Generation 2

By the mid-nineties, after nearly a decade of dedicating their time to producing IMsL, the board and many local volunteers had started to burn out. It was unclear what the future of IMsL would be, or if IMsL would continue at all. In 1994, Amy Marie Meek, IMsL 1993, wrote an impassioned letter to the board, begging them to keep IMsL alive and offering to take over and run the contest herself. The board agreed and sold the right to produce IMsL to Amy Marie for $1 a year for ten years. Amy Marie produced IMsL in 1995 to great acclaim, and she continued to produce IMsL for twelve years, taking it through to the 20th annual contest in 2006. Amy Marie chose to move IMsL from city to city so that each city would have the chance to host and showcase their kink community. Each host city could use IMsL as a way to rally and invigorate their local scene. Starting in Chicago in 1995, IMsL then moved to Philadelphia, San Diego, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Dallas. Over time, IMsL morphed into a weekend event, incorporating play parties, opening ceremonies, a vendor fair, tattoo contest and other fundraisers into a large-scale event that drew visitors from around the world. Having the same people together for a full weekend helped develop the sense of community among the attendees; people had time to get to know each other, network, cruise, and find play dates, all with a readily available dungeon or hotel room. IMsL had always had a strong educational aspect, and the weekend-long format allowed the educational component of IMsL to grow, with expert presenters teaching a variety of kinky topics. The contests continued to average between 10 and 20 contestants, drawing from an active pool of local and regional title contests. Amy Marie worked closely with local and regional contest producers to streamline and promote their events. Many of the contests converted to Amy Marie’s scoring and application system.

Throughout IMsL’s history, men as well as women supported and sustained the contest. In many years during Amy Marie’s tenure running IMsL, more than half of the attendees were men, including the support teams for many contestants. In fact, Bare Images, Amy Marie’s production company, always promoted IMsL with the tag line, “The Men Who Come To IMsL Come To Play!”

In 1993, IML had added a bootblack contest to their event; initially it was a co-ed contest accepting both men and women. In 1999, Amy Marie added the International Ms Bootblack contest to the IMsL weekend as the International Mr. Bootblack contest had switched that year to a male-only contest. Following the International Mr. Bootblack model, the IMsBB contest focused on technical skill in bootblacking. The contestants spent much of the weekend exhibiting their bootblacking craft, and attendees voted for the best bootblack. The IMsBB contest judging was later switched to more closely match the IMsL judging. Now, IMsBB contestants are still judged largely on their technical skill, but they are also judged in a variety of categories, including an interview. IMsBB has proven to be a great success and has become an integral part of the IMsL weekend; the IMsBB and IMsL winners work together through their title year to promote the IMsL contest weekend and to represent the women’s leather community.

In 2002, IMsL moved to Amy Marie’s hometown, Omaha, Nebraska, in an attempt to streamline the contest’s administration and to rein in production costs. IMsL remained in Omaha through 2006, drawing Leatherwoman from around the continent to the heartland of the country. Even in the heartland, IMsL remained an international event. In the first year it was held in Omaha, the winner was Russ Cossgrove, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and winners in the following years were scattered through various time zones in the United States.