IML Diary: April 2004

March 31st to April 7th - "Leather Leadership Conference", New Orleans, LA

The entrance of St Louis airport at dawn
The entrance of St Louis airport hotel at dawn.

Wednesday March 31st - Spent 3 days and 2 nights travelling to New Orleans for the Leather Leadership Conference. I offered to fly standby because it's an educational event with no budget for travel expenses, not realising that it was 'Spring Break' weekend and all the flights would be full. Spent time at Heathrow, JFK, La Guardia and St Louis airport on the way in the same clothes, because once your bags have been checked in you don't see them again until you reach your final destination.

John giving a presentation at LLC
Photo credit: Steve Lenius

Saturday April 3rd - The Leather Leadership Conference moves to a different US city each year and is an excellent place to learn new skills from an American point of view. I co-presented a session on Saturday with Steve Lenius on "International Leather Perspectives" (above) and sat on a panel on Sunday morning discussing "Separatism, Pansexuality and Political Power".
The group of five people who won a meal out with John in an auction

Sunday April 4th - After the conference I stayed with the owners of Cowpokes for a couple of days, so that I could be a tourist and see more of New Orleans. I went to the Phoenix leather bar most nights and also allowed myself to be auctioned to raise money for the Spanner Trust. I had a wonderful fish dinner with the auction winners (above) at the Upperline Restaurant. L to R: Amy, Glenda, Arthur, Lolita and Dossie.

April 7th to 11th - "Mr Chicago Leather", Chicago, IL

Photoshoot for 'O Leathers'

Wednesday April 7th - Flew to Chicago to emcee the Mr Chicago Leather weekend at Touché. Went straight from the airport to see Brett, who was making the outfit for my IML stepdown. On Friday I returned with a friend, Jed from Chicago (above), for a photoshoot of some of Brett's clothes.
John with Chuck, Chuck and David, the Mr Chicago Leather organisers

Thursday April 8th - Had a meeting at Touché with the three contest organisers: Chuck, Chuck and David (above). They are very friendly guys and very keen to put on an enjoyable evening. No pressure then!

Friday April 9th - the leather weekend started with a Meet & Greet. I introduced the 5 judges and 5 contestants to the crowd and stayed chatting until 2am. Very pleased that a group of friends from St Louis turned up to show their support.

John with the Mr Chicago Leather contestants
Photo credit: Chuck Goes

Saturday April 10th - Spent the day writing my script. The contest ran from 10pm to midnight in four parts and I had a lot of fun being the emcee. At one point we had a roll call of NON-titleholders and 12 people came up on stage. They received a HUGE round of applause.

The winner of Mr Chicago Leather was a firefighter called JoeE (above with the other contestants), who qualified for a place at IML 2004 just 7 weeks later.

April 12th to 27th - Home in London, UK

After three weeks of travelling I finally made it back home - and David, my partner, was sent on a business trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles! I kept myself occupied attending meetings of the Spanner Trust, SM Gays, going to the Hoist and redecorating our bedroom. (There are fewer arguments if I choose the final colour while he's away. It's now a very butch and restful shade of green.)

April 28th to May 3rd - "CLAW", Cleveland, OH

Bob Miller and Dennis McMahon, CLAW organisers
Photo credit: Jim Vopat

Wednesday April 28th - Flew to Cleveland for an annual event called CLAW, organised by Dennis McMahon and Bob Miller (above). CLAW is described as "0% contest, 100% fundraising, 100% fun". Spent the first two days getting over jet-lag and helping with last minute preparations.
Family Feud Gameshow, IML team versus International LeatherSIR/ boy team

Friday April 30th - The festivities began at 6pm with a "Welcome to Cleveland" party at the hotel. This included a gameshow called "Family Feud" in the US ("Family Fortunes" in the UK) between an IML team (above) and an International LeatherSIR/ boy team. I was on the IML team, of course. I'm not one to brag, but I don't remember the other side scoring any points at all...? After the gameshow we began a bar crawl with a trip to the Leather Stallion Saloon.
John being interviewed by Douglas Connors

Saturday May 1st @ 11am - I was interviewed by Douglas Connors, my fellow IML classmate and editor of Northern Sash. The interview was held in front of an audience and also videotaped for the Leather Archives & Museum (LA&M). In the afternoon there were field trips for those that had the energy, to a sports game or the Rock and Roll hall of fame.
Robert Davolt, author of 'Painfully Obvious'

Saturday May 1st @ 4pm - There was a presentation on "Leather Myths and Mysteries" by Robert Davolt. He's a columnist on and author of Painfully Obvious. It was a thought provoking session and essential listening for anyone interested in the history of the leather community.
Stephen Blackwell and John wearing their outfits for the stage auction

Saturday May 1st @ 6:30pm - Leather Family dinner, sponsored by the Chicago Hellfire Club. Followed by a big auction party and stageshow at Metropolis nightclub. Unfortunately my outfit for the auction wasn't quite what I was expecting, and I ended up having to go out in public wearing green latex shorts and tank-top...
Six titleholders enjoying Sunday night at Bounce nightclub

Sunday May 2nd - We all gathered for a leather brunch when it was announced that Alan Selby, one of the pillars of the leather community, had died. It put a sombre tone to an otherwise fun weekend. In the evening we gathered at Union Square for dinner, followed by entertainment acts in Bounce nightclub next door. Pictured above L to R: Donald Dotson (1st runner up IML 2003), Stephen Blackwell (2nd runner up IML 2003), David Kloss (IML '79) and his husband Remi Collette (soon to be 1st runner up IML 2004), Juan Zazueta (Int'l Deaf Leather 2003) and me (IML 2003). Phew!

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