Kevin Michael O’Connell (born July 31, 1968) is a St. Louis/New Jersey/South Florida nomad who calls Asbury Park, NJ home. He is Mr. Mayhem Leather 2015.
O’Connell was born in 1968 in Brooklyn, NY, but relocated to New Jersey, and later Washington DC, joining the US Army from 87-91. O’Connell spent the next 30 years traveling the US as a nightclub DJ, before settling back home in Asbury Park, NJ in 2012, where he fell into the New Jersey leather community.
Despite having been an out gay man since the late 1990s, leather was new to O’Connell. He met with local title holders and producers from Dragonslair Productions, and called the NJ Leather family home.
O’Connell, still being new to leather, met and became enamored with the New Jersey leather community. This started starting with his first contest as a spectator, the Mr/Ms New Jersey Leather 2014 contest. Here O’Connell met (and ultimately dated) Mr. New Jersey Leather 2014, Keith Grovert and his now husband Michael Zito-Grovert. This led to other meetings of fellow International Mr. Leather Class of 36 members.
By the end of the first year of living in NJ, he’d heard about an event in Gettysburg, PA called Bears Bikers, and Mayhem (BBM), which ran the course of a weekend at the end of March every year. BBM occurs in a secluded area, isolated to hotel grounds and has its own contest called Mr. Mayhem Leather. Feeling a bond with the inclusive atmosphere of a bear and leather hybrid event, (as O’Connell also identifies as a bear), this was his first thought toward competing for a title.
Mr. Mayhem Leather 2015
O’Connell competed for Mr. Mayhem Leather in March 2015. With a judging panel consisting of two Mr. Maryland winners, an American Leather Boy, and a Mr. NYC Eagle, O’Connell placed first runner up to winner Dan Barnett. Within six weeks of the contest, Barnett had to step down for personal reasons, and O’Connell took over the title. He made his debut at the 2015 New York City Pride parade as a part of the NY Eagle leather contingent.
With regard to his platform, O’Connell believes in inclusivity between all gay and lesbian folk. Having a hybrid bear/leather title meant working together with all different walks of life, and bringing together friends and family in and out of leather. Additionally, the stigma-free message of Mr. Friendly is an important cause to O’Connell, who is HIV positive.
Kevin is a single, versatile/switch who like to explore individual needs with whomever he is with at the time. Without Flagging “ORANGE”, let’s just say he’s ‘into’ a lot, and those things can differ from person to person, group to group, and encounter to encounter. Terry Cloth, Red, White, Teal, Blue, Black, Silver and Gold Lame, left or right, depending,… are a few of his favorite “hanky codes”.
At Bears Bikers and Mayhem 7 in March 2016, O’Connell was pinned into Mama’s Family by Sandy Reinhardt herself, alongside Ms. New Jersey Leather 2014 Nikki Wireman, who also was one of two nominators (the other being Alyssa Durnien, Ms. Woods Leather 2016). Kevin’s Mama’s Family name is Mama’s Jersey Devil, Pin # 2175.
Current Activity and Personal Life
In May 2015 at the beginning of his title year, a family emergency brought O’Connell to Missouri to take care of his mother and step-father, after his mother suffered a massive hemorrhagic stroke. By October of the same year, she succumbed to the injury and passed away.
O’Connell is single and living in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., a suburb of St Louis. He spends his time working from home, taking care of his step father, and traveling as needed while supporting the leather community.
Current and Future Roles
Bears Bikers and Mayhem – Board Member/Social Marketing
Mr. Mayhem Leather; Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear Contests – Assistant to the Producers