CHICAGO — Looking for something that says "Dad likes leather?"
Leathermen are descending on the Magnificent Mile this weekend for the annual International Mr. Leather competition — a Ms. America-type pageant for the fetish set.
The convention takes place at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, 540 N. Michigan Ave., Friday through Monday.
Contenders hoping to be crowned International Mr. Leather are judged on their physique, stage presence, and public speaking ability before the audience and judges Saturday night.
A stand-out contestant has knowledge of the history of the International Mr. Leather and is active in their local community, said event spokesman Michael Holler.
Contestants get active by "raising funds for GLT [gay, lesbian, transgender] issues, AIDS, things that relate to bullies, anything that could affect the GLT alternative lifestyle," Holler said.
The weekend culminates with The Black and Blue Ball, a "final blow-out and wildest party of IML," Monday at Castle nightclub in River North, formerly known as Excalibur.
Weekend packages ranging from $175 to $205 can be purchased here. The event is still looking for volunteers, and single-event tickets can be bought at the Marriott.
A walk-through market with leather items and gear is open to the public, but the convention asks for a $5 donation, Holler said.
The market is a great opportunity for those who don't live the leather lifestyle to learn more, Holler said.
"Anyone from the public can come on down and walk through the market...to see what's there and get to know poeple," he said. "A lot of the guys are very friendly and outgoing and willing to explain the leather community if you have questions about it."