Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 17 / 27 April 2017
 

Celebrating Leather Women

Leather


All past and present winners of International Ms. Leather and International Ms. Bootblack who were in attendance at this past weekend's contest. Patty, IMsL 2014 (front row, second from right), and Dara, IMsBB 2014 (front row, far right), are quoted in this week's column. photo: Shilo McCabe
Print this Page
Send to a Friend
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on MySpace!
ADVERTISMENT

This past weekend the International Ms. Leather and International Ms. Bootblack (IMsL/IMsBB) Contest Weekend took place in San Jose. The contest is the centerpiece of the weekend, but the producers and volunteers offer attendees a host of things to do including dozens of educational intensives and workshops, various shows and entertainment, vendor area, play space, communal meals, speeches, silent auction, bootblack lounge, hospitality parties, and more.

I was only able to attend the event on Saturday, but I asked dozens of the people there for the entire weekend how they were enjoying themselves. To the one, everyone reported having a great time with a consistent theme of enjoying the many connections and re-connections with friends, old and new, that takes place annually at this iconic event.

No numbers were given to me, but from what I could tell by scanning the crowds in the common areas and at the contest, attendance appears to have been up this year. I also noticed a larger number of men than in past years. Clearly the weekend is drawing not only hundreds of women from around the world, but also many supportive men.

Event organizers also crunched the age data on attendees this year and the average age was down. This suggests the weekend is appealing to a wider age range including younger newcomers to the scene.

For me, this is a great example of an event focused on a specific kink demographic (leather women) that also embraces the entire gender, age and orientation spectrum. I always try to be respectful of the various segments of our scene having their own spaces, but I've always felt welcome at this event.

I overhead many compliments from those in attendance on how well the weekend and contest was run. Let me add my congratulations to the producers, production team and volunteers for planning well and being organized, all the while keeping it classy. You did a great job.

The contestants in the contest are judged on a specific set of criteria.

IMsL contestants are judged on a personal interview and short teaching presentation (40 points), hotwear and pop question (10 points), fantasy performance (20 points), and speech and formal wear (20 points).

IMsBB contestants are judged on technical knowledge and skill (30 points), a personal interview (30 points), pop question and bootblack image (10 points), and speech and formal wear (20 points).

There are also additional aspects to the judging for this contest that I really like and that set it apart from many other leather contests.

I was told by Sharrin Spector, the Executive Producer for the weekend, that contestants are given a set of prescribed deliverables and corresponding deadlines well ahead of the contest weekend. Judges are given a report on how well the contestants abide by these requirements.

Also, contestants need to create auction item tables that reflect who they are, their community and those who support them. To up the ante a bit, the contestants can't set up the table themselves, but must instead arrange for two others to do so, thereby demonstrating their planning and delegation skills.

I think these unique aspects to the judging help to ensure that judges see many aspects of a contestant's character, skill set and background.

International Ms. Bootblack 2017 first runner up, Micky Rebel, and winner, Elisa. International Ms. Leather 2017 winner, Girl Complex, and first runner up, Stela D. Love. photo: Teegan the Bootblack

Returning as MCs for the weekend and the contest were Bubblinsugare and Tristan Taormino, who did masterful jobs.

Competing for IMsL 2017 this year were Mina Hart, Stela D. Love, Thomas, Alaina, Goddess Moon O'Neal, Janet and Girl Complex.

Judging the IMsL contestants were Sarge (Head Judge), Lydia Joie Divine, Mark Frazier, Schon, Tina Horn, and Viviane.

Competing for IMsBB 2017 this year were xiaoyi, Elisa, Beau Korvin Black, Bootblack Nona, Micky Rebel and Random.

Judging the IMsBB contestants were slave tabitha (Head Judge), Erick Joseph and Tyesha Best.

Making sure that all the scores added up properly were Tallymasters Phillip Wolf and Counselor Ochumaré ONYX.

After two days of a highly competitive contest, the winners were announced at the end of the Saturday portion of the contest. Atop the IMsL podium were two of the Bay Area's own. International Ms. Leather 2017 is Girl Complex. First runner up is Stela D. Love.

"Winning IMsL has been a super emotional experience," said Girl Complex. "I am still in complete shock that I am the current IMsL, and I really love the sound of hearing My Bootblack."

The IMsBB 2017 winner is Elisa with the first runner up being Micky Rebel.

The My Bootblack to which Girl Complex is referring is of course the winner of IMsBB 2017, Elisa, who offered this after winning.

"I'm so honored and excited to serve as your International Ms. Bootblack for 2017," she said. "The IMsBB title has an immense and strong history and I'm honored to continue that legacy. I'm so excited to accomplish so much this year with my IMsL, Girl Complex. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement throughout this weekend. My heart was filled with your love."

So, that's a bit about the weekend and the contest, but I wanted to get input about IMsL/IMsBB, the weekend, the contest and the titles from some seasoned insiders. I wanted to get to the heart of why this weekend and contest is so special to so many.

Since the weekend is first and foremost meant to serve those who attend, I wanted to know what were considered the event's best aspects.

Dara, IMsBB 2014, summed up nicely the sentiments I gleaned from many I talked to.

"The IMsBB/IMsL weekend offers a wide range of opportunities for sex, play, education and entertainment," Dara said. "From Seduction on Thursday, till closing down the dungeon at midnight on Sunday night, it's a non-stop, full-bore three days of sensual delights."

Dara's title year partner, Patty, IMsL 2014, offered a similar assessment.

"For me, what's exciting is there really is something for everyone – classes, fun contest, parties, dungeon space for women, men, and mixed... it's all there! Not to mention it really is very much one big family reunion."

Lamalani, International Ms. Leather 2009.
photo: Rich Stadtmiller

Lots of discussion takes place within our scene about the pros and cons of contests and titles.

Here's what Lamalani, IMsL 2009, said about why titles are important.

"Titles are important because the visibility of leather people, especially leather people of color, can give access for someone new to BDSM to explore their desires," she said. "Title visibility creates an opening for someone to ask questions or seek resources from someone who is safe."

Dara offered this reason.

"The titleholder, in this case the International Ms. Bootblack and International Ms. Leather titles, become a focus for a full matrix of exchanges in the women's community, queer spaces, BDSM and leather spaces."

Regarding the overall IMsL/IMsBB weekend itself, Patty highlighted its importance and relevance to our communities.

"I think it is vital for there to be a space for women (and I mean all women) and those who support us to gather and celebrate the uniqueness that we bring to the community. I also think the IMsBB part of the weekend and title pair is important because it specifically brings visibility to the role of women bootblacks in our community, something which none of the other bootblack titles do in a focused way."

PaddleDaddy.com was one of the many kink retailers at the IMsL/IMsBB weekend’ vendor area. Photo: Muffin

Finally, Lamalani said this on why this event is so important.

"IMsL/IMsBB provides a gathering space where leather people of all genders can learn skills, discuss current issues in kink communities, and play. Most importantly, it gives people an opportunity to interact and experience leather community."

That wraps up another IMsL/IMsBB weekend and contest for another year. If you've never attended, I hope this report energizes you to consider making it part of your plans for next year. Visit the weekend's site for more information: www.imsl.org.

Race Bannon is a local author, blogger and activist. You can reach him on his website, www.bannon.com.

 

 

Leather Events, April 28 – May 14, 2017

There's always a lot going on in the San Francisco Bay Area for leather and other kinksters.

Fri 28

Exiles Program @ Center for Sex and Culture

What Does Leather Mean To You? - LeatherWomen of Yesterday & Today. Join the Exiles following IMSL weekend as they navigate this relevant subject in an inter-generational panel facilitated by Ms. Cat. Panelists include: Beth Downey, Carol Queen, Isabella, Jessie, Madame Estrella, Sarafina Maraschino and Unicorn boy. 1349 Mission St., 7:30-10:15pm. www.theexiles.org

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Mon 1

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Fri 5

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Fri 5 – Sun 7

Woof Camp Weekend

Event for pups and Handlers. Advance registration required. www.sfk9unit.org

Mon 8

Ride Mondays @ Eros

A motorcycle rider and leathermen night at Eros, bring your helmet, AMA card, MC club card or club colors and get $3 off entry or massage. 2051 Market St. www.erossf.com

Single Tail 101 with Bill B. @ Eros

This class will cover single-tail whip construction, safety, basic throws, how to develop control and skill, and how to use a whip in kink play. If you have a short (3-4 foot) single tail whip, bring it. A few loaner whips will be available. Safety glasses, long sleeves, gloves and hats are strongly recommended. 2051 Market St., 7:30-9:30pm. www.erossf.com

Wed 10

Golden Shower and Naked Buddies @ Blow Buddies

A men's water sports night, Golden Shower Buddies, $15 with membership, 933 Harrison St., 8pm. www.blowbuddies.com

Fri 12

Sober Kink Together @ Castro Country Club

Officially a CMA meeting, but open to all Anonymous 12-step Fellowship members, 4058 18th St., 9:30pm. www.castrocountryclub.org

Gear Party @ 442 Natoma

Gear play party (leather, rubber, harnesses, etc.) for gay men. 442 Natoma St., $15 (requires $5 membership), 10pm. www.442parties.com

Sat 13

Leather Contingent Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Proceeds from the beer bust will benefit the Leather Contingent in the Pride parade. 398 12th St., 3-6pm. www.sfleather.org

GearUp Men's Play Party @ SF Catalyst

Friendly erotic space where kinky men can socialize with, learn from and play with other men. 1060 Folsom St., $20, 8pm-12am. www.gearupweekend.com

Sun 14

The Kiki(nk) @ SF Catalyst

San Francisco's newest private play space for men. 1060 Folsom St., 2am-6am. $20 advance tickets. www.raunchafterhours.com

Golden Gate Guards Beer Bust @ SF Eagle

Proceeds from the beer bust will benefit Guide Dogs for the Blind and San Francisco Leathermen's Discussion Group. 398 12th St., 3-6pm. www.ggguards.org






Follow The Bay Area Reporter
facebook logo
facebook logo
Newsletter logo
Newsletter logo
ISSUU logo