ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Leather community came together on February 27-28, 2015 to recognize the outgoing Mr. Missouri Leather 2014, David Payne and to select a new leather-man to represent the “Show Me State”. Three amazing leather-men emerged Andy Struckhoff, Ty Portell and Michael Bristow, each fought hard to prove why they would be the best man for the job. Ultimately however, there could only be one person selected. Judges named Andy Struckhoff as Mr. Missouri Leather 2015 with Ty Portell taking 1st runner up. Andy Struckhoff was selected after giving a speech that brought many including myself to tears. He joins a long list of leather-men who have proudly represented the state of Missouri including his husband Mike Lunter.
Andy spoke about the epidemic of drug use that is impacting our community and disclosed his own personal account of how addiction has impacted him. He urged those in attendance not to focus on the addiction but to look towards recovery. He spoke about brotherhood and perseverance through the challenges of addiction. His remarks were especially meaningful to me since I have battled addiction issues for more than fifteen years. If what we saw of Andy is any hint to what will be shown at International Mr. Leather 2015, this could definitely be the year that the International Mr. Leather title comes to Missouri.
Mr. Missouri Leather was marked with several changes this year since it was the first year being produced for former Mr. Missouri Leather Terry Laupp and his husband Chad Carroll. Previously the contest was produced by Gateway MC which dissolved in 2013. You might recognize Carroll and Laupp as the founders and organizers of the St. Louis Balloon Brigade as well as the annual Black and Lou Fetish Ball which benefits PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support), a program of St. Louis Effort for AIDS. Both are also members of Mama’s Leather Family.
Mr. Missouri Leather became one of, if not the first regional contest to require contestants to be drug-tested prior to competing. All potential contestants were administered a drug test prior to being allowed to select a number and more forward in the process. Contestants and titleholders are expected to remain drug free since they are an ever-present representative to the community. The producers felt as if this was a small but significant way to start the conversation about illicit drug use in the leather community.