Last weekend saw another Memorial Day three-day weekend come and go, as did a plethora of leather-clad, kinky queer men through the streets, hotels and gay spaces of Chicago. International Mr. Leather 2018 was one for the record books. After 40 years of being the world’s ultimate “kink conference” (this year marked its 40th anniversary), IML offers up a chance for leather-lovers to bond and commiserate. (Yes, that includes gawking, groping, sex and other fun stuff.)
The schedule of International Mr. Leather 2018 was nearly as packed as the leather jockstraps so many revelers were sporting. The IML Opening Ceremonies took place on Thursday, May 24, while Friday and Saturday were spent at the Leather Market, pop-up shops and more quirky events like Puppy Yoga. Sunday saw the main event, the International Mr. Leather Contest, crown James Lee, Mr. Kentucky Leather 2017 as International Mr. Leather 2018.
International Mr. Leather 2018 wrapped up on Monday, May 28, with the Black and Blue Ball, IML’s iconic closing party that took place at Chicago’s historic House of Blues for the first time ever.
To share International Mr. Leather 2018 with our readers, we asked L.A.-based photographer Trevor Ott to head to Chicago and experience IML for the very first time. “I didn’t know what to except or how the event even worked,” he says. “From the moment I got to the Congress Hotel I saw familiar faces, new faces, old friends, best friends and friends I’d never met in person. For me, IML was about the connections I made. Even if those connections were brief, they were all memorable.”
About his photography subjects, Ott says, “The people I photographed over the course of the event were friends, clients, people I’d just met, people that have seen my work for a long time and have wanted me to photograph them. I kept the photo sessions short so people wouldn’t feel like they were away from the event too long, but they were long enough for it to feel like a good break. It was nice to have this time sitting these people down for my portraits and to reflect on the event.”
“IML 40 was way more then I though it’d be, in the best way possible,” says Ott. “I will be back for IML 41, and I can’t wait.”
Check out Trevor Ott’s portraits from International Mr. Leather 2018 here: