By John Quinn
CHICAGO – The Hyatt Regency Chicago will play host to International Mr. Leather 2005, Thursday, May 26 through Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day Weekend). From its founding as an event for “hardcore” leathermen, IML has expanded to attract a wider audience – men and women alike. The event is an annual tradition for the leather community, drawing contestants and attendees from around the globe.
IML has announced a new venue for this year’s contest – the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. The contest is Sunday, May 29, starting at 5 p.m. Representing Metro Detroit in the IML Contest are Craig Anderson, Mr. Detroit Eagle 2005; Mark Ely, Mr. Leather Michigan 2005 (sponsored by the R & R Saloon); and Dan Reed, Mr. Leather Cowboy (sponsored by Diamond Jim’s Saloon). Winner of the 2004 contest was Jason Hendrix, Mr. DC Eagle.
IML contestants are judged on a variety of criteria including community involvement, speech, presentation and overall presence. The winner of the IML 2005 Contest will receive a prize package consisting of donations from businesses and organizations supporting the leather community.
In addition to the contest and parties at the host hotel, IML 2005 includes the Leather Market in the Lower Level of the Hyatt. This market is not your local Wal-Mart; over 200 leather and fetish vendors are on hand through the weekend. The Leather Market saw more than 13,000 visitors in 2004.
Capping the weekend are two big activities at club venues. The IML Victory Celebration Party is Sunday, May 29 after the IML Contest at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn. Former Detroiter Bill Bennett is DJ this year. Excalibur hosts the Black and Blue Ball, the traditional IML final blowout, on Monday, May 30 with DJ Matthew Harvat.