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Friday, January 20, 2017

Meet Mr. Maryland Leather 2017

Written by  Rodney Burger
Pup Orpheus– sings a new tune in leather Pup Orpheus– sings a new tune in leather credit: Rob Clatterbuck

On November 5th, the 27th Mr. Maryland Leather Contest was held at Grand Central Station in Baltimore. This annual contest produced by COMMAND, MC has been selecting Maryland’s representative to the International Mr. Leather (IML) Contest since 1991. The leather community has changed a lot since 1991, but some in the audience for this year’s contest are still talking about this year’s Mr. Maryland Leather titleholder. A yellow stained white jock? An entrance on all fours? A puppy tail? A flannel shirt and COMMAND, MC club vest replacing formal leather? The selection of 26-year-old Peter Dayton who goes by the name of Pup Orpheus as Mr. Maryland Leather 2017 has many tongues wagging.

On January 5th I arranged to have lunch with Pup Orpheus at Tavern on the Hill in Mount Vernon. I hate to be late so I arrived about 15 minutes early. A smiling Pup Orpheus walked in just a minute or two after I arrived. It has been a busy few months for our new leather titleholder and Peter was getting ready to leave in the morning for the Mr. Indiana Leather 2017 Contest in Indianapolis. I was very happy that he took time out of his busy schedule for an interview. I must say it made for a very enjoyable lunch.

Peter was born and raised in a conservative Christian household in Cincinnati, Ohio, and when he is not busy with his job as Mr. Maryland Leather, he works as a musician and composer. It was music that brought him to Maryland. After graduating from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, he came to the Peabody Institute in Baltimore for his master’s degree. Like many of his generation, he discovered his kinky side by going on the internet and through social apps. An interest in pup play led him to the furry community, the puppy community, and finally the leather community as a whole. He was aware of the Mr. Maryland Leather Contest last year, but was afraid to attend. This year he met members of the COMMAND, MC leather club and decided to pledge. He attended his first leather contest in August – the Atlantic States LeatherSIR / boy / Community Bootblack Contest held in Baltimore. After becoming a full member of COMMAND in October, he decided to show his support for his new club brothers by being a contestant in their contest. “The Mr. Maryland Leather Contest is not a lottery that a person can win,” Pup stated. “There is a finite number of people in the leather community. I like to organize events and I wanted to use my skill set,” he added.

Pup explained that his young age gives him the advantage to reach out to other “leather twinks” and to encourage them to step away from their computers and social apps and to experience the leather community in person at brick and mortar bars and club gatherings. He saw old black and white pictures on the internet of leather events in the past and felt that he was looking at a lost tribe. He wants to bridge that gap. He smiled and explained that he “likes older guys and is bothered when bitchy young guys insult older folks.” Plus the age gap also works both ways when those older leather guys feel that since he is young and skinny he must not know anything. He wants to address this issue and will be hosting his first event on Friday, January 20th at The Loft at Grand Central. He is calling his function: “MENtors: fundraiser celebrating the bond between men of all ages.” The doors will open at 8 p.m. and there will be a panel discussion with representatives from our area’s leather community starting at 9 followed by a bar night at 10 with Jell-O shots and a silent auction. All funds raised will be split between Sage CAP Baltimore, which provides care for LGBT elderly and Youth Empowerment Society Drop-In Center which provides services for homeless and at-risk youth. Admission will be $5 at the door before 10 p.m. and $7 after 10. He hopes that in addition to raising money for two good charities, his fundraiser will produce a productive dialogue within the leather community.

I asked Pup Orpheus what he is doing to prepare for the International Mr. Leather Contest in Chicago in May and wondered if he would be attending the big Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend in D.C. in January where the IML judges will be announced. He quickly stated that he didn’t become Mr. Maryland Leather just so that he could go to IML and that he is really more interested in promoting his local leather community and being a good Mr. Maryland Leather. He is, however, working on his speech for IML and also his selection of leather attire. He explained that he wore his COMMAND vest on stage at the Mr. Maryland contest because it represented his résumé’ and that a black and white plaid flannel shirt also represented what once was COMMAND’s official uniform. He regrets that he will miss MAL due to attending the Chamber Music America Convention in New York City where he will be promoting his CD’s (which can be found online at Ablazerecords.net.) I explained that he shouldn’t worry. Folks in the leather community understand and realize that work or family obligations often override leather events. Leather titleholders can’t be everywhere. He did designed a t-shirt with the theme #PartOfThePack which he sold to help raise money for his trip to IML and he hopes that his supporters will wear his t-shirts to MAL so that he can be there in spirit. The first batch of shirts sold out but due to popular demand he recently had additional shirts made with the proceeds this time going to the Leather Archives and Museum. (Details can be found on Facebook under Pup Orpheus – Mr. Maryland Leather 2017)

I could have spent all day with our new Mr. Maryland Leather, but I had kept him long enough. After lunch I proceeded over to the Walters Art Museum to catch the special exhibit of medieval art before it closed on January 8th. It was quite a memorable afternoon. I had explored history that was both recent and ancient. Both were learning experiences.

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