We love to see the titleholders from so many bear events, but none are more special to our hearts than Bears Bikers & Mayhem. John Hernandez the EIC over at Bearworldmag.com took some time to interview TK the new Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear.
As discussed in our post event recap, Bears, Bikers & Mayhem has continued to grow year over year and for 2024 it will be making the move to its largest venue yet at the Hunt Valley Delta Marriott Hotel in Maryland.
Since its creation, the event has been unique in its combination and celebration of the bear, leather, fetish, motorcycle and puppy communities. It has given people who identify with one or more of these scenes a place to congregate, learn and connect with each other in a welcoming and diverse environment while raising money for charity.
Each year a competition is held to find the new Mr. Mayhem Leather and Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear. Today we speak with TK, the proud and deserving winner of the 2023 Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear title of BBM12. Check out our conversation with him below.
BWM: Can you tell us a bit about your background and where you live?
TK: I’m Tyrik, but my friends call me TK (it stands for ThunderKnight). My work background is in Mechanical Engineering and Project Management. I’m from DC, but I bought a house in Baltimore, MD. Living my life as a homeowner at the age of 30.
BWM: What drew you to the bear/ leather community?
TK: My leather dad took me to Mid-Atlantic Leather in 2019 to show me around the leather community. While it was overwhelming the first time, each year that I went back I felt more and more confident in myself. Eventually I’ve learned how to be comfortable with my skin, and I found my tribe of other leather bears.
BWM: Can you describe your unique experience with the leather and bear world as a bear of color?
TK: I live my life in a way that I can help inspire people to be themselves. It can be challenging at times to be authentic, when there’s still much discrimination based on color, physique, nationality, etc. As the first person of color to win this title, representation matters. I hope that I’ve made someone’s day a little brighter by putting myself out there in the world.
BWM: What made you want to compete for the title?
TK: I did it because I felt that I could use my voice for something bigger in life.
After telling my friends that I wanted to compete in a contest, and with enough peer pressure from multiple current and past titleholders, I caved in.
BWM: How was your experience competing?
TK: Overall, I had a kick-ass time competing for Mr. Mayhem Leather Bear. It challenged me to be creative and witty on the fly the entire time, and that can be exhausting but rewarding. The process of the contest is rather lengthy, but the main goal is to have the most points in all five categories: Meet the Meat, On-stage Personality, Interview, Wet Jock, and Formal Speech. My favorite segment was on stage, because I felt I established my brand on who I am as a person.
BWM: What does winning this title mean to you, specifically?
TK: Validation. I struggled as a young adult on what the term “authentic” meant. But going through this challenge, I now not only understand what is meant by the phrase “be authentically you”, but I also know how to show it to a large crowd or an audience.
BWM: What are the responsibilities associated with your title?
TK: Officially, my job is to be an ambassador of Bears Bikers and Mayhem, which includes recruiting contestants for next year’s contest, and creating fundraiser events on behalf of the Black and White Party. Outside of that, I make people laugh and cause Mayhem and merriment wherever I go.
BWM: Can you elaborate on the difference between your title and Keron’s?
TK: The main difference between our titles is the audiences we represent. Keron represents the leather community at large, and I represent a specific group within that community. To me, a leather bear is an individual who identifies themselves as a bear that not only wears the leather but believes in the philosophy of “being comfortable with your skin”.
At the end of it all, we both represent what BBM stands for: bears, bikers, and MAYHEM
BWM: What are your goals for your title year? Where will you be appearing?
TK: My main goal this year is to exemplify what it means to be a lighthouse in the leather bear community. What that actually looks like is still in the works, but I know that’s something resonating within me. Throughout my socials (see below) I’ll be posting monthly travel Itineraries so you can see where I’m going, and if there’s an event that you would like me to be at, contact me.
BWM: Tell us about the bond you share with Keron, Mr. Mayhem Leather?
TK: We both met at a birthday party, and instantly we clicked as friends. When we both won our respective titles, we became brothers. We are both navigating what it means to be a titleholder in our communities, and both know we are not doing this alone. To put it bluntly, I couldn’t have asked for a more awesome older brother than Keron.
BWM: What are some important issues you feel that need to be addressed in the bear/ leather communities?
TK: To me, Body Dysmorphia is a serious topic in the bear community. Multiple times I’ve seen and witnessed members of the community not being comfortable with their skin, “I”m not big enough, I’m not built enough, etc” are just a few examples. It’s a sensitive topic, however I believe that if I helped change one person’s mindset on how they look at themselves in a positive way, then I’ve done my job as a role model in the community.
Originally published on www.bearworldmag.com