Mr. Michigan Leather Weekend XVIII Experience

MML 2013 and Renslow Web

Mr. Michigan Leather 2014 Chuck Braidwood and IML Founder Chuck Renslow. (Photo by Woody Woodruff)

Gallery photos by Master Brad

SAUGATUCK, Mich. – The eighteenth annual Mr. Michigan Leather Weekend gathered Leather Folk and Kinksters from all across Michigan for socializing, education, and the crowning of Mr. Michigan Leather 2014. With this editorial I will take you through the experience that was MML this year.

Mr. Michigan Leather Weekend XVIII opened Friday evening with their registration, vendor fair, Bottoms Buffet hosted by Michigan Band of Brothers, judge and contestant introductions, and after hours party hosted by LeatherUNITED. The Bottoms Buffet featured classes by Sir Papa Bear, Pup Itus, Kevin “Kinky Boots” Hulley, Great Lakes Leather Sir Mark Eddy, and Dave Watt giving those in attendance the opportunity to try all different kinds of play provided by experienced tops. The Bottoms Buffet was followed by the introduction of the judges and contestants for this year’s MML contest and the opportunity for those in attendance to capture some photos and get to mingle with those involved in this year’s contest. The LeatherUNITED After Party gave both attendees a fun dungeon atmosphere to play in and a great wind down to the evening.

Saturday was a full day of thing to do for those who attended this year’s MML event. The day featured breakfast, a 12-step meeting, multiple workshops, cookout hosted by Mr. Friendly, and the vendor mart. This year MML featured the following workshops: Rope 101- Harness your Art, Pre and Post BDSM Scene Prep and Care, I Want My Mummy-Mummification. The classes this year were hosted by Chicago Hellfire Club and presented by Doug V. and Craig B. The Saturday cookout was a very special one as it was a celebration of Mr. Friendly’s 5th Birthday. There was plenty of delicious food and even a Mr. Friendly birthday cake.

All weekend long MML provided those in attendance with the opportunity to have their leathers cared for by a couple of experienced and very talented bootblacks. Found working diligently at their stands were 2008 and 2009 Great Lakes Bootblack Sir Trooper and the 2013 Great Lakes Bootblack boy Kai. These two Bootblacks worked on everything from boots and vests to whips and dragontails this weekend.

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Photos by Brad Link

The focus of Saturday evening was the Mr. Michigan Leather XVIII Contest. The contest opened with a photo montage set to Lady Gaga’s song “Applause.” This year’s emcee Dave Watt welcomed everyone to MML XVIII. Dave informed the audience that the winner of MML XVIII would be headed to Chicago to compete in the International Mr. Leather Contest in May. The audience was then treated to the musical styling of GLLA Leather Sir 2014 Mark Eddy as he performed both the Canadian and American anthems. Following the national anthems, we were greeted by a performance from Cyon Flare who reminded us to be accepting of each other, to erase all stigmas, and stay friendly.

The introduction of the Contestants and Judges then followed. The Contestants for Mr. Michigan Leather XVIII; Mr. Leather Cowboy Paul Robinson, Mr. Liberty Leather Chuck Braidwood, Mr. Campit Leather Matt Foster, and Mr. Hayloft Leather Brian Daniels. Dave Watt then introduced us to our Judges; International Mr. Leather 2013 Andy Cross, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2011 Pup Jayson Glynn, Ms. World Leather 2003 Goddess Lakshimi, Mr. Letherman Toronto 2013 Robert Miller, American Leatherman 2011 Tom Savage, and Mr. Michigan Leather 2013 Steven Teets. The judges were all introduced in by a poem written about them by the emcee. An example of one of these poems is the one that follows, that was written to introduce Mr. Michigan Leather 2013.

You know you’re a leatherman thru and thru,
if you cum during your fist flog receivin’
Put your hands together for this Icon-ic man
our current MML – Steven!

Once introductions concluded the contest began. It was explained to the audience that the contestants would be judged on four categories including interviews, bar wear, pecs and personality, and leather image with a short speech on any topic. Up first was the bar wear portion of the contest where the contestants were asked to wear something of their choice that they might wear at a leather event, fundraiser, or bar night. The second portion of the contest was pecs and personality where the contestants showed off their physiques and answered questions that they drew during their interview earlier in the day. The final part of the onstage competition was leather image and speech. The contestants dressed in their best formal leather wear and were asked to speak directly on a subject close to them for 90 seconds.

While scores were tallied, the emcee introduced Mike Shannon to talk about this year’s charity, the Beautiful Resource Center in Detroit, which focuses on promoting the acceptance of all people regardless of HIV status, sexual orientation, lifestyle, etc. and work with all communities for the purpose of raising awareness, and providing people with information, in order to reduce stigmas and judgments through education. The Beautiful Resource Center provides a food, clothes, and hygiene pantry, outreach placement programs, social and meeting spaces, computer and printing stations, and free Wi-Fi. MML raised more than $800 for the Beautiful Resource Center over the weekend.

The audience was then introduced to a man who needs no introduction. MML was honored to have the co-creator and President of the Leather Archives & Museum and founder of International Mr. Leather in attendance, Chuck Renslow. Mr. Renslow donated three passes to International Mr. Leather to the top three placing contestants and a copy of the book “Leatherman: The Chuck Renslow Story” to everyone competing this year. Dave Watt then joked that with Chuck Renslow in attendance that Mr. International Leather 2012 Woody Woodruff wasn’t the most famous person in the room for once, receiving quite a laugh from the audience.

Before a new Mr. Michigan Leather could be crowned, the stepdown Speech by Steven Teets, Mr. Michigan Leather 2013, had to take place. During his very emotional speech Steven thanked his partner Jeffrey and also Mistress Lily from The Kinkdom for their support during his title year. He then presented Mistress Lily with a plaque as thank you for her support.

The contestants were then brought up on stage for the announcement of the winner of this year’s Mr. Michigan Contest who will be going on to represent Michigan at the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago in May. The winner of Mr. Michigan Leather 2014 is Chuck Braidwood.

After the contest I had an opportunity to ask our new Mr. Michigan Leather a question for this article. I chose a question that not only I thought would be interesting for the reader, but one that I personally wanted to know the answer to. I said to him; Dave Watt won Mr. Michigan Leather and used it to spring board the Mr. Friendly Campaign, Woody Woodruff won Mr. Michigan Leather and followed it up with an International Mr. Leather title win. What do you hope to accomplish as Mr. Michigan Leather 2014?

I am no Woody Woodruff. I am really looking forward to competing at IML. I don’t know what my chances of winning are but what the hell. I am going to go and give it my best. What I am really looking forward to doing is working towards rebuilding Michigan’s Leather Brotherhood because it has really flagged during the last few years. I want to work on rebuilding the community. I want to bridge between the leathermen, Drag queens, and all the other communities in Michigan because we are really fractured and we shouldn’t be. You go to any other city in the country and they all work together and we should do that here.

Saturday evening then wrapped up with the Victory Party hosted by The Hayloft Saloon and the After Hours Party hosted by the Grand Rapids Rivermen. There was plenty of fun and socialization at the Victory Party as everyone wanted a chance to speak with the contestants and our new Mr. Michigan Leather. The After Hours Play Party I will leave to your imagination as to the things that went on in the Dungeon.

Mr. Michigan Leather Weekend XVIII wrapped up Sunday with Breakfast and a Country Western Tea Dance.

On a personal note I had a wonderful time this weekend. The Dunes Resort and Co-producers Bryon Hayes and Calvin Pohler did an amazing job providing a welcoming atmosphere as well as quality entertainment for those who attended. I look forward to attending many more MML Weekends in the future.

(Note: I would like to personally thank Calvin Pohler and Dave Watt who were extremely helpful in our coverage of MML XVIII.)