Let’s start with the basics. International Mr. Leather, the granddaddy of major leather events, will have it’s 34th gathering this year at the Hyatt Regency Chicago at Wacker Drive and Columbus. The hotel is likely sold out at this point, but there may be other hotel rooms available in the city. The annual event brings in 12,000 people through the vendor market and $18 million into the local economy.
If you don’t have a package for the weekend, you can still tour the market with a day pass for $5. Any available tickets for Pec & Personality and the contest itself will be available at the box office of the Hyatt Regency Chicago. And there’s still ALL the parties such as the long-running San Francisco Party and the ever popular ONYX Party and newer events such as WoofCamp, Gear Blast and the Chicago Rubbermen meet and greet. You can see the schedule here.
But that is just the beginning. Chicago is also home to Bear Pride. One of the older and bigger bear events in the country, the run is being held at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro Hotel on the other side of the downtown Loop from IML. Registration for this starts today if you haven’t already sign up. The usual parties like Nuts to Butts and Wet n Wild at Steamworks are on deck along with parties at the host hotel. And, with the purchase of an additional ticket, there is a bus to the IML host hotel for the contest on Sunday.
Usual bear bars Jackhammer and Touche are joined this year by Sofo Tap, an Andersonville bar that has made a splash to attract the ursine in town. Check out the full schedule here.
Then we have the Grabby’s. Consider it the Golden Globes of the gay porn industry. No, we don’t mean those globes. These are actual awards. The awards ceremony is on Saturday at the Park West in Lincoln Park. Regular hosts Honey West and Chi Chi Larue are joined as hosts by performers Adam Killian, Tom Wolfe and Austin Andrews. And while there are categories such as best supporting actor (far to easy to make a joke with that one), best screenplay and best movie, guys are hoping to win best porn site, best fetish movie, best cock and best cum scene. Pretty sure Meryl Streep won’t be in the running.
Grabbys parties take place all weekend at Boystown bars like Hydrate, Charlie’s Chicago and the Lucky Horseshoe. The public is welcome to all the events and you can get tickets and see the schecule here.
We’re not going to leave our het perv siblings out of the fun. IML, especially the market, does attract everyone with a kinky inclination. But another event, Shibaricon, is at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in the suburb of Rosemont. Anyone who wants to try both IML and Shibaricon will have to either take a very expensive cab ride or the much faster and cheaper Blue Line.
Unlike IML, Shibaricon is focused on one thing – bondage. Specifically, Japanese rope bondage. Classes, demos and vendors will be active all weekend. Registration has closed for the event and day passes are available only in limited quantities and only for Saturday and Sunday. This is the eighth year for the event and you can see the full schedule here.
LRA, Chicago’s oldest pansexual dungeon, is also celebrating eight years with their annual Fetish Ball. Held at the dungeon itself in Chicago’s Rogers Park (less than two blocks from both Jackhammer and Touche), it is open to everyone in town for IML and Shibaricon. There is no charge, but the club is asking for a donation to the Broadway Youth Center, a advocacy and support organization for the city’s LGBT youth. The only restriction is no jeans. ANY fetish wear, or none at all, is welcome however. Get details here.
This is just the surface. Every gay bar in the city becomes a fetish bar for the weekend and many clubs, dungeons and businesses are all doing something. We’ve tried to list as many as we can on our schedule but check the website of your favorite bars and clubs. One thing is for sure. If you’re bored, it’s your own fault this weekend.