In the world of leather contests and titles, International Mr. Leather (IML) is the most well known, and, having just celebrated its 30th anniversary, the oldest and largest surviving. But it is just one in a spectrum of such national and international events for nearly every subgroup in the leather/BDSM/fetish community. While smaller, they represent important and diverse parts of leather culture.
Leather contests and titles offer entertainment for the audience, a challenge for the contestants, and service opportunity for the winners and titleholders, as well as a source of positive role models and leaders for the community. They may have started as “beauty pageants,” but over the years, have become much more.
Let’s begin with IML’s female counterpart, International Ms. Leather (IMsL), billed as a weekend for “leatherwomen and those who love them.” It has seen amazing growth since moving back to San Francisco, where it started in 1987. In May, IMsL Weekend was attended by more than 600, who participated in more than 40 educational classes, a dozen hospitality receptions, a Uniform Party, a Boots and Cigars party, a vendor mart, and three different play areas (women-only, men-only, and pansexual). Hobbit won the contest. IMsL weekend included the International Ms. Bootblack contest, which Miss “Q” won.
American Brotherhood Weekend (ABW), whose motto is “Celebrating the American Leather Family,” awards a whole family of leather titles. American Leatherman, started in 1989, was joined by American Leatherwoman in 1994, American Leatherboy in 1995, and American Leathergirl in 2004. The following won this year’s contests, held July 10-14 in New Orleans: Randy Carmenaty; American Leatherman; Joan Norry, American Leatherwoman; and Chris Scherrer, American Leatherboy. No contestants entered the American Leathergirl Contest.
The next weekend, the Mr./Ms. Olympus Leather Contest took place at The Chicago Eagle/Man’s Country in conjunction with the Pantheon of Leather Community Service Awards. Dave Rhodes, publisher of The Leather Journal, created both events. Olympus Leather titleholders, who represent the pansexual branch of the leather/BDSM/fetish community, are very transgender-friendly. Nine contestants (three men and six women) had private interviews with the judges, participated in a question-and-answer session in front of the audience, and presented a “fantasy” (erotic skit). The new Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather titleholders are Andrew and Mistress Sabrae.
That same weekend, Philadelphia hosted the International Deaf Leather (IDL) Contest Weekend. Current IML Gary Iriza was one of the judges. The new titleholders: Marc “Sir Y” Burton, International Mr. Deaf Leather, and Alan “boy taz” Arble, International Deaf leatherboy.
The International LeatherSIR/Leatherboy Contest, direct descendant of the legendary International Mr. Drummer and Drummerboy Contests started in San Francisco in 1979, returns there October 9-12, including the International Community Bootblack contest.
For latex lovers is the Mr. International Rubber Contest in Chicago, November 7-9. The International Master/slave Contest Weekend, in conjunction with South Plains Leatherfest, will be in Dallas February 27-March 1.
There you have it: for a rainbow tribe, a rainbow of contests and titles.