Today is the first in what will be a recurring post type where I sit down and interview a prior Mr. Eagle to get his perspective and experiences on the title. I’m starting with Rick Weber, Mr. Eagle 2007, who is a dear friend and one of the first men to ever welcome me into Leather.
Rick has a partner, Peter, of 8 years and together they live in a cozy West Village apartment. The interview takes place in their home with Rick sitting at the kitchen table with me while Peter lounges in the background watching TV and petting their delightful cat, Fat Girl.
I begin with some basic leather intro questions:
What are you hanky colors?
Dark blue, gray, and black. And depending on who I’m with, they can be left, right, or both.
What is your favorite item of gear?
Every new item becomes your favorite item, but I won Mr. Eagle in a pair of leather pants I won on eBay for $40 that I’ll never get rid of. They’re not your traditional leather pants and some pure leathermen might scoff at them…the leather is too rough and their lined…I didn’t know the difference at the time…and to me to win a leather title on a $40 pair of pants says a lot about the contest and how it’s not so much about what you wear, but who you are.
What inspired you to get into Leather?
Do you know who the Marlboro Man is? You don’t even know who that is do you? (Rick gives me a friendly look that says “you’re just a youngin”) The Marlboro Man is man’s man. A cowboy with the chaps and boots…that was my first sort of fetish attraction. And from there I took that idea over into the gay world and found Leather.
Why did you decide to run for Mr. Eagle?
NYC was the best of the best, in my opinion. But the first year I ran it, I didn’t win…I came in third…not really knowing what I was stepping into. So when I didn’t win, I followed Christophe around (Mr. Eagle 2006) and I saw that it was more than just being pretty in gear, it was about who you are, what you did, and what the community did for you. I saw the leather community as always giving back, and when you run for a title you have that spirit of helping and giving. I wanted to do that, I wanted to win the New York title and do something significant with it.
What were some of the highlights of your title year?
Competing at IML. There’s this concept of IML as, oh my gosh, it’s International Mr. Leather, competing with 52 men, and you’re going to be on stage in front of this huge audience in a jock, and judges from all over the world are going to be grilling you on leather history—it’s big and intense. But when you go through it, it’s more about honor and brotherhood than it is about winning. Winning would be great, but it’s not everything.
Also it was about putting a spotlight on the leather community and letting people know it exists. Which is why I created Team Eagle. I wanted a team of leather men and woman to ride in the AIDS ride and show the rest of the gay community that the leather community still exists and still gives back and it has incredible heart. We’re just kinky about it—which scares a lot of people.
Where do you see the leather community going in the future?
I see it changing, but I don’t see it changing. I think it’s exactly the same as it’s always been, I just think the people who complain about it in their 20s are different from the ones in their 30s and 40s, and they’re different from men in their 50s and 60s. Each generation has its own thought process about what leather should be, and as they get older, they have this picture in their head of “well in my day, leather was this…” I think it’s exactly the same…the only difference being the gear. Neoprene and spandex are new materials…and I think you’ll keep seeing new materials pop up. You’re always gonna have guys who believe in leather as the core material. But as time goes on, your idea of gear is going to keep changing. My whole thing is, you have to accept it for what it is. I have my own ideas and want people to accept me for that. There’s no one set leather university saying IT IS THIS.
What advice would you give a young man thinking of running for the Mr. Eagle title?
Stay focused to your goals. Because you turn into this tiny, tiny celebrity and people talk to you and you can get really lost in your own fame. You have to stay focused on why you ran and push for your cause. People are always gonna bitch and complain to you about what you’re doing or not doing and you’ll go crazy trying to please everyone. So stay focused on your goals.
To learn more about Rick, come on by the Eagle on a CODE Thursday and he’ll be happy to chat you up. You can either find him playing pool with his man, smoking a cigar on the roof (when it’s warmer), or welcoming the newest stranger to the bar.