The International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Bootblack competition in Chicago was just last month! We're privileged to get a special report from VicLeather member Alex, who was in Chicago to support our competitors:
On the weekend of the 25th-29th of May the International Mr. Leather and International Mr.Bootblack (IML/IMBB) contest took place at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The event starting on the Thursday of the Memorial Day long weekend, is centred on the contest however for those attending there were also many other directly and indirectly associated parties and events including the vendor market, Kink U education sessions run by Titans of the Midwest, various Puppy events and workshops, cocktail nights, BLUF social, and dance parties.
Throughout the weekend there were displays from the Leather Archives & Museum celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the International Mr. Bootblack title along with Women’s Leather History Program Reception with run by Mel Leverich (LA&M Archivist/Collections Librarian) and slave angie, (International slave 2014), who hosted a space for women, trans, and gender-diverse Leather folk at IML.
The feeling of walking through the corridors of the hotel and into the lobby with Leather folk atevery turn was quite special. For some people, this was a first-time experience whereas for many others at the hotel, IML & IMBB is an annually attended event.
Both international titles have their own separate judging panels. International Mr. Bootblack 2017 included IMsBB 2017; Elisa and IMBB 2016; Erick Joseph. Erick had previously been in Australia to judge the Australian Leatherman and Australian Mr. Bootblack 2017.
The IML contestants are judged on their interview in front of the panel (60%) and then the they are judged on their stage presence, better known as “Pecs and Personality” (40%). On the night of the International Mr. Leather Contest, the Top 20 finalists were announced on stage where they each gave short speeches to the crowd that filled the Auditorium Theatre and of course another display of their fine selves in their more revealing leathers.
The IMBB contestants are observed and evaluated by the judges during Open Polishing which was 19 hours over three days (50%) where contestants’ interactions with the public, speed of Bootblacking and results were considered, while the public could cast their ballots (20%). The interview of the Bootblack contestants (10%) is conducted in front of the judging panel however the stage presence at the Bootblack Party with their impromptu questions and answers comprised the other 10% of the contest scoring.
Running this year for International Mr. Leather from Australia were Gerry Ebert (Australian Leatherman 2017) and VicLeather member Brad Redmond (Laird Leatherman 2016). They were among the 63 other contestants from the USA, South America, Canada, UK and continental Europe. For International Mr. Bootblack 2017, our Australian representative was VicLeather member Rhys (Australian Mr. Bootblack 2017).
After all was done, the winner of International Mr. Leather 2017 is Ralph Bruneau (Mr. GNI Leather 2016) from Los Angeles, California! The First Runner-up is Geoff Millard (Mr. San Francisco Leather 2017) and Second runner-up is Joe King (Mr. Leather Europe 2016) from the UK. For International Mr. Bootblack 2017 is Ryan "Pawlish" Garner-Carpenter (Independent Candidate) from Cincinnati, Ohio. Our own Australian Mr. Bootblack 2017 Rhys was our national representative in the 25th International Mr. Bootblack contest and did us proud, winning the IMBB First Runner Up! Even prouder, Rhys was voted by the IMBB 2017 contestants as the winner of the Brotherhood Award, bestowed upon the most helpful and friendly contestant that year! Well done to Rhys for his incredible run!