Nightspots: Why did you decide to run for Mr. Chicago Leather, and why make that run in 2014?
Miguel Torres: I started getting involved in the Leather community about three years ago. Around that time, I was doing lots of community work with organizations like Gay for Good, TPAN and Howard Brown. The current Chicago Leather titleholder at the time ( Nick Zuko ) approached me and asked me to consider running. At the time I did not consider it because even though I liked leather, I did not considered myself a leatherman or worthy of representing such diverse community, but he told me that he saw it in me and it just needed to come out. Ever since that day, the thought never left my mind, and as I got more and more involved in the Leather community, I decided to finally run for the title this year.
NS: What new things about the Leather community have you seen since earning the MCL 2014 title? What do you hope to learn or explore ( about yourself or the community ) by running for IML in May?
MT: One thing that I learned about the community, as soon as I entered the contest and met my awesome fellow contestants, is the sense of brotherhood and family. All six of us who ran for the MCL title are very close friends now and we stick together. We are a family and I couldn't be happier and luckier to have them in my life. As I've been going through the IML process, the same sense of brotherhood and family is occurring with my IML brothers. Every single one of them is an outstanding individual and we have become really close and I know these relationships will last for the rest of my life.
NS: Who is the IML that most influences you or that you most admire? Why?
MT: When speaking of previous IML winners I have to bring up my fellow Venezuelan Gary Iriza, IML 2008. Knowing that the road for me as a Venezuelan has been paved by him is an honor and an inspiration. Over the last year I've had the pleasure to getting to know Woody Woodruff, who not only has been a huge inspiration in my life but one of my good friends.
NS: You were born in Venezuela, and you have the sexy accent to prove it! Tell us a little bit about how being a Venezuelan in the U.S. informs your Leather journey and what it shows you about the global importance of IML?
MT: I moved in Chicago in the year 2000. I was not exposed to the Leather community in Venezuela except for the occasional Tom of Finland drawings I had seen around. When I moved to Chicago I spoke very little English, and was very shy. About two weeks after I moved to Chicago I had my first ever leather experience by chance. I was living in a hotel in the suburbs back then and had no car, so when I wanted to stay in Boystown someone told me that Steamworks was the best deal. That night I learned what a sling was.
NS: What is the hottest thing you've done since earning the MCL 2014 title?
MT: Since earning the title I have opened myself to a wide range of experiences. It goes with my life's motto of "don't say you don't like it if you haven't tried it." I've always lived by that rule and it has gotten me to some amazing places. I've been doing a lot of very unique things at different charity events across the Midwest, but the hottest experience so far has been CLAW 2014, where I've gotten flogged, spanked, experienced cigar play, among many other things. Open yourself to new experiences, don't be afraid and have fun with it. Life is too short for not living it at its fullest!