Master Sponsors

CLAW Stats and Facts

Updated October 1, 2019

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

  • Bob Miller (lifetime)
  • Larry Golubski, Bradley Donahue, Steve Givens (through 2021)
  • Ralph Bruneau, Noel LeBoeuf, Jack McNulty, Tom Stebel (through 2022)
  • James Lee, Jonathan Schroeder, Enza Solano, Merrill Squiers (through 2023)
  • Dennis McMahon, Tina Tereshenko (Emeritus Members)

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 package totals since 2013:

Packages Wristbands Attendance Increase Change
2013 1028 72 1100 n/a n/a
2014 1183 167 1350 250 +23%
2015 1254 244 1500 150 +11%
2016 1552 248 1800 300 +20%
2017 1699 253 1950 150 +8%
2018 1705 265 1970 20 +1%
2019 1796 434 2230 260 +13%


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 19 raised a record $85,000 for charity. In 18 years, the annual event has donated $680,530 to charity. A complete list of CLAW distributions is available on the CLAW website under “beneficiaries.”

Including money raised at CLAW Nation parties, CLAW has now donated approximately $970,000, and supported almost 200 different community charities

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:

  • 260 parties
  • 165 different charities
  • 72 different cities
  • 110 different venues
  • $290,000 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  Gross Revenue Compensation % of Gross # of People Paid  Volunteers 
2014 $186,396 0  0% 0 500
2015 $253,390 $63,250 25% 9 550
2016 $307,374 $68,500 22% 15 600
2017 $367,281 $106,250  29% 20 650
2018 $362,985 $143,000 39% 19 677
2019 $454,316 $112,583 25% 15 711


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.

With the exception of a male-only playspace (which exists in addition to an all gender playspace), women are welcome at all CLAW events.

Transmen 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.

CLAW Code of Conduct

  1. We do not condone predatory behavior, abuse or intimidation. No means no. Everyone attending a CLAW event has both the right and the responsibility to stop any unwanted behavior directed at them from others.
  2. Disrespect of the rights of other attendees will not be tolerated. People who are deemed a safety problem by CLAW management may be removed from the event without a ticket refund.

(adopted by the CLAW Board of Directors, March 2019)

Consent Incident Reporting at CLAW

CLAW has an Incident Response Team (“IRT”) trained in conflict resolution, counseling and other support. The IRT is available 24 hours a day for anyone at CLAW who reports offensive, unwanted behavior.


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): CLAW Nation Parties held Dec 13, 2013 in several locations
  • 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; Square Peg Misfit Toys Sale, House of Blues Party, First CLAW Liquor License (at Mean Bull); NKP and CHC Room Parties
  • CLAW 18 (2018): ABDL Party; POC Education Track; Carter Johnson Library; Pocono Eagle Party; Code of Conduct and Incident Response Team
  • CLAW 19 (2019): BLUF Dinner; Thursday and Sunday Buffet Dinners; Titans of the Midwest Social. Leather Game Show (“Jeopardy”); Mental Health Education Track

Growth of Skills and Education:

 Year  # of Sessions    Year  # of Sessions
2007 8   2014
2008 20   2015 39
2009 18   2016 88
2010 25   2017 104
2011 32   2018 112
2012 31   2019 129
2013 43      

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) and Hampton Inn (195 rooms)
  • CLAW 10-12:  Hilton Garden Inn (240 rooms) and Hampton Inn (195 rooms)

Suburban Cleveland (2014-2016):

  • CLAW 14: Sheraton 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 (195 rooms); Double Tree (120+ room block)CLAW 19: Westin Cleveland Downtown (485 rooms); Hampton Inn (195 rooms); Aloft Downtown Cleveland (100 rooms); Marriott Key Tower (20 rooms)
  • CLAW 20: Westin Cleveland Downtown (485 rooms); Hampton Inn (195 rooms); Aloft Downtown Cleveland (150 rooms);
  • CLAW 21-22: Westin Cleveland Downtown and TBD


Site and Event Policies

CLAW has a 0% tolerance for illegal drugs at our event. If you think you might have a problem with crystal, heroin, cocaine or other party drugs, visit Partnership to End Addiction.