Ottawa’s fetish scene has some new representation. On Friday, Aug 15, Daniel Ivan Harris, 31, was crowned Mr Rubber Ottawa 2014 at the Centretown Pub, taking over for incumbent Oliver Foulkes. A prominent figure in Ottawa’s fetish scene and a strong proponent of community inclusiveness, Harris says he came to embrace rubber in part because he is vegan.
“I’m very accepted by the leather community whenever I go out, but . . . I can’t wear leather, and so I got into rubber,” he says. “I really actually prefer rubber in terms of the look, in terms of feel, in terms of — you can get it wet and not have to freak out.”
Harris says his main goal in his new position is to make sure that there are more rubber events in the city and that they are well attended. “My plan in terms of growing the community is [to] just try to be as visible and as sexy in rubber as I can be.”
Harris says that he tries to attend as many events as he can in his rubber gear and that he plans to represent rubber at the Mr Leather Ottawa competition in November. He also promotes rubber in his everyday dress, wearing his neoprene suspenders and harness on a regular basis. And he doesn’t shy away from the inherent sexuality of rubber.
“I think most people get into [rubber] either through often looking it up on the internet for pornography, but also just seeing it and being like, ‘That’s hot. I want to look like that,’ or ‘I want to be in bed with that,” he says. “I see that as one of the key ways of sort of growing it, just wearing it and being sexy and being confident in it.”
Harris, who is also active in Ottawa’s bear community, says body confidence is something that he tries to exemplify. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and in the way I look and in the way I look in rubber, especially,” he says.
Given that the fetish community in Ottawa is relatively small, there is a fair amount of overlap between the different scenes and subsets — something that other titleholders has felt worked to their advantage. “In terms of overlapping, there certainly is,” Harris says. “The bear community is also very intermingled with the kink community, the rubber community [and] with the pup community.”
Although the scene in Ottawa can have its cliques, he says, once people are accepted into the fold it’s a very friendly atmosphere. “Once you sort of get in and meet people, you’re in and it’s very accepting.”
Harris credits Mr Leather Ottawa 2014 Jon Letke, who committed suicide July 24, with encouraging more diversity and acceptance within Ottawa’s kink communities. “I will not be anywhere near as good as him because he was amazing and worked tirelessly, but I plan to continue that and help the communities intermingle,” he says.
Those closest to Letke have said he found the experience of holding a title to be rewarding but also very stressful. Harris says he plans to balance his titleholding experience with other personal and professional commitments, particularly his position as a forward with the Ottawa Wolves rugby team. “I love rugby so very much, and it’s definitely helped me learn to manage stress and also be more confident about what I want and just going for it,” he says, adding that he tries to remain aware of the importance of down-time.
Harris also credits rugby with increasing his confidence and assertiveness, which has helped him to take a more active role in the kink community. With his overlapping roles in the rubber, bear and kink scenes, he says he sees himself more as an ambassador between them than a representative of just one. “As the titleholder, I’m using . . . the rubber community as an anchor point,” he says, adding that he’s hoping to encourage more people to explore the different scenes.
“One of the things I definitely want to do is I want to extend . . . rubber and kink [to] women and [the] trans community, as well as people who have traditionally not just been part of it . . . If you look at most of the leather community, it’s very strongly associated with men.”
Though he won’t be able to attend Pride because of a conflicting trip to Australia with the Ottawa Wolves, Harris says he’s looking forward to coordinating events such as pub nights and rubber socials when he returns. “Definitely, I want to be out there in my rubber at events as much as possible once we get back.”