Wednesday, May 13, 2009

International Mr. Leather - Gary Iriza, Farewell

Photograph by Storm Christopher.

The annual International Mr. Leather competition is just two weeks away -- Memorial weekend. According to the latest issue of The Leather Journal, 52 men from around the United States and the world will be competing for the title this year. The event will once again be hosted by the Chicago Hyatt-Regency which, I believe, has proven to be a far better venue than the old Palmer House.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend IML this year. I have a new novel out this month (under a different name), and book-signing and promotional opportunities require me to be somewhere else. I'm excited about the new book and the book-signing, but I do regret having to miss IML.

I'll particularly miss the chance to see Gary Iriza step down as International Mr. Leather 2008. Gary did a spectacular job of representing the leather community over the past year. I was in the audience when he won the title at the 30th anniversary IML competition. It was a spectacular show with many handsome and powerful leathermen. Gary shone on the stage.

I had the chance to meet him on two other ocassions over the year. I found him warm and funny and very helpful when, last October, I briefly allowed myself to be "drafted" into the "Mr. Bootleggers" leather competition at the last minute. Gary was generous with his praise, advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, I had to drop out due to a family obligation, but not before going through the interview process with Gary and the other judges.

Gary, I hope you enjoy your last week as the bearer of the International Mr. Leather 2008 title, and I wish you the very very best in your future endeavors. I know you'll continue to serve the community with energy, style and charm. Thank you for being an outstanding spokesperson and leader.


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