Charmed by IMsL/IMsBB

On Friday, December 21st, IMsL owner and co-producer Glenda Rider started a short-term, early bird sale of our new, ‘effen cool, custom-made, lead-free pewter IMsBB XV Celebration charms. (Chain not included.) We are selling these charms for $15 USD (plus S/H) in honor of what will soon be 15 years of International Ms Bootblack (IMsBB) contests. All purchases will help the organization afford the costs attached to helping our IMsBBs get to IMsL 2013 (April 18-21) and the creation of a documentary about our bootblacks and the IMsBB contest.


Boot Charm close up

IMsBB XV Celebration Boot Charm

IMsBB Boot Charm sole

IMsBB XV Celebration Boot Charm sole

Yes, your 15 bucks (USD) can help create an off-the-hook IMsL 2013 and IMsBB XV experience in San Francisco!

As the IMsL organization’s historian and archivist, I am obligated (okay, I’m “possessed”) to tell a tale about our IMsBB XV charms. A small team of us have been working on getting these charms made…and we’ve been working on it for months. I received the first dozen of these boots about two weeks ago and, trust me, it was hard not to rip open the envelope and put the first one I found around my neck. Instead, I talked with Glenda Rider and IMsBB 1999 Leslie Anderson—the first International Ms Bootblack—and we agreed that there was one particular person above all others who should be the first to wear the charm: former IMsL owner and producer (and, of course, IMsL 1993) Amy Marie Meek.

Amy Marie Meek created the International Ms Bootblack contest. To bring the contest to life, she worked with International Mr Leather (IML) owner Chuck Renslow to revise what was then the International Bootblack contest—a contest that, while open to all bootblacks, was never won by a woman-identified individual. Upon the creation of the IMsBB title for the 1999 contest, Mr. Renslow and the IML team shifted the bootblack contest at IML to the International Mr Bootblack contest…and, collectively, Mr. Renslow and Amy Marie Meek reshaped the face of bootblacking and enhanced the visibility of woman-identified bootblacks.

Leslie Anderson and I took a trip from Chicago to Omaha, Nebraska last week to spend time with Amy Marie Meek. While there, we collected Amy Marie’s VHS tapes of the contests, pictures and administrative documents (applications, tally sheets, judges books, etc.), and we then brought all these fabulous items back to Chicago in preparation of adding additional items to the IMsL archive and our collection at Leather Archives & Museum (LA&M). It was an amazing weekend, and I am now feverously converting VHS tapes and reviewing film footage in preparation for the IMsBB XV documentary.

Though collecting the historical items was exciting for me, it was not the highlight of our trip: my favorite moment of the weekend was the presentation of the first IMsBB XV Celebration charm to Amy Marie Meek.

A special charm for the founder of the IMsBB Contest

A special charm for the founder of the IMsBB Contest

4--Letter to Amy with XV charm

On Saturday, December 15, 2012, Leslie and I surprised Amy Marie and presented her with the first IMsBB XV boot charm. Because it was a special occasion I decided her charm deserved a special presentation: a Tiffany & Co. chain. (C’mon, no eye rolling: I’m a Femme…and I know the way that “blue box” makes someone feel! And the creator of the IMsBB contest deserves nothing less than Tiffany & Co., at least, in my mind.)

It was a touching moment. Upon accepting the gift, Amy Marie asked Leslie, the first IMsBB, to place the necklace and charm around her neck…and then she turned the tables and helped Leslie put her charm around her neck. As the IMsL historian and a Leatherwoman who is grateful for the women who helped pave the way for me, I was honored and humbled to be standing there watching IMsL 1993/former IMsL owner/the IMsBB Contest’s creator and the first IMsBB help one another and recognize all that they started…and then discuss how far Leatherwomen and women who bootblack have come since that first contest in 1999.


Leslie Anderson, IMsBB 1999 and Amy Marie Meek, founder IMsBB Contest (and IMsL 1993)

IMsBB 1999 Leslie Anderson and Amy Marie Meek, founder IMsBB Contest (and IMsL 1993)

I wear the charm now, too…and I wear it proudly in honor our 14 IMsBBs, Amy Marie Meek and in hope and pre-appreciation for the person who will become our 15th IMsBB and continue the tradition of international Leather and bootblack ambassadorship.

Christina, IMsL's Archivist and Historian

Christina, IMsL’s Archivist and Historian

Please consider investing in the International Ms Bootblack XV Celebration by purchasing a $15 USD charm or two. And don’t wait: Glenda’s pre-sale of the charms only lasts until January 11th!

To “order” your IMsBB XV Celebration charm, please email your request to or text Glenda directly at 410-963-0567. Each charm is $15.00 US plus shipping and handling.

Once you get your charm, make sure to show everyone your love of bootblacks: snap a pic of yourself wearing the charm and post it to the International Ms Leather group on Facebook!

Amy tat and charm

Special thanks to the following folks who helped bring these charms into being: BC Bear, Niki, Rachel (who came up with the IMsBB sole—brilliant!), Leslie Anderson and Riley Johnson.

IMsL Historian and Archivist