On October 4, New York City landmark Leather hotspot the Eagle held its highly anticipated Mr. Eagle NYC 2015 Contest. As in previous years, the bar was a wall-to-wall, chest-to-chest, and crotch-to-crotch packed house as five woofy Leathermen—Darryl Smith, Zahk, Sylvestri, Joseph Macchia and, ultimately the winner, boy laney Ballard—competed for the envied title. The night was the climax of a weekend which started with a Meet and Greet with the Contestants the night before. In the tradition of other Leather competitions, the contest categories included Bar/Cruise wear and Formal Leather wear with a 90-second speech. Of course, there was also everyone's favorite part—the Jockstrap segment, where the five guys not only got to show some skin, but also got to answer a randomly chosen pop question. For example, contestant Darryl was asked the probing "If you were ordering lunch in a New York deli, which sandwich would remind you of your first trick?" The winner of the Mr. Eagle NYC sash goes on to represent both the bar and the Leather community for the entire year, and to represent both the Eagle and New York City at International Mr. Leather Weekend in Chicago next May. Indeed, the lucky man who won that night had big boots to fill, given the achievements of the previous Titleholders. The Judges that weekend were Mr. Eagle NYC 2014 Cee Jay Lyons, Mr. Double L Leather 2008 Paul Masterson, Mr. Double L Leather 2003 Patrick Grady, International Mr. Leather 2014 Ramien Pierre, and the Eagle's own Barber Q.
The Contest was hosted by handsome singer and Mr. Eagle NYC 2004 Brian Kent, who has been the event's quick-witted MC for the past 10 years—and, who's no doubt not afraid to wear the crown of "The Bitch Queen" from time to time! The night offered a few unique moments in the Contest's history. In what may be a first at the New York City Eagle, a woofy guy named Michael came to the stage, got down on one knee, and proposed to his boyfriend Patrick, himself Mr. Eagle 1998. The bar was where they first met, 14 years ago! And, before you ask, Patrick accepted. In a sea of testosterone, fuzz, and leather, there was not a dry eye in the house. Another memorable moment came with contestant Sylvestri, who required a translator because English was not his first language. Everyone agreed that this guy had ... shall we say,"cojones!"
For the final segment, each of the Contestants had 90 seconds to reveal their mission should they win. Their speeches were varied, with everything from HIV awareness, men's sexual health, bullying, and diversity being addressed. The importance of supporting the NYC Leather community was also brought up, when contestant boy laney got his chance to speak: "I don't know if you realize that tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of this bar opening, in 2001. Prior to this there was the Eagle's Nest, which was on 21st Street and West Side Highway. The point I want to make is: Bars have been very important in the Eagle culture. We have to continue to support our bars. The New York Eagle has been very supportive all these years. Without them, we would not have any of our Leather culture to look back on. So, I would like to encourage everyone tonight to continue to come out and support our bar ... because, as you all know, a lot of bars are closing in New York. We cannot lose our Leather bars, or we will lose our Leather culture. So, as Mr. Eagle, I would encourage everyone to come out!" laney's speech turned out to be prophetic, as the New York City native was named Mr. Eagle NYC 2015. Joseph Macchia was named Second Runner Up while Darryl Smith was announced as the First Runner up.
In one of the last moments of the night, Leather and Bear nightlife promoter Robert Valin, Mr. Eagle NYC 2005, dispelled any rumors or fears the Leather community may have had about the Eagle closing: "The Eagle's not going anywhere. We're gonna be around a LONG fucking time!" Now, that's reason to celebrate!