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IML and IMBB 2018 sets records as founder Chuck Renslow remembered

IML and IMBB 2018 sets records IML and IMBB 2018 sets records



Compiled by Dave Rhodes, Dr. Larry and William Burden

It is no secret that there were 71 International Mr. Leather 2018 or IML 40 contestants - your preference - 19 of them came from outside the United States, it is known that significant changes were being made in the International Mr. Bootblack contest and that IML founder Chuck Renslow would be remembered with class. What was to-be-determined was the winners of the contests.


After a grueling set of interviews, well-planned and delivered speeches and several acrobatic Pecs and Personality performances, the winners were announced a few minutes before 9 PM on Sunday night, May 27 in the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, IL - on time.

Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 12993 Frank Nowicki named the Top 20 finalists a little over two hours before the winners were announced. International Mr. Bootblack 2018 was Mr. Oregon State Leather 2016 Lucky Rebel, first runner-up was Pup Roke and second runner-up was 2017 Colorado Bootblack William Bootblack Knight. There were four contestants, so one man was left there alone. At the end of the night the IML winners were named by emcee Thib Guicherd-Callin. International Mr. Leather was Mr. Kentucky Leather 2017 James Lee, first runner-up was Mister Leather Belgium 2017 Sandro Cossero and second runner-up was Mr. Friendly SF 2018 Stephan Ferris. The crowd cheered the winners and all competitors wildly as photographers made their way to the front of the stage for the usual photo op.

IML founder Chuck Renslow, who passed away last June, was remembered in an opening speech written and delivered by President of International Mr. Leather Jon Krongaard. His speech appears near the end of this story. To some, it was the best speech that Krongaard has ever delivered and it ended with Chuck's welcome speech traditional closing line, "On with the show."

Thib Guicherd-Callin was the emcee with Kirk Hamlin and Kurt Haretos being the ASL interpreters. When possible, foreign contestants were asked questions in their native tongues. The hilarious one of these was when IMsL 2018 girl ang queried the Australian contestants.

19 contestants were from other countries including Belgium, Germany, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, France, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and Israel.

There would have been 72 contestants, but Mr. Pittsburgh Leather Fetish had to bow out after a medical emergency.

14 of the 39 men who have held the IML title were on hand including the first one, IML 1979 David Kloss and IML 2017 Ralph Bruneau. Ralph prepared a video song production which was shown on the huge screen above the stage which described his year. It was a professional Hollywood production and the crowd loved it.

The founder of the International Bootblack contest, Harry Shattuck was on hand to see the efforts of IMBB coordinator Jeremy Morris and his team, and to witness the improvements in treatment of the bootblacks.

Two video-photo presentations on the main screen featured Chuck Renslow earlier in the show and 40 years of IML later on. There was a brief clip with audio on each man who held the title.

The International Mr. Leather judges were International Mr. Leather 2017 Ralph Bruneau, Q Darkqwolf, Werner Hall, David Kloss, Drew Kramer, Sammy Sklover, Rick Storer Sal Susino and Karen Ultra. The International Mr. Bootblack judges were International Mr. Bootblack 2017 Ryan “Pawlish” Garner-Carpenter, Richard Savvy and International Ms Bootblack 2018 Teagan. The tally masters for both contests were Don Leach and Pup Vidhra.

Den Daddy Jeff Tucker had his hands full in handling the record number of contestants. Media coordinator Tyesha Best oversaw several improvements in media concerns. Billy Lane was great in handling judge coordinator duties. The IML staff is huge and we cannot go through the whole list, but suffice it to say that the whole IML team showed a lot of love in their effort. At least four of the contestants from other countries and many more from the USA expressed this sentiment.

The heads of The Renslow Charitable Trust which Chuck created to make sure that IML is a funding source for the Leather Archives and Museum are Bear Man, Jon Krongaard, Joey McDonald, Bob Miller and Ed Mogul.


On the Podium


International Mr. Bootblack 2018

Lucky Rebel

Mr. Oregon State Leather 2016


International Mr. Leather 2018
James Lee
Mr. Kentucky Leather 2017



First Runner-up

Sandro Cossero

Mister Leather Belgium 2017



Second Runner-up
Stephan Ferris
Mr. Friendly SF 2018


Remaining Top 20 Finalists
Not necessarily in order of placement

 Ray Sparo - M. Cuir Montreal 2017

 Evert Leerson - Mister Leather Netherlands 2018

Janos Martenyi - Mister Fetish Spain 2017

Jeff Deutsch - Mr. Nebraska Leather 2018

Dorian Gray - Mr. Tri-State Leather 2017

Ben Kaufher - Mr. Los Angeles Leather 2018

Edward Brooks - Mr. Northwoods Leather 2017

Brendan Patrick - Mr. Maryland Leather 2018

Sir Randy Ingram-Lile - Mr. Minneapolis Eagle 2018

Scott Lovegrove
Mr. Queensland Leather 2017

Nathan Kendrick - Mr. San Diego Leather 2017

Superhorse - Mr. Leather Colorado 201

Travis Williams - Washington State Mr. Leather 2017

Raymond Timmer - Mr. Leather Europe 2017

Dom PC - Mister Leather Brasil 2018

Pup Data - Mr. Connecticut Leather 2018

Pup Buster - Mr. Twin Cities Leather 2018

To see photos of all of the International Mr. Bootblack contestants and bios of most of them check out https://www.theleatherjournal.com/news/regional-news/item/2020-international-mr-bootblack-2018-contestants-bios-and-photos

To see photos of all of the International Me. Leather contestants and bios of most of them go to https://www.theleatherjournal.com/news/regional-news/item/2019-iml-2018-contestants-photos-and-bios



IML Weekend - more than a contest - a lot more

About 1,500 Leatherfolk attend and/or are involved in the International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Bootblack contest while it is figured that 18,000-plus participate in the weekend including vendors, parties, exhibits and classes, socials and huge late-night parties.

The largest vendor fair in the Leather community is the Leather Market at IML. For gay men it is numero uno. Several vendors noted that their sales were up from 2017 and several said theirs were about even. No one told us they did less than last year - looks like a win all around.

The International Mr. Bootblack contestants had stands open on the second floor of the Congress where they shined in hopes of collecting ballots which were part of their scoring for the title.

Flashback on Friday night included a roast of International Mr. Leather 2017 Ralph Bruneau and International Mr. Bootblack 2017 Ryan “Pawlish” Garner-Carpenter and their step down speeches.

Touche', Leather64TEN and Jackhammer had shuttle buses running hourly to the parties on the North Side near the Leather Archives and Museum. Eric Kugelman of Leather64TEN said his sales increase was immense, so the economics of the weekend were a big winner. All three had barbecues on Memorial Day. Dave Boyer who manages Touche', had the schedule full all week, highlighted by Leather Women's Night on Friday, Chicago Bearfest and contest on Saturday, Super Ripe on Sunday night a beer bust all day Monday.

There were the big dance parties at the House of Blues on Saturday and Sunday nights that attracted thousands each. While at the host Congress Plaza Hotel the San Francisco Party was hosted by Folsom Street Events on Friday night and on Saturday night ONYX held their huge event, Climax, at the Bottom Lounge. A People of Color Leather Caucus was presented by the Men of ONYX on Saturday afternoon.

They were there, but the puppy presence seemed to be less visible. Word has it that they were there while less were in full puppy gear. Puppy events included Puppy Yoga and Off Leash: The Puppy Handler Romp on Friday night. Dogs of a Different Breed: Identity in the pup community was on Saturday afternoon.

The Chicago Hellfire Club had several play parties at their clubhouse while hosting a cocktail party at the Congress on Saturday afternoon. The Centaur Motorcycle Club hosted their annual mimosa eye openers cocktail party on Sunday morning. The BLUF Social was on Saturday night.

The Leather Archives and Museum was open Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but not on Monday. They had an IML flag signing booth on the first floor of the Congress, the Chuck Renslow Memorabilia exhibit on the third floor and a Silent Auction on Friday night. Forever Leather was at the Congress and was a restoration of Leather donated to the Leather Archives through the years which needed restoration and a lot of tender loving care. Past International Ms Bootblack Leslie Anderson headed this project which we believe is ongoing.

The Mr. International Rubber 2019 judging panel was announced by producer Rubberwilli Schendel on Saturday afternoon. The Chicago Rubbermen and Mr. International Rubber hosted a meet and greet and gathering on Friday night. Gear Blast 2018 was on Saturday night as was Spitshine - the Bootblack Party which was a meet and greet and a benefit for their winner's travel fund.

Kink U classes on Saturday were BDSM as Stress Management: Chill Out With a Warm Butt followed by The Good Touch Games, a Fireside Chat with ONYX founder Mufasa Ali, and Leather Through the Lens which had several noted Leather community photographers on a panel.

Sunday saw POW! - The Super Hero Fetish Meetup in the Congress lobby; an IML XXX Class of 2008 10 Year Reunion and A Leather Archives screening of Tom of Finland.

The temperatures were warm all weekend and many took the opportunity to sight see and to dine out at some of Chicago's best eateries.

More on International Mr. Leather and International Mr. Bootblack can be found at http://www'imrl.com


Full Text of Jon Krongaard's Opening Speech

All of them - Community, Love, Family. Whether or not you liked his message of political engagement, safe sex practices, the scourge of meth to, more recently, his advocacy for PrEP, it was always about his paternal feelings of love and devotion to all of us - his family. Chuck said - And that got me thinking....and got me to realize something - All of us in this room tonight. We're family. From different walks of life, from different dots on the map, and certainly many different points of view. At least according to social media - different. But we are all united with a common thread: What Chuck called "The brotherhood of Leather."

I'd ask all of you to take a moment, look around. You look a around this vast theater and marvel in the wonder of of your fellow family members. Whether you know everyone in this room or not, we are all family here. The way we choose. And you know why we area all here? It's really two simple reasons...40-ish years ago Chuck and Dom had a crazy idea - running a bar contest that got too big and they tried something different - International Mr. Leather. And a funny thing happened....It kept going. And when Dom passed in 1991, Chuck kept pushing forward to get us where we are today. So as you look around this room...remember.

This is all because of Chuck. Chuck said. And this fraternity, this brotherhood of Leather - that Chuck believed in is real. Need proof? Think of your chosen families here with you tonight or those back home...and realize that these amazing people probably would never have crossed your path, if it wasn't for Chuck Renslow. His vision, his passion, his love of community is what ultimately brought us together. And even in today's internet world we are stronger than we have ever been. Like others here tonight, I've been fortunate to know Chuck well and with the exception of being my partner of 26-plus years, until Chuck and I get to hang out at his new Eagle bar and bath house emporium on the other side, he will always be my closest friend. Chuck Renslow will always be my Daddy. He will always be our Daddy.

And, it's because of Chuck, some amazing people have become part of my immediate chosen family - people I am closer to, love and will always protect no matter what...please join me as I welcome to the stage the amazing team that makes this train we call IML run on time...led by our amazing director, Bill Stadt. The department heads and senior management team of International Mr. Leather! And to the volunteers in the theater tonight and working back at the hotel, you too, are our family. And we love you! Family is who we are...Family is who we always will be.

Yes, we disagree at times and even fight. Just check your Facebook feeds! But in the end, we work it out and move ahead - together. Chuck lived that every day of his life and taught us the true meaning of family. And it's because of Chuck, these folks...and you...are a part of my life - and yours, too!

Now, there's another part of our family I want to share with you tonight. Because his is the pivot moment in our history when Chuck said....Becomes Chuck wants. In his speech at IML in 2010, Chuck announced the formation of the Rensow Charitable Trust, which assumed ownership of IML, Inc. upon his passing. The reason for this was simple. Chuck wants IML to transform into a fixed and direct funding source for the Leather Archives and Museum well into the future, This precious legacy is Chuck's final gift to our community. A community he loved with every fiber of his being. Please join me in welcoming to the stage another part of your family, my fellow trustees of the Renslow Charitable Trust: the Bear Man, Ed Mogul, Joey McDonald, Bob Miller - The five of us are the individuals Chuck has entrusted with this legacy. Be assured, IML will continue the way he wants and each of us, will always abide by the faith he placed in us and the promise we made to him. IML is here to stay! Because - Chuck wants.

So tonight, as you sit back and watch these amazing 75 contestants compete, always remember Chuck's message of love, community and brotherhood. His deep and profound belief in each of us to do good and make a difference in our hometowns, communities, states and countries...is essential if one chooses to honor his legacy. Now, more than ever...we need to and we must. I too, respectfully ask that you take the energies and connections made here at IML to your homes and continue to do good things for us all.

With that, I again offer thanks to each of you for joining us here tonight as we celebrate our most unique family on our 40th Anniversary. To paraphrase the end of so many of Chuck's speeches from genuine love for him is and always will be eternal. Love each other, respect each other. Help each other. Chuck said. Chuck wants. We will, And now, I most humbly say, "On with the show."




Letter to the Editor Regarding Agism

To Whom It May Concern:

According to the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/ageing/ageism/en/) ageism is the stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism is widespread and an insidious practice which has harmful effects on the health of older adults. For older people, ageism is an everyday challenge. Overlooked for employment, restricted from social services and stereotyped in the media, ageism marginalizes and excludes older people in their communities.

I attended the International Leather Sir Boy Contest in 2016. Thib Guicherd-Callin was the M/C. During that contest he told one of his “jokes”. The punch line was, “and you’ll look like Dr. Larry by the time you are 30."

I attended the International Mister Leather Contest in 2018. Thib Guicherd-Callin was the M/C. During that contest he called Ralph “grandpa” and continued by saying, “Yeah you were born perfectly a loooooooong time ago.” So not only did he attack Ralph regarding his age, he also made fun of his personal cause—to end the abuse of conversion therapy on gay youth.

This is blatant ageism.

There has been a lot of talk in the Leather Community about inclusivity and diversity. Obviously Thib Guicherd-Callin does not believe older gay men are to be included as evidenced by his very personal, very public attacks on members of the Leather Community regarding their age.

I hereby call upon International Mr. Leather and The Leather Archives and Museum to officially and publicly denounce Thib Guicherd-Callen’s blatant ageist remarks.


Thank you,

William Burden

Los Angeles









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Last modified on Sunday, 02 May 2021 01:47