[Photo: Get Out Magazine]
Being an award-winning leatherman isn’t always about kink. It’s more likely about standing out in the leather community as a caring, thinking person, which Mr. Eagle 2018 Joseph Macchia does in spades! Thotyssey catches up with the event producer, health activist and title holder to discuss these final remaining moments of his amazing reign.
Thotyssey: Joseph, hello! Thanks for chatting with us today! How was your summer?
What’s your job at the Eagle now?
I am the Happy Hour manager. We started Happy Hour June 1st. We’re open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm, 2-for-1 drinks ‘til 10pm.
Before we talk more about the Eagle, let’s get the dirt on you! Where’s your original hometown, and what were your early interests?
I am a New Yorker born and raised… a Queens boy who moved to Long Island, only to get out of Long Island real quick and move back to Queens. I played soccer during high school, as well.as baseball and tennis. In my early 20′s, I started producing cabaret shows.
I recall when you used to host a live panel show at some cabaret venues called ”The Q,” with guests usually being gay nightlife performers and activists.
Yes! It will be coming back in a new incarnation and format at the end of the year. Possibly with a new name, too. I never give up on dreams, and we need a gay talk show on TV!
Yes, totally! Now more than ever! Do you sing at all yourself?
I don’t sing; I create shows and produce. I love watching a show be built.
What have been some memorable performances under your watch?
I like to see all kinds [of performances]. I knew this woman who did Gaga’s “Poker Face” in a show, and made it her own.
How did you get introduced to the leather scene?
I walked into the Eagle seven years ago or so, and it was the first bar I felt myself and welcomed in, and not judged. I then went and bought my first harness. I slowly started to meet fellow leathermen, and realized what a wonderful scene the leather community is.
Lots of people outside the leather scene don’t realize that it isn’t all about fetishes or sexuality… it’s about community! And body positivity. And in New York, the Eagle is basically the center of that.
The amount of community service and fundraising that’s done–plus educational workshops [at the Eagle]–it’s amazing. And then, you can also be open to exploring who you are in a safe space.
When did you start competing in the leather contests?
I ran four years ago for Mr. Eagle, and placed second. I was going to come back the next year and compete again, but waited because I needed time to grow and be more involved. Then cancer got in the way, and I decided to finally run last October [when I won].
Oh no, what sort of cancer did you struggle with?
Testicular. Cancer and HIV / AIDS awareness are very important to me. I have my own charity I founded for kids and teens living with HIV, Help Is On The Way Today. I work with hospitals, clinics and group homes here in New York. We service over 600 children.
I understand that your upcoming birthday cabaret show at The Duplex is going to be a benefit for that charity, and that shows like this have been a major part of your fundraising over the years.
13 years ago, I created a fundraising series called Cabaret Cares. I went around to all the backstage doors asking Broadway shows if they wanted to do a cabaret benefit, hoping they would say yes (I didn’t know anyone in Broadway, so I had to hope for yeses). Over the course of 13 years, we raised $186,000 for my charity.
We have had amazing performances from the cast of The Producers, On Your Feet, In The Heights, Jersey Boys and more. We’ve featured cabaret performers like Marilyn Maye, Amanda McBroom, etc. My birthday always kicks off the new season, and features friends from Broadway and cabaret.
And this year, the kickoff will be Monday, September 24th at the Duplex!
Yes, on my actual birthday.
Back to the Eagle! As it draws to a close, how have you enjoyed your reign as Mr. Eagle 2018?
My reign was amazing. My goal was to educate more people about the leather community, and also to lend my voice to several causes.
What were some highlights of your year as Mr. Eagle?
Competing at IML with 71 other amazing leatherman. Meeting wonderful leathermen and women from the community. Marching in the Gay Pride parade in June. And recently, having a phone conversation with a man who never felt he looked good in leather. He bought his first harness and he said he felt great, but was afraid to wear it out. So I told him if you feel good in it, put it on and come to the Eagle. And he did!
Wonderful! What’s your favorite piece of gear, by the way?
I have two: my leg harness and my kilt.
Let’s talk about some upcoming Eagle events, starting with Dads & Lads on Friday, September 14th. That’s been a monthly… what goes down there?
It’s dance party-themed, every second Friday of month.
Yes! Great dance music, gogo boys and raffles, $10 cover, 8 til 12.
Nice! And finally, Mister Eagle 2019 Weekend begins on October 5th! What are you expecting this next group of contestants to be like?
I have no idea who’s competing yet.
I am hoping for a huge turnout of contestants. It’s a huge deal with [next year] being World Pride, too.
Oh that’s right, Mr. Eagle 2019 will be marching in World Pride! That’s daunting.
I will be there to guide them and help them any way I can. If you lead with your heart, then he will be fine.
Anything else you wanna mention?
Being Mr. Eagle 2018 has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Oh, and also that I am very single, lol!
Take note, thots! Okay, final question: what are you gonna be for Halloween?
Hmmmm… not sure yet. You will have to stop by the Eagle for our party and contest to find out!
Joseph “Mr. Eagle 2018″ Macchia produces Happy Hour at The Eagle NYC (Tuesday through Saturday, 5-10pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for his other upcoming gigs, and follow Joseph on Facebook and Instagram.