Two Melbourne businesses have stepped in to ensure Australia’s International Mr Leather (IML) contestant will compete for the title in Chicago this month.

Mr Leather Australia/New Zealand Josh Burrows will head to the world’s most prestigious leather competition, which starts May 28, after leather store Lucrezia and De Sade and Sircuit Bar stepped in to fund the trip.

Burrows told Sydney Star Observer he was relieved to be jetting over to compete in the event Australia has only won once in its history.

“Hopefully I can go over and bring back the title for the first time in 30 years,” he said.

Lucrezia and De Sade owner Wayne Nicols, who also owns Sydney’s Sax Fetish, said he and Sircuit Bar owners Chris Driscoll and Steven Fahd decided to step in to send Burrows to Chicago because they didn’t want Australia to fail to reach the starting blocks.

“I will be heading over to Chicago with my partner and I didn’t want to go all the way over there without Australia not even making the competition,” Nicol said. “Josh has worked hard for this.”

Melbourne Leather Pride organiser Alex Schoeffel said he was pleased Burrows was able to make the trip.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the outcome,” he said. “We now have a situation of too many sponsors, with individuals taking it upon themselves, which is all well and good because Josh will now be getting to Chicago.”

Schoeffel said he would approach Travel Out — a new Melbourne travel company — to sponsor the 2010 Mr Leather Australia/New Zealand event.

It is the second consective year the Mr Leather Australia/New Zealand event has had difficulty sending a contestant to IML.

SSO recently reported Sydney-based business Rainbow Tourism had left Burrows stranded when it pulled out from a sponsorship deal just weeks before the planned departure date.

Sydney Leather Pride president Rod Spark said he would meet with Schoeffel to discuss the future of the Mr Leather Australia/New Zealand event.

“In the near future we’ll sit down with Alex and his usual supporters and work out what to do,” he said.

“Now that it’s been revived we want to see the event continue. There will be a competition. What format it will be in or where that will take place is still up in the air at this point.”

Mr Sydney Leather and SSO columnist Anthony Lowe will also fly to Chicago to contest IML as an individual entrant.

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