"Wow, I really like this bar. It's so diverse."
Those were Justin Terry-Smith's very thoughts when he first stepped into PW's Sports Bar in Laurel, Md.
It's certainly not your average suburban sports bar. PW's hosts an annual Miss PW's drag pageant along with events for various gay sporting and social groups. This weekend, Terry-Smith will help to officially add to that diversity, with the first Mr. PW's Leather contest.
"I wanted to leave my mark as Mr. Maryland Leather," says Terry-Smith, who grew up in Silver Spring but now lives in Laurel. "One of the jobs as the current Mr. Maryland Leather is to try to get contestants to run for your title." Mr. PW's Leather will become what's known as a feeder contest for Mr. Maryland Leather, after Terry-Smith is no longer directly involved. Mr. Maryland then goes on to compete at Chicago's International Mr. Leather.
Terry-Smith will serve on a five-judges panel for the Mr. PW's Leather contest along with other leather title holders, including Mr. DC Eagle 2010 Derrick Thomas and Mr. Old Dominion Leather 2006 Rudy Benavides, also a co-producer of the event. Terry-Smith's husband, Philip, serves as the contest's emcee under his boy alias, ky.
Contestants can apply up until the Meet & Greet on Friday night, Oct. 1. The winner gets a $400 cash prize, plus various gifts and prizes from the Leather Rack, Chained Desires, Manhunt and others. Judged categories include Formal Wear, Bar Wear and "Pecs & Personality." That last category isn't strictly about eye candy, though contestants will "wear a jockstrap or something like it." Terry-Smith explains the point isn't to see "who has the best body," but to assess "how comfortable you feel in your own skin."
Contestants are also judged on Public Speaking and an Interview. "The contestant is in front of all the judges and we're firing questions at them for 10 minutes straight," says Terry-Smith, who advises contestants to "do your homework before you run for a title. Knowing leather history is really important."
The 30-year-old Terry-Smith got involved in the leather community in 2005, attracted by the community's open-arms acceptance, regardless of what he looked like or what he was into. Though many others worry about the future of an aging leather community, the young leatherman thinks he's part of a new trend. "Younger people are starting to come out now, exploring their kink and exploring their leather lifestyle."
Even in the suburbs. Even at a sports bar.
Mr. PW's Leather Contest is Saturday, Oct. 2, starting at 9 p.m. A Meet & Greet with the judges and contestants is Friday, Oct. 1, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. PW's Sports Bar, 9855 North Washington Blvd., Laurel, Md. Call 301-498-8202 or visit pwssportsbar.com or mrpwsleather.com.