Stats and Facts

Updated March 5, 2018

CLAW’s Beginning

The idea for CLAW came from a conversation between Dennis McMahon and Bob Miller in October 2001 while they were leather titleholders (Mr. Cleveland Leather 2001 and Mr. West Michigan Leather 2001, respectively).  From the beginning, CLAW was conceived as a fundraiser with no leather contest.  Both ideas proved popular.

The first CLAW was scheduled for “the weekend after MAL” so that IML 2001 Stefan Mueller would be able to attend from Bavaria and highlight the event.  CLAW 2 was also in late January.  Since 2004, CLAW has been held in late April/early May.

CLAW stands for Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend, usually just called CLAW. 

The “a” in CLAW stood for “annual” even in the first year.  In February 2003, CLAW 1 won the Pantheon of Leather Award for Small Event of the Year and the trophy read “Cleveland Leather Awareness Weekend.”  The misunderstanding/misprint led to a temporary name change until 2010, when the Board officially corrected our name back to annual.  We just say CLAW.

CLAW’s Mission Statement:  Claw Holds that:

Adult interest in leather, fetish and BDSM is natural and healthy.  We learn that from one another in person.  CLAW is a 501c3 charity dedicated to fundraising, education, volunteerism and other charitable needs of the leather community.  CLAW produces a large annual conference for gay men in Cleveland, Ohio.  

(adopted by the CLAW Board in November 2017)

CLAW Board of Directors

·      3 life time members (Bob Miller, Dennis McMahon and Tina MacKay)

·      9 members elected for three-year terms at the annual meeting in June/July (3 per year)

o   Elected in 2015 (Jack McNulty, Roger Gee and Noel LeBoeuf)

o   Elected in 2016 (Scott Douglas, Michael Calin and Joyce Berger)

o   Elected in 2017 (Larry Golubski, Rick Cordaro, Bradley Donahue)

CLAW Attendance: 

CLAW attendance has grown every year since it began.  CLAW pricing and scheduling is designed so that most people buy the package, but in recent years we’ve also sold vendor mart and night party wristbands.  Here are approximate attendance numbers (not counting bar parties), and actual full package totals since 2013:

Year Approximate Attendance* Package/Badges Change from Previous Year
2013 1100 1028 n/a
2014 1400 1183 +15%
2015 1500 1254 +6%
2016 1800 1552 +24%
2017 2000 1699 +9%


CLAW Fundraising Totals:

CLAW donates all profits to community charities.  The CLAW Board of Directors decides which charities to support and at what levels. 

CLAW 17 raised a record $84,000 for charity, 20% more than the previous record of $70,000 set by CLAW 16.  In 16 years, the annual event has donated $521,000 to charity.

Including money raised at CLAW Nation parties, CLAW has now donated more than $800,000, and supported almost 200 different community charities.  A complete list of all CLAW distributions is available on the CLAW website under “about CLAW.”

CLAW Nation: 

You pick the date, location and charities.  You plan the event, and run it from start to finish.  CLAW helps with publicity and sponsorship items, and provides an umbrella organization including insurance coverage and 501c3 tax exempt status.

First “CLAW Nation” party:  April 1st, 2007, held by Mary Elizabeth Boyd at her home and garden in Arlington, Virginia.  It was called “Leather in the Garden” and CLAW was the charity.  CLAW Nation – which allows people organizing fundraising events to pick their own charities -- was inspired later that year by the success of the Garden Party.

Some CLAW Nation totals to date:

  • 240 parties
  • 160 different charities
  • 70 different cities
  • 105 different venues
  • $242,000 raised

Most raised:  $12,445 -- Misfits Ball 14, Houston TX, for HATCH and Omega House, Oct 14, 2012

CLAW 13:

Since the first CLAW was held in January, 2002, for the first 12 years CLAW’s “number” was always one higher than the year number.  (CLAW 5 was in 2006; CLAW 11 was in 2012, etc.)

On December 13, 2013 (a Friday the 13th), CLAW organized parties in different cities collectively called CLAW 13.  The annual event skipped from 12 to 14, like an elevator in many hotels, so CLAW’s number would thereafter match the number of the calendar year.  (CLAW 14 was held in April 2014, and CLAW 18 is in 2018, etc.)

Volunteers and Compensation:

From 2001-2014, CLAW was 100% volunteer.  It became increasing difficult to sustain, and beginning in 2015 the CLAW Board began budgeting money for compensation.

Year Compensation Gross Revenue % of Gross FT PT Volunteers
2014 0 $186,396  0% 0 0 50-500 
2015  $63,250 $253,390 25% 1 8 600
2016  $68,500  $307,374 22% 1 14 700
2017 $106,250   $367,281 29% 2 18 750

Women and CLAW:

Approximately 97% of CLAW attendees are men.  Early CLAWs featured more women’s and pan events, including two years of pansexual play parties at the Red Door Dungeon in 2010 and 2011.  Attendance was sparse both years.  In 2012, the CLAW Board reviewed the issue and decided to focus on what we do best – creating and innovating a leather conference for gay men.  This has proved to be a powerful selling point for CLAW, and attendance continues to grow substantially every year. 

Women are welcome at all but the most directly sexual CLAW events (play parties, workshops involving genital nudity or substantial penetration).  Since 2015, women are offered CLAW registration at a reduced price.

Transgender at CLAW:

CLAW allows everyone to declare their own gender regardless of their birth gender or state issued ID.  In 2015, CLAW proudly held “CBT:  Cigars, Boots and Trans men,” the first trans men party at a large leather event.  Some CLAW venues (i.e. FLEX Spas) have door policies that exclude women and transmen without a photo ID indicating they are male.

CLAW Code of Conduct

  1. CLAW is an event for adult gay Leathermen that creates a space for us outside of the mainstream cultural norms which may not be suitable for all. Our cultural standards for personal interaction are different from those of the overlying mainstream culture. CLAW’s origins are in the gay leather bar scene and it maintains that spirit to this day.
  2. Casual, respectful touching is still a cultural norm of adult gay Leathermen.  Consent for the majority of us looks a lot like “Implied before Denied.”  The first touch is often also the asking of permission to continue. It is up to the toucher to approach and read signs and decide if consent has been granted and to respect the reaction positive or negative from the other participant.
  3. We in no way condone predatory behavior, abuse or intimidation, be it physical, visual or verbal, in person or online, ever. No is still No. If you attend CLAW with the assumption you can aggressively touch people you don’t know without consequence you will be unwelcomed.
  4. We aspire to lead by individual example, as Leathermen, to embody respect, honor, integrity and compassion. Together we express this through volunteerism, education and charity.
  5. Being an adult in part means knowing how to maturely handle unwanted behavior directed at you from others. A simple ‘No’, frown, or brushing the hand away are some ways to do this.  We will not tolerate those who receive a clear verbal or non-verbal signal to stop and don’t.
  6. We are all adults first and are expected to behave as such. Be responsible for your own space.  Lead by example, and be self-empowered enough to be able to say “no” in a mature way. If you feel incapable of doing so, CLAW may not be the event for you at this time.

(adopted by the CLAW Board of Directors, Oct 2017)

Consent Incident Reporting at CLAW

CONSENT INCIDENTS MAY BE REPORTED TO CLAW VIA EMAIL ONLY to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Year-round email address of CLAW’s Incident Response Team, community professionals who will determine what action, if any, should be taken by CLAW.
  • CLAW’s Incident Response Team consists of volunteers who are not on the CLAW Board of Directors.
  • Emails will be monitored regularly during the event. 

The Parts of CLAW

Here are the debut years of the various parts of CLAW:

  • CLAW 1 (2002):  Bar Party, Silent Auction, Rock Hall Trip, Sunday Brunch, Dungeon Party
  • CLAW 2 (2003):  Host Hotel, Friday Night Party, CLAW Package ($40); Choice of Field Trip, Breast Cancer Fundraiser on Sunday
  • CLAW 3 (2004):  Saturday Night Dinner, Vendor Mart (2 vendors), Education (1 session), IML Interview (Pendal), Sunday Supper, Sunday Show, Yearbook, Volunteer Packages
  • CLAW 4 (2005): Shuttle Buses, Fetish Bar Parties (simultaneous), Late Night Movie
  • CLAW 5 (2006): Art Show, 12 Step Meetings, Education Schedule, Smoking Deck, Titleholder Cocktail Party
  • CLAW 6 (2007): Skills Workshops
  • CLAW 7 (2008):  Recon Reflex Parties; Dance Party at Host Hotel
  • CLAW 8 (2009):  Thursday Registration; Dick Off Party; Newbie Party, Leather Cookout, CLAW Nation Reception, Leather Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies
  • CLAW 9 (2010):  Bingo, Leather Club Forum, Red Door Pansexual Play Parties
  • CLAW 10 (2011):  Poz Friendly Party; Cigar Tent, Motorcycle Run, Make Your Own Dildo, Friday and Sunday Silent Auctions
  • CLAW 11 (2012): Last Call Party
  • CLAW 12 (2013): Pup Mosh Pit; Bound and Beautiful Live Gallery; Single Mingle Party; Special Art Show, BDSM Art Co-op
  • CLAW 13 (2013):  Group Hypnosis Experiment
  • CLAW 14 (2014):  Speed Dating, “Hercules” (In Hotel) Play Parties, Pool Parties, Leather Community Memorial, Cock Auction
  • CLAW 15 (2015):  Man-on-Man Wedding Reception, Transmen Party; FLEXXX ASYLUM and Man Meet Parties, Bootblack Summit
  • CLAW 16 (2016): Two Host Hotels, CLAW Body Spa, Strip Bingo Friday night, Famous Comedian (Judy Tenuta); Skills and Education expansion; Voter Registration, Bootblack Apprenticeships, Entrepreneurial Internships, Flogging the Boss
  • CLAW 17 (2017):  Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Party; Naked Pool Parties; Academy Dungeon Parties; House of Blues Party, NKP and CHC Room Parties

Growth of Skills and Education:


Year # of Sessions   Year # of Sessions
2007 8   2013 43
2008 20   2014 36
2009 18   2015 39
2010 25   2016 88
2011 32   2017 104
2012 31   2018 115*

* estimate

CLAW Hotel History: 

Hotels and hotel employees love CLAW.  We’re their happiest workdays of the year.

  • CLAW 1:  no hotel (event centered at Toolshed Bar, Ohio City, Cleveland)
  • CLAW 2:  Days Inn Lakewood (50 room block), event at Toolshed

Downtown Cleveland (2004-2013):

  • CLAW 3-4: Embassy Suites Reserve Square (100 room block)
  • CLAW 5-9: Wyndham Playhouse Square (240 rooms)
  • CLAW 10-12:  Hilton Garden Inn (240 rooms) and Hampton Inn (190 rooms)

Suburban Cleveland (2014-2016):

  • CLAW 14: Sheridan Airport (253 rooms), Howard Johnson (75 rooms) and Crowne Plaza (45 rooms)
  • CLAW 15:  Independence, Ohio: Holiday Inn (365 rooms), Hampton Inn (100 Rooms); Comfort Inn (65 Rooms)
  • CLAW 16: Independence, Ohio: Holiday Inn (365 rooms), DoubleTree (280 Rooms); Comfort Inn (65 Rooms)

Downtown Cleveland (2017–2022)

  • CLAW 17-18: Westin Cleveland Downtown (485 rooms); Hampton Inn (190 rooms); Double Tree (120+ room block)
  • CLAW 19-22:  Westin Cleveland Downtown:  we are glad to have signed a contract with the Westin through 2022.  We have also signed an agreement with the Hampton Inn for 2019.