Monday, June 02, 2014

IML is Here Again

Memorial Day means International Mr. Leather weekend in Chicago.


I had rented a room practically a month in advance for this scared holiday of kinktasticness, and was very excited for the weekend. My plans were to have too much wine, buy too much gear, and do the best I possibly could to enjoy myself for the two-day fete-a-kink, in downtown Chicago.

As last year, this year IML was very easily situated downtown, easy to get to and not far from the office where I worked. Apparently work was so excited about IML weekend that it let everyone out to go and traipse about the city some four hours early. I was staying in Lincoln Square over the weekend, so I took my extra time, grabbed my bags, and small amount of gear, and headed uptown to check-in. Airbnb, you have not failed me yet!

With my bags secured and nothing much to do until dinner time, I figured what the hell and went back down to check out the Leather Market, which was what IML was mostly about for me, skipping about on a train to downtown Chicago, rocking my leather jacket and my favorite black party dress. The weather had been going back and forth between warm and freezing your ass off, and seemed to be entirely uninterested in doing anything consistently normal for what few days remained of spring. So the  leather jacket could still be rocked, which was just fine with me.

At the hotel, I took a moment to take in all the fine male leather men milling about in the lobby, having drinks, talking, and chatting each other up. Some were dressed in leather pants, others chaps; most wore at least a leather armband. Many had leather shoulder harnesses strapped on. Some were buff workout guys, some scrawny tweakers, with a smattering of bears, and boys, but all were happy to see each other. The sense of "Today I can wear my leather jock strap and nothing else and it’s totally, totally cool" was awesome. Having learned where the super-secret elevator up to the market was last year, I took the super-secret elevator up to the market this year.

My plan for this trip was just to get a lay of the land while it was relatively quiet in the market. Since the market was spread out over two floors I wasn’t sure what I was going to see and what I could acquire and I wanted to carefully plan out and spend my meager budget for this particular shopping weekend. As long as I was in country to go to IML I would barely spend any cash on toys any other time of year. I was in the market for a few new dildos (they have saved me on more than one occasion after all), a corset, some new gags, maybe a new flogger if I could find just the right one, and restraints. You could never have enough restraints.

IML delivered.

The first thing that hit me as I walked in on Friday was the smell of leather. The Leather Market does not fuck about with the smell of leather, and you could easily enjoy the wafting scent of leather flowing out of the market. I was rather impressed with just how powerful the smell of leather was in the market, good stuff. Most of the vendors do cater pretty exclusively to the leather crowd, so there were a lot of leather jackets, leather hats, leather chest harnesses, leather vests, leather skirts, and ties, leather boots and shoes. Leather-bound books and leather oddities; if you wanted it in leather, they had it in leather, and if they didn't have it in leather, they would fucking make it in leather for you because leather is life!

Of course, you couldn't have one of the largest queer events in the city of Chicago without having a lot of other types of sex gear, and IML delivered on that as well. You hac Oxballs, with their particular brand of cock-and-ball-combo harness rings, made out of silicone and guaranteed to deliver. Square Peg was hiding around a corner somewhere with anal plugs so large you couldn't imagine if it didn't quite look like someone was giving birth when using one of those things. Everywhere you looked there were fountains of lube. I wasn't sure the lube fountain thing was sanitary.

You could get your medical play gear (although that was not as heavily represented this year), kilts for all your kilt-wearing needs, shirts and T-shirts describing your particular state of D/S/leather/puppy state, and of course, lots of puppy masks and puppy-play gear. The puppies always came out in force at IML. There were leather masks, and corsets, male supplements, and leather smack gloves. There were floggers and spreaders and videos and books, and a few live shows in case you got bored. There were swings and slings, and full-on heavy-duty dungeon beds, in case you needed to make a statement and or tie up a bitch (gender here could be anything), and at least one guy was selling products with fur.

All in all it was a pretty good selection of gear for anyone who had the money, the time, or the inclination to get some gear. Even though there was hardly anyone in the market, and I was doing my damndest not to shop, it still took me two hours to go through the market.

And of course I ended up buying a pair of devil horns. I am, after all, the SaraDevil, and my last set had been lost without suitable replacement being found. Having secured purposeful accouterments, I wended my way back toward my home for the weekend and the dinner I was looking forward to having.

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