May 1 - 31, 2014

Long Beach, California

Saytrs Motorcycycle Club

Leather & Motorcycles, the Long Road to Equality


Leather & Motorcycle History

Rumble - Leather & Motorcycles, the Long Road to Equality
is an Overview of LGBT History in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Volunteers are needed for this event!

3rd May LA Band of Brothers – Hosted Reception & Fundraiser
10th May Satyrs M/C Grand Reception – Entertainment, Bike Show, Food & Cocktails
17th & 18th May Long Beach Pride Weekend Event
24th May Cultural Alliance Long Beach – Hosted Reception

31st May Tom of Finland Foundation Exhibit
Closing Reception and Fundraiser
6:00 - 9:00 PM


Hosted by
Marc Bellenger, Mr. Long Beach Leather 2013

$10 Suggested Donation — Collectible Pin

The Welcome Back from IML Tour

Sponsored by
Pistons & LA Artbox

Exhibitions open Wednesdays through Sundays

Los Angeles is rooted deep in LGBT history that is often overlooked by many. Most people assume that the modern day gay movement started with Stonewall riots in New York. But Stonewall had the fortune of international coverage, the event was commemorable and had the mnemonic capacity to create a commemorative vehicle for which dozens of annual pride parades mark the occasion.

Los Angeles’ gay history begins as early as 1850 when it was the wild frontier and the gold rush was on. Being gay was not much of an issue up until 1914, when the events in Long Beach changed American’s perception of gay people for the next 40 years.

Not until a couple of pioneering gay groups formed in the 1950s, did gay people chart a long course toward equality.

During America’s darkest period in history, with Senator, Joe McCarthy and the witch-hunt for “Un-American Activities” which caused citizens to name other citizens who were “communist sympathizers” or “homosexuals”, seven men bravely formed the an organized motorcycle club in 1954. At great risk to their lives, including their livelihood, these former military men created the oldest enduring organization in the world.

But more than just a club of like-minded bikers, these men also endured and trailblazed many of the equality protections the lgbt community enjoy today. The Satyrs are much more than just a club, it was a movement.

The Pioneers of the Leather and Biker Scene in L.A.

Smell the leather, feel the power between your legs, and take in the story of the oldest continuing gay group in the world at an exhibit of historic (and sexy) images of the Satyrs Motorcycle Club.

In 1953 The Wild One was released. It starred Marlon Brando, looking for all the world like a Tom of Finland drawing come to life, as the leader of a rough-and-tumble motorcycle gang. In 1955 James Dean became the icon of troubled youth in Rebel Without a Cause. And at the same time Tom of Finland was working on his iconic drawings of leathermen that he would submit to Physique Pictorial in 1956.

The mood in America was taking a rebellious turn. The leather and motorcycle zeitgeist was in full bloom. Gay men had become a part of the post-World War II biker culture in the ’40s. Leather bars were springing up in major cities and simultaneously, it seems, pioneering gay motorcycle clubs were formed: the Satyrs, established in Los Angeles in 1954; Oedipus, also established in Los Angeles in 1958; the New York Motorbike Club and early San Francisco clubs, including the Warlocks and the California Motor Club, started as well. Leather clubs for gay men opened in Amsterdam and Berlin in the 1950s.

This was a counterculture within a counterculture. The men who were drawn to the scene weren’t so much into camp, show tunes, and cashmere sweaters. The soul of the scene was a masculine independence.

“Los Angeles County once boasted more than 19 gay motorcycle and uniform clubs,” Satyrs president, Riley Black said, adding, “It was the ‘golden years’ of the ’60s following the death of U.S. senator Joe McCarthy. Rumble — The Long Road to Equality displays in storytelling format more than 60 years of our community’s history from the archives.” This exhibit is more than just photos tacked to a wall; this is living history display and will also showcase various artifacts from long since dissolved organizations.

By Christopher Harrity

Click here to see a documentary about the club when it celebrated 50 years.

Special thanks to Garry Bowie of the Satyrs for this article.

"Before and during the Second World War, what leather clothing there was, was always brown. Suddenly, right about 1950, the black biker’s ‘uniform’ appeared. It is amazing how fast it spread around the world. I have been told that I influenced its birth."

— Tom of Finland

"In the early part of the 1950s, Tom was fast at work drawing his men in uniform-style gear, combining his uniform fetish with the garb of the tough boys. The defining moment for him was when he saw some stills of Marlon Brando from the film The Wild One. As Tom said, “I immediately felt it, that my men would wear black leather from that point on.” He transposed his brown leather jackets, breeches and caps into black. The “Leatherman” was born.

"Tom had a tailor in Helsinki make him a pair of black leather breeches and jackets soon after. Being somewhat of a dandy, he wanted to go somewhere public all geared up; he was known for making appearances at the local motocross. He forwarded his drawings of men in full leather gear to his pals in England and Germany. The effect was contagious — they, too, had gear made — and would send back to Tom photos of themselves all decked out. In turn, Tom was inspired to do more and to keep on elaborating on the gear and improving his ability to render the feel of leather. This was the beginning of what was to become the international Gay Leather scene."

Tom of Finland: Life and Work of a Gay Hero

New Edition!
Tom Of Finland — The Complete Kake Comics

TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991),
Untitled (Detail from Kake vol. 02 – The Sexy Sunbather, 1968, Pen & ink on paper,
Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection #68.61, © 1968 Tom of Finland Foundation

Kake, a dark-haired, mustached Leatherman often wore a tight white T-shirt bearing the motto “Fucker.” Between 1968 and 1986, Tom published 26 episodes of Kake adventures, most as 20-page booklets. This edition collects all of these stories in one volume!

Tom of Finland – The Complete Kake Comics

Dian Hanson, editor | Hardcover, 703 pages


“I would like to thank everyone who came out to the Closing of the ‘Rumble‘ exhibition. I would also like to thank the Satyrs for giving Tom Finland Foundation the closing weekend. It was an amazing event and exhibition I am proud to have worked on, a great slice of our rich leather history.”

— Marc Bellenger, Mr. Long Beach Leather 2013

Everyone involved with this project did an outstanding job.
Marc is very dedicated, creative and wise.

Thanks to the sponsors who made this opportunity happen.

Cultural Alliance
of Long Beach
Hours: Wednesday - Friday, 4 PM to 9 PM
, Saturday - Sunday, 4 PM to 9 PM,
727 Pine Ave,
Long Beach, CA, 90813 · Map
Satyrs Mototcycle Club, Rumble LA Website

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