Memorial Day weekend heats up with IML, Grabbys and Bear Pride

Fri. May 26, 2017 12:06 PM by News Staff

Chicago will be heating up this Memorial Day weekend as thousands of leathermen, adult stars and bears descend on the city for International Mr. Leather (IML), the Grabbys and Bear Pride.

International Mr. Leather 2017

Now in its 39th year, International Mr. Leather (IML) comes around once a year to crown new titleholders and brings with it nearly 20,000 to downtown Chicago for a celebration of everything leather and fetish. This year's IML is taking over the Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave., the center for all things leather over long holiday weekend.

IML weekend is filled with conventions, workshops, and parties all celebrating a shared love of leather, rubber, sports gear, pup play, and much more. All the events are organized around the annual competition to crown International Mr. Leather as well as the newer International Mr. Bootblack.

This year, IML opened on Thursday - one day earlier - to offer five full days of non-stop events. The Congress Hotel plays host to most of the weekend's activities. Check out the San Francisco Party in the Florentine Ballroom on Friday. The Pecs and Personality event, where hopefuls will strut their stuff to show off their physiques, stage presence and public speaking abilities, is Saturday at Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, beginning at 8 p.m. Contestants reconvene on Sunday for the International Mr. Leather Contest at 6 p.m.

These events aside, however, nothing says IML like the annual Leather Market, hosted again this year at the Congress Plaza Hotel between two enormous convention halls. Featuring over 120 vendors from across the U.S., the Market offers an amazing assortment of leather and fetish goods and an even more amazing opportunity for people watching. Those not holding an IML weekend pass will need a Day Pass to enter, with the $15 donation going to Chicago's Leather Archives and Museum. The Leather Market opens at 11 a.m. during the weekend, closing at 7 p.m. on Saturday, 5 p.m. on Sunday, and 4 p.m. on Monday.

After the new International Mr. Leather is crowned on Sunday, the crowd will flock, per tradition, to the House of Blues, 329 N Dearborn, for the Victory Celebration featuring DJ Eddie Martinez. The favorite IML closing event, Black & Blue Ball, returns to Sound-Bar, 226 W Ontario, on Monday.

Check out the IML 2017 events | Miguel Torres' official IML Guide 


Memorial Day Weekend also means your favorite adult stars are flocking to Chicago for the annual Grabbys Award Show, hosted by Grab Magazine. Come see some of the hottest names in the industry as they announce this year's best top, twink and more. The 2017 Grabbys return to The Metro, 3730 N Clark, for a show hosted by Chi Chi LaRue and Honey West on Saturday. 

"The Grabbys are a chance to meet and mingle with some of your favorite fantasy men," said Stacy Bridges, editor for Grab Magazine.

A host of events surrounds the Grabbys, most of them with special appearances and performances from the weekend's nominees. On Friday night Boomer Banks, Jake Bass, Cody Cummings, Topher Dimaggio, Brent Corrigan, Trenton Ducati and Liam Riley take over Progress Bar, 3359 N. Halsted for the Fleshjack 10th Anniversary Party. After Saturday's event, join your favorite stars at Debauchery, the the official Grabby's 2016 Afterparty at Charlie's, 3726 N Broadway. Round out your weekend at the Official Grabbys Closing Party at Sidetrack, 3349 N. Halsted, on Monday with the chance to win a date with a star. 

Check out the weekend events | Interview with Brent Corrigan


For many years bears and their fans from across the country and even around the world have gathered in Chicago for a weekend of fellowship and fun.

This year, the event is paired down; however, a group of local businesses - Andersonville Brewing Company, Hamburger Mary's, Mary's Attic, The Call and Touche - have joined forces to present what is hoped to become a new tradition for bears over the Memorial Day weekend.

Check out these events for Chicago Bearfest 2017