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DES MOINES — Drag, leather and kink, spirituality, history and ethic diversity will all be part of this weekend’s 40th Anniversary Street Party for The Blazing Saddle, starting tonight and continuing through Sunday.

The celebration coincides with Iowa Leather Weekend, an annual conference of contests, educational events, and social opportunities for people interested in leather and kink.

Topping both nights with 10 p.m. shows are members of the Saddle Gurls drag troupe. But tonight, the celebration kicks off with a Kings Show at 6 p.m. and Covered in Melanin featuring drag artists of color at 8 p.m. Tomorrow night features two more diversity-themed drag shows prior to the Saddle Gurls: Crazy B***h Asians featuring Asian drag artitsts at 6 p.m ., and Noche Latina for Mexican, Hispanic and Latino drag artists at 8 p.m.

Saddle Gurls at The Blazing Saddle

This weekend’s 40th anniversary for The Blazing Saddle features six drag shows, including two by the Saddle Gurls.

Sunday wraps up with an 11 a.m. “Downtown Disciples” presentation on the Saddle’s street stage. The outdoor service features Summer Osborne, a long-time vocalist, songwriter, and performer at women’s music festivals, Pride events, and spiritual gatherings of all kinds. Osborne describes herself jokingly as “the love child of Adele, Carole King, and Joss Stone” and says her music combines “folk soul, acoustic rock, and piano pop with glimpses of jazz, blues, and roots music.”

Iowa Leather Weekend with titleholders

Iowa Leather Weekend is happening today through Sunday in Des Moines, along with The Blazing Saddle’s 40th anniversary.


All throughout the weekend are events connected with Iowa Leather Weekend, both in and around the Saddle at neighboring businesses. Activities include classes, dance parties, vendors, bootblack sessions,  a Saturday late-morning Sober Social, and a late-night, private “play party” where those registered can join in consensual kink scenes. Contests emceed by leather and kink celebrities from Minneapolis, Chicago and more will host contests for Iowa Bear, Iowa Pup, Mr. Iowa Leather and Ms. Iowa Leather.

For more information about The Blazing Saddle’s 40th anniversary, head to its website or its Facebook page. For more about Iowa Leather Weekend, check out its Facebook page.

Thursday night also featured a showing of “The Blazing Saddle Project,” a 2014 documentary created by a Blazing Saddle fan. You can see the video in its entirety below. Also, look for The Real Mainstream’s new September print edition next week, featuring 12 fascinating tidbits about The Blazing Saddle over its 40-year history. You can subscribe for home delivery of the print edition here, or pick up a free copy at locations throughout Iowa and Illinois listed here.