Mr. Phoenix Leather 2015

By Laura Latzko, Jan. 1, 2015.

Over the past seven years, Mr. Phoenix Leather titleholders have set a standard of excellence through their local and national presence within and beyond the leather community and through their contributions to various charities.

The Phoenix competition is part of a weekend of events, Jan. 8-11, and the winner advances to the national leather competition, which will take place in Chicago in May.

A new titleholder will be announced as reigning Mr. Phoenix Leather Robert Schenberg steps down Jan. 10.

The Mr. Phoenix Leather contest, Arizona’s preliminary for the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest, was created in 2009 by Mr. Padlock Leather 2001 Stephen Bloom and Mr. Cellblock Leather 2008. Prior to the citywide competition, titleholders held bar titles.

In years past, the competition took place at Anvil’s former location (a capacity crowd in 2014). This year, consistent with the bigger vision for the future of the event, the Mister Phoenix Leather competition will take place at the ballroom of the Embassy Suites Phoenix-Airport Hotel.

“We are taking that next step to grow the contest as best we can,” said Kenneth Anthony, co-founder of the local contest. “We’re doing it a little bit out of necessity and a little bit out of hoping that it’s the right time and the right thing to do. We are taking that leap of faith.”

Thib Guicherd-Callin, first runner up during the 2013 IML and founder of the Northern California Leather Sir/Boy and Community Bootblack contests, will host the Phoenix competition.

This year, the judges panel includes a number of national and out-of-state titleholders, including International Mr. Leather 2010 Tyler McCormick; 2014 IML first runner-up Steve Dupont and Mr. LA Leather Eric Paul Leue.

Contestants will also be judged by local leather community members, including the reigning Mr.Phoenix Leather; boy pup Gizmo, Southwest Leather boy 2014 and Don Gibson, Mr. Phoenix Eagle 2007.

The contestants compete in categories similar to the IML competition, including onstage appearance, skinwear and onstage question, private interview, formal leather and speech and overall weekend presentation and interaction.

Each year, the judges are searching for someone who can represent the Phoenix leather community in a positive way, Anthony said.

“What we are looking for is the best representative of the Phoenix leather community,” Anthony said. “Regardless of where they place at international, if we can look back at their title year and say, ‘We are proud of the work they have done locally,’ that is all that matters to us.”

Anthony added that new titleholders face the challenge of living up to the standards set by their predecessors, and elite class that they are encouraged to seek advice from. Additionally, Mr. Phoenix Leather is encouraged to hold or take part in fundraisers for community organizations such as the Joshua Tree Feeding Program and Logan’s Playground.

“Every year that we get a fantastic Mr. Phoenix Leather who raises the bar on those standards, it means the next one has to raise the bar even higher,” Anthony said.

In addition to announcing Mr. Phoenix Leather 2015, Anthony said awards will be presented to recognize people who contribute to the leather community in a positive way. Last year, Rocko Cook and slave Tabitha received the second annual Unsung Hero awards and all past Mr. Phoenix Leather titleholders were also honored.

“These are often people who work in the background, and oftentimes their contributions to the community go unnoticed,” Anthony said. “The Unsung Hero award is our opportunity to recognize those people who don’t put themselves out there for recognition but deserve it.”

According to Anthony, leather competitions such as Mr. Phoenix Leather and Southwest Leather Sir/Boy have helped the Phoenix develop a reputation as a strong, tight-knit leather community within the IML and greater leather community.

Mister Phoenix Leather Competition

6-10 p.m. Jan. 10

Embassy Suites Phoenix-Airport Hotel

2333 E. Thomas Road

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