Over the Memorial Day weekend Chicago hosted another infamous International Mr. Leather (IML) Expo. For those of you in the know, this may be a yawner, but for others this may be the moment to ponder why we so love Fashion!
Taking over the entire Hyatt Regency on Wacker (all 4,500 rooms!), this event sold out early. The hotel hosted an enormous leather tradeshow (like the auto show, lotsa free ephemera, except way naughtier), with erotic novelties, kinky innovations and booths that defined "fetish" with a capital "F". (Second "F's" sold separately).Major events also included an IML Victory Party at the House of Blues, a "Black & Blue Ball" at Excalibur Nightclub (formerly the Chicago Historical Society) as well as the Mr. Leather Contest held in the Grand Ballroom Wildly popular niche functions such as a Bootblack Reception, BLUF (breeches, leather, uniforms), Gear Blast (not auto, but sportsgear, lycra-- More fashion!)... a Woof Camp (for pups, dogs & handlers, not ASPA-related.
I've heard of no such groups for similarly festishized cats.
Did I forget to mention Rubbermen? Talk about wash & wearable!
IML has morphed into the largest event of it's kind. Thousands attended from all leathery parts of the world, with the English, French & Germans leading the way. Finally, something these enemies can now agree on.
Yes, this seemingly fringe fashion fraction has grown into one insatiable cultural top man.
Now why, you may ask is this relevant? Quite simply, 21st century America did not invent sex. If it did, the Teabaggers would have chosen a less conspicuous name in their particularly political game of dodge ball.
Leather has had numerous fashion comebacks over the years, so it's no surprise that it's back in a very black (the color) way.
"Dressing up" be it for a naughty 1920's party or a post millenium leather romp-- gives one the chance to walk in another man's (or woman's) shoes... or pumps... or high-waisted boots. If someone else wants to lick said footwear, who are we to judge? One man's trash in another man's trashy.
As we all well know from the Vintage Biz, turning trash into a treasured memory is not that far a salad to toss.
Let me head off the angry responses if I may, as I hear a great rumbling in my distant box of email regrets:
"A costume party" says the voice of traditional wisdom "is not a lifestyle. It's Halloween."
Being a Teabagger "may" be a lifestyle, but the Iowa votes aren't in on that issue just yet. However, Mitt Romney IS a lifestyle. Or at least part of his hair thinks it is.
Go with me here: I promise not to let you step into anything as distasteful as a credit default swap.
Think back to the times in your life when you dressed up as someone (or something) else. Maybe as part of a fantasy scene with a long gone "ex"-- or for the Generation "Y" Me, a Zombie Crawl. (Have you been to Andersonville yearly Zombie Crawl? You'll never look at spaghetti and/or red sauce the same way again.)
Costume, Culture & Couture are the antithesis of the dreaded "C" word.. and I don't mean Ann Coulter.
To explore yourself, discover yourself-- heck, perhaps define yourself-- is what life is all about. If you don't know, then who the hell are you?
How you show yourself to the world is what the world sees. So whether you're dressed up for a night on what's left of the town or partying like a Vegatarian Zombie on beer bong bar night, you've got your DRAG on.
Come on: Vegan Zombies? You can do better than that.
Drag is not cross-dressing unless you're trying to get booked on more than one of RuPaul's oh-so-many-cable shows. No, what you're wearing right now is drag. Boy George may have echoed the sentiment, but Oscar Wilde actually lived it... and 100 years earlier.
Leaning even further to the LEFT (hold on tight), Drag... be it Leather Drag, Tupperware Lady Drag, Woodless Log Cabin Republican Drag... that is a Lifestyle choice.
Leaning to the right: Having your hair done is a Lifestyle choice. Especially if florescent coloring, an overly creative perm or some new Bulgravian Cosmotology breakthru is involved.
How you feel after that hairdo-or-don't of a moment... that is the transformation. If you like your new look, your new/vintage 40's Cocktail Dress with the tailored collar, you discovered a part of you. You like yourself. Almost Sally Field kind-a-way, but not quite. How can this be bad.. except for the Flying None.
I will submit that it is a large leap from re-inventing one's everyday self via Couture, Vintage or otherwise affordable... to participating in IML. Some attend such events to join in the carnival of carnality. Some go to shop. Some go to see; others, be seen.
Whether exhibitionist or voyeur, the only thing different is the view.
Taking sex out of the equation, you could just as well be mauling the Magnificent Mile, attending your dead-beat brother's wedding to his third wife, or hitting up the latest Mario Batali restaurant.
There you are: All dressed up and some place to go.
So you better get your Drag Ass out there. The vintage clock is ticking... and it was new when you bought it.
Find your innter-outer-Oprah-Harpo-Marx-Lennon/John-Better U... And Quick!
Remember: You have people to disappoint!
Danny Alias, WDMS. Copyright, 2011