In May 1993 the club attended its first public event in Richmond, VA, an event sponsored by the Teddy Bear Leather Club. In October 1993, the club conducted its first public event, Knight Hawks Carnival, held at the Detour. This event featured the debut of The Cage and Lockup. It also featured day-long torrential rain.
The attendees who became the Charter Members were (alphabetically): Carl Brady, David Cogar, Carlos Fernandez, Tim Furr, Kevin Harrell, Steve Harrill, Patrick Harvey, Larry Hatfield, Tim Henderson, Jim King, Ken Mc Dougle, Jim Nelson, Carlos Roane, Gary Rogo, Carlos Ruiz, Joe Smith, Jim Vaigneur, and Chuck Wallerick.
In June 1998 the second beach located run entitled “Damn the Torpedoes” was held at the Quality Inn in Ocean View in Norfolk. Over 160 people attended and there were 13 cocktail parties. The formal banquet was held at the Rainbow Cactus Club in Virginia Beach, VA, a bar owned by former Garage manager Rob Davis. The run again included the Saturday night cruise on the “Carrie B”. At this run, the first Knight Hawk of the Year award was given to President Tom Urbanski. The Knight Crawler award was split among Troy Taylor, Doug Hein, and Will Colon. The PUTA of the Year award went to Mike Nosal.
Associate membership increased in 1997 as full members attended out-of-town events and other club members decided they wanted to identify with and support the Knight Hawks. Several members spent weekends in the Mid-Atlantic and New York areas, including a double city weekend of visits to the Baltimore Eagle and the Bike Stop in Philadelphia, and a triple city weekend in spring 1998 that included visits in Philadelphia, New York City, and on Long Island. Several members also attended the MC Faucon run in Montreal.
In November 1998 at the Panther’s Prowl run in Atlanta, the club became a member of the SECC. This membership was sought to further the club’s contacts and to build bridges between the SECC and the AMCC. The year 1998 ended for some club members at the Philadelphians Tri-Cen run where the club held a cocktail party on New Year’s Eve at the Top of the Bike Stop. A “baby” theme was employed for the party and member Doug Gatewood portrayed Baby New Year. The members who attended earned the “Brotherly Love” award.
The story of the organization began in February 1993. Three Norfolk, VA men attended an event sponsored by a Richmond, VA leather /Levi club, the Teddy Bear Leather Club. The attendees were Chuck Wallerick, owner of a leather shop called Gears on Granby St. in Norfolk next to The Garage bar and manager of another Norfolk bar, the Detour (formerly the Cue); Jim Nelson, an employee of the Detour; and Carlos Dean Roane, an Associate Member of the Capital Leathermen in Raleigh, NC. The event was called Vernal Arousal and was held in Richmond, VA. After the event, these three men decided having a leather/Levi club in Norfolk was long overdue. In March 1993 after discussing the idea with local men, Chuck Wallerick hosted the formative meeting of the club at the Detour on March 30, 1993 with 18 invited guests, who became the Charter Members. Membership remained closed beyond the 18 initially to allow time to organize and determine the purpose of the club. Using the by-laws of the Capital Leathermen, provided by Carlos Roane as a guide, the club's purpose and by-laws were created during subsequent meetings in April. A basic theme agreed upon was to help worthy causes in the gay community and the community at large, while having fun for the members. As summarized by Charter Member Jim King, “have some fun and do some good”
The club hosted its first AMCC meeting as part of the June 1997 “Walking the Plank run. There were 205 participants from 30 clubs in attendance. The run theme was military and uniforms and featured 14 cocktail parties. The host hotel was the Quality Inn Ocean View, Norfolk. The run package featured a “plank”, a fraternity-style paddle that attendees put to use over the weekend. The run featured a banquet at the Late Show in Norfolk and the late night harbor cruise on the “Carrie B”. At the banquet, the Centaurs performed a ”coronation” of incoming AMCC President Dan Dutcher. The Knight Hawks’ overall performance for the run earned it the dubious but prestigious AMCC “Torpid Tuber” Award, an AMCC tradition of humorous brotherhood. Dan Dutcher was the recipient of the “Knight Crawler” award from the Knight Hawks as recognition to a non-club member who had done the most to befriend or be a brother to the club over the year. A hat accompanied this award. Member Carlos Ruiz was awarded the PUTA of the Year award for his efforts to “keep the troops happy” over the past year.
Memorable among the runs attended in 1996 included the Long Island Ravens run at which club members who attended presented “Baywatch Gays”, complete with sand, and promotion of the upcoming 1997 Knight Hawks run, “Walking the Plank”. At LUEY, four members received a combined total of seventy run pins.
Mike Nosal was elected President in 1998. Continuing a club tradition, members enjoyed summer parties in July at member Richard West’s house and in August at Carlos Ruiz’s house (at one of these gatherings the majority of members brought pasta salads, leading to a temporary “ban” on them at functions). Plans were made for several members to attend the Centaurs Olympia run at Camp Saginaw. Quasi-religious themes for participation were developed in response to televangelist Pat Robertson‘s criticism of Disney World welcoming gays and wishing that a hurricane hit Orlando while gays were at the park. Robertson claimed credit for deflecting hurricanes from Hampton Roads shortly after that, which members took as a “sign”. Ideas formed for the run included “fishers of men”, “seven deadly dildoes”, stations of the cross, and a confessional. Ten members, including a “Jesus”, went to the run over the Labor Day weekend, where the members stayed in their own “church”.
In July 1994 Steve Harrill began his term as President. He and his partner Ken M. attended an Atlantic Motorcycle Club Council (AMCC) meeting to make other clubs aware of the Knight Hawks of Virginia. The members of the Knight Hawks voted to hold a first-anniversary run in November 1994 and Vice President John Wills served as run chairman. The run was originally planned as a purely social event at the Garage. With the help and support of Tony Pritchard, owner of the Garage, the event was expanded and relocated to a building that Pritchard owned down the street from the Garage. Members worked to prepare, clean, and paint spaces at the Texaco Building, but a call to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board five days before the event that alleged the club was planning a sexual event at the Texaco Building resulted in the cancellation of the event there. Instead, the event, Leather Weekend ‘94 was nicknamed “Mystery Run”. The events included a bar night on Friday at the Garage; a cruise on the American Rover sailboat on the Elizabeth River on Saturday night; and a “Tough Customers” photo shoot (inspired by a gay magazine by the same name) and party at the Howard Johnson’s hotel near the Garage.
That same year Charter Member Larry Hatfield was shot in a robbery outside of the Nutty Buddys bar in Norfolk, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Jim Vaigneur became the newsletter editor and Jim Hoffmaster became to club’s photographer. A separate calendar of events was created as part of the newsletter and posted at the Garage on the large club colors replica that was installed on the wall with the permission of the manager, Rob Davis.
In June 1995 John Wills was elected President but work commitments caused him to resign from the post after a few months. Guy Hayden was elected to complete the term. The second run, Knights in Black Leather: Mystery Run II, was held in May 1996 at the Comfort Inn on Newtown Road in Virginia Beach. The centerpiece of the run was the late Saturday night harbor cruise on the paddle wheeler “Carrie B”. Vice President and run chair Billy Gallop was in charge of the events.
The run for 1999, entitled “Deep Six” was chaired by Vice President Steve Bradshaw and was attended by 130 men and women in July 1999. This marked the club’s sixth anniversary. The Garage and the Wave (formerly the Oar House and the Reactor Room) were bar destinations on Friday night and the “Carrie B” cruise was the feature on Saturday night. There were 13 cocktail parties with the Richmond Leather Club being the standout party. There was a special tribute to President Nosal by several “TFLs” as he was somewhat incapacitated that weekend. There was some controversy over which point system of which club conference to use for participation in the run. Three traditional awards were given: Knight Hawk of the Year went to Tom Urbanski; PUTA of the Year went to Mike Nosal: and Knight Crawler went to Al Santora. Also, Rob Davis, owner of the Rainbow Cactus Club, was made an Honorary Member for his help and support of club activities.
In July 1999 the club’s first female full member, Liz Marchant, was elected President. A renewed focus on local events and charitable works was promised. Out-of-town activities included the Tar Heel Leather Club, Roanoke Rogues, C.O.M.M.A.N.D, and Philadelphians runs in the fall of 1999. At the Philadelphians run, the club received a Best Cocktail Party and the club participation awards, a great way to start into the new century.
The second Virginia Mr. Drummer and Drummer Boy contest was held on Easter weekend in 1999. The Drummer Boy contest was held Friday night April 2 at the Other Side in Norfolk. Club member Kyle Taylor was chosen Drummer Boy and Bob Miller was first runner-up. The club hosted a cocktail and finger food reception at the Rainbow Cactus Club in Virginia Beach the night of April 3 prior to the Virginia Mr. Drummer contest. Four men entered the contest which was emceed by Frank Nowicki. The night featured a musical/fantasy performance by local entertainer Tracy Leigh and several Knight Hawks to the Pretenders “Back on the Chain Gang”. Fraser Picard of Norfolk was the winner and Brian Middleton of Richmond was the runner-up. The judges initiated a tradition of giving the winner a friendly paddle with a Knight Hawks paddle as a means of “welcoming” them to the position. Picard went on to win the International Mr. Drummer title in San Francisco in September 1999.
How we got our start
One of the first proposed names was Bay Area Hawks, which was suggested by Carlos Roane. A classic car fan and owner, he also suggested the emblem from a 1962 Studebaker Gran Tourismo Hawk as the basis for a club emblem. Members thought Bay Area Hawks sounded too much like a San Francisco area club. A more “leather” name was sought. Charter Member Tim Furr referenced a porn film, “Night Hawks in Leather”. To coincide with proposed community events, “Night” became “Knight” and the name “Knight Hawks” was approved by the members. To avoid being seen as exclusively a Norfolk club, and to have the club appeal to potential members outside of Hampton Roads and Tidewater VA, “of Virginia” was added to the name. The official name chosen was Knight Hawks of Virginia.
The initial volunteer officers were: Carlos Roane, President; Jim Vaigneur, Vice President; Patrick Harvey, Secretary; Steve Harrill, Treasurer; and Jim Nelson, Pledgemaster/Sergeant-At-Arms. These men continued in these offices after the first officer elections in May 1993.
The emblem of the Studebaker Gran Tourismo Hawk was adapted by Steve Harrill and the resulting design was framed in a shield, continuing the “knight” theme. Chuck Wallerick created the first set of large transportable colors, and the first club color patches were produced by a company in Hong Kong.
A decision was made by the Charter Members to open membership to all interested in the leather/Levi lifestyle, including men and women over 21. The age limit was set due to the alcohol drinking age in bars in Virginia and neighboring states. To distinguish the Charter Members from the Full Members, the Charter Members decided to have the Charters wear brass with black lettering name tags and the Full Members wear black with white lettering name tags.
As the club planned to conduct events to raise money, the members agreed to apply for non-profit tax status with the IRS. To protect themselves individually from possible liability, the Charter Members decided to incorporate. The initial IRS paperwork was prepared by the Secretary and submitted by the President on May 5, 1993. On May 6, 1993, the President and the Secretary went to Richmond, VA to register Knight Hawks of Virginia as a Virginia corporation with the Virginia State Corporation Commission, and the Detour was chosen to be the home bar and meeting site of the club.
On April 4, 1998, club members helped to produce the first Virginia Mr. Drummer contest. Mid-Atlantic Drummer 1997 title holder and club associate member Troy Taylor requested the club’s help in expanding the contest in the Mid-Atlantic region. The contest was held at the Garage/Other Side and was emceed by Frank Nowicki. There were five competitors who participated in the areas of jockstrap/fantasy; speech; formal wear; and questions from the judges. The winner was Tom Robinson from North Carolina with runners-up club members David Kroblen and Doug Gatewood. Tom Robinson was first runner-up at the Mid-Atlantic Regional contest in Baltimore in July 1998.
Shortly after, the format and customer focus of the Detour was changed by Chuck Wallerick, making it incompatible with using it as a home bar. The club also participated in the Leather Daddy contest conducted at The Reactor Room (aka the Oar House and currently the Wave). A club member, the late Victor Simcox, won the title and was the club’s first “sash bearer”. The club accepted the offer of Tony Pritchard (owner) and Rob Davis (manager) to use the Garage in Norfolk as the club’s home bar. Both men were later named Honorary Members of the club.
Locally club members worked to raise money for local charities with Lockups, through Lockups and bar nights selling jello shooters at the Garage and the Other Side, and at the DC Eagle. Other events included yard sales; the “He Is Risen” Easter bakesale; a silent auction for Candii House; and the annual Hampton Roads Pride fundraiser. Members were allowed to donate their share of the donation money collected to a charity or organization of their choice.
Tom Urbanski was elected to his first term as President in June 1996. Some of the club members began to attend more out-of-town events to increase the visibility of the club. A proxy vote was sent to the initial meeting of the South East Conference of Clubs (SECC) in Georgia, however, due to the closer proximity to DC and Baltimore, and the closer interaction with east coast clubs, the members decided to pursue membership in the AMCC first. The Highwaymen TNT and the Long Island Ravens sponsored the club’s application for membership. in an effort to ensure that the AMCC member clubs knew who the club was, several of the members went to many AMCC events. These events included BUCKS PowWow, Potomac Warriors run, Centaurs Olympia, Entre Nous’s P-Town run, C.O.M.M.A.N.D run, Centaur MAL Weekend, Pennsmen run, Houston’s LUEY, Menamore run, Long Island Ravens anniversary run, and the Highwaymen’s Bearfest. The club’s introduction occurred at the BUCKS run in July 1996. The club was voted into AMCC membership at the Entre Nous P-Town Pilgrimage Run in October 1996. The Knight Hawks of Virginia was the last club voted into membership under the old AMCC Articles of Agreement which required that the club get every available vote to be accepted.
The first edition of the club newsletter “Lancelot” was published in August 1993 by member Terry Drayton It was a review of past events and news of upcoming events, as well as a place for members to show their creative sides. It also featured a “butt of the Month” contest, which featured the butts of members. The newsletter was distributed to members, and other clubs, and was available in local gay businesses. After Terry and his partner, Ted Fortune, left the area to operate a campground in Dewy Rose, GA, Guy Hayden became the editor. More articles and information on the leather, SM, and fetish communities were included. Hayden was followed by Steve Harrill and Ken M., who improved the format and included health-related articles.
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