Our Beginning

THE FOUNDING OF THE CLUB

In April of 1974 a small group of men in Philadelphia began meeting on a regular basis to “bind together … in a brotherhood of fraternal fellowship.” By October the group had grown to 19, and these original 19 men became the Charter Members of a new back-patch leather club, the Philadelphians M.C., Incorporated.

The Constitution and By-Laws of the club were adopted on October 17, 1974, at 247 S. 17th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the home of Frank DeAngelis. A Preamble to the Constitution was written to better communicate the club’s purpose and aims:

We, the members of the Philadelphians M.C. Incorporated, do bind together in an affiliation to bring about masculine individuality, and to create an identification for members, one to another when they travel, and to be recognized by men of similar groups.

We bind together in a brotherhood of fraternal fellowship for personal gratification and to create close fellowship within our particular community, and to foster its growth and development.

We bind together to promote personal pride on the part of all members in the club for its aims and purposes, so long as the insignia of the PHILADELPHIANS M.C. INCORPORATED shall be worn.

We will proudly display the club symbol with dignity.

We will assist if possible through fraternal brotherhood, fellow members and other brothers of fraternity, in times of difficulty and trouble.

Next Tab >

Charters

THE CHARTER MEMBERS OF PHILADELPHIANS M.C.

George Ames
Alfred Atwood
Richard Ball, aka “Pearl” (fifth Captain)
Paul Beck, aka “Nipper” (author of the club poem)
John Bonikowski
Craig Carlson
Larry Casey (first Captain)
Richard Davis (third Captain)
Frank DeAngelis (originator of the Philadelphia Freedom Punch)
Frank Howard (the longest active Charter Member)
Joe Madaras
Jerry McGinnis
Tom Nottingham
Rod Olezewski
Joe Orlando
Robert Richmond (second Captain)
Joe Tucker (aka “Halfbreed”)
Tom White
Tom Woods

Philadelphians M.C. took the form of their Constitution and By-Laws from the Vanguards M.C. The Vanguards M.C. pre-dated the Philadelphians as a leather back-patch club based in Philadelphia by five years. Over the early years, there was much speculation about rivalry between the new Philadelphians and the longer standing Vanguards. In reality, the two clubs were very cordial and the Vanguards M.C. was helpful in providing advice and counsel during the forming of Philadelphians M.C.

Next Tab >

Colors

THE CLUB INSIGNIA

The Philadelphians M.C. designed their insignia as a group. The club insignia was adopted in October 1974 as an original part of the By-Laws. The club chose their colors from the flag of the City of Philadelphia:  gold, blue and red. On the backdrop of a square shield of gold, they placed a red torch with 18 blue rays emanating from its flame. The 18 blue rays and the torch signified the 19 founders of the club. Charter Members had the added insignia of oak leaves to the right and left of the bottom point of the shield. Club associates wear a smaller version of the patch with a red “A” at the bottom point of the shield. Pledges wear a small version of the back patch with a white stripe diagonally from the top left to the bottom right. As a historical note, the club’s Charter Associate Members were permitted to wear the large back patch, and the “A” insignia on the associate patch was not used in the early years. The Charter Associate class of membership is no longer in use by the Philadelphians M.C. Also, the club had originally required Charter and Regular Members to wear a small patch on the front of their vest over their heart. Today members wear the smaller patch either there or on the lower right side of the front of the vest.

The first set of colors and patches was made by Joe Dando.

Next Tab >

AMCC

A.M.C.C. MEMBERSHIP / SANCTIONED EVENTS

Philadelphians M.C. did not join the Atlantic Motorcycle Coordinating Council (A.M.C.C.) until the club’s eighth year. The first newsletter of the club, dated March-April 1975, makes reference to the club’s desire to be different than the established back-patch clubs. The Charter Members closely guarded their control over the workings of their fraternal organization, and it was not until 1982, when the first non-Charter Captain (John Rocco) was elected, that the club applied for membership in A.M.C.C. The club’s application to A.M.C.C. was sponsored by the Vanguards M.C. and the Spartan Motorcycle Club. The first out of town leather club to recognize the Philadelphians M.C. was SMCLA. The Spartans Motorcycle Club Leather Angels (or more originally the “Ladies Auxiliary”) invited the Philadelphians M.C. to host a cocktail party at their run, “Autumn Scrambles”, in 1975.

Next Tab >

Leaders

CLUB LEADERSHIP

By taking their By-Laws from the Vanguards M.C., Philadelphians M.C. also inherited the unusual officer titles of Captain, Co-Captain, and Master-at-Arms. The Treasurer and Scribe, using more common titles, complete the list of officers. Philadelphians M.C. has had 17 members serve as Captain since their founding in 1974 (two in the list below served non-consecutive terms). Four of the Captains were Charter Members.

Larry C. (Charter) (10-14-74 to 02-10-75)
Robert R. (Charter) (02-10-75 to 10-02-78)
Richard D. (Charter) (10-02-78 to 10-06-80)
John R. (10-06-80 to 05-05-84)
Richard B. “Pearl” (Charter) (05-05-84 to 10-06-86)
Robert B. (10-06-86 to 10-10-88)
Edward G. (10-10-88 to 10-05-92)
Ricky R. (10-05-92 to 10-03-94)
Clint R. (10-03-94 to 10-07-96)
Ricky R. (10-07-96 to 10-05-98)
John L. (10-05-98 to 10-2-00)
Jeff S. (10-2-00 to 10-7-02)
Ryan G. (10-7-02 to 10-4-04)
John L. (10-4-04 to 10-06-08)
Jim KZ (10-06-08 to 10-01-12)
Mike KZ (10-01-12 to 10-3-16)
Jo Ann W (10-3-16 to present)

One of the traditions of the club, practiced by a number of Captains, is to provide a gift to the membership. Clint Robison commissioned watches with the club insignia on the face. Ricky Rogers commissioned a belt buckle in a stylized version of the club insignia from a drawing used in an ad. Jim KZ commissioned brass key chains featuring the club insignia to commemorate the club’s 35th anniversary.

On October 3, 2016, Jo Ann W became the first woman ever to hold the office of Captain.

Next Tab >

Other Clubs

RELATIONS WITH OTHER CLUBS

Today Philadelphians M.C. has strong relationships with a number of clubs. A few historical events are worth noting.

In February of 1977 Jan Durbin of Philadelphians M.C. left to found the Companions, a men’s club no longer in existence. The Companions were the only club to “spin-off” from the Philadelphians.

In February of 1994 all the then members of Philadelphians M.C. were made associate members of the Vikings M.C. of Boston

On March 13, 1975, the Bucks M.C. were the first club to present Philadelphians M.C. with their club colors.

In 2008 the Philadelphians M.C. helped the Keystone boys of Leather (KboL) get started by lending their support at socials and in creating by-laws.

Next Tab >

Home Bars

HOME BARS

The original home bar of Philadelphians M.C. was The Post located at 1705 Chancellor Street. The club had its first public social at The Post on Monday, February 24, 1975. The night was a great success in part due to the en-mass attendance by the Vanguards M.C. Closed in 2007 and now known as Stir Lounge, the location is still an LGBTQ bar but is no longer a regular haunt of the area’s leathermen. In 1977 the club moved its home bar to The 247 Bar, located below the apartment where their club was founded at 247 S. 17th Street (the 247 closed in 1996 and is now home to an Irish pub). In 1982, the club moved its home to The Bike Stop. The Bike Stop was opened by one of the club’s members, the late Ron Lord, and its first manager was former Captain John Rocco. Ron converted The Bike Stop from a drag performance bar into a leather bar. The stage where the drag entertainers performed is now home to a pool table, and Ron Lord’s motorcycle still hangs from the ceiling.

For more history about the Bike Stop, check out Bob Skiba’s article at The Gayborhood Guru – https://thegayborhoodguru.wordpress.com/tag/bike-stop/

Next Tab >

Traditions

RUN & COCKTAIL TRADITIONS

Two traditions stand out in the history of Philadelphians M.C. cocktail parties. From its very first anniversary party (October 1976) Philadelphians M.C. has had a propensity to host cocktail parties at bathhouses. This second year anniversary of the club was celebrated at the Barracks Baths on Sansom Street. This tradition was revived over New Year’s 1998-99 with the club incorporating bathhouse parties into its New Year’s run, Tri-Cen XIII.

The other tradition is a special cocktail, created first by Frank DeAngelis, known as the Philadelphia Freedom. This potent cocktail has a secret recipe known only to a few select club members. In the early 1980’s A.M.C.C. became concerned that clubs were competing to create the most potent cocktail punch. So well-liked throughout the A.M.C.C., the Philadelphia Freedom cocktail was the only exception to A.M.C.C.’s request that cocktail parties use open bars and refrain from ever-stronger punches. There are three versions of the recipe: Classic, Lite, and Virgin.

In 1976-77 Philadelphians M.C. held their first run over the New Year’s weekend. After a long year of Bicentennial celebrations in Philadelphia, the club chose to mark the beginning of the nation’s third century by naming the run TRI-CEN. This first run was held at the Holiday Inn on Walnut Street in downtown Philadelphia, and was the first “hotel run” of its kind, where the run fee of $60.00 paid for registration, food, and hotel. The first run was chaired by Ron Lord.

Next Tab >

Membership

MEMBERSHIP

Philadelphians M.C. has the following membership categories: Charter Member, Life Brother, Regular Member, Associate, and Pledge. There are presently no Charter Members active with the club, but three remain with us, and they retain the rights of membership for life. Life Brothers are Regular Members honored by the club with lifetime membership.

Regular Members, Associates, and Pledges are membership classes common to most A.M.C.C. clubs. The club has a practice of making Honorary Associates of those individuals who are special to the club. Another standing practice is the naming of a club “Brother”. The designation of Brother is given to one individual for a year based on their contribution to the ideals of the club.

The club had women Associates prior to 1976, starting with Lee & Cheryl of Trash M.C. of New York City. But it was not until 1996 that the first woman was made a Regular Member, Jo Ann W. The club also has a history of deaf members, starting with Larry Warnow, who designed the club’s first friendship pin.

The membership of the club started with the original 19 Charter Members. The membership has been as small as eight during a period from 1981 to 1984 and as large as 35 during the early 2000s.

The first member to be named Life Brother was Chuck McAllister. Presently, the club has the following Life Brothers: Richard Ball, Edward Glaser, Jim KZ, Mike KZ, John Loesch, Bryan Poaches, Robert Richmond, John Rocco, Ricky Rogers, George Rhode, and Jeff Scheib.

Next Tab >

Awards

CLUB AWARDS

In 1976, Captain Bob Richmond created the Brother of the Year Award to recognize outstanding service to the club. The award has not been presented every year, as its presentation is entirely at the discretion of the Captain. By club custom, however, the Captain solicits nominations for the honor from the membership. The first recipient of the award was Charter Member Frank Howard. Through 2004 the recipients of the award are:

Frank Howard
Al Hutchins
Richard Davis
Bob Richmond
Frank Gould
Ron Lord
Clint Robison (twice)
Richard Ball
Bob Broughan (twice)
Mike Kleintop
John L.
Ed G.
Jeff S.
Don HD
Ryan G.
Richard D.
José C.
Jim KZ
Glenn W.
Marc C.
George R.
Chris K.

To honor the memory of Frank Howard, the only Charter Member to remain active in the club from its founding until his death in 1993, the Frank Howard Brotherhood Award was created by former Captain Ed Glaser in 1994. It had been Frank’s custom once a year to read aloud to the membership the Preamble to the club constitution as a reminder of the importance of brotherhood and why the club exists. To date the award has been presented only four times:

1994 Jeff S.
1998 Ricky R.
2002 Steve M.
2005 John L.
2007 JoAnn W.

Next Tab >

Contests

LEATHER CONTESTS

In 1982 the Philadelphians M.C. created the Mr. Philadelphians contest which fed into the Mr. Philadelphia Leather contest. The first winner of this title was Al Santora. The club hoped that the practice would spread to the other leather clubs in and near Philadelphia, so each would field a contestant for the Mr. Philadelphia Leather contest. When the practice did not catch on, the club ended the contest after a few years and devoted their efforts in support of the Mr. and Ms. Philadelphia Leather Contest sponsored by The Bike Stop. Many members have volunteered, entered, and/or won the Mr. and Ms. Philadelphia Leather contests.

The Mr. and Ms. Philadelphia Leather contest was suspended in 2009 as leather contests across the country saw diminishing interest on the part of both the audience and potential contestants.

In 2014, the Bike Stop approached the Executive Board of Philadelphians M.C. and asked if the club would be interested in partnering up to co-produce the contest starting in 2015. For more information on the history of the Philadelphia leather title, see www.phillyleathercontest.org.

Next Tab >

Citation

CITATION FROM MAYOR MICHAEL A. NUTTER

On January 2, 2010, the City of Philadelphia officially recognized Philadelphians M.C. on their 35th Anniversary with a Citation honoring them for outstanding service and brotherhood within the LGBT community. It was presented during a special visit from City Director of LGBT Affairs Gloria Casarez at our anniversary banquet during Tri-Cen 19.

Next Tab >

Our Future

WHERE WE ARE GOING

Membership in the club has expanded and contracted many times over the years. We have grown to almost 40 members, shrunk to fewer than ten, and bounced right back again. Just like Cher. Our ranks of associate members have grown to over 100 and now spans the globe. Through it all we never lose sight of our primary goals…

We, the members of the Philadelphians M.C. Incorporated, do bind together in an affiliation to bring about masculine individuality, and to create an identification for members, one to another when they travel, and to be recognized by men of similar groups.

We bind together in a brotherhood of fraternal fellowship for personal gratification and to create close fellowship within our particular community, and to foster its growth and development.

We bind together to promote personal pride on the part of all members in the club for its aims and purposes, so long as the insignia of the PHILADELPHIANS M.C. INCORPORATED shall be worn.

We will proudly display the club symbol with dignity.

We will assist if possible through fraternal brotherhood, fellow members and other brothers of fraternity, in times of difficulty and trouble.

Return to Our Beginning