Friday, July 14, 2000

Meet the IML 2000 Team

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #134, July 14, 2000)

Welcome to everyone attending the Atons’ Gopher XIV Run: The Legend of Paul Bunyan, (July 21-23) and a special welcome to you if you’re from out of town. Have a great weekend. Remember, safety first as you’re chopping that wood.

Here are the top three finishers at this year’s International Mr. Leather contest. International Mr. Leather 2000 Mike Taylor will spend his title year representing the Leather/SM community, assisted by his first and second runners-up, Scott Bloom and Bob “Puppy” Pedder.

This year’s IML team, it turns out, is something of a family affair. At the press conference the day after the contest, new IML Taylor was asked, “Who’s the first person you called when you found out you won?” His response: “I didn’t have to call anybody. They were all there.” Turning to second runner-up Pedder, he continued, “And Puppy was right there beside me. Puppy and I are from the same leather family.” Pedder chimed in: “And we’ve adopted Scott!”

International Mr. Leather 2000 Mike Taylor

PHOTO: Taylor.tif—Mike Taylor

International Mr. Leather 2000 Mike Taylor also holds the title of Mr. Heartland Leather 2000. His sponsor is Heartland Leather Productions and TriState Leather of Columbus, OH. He is a resident of Cincinnati, OH and works for Procter & Gamble in marketing. He regularly schedules and participates in frequent fundraising events for the Leather Archives & Museum and has helped develop the “S&M Reform School,” a teaching event hosted by the Serpent Bar in Cincinnati that reaches out to those less familiar with leather through live demonstrations and discussions.

Asked about his priorities for the coming year, Taylor responded: “Continuing passing of the knowledge down to the next generation. We’ll use the labels of old guard and new guard, that’s what we’ve chosen, but to continue to figure out ways to make connections through learning, play, training, and through community events like IML—to continue the momentum of bringing all our different groups together.” He also plans to continue to raise funds to pay off the mortgage on the Leather Archives & Museum’s new home.

Taylor is an articulate and passionate speaker, and when asked about reaching out to the broader GLBT communities, his response was quotable: “This community has always been outlaw, and it’s always been a leader. That means it stands alone, and it’s always gonna be that way, and don’t kid yourself. Yes, we will make bonds with our other brothers and sisters, and I hope they sometime realize when the right wing puts us in a camp, it’s not gonna matter if you’re in Banana Republic khakis, or if you’re in leather—we’re all going into the camp.”

The text of the speech Taylor delivered during the IML contest is available on the web at

IML 2000 First Runner-up Scott Bloom

PHOTO: Bloom.tif—Scott Bloom

IML 2000 First Runner-up Scott Bloom is a television editor from the Long Beach, CA area. He follows in the footsteps of Sean Reilly, IML 1999 First Runner-up, and Mark Malan, IML 1998 First Runner-up, all of whom were sponsored by Pistons Bar of Long Beach. When I asked him why contestants from Pistons keep doing so well in IML, Bloom attributed it at least partly to the fact that Pistons has a large and very diverse clientele from all areas of the gay, leather and bear communities, and this diversity produces titleholders who are well-rounded and familiar with all areas of the community.

Bloom is involved with Leather Archives & Museum and is working on a documentary history of the motorcycle club to which he belongs. Other than that, when asked about his plans for the coming year, he simply says, “Like I said in my speech, I’m gonna work.”

IML 2000 Second Runner-up Bob “Puppy” Pedder

PHOTO: Pedder.tif—Puppy

Bob “Puppy” Pedder, Mr. Boston Leather 2000, comes from the same leather family as new IML Mike Taylor, and Taylor refers to Pedder as his “evil brother.” Pedder is an event marketing specialist and fundraiser by profession, and one of the things he envisions is putting together large fundraisers benefiting both the Leather Archives & Museum and local charities.

Pedder is HIV-positive and legally blind. At the IML press conference he gave details: “I lost 80% of my vision from CMV (cytomegalovirus) and I’ve been legally blind since October, 1996. A lot of my vision is almost like looking through some of that fog that you saw coming up on the stage at the contest. There’s no focus. I can’t tell if a lot of you are wearing a shirt or a t-shirt—I can’t really tell if you’re sticking your tongue out at me.”

At the contest the night before, Pedder started his speech by saying, “I was with Judy Collins a few weeks ago—she sends her best. She was receiving a lifetime achievement award for battling cancer, and I had a chance to talk with her about my battle with AIDS, losing my vision, being a puppy, and coming to Chicago for IML.” Pedder said Collins told him what she enjoyed most about his story was “seeing the pride in your face.” Pedder continued, “Our community has accomplished so much, and we have much to be proud of. And although I can’t see the pride in your face, I feel it. So I’d like to honor that pride by singing a song Judy recorded in 1971. Please hum along.”

He then sang “Amazing Grace”: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound/that saved a wretch like me/I once was lost but now I’m found/Was blind but now I see.” He later told me it was appropriate both literally and metaphorically—it touched not only on his vision loss, but also on “what it’s like to come into the leather community lost, and be taken under someone’s wing or a group of people’s wings.” He also said he very much appreciated “all of the contestants and the folks at IML” being so compassionate and helpful during the weekend.

Pedder said he is also very pleased with the choice of Scott Bloom as first runner-up. Bloom “was one of the first contestants I met at contestant registration, and from the very start he continued to come up to me and remind me who he was. So I got to know him probably a little bit better than a lot of the other contestants.”

There has never been another IML contestant with a vision impairment. Several years ago a vision-impaired contestant from Iowa registered for the contest but wasn’t able to actually come to Chicago to compete.

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