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IML 2023 is Marcus Barela

Marcus Bareala may have been the last contestant at number 54, but he was first when his name was announced as the winner of the International Mr. Leather 2023, or IML 45, title on Sunday night, May 28 at the popular and convenient Auditorium on Sunday night, May 28. Marcus entered as Mr. Eagle LA Leather and was full of excitement and energy as he jumped around on stage. Before him were first runner-up Chris Gonzalez and second runner-up Matthew Moody. After a brief photo session on stage, the winning trio was whisked off

to the host Congess Plaza Hotel through a lobby crowd then on to the House of Blues for the Victory Party.

Contestants went through an orientation meeting followed by the Opening Ceremonies on Thursday night where they drew their numbers. Friday was a free night for them - as if such a thing really existed. Saturday night was Pecs and Personality where each man was introduced with a short bit about each by emcee Thib Guicherd-Callin. Each man gave the judges and audience a brief look at themselves. Rather than being asked questions, they were given a brief moment to say what was on their minds.

Sunday night, again at the Auditorium, all of the contestants were introduced. The Top 20 Finalists were announced. The remaining 34 were made to clear the backstage area and were free to go or watch the rest of the competition. The Top 20 were split into two sections where the first 10 had an opportunity to show their Leather energy and the second 10 gave their speeches. After an intermission the second 10 displayed their sexual energy and the first 10 gave their 90 second speeches, only one man ran past the allotted time but he was only one or two seconds over. There were step down speeches from IML 2022 Gael Leung Wo before the winners were announced and earlier by International Mr. Bootblack 2022 Alistair.


The Leather Journal's International Mr. Leather 2023, or IML 45 Class, Contestants Preview includes biographies and photos of all the 54 men who competed this year. The contestants’ order of appearance was decided by the chronological order of fully completed bios and photos. Thank you IML Contestant Coordinator Jeff Tucker for his assistance with this project. To see the gallery and read the bios check out



The judges were IML 2022 Gael Leung Chong Wo, Wil Wever, Dionne "Choc-Tre" Henderson, Austin "Whisper" James, Miguel Torres, Henk Van Tilburg, Robert Daddy Sir" Miller, Bee Beehop and Sir J. Tebias Perry. The tally masters were Omar Hekal and Don Leach.

Thib Guicherd-Callin celebrated his fifth year as the emcee for IML. He was the Pantheon of Leather Man of the Year in 2017 and has hosted most major Leather events at least once. Before the winners were announced, Thib called for a moment of silence for the bootblacks not in the theater.


International Mr. Leather 2023

Marcus Barela, Eagle LA Mr. Leather


First Runner-up

Chris Gonzalez, Mr. GNI Leather 2022


Second Runner-up

Matthew Moody, Mr. Phoenix Leather 2022


Remaining Top 20 Finalists in random order

Jeffrey Wayne, Mr. GayDays Leather 2022

Matthew Moody, Mr. Phoenix Leather 2022

ZodiaQ, Northeast Leatherperson 2023

SIR Apollo, Mr. Atlanta Eagle 2022

Finn Gerhardt, Mx. Maryland Leather 2023

Chris Kelley, Mr. Eagle NYC 2023

Kevan Walsh, Laird Leatherman 2018

Trell Walters, Mr. Connecticut Leather 2023

Lil Daddy, Mr. Eagle Wilton Manors 2023

Gio Maspalomas, Mister Fetish Gran Canaria 2022

Mark Henderson, Midsouth Kink & Leather Sir 2022

Mr Mack, Mr. Classic Leather 2022

Vince, Mr. Cincinnati Leather 2022

Jack Hasson, Mr. New Orleans Phoenix 2023

Pedro Coronado, Mr. RGV Leather 2023

DanBear, Mr. Mid Atlantic Leather 2023

James Tyrcha, Mr. Ramrod 2023

Francisco Perales, Mr. Fetish SoCal 2023


See the whole list of 54 contestants in no particular order at



Marcus Barela’s biography

IML 2023 Marcus Barela's biography on TheLeatherJournal.com reads - Contestant 54, Marcus Barela entered IML as Eagle LA Mr. Leather 2023, a proud 17-plus years as an Eagle LA employee where he has been, and continues to be, an ambassador for the throngs of fetish, kink, Leather, and queer enthusiasts who call it the Eagle their home. Sober, sweet, sexy, and slutty. He knows how to hold his own while putting a smile on your face. His love of Leather, kink, and fetish travel has taken him taken him everywhere from Easter Berlin, to CLAW, to Austin Kink weekend in his home state of Texas. Marcus is a Texas-Mexican American who came into his Leather identity in Los Angeles through the love of a few specific Daddies and the community they foster. He is studying Spanish and Psychology and is bound for UCLA. Tarot Astrology, and meditation are tools he uses for spiritual connection. He is drag certified, having rocked the stage, and airspace above it, in the Best in Drag Show. Marcus is his own superhero and a queer revolutionary. His primary superpower is celebrating individual authenticity. He is dedicated to helping others experience their own private revolution by encouraging kinky, queer, and Leather minded individuals to honor their authentic identity,




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donated via the IML 2023 story as of June 11, 2023








The following is the most recent post by IML regarding the bootblack situation that has led to the cancellation of this year's International Mr. Bootblack contest. We've unofficially heard there were resignations in other departments at IML too. We are researching that.

We gleaned the following off the IML web site in early February, "Due to the unexpected resignation of the International Mr. Bootblack Coordinator and IMBB staff, The Renslow Charitable Foundation is announcing the cancellation of The IMBB contest for 2023. We will take this year to thoroughly examine the evolution of the contest and solicit community input and interest as well as explore better ways to grow and increase participation in the event. This examination includes exploring the idea of creating a complete stand-alone IMBB Weekend event. For some years, the IMBB team has struggled to find contestants, donations for winner’s prize packages and delivering a quality product and, as a result, has led to less participation. At the same time, they have implemented significant changes which have created a vastly improved IMBB Contest experience, especially for contestants.

This year (2023), we invite bootblacks from around the world to meet, greet and provide shine for the guests in the area that would normally be reserved for our contestants over Memorial Day Weekend. The invitation is open to anyone who is passionate about boots. More information will be available at www.imrl.com soon. We also recognize there is much more to be done to increase bootblack visibility in our community and we welcome everyone’s input, suggestions and, most importantly, their participation in this process. We also invite anyone in our community to share these thoughts and/or their ideas on the subject of inclusion at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Your participation in this process is vital."

Billy Lane of the IML Operations Board gave the following speech at the Opening Ceremonies in the Florentine Room, "Greetings and good evening. On behalf of the Chuck Renslow Charitable Foundation, the IML Operations Board, and the IML Executive Staff, welcome to the Sapphire Anniversary of International Mr. Leather weekend. Unbelievable. What an event we have planned for you to celebrate our 45 years.

First I need to address something. Many of you have seen and been hurt by the welcome message that was published in this year’s event guide. Our intent was to focus on where we have made progress with your support over the past several months not further divide our community with hurtful words.

And because of those hurtful words, a later reference to 'opponents' can be misunderstood. Let me be perfectly clear: in that sentence, the word 'opponents' is directly squared at our collective enemies outside the community - the conservatives who are actively attacking our community by everything from preventing trans children from receiving gender affirming care to enacting bans on drag shows which restrict our freedom of expression.

These vicious individuals and organizations earn the label of 'opponents,' not members of our own community, even those we disagree with, sometimes bitterly.

We cannot undo the harm caused by the hurtful words. We will work to do better.

We have worked with community leaders the last few months to install a Code of Conduct for all of our guests and staff. In addition to having the code posted on our website, we have signs and banners around the event, and hope that they will serve as a visible reminder of the behavior we expect to see at this event. It applies equally to everyone at IML from attendees and staff to Trustees.

Noticeably, we are without an IMBB contest this year, a decision that did not come lightly. We felt in order for it to be successful moving forward, we would take some time to regroup and recreate the contest.

On that note, I need to give a huge thank you to our staff and 300 plus volunteers. We have an amazing group of Department Coordinators that work each year. Their involvement and commitment to the organization is solely to make sure each of you have an incredible weekend."




Leather Market

The IML Leather Market was open Friday through Monday afternoon and on the first and third floors of the Congress and included the following 50 merchants: ABUniverse, Anubis Gear, Barking Leather, Blonde Swan Hats, Boy Butter, Breedwell, BURLYSHIRTS, Chain Male, Cheaplubes.com, Cockeye Kink Gear, ComingoutTarot, Cumunion Events, Dapper And Urban, Dungeon Beds, Dungeon In A Bag, Flava Works, FM Leather, Fort Troff, Full Kit Gear, Got Kilt, Happy Piggy's, JetPup, Le Chateau Exotique, Leather Archives & Museum, Leather Daddy Sin Company, LeatherWerks, Lucom USA, Mischievous Creations, Mr-S-Leather, Nasty Pig, Northbound Leather, NYJox, Obscure Belts, Oxballs, PaddleWerks, Portaglory, Rough Trade, Rubio Leather, Skunky Pun, SPORTLUBE, Squirt.Org, Steamworks, Stealth Retainers, Stompers Boots, The Kink Shop, TLS RubberGear, Tribal Son, Triton Soap & Skincare, Video Head Cleaner, and Wolfstryker Leather.

Many vendors reported strong sales with their best day being Friday. There seems to be one mishigas every year. Northbound Leather from Toronto, Canada had most of their shipment held up in customs. The vendor community made like and early 1800s Midwest barn raising and helped their Canadian friends set up their booth in a matter of hours. If there ever was a brotherhood award....



Other Events

The Chicago Hellfire Club held a cocktail reception at the Congress and private play parties at their clubhouse in Chicago.

The People of Color Leather Caucus hosted by Mufasa Ali on Saturday morning in the Florentine Room included Daddy Steve, Master Leather Redux, Puma ONYX, Shaan Lashun, Sir J. Tebias, Boy Cole, Carino Blaze ONYX and Tradesmen Timothy. ONYX also produced their always-popular Dance Party at Bassline Bar on Saturday night.

Kink U Classes saw several classes, panels and demos at the Congress including Submissive and Single, Don't Make It Weird, Prescription for Perspective – Healthcare, and Ask the Board.

BLUF Chicago hosted a terrific Leather Dress Code Cocktail Reception in the Oxford Room at the Congress on Saturday night, overlapping the Pecs and Personality segment of the IML contest.

The Leather Archives & Museum President’s Reception, an annual event The Archives hosts at IML as a thank you for its donors and members was held on Sunday morning. There was a light continental brunch with champagne. There were a few words by each Gary Wasdin, Jim Neuman and Peter Fiske followed by a documentary in the making by Adam Baran. The yet-to-be-named documentary will focus on the clubs which were the main builders of the Leather community.

Most, if not all, of the fundraising by IML was for the Leather Archives & Museum. Among benefits were an auction, signed IML 45 Flag, Leather Market.

Those who will comprise the judging panel for the Mr. International Rubber 27 contest were announced in a traditional reveal ceremony at IML in Chicago, IL. The panel includes Pusckatt Pumera ONYX, Charlie Shine, Darkqwolf, Sir Ivan, JRubberCub, Rain Bleie and Tyler McCormick. MIR will be held October 19-22 at The Double Tree Hilton and North Shore Center for the Performing Artist in Skokie.

Touché, Leather 64 TEN, Jackhammer, Cell Block and Full Kit Gear all had events, parties and barbecues for Chicago's Leather visitors. Touché had a van which brought people to their bar and back to the Congress. Leather 64 TEN was busy according to our sources.

The Congress Hotel restaurants were basically the same as usual - unorganized. It's been complained about before and it seems no one will do anything about it, so we are stuck. The entire hotel staff were all friendly and helpful.

There was so much to do on any weekend would be like in Chicago with its art, museums, theaters, world-class restaurants and visitors did not waste the opportunity. Until next year. Congratulations to the winners and lots of love to every man who put it all on the line.


International Mr. Leather 2023 Gallery

The following either took or supplied the photos in this Gallery: John O'Brien, Motorboot Photography, International Mr. Leather, Luis Bratt, Dave Rhodes, Dr. Larry, Ben Johnson, Ariq Wilson, ONYX Midwest, Austin James, Tio Lelieveld, Slade Travis, Kenzo and Facebook

































Events around IML


















Front of Hotel












In the Lobby and environs



















Opening Ceremonies





















Off Leash: The Pup and Handler Romp











Rubber Gear Social











IML Leather Market





















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Last modified on Monday, 26 June 2023 18:32