Our President Hunter has just recently returned from the US, where he, MissKit and our Treasurer Annie attended the International Ms Leather and Bootblack competition! Annie even took the honour of hoisting the Australian flag during the opening ceremony! For those of us not fortunate enough to attend, Hunter has offered the following report:
On the weekend of the 20-23rd April the International Ms. Leather and International Ms.Bootblack (IMsL/IMsBB) Contest Weekend took place at the Doubletree Hilton in San Jose, California. The Competitions are the spine the weekend is anchored around, but there are many things to do, with vendor markets, workshops, pool parties, hospitality suites, room parties, bootblacks and huge dungeons!
There is something lovely about pulling into a hotel and seeing many leather-clad folk inside and outside as you make your way through to your room and registrations. That the non leather folk are the unusual ones for the whole weekend, a kinky oasis. For many this event is an annual trip, and it's incredible seeing so many happy leather women and men cruising, flirting, talking and generally being fun and welcoming to everyone.
It's not just for women! it was happily noted by a number of folks I spoke to that there were more men attending this year, and they were warmly welcomed, with a "Men Of IMsL" T-shirt even being available at registration. The Leather Archives and Museum were in attendance, and fundraising for the Women's Leather History Project and for the Leather Archives themselves. It was wonderful to see young leather folk actively wanting to know about their history.
On Friday everything started in earnest. Workshops, parties and of course, the contests!
International Ms Leather is wonderful in its ability to bring people from all over the world to attend and compete. This year's international contestant was Fiona Horsley from South Africa, who was competing in the IMsBB contest. An Aussie was on the judging panel for the IMsL Class, Ms Lydia Joie Divine (Ms Sydney Leather 2013/14), who when spoken to after the judging was completed said "It was a very hard choice, they are all wonderful competitors"
The contestants in the each contest are judged by a group of judges, with Olympic style scoring, with IMSL and IMsBB having separate judging teams.
The Ms Leather contestants are judged on an interview and short teaching presentation (40 points), hot-wear and pop question (10 points), fantasy performance (20 points), and speech and formal wear (20 points).
Ms Bootblack 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).
The competition actually starts many weeks before the competition, from the moment contestants send their registration, with competitors given deadlines to get things sent back to the competition, and then they contestants are busy all weekend from the Thursday through to the Saturday late evening, with interviews, photos, appointments, silent auction arranging and so on. It is so much more than just a one night thing.
The winners are announced on the Saturday night after the Pop Question and Fantasy section. The Winner of the International Ms Leather Title was Girl Complex, from Oakland, California, while the Winner of the International Ms Bootblack Contest was Elisa, from Detroit, Michigan.
Hopefully we can get them to come and visit us here in Melbourne, like Sarge (IMsL 2015) and Meghan (IMsBB 2016) have done.