This year’s International Mister Bootblack (IMBB) is Erick Joseph.
Erick hails from the great state of Alaska coming to IMBB as Alaska State Bootblack 2015. He was one of four contestants in the running for IMBB 2016. Over the course of the weekend Erick was scored on his skills; where the judges observe and evaluate the bootblacks during the Open Polishing, the interview; a private question and answer period for the judges to become more familiar with the contestants, personality and stage presence; which is a general observation of the contestants and their interaction with everyone over the entire weekend, and ballots; which the competitors collected during the Open polish portions of the contest from the attendees of IML/IMBB.
How does it feel to have all this support from the Bootblacks from around the country and world?
I can’t even begin to tell you how much it meant to me. My heart is full from all the love and support I have seen not just for myself but for bootblacking across the board.
Were you the first Bootblack pulled up to the top with the winner?
I don’t know, I’ve never kept track of that sort of thing. I can say that kissing Tigger (David Bailey, IML 2016) and holding our hands up on that podium together was an experience I’ll never forget!
What was your favorite Bootblacking moment of the weekend?
I got a little eager and excited in the crotch of one of my customers while loving on his boots 😉 almost got in trouble!
So on your way home, you spent some time in a Bootblack’s chair at the airport?
When I travel, I like to get my boots shined by the shoe shines in airports. This time when I went and sat for them they asked me about my IMBB back patch. I explained to them about the weekend and that I was the new IMBB. I offered to do their shoes and they were so excited! Asked me all sorts of questions from how do they get into that from advice on products! They have never seen someone apply polish with their hands and started trying it themselves. It was a great moment of visibility for bootblacks! I absolutely loved it.
What drew you to bootblacking?
Well… When the Alaska Center for Alternative Lifestyles opened in January of 2015, Alaska had very little public bootblacking opportunities. My mentor Sarha Shaubach was told if she built a stand and taught basics that people would fall in love with it. Let me tell you about a basic bootblacking class by Sarha… Giant silver bowl, water and soap EVERYWHERE. She’s a messy but very fun and effective bootblack! She inspired us to want to be able to do it better than she could… Or at least more clean!
What are your plans for this year?
Continuous travel!! I’d like to continue with the momentum I had from traveling out of Alaska as the Alaska State Bootblack. To bring a FUN and positive face to International Mr. Bootblack in and out of the stand.
So you’re a puppy and a Bootblack, do you see the crossover of different paths of kink and leather coming together more freely these days?
Not necessarily different paths coming together but rather individuals who have multifaceted toys bags and interests. I think it’s a personal preference for people to mix those different interests such as bootblacking and puppy.
What is your favorite product or piece in your Bootblack bag right now?
At the moment in my kit I have a brush from Beau King, Washington State Bootblack 2015 and some homemade glycerin saddle soap from Micky Rebel, Oregon State Bootblack 2015! I consider them my sisters and I couldn’t have been more happy to have those item with me!