This is what Daniel has changed into?'” he laughs. “I was in corporate America at that time working in nursing, which I still do. But I was in the administrative arena requiring shirts and ties. I had to cover my tattoos and a lot of who I truly was.”

But not on the weekends. That’s when he didn’t hide anything.

“I used to say that a lot of people didn’t know I was gay,” he says. “In fact, I would tell them they’d find out my sexuality when they were under my sheets.”

Radowski says he’s fairly vanilla when it comes to leather, adding that he simply likes to wear it. But if there was a “mover and shaker” in Tampa Bay’s Leather Community, he’d be it.

“Unfortunately, what I see now is that the community is fragmented,” Radowski says. “There are a lot of young guys coming into it and there’s interest when we put up our ‘social areas.’ But you don’t see men joining the clubs like the Leather Club, bondage club or Tampa Bay Bears. Across the nation, those club numbers are dwindling. It could be technology, HIV, the height of drus in the early 2000s. I’m not sure.”

And Radowski, 57, has a birds-eye view of the Leather World since he began hosting a show on GSHRadio.com that directly discussed the leather community as a whole. Fortunately, when he really sees the Leather Community come together is during fundraising events.

“I was always very vocal about charities,” Radowski says. “When I started seeking my title in 2009, my charity was the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. No one was really doing that. I was also interested in ASAP and others.

“But people forget that we have other interests. I love films. That’s why I wanted to get involved there.”

And the community respected those decisions, and Radowski continues to remain highly respected among his peers, both male and female.

“We all grow in different directions but some bonds just stay,” Radowski says, speaking specifically about his relationship with Triskelan, his “leather sister.” “We just really hit it off and I know I can rely on her. Matt Wolf is another person like that. There are so many strong connections that really show how we have become a community.”

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