Dallas’ Jeffrey Payne storms into Chicago to claim the top title at IML
Each year, around 50 leather men from across the U.S. and as far away as Munich, Germany and Zurich, Switzerland descend on Chicago for Memorial Day weekend to strut in front of thousands of onlookers, daddies and boys — as well as more than a half-dozen judges — to vie to be the chief ambassador from the leather community for a year.
There had been 30 International Mr. Leather titleholders until this weekend. That’s when the 31st was named.
And his name was Jeffrey Payne.
The reigning Mr. Texas Leather 2009, a 41-year-old H.R. manager, arrived in Dallas following Hurricane Katrina and proudly represented Texas in the competition, besting second- and third-place contestants from Atlanta and Ottawa, Canada.
"I was completely shocked — I’m still completely shocked!" Payne says of his victory over 53 other contestants.
Dan Perry, the owner of the Mr. Texas Leather event — which crowned Payne earlier this year with its title — says he expects great things from this year’s winner.
"Jeffrey is about going out and meeting people. He has been incredibly open to everyone he meets in his journey. He’ll be a great representative for our community — he’s an incredible person," says Perry.
Payne will attend leather events and regional competitions around the country and is planning to go to events in Europe this summer, Perry says. Both Mr. Texas Leather and International Mr. Leather have travel funds, but the winner spends quite a bit of his own money traveling.
There has been a Mr. Texas Leather competition since 1996. The last Dallas-based winner was Stephen Weber, who won IML in 2002.
Before the competition, Payne told Dallas Voice that the title "will not determine my involvement in the community." But it’s hard to imagine being king of all kink doesn’t help.
There will be a welcome back party for Payne at the Dallas Eagle, 2515 Inwood Road, May 30 at 10 p.m.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 29, 2009.