Friday, June 16, 2000

Web Extra: IML 2000 Judges

(Leather Life column published on Lavender Magazine website, Issue #132, June 16, 2000)

PHOTO: 2062.JPG The IML 2000 judges, from left: Marcus Hernandez, Llaugher Valentin, Jim Dohr, David Kloss, Amy Marie Meek, Eduardo Bettega Curial, Woody Bebout, Bruce Chopnik, and Thom Dombkowski.

Thom Dombkowski, IML Chief Judge

Co-founder of Chicago House, the Midwest’s first residency program for people living with AIDS, Thom went on to become a Program Director for the Chicago Department of Public Health, a position from which he retired in early 1999. He has spent the past year enjoying world travel visiting Great Britain, Argentina, Egypt, Antarctica, Texas, California and Washington, DC. For 20 years, he has served IML in a variety of roles including Charity Liaison, Press Coordinator, Judge Coordinator, Tallymaster, and, for the ninth year, is IML’s Chief Judge.

Bruce Chopnik, International Mr. Leather 1999

Bruce, from Denver, Colorado, was on the other side of the Judges’ table last year. He has since spent an active year as IML 1999 encouraging individuality/spirituality and growth within the gay and lesbian community at a local and national level, promoting education and awareness to gay youth, and establishing better and new community relationships between the gay community and corporate America. Bruce, the producer of the Rocky Mountain Leather 1999 Contest, has been officially honored or recognized by the following organizations for support and dedication to their causes: Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, Human Rights Campaign Fund, Colorado AIDS Project, Mayor’s Gay and Lesbian Advisory Board, Colorado Gay Rodeo Association, Colorado Tavern Guide Association, Alexander Foundation, Colorado Legal Initiative (Amendment Two), Denver Gay and Lesbian Community Center, and LambdaCOM.

Woody Bebout, International Mr. Drummer 1991

In the words of Thom Dombkowski: “As 1991 International Mr. Drummer, he is the most eloquent man to ever hold a leather title anywhere in the world.” Woody holds the titles of International Mr. Drummer 1991-1992, Mr. St. Louis Leather Pride 1990, and Mr. Great Plains Drummer 1991. Woody has been active in numerous community and civic activities, including service as a Board member and President of St. Louis Effort for AIDS and the St. Louis Ryan White Title I Planning Council. His work on behalf of persons living with HIV and AIDS in the St. Louis area includes being a founding member of Food Outreach, which provides food and nutritional supplements, and being a current member of the Board of Directors of Doorways, an interfaith organization offering housing and housing assistance. He is an active parishioner and member of the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis. Woody is a partner in a St. Louis law firm, where he has practiced for the past sixteen years in the areas of commercial and business litigation. Woody rides a 1999 Honda Valkyrie and would like to tour the western U.S. and Canada in 2001. Housing opportunities are greatly appreciated!

Eduardo Bettega Curial, Owner, Argos Bar, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Eduardo is a driving force within the gay scene of Amsterdam. Since coming to Holland from his native Brazil, Eduardo turned from training for the diplomatic corps and began actively promoting gay events for the community. Easily recognizable by his swarthy looks and friendly manner, Eduardo was Tom’s Man IML in 1996. This is his second time on the judging panel for International Mr. Leather.

Jim Dohr, Chicago Leatherman

Jim has been a member of Chicago’s leather community since the late 1970s. He was instrumental in putting IML on the leather map during its formative years by serving as Weekend Coordinator and Associate Producer from 1980 through 1984. Jim was also the General Manager of the legendary Gold Coast, Chicago’s premier leather bar, from 1983 through 1985. Jim is currently a Public Health Administrator with the Chicago Department of Public Health division of STD/HIV/AIDS Public Policy and Programs. Additionally, he can be seen weekends on his knees giving good “customer service” at Male Hide’s Leather Cell at the Cell Block.

David Kloss, International Mr. Leather 1979

Thom Dombkowski introduced him as “the owner of the first red hanky ever created, the first International Mr. Leather and still the best-looking one of them all.” David Kloss, from San Francisco, was the first IML, reason enough to include him in this illustrious panel of judges. But in the intervening years David has distinguished himself not only as an exemplary and representative international titleholder, but also as a tireless and very personally involved advocate in all areas of AIDS treatment and prevention. David’s work career in the oil industry, was, like that of so many others, interrupted by AIDS, and he went on disability in 1991. He then began volunteering with community and AIDS organizations and, over the years, David has co-hosted numerous events and served in many capacities including: Administrator, board member and treasurer for the Assistance Fund of Houston; board member and treasurer of the HIV Wellness Center of Austin; volunteer for “Under One Roof” in San Francisco. David’s leather involvements include co-sponsorship of “Nights in Black Leather” (another AIDS fundraiser) and service as a Board Member for SMMILE in San Francisco (an umbrella group that works with organizations producing the Folsom Street Fair, Dore Alley Fair and the “South of Market Bare Chest Calendar” — which last year alone raised $215,000). David has extensive connections with the national leather community, served as Mr. San Francisco Leather in 1979, the very first IML, a judge for IML in 1980 and again in 1998. The loss of five partners and MANY friends, along with the fact that he, too, has been HIV+ for many years, has caused David to channel life in a manner geared and focused to help others who are living with AIDS. He and his partner, Gerald Pennington, live very happily in San Francisco.

Amy Marie Meek, Owner, Bare Images Productions

Amy Marie Meek, owner of Bare Images Production, Inc., is also the Executive Producer of the International Ms. Leather Contest Weekend, and holds the titles of International Ms. Leather 1993 and Ms. Leather Nebraska 1992. A long-time resident of Omaha, Nebraska, Amy has been an activist for many years. Among her contributions to our community are: serving on the steering committee for the 1993 March on Washington; being the first female judge for International Mr. Leather; founding the Omaha Players Club; presenting hordes of educational presentations, and winning the Reader’s Choice Pantheon Award in 1995. Despite having recently doubled her household (including humans, pets AND wardrobe), Amy is happy at home surfing eBay, taking care of IMsL, and planning for a future that includes a wedding and childcare. Amy is thrilled that the participation at each year’s International Ms. Leather grows larger and more diverse, and she invites all to join “Kinky” in Toronto in July 2000 as IMsL “goes International”!

Llaugher Valentin, Washington, DC

Long-time leather activist, Master Logger is a member of the Leather Community in body, mind, spirit and soul. A member of the Centaur Motorcycle Club, Logger is a staunch advocate of deaf leatherfolk and other leatherfolk with disabilities. Logger is a father to three children, Daddy to many boys, owner of several slaves and one Eunuch, and valued friend and mentor to many. He is also a piercer, interpreter, translator, government employee and all around OK guy.

Marcus Hernandez, IML Judge Emeritus

Hernandez, judging for his 20th year, was San Francisco’s First Emperor, a founding member of AIDS Emergency Fund and Operation Concern. Marcus is an award-winning leather columnist for the Bay Area Reporter. He was introduced by Chief Judge Thom Dombkowski thusly: “I really think it was Marcus that suggested to God in the first place that he actually create the cow so we could enjoy leather. And he was also a close personal friend of the serpent.”

Next Year’s Judges

Next year’s judges for IML 2001 are Thom Dombkowski, Marcus Hernandez, Washington DC community activist Jack McGeorge, president of GMSMA (New York’s Gay Male S/M Activists) Bob Pesche, American Leatherman 1997 Jim Raymond, the first International Mr. Deaf Leather Philip Corey, Australian leatherman Laurie Lane, and International Ms. Leather 1996 Jill Carter.

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