From the technical boot competition to the hospitality suites, the 2023 International Ms Leather and International Ms Bootblack contests (IMsLBB) were held by their fifth generation this weekend in Piscataway, New Jersey. Leather women of all kinds gathered to play, learn, and compete in a space geared towards their enjoyment. The leather community gathered from Thursday to Sunday with women working hard and playing harder. Producer Mademoiselle Ceci and the crew of people that led this weekend created a hotel takeover on the East Coast. They created IMsLBB Generation Five and it was a smashing success.
Top image: International Ms Leather 2023, Liquid.
Photo by Photo Muffin.
“IMsLBB Gen 5 is led by Black, Brown, and Trans people,” Teagan stated Friday night. Teagan made clear to the crowd that Generation Five is a new generation creating new ideas. It is to be led by the most marginalized in the leather community so that it can be inclusive and accessible to everyone. This idea was demonstrated throughout the event. From requiring volunteer hours from every participant to having ASL accessibility at every gathering within IMsLBB, Gen Five matched their action to their words.
Saturday night, funds were raised for the titleholders’ travel throughout the year, so that they can go where they need to go and take care of their obligations to the community. The Generation Five team put together ways to donate that would allow almost everyone in the audience to donate what they could so no one felt left out. If you were a member of the audience you could put a dollar in a bucket and if you were the last person to do so, and the person that collected it got to the judge first, then you were given a ticket to IMsLBB the following year. For a dollar. This simple act by the Generation Five producers allowed anyone to donate, again making IMsLBB more accessible.
This year there is no International Ms Bootblack. To win a bootblack contest the contestant must make 80% of total points, Mx Barbie did not meet that threshold. As a result, they did not become International Ms Bootblack.
One judge of the International Ms Bootblack portion of the contest was from Baltimore. Girl Amelia has lived in Baltimore since 1997 and has given her bootblack skills to the community since 2008. By serving as a bootblack judge, Girl Amelia represented Baltimore on an international stage. “IMsLBB is an international title and requires a lot of visibility as well as being able to represent the entire leather community … as well as the skills as a bootblack,” Girl Amelia stated. International Ms Bootblack is more than whether you can shine a pair of boots or black leather pants. It is a social obligation. A representative of the title must be able to draw in bootblacks young and old and make them feel a part of the community.
Much like the International Ms Bootblack title, International Ms Leather is a title that requires significant service from its holder. This year, the person filling these obligations will be Liquid. Liquid was going to run for the title in 2020 and due to Covid 19 was unable to do so. As a result, they ran for the title in 2023, and won. Liquid will now represent the women’s community throughout the United States and beyond. She will bring a platform to leather women so that their voices and needs can be amplified, including those from Baltimore.
At the contest this weekend there was an expansive turnout of folks from the Mid-Atlantic region. IMsLBB’s location in New Jersey allowed many to come to the international event for the first time. This year some of the Mid-Atlantic clubs that were represented included FIST (Females Investigating Sexual Terrain); COMMAND, MC (Corps of Marylanders Making a Noticeable Difference, Motorcycle Club); Hooker and Boys Ministries; Bucks, MC; and the Mid-Atlantic Onyx Pearls. Each of these clubs came to New Jersey to represent the Mid-Atlantic area. They did so with pride.
Generation Five has truly raised the number of Queers and POC folks in attendance. Both people taking part of IMsLBB and the leaders that front-run the event are more diverse than they have ever been. This representation is seen throughout the country down to the individuals who walk our streets in Baltimore and the Mid-Atlantic. Liquid, International Ms Leather 2023, now represents a generation that is bringing about the start of great change for the Leather community.