The big anniversary and the first IML without founder Chuck Renslow who had passed away a few months earlier. As a result, it was also the most emotional IML by far. Commemorative events included the naming of a street, Chuck Renslow Way, after the great man.
The number of contestants leapt to 71 from 15 countries, making Renslow’s international dream come true. This was partly due to the ‘Joe King affect’. A former Mr Leather Europe and IML First Runner Up, Joe had started the trend of supporting other national contests. Other titleholders adopted the practice, leading to closer friendships and providing a support network for those who wanted to attend IML. That led to a surge in candidates, particularly from Europe.
The increased number of candidates has caused logistical problems for organisers. Particularly affected are the stage managers who need to coordinate the show, and the judges who have to do lengthy interviews with each contestant.
The Leather Archive and Museum was inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. And IML itself was elected into the Cleveland Hall of Fame.
James Lee, Mr Kentucky Leather, won the title and we are proud to have him working for Alphatribe. He celebrated with a fuck of the Runners Up at the House of Blues, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘victory party’. It’s difficult to keep the sash in repute if your deputy is porn star and uber sex pig Blue Bailey (aka Stefan Ferris).
After almost 30 years of waiting, Girl Ang from Australia was the first non-North American to win International Miss Leather (Canada had one previous win).