tlc: year with
a leather club

a documentary by Randy A. Riddle


Interview Transcripts:
David Wh., aka "Monica Marlowe"

David Wh aka Monica Marlow at a Palms fundraiser -- photo (c) by Michael Cox

David Wh. (aka "Monica Marlowe") is a female impersonator that was given an honorary membership in the Tarheel Leather Club for his fundraising efforts for AIDS-related community organizations. 

All material (c) 1995, CCD. All rights reserved. 

RAR - What are some of the events that you have worked with the club on? 

DWh - Let's see. I participated in all the Anniversary Celebrations and I was at the Inaugural Weekend - that weekend, actually, I was David, and sang for them, and then Monica sort of slipped in later (laughs). We weren't real clear, at first, how some of the out-of-town folks would take a "drag queen", female impersonator, whatever you want to call it, participating in a Leather event, so I sang as David the Inaugural Weekend and then, as time went on, I was more accepted as Monica, and have been asked to do several of the shows for bar nights. I participated in Karaoke Night, which was a lot of fun, as David again and sang. I've had a lot of fun with the boys; we've had a good time. 

RAR - In general, how do you feel about the work TLC has done for the community? 

DWh - I think they've increased awareness that, to not only the community at large, but myself, that Leather people are not to be afraid of. Because, I know when I started at first with this whole thing and some of the guys started coming around, I thought, "Jesus, Leatherpeople. Oh Lord, we'll have beatin's and whippin's and all this." But, I've found that they're very nice people in the Leather community. So, it was a stereotype that has been broken down for me, and I think with a lot of the people at the Palms and in the community here in Greensboro, we have seen that also that the stereotype has been broken down some. As far as fundraising event, we've raised money, I think it's three Christmases now, for Children with HIV, and that's been a lot of fun and, to me, that does mean something because I do care about the children. And it was actually one of my suggestions, I mean, I don't think that I came up with the idea, but it was a suggestion that we kinda came up with. Then, also the Beat Jesse campaign, which was a lot of fun because it really, it started out to be just a little local thing and it went just nationwide and went just crazy. Of course, through that, we got the Leather Journal's Club of the Year (Award) which made us very proud. 

RAR - Tell me how you first got connected with the club. 

DWh - Bill Costomiris and David had been friends for a while, and I actually knew Bill and Michael, but I really didn't know them in their "Leather personae", so I wasn't real clear about that. They came over one Sunday afternoon to get Bill ready for what I call a "boy pageant" (laughs), and David asked for my help with some of the things because he knew that I had been in several pageants myself. So it's relatively all the same, you know the categories are changed, but it's a pageant's a pageant. Then Bill and David decided they were going to start the club, and I got more and more involved in it and licked envelopes and stuffed envelopes and helped organize the whole thing with them, and then became part of the Inaugural Weekend and then, more and more, I got to meet more of the Leather community, and it's been really a terrific experience. Then, later on, we had a bad fire here at our home, and these guys really went out of their way to get behind us and it really made me feel like part of one big family, and I thought that was really cool and I appreciated it a lot. Because, without them, I would have not gotten back a lot of the things that I needed, and they really did get behind us. We really did appreciate it. 

RAR - I've heard a lot of people compare Leatherpeople to female impersonators, "drag queens". How do you feel about this? 

DWh - Drag is drag (laughs). We kid about it a lot of times when we're getting ready to go somewhere because I'm throwing on my wigs and paint and eylashes and hose and girdles, and I'm killing myself to get into all in the hose and the girdles and stuff and they're in here zipping up chaps and moaning and groaning at the same time, so we have a lot of fun talking about that, our different forms of "drag". I think we're all misunderstood within in the community sometimes, because I prefer to promote myself as a female impersonator and wear women's attire or because David or Bill or Franc or any of them prefer that they want to go out in Leather, something different, something not the norm. I think we're seen as an odd sort of people and a lot of times that puts people off, but I think if you get to know, like David had said earlier, if you get to know the people underneath, it makes all the difference.