We round out our discussions with the North American Bear 2023 titleholder family with NAB Cub Lex Apro. Check out our discussion with him below and get ready for North American Bear Weekend 2024 coming at you February 15th-18th in Lexington, KY.
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Lex Apro: I’m Lex Apro, and I’m proud to be a real upper for the community. I use he/him pronouns and I love more traditionally feminine glamour. I’m a 31-year-old performer at heart as well as a costume designer and creator. Lately I’ve been doing more burlesque than theatre but I’m always hopeful to return to acting some day! (But if anyone wants to book me for a Burlesque show, my DMs are wide open!) I grew up in Downingtown, PA where they filmed 1958’s The Blob (I’m a horror and film nerd) and now live in Delco just outside Philly with my boyfriend since 2018, Jack. I also previously held the title of Mr. Delaware Cub from 2020-2022 (thanks COVID!), I was sashed Feb 29, 2020, just a couple weeks before the world shut down and held that title until I stepped aside in Jan 2023 and a month later I earned the NAB Cub Sash, so I’ve basically been holding a title for the last 4 years! The biggest takeaway about me that I hope people have is that I am first and foremost a harlequin and an entertainer, and nothing makes me happier than giving people a fun escape from the often terrifying world we live in, if only for a few minutes.
BWM: What drew you to the bear community?
Lex Apro: From a title perspective, my friend Kevin Barni earned the title of Mr. Delaware Bear 2018 and then North American Bear 2019 and I just was so enamored with his journey and hearing him talk about it. From a community perspective, I love that the roots of the Bear community come from not fitting into the hyper-fit, waxed smooth, mainstream media defined “sexiness”, so we made our own table to sit at and even created what are essentially beauty pageants! I love that I don’t feel looked down on or made fun of for having over 20% body fat and no visible abs when I’m at a Bear event, the way I might at a more stereotypical gay event or Circuit Party. There’s definitely still work to be done in the Bear community in terms of sustainable intersectionality when it comes to race, gender identity, and gender expression but I’m confident that we are moving in a direction that will be beneficial to us all as a community.
BWM: How would you define what a cub is?
Lex Apro: My given family asked me this a couple times when I first won a Cub title actually! I like to say that a Cub is someone who might not have a lot of experience but has a lot of drive and desire to play a larger role in their community and is open to the coaching and feedback necessary to take on a more formative role like that. We often have bellies, beef, and/or body hair, but that’s not a requirement since I’m a fairly hairless cub, myself!
BWM: Why was it important to you to compete for NAB Cub?
Lex Apro: I’m not going to pretend like attention, recognition, and validation had nothing to do with it, that’s for sure! But also, I wanted the opportunity to have a larger platform to make a difference for the LGBTQIA+ Community, amplify marginalized voices, and even help shape the future of our community as a judge for other contests. Additionally, I wanted to bring some glamour, femininity, and over the top showmanship to show that femme bears and cubs deserve to take up space as well. When I showed up in my “Titlewear” look that was nothing but a borrowed sash, a sock over my bits, and a dropped fur coat, I wanted to ooze Jessica Rabbit energy, who is my constant reference point for sex appeal.
BWM: Tell us about your platform. How have you utilized your title over the last year?
Lex Apro: My platform was to protect and uplift LGBTQIA+ youth, as they were and are being targeted by vitriolic politicians in an attempt to erase and invalidate their existence and identities and I think it’s really important that we, as a community, show up and show out for them because the youth are our future and without a future, we have nothing. I was able to host and perform in a benefit show that raised $800 for Attic Youth Center in Philly which provides services and assistance to LGBTQIA+ youth. I also performed in Code Red which is a Philly area annual AIDS Benefit alongside my two good Judies. I’ve also been able to travel to so many great events like World Bear Weekend in Orlando, Rehoboth Beach Bear Weekend (which I’ll admit has been annual for me the last couple of years), The GNI Gathering in the Poconos (where I got to judge their Bare Bear contest), and the VA Bear Contest and meet so many amazing people and other amazing titleholders. It feels so Miss America to say, but I really love all of my new friends and they’ve made each Bear Event honestly feel like a family reunion or going back to summer camp. I probably look forward to the people as much as the events themselves!
BWM: What are your proudest achievements as NAB Cub?
Lex Apro: Raising $800 for charity on a Thursday night benefit show felt pretty great! Also, as silly as it feels to say it, winning the damn thing in the first place. I showed up without a formal club backing, having never been to a previous NAB, and no one really knew who I was. Still, I stuck to my personal brand of “brilliant stupidity” (Mel Brooks movies are big comedy inspirations for me), I did my little soft shoe with my ass hanging out while holding a giant cardboard puppet of my face and not only did the judges decide I earned the sash, but the audience reaction was so electric to all of my super theatrical, campy presentations. Audiences don’t always react like that to more feminine and campy displays and that will always hold a very special place in my heart.
BWM: What advice would you give to the incoming NAB Cub?
Lex Apro: My biggest advice for anyone interested in holding a title is to know your brand and how best to market it. There’s only one you, use that to your advantage. On the other side of the fence, when you’ve actually won, make sure you do something with your newfound large platform. Do you want to scream and point out injustices that you see? Great! Do you want to raise up marginalized voices to a larger audience? Great! Do you want to be a slut or a clown that makes people forget the constant onslaught of tragedies for a bit? Great! Don’t waste this gift you’ve been given – you spent all that time and money to earn the title, so use it.
BWM: What are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed in the bear community?
Lex Apro: Trans bears, Non-Binary Bears, and Femme Bears (and cubs!) not only exist, but they are beautiful, vital, and more than welcome in the community. I think the concept of being kind and accepting to people you aren’t sexually attracted to (a category women, trans/NB people, and femme people unfortunately tend to fall into) sometimes gets lost and it would really benefit our community to remember that everyone is sexy to someone, more often than not, lots of someones. And to also remember that a woman being onstage in her sexiest look or a trans man in a play space takes absolutely nothing away from you and your ability to have a good time at an event. And if it does, I would challenge you to look inward and think critically as to why you can’t function in the presence of someone in your own community who is simply living their authentic life to the fullest. Also, racism isn’t a “preference”, it’s a prejudice.
BWM: Anything we haven’t covered that you want to mention?
Lex Apro: Well, I have a biweekly comedy podcast with my brother called Dissecting the 80s available on all podcast platforms *ding!* We’ve been doing that going on 10 years now so there’s plenty to listen to and a Patreon with even more content. And if they ever ask about me, tell them I was more than a great ass…I was also an incredible pair of legs. And tell them that when all is said and done, I only ask that people remember me by two simple words: any two, as long as they’re simple.
Be sure to follow Lex Apro, North American Cub 2023 on Instagram.