Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Favorite IML Moment

The Electrician volunteered to drive me and give me a guided of tour of IML over Memorial Day weekend, and how could I possibly turn down that invitation? The IML (International Mr. Leather) event was the largest gathering of leather men on the planet, and also one of the best open markets for people into leather, things made out of leather, or the kind of stuff that goes with leather. In other words, my kind of shopping mall.

You knew you had entered when walking into the building you were hit first by the sheer overpowering musk of leather, followed by the visual enticement of hundreds of leather men, leather daddies and leather boys in various states of leather dress. There were the guys wearing vests with leather chaps over jeans. There were the guys wearing chest harnesses with leather jeans. There were also the guys wearing leather jock straps with leather caps. And they guys wearing leather jocks and leather masks. In all, there was a lot of leather, and a heaping helping of leather men. Everyone, it seemed, was wearing a leather armband. The leather armband was THE fashion accessory of the season, or at least of any well-to-do leather event.

The Electrician guided me in, down the stairs and through the secret back entrance into the basement of the complex, where I made my donations to the Leather Archive Museum and signed my tax-deductible waiver to get into the event. Another level down, and we were in the holy grail of leather hunting: a leather market that had over 800 vendors all with different types of leather things, and other fun-time accoutrements. I was in heaven.

It was bliss traveling up and down the isles, the overwhelming smell of leather everywhere. Chains and silver pieces hung up as accents as you walked through throngs of men gathered around various toys, contraptions, and leather equipment of all shapes and types. Fascinated and overwhelmed, I found myself having an entirely unexpected emotional response that took a moment to recover from. The Electrician proved to be a spectacular guide, knowing the ins-and-outs and locations of some of the best leather designers to visit.

We worked our way up an aisle and I lagged behind my guide to check out some leather wrist cuffs and leather wallets. Behind me passed all sorts of people, not just men, but a menagerie of enthusiasts out for the odd shopping on the weekend. There were young couples and leather-clad couples, but there were also a number of older, stately looking couples, people one would describe as grandparents, wandering about and genteelly fingering leather floggers as they passed arm in arm. Gay, straight, bi, queer, young, old, if you had an interest in leather, you were welcome, no fetish too strange, lifestyle too bizarre to be denied a space down the aisle at IML.

I meandered back up the aisle to find the Electrician and as I did so, the gentleman coming into view from behind me caught my eye. Easily 6' 2" with the bulging rippled chest of a leather-clad Adonis, he was a sight to see. He embodied the archetypal paintings of the strapping, hulking gay man. Ripped abs, ripped torso, well-muscled thighs bulging under tight leather pants. He had a snug leather chest harness across his burly, hairy chest, the ubiquitous leather strap across the arm, black curly hair under a leather cap, and just enough stubble to polish off the masculine machismo he easily projected. This was not just any leather daddy, this was THE leather daddy.

As I watched him walk away from me (it was hard not to check out the ass on something that spectacular), I noticed skipping toward me a group of young men. They looked like boys really, but all had to be at least 21 (rules to get into the market). They were lithe of step, and springing and bouncing playful down the aisle like kids in a toy store. One was wearing a leather jock and harness, some were in leather pants, and all were clearly enjoying themselves, smiling and giggling as skipped toward me. Leather Daddy eyed them as they came toward us. He stopped and took a deep breath, and then suddenly, and much to my surprise, let out a loud and visceral “Woof!” It was commanding sound, one of power, and one that certainly had an effect on the small crowd of skipping boys.

They all immediately fell down on all fours and began to yip at the feet of Leather Daddy Alpha who stood in the center of them as they moved around him and sniffed and barked backward with a sense of pride and ownership. One or two had small tails clipped to the back of leather pants, and the tails wagged and wiggled as the puppies demonstrated their joy at having found Leather Daddy Alpha. His pack, his puppies; whether they had always been his or he had just claimed them in that moment, I could not say. When he moved again, they all moved and followed after. The puppies were more than happy scampering about on all fours, tails wagging, as they followed Leather Daddy Alpha moving purposefully up the aisles.

It was, without a doubt, a sight to see and one of my favorite crowd moments from IML. I went back on my merry way as the pack moved on, smiling in amusement and looking for the Electrician who promised to be playing with violet wands somewhere ahead of me, in the busy, thriving market.

2 comments:

Doc Merrkin said...

well, you know me and leather... except mine is probably older than half the people at the event...

Saradevil said...

Trust me, this crowd would give even you a run for oldest leather in the room. I'm thinking the guy with the leather jacket and the walker was probably going to take that prize.