Don Mike and Jeremy Ronceros Co-Emcees of the Mr. Los Angeles Leather Contest

By Garry Bowie

GED: How did you decide to team up as Co-Emcees of the Los Angeles Leather Pride contest?

Don: I bribed several people to be the co-emcee because I’ve wanted to emcee with Jeremy for so long.

Jeremy: We have wanted to work together for a long time and I am so glad Don has so much disposable income for such an endeavor. No, it is something we’ve always wanted to do. (Laughing) I almost said I grew up watching you. I have always watched Don emcee and I always thought “Wow, he is so much fun” and I got the opportunity to emcee the Mr CSW contest in 2014 and that was my first foray into hosting a contest. So I developed my style for that. That’s when I looked at Don and I said I know we will play well together and we got to make this happen. It’s kind of been about what we talked about.

Don: Yeah, we talked about it and I was so impressed watching you do the CSW contest. You were so much fun and I was thinking the same thing of what we could do so well together. And it really was luck of the draw that the producers thought about putting us to work together.

GED: Have you decided to do something different in style of delivery as emcees this year versus previous years?

Jeremy: I think our different styles lend themselves automatically to being different. We are inherently kind of “good cop, bad cop”, or “bad cop, worse cop”.

Don: I think it really depends because I have done the show solo before, I’ve done it with Jason Mark and I’ve done it with other emcees, and it really depends on the kind of rapport that you and it really depends on the kind of rapport that you bad cop, worse cop”. have. And Jeremy and I already have a great rapport with each other by virtue of hanging out. And our styles are so different, but I think it is going to be something people aren’t ready for.

GED: So this is the 15th year as a Feeder Contest where the winner goes to IML. What changes have made this year different for you?

Don: I think every year we hone the show a little more. And we use the experiences from the past year to cut out the parts that aren’t working and try some new things. But it is the experience of dong the show year after year that this is the fourth year that we have had about the same crew working on this, so every year we just get better and better.

Jeremy: This is the first time I am going to be hosting LAL, co or otherwise and part of my style is getting in the trenches with the guys who are competing. So one of my big goals is to learn about these guys who are competing, experience these guys live, participate in their worlds and then try to translate that on stage and show them in the best light possible.

GED: Do you find it difficult not to be biased towards a certain contestant or bar?

Don: You know honestly and I say this every year and I always mean it completely and sincerely, that I would not be able to choose. I am so glad that I am not a judge because we get to know these guys throughout the course of the year as they win their contest. And to stand on stage with all these guys is such a thrill, that I couldn’t possible just pick one. I want all of them to win.

Jeremy: As part of the Band of Brothers, we get to know these guys way beyond their individual titles – we get to see them in an entirely new light. That level of respect or difference makes it much more of a level playing field because of the deep connections, because we are part of that fraternity, that fraternal bond. That level of respect or difference makes it much more of a level playing field because of the deep connections, because we are part of that fraternity, that fraternal bond.

cover.March2015 copyGED: What surprised you the most about this year’s contestants?

Jeremy: How many are sexually interested in me. (Laughing hysterically.)

Don: You know honestly, the fact that so many of them are so young. I am 45 and it took me 15 years to get to the place I am now. So to see these guys intheir 20’s not only come out of the closest, but to embrace their leather souls (or soles) and explore the leather lifestyle and be part of this amazing community. It is wonderful to see them out there running in these contests, not even exploring in the shadows but to go up on stage and say “this is who I am, I am a Leatherman”… amazing!

Jeremy: That is absolutely indicative of what the leather community as a whole has been saying – “Welcome, we love you, we won’t judge you, come out of those shadows, come out from behind your computer screens and your phone screens and be part of this. That concept of being a brotherhood that gets passed around that makes everyone roll their eyes, that actually exists! We are here with open arms.

GED: So continuing in that theme, what joy do you get as a Band of Brother member watching a contestant grow in their leather community or gaining the confidence to participate?

Jeremy: Wow, there is nothing like it, the only thing I can…it’s like being a proud papa. We have “Titleholder Boot Camp” to get the contestants ready for the contest – spending months with these guys and talking to them, loaning them our gear, letting them cry on our shoulders. It is almost a paternal instinct. That heart is on the leather flag for a reason – it’s for that love, it’s for that feeling and that’s what it does for me.

Don: Running for a title, getting a title is not the only way to get into the leather community, but it is a good way. Everybody brings something different to the table… Mr. Sister brings that crazy wild kind of thing, the Regiment brings their uniform kind of fetish, Mr. Eagle, the other bars titles, Mr Bullet… they bring the bar culture. When you bring all these guys together, you have this great cross-section of the community all in one place and year after year we get to do that again. So every year we get a cross section of the whole community and get to bring the community as a whole together.

GED: So what do you think the community would be surprised to know about you two?

Don: (laughing) I don’t think anyone would be surprised about me; I am a very public person. But I am part of an amazing new project where we are creating a channel of entertainment made just for gay men. OurGayGroup.com is a website that will become a subscription site filled with different programming: educational, entertainment, documentary, all kinds of entertainment; all centered on the gay male experience. We’ve been doing this talk show every Friday night called “Full Spectrum House Party” and we get to talk to all different facets of the LGBT community as it relates to just gay men.

Jeremy: Well I have a very unentertaining answer. I’ve always been very vocal about everything I’ve ever done – from sex to jobs to hair color, I have always lived very open. I live a very out there and outlandish lifestyle, but there is a part of me that wants to bake some cookies, watch comedy central and play Playstation 4.

Don: I remember when I saw you win the Oil Can Harry contest and I watched you and I was thinking “who does this guy think he is?” You looked like this WeHo twink that just came out of nowhere, thinking he was going to get a title… but the speech you gave that night… I was in tears. I thought, “Oh my god, this guy is the real deal.” I would have never had given him the chance had I run into him in the bar and that’s a damn shame. I am so glad you went on this journey and that I was a part of it.

Jeremy: I’ve known I was a leather man for 12-13 years and I was going into the leather chat rooms on gay.com when I was 16 years old. And I knew it but I could never figure out how to be part of the leather community and I tried and I went to the bars, that dismissive nature, I got that. So instead of standing up and saying I’m going to keep coming for the next year and you are going to get used to it, I said, I just can’t do it. I don’t know why they saw that in me at that contest, but that is what I needed. That was the “put up or shut up” moment. I have been spending everyday in the leather community trying to live up to the vision they saw and I pray that I am doing a good job in honoring that vision.

Don: I like to call Jeremy the Don Rickles of the leather community and everyone knows that I am the queen of Nice. So when you mix fire and water, you get steam. But my biggest fear is that Jeremy will slip on marbles on stage and then I will have to do the show alone.

Jeremy: I am petrified of letting him down a little bit…at the end of the day we are going to have a great time and it is going to be amazing. Don: In all seriousness, I am humbled and honored that people in this community think I am funny and the fact that they keep inviting me back to do this thrills me to no end, but I don’t ever want to be the only one. So Jeremy is like my little mini me and I am thrilled we are going to do this together.

Photo By: SKOBAR Exclusively for GED Magazine

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