Arts & entertainment
1 min

Mr Leather Ottawa gears up

Community plans to honour Jon Letke

Revellers peruse leather goods at MLO vendors.

Credit: Daniela Plume

Bytown wasn’t established until 1826, but Ottawa is about to get medieval. Mr Leather Ottawa (MLO), a three-day celebration of fetish and kink, brings hundreds of naughty folks together for an array of seminars, workshops, play parties and, of course, competitions for such titles as Mr Leather Ottawa.

The executive director of MLO, Christopher Doyle, and hundreds of volunteers have been working since February to put together a fantastic weekend.

Doyle emphasizes that people of all genders and orientations are welcome to attend MLO. In addition to the usual play parties, leather gear swap and traditional dinner, this year’s festivities will include seminars that address interests not often considered by MLO.

The 10 seminars will take place on Saturday and include titles like Polyamory vs Non-Monogamy, Raising Kids in a D/s Universe and Electroplay. “There’s a bigger push on education and inclusion this year,” Doyle says. “It’s not How to Build a Harness, How to Give Great Blowjobs or Fisting 101 — we’ve done those in the past, but the seminars are now geared toward people other than gay men. Clearly [gay men] are included, but we wanted it to be open to the entire spectrum of the kink community.”

Even novices who are daunted by this ritualized kink and fetish weekend will have an opportunity to explore their interests in a non-threatening way at a new event called Sensual Destinations. At a location removed from the rest of the MLO festivities, newbies will learn about kink, fetish and MLO.

“To any passersby, [Sensual Destinations] doesn’t seem to necessarily be associated with MLO, so you can check it out without being nervous — there’ll be no assless chaps there,” Doyle says. “It’s sort of like Naughty 101. There’ll be representatives from community groups and some local experts talking about their craft, like maybe comparing hemp and silk rope.”

There will also be a memorial of sorts for John Letke, Mr Leather Ottawa 2014, who died this past July. Each year it’s traditional to roast the titleholder at the homecoming dinner. “We’re still doing that. It won’t be sad and maudlin. It’ll be fun, but reverent, and celebrate the guy he was,” Doyle says.