John Pendal: International Man of Leather
- Emma Newlands
- 11 August 2016
This article is from 2016.
Self-deprecation and high confidence make for an engaging story about transgression
It's certainly an intriguing premise for a show. A 'shy Baptist boy' from Watford with 'the most conservative upbringing ever' goes for a drink with a man, starts a relationship and finds liberation in the world of leather (not the sofa business). Not only does it help him come to terms with a path he'd been told led to damnation, it leads him, through the kind of unlikely events Hollywood movies are based on, to winning the 25th annual International Mr Leather contest.
It takes John Pendal around the world and opens his eyes further to the spectrum of fetishes, but his focus on how consent is essential throughout gives the show a surprisingly wholesome twist. As well as showing photos of his outfits that won him the title, Pendal also says his victory was judged mostly on personality, and it's clear, from personally introducing himself to every audience member as they arrive and his self-deprecating one-liners, how the judges would have been swayed.
He's also a confident performer, saying 'when I do something, I really commit'. Part of a selection of shows this year focusing on highly religious upbringings, this is an often-amusing take on a highly improbable tale.
The Stand 4, until 28 Aug (not 15), 4.45pm, £8 (£7).