Mid-Atlantic Leather, the leather and fetish conference held over Martin Luther King Weekend in Washington, D.C. has become a bit of an “off to the races,” gun shot preceding International Mr. Leather, the largest leather and fetish conference and competition in the world. There, between MAL’s own events including dance parties, the competition, and meet ups, IML hosts a kick off events and the announcement of important changes, the year’s slate of judges, as well a preview of some of the contestants.
“One of the changes this year, beginning with IML 41, is that those that are in the hotel will need to be a registered guest with the hotel or have a weekend pass to enter the hotel,” Roger Schneid, an IML organizer said at the annual press announcement Saturday afternoon. This year’s event will be held May 23-27. “This is to ensure that our IML guests have not only a fun time, but a safe time at the event.”
Hosted at The Congress Plaza in Chicago, Illinois, IML held its 40th anniversary last year, the first after the death of event founder Chuck Renslow. That year the competition boasted not only the biggest titleholder class, with 71 contestants for IML and 4 contestants for International Mr. Bootblack (a closely affiliated sash partner that hosts its contest in conjunction with IML) but also the biggest presence from the European leather communities in the event’s history. This year organizers expect for a strong turn out as well with 42 titleholders already committed (at least two with newly minted titles like Mr. North Carolina Triangle Leather and Mr. Alabama Leather, who is also Mr. Third Coast Leather), with more on the way. But, IML has become a marquee event, with thousands of people traveling to Chicago for it, many heading to the host hotel without purchasing a pass to mingle. IML’s new rule will end that, requiring all to at least pay a fee for entering in the hotel.
Attendees can either buy a $35 weekend pass to the hotel that allows you to enter the hotel but does not give entry to any events, one of the select weekend packages, or one of the daily access passes. According to the website, day passes and Leather Mart passes will only allow access up to 7PM daily. Reservations for The Congress Plaza as well as weekend packages can be bought on the event's website.
The schedule will also host its first-ever Leather Bear Stampede dance party on Saturday (“I think the name speaks for itself”); Flashback, an event, that debuted last year featuring a retrospective of IML/IMBB 2018 James Lee and Lucky Rebel; as well as a new venue. The weekend will host the opening ceremony Thursday, May 23 in Venue SIX10, a new, nearby location. But Saturday and Sunday contest events will remain at Auditorium Theater.
“The contestants for IMBB 2019 will join the top 20 [IML contestants] for speech on Sunday night,” Jeremy Morris, an organizer said. “What this does is means we get to keep all of our contestants together and highlight our bootblacks from the mainstage Sunday night.” The change is a latest in a string of announcements from IMBB over the past two years that will further integrate their competitors into the spotlight alongside IML.
Below are the announced judges from IML 2019 and IMBB 2019 as well as the Tallymasters for both events.
For IMBB: Current IMBB Lucky Rebel, Founder of Le Chateau Exotique, Joyce Berger, and International Ms Bootblack 2019 who will be announced in April.
For IML: Current IML James Lee, Leather Daddy Ian Allan, John Ponce, David Katzenberg, Daddy Faye Foltz, Thay “Master” Z, Preston “wexx” So, Don Leach, Todd White
Tallymasters: Pup Vidhra and Bootblack Zach