The 2019 GayVN Awards, set to happen Jan. 21 at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, are right around the corner, which is why adult film star Max Konnor and a friend stepped into The Leather Man on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Konner was seeking the perfect outfit for the annual awards show, and he thought this leather shop in New York City’s West Village, which claims to have served the fetish community for more than 50 years, could have what he was looking for. Instead, Max Konner and his friend (also Black) left the store with not just full wallets but an accusation of racism leveled at The Leather Man, which Konnor claims racially profiled them and asked them to leave.
“Guys, I just experienced racism full force,” Max Konnor posted to Twitter shortly after the experience. “The owner of @LeatherManNYC just kicked me out after coming in trying to get an outfit made for the @GayVN awards.”
Guys, I just experienced racism full force. The owner of @LeatherManNYC just kicked me out after coming in trying to get an outfit made for the @GayVN awards. Please let them know that this behavior will not stand. Do not support this company. Send them a message. pic.twitter.com/DaGpZTpJJT
— MAX KONNOR (@maxkonnorxxx) December 8, 2018
Later that same day, Max Konnor spoke to AVN about what happened.
Konnor’s friend who accompanied him to The Leather Man had sketched out a design for a GayVN Awards outfit, and it was his friend’s suggestion that they hit up this particular West Village shop. The guys went downstairs to the leather shop to consult with an employee about the outfit, but when they were told the store wouldn’t be able to order the items he wanted, they were rushed out of the store altogether by the store’s owner. Here’s what he told AVN:
I went back upstairs because the leather shop is downstairs and the owner comes up to us and says, “Guys, we don’t have time to watch customers who aren’t buying anything.” Then he stood there looking at us for like a minute and basically went in for the kill. He didn’t care what we had to say.
We were the only African-Americans in the store. He told us he didn’t have time to watch us. Well, no one asked you to watch us. We came in for a specific reason. It was the way that he approached us. After we left, the other patrons left, too.
It’s horrible. I’ve never felt like this in my life. I’m literally still shaking.
Max Konnor is claiming the door to the store was locked once they were outside, and that one of the store’s employees actually followed them outside to apologize for the way the owner had treated them.
And while upon AVN first reaching out for comment from The Leather Man, a store representative said, “I don’t know anything about that,” days later the shop later released a full statement.
The Leather Man touts the shop’s longevity, noting it was founded in a pre-Stonewall 1965, at the start of the country’s Civil Rights Movement, and happily employs people of color and other minority statuses. While the statement insists the shop is committed “to being a welcoming place for all,” it calls the semblance of events Konnor describes as “untrue.”
Max Konnor, a 2019 nominee for GayVN Performer of the Year, says what happened on Saturday was his first and last time going to The Leather Man.