Let me tell you, this weekend is going to be a kinkster’s wet dream.
Ottawa’s biggest annual leather and fetish event, Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO), offers kink enthusiasts skill-building seminars, workshops, two dinners (including one that calls for formal leathers), a brunch, a gear swap, a vendors’ fair and what’s inarguably the weekend’s main event: the competition on Saturday night that determines who will become Mr Leather Ottawa 2012.
“I’m very happy about the buzz this year,” says Pat Croteau, executive producer of the event and a long-time member of the Ottawa Knights, the local leather and denim club for gay men that organizes MLO each year. “You’d have to go back six years to get these kinds of numbers, and that’s amazing to me, given the economy. That’s just staggeringly good. I’m also excited that we have five contestants this year. We didn’t have to go chasing after [people] as in previous years.”
MLO is known for being one of the most inclusive and welcoming events on the leather and fetish circuit, having expanded its scope from being solely leather-oriented to being more broadly about fetish and kink four years ago. While the title has stayed Mr Leather Ottawa for historical reasons, everyone and every fetish is welcome. They call it a “be yourself” event.
While MLO has been historically a gay men’s event, the last two titleholders have worked their hand at expanding the event’s inclusiveness further, specifically inviting the pansexual community into the fold and explicitly inviting bi and trans men to compete for the title of Mr Leather Ottawa if they so desire.
“When we revised who could run, [we] really did some soul-searching as to what the title is about. Ultimately . . . it’s about honouring the traditions of the gay men’s leather community and representing [them]. Who can do that? Anyone with knowledge of the gay leather community.”
The outcome of this kind of inclusiveness is that it’s one of the best-attended leather and fetish events in Canada. Last year saw close to 1,000 people over the course of the weekend, with 450 people at the competition on Saturday night.
This year’s theme is TechnoKink: There’s an App for That, playing off the idea of there being an app for finding other kinksters and acknowledging that online venues and technology in general are responsible for a lot of connectedness within the leather community.
Check back with Xtra throughout the weekend to see photos, video reports and live, on-the-scene accounts from Mr Leather Ottawa 2012, starting with tonight’s Meet the Meat event at the St Brigid’s Centre, 9pm.