IML Diary: October 2003

October 2nd to 6th - Hamburg, Germany

The Cap San Diego cargo ship
Photo credit: Udo Molzer

Thursday October 2nd - Flew to Hamburg for the European Confederation of Motorsport Clubs (ECMC) AGM weekend, which was organised by MSC Hamburg.

The first night I was taken out for dinner by the friendly guys from Moto Leather Club Veneto (MLCV). The highlight of the weekend was the Mr Leather Europe Contest, which was held on a decommissioned cargo ship called the Cap San Diego (above). The contest was emceed in Germand and English by Axel Teschke "Mr German Leather 2001" and his partner Andreas.

John with Mr Leather Europe contestants
Photo credit: Udo Molzer

Saturday October 4th - The Mr Leather Europe Contest had six contestants from Germany, Iceland, Italy and Sweden (pictured above, along with Fernando Manzali "Mr Leather Europe 2002" and me).

There was no jury, but every member of the crowd had a voting slip to nominate their favourite. I was invited to give a short speech about the work of the Leather Archives and Museum during the contest.

The 3 winners celebrate
Photo credit: Udo Molzer

Saad Hasson from Sweden won the contest, pictured above with first runner up Olaf Olafsson from Iceland and 2nd runner up Thomas Schoch from Switzerland. Saad was born in Baghdad and fled Iraq during the 1991 war.

After winning the title he gave a very emotional speech thanking the crowd and saying that he wanted to work "to unite men of the Middle East with the global leather community". Other events were held during the weekend at many gay bars and clubs in Hamburg, including Chaps Bar and Tom's Saloon.

October 8th to 21st - Florida, USA, including "Leather University"

John wearing a CLAW hat

Next I flew to St Petersburg, Fla. for Int'l LeatherSIR/ boy weekend. I met Bob Miller there, from CLAW (Cleveland Leather Annual Weekend). Bob noticed me wearing a CLAW baseball cap and asked for a publicity photo (above). Told him I intend to wear it to every event this year ... and then left the cap in Miami 9 days later!
Don by a ficus

Sunday 12th October - Flew from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale for a week of appearances. For the first four days I stayed with friends in Pompano Beach, who took me to a nature reserve where for the first time in my life I saw racoons, spiders as big as your hand and a ficus (above).

Wednesday 15th October - A night of signing photos and meeting customers at the Jackhammer Bar, where the South Florida Bondage Club was also giving demos.

John with Bearman at Leatherwerks

Thursday 16th October - Visited Leatherwerks store and met the owner, Bear Man (above). Bear Man is one of the driving forces behind Leather University, which was the primary reason for my trip to Fort Lauderdale.

In the evening I had a meal with some of the Leather University participants who'd arrived early. Later I assisted with the weekly "Battle of the Bulge" contest at the Ramrod Bar.

John as a demo model at Leather University
Photo credit: Dave Barker

Friday 17th October - Checked in to the hotel where Leather University was taking place. This was a fabulous weekend and one of my favourite events of the year so far.

It's an annual BDSM educational event dressed up to sound like a University. So the teachers (whom I'd seen playing at other events but had been too afraid to approach before) were called "faculty", the final dinner was called "graduation" and if you'd attended L.U. for 4 years you were handed a "diploma".

That's me "flying" in the photo (above) - I'll leave you to guess what class I was taking, but it's not "ways to impress your osteopath".

Spo being lifted up during the suspension class
Photo credit: Dave Barker

Sunday 19th October - Why was Leather University such a fun event? The quality of teaching was excellent. It's produced by gay men and lesbians yet everyone was welcome to come and participate. Classes ranged across many BDSM subjects from beginner to advanced, both mixed and single sex, with a chance to do homework outside the classes.

I had several prejudices challenged during the weekend, which is always a good thing. I felt very safe because the tutors weren't going to go to extremes with a class full of students watching.

We also got to practise on SPO "International Deaf Leather 2001" and his interpreter Bill in the suspension class (above).

the Leather University faculty

This year was the 8th Leather University, but the first time that they'd had a Bootblack Track. I was lucky enough to have my boots polished by Black from Toronto and Richie Chameroy "International Mr Bootblack 2003".

The graduation meal included an auction for charity, led by faculty member Mitch Herman. (Somehow I wound up being carried over Mitch's shoulder for part of the auction - if anyone has any pictures of this moment please email them to john (at)

After dinner there was time for official photographs, including group shots of the faculty (above), and more socialising but I was whisked back to the Ramrod Bar to be a judge at the Mr Ramrod Contest.

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