Maximus Leather, owned and operated by Max Oddi (he/they), is Pittsburgh’s one-stop shop for kink-related, as well as some non-kink, leather goods. There are floggers, leather cuffs, impact toys, and bondage gear in a variety of vivid colors, but there are also hand-dyed leather wallets and bags for the more, “straight-edge, vanilla” crowd.
Oddi, a self-described “agent of chaos” who is frequently accompanied by one of their romantic and creative partners, makes a point to travel to local craft and oddity markets to sell these hand-stitched leather pieces. Their goods were featured at this year's Queer Craft Market: Pride Edition, which has been building community for LGBTQ artists and makers since 2017.
“I moved here in ‘02,” they tell Pittsburgh City Paper, “So I'm not a native but I’ve lived here long enough … so local-ish. I’m not not local, but I’m definitely not a native."
Oddi’s favorite Pittsburgh neighborhood is Wilkinsburg, which they have called home, despite a few moves in and out over the years, for the past 20 years.
“I currently volunteer at Protohaven over in Wilkinsburg as well,” they add. “Protohaven is a community makerspace, they’ve got various memberships available and you know, a sliding scale [of payment methods]. They’ve got a bunch of awesome machines to use, ranging from dye sublimation printers, vinyl cutters, laser engravers, CNC routers, welders.”
“I’ve always been a bit of a DIY person,” Oddi says of how they got into leatherworking. “My parents definitely installed a bit of a DIY mentality. I helped my dad build a tree fort when I was like 8. And I’ve always sort of been crafty. And when I was in my teens, I made a lot of punk rock jewelry, spike collars, bracelets, bracers, armbands, that sort of thing out of whatever I could scavenge."
Besides the fact that money helps pay bills, it has never been the main driver of their work. Instead, Oddi is motivated to become a better community member through their actions, supporting their community through mutual aid. They donate products for raffles or fundraising, whether it be for an event, or to help a friend afford their rent for the month.
When asked where they think skittishness around fetish products comes from, they say it’s the same place fear always comes from:,“Not understanding. Just the not understanding of anything.” However, as a “cis-ish, heteronormative presenting enough,” individual, they acknowledge their privilege of coming from a supportive familial background.
Oddi’s decade-long business has been informed by their can-do, DIY family, and their experience as a lifelong blue collar worker, but a break from work was an unexpected joy. “I hate to say this but COVID was one of the best things that ever happened [to me],” they tell City Paper. “It was one of the first times I got to not work for a little while.” It allowed Oddi instead to refine and monetize their leatherwork skills along with one of their partners who crochets “weird animals.”
Oddi is surprised that leather working turned into a full-time job considering how their interest manifested in their youth. “I was just a young punk teenager doing edgy shit with my partners,” they say. “We’re hitting each other. We’re tying each other to the bed. We’re putting ice cubes on our nipples. I was also your very typical goth, punk, weirdo looking teenager from the ‘90s. You look at the Old School Cool Thread on Reddit and you’re like, ‘was that cool?’ I’m pretty sure I got my ass kicked a lot.”
Now, Oddi divides their time between craft markets and other events, increasing the awareness of their business along the way. They are regularly representing their brand and selling at venues such as Cattivo, Club Pittsburgh, and goth nights.
“I got leather for the whole family no matter what your family looks like,” Oddi said.