Colton Bell is your newly crowned Mr. Mayhem Leather 2022!

Bears, Bikers & Mayhem is an amazing event that joins the worlds of Leather, Bears, Kink, Queers, and everyone else in between into one magical place where they can enjoy one another’s company!

As such the Mr. Mayhem Leather, and Leather Bear contests are as unique as the people they represent. It’s the goal of the “Mayhems” (as they are collectively known) to promote the “Mayhem Life” of acceptance and inclusion. As well as promoting the event weekend, and it’s parent organizations.

“Being Mr. Mayhem Leather now feels funny because within a month it almost feels like it’s become one of the largest parts of who I am all of a sudden. It’s been enjoyable walking into a bar and being recognized immediately as Mr. Mayhem Leather, but the coolest thing to me is that I still know exactly who I am beyond the title.” -Colton

Being a part of the Mayhem Legacy is subscribing to something greater than yourself. A chance to use an elevated platform to unite people under one common banner, to influence change and be a catalyst of Mayhem. Together we can all make a difference, and the Mayhems are the cornerstone of that effort.

“I’m a huge lover of Disneyworld, especially when I get to just sit and enjoy the floating islands of Pandora in Animal Kingdom. I travel enough to pretend that plane tickets right now don’t cost both of my kidneys for a round trip ticket. And I also love big dumb hairy men in leather who look like they could carry me around like a baby. Just the simple things in life ya know? The title is just another amazing new aspect of my life, albeit one of the biggest pieces to date. I’m a Mayhem now, and that is VERY important to me.” -Colton

The titles were created in 2013 by Chuck King to be held at Bears, Bikers and Mayhem yearly run. The winner of the Mr. Mayhem Leather contest has their choice to receive sponsorship to compete at either Mid Atlantic Leather or International Mister Leather. Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear will receive sponsorship to compete at the Mr. Leather Bear Contest in Baltimore, MD. Mr. Mayhem Leather and Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear contests are open to all that have an interest in Leather. Each contest has 5 categories that a contestant will be judged in: Personal Interview, Leather Wear, On-Stage Question, Physique Competition, and Formal Leather Wear.

I had the privilege to interview Colton about competing and winning the title, as well as ask him what the title means to him. Check it out below!

Bryce Quartz: How did you gain interest in the leather community?

Colton Bell: I’ve been into the leather scene for a few years now, but I’ve mostly had to watch from afar until recently. Living in Utah, and especially throughout the pandemic, it was hard to explore the community as much I wanted to without knowing where to look. Luckily the pandemic did provide me with an amazing network of friends from around the country, one of whom would become my best friend.

He joined me at a few of my very first bear events, and after our first one together, he told me all about Bears Bikers and Mayhem, his favorite event he’d ever been to. I’d already been to a few bear events, but this was the first leather event I felt like I could really dip my toe in and learn more about the scene I’d only been able to see from afar for so long. Little did I know at the time that I would decide to dive head first instead, but hey, I guess I can’t complain now can I?

BQ: What motivated you to want to compete for Mr. Mayhem Leather 2022?

CB: Is it frowned upon if I say my toxic need to be competitive in everything I ever do? Lol. I was looking at the website and I saw that there was a contest and to me, there wasn’t even a question whether I would do it or not. I didn’t know anything about it at the time and honestly I didn’t care. My friend even tried to tell me it might not be the best idea for my first time, but for me it sounded like a great way to get involved in the event and I didn’t see any downsides to trying it out.

Even if I lost terribly, I’d still learn a lot more about the culture and history behind what I was doing, and I knew I’d meet a lot of amazing people by putting myself out there. I very quickly learned there was a LOT more to this experience than I first imagined, but it somehow only got me more excited to compete. Before I knew it I was neck deep in history books, news articles, and a whole lot of new leather.

BQ: What was the most difficult part in competing?

CB: Honestly I was only scared of one thing coming into competing, and that was how I’d be perceived by the contest staff. It’s no secret to those who know me that I like to play with gender, A LOT. I understand that virtually everyone may meet me and see me as a feminine gay man, and it’s not that they’re 100% wrong, but they definitely don’t have the full story. I’ve always enjoyed playing with gender, and even as I’m in this interview with you, I’m still nowhere close to fully exploring my identity with gender expression and understanding.

Gender to me has always been something that didn’t matter to me, but if it mattered to others about calling me what they perceived, that really didn’t bother me either. All of a sudden for this competition though it did. What if they felt I wasn’t masculine enough to be a male title holder? What if I told them how I’m exploring my non-binary identity and they considered me not qualified to hold a title known as Mr. Mayhem Leather?

These what-ifs really scared me for a few weeks, but I finally found a shred of light that pushed me through the fog from my biggest inspiration in life, my mother. Ever since I’ve come out of the closest, she’s told me a million times, “The only thing that ever matters is that you’re comfortable in your own skin. You should never have to explain yourself to anyone as long as you know who you are inside”. It was an easy answer.

I walked into the competition being authentically me. I didn’t have to hide who I was, but I also didn’t owe it to anyone to try to explain why I was allowed to be there, because no one had told me I wasn’t. All I had to do was enjoy myself, and if I got an opportunity to talk about it on my own terms, I was ready to do so. I guess now is one of those opportunities. I’m non-binary. My pronouns are He/They. And who knows? That might change. All I know for now is that I enjoy being me, and I’m going to continue doing so for as long as I live.

BQ: What part of your competition package are you most proud of?

CB: It’s really hard to pick an exact piece, because I feel like my comfortability with being myself was the most impactful part of my entire competition run in every single category. I guess when I look at it though, the moment that highlighted it best was my Formal Leather Image category. I wanted to come into the competition ready to be myself no matter what; even if it meant doing things a little unconventionally. I knew the important pieces I would have to hit to make a formal image, but I also knew that my favorite formal images I’ve ever experienced have a unique viewpoint you can see from a mile away. Something exciting, or something that others can be surprised by, but most importantly, something that you feel like the baddest bitch in the world in.

For me, that was the brightest, tightest fuschia leather shirt I could find, with black and pink pants, a maroon pair of Doc Martens with pink stitching, and a black tie tied in the beautiful Trinity Knot. When I walked out on that stage, there was no one who could have made me stop smiling. It was a surreal experience, and I knew I was representing myself to the fullest extent of my abilities.

BQ: What did it feel like winning the title in the moment?

CB: If I’m being honest it almost felt fake. They first announced the second runner-up, and all I thought was “at least I made it to the top two. That’s an awesome first attempt”. Then they said they would announce the first runner-up and I think I stared at the announcer’s lips for what felt like an hour; searching for what name he was going to start saying so I could prepare myself. When he announced my competitor for first runner-up I turned to hug him instinctively and I still don’t think I fully understood that I had won.

After a few seconds he whispered in my ear “you know what that means”, and my mind suddenly came crashing down into my body. Those three minutes on stage felt like the longest day of my life, and yet the following night of festivities felt as fleeting as a single breath. All I know is that by the end of the night my mouth hurt from smiling and my body hurt from hugging every single person I knew, and probably even more that I didn’t know. To sum it up, I think I can confidently call it the best moment of my entire life.

BQ: How do you plan to represent this title in such a masculine space as someone who identifies as nonbinary?

CB: I think I have to steal a phrase from one of my amazing producers and say that, “If they wanted someone masculine, then they chose the WRONG bitch”. All my worries from before were quickly dispelled early on in the competition. Not only was the judges panel an outstandingly diverse group of individuals, but I felt the supportive energy of the contest staff before the competition even began. My Den Daddy specifically probably made me cry at least half a dozen times during the event with his big friendly hugs and sweet demeanor.

That kind of support and representation made me feel very comfortable in how I represented myself, and even led to one of my favorite quotes of the competition for me. I was asked a question at one point, similar to this one, about how I’d be expected to represent such a masucline title, often presenting as feminine and even doing drag. My response was, “Fuck that”. I said that if they wanted someone masculine to represent this title, then they should choose someone else, and I would be fine with that. However, I knew there was far more to the title than that. I knew I felt comfortable and confident in who I was as a person, and that’s the same kind of energy I promised to bring to the title, and it’s the same energy I WILL be bringing to the title.

Representation matters, just like it did to me during the competition. Now more than ever, it’s important for me to embrace my own identity and shout it from the rooftops. I have a lot of privilege that comes with this title, and I plan to use every single ounce of it to impact every single person I meet. Leather is for everyone, regardless of gender expression. MAYHEM is for everyone, regardless of gender expression. And I’m going to make sure everyone not only hears that, but that they feel that. I plan to push a few buttons, stretch a few boundaries, and cause A LOT of fucking Mayhem during my year with this title, and even well beyond it. 

BQ: What can we expect next from you?

CB: I think you can expect a lot of similar things from me as I did before, but with a lot more impact. I’ll still be traveling to events across the country and beyond. I’ll still be advocating for under-privileged groups through fundraisers, community support, and any other activism opportunities I can get my hands on. I’ll still be sleeping with any hot hairy guy I can seduce in the local club or bar. But most importantly, I’m going to continue to be unapologetically myself, and I’m going to do it bigger, louder, and more aggressively than I ever have before.

You can catch my adventures primarily on my Facebook blog page, Mr. Mayhem Leather, but you can also occasionally find me on my personal pages like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter @Draaegon on all platforms. You also might catch me on Grindr, Growlr, Scruff or many other apps in any given city on any given weekend, especially if there’s a bear or leather event nearby. Say hi!

BQ: Thank you for taking the time to answer those questions for us, Colton!

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Bryce Quartz

Bryce Quartz is a queer, cubby rapper currently based in Brooklyn. In addition to contributing to Bear World, he is also a writer for Ryan Cassata’s music blog Rock The Pigeon. He has performed at bear events across the US and has worked with popular drag queens, including RPDR alum Brita Filter.

One thought on “Colton Bell is your newly crowned Mr. Mayhem Leather 2022!

  • Congrats Colty! <3

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