The new Gulf Coast Leather Sir 2013 is…

Jason Kloss!

Yep, this Leather Sir/boy/community bootblack competition was held at the Dallas Eagle over the weekend. Kloss took the title from current holder and Dallas leatherman Jack Duke, who also served as one of the judges.

In the leather world, Gulf Coast Leather Sir is a regional feeder competition to the International Leather Sir, held every summer. It’s an interesting competition because, unlike IML which is always in Chicago, ILS relocates every year to a different city. And when Kloss competes next August, he’ll have to go all the way to… Dallas, Texas. Yep, the 2013 International Leather Sir comes to Big D! And Duke is also the reigning International Leather Sir 2012, which puts Kloss in line to succeed him … if he wins, of course. Let’s hear it for hometown advantage!

If Kloss’ name looks at all familiar to you, it might be because just a month ago, we profiled Kloss as one of the out gay residents of the Disney Streets in North Dallas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Jack Duke wins International Leather Sir

When someone comes in the top 3 at a competition like International Mr. Leather, they usually hang up their competition jockstrap and become a senior statesman of the leather community. For a few years, Jack Duke did just that — judging other leatherman competitions, attending ex officio, etc.

But it turns out Duke wasn’t quite done with competing.

This weekend, Duke took first place in the International Leather Sir/boy competition in San Francisco.

It’s a wonderful coup for the Dallas-based pastry chef, following his third-place finish at IML in 2010, where he competed as Mr. Texas Leather.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

And the new IML is … NOT from Texas

The run couldn’t last forever. In 2009, Dallas’ Jeffrey Payne won the overall title at International Mr. Leather. Last year, Dallas’ Jack Duke came in third overall. This year, Mr. Texas, Roger Triche, was from Houston and represented Texas at IML. Roger unfortunately finished out of the money, and the winner for 2011 ended up being Frenchman Eric Gutierrez, the reigning Mr. Leather Europe.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Heavy metal

Jack Duke, Dallas’ top leatherman, bucks the odds by placing at IML

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor  jones@dallasvoice.com




2009’s International Mr. Leather, Jeffrey Payne

BRONZE LEATHER | Jack Duke took a medallion at IML, only Texas’ fourth finalist win in the competition’s history, right on the heels of 2009’s International Mr. Leather, Jeffrey Payne. (Arnold Wayne Jones/DallasVoice)




Even though he really wanted to win International Mr. Leather, Jack Duke knew going in not to expect lightning to strike twice.
It almost did though.

Duke was already the reigning Mr. Dallas Eagle and Mr. Texas Leather when he headed up to IML in Chicago last month to compete alongside 52 other leathermen for the top title in the community. The problem was, his story was already news last year. That’s when Jeffrey Payne — who was also Mr. Dallas Eagle and also Mr. Texas Leather — won the IML title. What were the chances Duke would repeat?

Not very good, especially since Payne was already considered one of the top winners of IML ever — so good, in fact, that this year, an award was named after him. Those are big jackboots to fill.

But Duke did almost the impossible, coming in second runner-up and bringing home to Texas only its fourth IML medallion in 30-plus years.

“Almost 1,500 men have competed in IML in the last 34 years; there are just 34 of these [second runner-up medallions]. And this is just the fourth medallion in Texas ever. Not bad. My only hope is that the community is happy. It was a lot of work,” he says.

Not bad for a man who barely spoke English five years ago when he moved to Dallas from his homeland of Italy.

When he first arrived in the U.S., Duke spoke some English but was not fluent, especially when in groups or with those who spoke too fast. He’d just “smile and wave” a lot, he says — not bad training for his pageant career, as it turned out.

His current arc marks the first year that Duke, who was also involved in the leather community in Italy, has competed. But it’s probably the last time, too.

“It’s been a very long few months and I’m happy the way I am. I don’t think I’m gonna do another competition — I’m good with what I got,” he says.

While it was his first competition, it wasn’t Duke’s first time at IML — he was an observer in 2009 when Payne took the title. The experience this time, however, was very different.
“I was there last year and it was fun; this year was fun in a different way,” he says. “This year I had so much to do, from Wednesday when we arrived till Tuesday morning when I left, that I didn’t have time even for eating. But it was a good experience. I think I made friends for the rest of my life.”

There’s certainly evidence that he was a popular finalist. Already he has received offers from leather groups in Europe (Italy, Germany) to be an honored guest, as well as Oklahoma and Houston. And in true Texas fashion, he says his first obligation will be to the Lone Star State.

“My obligations are for Texas first,” he says. “Since I am not the IML winner but second runner-up, I have the option to choose. So I’m setting all my dates in Texas and any other offers will be evaluated. Luckily I travel so much [with my job] I can manage” appearances all over the country.

The overall experience was surreal for Duke — from taking over and entire downtown Hyatt Regency to the pace he had to maintain.

“When you’re there, you live in this bubble,” he says. “You can even walk on Michigan Avenue in leather and no one looks at you twice. Then you come back to reality. Last night, we went to see Sex and the City 2 and we haven’t seen so many women all week as we did at the theater!

“I got zero sleep. It was terrible. You have to get up early and go to the gym, which is packed with all the guys competing. The meetings are so early. And if an event starts at 6 or 7, we have to meet at noon. Winners get invited to a private dinner with the owner. The next morning you wake up and do photo shoots. It was like being in the army.”

Duke is proudest that he was able to give the Texas leather community another victory to crow about.

“This is good, putting Texas out there alongside Mr. Los Angeles Leather and Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather,” he says. “That’s giving a lot of focus on Texas. People are gonna pay attention now.”

Although, he concedes, “The next Mr. Texas is gonna have a lot of work!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice

Jeffrey Payne announces on his Facebook that Mr. IML 2010 is coming to Dallas gay Pride

Jeffrey Payne passed his Mr. IML title on to recent winner Tyler McCormick last month in Chicago. That doesn’t stop Payne from still working his ambassador-ship in the community. He just posted this status update on Facebook:

I am very pleased to announce that IML 2010, Tyler McCormick, has accepted our invitation to visit Dallas and ride in our Pride Parade in September! We have many plans to make for his visit and the Dallas Community is very excited about his participation!

I haven’t noticed a status update mentioning this on McCormick’s page, but that’s mostly because he “only shares some of his profile information with everyone.” What can I say? McCormick is seen here winning the title with our very own Jack Duke taking second runner-up.

—  Rich Lopez

Jack Duke placed third at IML

Reigning Mr. Texas Leather Jack Duke — who we profiled last week — made a great showing in Chicago for International Mr. Leather, coming in second runner-up behind Mr. San Francisco Leather and the winner, Mr. Rio Grande (based on New Mexico, not Texas). That’s a remarkable achievement, on the heels of outgoing International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne, who followed the same path as Duke last year.

Payne himself was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award … but not just any kind. He is the first recipient of the JEFFREY PAYNE Lifetime Achievement Award, which will henceforth be named after him. Payne really dedicated himself to leather during his tenure, and the citation reads: “In recognition of service above and beyond to the international leather community.” Yea for Duke! Yea for Payne! Yeah for Texas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mr. Texas Leather holds last IML fundraiser

Jack DukeIn the upcoming print edition of the Voice, we’ll have a story on Jack Duke, the reigning Mr. Dallas Eagle and Mr. Texas Leather, who hopes to become — next weekend! — the International Mr. Leather (a position currently held by fellow Dallasite Jeffrey Payne). In the run-up  to the contest in Chicago next week, Duke is holding his final local fundraiser on Thursday (before we hit the streets), so I figured we’d give a shout-out on his behalf.

For a $20 donation to the travel fund, you can join Duke and others in the leather community at a private residence in Oak Cliff for cocktails and appetizers, starting at 8 p.m. If you wonder whether it will be worth it … well, let’s put it this way: I’ve met Jack and photographed him. He’s not only nice, he’s hot, with a sexy, make-ya-melt Italian accent.

To RSVP and for directions, call 214-394-4640.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Jeffrey Payne profiled in HIV Plus magazine

In the Ask and Tell feature of HIV Plus’ May/June issue, they talk with 2009′s International Mr. Leather Jeffrey Payne, who also happens to be based in Dallas. Payne gives props to the Dallas leather community as well as talks about his role as the 2009 IML in speaking about HIV to the masses.

Here’s a snippet from the q&a:

So what’s been the crowd reaction in general to your candidness about your life with HIV?
It’s been terrific! In fact, at one conference where I gave a speech about being HIV-positive, one of the MCs also came out of the “HIV closet” and said he’d been positive for eight years but never felt comfortable telling anyone before. I know that if I continue to share my journey, others like him may draw strength and be able to free themselves of those invisible chains that HIV has wrapped around them.

Payne will surrender the title May 30 at this year’s IML in Chicago. All of our eyes are, of course, on Jack Duke, the current Mr. Texas Leather. We’re hoping he can pull off a clean sweep of leather titles just like Payne did in 2009.

—  Rich Lopez