Words by Daniel Hirsch • Photo by Aaron Jay Young
Voted Best of the Desert thrift store and furniture store, DAP Health’s Revivals Thrift Store brand offers visitors many unique treasures. Beautiful midcentury modern furniture and eclectic fashion finds, of course, but also — if you come by the back alley after closing on just the right night — leather harnesses, chaps, cat o’ nine tails, rare erotic artwork, and a plethora of other adult-centric goodies.
“Just the right night” is whenever Revivals After Dark, the store’s 18-and-over evening event, occurs. Revivals first hosted this pop-up sale four years ago to sell items inappropriate for the family-friendly retail space’s regular hours and racks. It’s since become a semi-annual, highly anticipated, and buzzy community event. Like general sales from Revivals, all Revivals After Dark proceeds go to support DAP Health patient and client services, and more than $70,000 has been raised since its first outing.
“This is a win-win-win,” says Revivals volunteer Mark Musin, who has spearheaded Revivals After Dark since 2020. “You get to get rid of some stuff that you loved, that you had great memories with, and pass that along to someone else.” Musin adds those beloved items have included vintage leather chaps, adult movies, vintage photographs, and even a sex sling or two. “You should see the people who buy these things! They are so thrilled.”
More than just a clothing sale, Revivals After Dark, which takes place outside, behind the four-store chain’s Palm Springs location, has a party-like atmosphere. It’s a place not to just get a great deal — with a leather harness going for as little as $25 — but to see and be seen. Past events have featured DJs and Mr. Palm Springs Leather contestants modeling looks. It’s not uncommon to see strapping fellows stripping off clothing to try on a leather vest. It’s fun that also makes an impact.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get together, which is really important for the leather community,” says Palm Springs Leather Order of the Desert (PSLOD) President David Dunn. “And Revivals provides a fun, and somewhat different, environment in which others can be introduced to us. It’s awesome!”
PSLOD, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the leather, kink, and fetish community of the Coachella Valley, has been a partner with Revivals at all the After Dark events, promoting it widely to its membership and being on hand to answer any leather- and kink-related questions curious shoppers may have. PSLOD also receives $1,000 in donations from each event.
“The leather community has a lot of purposes and a lot of goals, but one of them is philanthropy. Another is supporting the community,” says DAP Health Director of Brand Marketing Steven Henke. “PSLOD’s mission is to build a stronger, healthier community — and that’s DAP Health’s mission as well.”
The initial idea for Revivals After Dark — as well as the partnership it would solidify between DAP Health and PSLOD — emerged from pure happenstance. Henke recalls walking through the Revivals warehouse one day and noticing a large pile of books and magazines of a “more adult nature.” When a volunteer explained they were too graphic to put out in the store and that there were many more items like that in the Revivals trove of donations, Henke realized there was an opportunity to do a uniquely private event that connects with members of the leather and fetish community while raising funds for DAP Health.
The first Revivals After Dark occurred inside the Revivals Palm Springs store in 2019, featuring merchandise laid out in the aisles. To everyone’s delight — but not necessarily to anyone’s surprise — it was a hit, raising nearly $6,000 in 90 minutes. A second event seemed like a no-brainer, but 2020, with its ensuing global pandemic, required getting creative. So, Revivals After Dark moved from inside the store to the alley outside — with clothing racks and tables of merchandise set up al fresco. In doing so, it fully crystallized into the form it was perhaps always meant to have. “It has a vibe that fits the merchandise really, really well,” says Henke of the backlot setting.
In November 2020, the second back-alley Revivals After Dark proved to be even more successful, with more than 200 people lined up, masked and socially distant, hours before the event’s start time. Since then, there’s been two sales a year and the curation of items available, led by Mark Musin and a squad of Revivals volunteers, has grown more expansive.
Musin emphasizes that it’s not just leather gear or material of interest to the leather community that’s on sale. The product mix his team puts together boasts a wide array of fashion, erotica, and kink objects favored by the general LGBTQ+ community. According to Musin, shoppers have included young people and older alike, an expansive gender spectrum, as well as residents from every corner of the Coachella Valley.
For many, the history of some objects also adds to their allure. At the Revivals After Dark in June, Bob Miller, a Desert Hot Springs resident who has long been involved in the leather community and describes himself as “a boot guy,” was surprised to meet another boot collector who had donated about 50 pairs to Revivals. The man had lived abroad in Europe, where he collected various rare and heritage boot brands, maintaining them in immaculate shape. Miller snapped up about seven pairs at a great price, each with an intriguing backstory, um, to boot!
“I get most excited about the vintage photography and oil paintings,” says Henke, noting that these objects are often created by, or feature, gay men that may no longer be with us. “This is our history… They beg to be remembered.”
With history in mind, Musin and his team often consult with historians and organizations like the Tom of Finland Foundation to make sure they’re appropriately handling any rare or historically significant donations.
For Dunn, speaking on behalf of PSLOD, Revivals After Dark also represents his community’s future. It’s an event that can demystify leather, kink, or fetish communities to those who may be curious. Given the affordable price tags, it’s a more accessible place to start a leather collection, spring for a set of quality restraints, or acquire whatever article expresses a part of one’s identity yet to be explored. “It’s a very sex-positive event where there’s no shaming of anyone,” says Musin. “There’s a place for everyone.”
Given the lines at the door and the fact that the harnesses sell out in mere minutes, everyone indeed seems to have gotten the memo about Revivals After Dark.