All photos by the author
The Cleveland Leather Awareness Week (CLAW) is a yearly, volunteer-organized leather convention and nonprofit that’s been running for the last 15 years. Taking place at the end of April, CLAW draws in kinksters and a wide range of leather enthusiasts to the normally-sleepy town of Independence, Ohio to socialize and engage in workshops focusing on leather, rope bondage, electro-play, flogging, power exchange, and more.
The event also has a growing number of events for Puppy Play, a subculture within BDSM wherein participants role play as either a pup or handler (or “dog owner”), and release the constraints of their human characteristics in order to adopt those of a dog. For many, this mindset carries over in varying degrees of intensity into everyday life. As a card-carrying member of NYC-PAH (NYC Pups and Handlers), I couldn’t stay away from CLAW’s K9-friendly happenings.
At this year’s four-day convention, my days were filled with educational workshops like Human Pup Play: Where to Go From Here, Feel the Pressure (a pressure point workshop), Puppy 201: Obedience, and tutorials focused on safety tips, as well as tricks for entering and staying in the Pup headspace outside of CLAW.
This type of safe, educational fetish fun was the central theme at CLAW. Convention-goers decked out in leather and other gear spent their days in workshops and their nights putting new found knowledge to use in dedicated BDSM play-spaces, graciously hosted by Chicago’s famous BDSM brotherhood, the Hellfire Club. Located in emptied-out hotel suites, these rooms feature amenities like a Saint Andrew’s cross, mountable benches, and metal armatures—equipment used for flogging, rope bondage, and other blissfully masochistic activities. Also at hand was a generous supply of condoms, first-aid materials, and restraints.
One of the most anticipated events among the pups in attendance was the Puppy Pool Party where pups and handlers alike slipped into rubber and neoprene to go for a doggy paddle and chase tennis balls in an aquatic fever pitch of barks and tail wagging. Part fashion show, part pup-social, the event got all the pups in one place and gave them a chance to become better acquainted with one another. Butt sniffing is tough underwater, but the pups found other ways to get friendly.
The following photos document some of my other favorite moments from the hedonistic, educational gathering. Thank you to CLAW and its attendees, and scratches and belly rubs for all the good pups!
Visit Zak Krevitt’s website to see more of his photo work.