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Bios & Photos of Mr. Midwest Leather Contest 2006 Staff

Founder & Producer

Kurt Pierce Kurt Pierce

Founder of Mr. Midwest Leather Contest and Producer of 2006 Contest
Kurt Pierce is the founder of the current Mr. Midwest Leather Contest which started in Dubuque, Iowa in 2005 and is the  Producer of the 2006 Mr. Midwest Leather Contest at the Chicago Eagle.  Kurt was Mr. Pistons Leather 2003 from Long Beach / Orange County, California and is well-known in the leather community as an organizer of events both in Southern California and in the Midwest. In 2003, Kurt was involved with fundraising for various charities including the AIDS Food Store of Long Beach, CA, the AIDS Pediatriatic Ward at St. Mary's Hospital in Long Beach, CA, and also was the co-producer of the Mr. Pistons 2004 Contest at Pistons Bar in Long Beach, CA.  Presently Kurt is involved with fundraising for the AIDS Network of Madison, Wisonsin and AIDS Pediatric Ward of Chicago, IL.

Event Coordinator

Don Leach Don Leach

Co-Producer of the Illinois Leather Sir/Boy Contest and Co-Contest/Contestant Director for the Great Lakes Leather Alliance
Don has been involved with the leather community for 12 years. Before moving to Chicago a year ago, the majority of that time was spent living in Columbus, Ohio. Don is a member of the Leather Archives & Museum, a former full member of the Centurions of Columbus and a current associate member of Trident Columbus and the Iron Eagles. Additionally he was a founding member and former Vice President of the Ohio Leather Alliance. During the mid and late 90s, he was actively involved with the Board of Directors for the Ohio and Great Lakes Drummer contests and in 2002 became the first Ohio and Great Lakes Leather Sir. During his title year and beyond, he has judged, performed demonstrations and conducted educational workshops at many events throughout the country and was fortunate to have been involved in many wonderful fund raising events such as CLAW and the Detroit Eagle Triangle Foundation fundraising weekend. Since coming to Chicago, he has also joined the Chicago Kennel Club and was honored to have been a part of the faculty for the Leather Archives & Museum educational workshop series "Intro To Kink". Additionally, he is also the current Co-Producer of the Illinois Leather Sir/boy contest (to be held in Chicago in June 2006) and Co-Contest/Contestant Director for the Great Lakes Leather Alliance weekend, to be held in Indianapolis in August 2006.

Master of Ceremonies

Jon Krongaard Jon Krongaard

Member of the IML Executive Committee  & Vice President of the Leather Archives & Museum
Jon Krongaaard is currently a member of the IML Executive Committee as well as the Marketing and Sponsorship Coordinator for IML.  Jon is also the current Vice President of the Leather Archives and Museum. Jon Krongaard moved to Chicago in 1994 from New York City, where he has been a lifelong resident. He lives with his partner of 10 years. Jon is a Full Member of the Chicago Hellfire Club, a member of GMSMA of New York, a former Administrator of The McAdory Fund (Chicago Hellfire's charity assistance fund), and Special Projects Coordinator for International Mr. Leather. Jon was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the LA&M in May 2001. He currently serves The LA&M as Secretary. Jon has led many instructional programs for GMSMA and Chicago Hellfire. He has also judged a variety of leather events, including the first-ever Tri-State Leather Contest and Mid-Atlantic Leather in 2000. He is a visible community activist and a passionate public speaker on the merits of preserving the leather community's history.


Philip Deitch Philip Dietch

Head Judge & Nationally Recognized and Honored AIDS, Gay/Lesbian and Civil Rights Activist
Philip is a nationally recognized and honored AIDS, gay/lesbian and civil rights activist who has served in a leadership position on over 50 national, state and local boards. He has also been described in the Leather Journal as “a well known long time mentor in the community” who has also given of his time to be a judge at regional and state contests and many national contests which have included International Mr. Leather (IML - described in the 25th anniversary book as the Chief Judge’s ‘favorite panel of judges'), International Ms. Leather (IMSL), International Mr. Deaf Leather (IMDL), Ms. World Leather (MWL), the only non-boot black Judge for the first International Community Boot Black (ICBB) held in conjunction with International Leather Sir – Leather (for whom he has also been a regional judge), Mid-America Leatherman and Leatherwoman (ABW), Ms. Missouri Leather and since 2000 as the Chief Judge for Mr. Missouri Leather. He has also judged non-leather contests. He wrestled in the gay games and is an associate member of Hellfire Club in Chicago and GMSMA in NYC. In St. Louis he is a member of FLOG, the regional pansexual group, and is one of the founders of “The Committee” a gay man’s group which organizes monthly educational programs open to everyone.

(Mr.) Marcus Hernandez (Mr.) Marcus Hernandez

Leather columnist in San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter & Judge Emeritus
Celebrating his 36th year as the leather columnist in San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter, (Mr.) Marcus Hernandez has been covering the worldwide leather scene since October 1971. He has contributed articles and photos to Drummer Magazine, The Leather Journal, the annual Int'l. Mr. Leather Program, the annual Int'l. Mr. Drummer Program and many other publications. His column appears in the printed version of the Bay Area Reporter, all versions of Express Magazines, on www.mamasfamily.org and in the Bay Area Reporter's web site, www.Ebar.com. He has been honored as the Outstanding Columnist in the public voting for San Francisco's Cable Car Awards so many times, he was taken out of contention and placed in the Hall of Fame in that category. Marcus has received numerous other awards including two Pantheon of Leather awards, the National Emerald Award and tributes from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Secretary of State of California and San Francisco's Inter-Club Fund Motorcycle Awards the latest being Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. Marcus has been judging International Mr. Leather since 1980 and is now the Judge Emeritus for life on that panel. He has judged leather contests from coast to coast, in Canada and in Europe and is also the Judge Emeritus for the American Brotherhood Weekend titles. He was the Judges' Coordinator for International Mr. Drummer for some seven years and is on the board of directors of the Mr. San Francisco Leather Contest. The recent mayor of San Francisco (Willie L. Brown, Jr.) honored Marcus by proclaiming the entire month of November 2000 as Mr. Marcus Month in honor of his 31st year milestone as the leather columnist in San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter.

Thom Dombkowski Thom Dombkowski

Co-Founder Chicago House and Chicago Leather Kennel Club and Judge Emeritus
A native of Rochester, New York, Thom Dombkowski began his leather journey in 1970 when he stepped into the legendary Gold Coast bar at 501 North Clark Street in Chicago, Illinois. He was mentored by John F.G. Shawhan, a member of the Old Guard who was a WWII veteran and a builder of pipe organs. Nonetheless, Thom has long been among those on leather's progressive edge and a strong supporter of the "boy movement." Thom's involvement with leather contests began 25 years ago when he was a contestant for the Mr. Gold Coast title. He lost that contest, but gained the friendship of Phil Spence, the bar's manager, and the rest of the bar's staff as a consolation prize. Moreover, he "won" Bob Ryan, the Gold Coast titleholder, and assisted him in his bid to become International Mr. Leather 1980. Thom's been involved with IML in unofficial and official capacities since then. This includes coaching IML1984 Ron Moore and IML1987 Thomas Karasch, who were his house guests and became his long-term friends. He has held the roles of IML's charity liaison, press liaison, speechwriter, tallymaster and judges' coordinator. Most famously, Thom served a 10-year term as IML's Chief Judge between 1992-2001. Thom's judged a host of other leather contests, including International Ms. Leather, International Mr. Drummer, International Mr. Deaf Leather, American Leather Family, Mr. Leatherman Toronto, Mr. Chicago Leather, Mr. Mid-America Leather, Mr. Ebony Leather, Mr. Maryland Leather, Mr. Michigan Leather, Oklahoma Mr. Leather, Mr. Louisiana Leather, Mr. MidAtlantic Leather, Mr. Padlock Leather, Mr. Pistons Leather, Mr. Philadelphia Leather, Mr. San Francisco Leather, Mr. Boston Leather, Mr. Philadelphia Leather, and CellBlock Leatherman. Since his retirement as IML Chief Judge, Thom has used his experience and talents to mentor individual titleholders. As a result, he's enjoyed the expansion of his chosen leather family. It now includes an eclectic group of Chicagoans, four Canadian sons, and the two younger Brothers that Thom always wanted when he was growing up. He was a charter member of the OGN (Old Girls Network), and with Chuck Windemuth (Mr. Chicago Leather 1991), he co-founded the Chicago Leather Kennel Club. A Chicago resident since 1974, Thom's professional career encompassed public and private service. His government positions were with the Internal Revenue Service, where he learned to take money from people involuntarily; and the Chicago Department of Public Health, where he helped to give away over $150 million to community-based AIDS service organizations. In between, he co-founded Chicago House (residence and support services for PWAs) and served as its second Executive Director. He was also the staff writer for Howard Brown Memorial Clinic. As a volunteer, he was among the co-founders of IMPACT (which evolved into Equality Illinois). He was among the original major donors to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. He also funded the feasibility study that led Horizons Community Services to begin development of The Center of Halsted, Chicago's future LGBTQ community center. A one-time member of the Mayor's Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues, Thom proposed and developed the creation of the City of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. While he could, Thom seized every opportunity to travel, and he did so, visiting all seven continents, 37 countries, and all 50 states. Now 55, Thom is retired on medical disability; he has been living with HIV for more than 22 years. He is dually partnered: with K. James Owen of Chicago, Illinois and with David E. Harper of Berkeley, California.

Dave Rhodes Dave Rhodes

Publisher and Editor of The Leather Journal
Dave Rhodes is the publisher and editor of The Leather Journal which was founded in 1987, president of the Pantheon of Leather Community Service Awards which he founded in 1991 and is founder and coordinator of the Mr. and Ms Olympus Leather Contest which is the only male and female contest targeting the pansexual Leather community. He was named co-winner of the Pantheon of Leather Man of the Year Award in 2001 and received the Southland Honors' Business of the Year in 2004 presented by the LA Leather Coalition. Dave and Pantheon of Leather received a commendation from the California State Legislature on behalf of 16th District Assemblyman Marc Leno of San Francisco. He is an honorary board member of the Leather Archives and Museum. Dave has judged IML four times, International Ms Leather, International Mr. Drummer, International Mr. Fantasy four times, International Leather Sir and Leatherboy, American Brotherhood twice and NLA: International four times. He is a member of Hot Ash and Bears LA, an associate member of the Chicago Hellfire Club and The 15 Association of San Francisco and is an honorary member of Tarheel Leather Club. The Leather Journal is the longest running Leather publication under the same owner.

Wes Kassulke Wes K.

Mr. Midwest Leather 2005
Wes K., Mr. Midwest Leather 2005, is a man of many interests and talents. Winning the first ever Mr. Midwest Leather title is most appropriate given his strong Midwestern roots. While he was born in New Orleans, he grew up in Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri where he now resides in his renovated historic 1898 home. Wes holds a double bachelors degree in both Vocal Music Education and Organ Performance and a masters in Education. This spring he will be a featured piano soloist at the ninth Anniversary (Leather Anniversary) of Band Together, the St. Louis Gay & Lesbian Band. Wes is a member of the Committee, a St. Louis leather education organization. As the contestant of a brand new leather contest competing at IML for the first time, Wes was excited that as Mr. Midwest, he made the top twenty at IML 2005.

Michael Egdes Michael Egdes

International Mr. Leather 2005
Born in apartheid-era South Africa,  Michael Egdes made a commitment at an early age to fight for freedom, equality and an end to discrimination. As a young child, he held fundraisers for a variety of causes ranging from disabled children to feeding programs and animal rescue. While still a teen, he served as Vice Chairman of the regional youth branch of the official opposition party, producing the country’s first-ever multi-platform conference designed to promote dialog and understanding between opposing political groups, and featuring such speakers as Bishop Desmond Tutu. His interest in BDSM first surfaced when he tied up a school friend at age 14. Michael came out at 18 while serving in the South African military, where he developed a strong interest in discipline, uniforms and, not least of all, military men. He discovered his first leather bar during a trip to New York City in 1981, immigrating there a few years later. Passionate about sex, he continues to explore different facets of BDSM, and enjoys introducing novices to the leather lifestyle Professionally, Michael has been successful in various fields, starting as a Saturday-morning toy demonstrator when he was eight years old. He has played keyboards in several bands and in the military Entertainment Corps, managed bands, and written columns for a number of news publications. He has won numerous awards as an advertising copywriter and owned an ad agency for several years. Michael and his partner of 14 years, James Sands, founded ZAN(Z)BAR—America’s first South African restaurant, an award-winning five-star establishment that was featured in national and international publications and on the TV Food Network. After five years, they closed the restaurant and transitioned into real estate sales, a career which afforded them time to enjoy their friends, their home and each other. Michael has lived in Fort Lauderdale since 1990. He is in a triad relationship with James, whom he met in 1991, and their partner of two years, Todd Smith, a mortgage broker. The three live in, and work from, one of the few remaining, historic Fort Lauderdale homes, along with their five Pomeranian “kids”. They work together, work out together, and enjoy traveling together to leather and circuit events. Voted "Leatherman of the Year" in 2005 for outstanding community service in Rimmer Magazine’s annual poll, Michael is Mr. Ramrod 2004 and the reigning International Mr. Leather 2005. He is a member of the Leather Archives & Museum, Tom of Finland Foundation, South Florida Bondage Club, Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida, and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

Dodger Allen Dodger Allen

1st Runner Up International Mr. Leather  2005
Gaining high visibility in the SF community as one of the SOMA Bare Chest Calendar men (September), Dodger became Mr. Powerhouse Leather in 2005. After winning Mr. San Francisco Leather that September, he attended the Creating Change Conference where he became a strong supporter of NGLTF and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. 1st Runner Up to IML Michael Edges (the highest placement for a Mr. San Francisco Leather in 13 years), he continues to be active in the local and national communities. He is currently the Co-Owner/Co-Producer of the Mr San Francisco Leather Contest. Dodger works as a surgical nurse and lives both in San Francisco and Palm Springs with his partner Michael and their dog Rusty.

Alan Bowers Alan Bowers

2nd Runner Up International Mr. Leather  2005
Dr. Alan Bowers is the IML 2005 2nd Runner Up and Mr. Louisiana Leather 2005.


Chuck Windemuth Chuck Windemuth

Program Director - LA&M Road Show and Director - Chicago Leather Kennel Club
Chuck began his leather journey in Chicago in 1988 after a 1st visit to Chicago’s legendary leather bar, Touche on Lincoln Avenue. Soon afterwards, he entered and won the title of Mr. Chicago Leather 1991 and entered IML 1991, placing as a top 10 finalist and had a true leather life changing experience in the process. In 2003, Chuck teamed up with Touche bar owner Chuck Rodocker and producer David Boyer to revive and co-produce a dormant Mr. Chicago Leather contest for 2004. He also co-founded with Thom Dombkowski the Chicago Leather Kennel Club (www.leatherkennel.com), a team of local former, current titleholders and various noted community leather/rubber leaders who provide voluntary support and mentoring to aspiring male and female leather/rubber contestants entering a 1st leather contest event. The club provides additional support to any leather/rubber titleholders headed towards national and international competitions. Additionally, Chuck is also the Director of the Leather Archives and Museum “Road Show” program. Working directly with Rick Storer, his staff and program volunteers who plan, design and staff LA&M exhibits displayed at various gay and heterosexual leather/BDSM/kink events worldwide. Recently, Chuck has served as Emcee of the Mr. Pittsburgh Eagle Leather 2005 contest and judged for Mr. International Rubber 2005 in Chicago. Scheduled in 2006, Chuck is slated to judge Mr. Cell Block Leatherman 2006 contest in February, serve as Head Tallymaster for Mr. Midwest Leather 2006 in April held in Chicago and received a 2006 Pantheon of Leather nomination for the Midwest Region category. A native of Cumberland, Maryland, Chuck currently resides in Chicago and works as an International Purser for a major US airline based in Chicago for the past 23 years.

Dean Ogren Dean Ogren

American Leatherman 2000
Dean Ogren travels extensively, assisting event producers, presenting workshops ,and simply being social long after the step aside speech. Dean has served as a Judge for Mr. Louisiana Leather for several years and has also served on several other judging panels including International Mr. Drummer and South East Leather Fest. Pantheon of Leather's 1999 Midwest Regional award-winner, Dean has been active in the leather/SM community for over nineteen years and has been the Office Manager for IML and now acts as the Contestant Support Coordinator. He is a proud member of the IML Class of 2002 contestants and was thrilled to make the top 20 of 66 contestants. Other awards include induction into Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1998 for activism and involvement in: The NAMES Project, Open Hand Chicago, AIDS Walk Chicago, Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, United Way, City of Chicago Department of Public Health grant review, and others. Open Hand honored Dean with the Food for Life award for an individual that has made a significant impact on the clients that Open Hand serves in 2002.

Den Daddies

Joee.Arteaga Joee Arteaga

Mr. Chicago Leather 2004
Joee Arteaga is a 31 year old native Chicagoan. He is Hispanic and has lived in New York City, Chicago, Texas, Hawaii and South Carolina. He won Mr. Chicago Leather in 2004 bringing the title back to life. He describes himself and his year as a true attention whore. He did very well at IML first placing in the top 20 and then ending up 15th Joee started his leather adventure over ten years ago in Chicago and has been turning people's heads ever since. He is a fire paramedic on the Chicago Fire Department for the last 6 years and has been in EMS for over ten years. Prior to this he was a soldier in the United States Army. Joee was a member Onyx, the leather man of color club, for 3 years and left as their Roads Captain. The year before he was their Secretary. He was Den Daddy for the first Mr. Midwest Leather contest and lead judge for the first man of color contest. He was co-chair for Onyx Blackout 9 and 10 and is a member of the Leather Archives and Museum. He helps out with many contests in the Midwest and believes in his community. He threatens to come back to the contestants' circle before 2010. He has been married to the same understanding man for 10 years, has 2 dogs and lives in Andersonville on the lake. His mantra is "I did it my way."

Mark Bozif Mark Bozif

2005 Midwest Pantheon Award and Mr. Missouri Leather 2003
Mark Bozif was the 2005 Midwest Pantheon Award and Mr. Missouri Leather 2003. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri, but travels all over the country with work and play. This year, Mark passed on the chair of a group of Leather Men and Women in St. Louis known as "The Committee" whose main objective is S&M education. Mark has taught classes all over the country on the subjects of: S&M 101/102, Bondage, Electiric Play (uni and bi-polar), Fire Play, and Impact Play (tactile, floggers, and whips). He has judged feeder contests for Mr. International Leather, American Brotherhood Weekend, and International Leather Sir/boy. He is a member of the Chicago Hellfire Club, Fetish Life-style Open Group (FLOG), Seattle Men in Leather, St. Louis Dominants Forum, an Honorary Member of Gateway MC - St. Louis, and a voting member of the Leather Archive and Museum.

Mr. Midwest Leather


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