Don Thompson
June 7th, 2006

IML LIVES UP TO ITS NAME

It truly was an International contest in Chicago last weekend. There were 51 contestants from 18 states and five countries, including Belgium, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the US and the three winners were from three different countries. The second runner up was Philippe Lepine, Mr. Fetish Switzerland, who appeared in several dramatic colored leather uniforms, including one in bright green! First runner up was Larry Golubski, Mr. Long Beach Leather, clearly a crowd favorite, and the winner and the new International Mr. Leather is Bo Ladashevska, Mr. Leather Montreal. Despite his being Canadian, his last name clearly indicates that there is yet another European connection somewhere. Bo works as an American Sign Language/English interpreter. Among his community service involvement: he has served as guest lecturer on diversity at Concordia University; worked on promotion and served as a spokesperson for the 2006 World Out Games; served on the national Board of Directors of the Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada and coordinated the Ther-a-pet Program for AIDS Committee Care of Montreal, a program providing veterinary care and education for PWAs and their pets. Truly a well-rounded man.

The judges clearly weighed community involvement as being very important in their scoring because the first runner up Larry Golubski works in an executive position in an AIDS organization in Long Beach and the second runner up is also heavily involved in his community. This should be a warning to those who win a local title and then think they can go on to IML without doing anything locally. Sometimes, and weíve all seen this, only one person shows up to enter a local title and that person is elected because thereís nobody else. If the local judges have any clue that all their lone candidate is interested in is going to IML maybe they should be courageous and not have a winner that year.

Several other contestants were also clearly crowd favorites, especially Mr.

Mid Atlantic Leather Scott Harris, one of the most spectacular men I have ever seen, Daniel Gagne, Mr. Leatherman Toronto and Toro Camacho, Mr. San Francisco Leather, whose every appearance was greeted by raucous cheers led by "Mama" and her San Francisco family. Every time I heard the cheering I looked round and there were those long black gloves in the air! "You go, girl!" I thought.

As well as physical appearance and community involvement, contestants were also judged on speech presentation (90 seconds only) and overall presence. Bo Ladashevska's speech was delivered in three languages, English, French and ASL. When he began the ASL section the MC Brad Balof, hearing the silence began to move on to the next contestant but was loudly reminded by the audience that Bo had not yet finished and Bo's immediate recovery after being interrupted probably also helped him with the judges, one has to be quick on one's feet when on stage as a title holder.

Another winner on Sunday afternoon was Benjamin Palmer, a very young-looking Bootblack from Vancouver, Canada, who was named International Mr. Bootblack. He looked so young that he told me he didn't go to the Victory Celebration in a bar in town because he was sure he would be "carded" and didn't have his ID with him. He really did look about seventeen.

More than 1700 leatherfolk attended the 28th annual IML. The weekend began on Thursday May 25 with the Opening Ceremonies where all contestants were introduced carrying their state or country flags. Unfortunately almost all the West Coast attendees missed this part of the weekend; their flights kept getting delayed and delayed because of bad weather in the mid west. Needless to say, the bars in the airports did some amazing business during that delay. Most finally arrived in the hotel about 11.30pm. I was fortunate in that my flight left early, before 8am and arrived on time, the thunderstorms had not yet interfered when I passed over Kansas. However, the journey back was a different story. Most of the West Coast people left relatively early in the day on Tuesday and got back home OK. My flight was scheduled to leave at 6pm but because of thunderstorms, and lightning near OíHare we didnít get away till after 7pm and so I missed my connection in Denver by one minute! Youíd think an airline would have the initiative to radio or phone ahead to their main desk to alert them that there are lots of passengers coming in a little late so that if possible outgoing flights could be delayed even if just for a few minutes but I guess thatís asking to much of airlines these days.

The actual contest itself was held in the beautiful Chicago Theatre, one of the great old movies palaces of the past which has been lovingly restored. Pity they didnít allow usage of the fine Wurlitzer there otherwise I could have done my stuff.

The previous morning there had been an extensive Memorial Day Parade along State Street, featuring hundreds of ROTC cadets and veterans in uniform. When we all walked from the Palmer House Hilton the few blocks to the theatre wearing our full leathers and uniforms all the passers-by stared in amazement and wondered if the parade was still going on!

The scene in the lobby at the Palmer House was the usual amazing sight every night and itís really worth going to IML just for this and the parties, in addition to the contest and official events. The two combined make for a superb weekend. The ONYX party as usual was the best of the weekend and even I was up there dancing for a couple of hours.

COMING UP

As I reported earlier, the Leather Levi weekend is getting close. Leather Levi Weekend 5 (LLW2006), a "Twisted Summer Camp" for gay leather men and women (and other gender orientations) occurs every year and continues to increase in popularity. August 10-13 (Thursday thru Sunday), participants in LLW2006 will gather at the Saratoga Springs Resort, in the hills between San Jose and Santa Cruz., CA.  As with past LLWís, itís a sure sell- out and tickets are going fast. LLW is designed as a safe and fun introduction to the leather/levi scene for people curious or new to the scene.  First-timers get a break on registration fees.  For the experienced, it's a great weekend to relax, meet other players away from the traditional bar scene, and play in the outdoors!

Log on to the LLW web site for additional information www.leatherlevi.org,  or:

contact: Richard Sprott sfleatherdaddy23@earthlink.net  or David Morgan at david@DAMpr.com .

In Palm Springs, Friday June 9th sees Bear Patrol at The Tool Shed with the following night being Bootís Ďn Briefs night. The following weekend, when many of us will be going to Phoenix for their Leather weekend, will find Fatherís Day beer busts going on in our town and of course at the Eagle in SF, the traditional Fatherís Day beer bust that Alan Selby introduced and I produced for several years. Meanwhile at The Barracks Bar in PS there will be the usual Friday night beer busts from 9pm and of course the notorious and always crowded Sunday afternoon beer bust on the newly expanded patio. If there are any other events that you would like me to mention on this web site, please donít hesitate to let me know, at daddydon@leatherdaddy.org.