International Mr. Leather (IML)—considered to be the Big Daddy of leather and fetish events—offers kink enthusiasts a chance to play, shop, gawk and crown a pageant winner. The festivities draw nearly 17,000 visitors to downtown Chicago every Memorial Day weekend, according to IML organizers.
Held annually in Chicago since 1979, the conference began as a competition at the Gold Coast, a long-shuttered gay men’s leather bar. Eventually, the event outgrew the space, though, transforming into a multi-day array of fetish workshops, speakers and dance parties, with a Leather Market full of kink merch from chains to assless chaps.
This year, IML will feature 60 contestants from 25 states and seven countries, including the competition’s first competitor from Israel. There will also be 56 vendors exhibiting at the Leather Market at Congress Plaza Hotel, open to the general public.