Daniel Nolasco’s intriguing documentary “Mr. Leather” is a very affectionate profile of Brazil’s growing gay leather community. He kicks off his tale with a highly amusing parody that hints at some dark political intrigue that ended up making Barbudo the very first winner of the Mr Leather title, and now the de-facto organiser of the second ever competition that is the subject of the film.
Thirteen years ago when the mysterious Mr D started the first leather night in Sao Paolo only one other person turned up. Barbudo. Now it is one of the most important leather parties in the country. As Nolasco’s camera trails the four contestants vying for the title we get the feeling that this is still quite an intimate affair where everyone knows everyone else.
At the Leather Dinner that precedes the competition everyone is decked out in their fiercest leather finery but there is such a spirit of bonhomie which is the first of the many myths that this documentary dispels.
Nolasco profiles each of the four hopefuls mixing their words with some nifty camerawork which doesn’t just flatter them but makes for very entertaining viewing. One of the best parts is when he has them display their considerable leather wardrobes complete with all the accessories which is quite the eyeopener for people (like us) who were convinced they wore the same outfit all the time.
Also what brought a large grin to our faces was seeing each of them being interviewed by a female radio journalist who seemed not only versed in what they wore but in the very minute detail of what they did (sexually) too.
Where the film (and the contest) really succeeds however is demystifying the leather community to us on the outside. Not just about the S.S.C code (Sane, Safe & Consensual) but the fact that they regard homosexuality as being too closely based on heteronormality, and so they feel that is another closet they need to come out to become a leatherman and a fetishist.
Though several of them still regard Tom of Finland as some sort of Patron Saint, it is very obvious that the Brazilian leather community has moved on a great deal since then. Not just how they dress and look but their whole attitude to being part of a forward thinking group that intermingles much more. Some belong to BLUF (Breeches, Leather Uniform & Fetish) which evidently is a booming group with the community.
All in all the climax in the Eagle Bar the night of the competition is a joyous uplifting occasion as we had got to know all four of the candidates by now, and want to join their celebrations/
With a fabulous upbeat soundtrack and some very creative camerawork Nolasco not only succeeded in shedding some of the myths around the leather community, but he made it seem like something that people watching it will really want to join.