Dallas chef Synn Evans learned a lot by becoming International Ms. Leather
JENNY BLOCK | Contributing Writer
International Mr. Leather 2012 (IML) crowned its victor last month, and it was not Mr. Texas Leather Gabe Sims. So you may think Texas walked away empty-handed in international leather competition this year. And it did … in Chicago, a few weeks ago.
But a few months ago in San Francisco, the results were quite different, as Dallas’ Synn Evans conclusively proved.
On April 1, Evans took home the title of International Ms. Leather (IMsL). Becoming IMsL is exactly the same as becoming IML. Except that it isn’t. For starters, there’s no jock category with the women. And IMsL has “hot wear” and “pop questions” categories, as well as a fantasy category; you won’t find those at IML.
Although Evans has not attended IML, she has attended other men’s leather competitions. In the case of IMsL though, she says, the biggest difference she sees has to do with attire.
“There’s definitely a difference between the clothes in the men’s and women’s competitions,” she says. “[The men] are more sticklers because the women may not be in traditional leather head-to-toe. But I’ve yet to see a International Mr. Leather in high heels and a corset.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean things are any easier on the women, she says. The goal of both is the same: To embody the essence of the leatherman or –woman. Don’t expect the girls to spin batons and slap on bikinis.
“It’s not a body-beautiful thing; it’s an image,” she says. “They don’t care if you’re tall, short, fat, skinny. The question is: ‘Are you put together? Did you take care of the clothes you’re wearing?’” Even if what they wear can vary more, “you’re still judged on what you wear and how you wear them.”
Evan says being a butch woman like herself means the question of what to wear is not as broad of an issue as it might be for more femme women — there are no high heels and corsets on her side of the closet. But not having as many clothing choices does not mean she didn’t have plenty to worry about, including making sure her wardrobe was impeccably prepared — and being impeccably prepared for the competition in other ways.
She was most nervous about being properly prepared for the interview. Questions can be personal as well as based on topics like leather history, events, current title holders and social issues that effect the leather community.
“It was very intense, because they can ask anything and it counts the most, points-wise, so it weighs very heavily,” Evans explains. “It’s 40 percent of the contest. Fortunately, it was the first piece, so we got to get it out of the way.”
Evans was drawn last for the interview portion, which lasts about 20 minutes. Each judge asked several questions but she felt confident when she entered the interview room. “Once I was in there, I shifted my nervousness to my partner, Lilith, who was watching, and then I felt really confident,” she says.
Evans was grateful for the intense preparation she began in earnest last December, including creating and carrying around 300 notecards and researching the judges.
“It was a very diverse judging panel, which I was really excited about. It really represented a lot of sub-cultures of the community. I was really nervous and really excited at the same time.”
Evans also had to answer inquiries during the “pop question” portion of the hot wear category. “They asked me, if I could invent a sex toy, what would it be.” Since she’s a chef, she said it would be a dildo in the shape of a chef’s knife. “I’d call it the Synnerator.”
Now that Evans is leather royalty, her travel schedule has become insane. But she couldn’t be more thrilled about it. “I’m getting requests left and right to attend and judge at events. I feel extremely honored to represent the leather community on a worldwide basis,” she says.
Evans’ achievement has made her royalty in Dallas’ leather community, even among the men. When she returned, Gold Coast Leather Boy Michael Dane attended a celebration in her honor. “‘I’m having a hard time talking to you,” he told me.” ‘You’re leather royalty now — you out rank me so bad.’ I laughed and told him, ‘We were friends before, we’re friends now.’”
Evans continues her role a leather ambassador by touting the importance of boot blacks in the community.
“If you ever have the chance to sit in a boot black’s chair, do it. It’s incredible, they’re artists. They don’t get enough credit for what they do, I don’t think. Boot blacks are sometimes seen as just submissive and that’s not the case,” she says. “I have a mission for my title year: to get boot blacks the recognition they deserve. I’ve always felt strongly about that and now I have the chance to really get the word out.”
That’s not the only message Evans wants to convey. “[The leather community] has come so far and I see us moving forward,” she says. “There are still pockets here and there with a really rigid tradition and that’s all right. That’s them. But I see more and more communities becoming more inclusive. In fact, there were a lot of transgender women at IMsL and I was proud to be representing them.”
The experience at IMsL and beyond has already shaped Evans’ vision of the broader leather community.
“The more I get into all of this and the more people I meet, the more I’m seeing the men’s and women’s communities, and the more I’m seeing the acceptance of all kinds of different things. There were lots of men at IMsL. I want to be representative of everyone. Not just the women’s community, but everyone. It’s progressing … Not that we’ll see an International Mr. Leather in a corset and heels anytime soon.”
Although you never know.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 22, 2012.