International Mr. Leather slated for May 21-25

Wed. March 18, 2009 12:00 AM

international mr. leather 2008 gary iriza

photo credit // bullmanx
Chicago, IL - More than 50 contestants from across the U.S. and around the world will compete for the title of International Mr. Leather 2009, Thursday, May 21 through Monday, May 25, 2009 (Memorial Day Weekend) in Chicago. IML is pleased to announce an exciting new location for this year's contest: The Chicago Hilton, 720 S. Michigan Ave. The Chicago Hilton is also the host hotel for the weekend. "Madame With An E" will be the headline entertainment at this year's Contest, along with some surprise guest. Madame from "Hollywood Squares and Madame's Place, is back and in rare form.

IML is proud to continue two of its newest traditions: the IML Flag and the Parade of Colors. The IML Flag will be unveiled at Opening Ceremonies, then displayed at the Leather Archives Booth in the Leather Market throughout the weekend for all IML attendees to sign. After the Contest this year's winners will be the last to add their signatures to the Flag, before it goes on permanent display at the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago. The Parade of Colors will be held at the Pecs & Personalityshow on Saturday evening.

About 400 gay leathermen gathered in Chicago in 1979 for the first International Mr. Leather contest. Today, the event has grown to be an annual tradition for the leather community – drawing contestants and attendees from around the globe. Once an event for "hardcore" leathermen, IML has expanded in recent years to include a more diverse crowd – from the experienced to the curious. Last year's event drew more than 15,000 leatherfolk from around the globe.

International Mr. Leather 2009 will include the following events:

31st Annual International Mr. Leather Competition
Sunday, May 24 at 5 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.)
The Chicago Hilton, International Ballroom, 720 South Michigan Ave, Chicago

17h Annual International Mr. Bootblack Competition
Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24
Chicago Hilton, Leather Market

The Leather Market – the world's best collection of leather and fetish vendors.
Friday, May 22 from 12 – 7 p.m., Saturday, May 23 from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., Sunday, May 24 from
11 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Monday, May 25 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Chicago Hilton, Lower Level Exhibit Halls

IML Opening Ceremonies
Introduction of contestants and judges, drawing for contestant numbers and unveiling of the IML 2009 Flag.
Thursday, May 21 at 9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Chicago Hilton, International Ballroom

Pecs & Personality (Physique Competition)
IML Contestants are judged on their appearance and stage presence.
Saturday, May 23 at 9 p.m. (doors open at 8 p.m.)
Chicago Hilton, International Ballroom

IML Victory Celebration Party
Sunday, May 24 after the IML Contest until 4 a.m.
House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, Chicago

Black and Blue Ball
The traditional IML final blowout celebration.
Monday, May 25 from 8 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Excalibur, 632 N. Dearborn St., Chicago

All IML 2009 events are signed interpreted for the hearing impaired.

International Mr. Leather contestants are judged on a variety of criteria including community involvement, speech, presentation and overall presence. The winner of the IML 2009 Contest will receive a prize package consisting of donations from businesses and organizations supporting the leather community. A complete listing of current and past IML contestants can be found at Frank Norwicki and Lenny Broberg host the 2009 International Mr. Leather Competition.

Gary Iriza, Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2008, was named International Mr. Leather 2008, winning over a field of 52 contestants from six countries, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Bob Firth-Tessier, M. Cuir Montreal 2008, was named 1st runner-up. Scott Melton, Mr. Ramrod 2007, was named 2nd runner-up.

The 2009 International Mr. Leather Judges include: Dr. Lawrence Burden (Los Angeles, CA), Mindy Chateauvert ( Washington, DC), Jack Darnell (Anchorage, AK), Mark Fernstrum ( Rehoboth, DE), Gary Iriza (Los Angeles, CA), Peter Kincheloe (Toronto, Cananda), Ray Lamb (Germany), Eric Lawrence (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), and Kevin McGraw (Cincinnati, OH). The 2009 IML Tally Masters include: George Brown (Chicago, IL) and Master Z (Chicago, IL).

The 17th Annual International Mr. Bootblack Competition will be held Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24 in the Leather Market at The Chicago Hilton. The winner will be selected by the vote of IML Weekend Package-holders. Each paid weekend package includes a ballot for the competition that can be cast for the bootblack of the holder's choice. The winner will be announced at the International Mr. Leather Competition on Sunday, May 24. Bootdog, of the Alameda County Leather Corps in Castro Valley, CA, was awarded International Mr. Bootblack 2008.

The Leather Market, located at The Chicago Hilton, will feature the world's biggest collection of leather/fetish vendors. More than 15,000 people visited the Leather Market in 2008. Admission to the Leather Market is included with all Weekend Packages. For all other visitors, a suggested donation of $4.00 will benefit The Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago. The $4.00 Day Pass can be purchased at The Chicago Hilton throughout the weekend.

IML 2009 Weekend Event Packages will cost for the Gold Package $195.00, Silver Package $180.00, and the Bronze Package $165.00 and will include: Reserve seating to the International Mr. Leather 2009 competition, admission to all other official IML events (Opening Ceremonies, Physique Competition, IML Victory Celebration Party and the Black and Blue Ball), free admission to the Leather Market, free shuttle bus service, an official IML 2009 t-shirt and poster plus special yearly giveaways. Weekend Packages will be available for pickup or purchase in the IML Registration area beginning Thursday, May 21.

Tickets to individual IML 2009 events will be sold at the Chicago Hilton throughout IML Weekend. Single ticket prices are as follows: International Mr. Leather Competition ($40), IML Opening Ceremonies ($25), Pecs & Personality ($25), and Black and Blue Ball ($25). Please note: Single tickets to the IML Victory Celebration Party ($60) are only available through the House of Blues, by calling (312) 923-2000.

The 31st annual International Mr. Leather Weekend will be held May 21 - 25, 2009 (Memorial Day Weekend). The Chicago Hilton, 720 South Michigan Ave., will be the official host hotel of IML 2009. Hotel reservations can be made on the official IML website at or by calling 1-800-HILTONS or (312)922-4400. Weekend packages can be purchased online at or by calling (800) 494-TIX. Updates on International Mr. Leather 2009 will be posted frequently on the official IML website.

For more information on International Mr. Leather 2009, log on to the official IML website, or call 773-907-9700.