Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16



Leather-bound and bigger than ever, IML turns 40
by Tony Peregrin

This article shared 3884 times since Wed May 23, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Size matters at the daddy of all leather competitions with a total of 72 contestants—the largest number on record—competing at International Mr. Leather ( IML ) 2018 in Chicago, IL, surpassing the previous record of 66 contestants from 2002. IML draws an estimated 18,000 attendees from around the globe who will have a boots-on-the ground presence this year to mark the 40th anniversary of the event.

Those boots will also have the opportunity to receive leather care at the 26th annual International Mr. Bootblack competition, which takes place throughout the IML weekend and features four contestants this year.

IML began as a competition at the Gold Coast, a long-shuttered gay men's leather bar in Chicago owned by iconic businessman and IML founder Chuck Renslow. The contest became so popular it exceeded the pub's capacity, and in 1979, International Mr. Leather was born. Today, IML has evolved into a multiday event featuring fetish workshops, speakers and dance parties, with a Leather Market full of kink wares from chains to chaps.

To honor the enduring heritage of Renslow, who died June 29, 2017 at age 87, an exhibition titled Chuck Renslow: A Legacy of Leather— featuring materials from the Leather Archives & Museum—will be on display during IML, including a guest book for visitors to sign that will be added to the Archives' collection.

"In an age of almost overwhelming sexual oppression, Renslow was a key player in providing the necessary means for liberation," note Chicago journalists and authors Tracy Baim and Owen Keehnen in the opening pages of Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow, a biography of Renslow, published in 2011. "Suddenly there wasn't such overwhelming isolation when it came to exploring sexuality and lifestyles beyond hetero and beyond the borders of 'vanilla.' Renslow had an impact on tens of thousands by helping people recognize their sexual desires, their kinks, and their fantasies."

IML organizers also plan to celebrate Renslow's legacy during the IML contest Sunday evening, although program leaders prefer to keep the specific details of the celebration close to the ( leather ) vest at this point.

"I can't get into specifics, because the person who manages and makes all of the weekend magic happen, our executive director Bill Stadt, asked me not to, but at the contest Sunday evening at the Auditorium Theatre, there will be a very special, and what we believe to be, powerful and poignant moment that underscores who Chuck was and what he meant and continues to mean to every single one of us to this day," said Jon Krongaard, president IML, Inc. Krongaard also noted that IML attendees can expect a large number of past IML winners to help honor Renslow's memory as part of the evening's program.

In addition to recognizing Renslow's leather legacy, organizers also plan to mark IML's 40th anniversary by updating some of the conference's content and structure. Opening Ceremonies—which include an introduction to this year's judges, a brief preview of contestants' and their number selection to determine their order for appearances throughout the competition—are being moved back out of the host hotel and into the Auditorium Theatre in a format called "Reversing the Room."

"This year, there's a twist," said Krongaard. "All of the attendees at Opening Ceremonies on Thursday evening will join the contestants on stage—they're actually going to be part of the show. Everybody will be on the stage. It's unbelievable. If you've ever been on that stage, even with just the house lights up, and looking out into that venue, then you know it's mind-boggling, bone-chillingly awesome, and nothing less than amazing."

Another notable change this year is a new Friday event called Flashback. In previous years, outgoing IML titleholders have hosted roasts or given "step-aside speeches," but this year, Flashback will give Ralph Bruneau ( IML 2017 ) and Ryan "Pawlish" Garner-Carpenter ( International Mr. Bootblack 2017 ) the opportunity to engage in a Q&A with attendees to describe their experiences of the past year.

"We're trying to make it a little more of an intimate and conversational setting," explained Krongaard. "This format will allow them to talk about their year and share some stories that may or may not have made it onto Facebook. They may even give some final thoughts as they wind down their year. Ralph and Ryan are actually very excited about it."

Other new and notable IML offerings this year include the following: Puppy Yoga ( bring your mat! ), a warm-up of sorts to the Off Leash: The Pup and the Handler Romp, which has moved to Friday night and features a much bigger space with a carpeted floor; a screening of the 2017 Tom of Finland film on Sunday afternoon, which provides a biographical look at Touko Laaksonen ( aka Tom of Finland ); Forever Leather, a session on preserving leather ( hint: there's more to it than keeping it shiny ); and four instructional Kink U sessions once again organized by Titans of the Midwest.

Two of the four Kink U sessions feature traditional topic areas including, Stress Relief through BDSM ( stress management through play time ) and Leather Through the Lens ( panelists discuss strategies for capturing the modern leather/fetish world ).

The other two sessions feature especially timely subject matter. The Good Touch Games session is an interactive class that teaches practical approaches to establishing consent aimed at both the experienced player and the rookie. The other well-timed session, especially considering the state of race relations in the U.S. today, is the Fireside Chat with Mufassa, founder of ONYX, which will explore the state of diversity in today's leather and kink communities.

"Remember in 1979, 400 diehard leathermen showed up. Now, we're starting at 18,000 plus, from every walk of life and corner of the universe that you can imagine," said Krongaard, when asked to describe the level of diversity at IML. "Chuck knew that. He saw that. It's always fun to see what the next generation is going to do, what the next evolution is going to be, and this year will be no different."

With all of the new event programming this year highlighting both the legacy of Chuck Renslow, and the 40th anniversary of the pioneering event he founded, at least one pillar of IML weekend remains unchanged: the popularity of the Leather Market. "As we all know, the hotel and the market, especially during the day, are the social hub of the weekend," said Krongaard. "People like it because you can try on gear and play with the toys that the vendors have brought in a non-judgmental, safe space. It's a big deal. And the Leather Market is also popular, because, let's be fair, the sexual energy in the room is certainly ramped up pretty high."

For more information on International Mr. Leather events, which take place, May 24 through May 28, visit: .

Images in this story originally appeared in the book Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow by Tracy Baim and Owen Keehnen.

This article shared 3884 times since Wed May 23, 2018
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Leather business 64TEN to name street after Ed Negron on May 30
On May 25-30, leather shop 64TEN, 6410 N. Clark St., will mark its 21st anniversary. The celebrations will coincide with the International Mr. Leather (IML)/Memorial Day holiday weekend. ...

Gay News

Pride Journey: Iceland
The only way to describe Iceland is ... magical. It truly is. Iceland is like no other place I've visited in the world. It's topography, climate, people, culture, history, and nightlife blended together make Iceland a ...

Gay News

Former Iowa Mr. Leather and computer programmer Ken Ballard dies at 43
Former Iowa Mr. Leather, computer programmer and gay Chicagoan Ken Meverick Ballard died Jan. 11 in his Lake View home at the age of 43. The cause of death is currently unknown. Ballard was born July ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Jeffrey Wayne ("Jef") Morgan
Jeffrey Wayne "Jef" Morgan, of Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack while shoveling snow on Jan. 2. He was 58. Jef was the well-loved manager at Little Jim's on ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Volume 5-SEX!
Title: The Golden Girls: The Lost Episodes, Volume 5 SEX! Playwright: David Cerda At: Hell In a Handbag Productions at the Leather Archives and Museum. Tickets: $27-$45. Runs through: It could almost be the premise for ...

Gay News

'Andersonville Homecoming' Sept. 24-26; line-up, vendors, safety protocols announced
--From a press release - CHICAGO (Sept. 15, 2021) The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is pleased to announce the full entertainment line-up and vendors for Andersonville Homecoming--a three-night, two-day outdoor festival featuring ...

Gay News

Next OUTspoken show Sept. 7
An OUTspoken Storytelling Night taking place Tuesday, Sept. 7, will offer tales told by six people who will relate their stories of fun and fortune from a LGBTQ+ perspective. The entertainment will start at 7 p.m. ...

Gay News

Taste of River North cancelled
On July 29, the River North Residents Association, along with theMART and Duff Entertainment, announced the cancellation of the 2021 edition of Taste of River North. The event was slated to take place Aug. 20-21 at ...

Gay News

OUTspoken storytelling to host six takes from LGBTQ+ perspective
--From a press release - The month of August is hot - but OUTspoken at the Sidetrack will be even hotter on Aug. 3 when six storytellers will tell tales of fun and fortune from a LGBTQ+ perspective! The program will start at 7:00 pm at ...

Gay News

LGBTQIA+ tavern to open in Uptown this fall
2Bears Tavern Group—which owns and operates Andersonville's The SoFo Tap and Meeting House Tavern as well as Rogers Park's Jackhammer—is opening 2Bears Tavern Uptown in the former Nick's on Wilson space at 1140 W. Wilson Ave. ...

Gay News

Pride Parade coordinator provides latest on the 'likely scenario' for event
Tim Frye, the coordinator of the 2021 Pride Parade, told Windy City Times that the assessment of this year's event has not changed over the last few weeks. The official statement/assessment at this point is: "We ...

Gay News

OUTspoken Storytelling to host tales from LGBTQ perspectives Nov. 10
--From a press release - Another exciting OUTspoken Storytelling Night will offer the perspective of four Chicagoans telling life's stories from their LGBTQ+ viewpoint or that of their close friends and relatives, Tuesday, Nov. 10, starting at 7 p.m. on Zoom. ...

Gay News

Arts in the Dark Halloween Parade, this year a drive-through
--From a Chicago Park District press release - CHICAGO: LUMA8, in collaboration with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the Chicago Park District and Presenting Sponsor, the Blommer Chocolate Company, is pleased to announce Arts in the Dark - an UPSIDE ...

Gay News

Nightlines 1990-2001, Nightspots 2001-2015
Throughout the 1990s, Nightlines focused on the LGBTQ entertainment scene, from the bars to the stage and everything in between. With the new millennium came a significant format change as Nightspots focused in on the bar ...

Gay News

PASSAGES Former Northalsted bartender Eric Sangster dies at 37
Northalsted bartender Eric Sangster died Sept. 17 unexpectedly at the age of 37. At the time of this article's publication, Sangster's cause of death is unknown. Sangster was born June 4, 1983, on a Jacksonville, North ...


Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.