Ottawa
2 min

Livin’ in leather

Mr Leather Ottawa moves to the Byward Market

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION. Recently-awarded regional titleholders Eastern Canada Leather Sir 2004 Brandon Matheson (middle) and Eastern Canada Leatherboy 2004 Dan Falkenham (left), will compete at the international contest in Florida this month (www.leathersir.com). Also shown here is Eastern Canada Leatherboy 2003 Sebastien Fontaine. Matheson is also publisher and editor-in-chief of Capital Xtra. Credit: Tom Polarbear

The Mr Leather Ottawa competition has simply gotten too big for its chaps.



The 13th edition of the annual competition, hosted by the Ottawa Knights, will make the trek from Bank St to the Byward Market this year, says Murray Lavigne, executive producer of the contest.



“We’re moving to Capital City Music Hall from Barrymore’s,” explains Lavigne. “The reason we didn’t go back is that Barrymore’s limited the number of seats, based on fire regulations, to 375, so we were looking at other options where we could sell more tickets and give a larger amount of money to a local charity. Capital City Music Hall (200 Rideau St) has a seating capacity of 1,000.”



Lavigne says the troupe is hoping to sell 700 tickets this year, raking in huge cash for charity, and giving leather wearers more room to breathe.



Other than their departure from their typically sold-out venue, Lavigne says the contest will include the usual events. Ticketholders can meet the contestants Friday, hit the leather fair at Cell Block on Saturday, enjoy a formal dinner and watch the contest Saturday night. Survivors of the weekend can head to a “bye bye brunch” on Sunday. Details will be posted on the website as the date approaches.



This year’s theme is Jail Break, adds Lavigne mischievously.



“That kind of opens the doors in terms of what the contestants can wear and what the production manager can do,” he says. Previous themes have included Decade Of Decadence, Motorcycle and last year’s Excalibur. “We’ve had lots of fun over the years. It’s one of the best shows in the city. We do a performance, we don’t just do a leather contest. It’s an actual stage show.”



The show is intended to be fun but Mr Leather’s job is not to be taken lightly, says Lavigne.



“He educates the GLBT community in terms of leather,” he says. “Most Mr Leathers have tried to foster a very safe community. The leather community was the first to initialize this concept of safe, sane and consensual sex.”



Current title-holder Steven Hould also competed in International Mr Leather in Chicago this May.



If education is important to the Ottawa Knights, supporting community groups is paramount. Toys For Tots in early December is one of their biggest fundraisers, but the group has also stood behind Bruce House and Pink Triangle Services in the past.



“We’ve also donated a lot of money to the gay youth line and things like that,” adds Lavigne. “Actually, anyone who sort of submits something in writing, we try to help. First we were sort of a fun group, now we’re a fundraising group.”



This year’s Mr Leather Ottawa hopefuls are invited to apply online, says Lavigne, adding that traditionally, contestants are gay men, over the age of 21, who are into the leather community. But Lavigne also implores sponsors and volunteers to gear up for the event.



“We’re always looking for people to help. We’re a small group,” he says. “We organize a big event with only 12 people. But it’s fun at the same time. When you see the results at the end of the weekend, you say it was all worthwhile.”



Tickets for the contest are $25; weekend packages sell for $99 before Oct 17 at After Stonewall (370 Bank St), One In Ten (216 Bank St), Wilde’s (376 Bank St), mother tongue books (1067 Bank St), Venus Envy (110 Parent St) and Funf Boutique (243 Bank St).



“I want the world to buy tickets and enjoy the production, because they won’t see anything else like it. Once you’ve been there, you’ll always come back,” says Lavigne.



* Visit www.ottawaknights.com for more information.