I had almost forgotten that this coming weekend, thousands of leather dudes from across the planet will be gathering in Chicago for International Mr. Leather, or “IML” for short.
What’s IML? It is the largest gathering in the United States of the leather-geared clan. Purportedly, the contest is the main event, though most attendees go for other reasons: to meet friends, feel free to strut around a major city all decked out from head to boot in leather, to have sex, and generally have a weekend of fun and debauchery.
Chicago is a great town to visit. There are lots of things to see and do. It is fairly level, so it is quite walkable. Restaurants are great, and the locals are friendly and helpful if you need directions or a recommendation for things to see or places to eat. Public transit works well, and can get you most places — including from the airport to the city for only US$2.25, which is much better than a $50 cab ride.
I wrote a blog post just a few weeks ago that explains my outlook on going to leather events. I think they’re fine if you’re single, sociable, are a night-owl, and don’t mind noise (“music” at various venues or men clomping in boots up and down a hotel hallway in the wee hours of the morning while you’re trying to sleep.)
The LeatherMart at IML is second-to-none, with the variety of vendors and gear to touch, examine, ask questions about, or to buy. There are vendors that sell things that I haven’t the slightest clue what they’re to be used for, and expressions of such wonder don’t fit within the G-rated parameters of this blog … so I will suffice it to say that if you want some kind of sex toy or to try something new, someone will have it.
My partner and I went to IML in 2007. It was interesting, and I am glad that we can say that we went and have an idea what it is like. I enjoyed meeting some guys who I had exchanged messages with about boots, leather, etc., through various on-line activities, but before this blog was born. IML is quite the experience, so if you go, remain open to experience new things, meet new people, and have fun — but by all means, guys, be safe! Sheesh, there is no “cure” for HIV infection, and “the cocktail” is not the answer. Use the head on your shoulders… (wink).
While IML isn’t for my partner and me, there are a lot of guys our age (and older) who attend every year. They love it, and we’re happy for them. It’s not an “age” thing as to why we’re not into IML (or MAL for that matter). My biorhythms don’t fit the IML activity schedule, nor do I have much of an interest in taking a bus to go to some crowded bar — even if it is full of lots of guys in leather.
My commitment to my partner (and vice-versa) drives our complete “disinterest” in activities that you can imagine happen (they actually do happen) behind closed doors among consenting adults. And finally, it costs a lot of money when you add up airfare, nights in an expensive hotel room, meals, drinks, registration, and so forth. Even if we have our own leather gear and don’t want or need to buy another thing, the base cost of going to IML if you don’t live near Chicago is beyond what we’re willing to consider shelling out.
If you ARE going to IML, don’t forget my tutorial on Air Travel with Leather Gear. This experience can help you make the best of your travel, particularly when dealing with airport security and carrying “interesting items” with you.
Life is short: BE SAFE!