MAL 2017 kicked off on Thursday, January 12th with a gathering of MAL titleholders at the D.C. Eagle. By the time I arrived at the Hyatt on Friday, January 13th the place was packed. It is no secret that I rave about this event every January and even had the great honor of judging MAL 2015, but what keeps me coming back every year? For me it is the brotherhood I found in 1997 when I joined one of the leather clubs and the opportunity to see many members of my leather family from all over the world. This year I attended with my ShipMate club brother Mike Reisig who flew up from Florida to join me. He hadn’t been to MAL in years and was surprised not just by how big and crowded it has become, but also by the large number of young people in attendance. There was a time when MAL was starting to resemble AARP. The Centaur MC have done a great job reaching out to the younger generation. In fact at the registration one usually received a “run pack” which consisted of a plastic bag filled with a schedule of events, coupons, and a large number of pamphlets and flyers advertising future leather events. This year there was a virtual run pack, an app which one could download. It will be interesting to see have that turned out. I spoke to a few who never downloaded it and the hotel’s wifi was often overloaded, but there is much to be said about embracing technology.
On Friday evening while International Mr. Rubber was hosting a meet and greet in one of the ballrooms, I was enjoying the hospitality of Mr. Mayhem Leather 2016 Ash Duncan who was hosting a cocktail party in his room to promote Bears, Bikers, & Mayhem Weekend coming up on April 6th to 9th in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In the past Mr. Mayhem Leather has competed in the Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest and I was looking forward to cheering on the very charming Ash Duncan. On Sunday when he was not one of the contestants for MAL 2017 I asked him about it. He informed me that he had been given the option by BB&M producers to compete at MAL or International Mr. Leather. He selected IML and will be hitting the stage in Chicago in May. Also Friday evening the great guys from Onyx put on a big cocktail party in their suite. I always look forward to the Onyx party. Those men really know how to celebrate leather brotherhood. Later in the evening I danced to great music provided by DJ Twin at the “Impact Deux” dance sponsored by my friends from Highwaymen TNT. I also enjoyed a fire play demo in one of the corners by our own Mr. Maryland Leather 2016 Eli Onyx.
Saturday at MAL is always a busy day with so much going on that there is no reason to step outside the hotel. There is the large leather vendor mart, the puppy mosh, demos by SIGMA, and in keeping with tradition, a press conference during which the judges for the International Mr. Leather Contest are announced with a chance to meet some of the contestants for IML 2017. Although it is only January, 32 members of the class of IML 2017 were in attendance at the press conference. (You can find out more about IML 2017 at IMRL.com.) Also on Saturday afternoon Onyx held their fundraiser and gear show in one of the hotel’s ballrooms and the Philadelphians MC held a packed cocktail party in a suite on the eighth floor. Saturday night brought one of the best leather events of the season: Leather Cocktails. This two hour formal leather cocktail party with everyone dressed in “high cow” is the place to see and be seen. This year’s food went way beyond h’orderves and featured full size hamburgers, a taco bar, a mac and cheese bar, and much more. Plus my good friend open bar was there. Saturday evening also brought the Mid-Atlantic Uniform League (MAUL) party and a dance put on by Nasty Kink Pigs with DJ Jack Chang. Plus the hotel’s bar was packed with sexy young men all evening. The main lobby was all skin and phones.
Sunday morning brought a buffet brunch provided as part of the weekend package. During brunch there was much talk about the fire alarms going off in the hotel around 4 a.m. (We heard them, but went right back to sleep.) I figured it was just a ploy to see who was sleeping with whom. When you have that many hot guys in one hotel it was bound to happen. After brunch everyone headed to the downstairs ballroom for the contest. Prior to the contest many members of the audience got an emergency alert on their phone as Washington, D.C., tested their emergency broadcast system. Thankfully the only emergency on Capitol Hill MAL Weekend involved broken zippers and fashion police. It was another flawless Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest emceed by MAL 1993 Frank Nowicki. This year’s judges were International Mr. Leather 2016 David “Tigger” Bailey, International Ms. Leather 2016 Lascivious Jane, Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2016 Todd Levitt, Mr. Leather Ireland 2015 Kevin Murphy, Mr. Michigan Leather 2009 Dave Watt, Mr. D.C. Eagle 2016 Danny P. Kaylor-Hawkins, and longtime leather community member Lewis Curtis. (I was thrilled when I read that Lewis had been selected to judge MAL this year. Although not a leather titleholder, Lewis is usually the first person I see at a leather event any place I go. Some leather titleholders disappear after they step down, but Lewis is always happy to support and help.) The judges’ boy was International Leatherboy 2016 boy jake and the tally masters were Drummer North America 2016 Thomas John and COMMAND MC Vice President Christopher “Kitty” Council.
Contestants, who had been interviewed by the judges earlier, appeared on stage in barware, jock, formal leather, and answered an onstage question. This year’s questions ranged from: “Putin hacked into your phone at MAL. What did he leak to WikiLeaks?” to “If there was a leather Olympics what event would win you the gold metal?” One highlight of the contest involved Martel Brown, Jr., who not only worked the stage in his jock but performed a “death drop.” It was no surprise to learn that he is a performance artist. It didn’t take long for that performance to hit Facebook. The winner were selected using Olympic scoring (The highest and lowest judges’ scores were tossed.) Frank was quick to remind the audience that there was no electoral college involved.
MAL ended on Sunday night with the “Dark and Twisted” dance at the 9:30 Club. Baltimore’s Ultra Nate had everyone dancing to the early hours.
This year marks the 47th year for the Centaur MC, the 43rd Leather Cocktails, and the 32nd Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest. Once again MAL was a success. It was huge! Reservations are already being taken for MAL 2018 scheduled for January 12th to 14th. I might as well go ahead and make my reservations. You know I wouldn’t miss it.