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May 4. 2012

CLAW’s weekend of fun continues to grow

Cleveland--With a dozen supporting sponsors, two fully-booked host hotels and two other hotels rapidly filling with more guests, the 11th annual Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend continued the event’s decade-long string of successes on April 27 to 29.

At 3 pm on Friday afternoon, 1,207 had registered for the weekend, with two days yet to go, just 40 under last year’s total  at the end of the weekend.

It was the second year that the event was hosted by the Hilton Garden Inn downtown, whose conference facilities allowed organizers to add a third room to the vendor mart. The nearby Hampton Inn was the second host hotel, and shuttle service between the two ran all weekend. The Embassy Suites and the Wyndham at Playhouse Square, which was the host hotel through the 2010 CLAW, both had significant numbers of rooms rented out by CLAW attendees.

While donation figures are not yet available for this year’s installment of the Pantheon of Leather Award-winning weekend, in its first decade it donated over $189,000 to charities, with $34,000 along coming from last year’s CLAW. That total goes up to a third of a million dollars when the CLAW Nation parties, which have been running across the country for the last five years, are added. They have raised $140,000 in just half a decade.

One of the recipients of CLAW’s largesse, the Leather Archives and Museum, were present again this year, putting out a display of original artwork from Drummer magazine and installing a Story Telling Booth, a private booth where people could record oral histories of how the leather community has affected their lives.

The weekend also saw three inductions into the Leather Hall of Fame. Guy Baldwin, the 1989 International Mr. Leather, psychotherapist, author and activist, was honored. So was the late Sam Steward, an unofficial collaborator on Alfred Kinsey’s groundbreaking sexual research. He was also famed as a tattoo artist under the name Phil Sparrow and as a writer of erotica under the nom de plume Phil Andros. Steward passed away in 1993.

The final inductee was Irving Klaw, who died in 1966. He was one of the main publishers of heterosexual BDSM erotica for almost 20 years, fighting back against police harassment and government efforts to censor him.

Among the people sweeping into the city for CLAW were residents of 38 states, Canada, England and Belgium.

Next year’s event will be held from Friday, April 26 to Sunday, April 28. The Hilton Garden Inn will take its third go-round as host hotel.

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