Jaco Lourens, Mr. SAleathermen 2009

Following an arduous 90-minute competition that included nine finalists from across South Africa, Cape Town-based Jaco Lourens has been named Mr. SAleathermen 2009 at the Hellfire: Redemption Party on May 29 at Station Bar in Centurion.

Lourens is the first official Mr. SAleathermen titleholder and is now eligible to enter the 2010 International Mr. Leather (IML) Competition in Chicago next May. He was accompanied on the night by his partner, Herman, whom he married in September 2008.

Lourens, a co-founder of Cape Town’s Dibanani AIDS Project, is well known in South African leather circles as both an educator and activist. His competition performance was highlighted by a passionate 90-second speech in which he stressed self-acceptance in the face of those, both in government and religious organisations, who actively opposed gay marriage.

The competition comprised four rounds, including a qualifying preliminary on May 10th. In addition to the 90-second Leather Speech, each contestant participated in a “Leather Image” round and the always-popular jockstrap competition.

Seven judges – including adult film star Dillon Buck, member of Parliament Ian Davidson, Hans Ohlon of the Scandanavian Leathermen (SLM) organisation, Oscar-winning makeup artist Trefor Proud, and Bruce McLintic of SABears – then selected the top three finalists, each of whom drew the name of a judge for the final Q&A.

Dillon Buck provided one of the highlights of the evening by asking finalist Richard Tasker of Magaliesig, “Choose one: a month at the Black Tulip Leather Hotel in Amsterdam, a week at San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair with 400,000 Leatherfolk, or one night with me?”

Tasker’s response: “I’ve already done the first two. I haven’t done the third and would need to include my partner if that’s alright.”

Ultimately, Lourens was named the winner, with Tasker chosen as first runner-up and Cape Town’s Tertius van Niekerk as second runner up. Van Niekerk was also awarded the “Heins Leather Community Service Award” for his contributions to the South African Leather community, while 24-year-old CJ Strydom of Cape Town received the “Bone Wear Image Award” for his charitable outreach efforts.

GALA (Gay & Lesbian Memory in Action) was the event’s charitable beneficiary. CEO Anthony Manion delivered a heartfelt speech, encouraging the preservation of our LGBT heritage through continued community interaction and support.

Bondage Warehouse designed the official Mr. SAleathermen sash, which included the logos of the event’s other major sponsors: RECON, RoB of Amsterdam, Dillon Buck, Station Bar, and Rainbow Cruises.

SAleathermen has established an “International Mr. Leather 2010” with the aim of sending Lourens to IML as the African continent’s first official entry. (South African-born Michael Egdes previously won in 2005 as the “Mr. Ramrod” entry from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.)

International Mr. Leather, considered the daddy of all Leather competitions, completed its 30th event on May 24th by choosing Jeffrey Payne, Mr. Texas Leather 2009, as the winner from a field of 54 international contestants.

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