Gary Wasdin, executive director for Leather Archives and Museum Credit: DS Trumbull

International Mr. Leather (IML) invades Chicago this week, and while those in the Leather community are very familiar with this premier competition and conference, the uninitiated visitor might be pleasantly startled by the weekend’s conflux of well-built people in extravagant leather garments tooling around town. The band Judas Priest is also scheduled to play the Rosemont Theater on Saturday night, which is not part of the conference but could always result in some other leather-wearing visitors to Chicagoland. Local Rob Halford-impersonators that don’t know about IML are few and far between, and are not likely to pick this week to randomly strut around in costume (although if they do, they might find a turbo lover to do some living after midnight with).

IML’s scheduled events include a vendors market, dance parties, and the yearly contest itself, which will all take place at venues including the Congress Hotel and the House of Blues. Most of these activities are limited to participants, however those who would like to learn about the culture and pageantry of both IML and the Leather community should consider visiting the Leather Archives and Museum in Rogers Park. The museum and the IML competition were both founded by the late Chuck Renslow, photographer, businessman, activist, and inductee of the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame. Visiting the Archives is free from Wednesday 5/22 through Monday 5/27 in honor of IML. Please note that the museum is only open to those 18 years old and older.  v