Scott Smith will fly to Chicago in May to compete for the International Mr. Leather title on behalf of Palm Springs’ leather community.
Smith was awarded the Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2013 title Nov. 10 during the desert Leather Pride weekend, beating three other contestants in cruising-the-bar wear and other categories.
He has an ability to think on his feet and a “knowledge of issues and [their] effect on our community and the broader community” that are usually deciding factors for the judges, according to George Puddephatt, president of Palm Springs Leather Order.
In addition to the all-expense-paid trip to the “Windy City,” Smith won a $1,250 gift certificate from 665 Leather in Los Angeles.
He shared with Desert Outlook this week his strategy for dealing with an adversary and what he should do now to succeed in Chicago.
Question: What’s your favorite leather garment?
Smith: My Wesco boots are my favorite leather item. I bought them secondhand at Leather By Boots, a store that has since closed in downtown Dallas. I take excellent care of them. Each nick and scratch in them adds character and reminds me of all that has gone into my leather journey.
What would you say to an animal rights activist who might have a problem with your love of leather wear?
I think the key to that conversation is based around mutual respect, a core characteristic of a leatherman. Obviously that person and I may have had completely different life experiences that lead us each to believe that our perspective is correct. I think I would allow a person with those views to express their opinion without interruption. I would hope to be able to share my views and perception as a leatherman born and raised in a farming community of Kansas.
What’s the biggest misconception about the leather-fetish community?
I think there are lots of assumptions about the leather community that may be inaccurate. I don’t think most people realize how this community is a subculture of the GLBT community with deep values based in our history, brotherhood and community service.
Based on your local performance, what do you need to work on before you compete internationally?
I think I need to focus on being true to myself, who I really am day to day. But I should probably lay off the cheesecake, too. I’d like to show up and represent my community to the best of my ability.
What are you most looking forward to about the international competition in May in Chicago?
I have wanted to compete at IML (International Mr. Leather) for quite some time. I’ve gone every year since 2005 to see good friends that have competed at IML like Jeffrey Payne, IML 2009, and Jack Duke, IML 2010′s second runner-up. I still have plenty to learn to get prepared, but my Palm Springs leather family has been very welcoming and supportive. That said, I’m looking forward to meeting amazing competitors from all over the world, learning from them and making the best representation I can on behalf of the desert cities.