The first IML contest in four decades where the founder Chuck Renslow was too ill to attend. He watched the contest by live stream and sent a message of support which was read from the main stage. Just a couple of months later the man who had done everything, from directing gay porn in the 50s to running fetish bars and establishing museums, went to the great darkroom in the sky. Thousands of gay leathermen around the world removed their Muir caps and shed a tear for the ultimate fetish visionary and trailblazer.
The contest was won by Ralph Bruneau, the leatherman who made nude cool. He’s now an Alphatribe columnist (and our sexiest member of staff). Rick Storer announced his retirement from the Leather Archive and Museum just as its little brother, the European Leather and Fetish Museum, was launched in London. Reflecting the modern times we live in, the London museum encompasses all fetish tribes including leather, skinheads, puppies…
The number of contestants jumped to 63 after many years in the 50s. That’s an awful lot of candidates for the nine judges to sleep with in just three days. It was also the most international with 13 countries represented. We loved the Chilean leathermen! They are so hairy, and their participation is a great sign that the gay fetish world’s most important event has a broad future.
After a few years as a three-day event (to reduce visitor costs) the contest went back to four days this year. It was a good decision given the tsunami of contestants that was just about to hit.