L. Russell Waisanen recently became the newest member of a long succession of Minnesota leather titleholders at this year’s Mr. Minneapolis Eagle (MME) 2016 contest. The contest was part of an entire weekend of events that took place Nov. 20–22, 2015, at the EagleBoltBar in Minneapolis.
Mr. Minneapolis Eagle is Minnesota’s longest-running leather title. The theme of this year’s event was “Be Part of the Legacy,” and an impressive legacy it is. Since the first MME contest in 1999, 71 men have competed for the Mr. Minneapolis Eagle title, 15 men have worn the sash, and 7 of these men have been finalists at the International Mr. Leather (IML) contest in Chicago.
Over the years the MME weekend has grown into more than just a local event. A huge crowd of out-of-towners traveled to the Twin Cities for the weekend, including titleholders and audience members from Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and California.
Saturday evening’s contest included a parade of club colors and the introduction of an extensive lineup of current and former titleholders from across North America. There were so many titleholders in the audience that they wouldn’t all fit on the stage at once and had to be presented in three groups.
The roster of judges for this year’s contest was impressive. Judges from out of town were Patrick Smith, International Mr. Leather 2015, from Los Angeles; Sir Tug Whitehead, International Leather Sir 2015, from Dallas; and Brian “Bolt” Donner, Mr. Tri- State Leather 2015 and second runner-up to International Mr. Leather 2015. Judges from the local area were Sister Girtha Rotunda, of the Ladies of the Lakes (a mission order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence); Riches, Great Lakes Ms Leather Pride 2014; Elizabeth, a moderator for PEPRMNT; Sir Ivan, Great Lakes Leather Sir 2015; and Ren Rushold, Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2015, who at the high point of Saturday evening’s contest would be sashing his successor.
The weekend started with a Friday-evening Greet-the-Meat party. Then on Saturday, the contestants had their private interviews with the judges and Kink U presented two leather educational classes.
At Saturday evening’s contest, the weekend’s four contestants — Waisanen, Dominic Meizo, Travis Lenander and Midnight — were introduced during the traditional Keg Walk, in which each contestant hauled a beer keg through the crowd and up to the stage. Later, each contestant had the opportunity to make a short speech.
In the final judging segment of the contest, each competitor presented a fantasy (an erotic skit). Waisanen’s fantasy involved construction workers and a pup; Lenander’s involved a boy and a ball gag; and Midnight presented a three-way seduction scene.
Meizo’s fantasy, the most allegorical and transformational, started with him dressed in a hoodie and kneeling, blindfolded and handcuffed. It ended with him dressed in leather, standing upright and unshackled, while the musical accompaniment to his transformation proclaimed “This Is How It Feels to Be Free.”
After Rushold gave an emotional step-aside speech, his final act as Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2015 was to give the MME sash a farewell kiss as he prepared to place the sash on his successor. Lenander was announced as the contest’s runner-up, and then Waisanen was announced as the new Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2016.
The weekend continued on Sunday with a Victory Brunch and charity auction at which Waisenan raised $375 to be donated to The Aliveness Project.
Co-producers for the weekend were Derek Harley and Ryan Brown (both former MME titleholders), along with executive producer Ed Hopkins (owner of the EagleBoltBar). Emcee for the weekend was Brent Fourre, and the event was ASL signed by boy Woody, Great Lakes Leatherboy 2015.
As Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2016, Waisanen will represent EagleBoltBar and Minnesota’s leather community in the 38th annual International Mr. Leather competition ( www.imrl.com ), May 27–30, 2016 (Memorial Day weekend) in Chicago.