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Hiccups didn’t dampen MLO

Six contestants; $700 for AIDS Committee of Ottawa

VICTOR VICTORIOUS. Brendan McGovern receives the Al Hodgins Memorial Trophy (created by local artist Rick Madore) and the Mr Leather Ottawa sash from MLO 2008, Richard Hubley. Credit: Pat Croteau

Ottawa’s 16th annual Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO) competition overcame a major stumbling block to pull off a successful weekend-long event.

Ottawa kinksters held their collective breath after MLO planners announced that their competition had lost its venue. The flagship show of the Oct 24-26 weekend was left homeless after Barrymore’s Music Hall was sold this summer.

With six weeks to go, organizers cast around for a new venue. Then, after inking a deal with St Brigid’s cultural centre, the MLO team was left with just two weeks to find men who were interested in vying for the title.

But by almost any yardstick, the event was a success. Pat Croteau is the chair of the weekend event.

“The response from the community was amazing,” he says. “It was beyond what I could have anticipated.”

While the goal isn’t to rake in a profit, they boasted close to 400 attendees, raised $730 for the AIDS Committee of Ottawa and had their busiest gear/leather swap to date.

Watch video highlights from the MLO 2009 competition:

“Sometimes it takes a month to six weeks to get all the bills in and make sure that everyone’s been refunded for out-of-pocket expenses,” says Croteau. “We’ll be in the ballpark of breaking even.”

They also hooked six men to compete for the title, two more than they’ve been averaging. That included two men in their twenties —pulling the average age of the competitors into the mid-30s.

Zelda Marshall, MLO’s behind-the-scenes den tranny, says that things backstage were “very professional, very polished.”

“Obviously, the people who came to the event were very pleased that they came,” says Marshall. “You want make sure that people feel when they come out to an event that they had a great time, that it was money well spent — and then they will come back next year to support it again.”

MLO volunteer Angela Albert says she had “a great weekend” at MLO. But she also says that she couldn’t understand the emcee at the competition, because of the booming echo in the hall.

Croteau agrees.

“The venue was a bit of mixed bag. People loved it, but there were obviously audio issues and we were blowing fuses,” he says. “I hope they have us back.”

Brendan McGovern, the youngest competitor, was crowned Mr Leather Ottawa 2009.

Mike Tattersall (Mr Cellblock 2008) and Daniel Laroche placed second and third, respectively.

McGovern’s fantasy performance centred on an impromptu surgery. In his speech, he promised to make Ottawa’s kink scene more accessible to younger people.

Pat Croteau is pleased with the result.

“While I had nothing to do with the judging, I’m so happy that a 23-year-old is our titleholder, because I think he can reach out to all the people that don’t feel that they can go to a group where the average age might be 40, where they don’t feel welcome. They are welcome; but they might not feel that way.”