Metro Weekly

Super Friends: Inside the Superhero Meetup at MAL 2020

At MAL, cosplayers and comic book fans assemble for an erotically charged meetup of masks, muscles, and spandex

mal, leather, superhero meetup

MAL Superhero Meetup 2020 — Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Maryland Leather 2020, Sir Oya Ra

As winter’s chill finally descended on the nation’s capital, and most citizens hurried about their Friday evenings, a pandemonium of pleasure had erupted throughout the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill. Leather folk, rubber daddies, pups, cubs, doms, subs, and kink-friendly regular joes and janes were packing into the sprawling hotel lobby, greeting friends old and new, and hoisting cocktails to toast the opening night of Mid-Atlantic Leather Weekend.

Meanwhile, not far from the teeming crowd, upstairs in a pair of adjoining conference rooms, a spandex-sporting throng kicked off their MAL weekend at the annual Superhero Meetup. In one corner, a leggy, red-bearded Poison Ivy lamented the fact there was no Batman to pose or play with — although there were a couple of Robins. On the far side of the room, Black Panther made out with a Disney character yet to appear in the MCU: Donald Duck in a jockstrap. And nearby, Thiktool, a.k.a. rope bondage artist Tom Roper, wearing a clinging Superman tee, tied up a scantily clad Spider-Man sub.

And in the midst of a smiling Shazam and Green Lanterns and Arrows, brightly presiding over all this activity, was Superman himself, the event’s organizer, hailed by the scene name Pup Indigo. Resplendent in flowing white cape, he notes that his outfit “is the Val-Zod version of Superman from Earth 2,” before breaking down a few reasons why he pours himself into spandex, and does the work of hosting these events year after year. “I’ve always liked geek things and superhero things and stuff like that,” he says. “And so this is something that is kind of a natural extension of my personality. So I don’t really consider it a kink in that way.”

MAL Superhero Meetup 2020 –Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Maryland Leather 2020, Sir Oya Ra

However, he easily acknowledges the sex appeal that comes with living that fantasy. “The spandex aspect of it and the whole eroticism of superheroes and skin-tight clothing, that kind of touches on some fetishization, yes. I mean, when you see huge bulging muscles….” he says, helpfully pointing out his own firm physique. “And then just with however you identify, whatever gender you identify with, everyone generally looks good in what they’re doing. Especially, have you not read comic books? Almost everyone looks really good at what they’re wearing.”

Case in point, one hero who joined the assembly came dressed as himself: Mr. Maryland Leather 2020, Sir Oya Ra. The leather titleholder had brought his ropes out for the occasion and was happily tying up superheroes eager to submit to his bondage sessions. This meetup would be just one stop on Ra’s weekend of living his fantasy, and performing his duties as a standard-bearer of the leather and kink communities. “I think it’s just important for leather that we embrace the traditions, and still welcome the change,” says Ra. “So I want to be that millennial voice that respects some of the older traditions and the older ways. But tweaks them to bring them to 2020.”

To see more from MAL, visit our Scene galleries here!

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André Hereford covers arts and entertainment for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @here4andre.

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