Ripcord has been Houston's premiere leather bar for nearly 30 years.
Ripcord has been Houston's premiere leather bar for nearly 30 years.
Larami Culbertson

You're with Me, Leather

Ever thought to yourself, "Man, I really like my iPod, but I wish there were a way I could connect a vibrator to it?" Black Hawk Leather has your back.

Black Hawk Leather is a leather shop located inside Houston's premiere leather bar and Montrose mainstay The Ripcord (715 Fairview). Among other necessities — cock rings, butt plugs, books on "Water Sports" — Black Hawk Leather is now one of the select locales offering the ­OhMiBod, a vibrator attachment that connects directly to iPods.

Steve Jobs, eat your heart out.


the Ripcord

"I've been checking the Apple store, but I ain't seen that in there yet," jokes Rusty, a Black Hawk Leather employee for the past two-and-a-half years.

Like the other gentlemen inside the 27-year-old Ripcord, Rusty has a last name, but that's not really an acceptable topic of conversation for newcomers to the former country-and-western bar. Wanna talk about jobs? Okay. Motorcycles? Sure. Sex? Absolutely. But last names? Whoa, take it easy there, pal.

Ripcord didn't get where it is by making such information available to just anyone. Not even Gary, the bar's manager of nearly two decades, is privy to such details.

"A lot [of customers] aren't 'out,' and I don't know who a lot of the people are," admits the Fu Manchu-ed manager. "That's why we are...well, we'll say cameras aren't a big thing here. A lot of very professional people in here don't need their picture somewhere."

Upon entering the discreet dwelling, it's not immediately apparent Ripcord is a gay haven at all. It looks a lot like any other homely bar, with a few TVs playing various nongay movies and shows, a couple of nongay pool tables, a few nongay Lucky 7 slot machines, a nongay electronic dartboard and a large outdoor patio, complete with its own bar and ample nongay ­seating.

However, Ripcord is darker than even most nightlife establishments. A dull red track light mounted above the circumference of the main bar barely illuminates its loyal clientele, while the hazy overhead lighting barely reveals pro-gay artwork by Vince Roy, the first of Ripcord's four ­owners.

Though discretion is key, Ripcord is not without its pride. The first Friday of every month is Leather Friday, where customers show up in their finest leather attire. Third Fridays are "demonstration nights" on the patio; we won't say exactly what the demonstrations are, but if you happened to bring along some minor bondage equipment, you wouldn't be entirely out of place. Occasionally DJ Phelan spins some house or dance music (that's generally not danced to) to the crowd of mostly white 20-to-60-year-olds, but a lot of the time it's a typical mix of classic rock, retro and whatever else happens to be on Ripcord's satellite radio.

Ultimately, if you're not gay, Ripcord may not have much to offer, but if you are, well, a fiercely loyal clientele and nearly 28 years in business can't be wrong.

"I've been coming since the early '90s," says Frank, a charming and sarcastic restaurant supervisor. "The staff is friendly, the environment is welcome...and it's semi-conveniently located to the bathhouses in the area."

'Nuff said.

Last Call

You know what's cool? Lying to someone. You know what's not cool? Being lied to. That pisses us off. This week The Nightfly reached out to HISD human lie detector, Officer Alfred Guillory. With more than 22 years of service under his belt, Officer Guillory can literally smell a lie, and he agreed to offer up three tell-tale signs of when someone is shining you on:

1. If the eyes shift to the left, then the perp is lying. Either that or something really cool is happening to the left, like a magician or something.

2. Scratching or fidgeting near the head area can indicate a liar. It can also indicate head lice, which is equally unpleasant.

3. If someone crosses their feet or hands, they're probably lying. Keep an eye on their fingers, too. Everyone knows a set of crossed fingers indicates a lie.

See if you can bust any girls lying to you when you ask them if they have a boyfriend at these River Oaks-ish spots: Blanco's (3406 W. Alabama) — The name of this honky-tonk's Web site,, says everything you need to know; Kentucky Club (2707 Fountain View) — far less crappy than its geographical namesake; Ron's Pub (1826 Fountain View) — Offers darts and beer, so you know someone is going to be lying about something.


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