Life After IML - May 2007

John with Rick in Minneapolis

April 22nd 2007 - With Rick Storer, the Executive Director of the Leather Archives & Museum, at the Leather Leadership Conference
Photo credit: Dave Harris

During April Dave and I flew to Minneapolis for the 11th Leather Leadership Conference (LLC). The event was extremely well organised and the local organising committee set the standard for future events very high indeed. I was invited to attend as the closing keynote speaker and if you want to read a transcript of my speech please click here. Next year's LLC will be held in San Francisco - so start making plans for April 2008 if you want to attend as a volunteer, presenter or delegate.

It's only a few weeks until the 29th International Mr Leather Contest in Chicago. Up to 15,000 visitors and 60 contestants will descend on the city hoping to enjoy the nightlife and/ or place as high as possible in the contest. If you're a contestant you may wish to read the three columns of advice I wrote in May 2004, July 2004 and March 2005 - I've also put my diary of what it was like to enter IML online here as well.

If you're visiting Chicago one place you should try and visit is the Leather Archives and Museum at 6418 N Greenview Avenue. For over a decade, this vital institution has been researching, archiving and preserving our community history.

During IML weekend the museum will be open daily from Thursday 24th to Tuesday 29th May from 12 noon to 5pm. There will be free shuttle buses from the Palmer House Hilton Hotel from Friday 25th to Monday 28th May. The museum will also have a stand at the IML vendor market where you can buy merchandise, renew your membership and sign a flag which will be become part of the archives. On Friday and Saturday evenings there will be a huge silent auction on the 6th floor of the hotel (you can see a preview of the auctions at Finally their annual general meeting, which is open to everyone, will be held on the 6th floor of the hotel on Saturday 26th May from 11:30am to 1pm.

If that's not enough, here's a list of some of the services the museum provides all year round:

    The LA&M Road Show brings the museum out of Chicago and into fetish communities around the world. Each show is customized to the city and audience where it is mounted. The Road Show includes local fetish history, artifacts from the museum's collections, multimedia displays, a museum store and a portable research center. To find out when the Road Show is coming to you, please visit the Road Show blog. The blog also reports on past exhibits and contains information on how you can book the Road Show for your next event.

    Do you have any items you'd like to donate to the museum one day, but not yet? Does your local leather club have any records, papers or club colours that they're preserving? The LA&M has assembled a booklet with information to help you store all kinds of items so that they keep their value. The information can be downloaded here (3.2 MB in size), or email archives (at) to have a copy sent to you.

    The LA&M offers free licences to use kinky artwork, which can be mailed to you on a CD Rom. Included are some of the best works from Joseph Bean, Etienne, Chuck Arnett, Bill Tellman and David Grieger. These works are not in the public domain. Click here for more information or to download a licence agreement.

    The museum building in Chicago includes the "Etienne Auditorium", which has 164 seats and can be used by groups and individuals at no charge. The auditorium can be booked by downloading a pdf document from here, completing the form and sending it to the museum address.

    There are 4,000 square feet of galleries at the museum itself (6418 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago). Galleries are open every Thursday and Friday from 11am to 7pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Galleries can also be opened by appointment. Galleries are free to members and a 30 day membership can be purchased at the museum for $5.

    The LA&M has provided materials and/ or produced exhibits along with the Museum of Sex in New York City and the San Francisco Public Library. Future cooperative exhibits include an exhibit at Folsom Street Fair in conjunction with the GLBT Historical Society and another exhibit at the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center.

    The museum has compiled a Leather History Timeline, created by Tony DeBlase and updated since then by volunteers. You can see the results here and suggest any missing items by emailing archives (at)

    Just what you need for the leatherman who has everything but still wants another present each birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, housewarming and partnership ceremony! The shop is located in the basement of the museum and is also online.

    You know that old leatherman or woman who's always telling stories about the good old days? Why not stick a tape recorder under their nose and record a story or two for the museum? Volunteers will transcribe and catalogue stories and recollections from leather men and women around the globe. Unfortunately oral histories are useless unless you follow some basic guidelines (such as getting the subject to record their consent for the tape to be sent to the museum and transcribed), so please read these guidelines first.

    The LA&M will evaluate, insure and archive your kinky stuff for future generations. Collections include erotic artwork and photography, club colours, pins and ephemera, leathers and boots worn by leatherfolk, manuscripts, rare books and magazines, oral histories, posters, T-shirts, titleholder vests and sashes, toys and devices, uniforms and clothing, and archival film and video. Materials are stored in a temperature and humidity controlled environment and can be in any language - it's not just a museum for English speakers!
    If you have something you'd like to donate please send an email to archives (at) to check that it's wanted, then download a pdf donation form and complete one form for each item. Finally send the donations and forms to the Leather Archives and Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Ave., Chicago, IL 60626, USA

    The LA&M answers research requests from all over the world. Information can be accessed by visiting the LA&M in person, by telephone (001 773 761 9200) or by email archives (at)
    Email requests are usually answered within 7 days, using volunteer research assistants.
The front of the museum as seen from the road
The front of the museum at 6418 N Greenview Avenue, Chicago
The museum belongs to the whole leather and fetish community and anyone can contribute towards the running costs by becoming a member. Annual memberships start at $30 USD for a non-voting member or $100 USD for a voting member. Please consider joining: click here to sign up online.

For more information contact:
6418 N Greenview Ave, Chicago, IL 60626, USA

Email: archives (at)
Phone: 773 761 9200 (from within USA)

Have fun, look after yourselves and the people you play with.

Best wishes,

John Pendal
International Mr Leather 2003

To my home page To the full index To the next column