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Divine provenance finds MLO at unlikely venue

Next hurdle: nailing down a few competitors

HOT TIMES. Pat Croteau, chair of Mr Leather Ottawa (R)evolution, is calling for the community to rally behind MLO this year. Credit: MLO 2007 publicity

Could it be a case of divine intervention? Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO) has found a new venue for its competition, following the cancellation of its contract with Barrymore’s Music Hall.

After Barrymore’s was sold in August, MLO found itself without a location for the popular Saturday night show, which draws 250-400 people and keeps the weekend-long festival in the black.

St Brigid’s is a deconcecrated church, having been sold by the Roman Catholic diocese in 2007. It is now a cultural centre, with plays, art shows and concerts. Its owners hope to use revenues from renting the space to refurbish the 118-year-old building.

MLO’s deal with St Brigid means that organizers are putting out extra cash only a few weeks before the weekend, held Oct 24-26. Organizers are urging Ottawa’s queer community to support the event in its new location.

“Our produced contest promises to be full of frills and spills,” says Murray Lavigne in an email. “We count our blessings, so to speak, to have found this venue.”

Pat Croteau, chair of MLO Revolution, says that the dissolution of their contract with Barrymore’s of put a major kink in plans for Ottawa’s annual fetish weekend.

Now that MLO has settled on a location, Croteau says he’ll be turning his attention to the entertainment.

“The only major hurdle we have left is that we’re still looking for two more competitors. In dealing with the location, we lost some of our prime recruiting time,” he says.

He says the two main criteria for titleholders are an interest in public service and the ability to carry oneself with poise and professionalism. He’s worried that the successes of past MLO titleholders might be intimidating, but he suggests that anyone who is interested contact him or the other organizers.

MLO returned to Barrymore’s in 2007 after a hiatus from the venue. The return was driven by popular demand. But MLO organizers booked the hall before Randy Lanctot sold the business to Montreal-based businessman Vince Simone in August.

While the competition is the biggest single piece of the MLO puzzle, the three-day weekend includes workshops and a leather fair, plus two play parties.

He’s hoping to harness the energy and creativity of Ottawa’s queer and kink communities to deal with this 11th-hour curveball.

Mr Leather Ottawa was started by the Ottawa Knights to help build the leather community, to foster a positive image of leather folks, and to fulfill their mandate of giving back to the broader community.

No one from Barrymore’s was available for comment as of press time.