By John M. Hayden
A new bar, a new contest, a new community icon. The Eagle is one of the hottest, most well-known leather bar franchises in the world, and finally opened up a location on Wilton Drive. And with the addition of The Eagle comes the addition of Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors 2020. The inaugural contest went down in February 2020, and crowned Cory David as the first champion.
A realtor by profession and legendary leatherman by passion, Cory has a long history of dominating competitions like Mr. Eagle. “I have run for other titles before,” Cory David told me. “I have learned something new every time. What I can say is, I was always running for the right reasons. To champion for my community, to fund raise for rights and causes. I have been championing for HIV/AIDS, education, client services and LGBTQ rights for two decades, this title will continue with that platform. I will not leave anyone behind, will include anyone and listen – that’s important, listen, let people be heard.”
Of course the first of anything can be amazing or an amazing disaster. Cory David said the first Mr. Leather Contest was amazingly smooth. “The professionalism, quality of judges, volunteers, staff, management and so was unbelievable!” We may be a smaller city with a new bar, but he says this had the feel of the well-known competitions. “It was at the level of International Mr Leather without 80 contestants.” And the fact that this was an Eagle competition makes it all the more special. “To be part of the Eagle Family is a huge honor! Eagles are around the world, to be the inaugural Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors is history and I am honored. There is a private group of Eagle title holders and I have heard from several of them from around the world saying, ‘Congratulations on winning Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors 2020.’”
Getting ready for the competition is more than putting on gear an hour before showtime and hitting the stage. It starts days ahead of time, and Cory David told me about the week leading up to the event. “In your head, you are sideways, picking which leather to wear, writing your speech, doing homework on your judges, if you don’t know them. I have been around the block and at the rodeo before, but yes, the week before is nerve wracking. I ran around Thursday and Friday asking the community businesses for gift baskets for the Friday night raffle. I received six in two days from Wilton Manors business owners and managers. We have a great community here.”
And when contest day rolls around, Cory gets in the right headspace. “The day of, I am a very spiritual person and I give it up to be my genuine self. I have my higher power placing me in the place and time where I need to be. That higher power wanted me to be the inaugural Mr. Eagle WM 2020. I am truly blessed and excited. I still tear up even just at home thinking about it.” Then comes the controlled chaos of the contest. “Behind the scenes was amazing, David, Aspen and Mx T. They were helping us dress, calming us down, reminding us of leather protocol and so on! Lots of laughter, lots of hugs, high fives, tears of joy, and I had a group prayer for our brother that passed away the prior Sunday, Kurt Allen Mr. 64TEN 2018 a friend of mine from Indianapolis and his 2018 Chicago title.”
The leather community’s been a big part of his life through many years in many bars in many cities over many decades. And his new home has a prime place in his heart. “My first Leather Bar was the 501 Eagle, Indianapolis, IN and that’s where I bought my first piece of leather. Open 30 years, it unfortunately closed in 2016. I have been in Eagle Bars all around the world. My Eagle WM had the universe looking over it! It’s perfect. Bear Cave, Code Bar, Dance Floor, Leather Store, Entry Bar, Main Bar, they have hit the nail on the head. Everyone is welcome at The Eagle. Chuck King can tell you about all the events they are planning for everyone in our community. It’s just so well run, management and staff.”
And when he wins, the community wins. I have already been in conversation with my first & second runner-up in how to make a difference in our community. We will be acting as a committee within the community, here to listen and here to be heard. This means the entire Eagle Class of 2020. You will see our Class of 2020 working together to raise awareness, fundraising and always having a great time!”
“The leather community is international and brothers from around the world. It’s amazing! I have been attending IML in Chicago for almost 20 years, The Leather Archives and Museum is located in Chicago. It’s been happening since 1979 the very first International Mr. Leather.” Congrats, Cory David. We all look forward to seeing what you do with the inaugural title.