top of page
formal-2.jpg

History of New Mexico Leather
& Alternative Communities

OverviewVenuesArtisans • GroupsEvents

History is a foundation that helps us approach the future with more understanding.  Awareness of history helps us realize not just what came before us, but also understand how things have changed, are changing, what was attempted, successes, struggles, and the great time had by many in alternative lifestyle communities.  It reminds us that time passes by quickly and to be sure to be kind as you travel through your journey through these alternative communities.

Venues

Public and private places we gather, meet, and socialize become some of our most safe spaces to explore alternative lifestyle communities, and help us through our journey.  Life is lived and memories are made here.  Those that operate these venues often put in their love and tears to keep them alive and grow them for us.  Many fade into the past, but memories of them remain.  If we do not encourage and support our venues, they disappear.  

While there are many venues each of us may call safe, we cannot list them all here.  These are the space that have been primary in the leather and alternative lifestyle communities of New Mexico.  Some of these spaces are businesses that have meeting space or strongly participate in our communities.  We realize that many more smaller places exist that may be just as important to those that have shared space with others. Some of these are too private to list here without permission.

Foxes Booze N' Cruise Sign
Albuqueque Mining Company (AMC) and Foxes, Albuquerque, New Mexico

1975-2006

Foxes Booze N' Cruise

Now closed, but located at 8521 Central Avenue NE Albuquerque, NM 87108,   many leather community events were held at this location.  Also known as Foxes Loung, it was the start location for the 2nd Pride Parade in Albuquerque in 1977.   It was home bar to RISCLEE and offered drag pageants, pool tournaments and other events.  The location and sign were taken down about 2016-2018.   Other groups that used this bar for events include Hijos Del Sol, NMGRA, and Leather Wolves.  Foxes had DJs, live music, drag shows, and free chicken dinners on Sundays, despite not having a kitchen.

Albuquerque Mining Company (AMC) and Foxes were collaborating in 2004-2006. Foxes was listed on AMC's website.  AMC was located at 7209 Central NE.

Sources: Internet, albminingco.com at web.archive.net.  Leather organizations of the period - websites and writings, Weekly Alibi 10Jun2004.

Foxes Booze N' Cruise inside bar

1983-

Albuquerque Social Club

Originally "The Heights," Albuquerque Social Club is located at 4021 Central NE, in the Nob Hill and University area.   "The Heights" opened in 1971, about two years after the Stonewall riots (June 28, 1969).  The back area of Social Club was, at times, set up as a large play space in the early years when it had a strong emphasis on men.

Soch has a long history of being involved in the leather and alternative community activities, as well as a strong focus on drag.  Well after the Pandemic, a "Leather & Kink" night was started, transitioning to a "Leather & Kink Dance Night."  Soch is a membership club, owned by the membership and a board.  Smoking was allowed there after public ordinances banned smoking in other public venues, but Soch transition to no-smoking after the 2020 Pandemic.

Sources: Community members, Internet, abqsocial.org and web.archive.org.

asc-1.jpg
pep logo.jpg
pep crown 123.jpg
Nancy Miller 1.jpg
Blue PEPLove Header-no border.jpg

1986-

People Exchanging Power (PEP)

Nancy Ava Miller, M.Ed.m, CHt, founded People Exchanging Power (PEP) on Oct 16, 1986, beginning with several successful S&M support groups across the USA over several years.  Nancy turned this experience toward a business in 1988 after changes in her life.  This "phone sex" business that included power exchange and concepts of BDSM.  It expanded to the Internet in 1996.  The business invited its clients to explore their deepest desires with intelligent, loving people who understand they unique needs.  The counselors were based across the USA.  PEP held their Fifth Annual Fetish Conference and Sex Industry Seminars, an Intelligent B&D/S&M Fetish Event, December 4-7, 1998, in Albuquerque, NM.  It welcome all (male, female, single, couples, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, TV/TS, fetishists, newcomers, and people in the Sex Biz).  The community celebrated a PEP birthday at the EvoRevo2, Sep 2011, event at Nancy's large mountain home with a BBQ and pool party.  The business was sold to Sera Miles in 2016, with the current website listing services of "Phone Sex • Sexting • Cam • Erotic Emailing" and being established in 1990.  The URL is peplove.com.  PEP also has a venue space for small gatherings.

Sources: Nancy Ava Miller discussion at AEL (2024), Book: "PERVERT: Notes from the Sexual Underground," Nancy Ava Miller, 2009,  blog.newmexicofetlifers.com at web.archive.org (30Oct2011), peplove.com, and peplove.com on web.archive.org (1996-2024), Sera Miles.

1979, 1989-

Albuquerque's Bootblack Stand

If only Albuquerque's Bootblack Stand could talk, this history and stories here would be much more robust.  Stories of adventure, triumph, sorrow, consoling, and love are held in this bootblack stand that has endured through the history of New Mexico's Leather and Alternative communities.  Some of them are captured here. It also is a testament to the love of it's guardians, the Bootblacks and facility owners.  Find this stand, sit in it and have your boots and other leathers cared for by our current bootblacks, relax, touch, talk, and take in the history of where you are sitting.

Albuquerque's Bootblack Stand, Great American Shoeshine Co, Phoenix
Manufacturing stamp from Albuquerque's Bootblack Stand
Business sign, The Great American Shoe Shine Co, Established 1979
Kinney Shoe Stores location approximating the store at 8900 Central Ave NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Kinney Shoe Stores concept drawing showing the architecture of the buildings at the time.

This stand began its life in Albuquerque as a shoe shine stand in Kinney Shoe Store near Wyoming and Central, at 8900 Central Ave SE.  The building architecture was typical of Kinney Stores in the 60s to 80s.  As Kinney went out of business, these buildings were repurposed across the United States.  Kinney Shoe Store purchased the stand from Great American Shoeshine Co, in Phoenix, AZ, likely in 1979 or soon after.

 

In 1989, The Ranch, was established, taking ownership of the shoe shine stand that remained in the building.  JC Moore, who was one of the original owners of the Ranch, bought the stand along with the the bars' liquor license and he set it up there.  It took sometime before he hired Hank Wierzba from NM Gay Rodeo to work the stand.  Hank performed barber work during the day.  He worked on leather saddles and tack during rodeo season.  Hank was a mentor to Leslie Anderson, a native of Albuquerque and Bootblack there before moving to Chicago and the Leather Archives & Museum and  head of International Mr. Leather "Team Shine."  Hank died about 1996.  For a brief time, another man, CW, worked the stand.  However, CW left and Leslie was asked to work the stand by JC Moore and the bar manager, Gary Moore.  Leslie worked at that bootblack stand until they left for Chicago.  Gary Moore wrote Leslie a referral to Chuck Renslow and the obtained the bootblack job at Chicago Eagle

Recollections about life in this stand:

  • Leslie Anderson recalls sitting, relaxing in the two-chair bootblack stand with Pat Sanchez in the early days of Motorcyclemen of New Mexico.  Pat projected that titles would eventually include "Ms" designations as the community evolved.

  • Actor Val Kilmer would ride his motorcycle to Albuquerque and The Ranch to sit for Leslie Anderson, the resident bootblack.  (Val had a house in the hills of Santa Fe starting in the early 1990s.)   There were 10-15 such visits by Val.  "He would just ask me things and I'd launch into a story. He'd laugh and soak it up."

Sources: Leslie Anderson, Internet research, The Bootblack Stand itself, architecturaldigest.com/story/val-kilmer-santa-fe-home.

Albuquerque's Bootblack Stand, Photo Op by others, 2014
Albuquerque's Boot Black Stand, Photo Op by others, 2013

The Bootblack Stand was used for many things, including photo opportunities for Drag performers during Khoi Le's ownership of Sidewinders.

Images 2013-2014.

​Jayson DaBoi Johnson, bootblacking for Bear Mike at Onyx Gear Night, 15 Jun 2024, with JD and Wade from Gear Werks vending in the background.

Jayson DaBoi Johnson, bootblacking for Bear Mike at Onyx Gear Night, 15 Jun 2024, with JD and Wade from Gear Werks vending in the background.

image.png

The Ranch, ad in Drummer Magazine, Issue 150, 1991.

​The Ranch, Albuquerque, ad in IGRA Program Book, 1996.

The Ranch, ad in IGRA Program Book, 1996.

1989-2008, 2011-2020

The Ranch - Sidewinders Ranch

Starting out as the "Ranch and Cuffs" in 1989, in a former Kinney Shoe Store, this bar was the location of many organization events, eventually known as "The Ranch"  located at 8900 Central Ave SE.  The Ranch was started by Don Donadario (a member of Motorcyclemen of New Mexico) a banker (VP at 1st National Bank) and his partner JC Moore (past professor Eastern NM University in Portales and rancher).   Don used his banking connections and JC Moore's significant financial resources to establish The Ranch.  Doug Larson, an eventual Sandia Leatherman, knew JC well (from the fairgrounds flea markets and bar) and helped refine the history of these events.  Doug Larson recalls the "Grand Opening" of the bar to be July 4th, 1990.  The building purchased was formerly a Kinney Shoe Store.  See more above about Albuquerque's Bootblack Stand.  This bar's large size included a dance floor, stage, and a back bar that was, at times, a leather bar.  The bar had plush carpet in many locations, the air smelled of raw wood from installation of the bar and other structures.  Its dance floor was the largest in Albuquerque at the time, and even brough many straight people to dance there.  The back leather bar was known by different names over time including originally "Cuff's Leather Bar," and later "Wolves Den" or "Wolfpack." The bar was usually packed with customers.  The Village People were hired to be in Albuquerque by JC in the early 1990s for a leather event.

Casey Newkirk and Carl Clack in Cuffs Bar inside Sidewinders Bar.

Casey Newkirk and Carl Clack inside Cuffs.  Picture from Leslie Anderson.

Sidewinders Ranch textual logo
Pin - Sidewinders Albuquerque New Mexico
Cops and Robbers food vending, inside Sidewinders Ranch, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 2007

Cops & Robbers, inside Sidewinders Ranch, 2007

Sidewinders Ranch, Cowboy mural on boards
Mr Sidewinders 2005, Sidewinders Ranch, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Mr. Sidewinders New Mexico, 2005.

ABQ Eagle Logo, Albuquerque, NM, Sdiewinders Ranch and Sidewinders Bar & Grill

About 1995, JC Moore moved to Tijuana, Mexico, likely for health reasons, and eventually to Phoenix where he passed away.  When JC left Albuquerque, his nephew, Gary Moore ran the bar.  Gary had the habit of banning many bar patrons with which he did not agree.  This eventually lead to smaller crowds and the bar not being sustainable.  Around this time there was a Dyke Bar inside on the front part of The Ranch, that lasted a short time due to insufficient community support. 

Another bar, "Sidewinders Bar" started in Palm Springs, CA about 2002, expanding to Albuquerque in acquiring The Ranch, renaming it Sidewinders Ranch.  The owner manager of both sites during this period was Mikey (cowboy hat), and Sidewinders Ranch manager was Dan (plaid shirt).  Their website at the time showed "Grand Opening Weekend" to be August 20-21, 2005.   The bar held multiple "bar titles" throughout its operation, including "Mr Sidewinders New Mexico."

Sidewinders Palm Springs, Logo, Button
Sidewinders, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Logo, Button
Mikey - Owner, Manager, of Sidewinders in Palm Springs and Albuquerque
Dan, Manger, Sidewinders Ranch Albuquerque, NM

Logo: Sidewinders Palm Springs, Logo: Sidewinders Albuquerque, Owner Mikey (cowboy hat), Manager - Dan (plaid shirt).

Because the building was large, it could accommodate other businesses.  A longstanding business within the bar was Gear Werks, run by JD Smith, a leathersmith with embroidery services.  Gear Werks moved around inside the bar.  When Mikey bought the bar, he had JD Smith rip out the Dyke Bar because of lack of use.  A short-lived business was Cops And Robbers, a sandwich shop, operated by Mike and Drew, that provided sandwiches, bar food, and more extensive food for major bar events.  Cops And Robbers lasted under two years.  Another food establishment, "Man Eaters" existed for about a year.

Gear Werks Store, in Sidewinders Ranch, button, hours
Cops And Robbers, Sandwich shop, inside Sidewinders Ranch, button, hours
Sidewinders Ranch, Gear Werks store sign, Albuquerque, NM

The sidewindersbar.com website showed two locations until about 2007, when the sidewindersranch.com website was established.  Sidewinders Ranch owner, Mikey, died accidently at home one night from alcohol poisoning, drinking too much at the bar. Dan shut down Sidewinders Ranch and moved back to Palm Springs.  The landlord of the property held items in the facility for years, preventing access to the community to retrieve them.  The leather community lost a gathering space upon this closing. The bar was closed about 2009-2011.

Sidewinders Ranch animated logo, 2009-2010, Flash logo played by Ruffle, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Sidewindersranch.com, 2009-2010, animated flash logo (Ruffle).

In 2011, Khoi Le, just 21 years old in partnership with his family bought the liquor license as an investment.  He had a a different business strategy, using the liquor license to revive the dead Sidewinders brand, and create an inclusive space.  Sidewinder's old (but still active) Facebook page holds many pictures of drag performances and some Leather events during this period.  Khoi removed the back leather bar, using the space for a drag queen dressing room.  Khoi later sold the bar because it was not profitable, also desiring to work on other businesses.

The final owners, Mike & Renato Estacio-Burdick, purchased Sidewinders Ranch (but not the liquor license) from Khoi, starting operation 10 January 2015 as "MR Entertainment LLC dba Sidewinders Bar and Grill."  They continued Drag and other events, but began restoring the back bar into leather bar with the Albuquerque Leather Daddys, eventually naming it "ABQ Eagle." Bear Mike developed the ABQ Eagle logo.  For many years just before closing of this location, Rio Grande Leather, Albuquerque Leather Daddys, and others held gear Nights, educational events, and contests here.  Mike & Renato, arranged for the bar to move to 4200 Central SE (a former location of Martini Grill and other restaurants), a much smaller location February 2020, just before the onset of the Pandemic, effectively closing "The Ranch."  The old location still has the "Sidewinders" sign on the building but is now a dispensary.  The new location was named Sidewinders Bar & Grille, S4200 - see that venue below. 

Sources: Community members, Casey Newkirk, JD Smith, Doug Larson, Leslie Anderson, Leather organizations, sidewindersbar.com (2002-2012)  sidewindersranch.com (2006-2008), s4200abq.net (2022-) on web.archive.org.

Pridgym7.jpg

1997-2007

Pride Gym

Pride Gym opened in 1997 by David Bedford, located at 1803 3rd St NW in Albuquerque, described as a private men's health club with machine and free-weights, tanning beds, sauna, lockers, personal trainers and masseurs, and a clothing-optional sundeck with jacuzzi.  This venue was the location of many alternative community events including hosting the dungeon and other events for Desert Pademonium 2004 that became Spring Pandemonium 2005, also at Pride Gym.  It was shut down due to vanilla and normative community pressures.

Sources: References from various leather organizations, members.aol.com/pridegym on web.archivie.org.

2000-2005

#18 (play space)

#18 was located at a trailer park directly north of Paseo del Norte between 2nd and 4th Street NW.   This was a private play space (not a business) and dungeon set up by Moonlight Creations that was shared among 6-7 friends and acquaintances.  They knew where the hidden key was located.  If a car was parked next to the trailer, others in the group knew it was in use.  People using it would leave a gift of supplies to keep the trailer stocked and clean.  This space was shut down when Moonlight Creations searched and obtained a better property for Moonlight Creation business and the separate private play space.

Sources: Moonlight Creations.

Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations
Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations
Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations
Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations
Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations
Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations
Moonlight Creations, Logo, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Vodago play space dungeon, Albuquerque, NM, Moonlight Creations

2005-

Vodago (play space)

Vodago, intended to mean "wood shed," was a follow-on private play space (not a business) after Moonlight Creation's (see ARTISANS) success with #18.   They found a great space that used to be a former painting company in a condo warehouse and sold the #18 trailer.  Starting out as a corner of an upstairs space, Vodago play space, located at the top of a spiral staircase, expanded with the artistry of Moonlight Creations and donations of solid wood from Wes GreyWolf's home remodeling effort.  Moonlight Creations built much of the furniture in this dungeon. Other areas of the building supported Moonlight Creation's work including a lower floor kitchen, various office spaces, and a workshop for  creation of toys and furniture. This space started out with connections and customers in the alternative community, such as Ruben Gallegos and Rex.  They were engaged with other Community players such as Major and Julian Addams, Steve Wearden, Wes GreyWolf, Sera Miles, Ms. B, and organizations like Leather Wolves, Sandia Leathermen & Leatherwomen, NMLL, NM Fetlifers,TNG, and Albuquerque Leather Daddys.   While many community events were smaller, Moonlight Creations did have a large event of about 180 persons that were in the facility and back yard area.  They also hosted other private events such as kinky birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, and photoshoots.  With growth of attendance and admission of some that were less familiar with the community, issues arose that had Moonlight Creations pull back to only smaller events with trusted individuals.  The facility survived the 2020 Pandemic.

Sources: Moonlight Creations, Attendees.

2007-

Self Serve Toys

Pin - Self Serve.png

Self Serve Toys, located at 112 Morningside Dr NE, is a sex-positive, health and education-focused adult shop that believes sex is healthy and pleasure is good for you.  Self Serve is more than a store, it holds many educational events and has been a center for the alternative lifestyle and BDSM communities in New Mexico.  In 2007 Self Serve was opened by co-owners Matie Fricker & Molly Adler.  Having taught sex ed to grown-ups and sold sex toys for several years, they realized it was high time they collaborated and created their own fabulous store, educating people, selling toys & safer sex supplies, teaching workshops and hosting toy parties.

Sources: selfservetoys.com, selfservetoys.com on web.archive.org.

theclubhouse_orig.jpg

2018-2020

The New Mexico Clubhouse

The New Mexico Clubhouse, or just "The Clubhouse" was originally a swingers club located in a warehouse location near Jefferson & Osuna, NE.  It hosted many bedroom spaces, a dance and entertainment area, loft, and eventually included a dungeon.  Expanding from swingers, this location hosted multiple leather events (educational, weekend-long, play parties) held by NMLL, Leather Daddys, and others.  It's website indicated it was "lifestyle club for alternative lifestylers including Swingers, Kinksters, & Fetlifers."  Business was not viable over the 2020 Pandemic, and this location closed down.  The owner eventually reestablished this business as "It's a Secret."

Sources: Members, atttendees. nmclubhouse.com on web.archive.org.

ORG - S4200.png
ABQ Eagle Logo

2020-

Sidwinders Bar & Grill, S4200

Sidewinders owners, Michael & Renato Estacio-Burdick, had planned to move Sidewinders from 8900 Central Ave SE February 2020, planning to reopen in the new location in March.  This was the location of former "Martini Grill" and other businesses.  The new name was Sidewinders Bar & Grill, S4200, located at 4200 Central Ave SE, not far from Albuquerque Social Club.  Then the Pandemic hit and the State of NM shut down bars on March 16th unless they served food.  Mike & Renato had to close or open a kitchen, so they used their life savings to purchase a full kitchen and restaurant equipment in order to reopen.  To enable profitability, Mike & Renato also had four "ghost kitchens" vending food to stay afloat during the pandemic.  A ghost kitchen is a virtual business that sells food from the same physical kitchen. Post-pandemic opening was about July 2021.  The bar of Sidewinders retained the name ABQ Eagle, from the Sidewinders Ranch location.  The Cabaret was on the east end and had a small stage installed for drag, munches, and as a kink demo area. 

 

Albuquerque Leather Daddys decided to shut down after the pandemic, and suggested Sidewinders hold their own Leather & Kink nights, which it did, under the coordination of Greg BoydOnyx Men of Color starting holding their Gear Night there on the 3rd Saturday.  Multiple leather and alternative community organizations use this location including Albuquerque Erotic Lifestyles (AEL), Duke City Pups and Handlers (Duke City PAH).  The location is host to many events including pageants, drag, and karaoke.

Sources: Michael Estacio-Burdick, Community members, s4200abq.net, abqeagle.com.

2021-

It's a Secret

Established by Joe and Jaz, owners of "The New Mexico Clubhouse" after the Pandemic, this swinger and BDSM club business is located in Edgewood, NM, east of Albuquerque with multiple play rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and decks.  Website focus shows a primarily heterosexual and pan vibe.

Sources: itisasecret.com, members.

image.png
sign spectrum.png

2021-

Spectrum Parties

Spectrum Parties started out as a membership swinger club in the home of its founders, Cecil and Ana, eventually transitioning to a warehouse facility near Jefferson & Osuna, NE.  It is one entity in Wired Events business that uses this facility.  They report over 1500 locals that are involved and active.  The facility features over 11 play areas, a dungeon, viewing area, dance floor. From their logo, this is an inclusive operation, but Spectrum Parties caters primarily to the straight and pan communities.

Sources: Cecil & Ana, spectrumparties.com, members.

2023-

Purgatory Dungeon Studios

Purgatory is a private members only club and business.  It is operated by Mistress Glow, the facility Pro-Dom, as part of Wired Events.  The space includes a primary dungeon and viewing area. There are many themed spaces that are available for use by Mistress Glow to rent to other pro-doms, couples, or groups, including these rooms: medical, interrogation, sisification, leather daddy, and several others.  This shares space with Spectrum Parties, so has larger space available.

Sources: Cecil & Ana, purgatorydungeon.com, members.

ORG - Purgatory.png
fsf-2.png

2024-

Free Spirit Fiestas

Free Spirit Fiestas is a private membership organization and business that originally used the same space as Spectrum Parties.  It was started at the suggestion of Bear Mike to Wired Events when another men's naturist event activity was uncertain to move forward. This organization is focused on men's socials and organized by Ryan.  It is currently relocating to new facilities.

Sources:  Ryan, members, freespiritfiestas.com.

Other Venues

Pansexual events can more often easily occur in public spaces due to the normative culture.  We don't specifically identify such event venues here so as to not draw attention that we meet there.

Other past gay bars in Albuquerque include Adam's Den, Champagne Taste, Climax Voyager, Crickets, Deja Vu, Exhale [lesiban bar, 6132 4th St. NW, exhaleabq.com, 2004-2011], Downtown Newsroom, Gulp and Graze, Legends [6132 4th NW], Limelight, Okie Joes, Pacers, Pelican Bar, Pulse/Blu [2004-2007, 2013-?, pulseandblu.com], Qrarkeys (Wrinkle Room), Ranch and Cuffs (Sidewinders), RS Express, Rusty Cork.  "The Nines" (sign with 999) eventually became the Albuquerque Mining Co. [7209 Central NE].  It had a motorcycle hanging from the ceiling with a leather bar off to the side, and was frequently used by the biking and leather communities.  Crickets  was a bar on the west side, home to drag and a lesbian contingent.

Gay bars in Santa Fe, now closed, include Cargo Club, Claude's Bar [1950s-1970s], Drama Club, The Paramount, Rouge Cat [?-2014], and The Blue Rooster [2014-2015].  There are currently no gay or leather bars in Santa Fe.  

Albuquerque Press Club was, at times, location of "The Wet Munch" for the straight/pan community of Albuquerque.

Note: The history compilation on this page is courtesy of and Copyright 2024, Domum Corium Cordis, House of Leather Heart.  head@houseofleatherheart.org.

bottom of page