Kicking off the 30th Celebration of IMsL

International Ms. LeatherSAN JOSE – To celebrate the 30th year of IMsL, we are looking at not only talking about the amazing women who held the title over the years but also those women who competed for the title.  We will be featuring each year in our run up to the April 14-17, 2016 in San Jose.  We want to invite those classes to join us for a reunion and celebrate the generations of women who walk on to the IMsL stage.  Check out the IMsL Foundation Facebook page to see us step through the 30 years of IMsL history!

New Staff Positions
Thanks for the great response to the IMsL Productions, LLC open staff positions. Interviews for the positions are under way and the new staff should be announced shortly. The new staff will join the year-round IMsL/IMsBB Weekend planning staff. Check the website for a list of the positions that were open this year.

The IMsL Foundation is also in the process of creating the Board for the new non-profit.  The IMsL Foundation Board will work on Leatherwomen’s history, improving the quality of education and support the leadership development aspects of the IMsL/IMsBB year. The Board job description and application link are available on the web and will be open until September 15.  Please send this link to your networks and consider joining this amazing volunteer Board!  A look inside the IMsL/IMsBB Weekend Event!

IMsL Productions, LLC, with Executive Producer Sharrin Spector, plans the major part of the weekend.  The production of the weekend includes at $60,000 hotel contract for over 700 attendees, Food & Beverage over $11,000 and audiovisual and ballroom rentals close to $20,000. Of course there are the judges, MCs, performers and keynotes who are brought in for the weekend. Areas such as logistics, security, registration, hospitality, merchandising, vending, brunch and the contest all fall under the production side of the house.  Then there is the virtual side of the event like the web site, social media, e-newsletter, and photos that make up the weekend.  There is also the administrivia such as web hosting, advertising, and taxes since IMsL Productions is an Limited Liability Corporation. The budget to put on the event is close to $100,000 which is raised through registrations, hotel night bookings, merchandise sales, advertising, sponsors, and vendors.  The first year of the new generation (called Gen 4 of producers of the 30 year event begin in 2014) made a profit of $37.  In 2015, with an increase of 100 attendees, key staffing and a full year of planning in place, that profit increased to $2500.  All expenses by the staff were reimbursed and all contracts were paid in full.

The business of producing the IMsL/IMsBB Weekend is done with volunteers in every position.  Contracts are used for such areas as graphics design or when a specific budget item cannot be done through volunteers but those contracts are separate from staff planning function.  The staff for IMsL Productions consists of 14 year round planners (Sharrin, Tazz, Donja, Viviane, Miranda, Ian, Moose, Michele, Amy, Charlie, Logistics and the new Liaison positions (underrepresented populations based on the post event survey – People of Color, Under 25, Trans Women).  These are the major planners who shape the direction of the event, have programmatic decision authority and handle the major areas of the budget for the event.  Not counting the 3 Liaison positions, there are 5 self-identified People of Color at this level of the staff (45% of the current 11 positions).  We expect to add at least one more Person of Color in the Liaison position. There are 13 event specific planners that work in the 6 months prior to the event (Pig, Toy, Melissa, Jay, Vending, Brunch, Seduction, Shilo, Di, KD, Red, Monica, Beth) and almost 100 volunteers that join the team during the weekend.

What is the IMSL Foundation roll in the weekend?
Answer: Education, history, leadership development

For the last two years, the IMsL Foundation has been organizing, applying for 501(c)3 federal non-profit status and working on supporting the titleholders, planning education and beginning to raise the bar on creating access to a virtual history of IMsL/IMsBB Weekend and who we are as Leatherwoman/kinksters. This June, the IMsL Foundation was granted that non-profit status and will be taking a larger role in the IMsL/IMsBB Weekend. The current interim board consists of 4 members (Pat, Spencer, Sara, and Marlene) and our 2014 stepping down titleholders, Patty and Dara, who serve a one year term. The search for a permanent board is underway. Details of the positions and application process are on the web. This will be a working board that will need skills set such as accounting, marketing, education, and fundraising. Here are the majorr areas of focus for the IMsL Foundation:

  • Leadership Development/Titleholder Support – The major fundraising for the IMsL Foundation occurs during the IMsL/IMsBB Weekend through Thursday night Seduction, the weekend long Silent Auction, Poker, and Foundation sales and receptions. IMsL Productions has selected IMsL Foundation as the recipient of the weekend fundraisers  The funds raised are earmarked for the titleholder travel fund which supports their work as visible leaders and ambassadors in the community. The goal is to provide the IMsL/IMsBB titleholders $10,000 for their title year to reduce economic challenges for women who hold the titles. The Foundation also works to support local women’s communities. In the titleholder’s last quarter, they are invited to do an event in their local community. The IMsL Foundation provides matching funds for a local charity. This is a way to say thanks to a hometown community that has shared their local leaders.  In 2015, IMsL Foundation matched $500 for Inside Out in Portland and Rainbow Railroad in Toronto for Patty & Dara.  To support new women’s contests, small grants are being programmed to provide support. In 2014, one grant went to South Africa and so far, in 2015, grants were approved for Oklahoma and Los Angeles. A more formal application process for these grants will be in place on the web soon!


  • Education – In 2014, the planning process for workshops was on a short planning cycle and focused on creating workshops for the weekend. Data was gathered on the workshops and in 2015, the planning process for workshops and programming was formalized. Using Requests for Proposals (RFPs), the community is invited to submit workshops. These RFPs are being reviewed and selected by a committee this year that includes the new Liaison positions. You will see a wide range of courses and levels so attendees gain new skills and knowledge to take back to their home communities. We provide opportunities for new instructors through a workshop call 12T with short 12 minute talks, rated by the audience and and offer to present the next year. We have also created an “in the chair” workshop for bootblacks to gain experience and mentoring from national and international titleholders. Bringing in the best current educators and building our next generations of leaders and educators continues to work of the IMsL Foundation. Even the contest has changed to include a judged category to include a teaching segment in the interview portion that demonstrates their ability to teach in the community. The feedback from the workshops is used to recognize the top 10% of presenters in 2014. Funding in the form of a $100 stipend to was offered to have them return in 2015. For 2016, this program has been expanded to offer this stipend to the top 25% of presenters.  We want to recognize and thank our education cadre for their work and will continue to grow this program. We will also work with People of Color, Trans Women and Under 35 focus groups to extend the range of topics for 2016! The long-term goal is to help to fund quality educators to women’s events around the world through a grant request program!


  • Digitizing our History – Moving into IMsL’s 30th year, there is a lot of history that has been collected over the year in various ways.  Many organizations like the Leather Archives & Museum, the Center for Sex & Culture and the Carter Johnson Leather Library collect the physical artifacts of our history. The IMsL Foundation’s goal is not to collect more actual items but to digitize what we have and make it available for researchers and community members alike. Our first year goal was scanning in previous IMsL/IMsBB Weekend programs.  For 2016, we will be using the past programs to identify the contestant classes from previous years for a class reunion during the 2016 weekend. We have a staff archivist with extensive experience in collecting and archiving but also in encouraging researchers to access the materials and publish their work on the women’s leather/kink/BDSM community. Working with IMsL Productions, the Women’s Leather History Project and the Women’s International Leather Legacy (WILL) organizations, the Inside the Leather Jacket interview series started in 2015 with Sarah Humble interviewing Kate Bornstein and Barbara Carrellas at the IMsL/IMsBB Weekend. Sarah then interviewed Sharrin Spector at WILL in July. Watch for a virtual timeline on the web that will help in documenting our history. Check out your own archives and help us build the virtual archives for all of us to enjoy!

How do IMsL Productions/IMsL Foundation interact?
Answer: Cooperation and clarity on roles

Each organization is independent. IMsL Productions  organizes the rooms, volunteers, audiovisual support and overall structure of the IMsL/IMsBB Weekend and helps create fundraising opportunities for the IMsL Foundation. The IMsL Foundation is responsible for the content and programming of the workshops, silent auction and other events over the weekend.  Both organizations work to get the word out.  As the IMsL Foundation grows, they will begin to cover the costs of instructor registrations, workshop room costs, historical exhibits, and guest speakers for Inside the Leather Jacket and other projects that align with the IMsL Foundation goals in education, history and fundraising.  As a result, several staff positions are shared between the two organizations. The education, silent auction, webmaster and the new liaison positions report both to the Executive Producer of IMsL Productions for logistics and planning and to the Board President of IMsL Foundation for content and execution.

Both organizations are growing and looking to expand the Weekend and year round programs for the women’s Leather/Kink/BDSM communities around the world! Join us April 14-17, 2016 to see what else we have been up too!

International Ms. Leather