On October 15 Bears LA held the Mr. Bear LA Contest at the Los Angeles Eagle under the theme of Studio Fifty Fur. After a fierce, yet friendly competition Brian Hettler was declared the winner. Get to know him below.
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Brian Hettler (BH): Hi! I’m Brian. I am a big, lovable, cuddly California bear living in Hollywood, CA. Always ready with a big smile and a huge hug for everyone. I am larger than life. Literally. I’m 35 years old. I stand at 6’5″. 270 lbs. Cute face. Chubby waist. Thick legs. In shape. The total package. (did somebody say package?…)
I have lived in Los Angeles for over 12 years and have been a part of every facet of queer nightlife. I have been a drag queen and a club kid, working in bars and clubs all over Los Angeles. Back in 2019, I began my journey to become a fully professed member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as Sister Siri Usly the Ridiculous.
From the tender age of 17, I have been a part of the bear community, being snuck in through the back of Daddy’s (R.I.P.) in Kansas City, MO. The bears were the first group of queers to welcome an awkward chubby outcast from the cornfields of Illinois into their dark and grizzly den. I knew immediately that I had found my tribe and that my home was with my big furry family. I normally don’t put myself out into the world as Brian in public events like the Mr. LA Bear contest. I’ve always had a character or a persona that I could hide behind. But I’ve been doing a lot of work on loving myself and my body over the past few years and I thought it was time to celebrate Brian as Brian. I have a lot of love to give to our community and hope that I can use my heart and welcoming nature to make the Los Angeles bear community a space that celebrates inclusivity, diversity, and the come-as-you-are mindset I was met with many years ago.
BWM: Certainly a mission statement we can get behind completely! What drew you to the bear community?
BH: I always say that I didn’t choose to be a bear. Being a bear chose me. My stature is just… bear like! And, because of that, I feel I was ushered into the community at an early age. It just stuck. Now that I am a bit older, I feel like I have truly earned the title of bear. Mostly because I have built such a rich and wonderful family within the bear community. What being a bear means to me is to own your bigness. To live big. To laugh big. To love big.
BWM: And what made you want to compete for the title of Mr. LA Bear 2024?
BH: It was definitely the people that inspired me to run for the title. I have grown close to members of Bears LA over the past few years and the brotherhood I have felt from them made me want to participate in a meaningful way. I also saw that last year’s winner Marquis The Honey Bear has been doing such incredible work focusing on reimagining bear spaces and building a culture of inclusivity in everything he does. Bears come in all shapes, colors, and sizes and they all deserve to be celebrated. I intend to carry that torch throughout my title year and lead with that intention as I begin developing my own events and philanthropic endeavors.
BWM: Amen to that! How was your experience competing? What was the process like?
BH: My experience competing was a whirlwind. I decided to officially apply two weeks before the deadline and then it was a sprint to the finish line. I made all of my own costumes by hand, so it was like… sit down and draw everything. Source the materials. Build out a timeline. And pray you can get it all done in time. Lol. I loved that it took me back to my drag days when I had to be scrappy and resourceful. And it brought out the most creative and skillful side of myself. I really felt so accomplished every time a new piece was finished.
The process of competing was relatively straightforward. There was a Meet & Greet on Thursday where all of the competitors met the judges individually and had 15-minute one-on-one interviews in a round robin style. After that, I ran in the bear chest contest.. AND WON! -which made me feel VERY sexy. On Friday, there was a voluntary dinner with all of the contestants and judges that was very low key, but such a wonderful bonding experience. Then we had a day to do what we needed to do and on Sunday we had a full panel interview at noon and had to be back by 6 for the competition.
The theme was Studio Fifty Fur and there were three rounds: Best Bar Wear, Bear Alter Ego, and Studio Fifty Fur: Glam Bear. First round was a 90s second speech/introduction. Second round they read a pre-written monologue you had to submit with your application packet followed by a random question from the silly question bucket. Then we did a bear run to collect money for charity. And the third round was answering a random question from the serious question bucket. The whole thing was a 6-hour fever dream, and I loved every second of it.
BWM: And what was your favorite part?
BH: My favorite part, aside from brandishing a golden salmon at the audience during my bear alter ego performance, was meeting all of the other incredible contestants. I mean it very seriously when I say that I feel like I just made friends for life. They are incredible gentlemen that are all talented, charismatic, and GORGEOUS. I feel so lucky to call them all my friends and look forward to supporting them in everything they do.
BWM: What does winning this title mean to you, specifically?
BH: Winning this title means that I can give back the love and brotherhood that I have received from my community in a broad variety of ways. It means I can create connections within my community and gain access to important resources that do real tangible good. I am also a fully professed Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, so I intend to double down on work I have already begun and hopefully create more bridges with additional nonprofits. I believe that I have the power to forge connections and bring groups that are trying to do magical things for the queer community together. We are as we always have been. Stronger together.
BWM: That’s beautiful. And what are the responsibilities associated with your title?
BH: I will be responsible for attending Bears LA board meetings, hosting a minimum of 3 events for Bears LA, assisting other titleholders with their events, and representing Bears LA in the Los Angeles and Long Beach Pride events. But you know I have bigger plans. Bwahahahahahahaha!!!
BWM: We love to hear it! And what are your goals for your title year?
BH: Well, it’s only just begun, but the wheels are in motion.
I have already forged a strong connection with the Tom of Finland Foundation and hope to partner with them to do some good work. As a queer creative professional, one of my passions is the preservation of queer history and their organization is a shining example of what it means to preserve our legacy.
I want to DANCE! I want to throw the most epic all-inclusive racially queer dance and costume parties in LA.
And finally, I want to make sure that Bears LA feels like a family. I want to institute monthly family dinners and casual meetups that make it so everyone feels like they have a home.
BWM: Related to that, what are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed in the bear community?
BH: You know… it’s funny because I got grilled on this during my interview segments. A lot of questions were thrown at me about inclusivity vs. exclusivity. I firmly believe that there is no one way to be a bear. Bears don’t look a specific way. Bears don’t act a certain way. There might even be types of bears we haven’t discovered yet! And you don’t have to want to have sex with someone to be their friend. I think we could all focus a bit more on friendship and camaraderie, ensuring that every bear feels welcomed, loved, and supported within our den.
BWM: That’s a wonderful sentiment and something we can all surely afford to work on in our own areas of the beardom. Where can we find you on social media?
BH: You can find me a few places! I go by MidasHeart.
BWM: Anything else you’d like to mention?
BH: Well, while I have you, please go take a look at and support City X1. ( http://www.cityx1.com/)
Community Intervention Through Youth (C.I.T.Y.) x1 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to putting on free social events for at-risk and Homeless LGBT youth ages 14-24. Youth are fed, given a fun & empowering afternoon, and are all linked to valuable social services like emotional support, GED enrollment, HIV & STD Testing, & transitional living programs. All events are alcohol & tobacco-free and provide a safe space where youth can access much-needed services and interact with their community.
A recent national study found that between 500,000 and 1.6. million youth are homeless each year and that up to 40% of these young people identify as LGBTQ. This is a cause near and dear to my heart and I hope you can share your generosity with them both now and in the future.
BWM: Thanks Brian. We’re looking forward to seeing how your title year progresses. Seems you’re already off to a great start!