Interview with Mr Midsbears 2018 – Mark Coulstock
Mr Midsbear is an annual competition organised by the Midlands based social group Midsbears. Midsbears is a group for bears, chasers, admirers and everyone in between.
So, congratulations on winning Mr Midsbears 2018. It’s great to speak to you. Tell us a little about yourself first.
Okay up until moving to Birmingham I was deputy manager at the Kings Arms in Soho (London) for 8 years. Loved it there and really enjoyed my job. Fab customers and team. I was a customer there for about 15 years before that. Love my bears.
I’ve had to leave the pub job this year (I moved to my own pub in Birmingham) due to ill health but am now a full-time student at University here in Birmingham
What prompted you to enter the Mr Midsbear contest this year?
Being ill and a bit isolated I had lost a lot of confidence. I wanted to get to know more people and get back out there so I dared myself to give it a go. Was a huge challenge for me.
What did you think your odds of winning were?
Truthfully? Somewhere between nought and zero. Lol. As I said low confidence.
How was the competition itself? All back-biting and bitchiness back-stage?
Totally the opposite. All of the guys who entered were really lovely and a complete mix of types too which was great to see and exactly how it should be.
We all had a chat on Facebook and the weeks leading up to the event were pretty much filled with each of us having a wobble and in turn being cheered on by our fellow competitors.
Obviously now it’s all over none of us talk and we all hiss at each other if we pass by (joking obvs) Actually, we’re still chatting on FB and saying hello etc. in the real world too. Still friendly. They are a lovely bunch of guys.
What did you have to do for the competition?
We had two main rounds and the final.
The first round was beach wear. I had already decided that I couldn't show my legs (Been ill and still wearing bandages) Anyway, I chose to do the redneck at the beach. So was a pair of dungarees, trainers and no short with one strap off. The boys were braver there were quite a few jock straps. My only concession was pulling my dungarees down and showing off my bum in my boxers which had a very jolly “Wide Load” written across them.
The Second round was dress to impress. I went as the Beary God Mother. So jeans, baseball, cap, skull vest, big purple fairy wings, flashy lights in my trainers and a magic wand. What else would I wear.
The final round was to answer a question from the host the lovely Moodybear Andrew Clark and then one from the audience.
After every round there was a vote and an elimination.
How did it feel when they announced you as the winner of this year’s competition?
I didn't believe it as I was certain the guy I was up there with was going to win. I was totally amazed that I had survived the first round. It’s only just dawning on me now. The whole thing was very surreal.
How will you use your title over the coming year?
I want to be able to draw more people in to our groups and events. There are a lot of people flying solo out there and we often forget that when we’re involved with our own groups and friends. Everyone is new at some point and more support there will help, especially when someone is shy or nervous. I said in my speech in the final that the bear scene needs to remember that it’s about inclusivity. I really want to make people feel welcome and see what the bears hospitality and reputation for being a friendly, loving group is about.
What message do you have for our community?
With all the crap going on it’s really easy to get caught up in our own worlds and worries. All I’d ask is to reach out if you can to one other person who needs support and help within the community. I had a year of near enough total isolation being sick in a new city and it made me quite unwell. Nobody deserves to go through that alone.
The bear community has a great reputation of being warm, friendly and inviting. We have forgotten that in some places. It would be great to see a few more social events going on that aren't just organised by Midsbears Admins etc. We can get involved ourselves and really make a true sense of community supporting each other through good and bad times.
Also, if you can put your phone away for 20 minutes to talk to someone face to face that’d be great.
Get out there, get involved and go and hug a stranger!
Well thanks Mark. And once again, congratulations on your win. See you soon!