Julie “Jewel” Vanderlee from Bloomfield, New Jersey, was selected Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman 2019 during the 10th annual MAL-W / Bootblack Contest held in Baltimore over the weekend of August 24th and 25th. Jewel who is employed by Lambda Legal is a BDSM / kink educator and a well-known producer of pansexual play parties. Runner-up for MAL-W 2019 and the recipient of the Connie Cox Spirit Award was Clo from Baltimore. In an interesting twist of events Amy D. Phillips, who was also stepping down after a very successful year as Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman 2018 was selected as Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman Bootblack 2019. There were no additional contestants.

The weekend began on Friday with a meet-and-greet gathering at Mixer’s bar. Sir Steve and I wanted to get there a little early before the bar got packed. When we arrived, the judges were having a meeting on Mixer’s patio. This year’s judges were Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman Bootblack 2017 Wicked Jade, education chair for ONYX Mid-Atlantic Sir S’ango ONYX, chairwoman for the Lesbian Sex Mafia Bianca Spencer, founding member of the Virginia Leatherwomen United Ma’am Karen (who had her club at the contest in force), and former host of the Leather Hour, a radio show in the Houston and Galveston area, Mz Max Rulz.

There is always something wonderful about being packed into a small space. It was a beautiful evening on Mixer’s patio and great to be standing in close proximity to people adept in conversation, which is sometimes a lost art in our world of texting and social media. I met several new people.

On Saturday afternoon the contest was held at Grand Central. We again arrived early, which gave us a chance to peruse the large silent auction before the main event began. When we got to the dance bar area where the contest was held, Sir Steve commented that there were so many flyers and items on the chairs that it looked like a run pack. (Always great to see lots of leather events planned for our area.) It was a very enjoyable contest with emcees Ms. Alaska Leather 2010 / 2011 Sarha Shaubach, the producer of Northern Exposure, Alaska’s only BDSM convention, and Baltimore’s own Queen of Comedy Shawnna Alexander. Both emcees provided lots of witty repartee and kept the contest moving along. In lieu of the traditional national anthem, the event began with a moment of silence for our divided nation. The rest of the afternoon was pure entertainment without any additional politics. Both emcees also provided a little entertainment with Sarha doing a very thought-provoking piece about technology replacing human interaction and Shawnna keeping everyone laughing while she performed: “You Can’t Pray the Gay Away.”

I’ve judged lots of contest and I always comment that for me the most important judged category is the contestant’s interview with the judges. So many times, I’ve seen contestants look great and speak well on stage, but not be selected. The audience is often left to wonder why. The answer is usually that during the interview the contestant lacked community service, lacked basic knowledge of the community, or simply wanted the title for the wrong reason. Unfortunately, the audience doesn’t see the interview. At this year’s MAL-W Contest the producers Evil Twins Productions (Rik Newton-Treadway and Tina Landi) tried something different; the interviews were held on-stage during the contest. Yes, it added some time to the contest, but it gave the audience a real look at the contestants. It would have also been very helpful for anyone planning to compete in a leather contest.

Contestants were also judged on “hot wear,” on-stage question, performed an on-stage fantasy, and presented a brief speech while wearing their best formal leather image. There may have been only three contestants, but it was quality over quantity. Jewel, with the help of International Ms. Leather 2016 Lascivious Jane, gave us a very hot Catholic schoolgirl skit and Clo was very sexy while being flogged by a Sir.

There were very heartfelt step-aside speeches by Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman Bootblack 2018 Bumper, who shared with the audience some of her many experiences during her year, and Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman 2018 Amy, who talked about inclusion in the leather community stating: “Don’t be afraid to take up space. The community has space for you!”

Also working hard to make this contest run so smoothly were Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman 2011 Morgaine, who was  the den daddy, judges’ boy Hooker & Boys member boy Jake, ASL interpreters Debbie Jones and Jean Arif, stage managers Mid-Atlantic Community Bootblack 2008 David “Pug” Spellman, Southeast Bootblack 2009 / 2010 Margaret, and tally masters also from Hooker & Boys Paulie and from FIST Ms. Baltimore Eagle 1999 Buz.

It takes a lot of work to put on a leather contest. Thank God that people are willing to step-up and do it. The tenth annual Mid-Atlantic Leather Woman Contest was another great event. In fact, one could say it was a perfect ten.

Author Profile

Rodney Burger
Rodney Burger
Rodney is originally from Hagerstown, Maryland and for many years has lived in Baltimore. In April 2017, Rodney was sworn in for his 10th year as the President of the ShipMates Club of Baltimore. He has been involved in the leather community for many years, but often denies that he sold Jell-O shots at The Last Supper. He has been writing THE LEATHER LINE for the BALTIMORE OUTLOUD newspaper (Baltimoreoutloud.com.) for over fourteen years. He has produced the Mr. & Ms. Baltimore Eagle Contest and the Maryland LeatherSIR/Leatherboy Contest. In 2001 he was proud to serve as Maryland Mr. Drummer 2001. Rodney also does stand-up comedy and in 2013 was thrilled to perform at Philadelphia Leather Pride Night. He has been nominated multiple times for a Pantheon of Leather Award, was selected Leather Man of the Year in 2013 by COMMAND M.C. and by the Baltimore Leather Association of the Deaf in 2006. The 11th annual 12 Days of Christmas benefit show was dedicated to Rodney and his partner Sir Steve. He has been twice selected as ShipMate of the Year. He has judged Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather 2015, Atlantic States LeatherSIR / Leatherboy and recently judged Mr. Eagle NYC 2018. He is delighted to be able to bring news of his beloved leather community to his readers every issue.