Leather Archives & Museum


Form Object

What is it about Les's pictures? Why do they reach out so strongly to us and pull us so completely into their world? What is this world of Les and his art? This art crosses boundaries in its combination of fantasy and realism. Les never offends. He invites us into a scene.

Les Farnek was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1935. When he was a young boy, his parents tried unsuccessfully to get him out of Nazi Hungary. In 1956, he was a "Freedom Fighter," throwing Molotov cocktails at Russian tanks as they advanced into Budapest. At this point, when he was 21, in 1956, the family finally managed to get Les out of Hungary and on his way to the United States.

Les' s art is very real to us. His soldiers always wear the correct uniforms. His cops are real cops. The drawings always seem to resemble Les himself. In fact, some are obvious and intentional self portraits, like the Top on page 51 [at bottom of page]. He started drawing for the 15 Association in 1981. The 15 needed an artist; Les needed to make art.

Les was a terrific Top. Any bottom who ever played with him would never forget the scene. I played with him in many scenes over 12 years. He always gave great SM. He could give a terrific beating!

Les arrived in the United States in 1957, got married shortly after that, and lived in Buffalo, New York until, one day, he "decided" he was gay. He left Buffalo to begin the Leather Life he needed. He looked great in leather jeans or breeches. He always wore highly polished boots, and he always polished them himself. He usually hung a strap or whip or both from his belt. He never lost his Hungarian accent. He lived through the 70s, 80s and early 90s as a Leatherman.

He came to The 15 Association in 1981 when he moved to San Francisco. His art work was noticed, and The 15 asked him to illustrate its party invitations. Since 1981, The 15 has had parties on a monthly basis. Les also illustrated a calendar for The 15 in the late 80s. There are, therefore, over 200 original images that Les created for The 15. He also did illustrations for leathersex stories published in gay porno magazines.

Les's art defined The 15 for 12 years, from 1981 to 1993. The art is immediate and accessible, representing a fantasy view of SM and The 15. (His art certainly turned me on!) The images often refer to the themes of the parties: spanking, cigars, etc. Les' s drawings-and particularly his pictures for The 15-are among the best-known and best- loved images of SM in the 80s and 90s.

Les became a fraternal of The 15 in 1982 and was elected Chairman in 1985. He served a record seven years at the helm of The 15. He was a gentleman of the old school, well educated, yet never stuck-up. He loved to walk and draw in Golden Gate Park. His landscape watercolors were wonderful images. He was forceful, but not arrogant; a very attractive man and always a Leather Top.

It's the Tops, particularly, who draw us into Les's art. They are easy to know, nice to look at and they make us fantasize. We can just about walk into Les' s world. It is a Top's-eye view of leather and SM, yet these Tops smile and we like them.

Everyone liked Les. Everyone spoke to him. In 1990, Les bought a building in San Francisco that had a great basement which opened onto Cedar Alley. The 15 paid to renovate the basement and create a dungeon/club house in the space. What a wonderful dungeon it was.

Then Les met Buzz Galbraith and fell in love. They were a good pair, a great couple, and Buzz-naturally- joined the Fraternal Committee of The 15.

In February , 1993, I succeeded Les as Chairman of The 15 Association and Les continued as a Fraternal Member and as the club's official artist. His later work is more de- tailed and, by this time, he was becoming "known" for his art. His style had matured and grown as he matured and aged.

The men are older, but also more sensual and real than before. Les and his art were well-respected in the leather community. He had a lot of friends and admirers.  In 1989, Les' s building was damaged in the Lorna Prieta Earthquake. In that same year, the Berlin Wall came down and the Iron Curtain began to open up. These two events set the stage for what followed.

One day in 1993, Les returned to Hungary. He is well and living a new life. We remember him and his art as evidence of a great time of leather and SM in San Francisco. His art will not age or become irrelevant. Fifty years from now, Les's art will still be popular and known. Les will be remembered as a consummate artist from a golden time when SM was safe, fun, hot and real.

I will always remember Les as a best friend and respected colleague. He was my big brother, maybe my Daddy. I loved him, arid so did a lot of other leather folks. He lives in his art and in my memories of him. They are good memories of the happiest time of my life.  Take Les's art for itself and it will take you into Les's world. A leather world where SM is normal. We can reach this world any time in Les's art. It is a world all its own... complete and full.

The good times were wonderful with Les. I remember SM scenes that went on for hours. We made several videos that are still around. His scenes are as real to me as his art. They are fantasy come to life. Maybe that's what Les's art really is in the central core of its meaning: A fantasy come to life in all its reality and beauty .

I hope it means the same to you. Enjoy Les's art.

Peter Fiske,
Chairman Emeritus of The 15 Association
February 1998

Taken from Take That! Diary of a Dungeon Master Volume 1 The Erotic Art of Les. Published by Brush Creek Media

Page 74 of Take That!

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