Friday, August 29, 1997

International Mr. Leather: Winning and Beyond

(Published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #59, August 29, 1997)

Part 3 of the Lavender Interview with Kevin Cwayna

You went to IML and “made the cut”—you were one of the top 20 leathermen. Now you were going to compete in the jockwalk and speech segments of the contest. How did it feel once you got out on stage and started working the crowd?

It felt great. With both the jockwalk and the speech, as soon as I knew the light was turned on me and it was my turn, I always felt great. All the audience is doing is waiting for somebody to come out and be a little bit fun. They were an easy crowd to play with because they're waiting for it, that's what they're there for. So under those circumstances there was no intimidation factor.

What was it like to hear your name announced as the winner?

It was an incredible emotional orgasm. It was a huge vote of confidence. It was like yeah, I did plan this right, I did think about this right, it did work, and I do know what I'm doing. It was all that, it hit me all at once.

What did you do the rest of that evening, after the crowd left?

I could have stood on that stage after the contest for two more hours, I don't think people left me alone. But then they said we have a limo, and we have places to go, and we went to the Victory Party at the House of Blues.

Earlier in the evening, backstage, I had seen the comedian, Scott Thompson [the contest’s headline entertainer, of “Kids in the Hall” fame] standing all alone, looking nervous. So I went up to him and said, “I think you're great, I like what you do.” And he said, “Oh, thank you.” Well, at the party at House of Blues I saw him again, and I said “I was the guy who came up to you, and, uh, by the way, I won.” And he said, “Oh, you know, I was going to tell them to vote for you when I got out there on stage.” He was going to use that as a joke: “Vote for contestant number 39, he just sucked up to me.”

What do you want to accomplish by the time you step down?

I want to raise the leather community's pride by giving them tangible, clear things to be proud of—so they can really grasp onto things and say, “This is why I love this community.” I also want to bring that outside of the commmunity, so that there is a greater respect for leather outside the leather community. I think there's a power in being respected. I want the gay community to say, “Wow, the leather community's really interesting, there's a lot to learn there.” I would love that to be in the consciousness of the mainstream gay community, because there's so much wisdom and inspiration that's lost within our community because we're marginalized.

To take just one aspect: I think there's incredible wisdom, creativity and courageousness in the leather community about the creation of families. Parts of the mainstream gay culture are caught up in assimilation and in modeling after the straight community. The leather community says, “Why don't we create what we want instead of chasing after something somebody else has?” I think that's a much more dignified, respectable, intelligent approach. And that's just one example of the kinds of things I think the leather community has to offer.

The leather community is one of the least ageist communities around, and they also know how to talk about sex better than anyone I know. And they also are the only community I know that admits sex is about power. I think these are invaluable, brilliant, hopeful, and inspiring things about the leather community, and I'm going to get those messages out wherever I can.

International Mr. Fantasy ’97

PICTURE: From left: Steve Waldren; Eric Robinson; Michael deLeon.

Eric Robinson of Michigan captured the sash in the 1997 International Mr. Fantasy contest, held August 16 in Omaha. Our own Mr. Minnesota Fantasy 1997 Michael deLeon was first runner-up and Mr. Texas Fantasy 1997 Steve Waldren was second runner-up.

In this third year for Fantasy Weekend as a contest, the contestants and staff produced a fast-paced and entertaining evening show. Next year marks Fantasy Weekend’s tenth anniversary, and in addition to the contest an “old-style” Fantasy show will be presented: present and former titleholders raising money for charity by presenting fantasies and other entertainment in a noncompetitive atmosphere. Mark your calendars now: August 21-23, 1998. It will be spectacular.

Upcoming Leather Events

“Work Your Fetish, Belabor Your Kinks”
Sunday, August 31, 6-10 pm, The Saloon
The Atons present a Labor Day Weekend event. Featuring drink specials, free food from 6-9 pm, door prizes and your last chance to win an Atons 25 Run Package. $5 at the door.

Mark Your Calendar . . .

Sunday, September 14: WOOF, a party welcoming the Sober Leather Organization to the Twin Cities leather community.

September 26-28: The Atons 25th Anniversary Run. For a registration form call e-mail, or visit their web site:

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