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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 4, 2007

This year's CLAW grows to be one of leather's largest events

Cleveland--Around 1,500 people milled through the second and third floors of the Wyndham Hotel in Cleveland on April 27, the first day of the Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend.

The event, which has already won three Pantheon of Leather Awards (Best Small Event, Best Large Event, Large Non-Profit Organization), continued to grow in its sixth year, with no signs of stopping.

After a couple of years at the Embassy Suites, the event was moved to the Wyndham at Playhouse Square last year because of its size.

This year, however, CLAW not only filled the 205-room Wyndham and the 268-suite Embassy, but also took a significant chunk of the nearby Comfort Inn.

Another example of growth was the vendor mart, which expanded to fill five rooms this year, compared to four last year.

One of the factors that has contributed to the rampant growth of the event is its charitable nature, with proceeds being donated to the Leather Museum and Archives in Chicago, the Cleveland LGBT Center and breast cancer agencies.

That, coupled with the fact that there is no accompanying leather competition, makes it a must-attend event not only for the rank and file, but also for leather title holders.

According to founder and board member Robert Miller, there were 11 current international title holders, including International Mr. Deaf Leather Steve Kennedy, International Mr. Leather Bo Ladashevska, International Ms. Leather Lauren Ide and Mr. World Leather Mufasa.

“There were tons--literally. Too many to count--literally,” Miller laughed. “We had 11 current international titleholders. We had about 30 current regional titleholders who are planning to compete at International Mr. Leather in Chicago later this month. We had Great Lakes Leather Sir and boy, and a few other current ones in that contest circuit.”

While it’s too early to come up with an estimate of the money raised, Miller noted that the live auction, which had six male title holders walking around in official CLAW jockstraps, raised about $1,000. The winning bidders could then go up on stage and remove their prize from the title holder’s body himself.

Another $700 was raised from auctioning off gift certificates from three different guest houses.

The silent auction was also held again this year, bringing in $11,000 so far, though Miller said there is “more to collect and more to sell.”

“We are planning a second chance auction and an art-only auction this summer,” he noted.

“For the record,” Miller said, “we had more volunteers, more sponsors from within the community, more leather club sponsors, more donors, more yearbook ads and a bigger itinerary than any other leather convention in the world.”

Ladashevska told Miller than CLAW was the best experience he’s had in his 11-month tenure as International Mr. Leather.

More praises came from Recon, a hookup website that was one of the major sponsors this year.

“The events manager of Recon said he has never looked at the leather community this way, and that he plans to come every year and participate,” Miller said proudly.




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