2 min

Go-go dancing do-gooders battle it out on stage

Contestants drop trou to raise funds for LGBT youth at the annual Mr Ruff competition

Credit: Courtesy MN Events

Each year a handful of Vancouver’s hottest male strippers and dancers are pitted against each other in one of the region’s sweatiest and hottest competitions, all for a good cause.

Since its inception in 2012, Ruff parties and the Mr Ruff competition have brought in over $10,000 for the Abbey of the Long Cedar Canoe — the registered charity for the Vancouver chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an organization that focuses its work in the LGBT community.

The Sisters’ mandate is to support youth homelessness and people living with HIV. They also get involved with educational and health programs. All the money raised during Mr Ruff is donated to local organizations that support the Vancouver LGBT community.

“The Mr Ruff competition is a great opportunity for us to do some fundraising,” Paladin Pebbles tells Xtra by email. Pebbles is the mistress of alms and charity (AKA treasurer) for the Sisters.

“HIV rates, as well as other sexually transmitted disease rates are still on the rise in Vancouver, so our visibility helps create awareness,” Pebbles says. “And, of course, we always try to spread joy!”

The 2016 Mr Ruff contest was a record-breaking year, with the four candidates raising more than $3,000. The eventual victor and reigning Mr Ruff 2016, Shane Rooks, played his part in smashing the record by amassing more than $1,200 in donations.

Rooks supported his best friend, Colin, in his successful run for the Mr Ruff crown in 2015, and launched his own bid for the title in 2016. “I did it on a whim and really appreciated the camaraderie among the contestants,” he says.

“It felt great to have a record-setting fundraising run,” he adds, “My goal, when I began, had been to simply beat Colin’s numbers by a couple hundred dollars . . . but I ended up almost doubling his numbers.”

Although Rooks’ reign is coming to an end, he has high hopes for 2017. “It looks like we will be setting new Mr Ruff fundraising records this year. I think our local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Abbey of the Long Cedar Canoe Society, will be very, very pleased.”

The competition will be followed by RUFF’s six-year anniversary party with DJ Nathan Mots and Seattle’s Matt Stands, from 10pm to 3am

As they have been since the first event in 2012, the Sisters will be out in force at all Ruff Vancouver events this year, and Pebbles is brimming with enthusiasm over the latest round of Mr Ruff candidates. “All of the contenders this year are amazing people who have been involved with Ruff and the community and they all deserve to be crowned Mr Ruff 2017,” Pebbles says. “It’s going to be a very difficult decision, but whoever gets the title will do an awesome job.”