IML Diary: January 2004

January 14th to 20th - "Mid-Atlantic Leather 2004", Washington, DC

The White House in Washington DC

Wednesday January 14th - Flew to Washington DC where the temperature was below freezing. Spent Thursday with friends getting over jet lag, being a tourist and taking photos of the White House. I'm not used to this wind chill - it's so cold it hurts any bit of exposed skin!

Friday January 16th - Moved into the Washington Plaza hotel where the Centaur Motorcycle Club were holding their annual Mid-Atlantic Leather weekend. This is one of the largest events on the leather calendar, and I would recommend that next year's IML gets a couple of friends to volunteer as minders. The weekend included both Mid-Atlantic Leather and bootblack contests and lots of fundraising for Brother, Help Thyself.

John with David Kloss, the first IML

Friday January 16th @ 9pm - The judges and contestants were introduced at a press conference, where I also got to spend some time with David Kloss, the first IML (1979) - above.

Afterwards we were meant to do a bar crawl but my jet lag kicked in and I had no choice but to collapse in bed. That was a good thing because we were woken at 7am on Saturday morning to attend an 8am judges breakfast, followed by contestant interviews for the MAL 2004 contest. I'm not sure if sleep deprivation affected the judges' questions but one of the contestants, who claimed to be a trained singer, was asked to sing the phrase: "If I was a baboon's arse" in his best operatic voice.

Jeff Nowak and Bill Mitchell in formal wear at leather cocktails

Saturday January 17th @ 6:30pm - Several hundred men and women dressed in their best leathers to attend "leather cocktails". Here are Jeff Nowak (American Leatherboy 2003) and Bill Mitchell (American Leatherman 2003) in their formal wear.
An ice sculpture at the leather cocktails event
A Centaur ice scuplture at the end of Leather Cocktails.

Saturday January 17th (continued) - My over-riding memory of the MAL weekend is hundreds of people coming up to me saying: "Do you remember me?", "Do you remember me?", "Do you remember me?", "Do you remember me?", "Do you remember me?" ... After four and a half hours of drinking vodka cocktails I'm afraid that my responses became less and less patient, ending with: "Tell me the month and city where we met! This is not meant to be a memory test!!!" (But if that was you, then I apologise.) [grin]
Brett Parsons, a member of the REAL POLICE

Sunday January 18th @ 11am - Brunch and then the Mid-Atlantic Leather contest. I spoke early on and next up was Brett Parson from the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. His speech was much funnier than mine, especially when he unveiled the new Police uniform to make them more distinctive at leather events.
The Mid-Atlantic Leather contestants onstage

Sunday January 18th (continued) - The contest ran for four hours with six contestants (above). Highlights included the opening fantasy number, which had a "Stargate SG-1" theme, and Alvin York's emotional step-down speech. There's a report with more pictures on the Metro Weekly website.

The winner was "Tug" Taylor from New Haven, Connecticut. If you meet Tug, make sure you ask him to recount his most bizarre sexual experience. It's a fantastic story and he insists that it's true.

January 21st to 26th - "Mr Texas Leather Weekend" Dallas, Texas

John in downtown Dallas, Texas

Wednesday January 21st - Flew to Dallas to stay with Sebastian, whom I'd met at Leather University last October, and his partner Elmer. Only one slight hitch on the way: my newly polished Ranger boots set off the bomb detection equipment at Dulles airport and security staff wanted to confiscate them. I had to get out my IML medal and beg!

Dallas is full of big men, big trucks and a mix of old and new buildings (above). Wednesday night I attended a Cigar Club meeting at the Dallas Eagle, and Thursday night I returned for "Big Mens Club and Bears Night".

A huge model eagle which hangs inside the Dallas Eagle
An enormous model eagle hangs from the ceiling of the Dallas Eagle.

Friday January 23rd @ 7:30pm - Attended the opening of Woody's, a new sports bar in Dallas run by the owners of the Dallas Eagle.

At 10pm Sebastian and I raced back to the Eagle in time for a raffle to benefit the AIDS Services of Dallas and the Spanner Trust. The team of ticket sellers worked really hard measuring out strips of tickets (from crotch to floor) and raised a record total for Friday nights.

The winner and judges from the Mr Texas Leather Contest

Saturday January 24th - Spent the morning interviewing both contestants for the Mr Texas Leather contest. The judges went to Big Al's BBQ for a HUGE lunch. I've noticed that my waistline has increased by an inch every day that I've been in Texas. Maybe this is why all the men are so big... Returned to the Eagle in the evening for the contest.

Above L to R: Mark Frazier (one of the Eagle owners), me, Ken Fiegel (Mr Texas Leather 2003), Steven Weber (IML 2002), and contest winner Rick Iber (Mr Texas Leather 2004) holding his winner's patch and surrounded by the rest of the judges.

A Longhorn cow in Fort Worth, Texas

Sunday January 25th - Visited the Fort Worth Stockyards and saw some longhorn cattle. Then dragged my new Texan tummy over to the The Corral Club to meet the Cowtown Leathermen and sample their chili cook-off. This meant eating a portion of every chili in the competition, and then going back and having another bowl of the chili you liked the most. (This was how you cast your vote.) I flew home to London on Monday January 26th and it took a month to get my abs flat again.
John with Roland, a painter from Gran Canaria
Photo credit: Dave Harris

Thursday January 29th - Our friend, Roland, visited London to deliver a painting inspired by my IML win. He managed to get my skin the correct shade of blue but I've no idea which bodybuilder he based the torso on!

Roland works as a painter and masseur in Gran Canaria under the name "Kumo Ki" and you can see his artwork at (NB: this website is very graphics intensive).

John with Mr Hoist 2004 Contest winners
Photo credit: Dave Harris

Saturday January 31st - The Mr Hoist 2004 contest was held at The Hoist London. It was a huge success as record numbers squeezed into the club to watch 18 contestants vie for the title and a £750 cash prize. The winner was decided by crowd vote and at 12:30am Matt Edge was crowned the new Mr Hoist. I spent the rest of the evening explaining to Europeans that I still had four months of my main title left to go. (IML has a very low profile over here.)

Above L to R: 2nd runner up, 1st runner up, Matt Edge (Mr Hoist 2004) and me (Mr Hoist 2003/ IML 2003).

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