All Hail Your Shiny New Ambassador, Latexians: Miss Rubber World 2011

“A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.”

~ Anne Roiphe, American Feminist and Author

 

The numeral “five” … is a very good number. It is one of the easiest for grade school students to ‘compute’ when doing their multiplication tables. It’s a convenient unit of currency – eclipsed perhaps only by a nice, round $10-spot or, in some cases, a fatter, newer $20 dollar bill. The number “five” holds significance in most of our daily rituals: everything from designations of degrees on cooking ranges to telling time on clocks are essential, if not completely taken-for-granted, everyday, natural occurrences. “Five”, or multiples thereof, is also an important designation when marking annual events such as birthdays, anniversaries, award ceremonies … and cherished annual events.

Naturally, a 75th Anniversary of a recurring event is a tremendous cause for celebration. Perhaps a 5th Annual Celebration may seem tame by comparison. That is, unless that 5th Anniversary happens to be celebrating the growth and continuous evolution of an exciting new event. Just such a circumstance transpired in New York City, during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend of January 14 – 16, 2011.

It was a little over five years ago, in New York City and in November 2006, that a small but dedicated group captained by long-time latex enthusiast, designer, promoter and New York fetish fixture The Baroness and an ambitious gentleman named Unit1421 decided that the time had come to create a competition that celebrated the allure and sensuality, and advanced the awareness of latex as a truly viable garment medium (and not just for Fetishists). Over the past five years, the competition has been fortunate enough to have had some stellar individuals compete for the title of Miss Rubber World – including such known latex personalities Steffy the Rubber Doll (2008 winner) and Jean Bardot (2009 winner).

According to The Baroness, the competition “really came of age” in 2010. That year was notable because it had “less attitude and more substance”, she said, and featured the work of (then) up and coming latex enthusiast Dawnamatrix, a well-liked and very well respected latex garment designer who calls Rhode Island home. Her journey into rubber life unto itself is incredible: Dawnamatrix spent years teaching in Japan and has become world-renown for her latex Kimono designs, and is viewed within the latex community as the “authority” on producing latex appliqués and overlays on her pieces.

It isn’t a stretch to suggest that Dawnamatrix brought some real positive attention, and some very welcome credibility, to Miss Rubber World in 2010 – she did, in fact, outright win the title. This year, she returned as one of the judges for the 2011 Miss Rubber World competition. Dawnamatrix, according to several sources, was the first contestant who clearly outshone her peers in all three competition segments: the Traditional Catwalk, Question Period, and the piece of latex performance art called Latex Fantasy.

Of the three components to the competition, it is the Latex Fantasy portion that the judges tend to attribute the heaviest opinion regarding their overall decision as to who will become Miss Rubber World. The Catwalk segment, as suggested, does include an element of fetish modeling – but what makes it unique is that it gives the contestants a chance to exhibit creations of their own making, and many Miss Rubber World competitors have manufactured many of their own outfits for the show. The Question Period is vital as it gives the competitors a chance to relate to the judges, and the audience, important answers as to appropriate latex-themed questions – and provides a valuable insight into each of the contestant’s attitude and comportment. The Latex Fantasy, however, is the segment that provides the best opportunity to impress the gathering. This point will become critical to our story a little later on.

The contestants this year for the crown, as outlined above, assembled in New York City amidst an icy, snow-filled cold weather snap. More than just a few of the participants had to battle the ill effects of a determined, and particularly nasty, winter virus. They came together from different parts of the world (mostly the United States) in order to vie not only for the coveted rubber sash traditionally given to the winner of the Miss Rubber World competition, but for an array of impressive prize packages that had been generously donated from admirable fetish fashion and accessory houses across the globe. The list of donations for the Prize Packages reads like a veritable “who’s who” within the global latex community, with corporations from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States all supplying lucrative and impressive prizes for the Crown Winner, as well as the First and Second Runners-Up.

Initially, there were supposed to be eight competitors for the Miss Rubber World sash. Sadly, due to a variety of reasons (mostly illness but in one case because of lost luggage), three of the contestants had to withdraw on the eve of the competition. That left five very beautiful and talented young ladies to figuratively tussle for the covetted Crown. One of the competitors, Toronto’s Archean, had more than just an ugly flu bug to battle. Traveling with her entourage, she had an array of competition outfits and items that she would later admit she was terrified was “going to give them some serious grief at the USA/Canada border.” Needless to say, Archean (and her travel companions Mad Scientist and their lovely and incredibly talented minion, Droidsy) had some anxious moments with Customs Agents once they arrived at the Border Crossing.

“The journey could generously be described as completely miserable,” Archean said. “Not only was I sick the entire way but it seemed like the entire universe was conspiring to make sure we didn’t make it to New York City.” The temptation to relate the entire, sordid details of their epic journey to New York City within this narrative is very strong – but it’s really too good a story for a third-party to relate. Truly, a more horrifying but hilariously-related travel tale related to Miss Rubber World 2011 simply doesn’t exist – but thankfully, Archean (and her beloved life and business partner, Mad Scientist) will be relating that story in its entirely within the pages of their new venture: a fantastic new latex-based website named Rubberlesque. Part of the new website, which will be devoted to introducing new enthusiasts to the joys of rubber life as well as taking an active role in educational opportunities and (somewhat) activist causes by expanding their highly-respected “Knockoff Knockdown” (wherein Archean and Mad Scientist aggressively take to task any number of so-called “designers” who very clearly steal the design ideas and techniques of others) and “Rubber Relationship Advice” concepts, will feature the video footage from Archean’s impressive Latex Fantasy competition segment.

Remember: earlier it was mentioned how important the Latex Fantasy segment was in determining who was crowned Miss Rubber World. It would be a serious disservice to reveal exactly what Archean’s Latex Fantasy performance actually consisted of – suffice to say it was definitely a “wow I didn’t see that coming” moment for all who witnessed it – but what we can say is that, in essence, her performance told her story of her growing interest, and eventual immersion into, rubber fetish expressionism. In short, it was polished, it was professional – and it was brilliant. (Note: The performance will be available for viewing in its entirety soon on the new Rubberlesque website. It will be well worth the wait!) Archean was aided in her performance by talented, well-known and respected rope and bondage artist, the incomparable Lotuslily, who graciously volunteered her time in the spirit of friendship, to render some much-appreciated assistance.

Her performance was also more than enough for the judges to crown Archean as Miss Rubber World 2011 – the first time a contestant from Canada’s largest city has won the sash. Popular New York latex performer Jade Vixen, for the second year in a row, was First Runner-Up and the irrepressible Lydia Lael was Second Runner-Up. The other contestants were Mistress Killspree, a popular club fixture from Boston and Sienna Aldridge, a classically-trained ballet dancer and fetish model/performer from New York City.

“Any of those girls would have been a worthy Miss Rubber World,” The Baroness said. “Lydia Lael was so incredibly cute with her performance! The combination of water with latex always has a lovely appeal. Jade Vixen’s performance was so incredibly intricate, so beautiful. She played to the crowd’s strengths – wearing a hood, putting on stockings, doing some simple things which crowds just love. It was a really close competition.”

“The political part of a competition like Miss Rubber World is unavoidable, but it’s also necessary and very important,” The Baroness continued. “That has been reflected time and again, during Miss Rubber World and in other important competitions. In order to be an effective ambassador – as any title holder is expected to be – you need to be able to play the politics game well. It takes a really exceptional person to overcome some of the solid connections that people can and do make in this life.”

“In the end, Archean might well have not won the sash, it was really that close – but she clearly won everyone over, especially with her performance in the Latex Fantasy. It’s easy to call the Latex Fantasy portion of the competition a ‘talent component’, and to a degree it is – but she showed us something very unique and certainly worthy of being Miss Rubber World. There was no question at the end of her performance, who rose to the top and who the real sash winner would be.”

This year undeniably was special. The Miss Rubber World Competition has evolved – and the bar continues to be raised each and every year. It is becoming one of the “Must Not Miss” fetish events on the annual New York City fetish calendar. The competition is drawing more talented and certainly more complete candidates. “The judges and I felt that this year, the competitors showed us a complete package,” The Baroness said. “Archean’s use of her equipment and her choice in color palette overall was really exquisite. She showed us something that, believe it or not, people in New York City don’t see a lot of especially at fetish events. People don’t want to sit and watch just a beauty pageant: they want to be entertained. Archean was absolutely entertaining.”

One of the most important aspects, and most significant consequences sure to come from Archean’s being awarded the 2011 pink latex sash as Miss Rubber World, is her awareness of the responsibility in becoming an actual ambassador within the entire latex community. “I believe what Miss Rubber World should be is a way to bring new creative people into the spotlight, and I think it’s a big stepping stone. It’s really important to give people an outlet like Miss Rubber World in order to showcase their own creativity.” Archean is also interested in helping to ‘coach’ other potential latex models and enthusiasts who may wish to follow a similar path and compete for such a prestigious sash. One of the things she and her life mate Mad Scientist plan to do to continue to raise a positive footprint and provide a comfortable roadmap for fellow latex fetishists is to continue to write about their own experiences and share their own knowledge with anyone interested. In addition to continuing her exhaustive work schedule as a full partner in Kink Engineering, the company she started with Mad Scientist that manufactures simply the most intricate and expertly-crafted Vac-Beds on the planet, Archean also plans to continue to put the pressure on those unscrupulous design houses who blatantly and unprofessionally expropriate ideas from reputable, good people. “I cannot tell you how impressed we all were, especially me, with Archean’s Knockoff Knockdown efforts,” The Baroness said. “That endeared her to me – it is such a welcome surprise, watching someone else want to take up that challenge.”

The Miss Rubber World 2011 competition was Archean’s first excursion to New York City – and she simply can’t wait to go back. “I knew no matter what happened, the outcome was going to be magical and an amazing story”, she said. While she and Mad Scientist didn’t have a tremendous amount of time to sight-see in The Big Apple, she did profess amazement with the myriad of Art Deco architecture and fixtures they were able to see. “New York is certainly the perfect city to be in and be in love,” she said. “Next time, I will get my carriage ride in Central Park!”

When she does return and claim that carriage ride, it will be as a Queen – and may her reign be spectacular, glorious … and indeed, memorable.

Kardynyl SynysTyr

(All photos courtesy of Miss Rubber World 2011 and Photographer Judith Stephens. All Rights Reserved.)

Bang the Drums: New York City Fetish Tribe is Upon Us

So, another successful Fetish season comes to an end, with a fantastic finish provided in no small part by San Francisco’s Von Gutenberg Fetish Ball during the weekend of September 24th – 26th. If early reports are any indication, the SFVG Ball is going to be a “staple” on the party circuit for years to come. The timing probably couldn’t be better, for the West Coast “Fetish Mecca”. The perception has been, in recent years that the West Coast Fetish scene has been dying an unrelenting, agonizing death. There can be little question (and it has been noticed by many others) that Eric Von Gutenberg is slowly, and successfully, re-introducing and bringing back the old, ecstatic latex, leather and PVC party atmosphere that the Bay Area used to be so eponymous with. The image that San Francisco itself is a world-class fetish party town is certainly being polished.

Perhaps in part, the success of large-scale events in Tampa, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal, have been responsible for re-energizing the public’s interest in larger fetish parties on the West Coast. As another successful summer season of revelry comes to a close, it is time to turn our focus back once again to the East Coast, and the anticipation of the autumn events. This was a good, if not great summer, and hopefully the various party planners from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and all parts in-between, will find a way to keep that momentum rolling.

Tis is the season, after all, and in late September that can only mean one thing: Hallowe’en! The penultimate reason for letting loose and dressing up! Let the fall decadence thusly commence!

Naturally, whether you live in Denver, Des Moines or Dover, there are bound to be larger several excellent, scale events within your area to patron, and enthusiastically even become a part of (as a performer or organizer). Regardless of how tired a fetish practitioner may claim to be after any number of events this summer, if you happen to be anywhere near the East Coast of the United States between October 6th and October 11th, you certainly should seriously consider taking in a bit of the NYC Fetish Tribe Weekend Experience. Even the seasoned latex and leather veteran should take in a breath of “fresh air”; experience the exciting atmosphere of something exciting, and quite new.

For New York City is a very special place. There is just something about that city in autumn that sets it apart from all others. A more perfect location for a fetish event, at this time of year doesn’t exist. The weather is near perfect: those wanting to proudly parade about for their peers in leather, latex or PVC will find the elements (barring the dampness should there be any) most conducive to having a damn fine time. The boot lovers especially – of which Your Humble Narrator counts amongst that passionate legion – are going to find NYC in Autumn to be akin to being granted the keys to their own private adult theme park.

The organizers of NYC Fetish Tribe – Kelley Dane and Mike B. – are no strangers to the Fetish Scene, in NYC and across the United States. They are responsible for organizing the New York “delegation” for The Burning Man festival that takes place every year at Black Rock, Nevada and they are also the movers and shakers behind the Las Vegas Ultimate After-Party, a gargantuan gathering of deviants representing all walks of alternative life from Sadomasochists to Swingers. While Kelley and Mike most certainly are the main “movers and shakers” behind these efforts, both are quite quick (and emphatically) point out that “nothing would have been accomplished without the aid of a lot of very good and dedicated people.”

As strange as this may sound, that makes their events somewhat unique: most of the larger-scale Fetish events are organized and implemented by a very small central core of those who shoulder responsibility for the event’s overall success – and survival. NYC Fetish Tribe is slightly different, and slightly more revolutionary. “Fetish Tribe is NOT an organization or entity per say. It is a movement within the fetish community that has resonated strongly with thousands of people,” Kelley said. “Collectively those who feel the Tribe Vibe live by it and it is contagious. I first introduce the concept to (local Fetish personality) Nikki the Kink Queen over burgers in NYC, and with her resounding support Mike B. and I took off with it with the help of many supporters.”

Whether by design or circumstance, the “Tribe” is a somewhat of a throwback to the tight SM Community that existed in San Francisco in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Many urban centers have attempted similar undertakings – a collective truly of the people, by the people and for the people – but few have come close to establishing and maintaining the “familial” atmosphere that seems to permeate and define them. “The Tribe is a movement within the Fetish community that has resonated strongly with thousands of people,” Kelley and Mike said. “Although we’ve been referred to as “the Godfathers” of the movement, neither of us are really the acknowledged ‘leader’, ‘owner’, or even ‘President.’”

They refer to it as “The Tribe Vibe”. The New York City Fetish Tribe Experience is the culmination of many favorable factors and has been made a reality “only through the positive support of the New York City community at large.” On several occasions, Kelley and Mike insisted on mentioning the efforts of behind-the-scenes volunteers that are giving their free time, their particular expertise and talents, and their enthusiasm in the drive to really create something special.  “We’re very confident that those who haven’t experienced “The Tribe Vibe” – whether they’re coming from within New York or visiting – will both impress, and ‘infect’, all newcomers.

“The moment people walk through the door, they feel welcome. We don’t host a party to entertain you, necessarily, but instead our aim was to create a space in which people can meet, perform, be completely open, express and feel freedom. Upon entering a Tribe event you quickly feel included, and encouraged to share. It’s all about community and collective collaboration.”

The New York City Fetish Tribe experience promises to be unique in several different ways. For one, they have resisted the temptation to have “formalized” stage performances that can interrupt the flow of those wishing to engage in some “play” – and stage shows do tend to be immediate conversation killers. “The entire experience is a circus, and anyone can ‘perform’ at anytime,” Kelley and Mike said. “Our guest designers and our models parade on the floor and intermingle with all the people. Think more ‘Theatre in the Round’.” Another aspect that, to a great many attendees, is going to be a positive factor is the distinct absence of thumping, blaring loud music in any of the venues and play spaces. “We believe strongly that the best play comes only from first stimulating the mind and to do so you need to be able to talk.  It is a very simple concept that remains a corner stone of all Tribe events.

The Fetish Tribe will also actively encourage interaction amongst the guests. It’s one of the “trademarks” of their particular brand: they make a concerted effort, through the assistance of several enthusiastic, appropriately-clad and personable “Fetish Ambassadors”, to try and introduce all attendees to each other. Kelley and Mike firmly believe this “mingling” helps to strengthen the sense of family within the greater “Tribe” itself. They believe that everyone has value, no-one should feel intimidated, and in this reporter’s experience, no event has gone to such lengths to make people feel accommodated, welcome and “connected”. The entire experience is purposely designed to encourage people, from the Greater New York City area assuredly but also for visitors to the Big Apple alike, to meet and make new friends and truly feel connected with, and strengthen, those new relationships in the long-term.

Another extremely unique aspect of the Fetish Tribe Experience is the “Day Excursions” they have planned. While other event organizers have attempted (and utterly failed) to include their attendees in some “daylight” events, the Fetish Tribe Experience has offered a number of “New York Experiences” that are designed to not only help foster the aforementioned bonds of friendship during the evening festivities, but continue building those foundations during the day – and all with prominent New York landmarks as an inviting and awe-inspiring backdrop. Some of those “Day Tripper” events include a Croquet Tournament on Governor’s Island (with a twist: it’s an Undergarment Tournament); an excursion to the top of the Empire State Building (those that have never been before simply cannot miss this – it’s awe-inspiring), and a Sunrise Bondage and Bagel Breakfast on the Brooklyn Bridge.

“Those that decide to join us (whether they’re in New York City or not) will not be disappointed”, Kelley and Mike said. “This is an ‘experience’ to be had like never before!” Even the seasoned New Yorker, strolling in fetish wear alongside the New York City first-time visitor, is sure to experience something very unique and memorable: this kind of gathering of like minds, and the dedicated encouragement of those like minds to interact and “get to know” one another, has never happened before: especially in a town the size of New York. Compared to other large-scale events, the price of a ticket is ludicrously reasonable: total event VIP tickets are only $75.00 if you purchase your ticket in advance (through the Fet Life website events listings) or by going straight to the New York City Fetish Tribe website itself. Those that wish to purchase their VIP tickets “at the door” may do so at a cost of $85.00.

“It will be a good sized event. We already have confirmations from ‘Tribesmen’ in California, Toronto, Montreal, Florida, Las Vegas, Texas and Arizona,” Kelley and Mike said. “Everyone who attends is going to come away extremely pleased with the efforts of our army of New York Tribe volunteers. And, everyone who attends is sure to make a new, lasting friendship or two. That’s what the New York Fetish Tribe is all about: bringing people together, and forming life-long relationships.”

The New York City Fetish Experience runs from October 7th to 11th, 2010 (Columbus Day Weekend, Thanksgiving Day Weekend in Canada). The ‘experience’ is simply a weekend event that should be on every fetish enthusiast’s calendar, and for years to come. Those that live in the New York City area, and haven’t quite made up their minds whether they wish to join the Tribe that weekend, will probably be quite sorry they chose to skip it. For those that may still wish to travel to New York City for the Experience weekend, there is only this to be said: What are you waiting for? Your spot within the Tribe awaits.

The New York Fetish Tribe Experience Itinerary:

Thursday, October 7, at 9:00 pm:
NOctoberurne. Tribe mixer and Cabaret Show with Weimar punk band, Amour Obscur

The Chandelier Room Downstairs at 249 West 30th St. NYC

Friday, October 8, at 600 pm:
Organized Fetish Shopping (“I Just Love What You’re Not Wearing”)

Meet at Purple Passion, 211 West 20th St. New York City

Friday, October 8, at 9:00 pm:
Impact Play Party and Rubber/Latex Showcase

Club Rebel Upstairs at 251 West 30th St. New York City

Saturday, October 9, at 11:00 am:
Spa Break! You Deserve This!

Spa 88 at 88 Fulton St. New York City

Saturday, October 9, at 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm:
Croquet in Your Undergarments

Great Lawn of Central Park. Meet at 86th St. and Central Park West at 2:00 pm. New York City ~ Agents will be standing by. Hosted by NYC TNG.

Saturday, October 9, at 9:00 pm to 3:00 am:
Dress to {xcess Costume Ball

Element 225 East Houston St., New York City ~ This is an amazing venue in which you can express your individuality. Awesome!

Sunday, October 10 from 5:00 am to 7:00 am
Sunrise Bondage and Bagels on da Brooklyn Bridge

Meet at the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. ~ Hosted by KinkyJews. Enter on Center Street adjacent to City Hall. Bring comfy shoes and sweater.

Sunday, October 10, at 1:00 pm:
Be on TOP of the Empire State Building

350 5th Ave, New York City at 34th St. See New York City like never before. Be Kink Kong! 

Sunday, October 10, at 4:30 pm:
Classes For Beginners and Experts

The Delancey, 168 Delancey St. New York City

Sunday, October, 10 at 9:00 pm to 3:00 am:
Suspension: ‘A Play Soiree’

 The Delancey, 168 Delancey St. New York City

VIP Ticket All-Inclusive Package: $75 advanced internet or $85 at the door.

Individual tickets per event purchased at the door only.

Please Note: There is an extra charge for ESP and Spa excursion paid directly to vendor

(Photo of Mistress Alex of New York courtesy Mike B. of Fetish Tribe)

The Book Review: How to Be Kinky – A Beginner's Guide to BDSM

It used to be, not all that long ago, that trying to purchase good resource books directly related to bondage, discipline and all things sadomasochistic was very nearly impossible. Unless you “knew a guy”, had some other kind of “connection”, or were fortunate enough to live in a large enough city where so-called underground publications were considered somewhat plentiful, in the days prior to Amazon trying to find reference materials relating to our lovely lifestyle could prove to be immensely problematic – and even potentially embarrassing. “Those kind” of books were usually only available at Adult shops (colloquially still referred to in some circles as “Adult Book Stores”) – and depending on what US state or Canadian province you lived in, tended to be made at hand to those who desired them only through an awkward and stammering specific under-the-counter request for product.

Thankfully, for those of us who revere our chosen alternative life expressions, the advent of the Internet has made it very easy to get our hands on virtually anything (within legality) we want. That has proven to be both an absolute blessing, by and large, and an abject curse in certain circles. For instance, in relation to the “curse”, some so-called expert materials have been published in the past whose content was either too dry and clinical, or nauseatingly ego centric (and we’ve all read those books, I’m quite sure) to be really only of value as a visible potential conversation piece on a bookshelf in someone’s dungeon or playroom.

For every Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns (which in the opinion of several fetishists and SM practitioners, Your Humble Narrator included, is one of the worst books related to BDSM ever foisted on us), there seemed to be at least a dozen more similar volumes that were considered only marginally better. In the past, folks used to purchase SM-related books, I suspect, mostly to make a very visible pseudo-credibility statement to their peers. Many of these really, really bad books were purchased by really good people – and I know for certain most of them were never even read, let alone had their spines cracked. As time has gone on, we’ve been far more fortunate: the demand for good, solid, experienced reference material hasn’t died at all – it has, it seems, only escalated – and the quality of materials available to us has also thankfully increased. Part of that may very well be a simple matter of numbers, as more and more books over the past decade have found their way onto more mainstream bookstore shelves.

One of those exceptional books – in my opinion an absolute “must have” for every serious BDSM enthusiast – is How to Be Kinky: A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM by noted Canadian lifestyle educator Lord Morpheous. Do yourselves a favour and buy this book. It won’t just sit and look impressive sitting on your bookshelf: you’ll actually learn a thing or two, and you won’t be able to simply put it down.

What separates this book from similar works? To start with, it’s damned fun to read. I don’t want to give anything away, really – but as an example, early on in the book there is a very well-written narrative, relating an early experience, of Lord Morpheous and his efforts to try and explain to his parents why his dishwasher was filled with sex toys after he’d had a gathering while they were away. Drawing on the anecdotes and vast experiences of his friends and colleagues throughout the book, Lord Morpheous has ingeniously managed to capture the true essence of sadomasochism (it’s grand fun, damnit!) all the while providing witty and expert advice along the way. It’s a clever format: the reader expects or assumes the book to be, perhaps, another somewhat vapid and plodding “connect the dots of BDSM” instruction manual, but in fact its structured very much like a collection of topical (and extremely entertaining) short stories about people and their gut-wrenchingly and often gut-bustingly honest experiences. Naturally, if you happen to learn a thing or two along the way – and you will – that’s an appreciated bonus. Lord Morpheous is regarded as one of the very best rope bondage artists and educators within our realm today, but How to Be Kinky is so very much more than a mere ‘bondage manual’. There is a taste of fetishes from “A” to “Z” within its pages: there’s is sure to be something that everyone can relate to. Other “how to” books have tended to generally disregard entire legions of particular kinks (Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns for instance contains virtually nothing but a somewhat contemptuous and dismissive reference to cross-dressing), but Lord Morpheous has adeptly managed to give respect and creedence to (almost) every fashion of popular fetishy sensual expression – and he’s managed to do it in a concise but wildly amusing manner.

It’s a brilliant, effective and natural way to introduce anyone (with even so much as a passing interest in kink) to all the positive aspects of what it is we love to do. That makes this book unique – and truly a “must have” for excited newcomer and experienced hard player alike. The novice will learn, in their own vernacular and at their own “level” because the anecdotes are all written in a way to be so appealling and interesting, and the experienced will just love the collection of stories. In short, Lord Morpheous has managed to author the much-desired and nearly impossible-to-reproduce “win-win” scenario; the happy balance in which his efforts truly will appeal to anyone and everyone, from the rookie to the seasoned veteran.

It’s a formula that has found much success in other genres: more specifically, in sports books and even more specifically, in baseball books. I do not know if Lord Morpheous is much of a sports fan: but the man knows how to write, edit and convey tales so well, that I am confident in saying if he wanted to write the definitive work on playing water polo, it would be the world’s best and more informative seller on that topic in history.

Personally, I’d much prefer to wait for his sure-to-follow “Volume Two” efforts on How to Be Kinky. I’m sure Lord Morpheous could explain it perfectly – but I’d rather read about his experiences and lessons in BDSM than just how the hell those water polo guys manage to get snorkels and masks on their damned horses.

Dance of the Afflicted: Five Days of Torture Garden Toronto

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” ~ Seneca

Great undertakings are often brought to completion in one of only two ways: They are either enormously successful, or they result in dismal collapse and failure. More often than not, especially due to outside influence, unforeseen situations and destructive occurrences beyond one’s control, grand visions and ideas can soon become nothing more than ill-fated, poorly-advised, badly executed, and dismally-failed shattered dreams.

What was a triumphant, exciting new entrant into the major fetish event scene in North America a scant nine months ago had all the potential to follow along the train-wreck rails of so many promising, preceding ventures. To wit, this particular event could very well have been of the “one and done” variety, were it not for the solid efforts of its main motivating force, and organizational master.

It is with great pleasure and a huge, satisfactory sigh that Your Humble Narrator and Only True Friend can confidently and righteously say that the second (and most ambitious) iteration of Toronto’s eagerly-anticipated Torture Garden Fetish Event was very much the former, and very little of the latter. It is safe to say, right here and right now, that as of May 2010, the longer-established “lifestyle” conventions, events and weekends have some serious competition for Fetish Festival attendee dollars in North America.

It is doubtful that anyone could have predicted that a single evening’s debauchery a little under a year ago (Torture Garden was initially welcomed to Toronto in August 2009) would have a meteoric evolution into an unbelievable five-night celebration of sinful excess. Anyone, that is, with the notable exception of the event’s organizational workhorse, Craig Galbreath. Even the two founders of the Torture Garden “franchise movement”, David Wood and Allen Pelling, were initially skeptical two full evenings of Toronto back-to-back fetish nights bearing the iconic Torture Garden masthead would be well-attended and wildly popular – let alone stretching the festivities into a five-day affair. “What Craig has done here is unmatched. It’s astounding, really,” a somewhat visibly subdued DJ David Wood remarked during a break between his sets on the Opera House stage. “When he told us he wanted to do a whole holiday weekend of Torture Garden (in Toronto), we weren’t really thinking he was serious at first. We had counted on another, successful one-night show: Craig gave us more. Hat’s are off to him. He’s worked very hard. He’s gained our confidence, for certain.”

Since Torture Garden Toronto said farewell to honoured guests, featured performers and satisfied delegates during a wonderful (if somewhat unseasonably warm) outdoor Wine and Cheese party on Victoria Day (May 24th, a national holiday in Canada), Your Humble Narrator has been inundated with queries – and demands – regarding when a full assessment and commentary regarding the near week-long festival would be produced, and made available for discerning eyes and ears. After taking some time to speak with several involved participants and excited attendees alike, a top to bottom review of the diabolically delicious pageantry that was Torture Garden Toronto 2010 is what follows.

Torture Garden, the Good:

The Music: Where does one start? There were truly so many superlatives about Torture Garden Toronto that it’s truly impossible to pick out a single, exceptional and definitive moment to call “The Best of Show”. What can be said as an appropriate beginning, however, is the quality exhibited by the event’s founders and chief musicologists, David TG and Allen TG (yes, the very same twosome mentioned above). During the two main event nights at Toronto’s old and oddly appropriate venue known as The Opera House, the rave reviews for the selection and expert transitioning of music by the disc jockeys inhabiting the stage were virtually universal.

In fact, “quality of music” has always been somewhat of a complaint regarding Toronto’s nightclub scene: more often than not, revelers are disappointed that Toronto DJ’s tend to exhaustively spin the recordings that they (the DJ’s) think their public should enjoy dancing to – whether their public likes what they are spinning, or not. Dance junkies don’t usually care if they’re force-fed repeated volumes of the same aural fare, of course. However, the consistent and exceptional quality of music that was offered to the writing masses at Torture Garden Toronto is worth noting. David and Allen know their business, of that there is no question, and it is I believe a significant reason as to why the Torture Garden franchise has been so successful for the past twenty-odd years.

Give the people great music, and professionally presented, and the “eye candy” aspect becomes somewhat incidental. All through Saturday and Sunday evening’s main events at The Opera House, the dance floors – hell, the upper level dungeon/play spaces and media balcony even – were a happy, roiling mass of fervently delirious feet and expressively ecstatic, feverish bodies. People had wondered (last year and this year both) why David and Allen would come all the way to Toronto and “work” their own franchise party. The answer, now, we definitely know. It’s because they’re the best at what they do. They keep the people excited, happy, and most importantly, moving. It is here, without question, that the winning formula has been forged by the founding fathers of TG: Combine great music with exceptional atmosphere and top it all off with the most delicious aforementioned eye candy assembled, and you have the recipe for the perfect party.

The Performances: Almost all of the performances during Saturday and Sunday evening’s main events were quite spectacular. More will be said about RubberDoll a little further on, but her two performances definitely thrilled those who hadn’t been exposed to her act before. Those that had seen her previously, well … suffice to say it would appear from comments in the crowd that her act really hasn’t changed much in the past year (or more). That being said, RubberDoll is a seasoned, professional fetish performer and she certainly didn’t disappoint. She wasn’t appearing to be “simply going through the motions”, as she gave a high-octane, savagely energetic showpiece that titillated and teased the assembled crowd gasping at the contortions and machinations taking place on the stage above.

In addition to the excellent standard set by RubberDoll, the Fire Dance set and the Aerial Performanceswere both awe-inspiring and mind-altering. There is a genuine sense of great enjoyment when one is able to bear witness to the circus-like precision exhibited by those that dance with fire, and those that twist, turn and (sometimes) twirl high above the ground floor with nothing between them and oblivion but a simple, sturdy hoop or a seemingly thin and suspiciously fragile-looking long length of cloth. No-one who saw these performances went away feeling like they’d been somehow denied their money’s worth.

Highly effective and somewhat discomfort-level causing flesh hook suspension artists I Was Cured returned to the Torture Garden stage after a shockingly triumphant “debut” at last year’s event, and once again judging by the amount of gasps, groans and excited whispers in the crowd they were once more enthusiastically embraced and cheered by an adoring, entranced and spellbound viewing public. Sunday evening featured a fun and definitely “Beach Blanket Kinko” campy demonstration performance from Toronto’s own Kink Engineering, who managed to convey to an (at first) somewhat puzzled crowd exactly what it is about “Vac Beds” that is so damned appealing and ultimately desirable. Mad Scientist and Archean, the undeniably brilliant brains and frenetically enthusiastic minds behind Kink Engineering, unveiled their (sure to be) revolutionary Vac Cube and Vac Tower designs to the very enthusiastic onlookers. In essence, the Vac Cube and the Vac Tower are “three-dimensional” Vac Beds: instead of a dual top and bottom only, decidedly flat-surface bondage effect (what those in the ‘know’ have come to regard as ‘traditional vacuum table technology’), these brand-new product offerings actually encase the imbedded subject within six separate, converging latex pieces. While the crowd enthusiastically whooted and whooped as Archean herself became immobilized by her own latex creation (which was beautifully adorned with a blue and white Japanese wave motif – more on that later), Mad Scientist was joined onstage by a gas-masked unidentified female, who promptly climbed inside the Vac Tower and for all intents and purposes, “disappeared”. The reason for the gas mask soon became absolutely apparent: as the Vac Tower was raised above the stage, and the air was removed by a small canister vacuum cleaner on the floor below, the six-sided latex cube quickly revealed the young lady literally suspended in mid-air (or, in this case, mid-rope) within. The gas mask was revealed to be attached to a breathing hose that was connected to the outside world – ensuring that the bound beauty within wasn’t about be locked in a life and death struggle for precious oxygen. When the Vac Tower was finally lowered to the stage, and the masked female was “released” from her rubber bindings, it was (of course) the incomparable rope and suspension artist Lotuslily who was revealed to have been the masked “victim” of the imposing Vac Tower. Sure, it was ‘camp couture’ at its best: but it was also an extremely effective (and fun!) demonstration of the capabilities of the units designed and manufactured by Kink Engineering. In that regard, the performance was a resounding, and much appreciated, success.

Some other established performers were given prime spots in the performance line-up, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Satomi, The Tokyo Love Doll and Vivid Angel in particular both stunned and thrilled the crowd with displays that certainly broke many of the bonds of convention. There was even a playful bit of intentional controversy (which won’t be discussed here) that was surely designed to send the crowd into whispered frenzies of shock and amazement. Suffice to say that if you do have an opportunity to see Satomi and Vivid Angel in particular, don’t miss it: those two ladies put on one hell of a performance.

The Fashion Shows:  With the addition of Northbound Leather, the fetish fashion ensembles were extremely fresh and generated a huge amount of over-the-top excitement. Northbound Leather’s designs, when the models took to the stage, were described immediately by one American visitor (from Michigan) as “completely sick” and definitely in the “I must have that” categories. Northbound was joined onstage in short order by exceptional, delicious ensembles from design houses Futurstate, Plastik Wrap and Artifice – each one with their own unique signature and style, and each one enthusiastically endorsed by an adoring public in the gathered audience below.

However, as good as Northbound Leather, Futurstate, Plastik Wrap and Artifice was, it was Toronto’s Ego Assassin that literally brought the house down. In what was the best choreographed and well-performed set of the entire Torture Garden experience, James and Slinka of Ego Assassin managed to combine an aquatic theme with an industrial edge, and gave their viewers truly a visually explosive treat. The audience was treated to another instance of the blue and white Japanese wave – this time as a smaller scale artistic treatment featured on the front of a corset adorning the bodice of a slender, lithe latex-blue female “shark”. The motifs are a trademark of Ego Assassin’s work: and there simply isn’t anything in the known fetish world that compares. Their process is unique and revolutionary (and no, I won’t give it away here, although even James and Slinka say it’s surprisingly straight-forward), and the final product is truly amazing. It is one thing to see these intricate latex designs and motifs static and unmoving on a production table, or within staged photographs. It is quite another to see those designs literally come to life, on stage, when worn by exotically-moving models and dancers. By the end of their fashion segment, the crowd below the stage was screaming in unrequited approval and amazement when two black latex “sea insectoids,” each with misshapen glowing eyes, entered and accosted one of the aquatically finned lithe females. The entire segment, truly, had to be seen to be believed. As Ego Assassin continues to develop and evolve their product lines, their designs are sure to be regarded as highly in demand by latex enthusiasts world-wide.

The Seminars: In somewhat of a risky move, Torture Garden Toronto sponsored a series of seminars that were simply expertly organized and executed by Toronto’s own Lord Morpheous. I venture to say, with extreme confidence, that there are few (if any) more engaging, knowledgeable and exceptional rope work educators within our realm. Three of the seminars were held at the host hotel (Sheraton Centre) on the Saturday afternoon, and two others were held at another, less central location on the Sunday.

One of those seminars – one which Your Humble Narrator had witnessed before, in Montreal during the Fetish Weekend – was conducted by a man named Dunter and focused on the finer aspects of controlling someone using Pressure Points on the human body. Due to a scheduling conflict, our little entourage (which included the lovely Mistress Lyn, her devoted, talented husband and “personal photographer” SJoe from New York, and a fresh young female acolyte new to our Community known as Severne) arrived at the very end of Dunter’s allotted time – but judging by the rave reviews expressed by all present, there was no question that, once again, this impressive and extremely talented educator from Montreal had held his audience (you’ll pardon the phrase, of course) “captive”. He made a new cabal of devotees in Toronto with his effectual and effusive, genial and extremely effective teaching style.

A rising star on the “Kinky Lecture Circuit” appeared in the form of a young gentleman who goes by the simple moniker of Cub Dan, and his engaging and delightful seminar on how to use regular household items (and some eyebrow raising “irregular” household items) as sensation implements for SM play was both incredibly insightful – and extremely entertaining at the same time. Watch for this man: he’s truly something special as an educator. Just don’t let him anywhere near you with a ring of steel wool, electrode attachments, a vibrating wood sander or a bottle of Hot Sauce if you can help it. He’s impressively adept at perverting (pretty much) anything – and safely – he can get his hands on.

Lord Morpheous himself ended a near-perfect and enjoyable afternoon with a fantastic talk, demonstration and audience participation lecture on Sex Bondage. He was joined, with perfect fluidity, by a beautiful and completely engaging young lady by the name of elle who served as the subject for the various ties Lord Morpheous was teaching. She wasn’t just a model: during the seminar she gave some extremely valuable and much-appreciated insight, from a bottom’s perspective, about what she was experiencing as she was being restrained. There is a reason why Lord Morpheous, in my opinion, is one of the most sought-after facilitators in North America: not only is he an experienced and truly fantastic rope artist, but he’s enjoyable and engaging to watch and listen to.

What was most impressive, about all three of these presenters, was how well their audience retained the knowledge they had just obtained. Being able to walk out of a room and be able to perform, safely and with complete confidence, a pressure point takedown; a ‘shocking’ Karaoke performance (sorry, you’ll just have to take one of Cub Dan’s classes to truly want to know what I’m talking about – but it involves electrodes, a microphone and steel wool if you must know); or a chicken-wing tie, is assuredly the mark of a true professional. All three men could be thusly, and accurately, described. Unfortunately, time and distance did not allow our little group to review the other two seminars scheduled that weekend – but if the three we were exposed to are any indication, I’m sure they were every bit as informative, fun and superb.

The Atmosphere: Choose an adjective, and chances are it applies to the over-all mood, feel and attitude of Torture Garden party-goers. Electric? Mysterious? Adrenaline-laced? Frenetic? Vibrant? All of the above? If there was one single word to be used as a definitive summary of the Torture Garden Toronto experience, it would without question have to be: “Alive” There can be little doubt; those who bid adieu to the ceremonies in 2010 have already started making plans to be in attendance at the 2011 event.

Torture Garden, the Bad:

Torture Garden Toronto officially got underway with a welcoming event on Friday evening. There isn’t much to say about the venue, unfortunately: our entourage spent almost the entirety of the evening outdoors, on the sidewalk near the front door. So did many, many others who ventured out that night. At one point, it truly was a toss-up as to which had the greater numbers: the party going on inside the venue, or the party happening outside.

Not that it mattered. This must be stressed: there were very, very few complaints regarding the unfortunate lack of space this particular venue provided indoors. People who showed up, dressed in all their fabulousness in respective latex, leather, satin, PVC and even canvas, to a person had a most enjoyable time meeting with old friends, and perhaps making new ones. However, there were certainly issues with this particular venue (regarding the understanding of rules at the outset of the evening) that did put quite a damper on the hopes of those whom had hoped to spend Opening Night comfortably dancing and cavorting indoors.

In simple terms, the venue was just too small – and the House Rules of this particular club simply too incompatible – to completely, comfortably accommodate the mass of Torture Garden attendees that did manage to make it down for the night. Undoubtedly, there had to be certain numbers of patrons who had purchased a VIP or a weekend pass that may have felt disappointment regarding Friday night and the fact that they (most likely) spent most of the evening outdoors instead of within the venue. But here’s the caveat, and the wondrous thing: the majority of people (including our own entourage) really didn’t seem to mind. It wasn’t the venue that made the party on Friday night: it was the people. Everyone was ecstatic to be there, amongst their peers – and it showed.

Torture Garden, the Ugly:

Last year, it was somewhat jokingly suggested that the only glaring thing wrong with Torture Garden’s main event … was the condition of the stairs on the upper levels. The owners of The Opera House should have heeded those somewhat tongue in cheek comments, because this year, those stairs actually continued to be a problem. Thankfully, the extent of the issue with the upper level stairs at The Opera House (and the grumbles were constrained, it must be said, to the upper levels only) really could only be considered minor in scope. Every organizer, though, that is contemplating mounting a major fetish event should consider that their guests will be adorned in very high-priced fetish haute couture that includes very expensive outerwear and footwear. It would be in their best interests if the interiors of the venue they were providing (for said finery) actually didn’t contribute in any way to the destruction of these delicious ensembles. In complete fairness to Craig Galbraith, the main mover and shaker of Torture Garden Toronto, there simply wasn’t anything he could have done better to guarantee the safety and security of his guests – the entire event, from the three nights of parties, to the seminars and to the farewell dinner afterwards, were meticulously organized and exceptionally managed. This writer can attest to the fact that Mr. Galbraith did absolutely everything within his limited power to try and address the (relatively simply) issue of those damned stairs – but obviously was ultimately thwarted. Maybe next year, Craig?

Speaking of next year: Torture Garden 2011 should be very interesting. It will certainly be hard for Craig (and David and Allen, for that matter) to top the five days of twisted and feverish consensual torment that was this year’s fantastic fetish festival. Torture Garden continues to evolve and evoke wondrous new beginnings. People will come – because Torture Garden simply gives the masses want they want: a fabulous time, a memorable experience, and a chance to express themselves without repercussion amongst their peers.

Really, to quote the immortal George and Ira Gershwin: ‘Who could ask for anything more?’

(All Photographs by SJoe, Lady Morganna and Kardynyl SynysTyr – Courtesy of Torture Garden Toronto 2010) (Images may not be reproduced without express written permission)

(Note: Photographs do not necessarily correspond with accompanying text)

Slipping into An Alien Skin: The Magic of Ego Assassin

“Always be yourself… unless you suck.” ~ Joss Whedon

Great ideas – along with great people – are born of strong personal beliefs and convictions. The quote above isn’t exactly the kind of “corporate rallying cry” one might expect to see printed in 10-foot tall letters on billboards, let alone trumpeted loudly via mass-media marketing vehicles such as radio, television and even the Internet. Yet, there is simplicity in the statement; one that must surely resonate with most of us who have any kind of self-importance.

Be honest: we all have an ego to satisfy. Some of us (quite obviously) need to be vetted and fussed over more than others. For instance, Your Humble Narrator and Only True Friend is quite comfortable and secure in the knowledge that you all love me.

Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that our focus for this episode of “Kardynyl SynysTyr’s Fabulous Fetish Fancies” features an up-and-coming design studio whose very name just so happens to literally refer to the cold, hard death of one’s smug self-assuredness.

You may have heard of them. You may already love them. There is no question, if you’re even the slightest admirer of all things ‘latex’ you’ll be wanting a piece from them at some point. They’re known in latex enthusiast circles as Ego Assassin, and all tongue-in-cheek references to anyone’s sense of “self-importance” aside, what they do is nothing short of astounding.

Their friends know them as James and Slinka. Both of them are the brains, the passion and indeed the very industriousness behind what (I believe) is sure to be a revolution within the latex fashion world. Sure, there are certainly other designers out there who are (for now) far more known, publicized and patronized. Your Humble Narrator says this in all solemnity: I have been around latex fashions and latex wear for a very, very long time. These eyes have never beheld the artistry and the workmanship that is so expertly exhibited in the work of the Ego Assassin duo.

So, what’s in a name, anyway?

“Our name and our concept come out a personal belief that our personalities are not fixed,” James told me during a visit to their studio recently. “We all have the ability to adjust and change, if we want to. Anyone can set their ‘ego’ aside and go completely into a different head space.”

“Basically, when you wear one of our pieces, we want you to feel like you’re literally slipping into another skin. You can be anything you want to be; an entirely different character,” James said. “If you believe you’re a goddess or an alien creature (wearing one of our creations), then you’re a goddess or an alien. The medium and the philosophy can fit together really nicely.”

In essence, then, the combined words “ego assassin” are meant to emulate a personal attitude: to wit, a positive, sensual transformation as opposed to any negative, assumed verbal evisceration usually associated with the haughty and self-indulgent club crowd.

In point of fact, James and Slinka are somewhat “obsessive”, if we’re telling the whole truth. They’re both absolute perfectionists when it comes to their work. Simply put, the hand-crafted, painstaking detail that is put into each one of their creations ensures that each and every customer is going to get a truly, unique and exceptional piece – regardless of whether that particular piece is part of their design inventory or not. It is this industrious dedication to quality (very much like their good friends and symbiotic partners, Elastica Engineering, who supply Ego Assassin with a superior quality of high-tensile sheet latex) that somewhat sets Ego Assassin apart from any other latex garment design studio.

I say “somewhat” for good reason, here. There is another aspect of James and Slinka’s work that puts their craftsmanship on a whole other plateau when compared to their peers in the industry.

While James is very clear in stating that “they really don’t have any trade secrets” that he feels needs protecting, it would be a serious disservice to describe in detail the one area of perfection in which Ego Assassin has definitely developed a loyal and dedicated clientele. Friends and customers who have been fortunate enough to have been offered a “sneak peek” at the line-up being currently constructed for Toronto’s Torture Garden Weekend (May 21 – 24) have been amazed at the quality of the images printed onto the rubber material as a signature feature of their collection for the Fashion Show. One such piece, which has been photographed and posted on a few fetish-related websites already, features a near-flawless, ‘color-favorable’ copy of The Great Wave by legendary Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) across the front bodice of a latex corset. It is but a small and yet staggering taste of the artistry that is so integral to the reputation of James and Slinka as truly formidable garment designers.

Naturally, there are dozens of other printed patterns and designs that have been produced by Ego Assassin over the past several months (“Through a hell of a lot of trial, error, anger and heartache,” James recounts with a half-smile). Once the process and procedure for creating the designs, images and patterns on the latex had been perfected, naturally the rapid interest in their product lines began to grow. The one thing James and Slinka refuse to compromise on is the commitment to quality through patient design, printing and construction processes. “We don’t hide our process, and while it’s really pretty simple it’s also very labor intensive,” Slinka said. “We have no interest in mass production. We’re in an industry where customers are extremely passionate about their clothes. We want them to know that we’re equally as passionate about making them as they are about wearing them. ”

There are certainly other successful latex garment designers throughout North America – and Europe, for that matter. Some entities (specifically in the New York and Montreal areas) have been in business for years, if not decades. However, the universal truth here is that many of those companies tend to produce product that has become somewhat “standardized”. In short, the variance in artistic style, and even quality, has varied little from company to company. Many of those “more established” design houses rely on repeat business from loyal customers merely due to the simple, convenient fact that competition for “name brand” product isn’t exactly fierce. Very few latex garment enthusiasts are 100% completely loyal to one particular brand, for instance.

It is exactly the very uniqueness of the Ego Assassin product that sets distinguishes them from the competition. While they too will build garments for “everyone from hardcore fetishists to soccer moms”, it is their momentous decision to commit to the superior formula being produced exclusively by Elastica Engineering combined with their own without-peer design and artistic skills that truly will make them (if they aren’t regarded as already) the absolute best in the business. That’s quite an accomplishment in such a relatively short period of time.

Their personal story, about how they came to be as a couple, couldn’t be exactly billed as “typical”. As it happened, they met while doing some modeling work. “My first thought of him was, ‘that boy spends way too much time on his hair.” Slinka said of James with a smile. “I mean, boys don’t wear make-up, right? I wasn’t sure I wanted to date a boy who might spend more time in front of a mirror than I did.” A chance meeting at a fetish event a short time later, some shared beverages and a mutually enjoyable conversation led to the discovery of a mutual interest in fetish wear – and specifically, latex. James, who had for years been employed as a professional artist in some capacity, was given the task of making his new lady-love a “one of a kind rubber dress” in the way of a somewhat playful challenge from Slinka herself. Little at that time did either of them realize that a white latex one-piece dress that featured a large “handcuffs” motif across the chest area would quickly lead them both toward the design adventure of their young lives. “It was really quite crude compared to what we’re doing now,” Slinka laughed. “But I wore that dress until it was eventually no longer recognizable as ‘white’, and it was falling apart.”

The white “Handcuff Dress”, as they called it, garnered a tremendous amount of attention at the huge annual Northbound Leather fetish extravaganza that year. “So many people were asking us ‘wherever did we find that dress,” James said. When fellow revelers were informed that James had, in fact, crafted the dress himself, the requests for product started coming immediately. “We even took a couple of orders while out on the dance floor,” he said. That fateful Northbound Leather event (titled, somewhat appropriately ‘Climax’) was five years ago. Ego Assassin, for all intents and purposes, has therefore been “in business” for a little less than five years.

Both James and Slinka credit the immensely popular and respected “Fetish Diva” Midori and Toronto promoter extraordinaire Craig Galbraith of Subspace and Torture Garden fame with being amongst their first true champions of their work. “In the first few years, there wasn’t a real lot of interest in us, especially in our own back yard,” James said. “But thanks to word of mouth from Midori and Craig especially, we really started to develop a loyal following and customer base.”

The quality of their product line has obviously and dramatically improved. Some of their more popular pieces – printed tops, their in-demand “Reverend” Bondage Skirts and a variety of mind-boggling dresses – have garnered attention in some very high profile camps. Their designs have been featured prominently in the Japanese edition of Vogue (Vogue Homme) magazine, and thanks to the enthusiastic endorsements of an admired and in-demand fashion stylist named Nicola Formichetti and the highly-respected fashion photographer Stephen Klein, orders have been placed for no less a talent than Lady Gaga for product that was to be seen in one of her over-the-top popular music videos (Bad Romance). Some of the Ego Assassin pieces were even targeted for use in some of Lady Gaga’s live stage performances.

Good stories about good, talented people usually end with a typically cliché commentary about the past. It cannot be said, though, that “the rest is history” in this particular instance: Ego Assassin is still revolutionizing the latex fashion industry and have started making history. You’ll be hearing about them for a long, long time to come.

Kardynyl SynysTyr

(All Photographs courtesy of Ego Assassin)

Slipping into An Alien Skin: The Magic of Ego Assassin

“Always be yourself… unless you suck.” ~ Joss Whedon

Great ideas – along with great people – are born of strong personal beliefs and convictions. The quote above isn’t exactly the kind of “corporate rallying cry” one might expect to see printed in 10-foot tall letters on billboards, let alone trumpeted loudly via mass-media marketing vehicles such as radio, television and even the Internet. Yet, there is simplicity in the statement; one that must surely resonate with most of us who have any kind of self-importance.

Be honest: we all have an ego to satisfy. Some of us (quite obviously) need to be vetted and fussed over more than others. For instance, Your Humble Narrator and Only True Friend is quite comfortable and secure in the knowledge that you all love me.

Perhaps it is appropriate, then, that our focus for this episode of “Kardynyl SynysTyr’s Fabulous Fetish Fancies” features an up-and-coming design studio whose very name just so happens to literally refer to the cold, hard death of one’s smug self-assuredness.

You may have heard of them. You may already love them. There is no question, if you’re even the slightest admirer of all things ‘latex’ you’ll be wanting a piece from them at some point. They’re known in latex enthusiast circles as Ego Assassin, and all tongue-in-cheek references to anyone’s sense of “self-importance” aside, what they do is nothing short of astounding.

Their friends know them as James and Slinka. Both of them are the brains, the passion and indeed the very industriousness behind what (I believe) is sure to be a revolution within the latex fashion world. Sure, there are certainly other designers out there who are (for now) far more known, publicized and patronized. Your Humble Narrator says this in all solemnity: I have been around latex fashions and latex wear for a very, very long time. These eyes have never beheld the artistry and the workmanship that is so expertly exhibited in the work of the Ego Assassin duo.

So, what’s in a name, anyway?

“Our name and our concept come out a personal belief that our personalities are not fixed,” James told me during a visit to their studio recently. “We all have the ability to adjust and change, if we want to. Anyone can set their ‘ego’ aside and go completely into a different head space.”

“Basically, when you wear one of our pieces, we want you to feel like you’re literally slipping into another skin. You can be anything you want to be; an entirely different character,” James said. “If you believe you’re a goddess or an alien creature (wearing one of our creations), then you’re a goddess or an alien. The medium and the philosophy can fit together really nicely.”

In essence, then, the combined words “ego assassin” are meant to emulate a personal attitude: to wit, a positive, sensual transformation as opposed to any negative, assumed verbal evisceration usually associated with the haughty and self-indulgent club crowd.

In point of fact, James and Slinka are somewhat “obsessive”, if we’re telling the whole truth. They’re both absolute perfectionists when it comes to their work. Simply put, the hand-crafted, painstaking detail that is put into each one of their creations ensures that each and every customer is going to get a truly, unique and exceptional piece – regardless of whether that particular piece is part of their design inventory or not. It is this industrious dedication to quality (very much like their good friends and symbiotic partners, Elastica Engineering, who supply Ego Assassin with a superior quality of high-tensile sheet latex) that somewhat sets Ego Assassin apart from any other latex garment design studio.

I say “somewhat” for good reason, here. There is another aspect of James and Slinka’s work that puts their craftsmanship on a whole other plateau when compared to their peers in the industry.

While James is very clear in stating that “they really don’t have any trade secrets” that he feels needs protecting, it would be a serious disservice to describe in detail the one area of perfection in which Ego Assassin has definitely developed a loyal and dedicated clientele. Friends and customers who have been fortunate enough to have been offered a “sneak peek” at the line-up being currently constructed for Toronto’s Torture Garden Weekend (May 21 – 24) have been amazed at the quality of the images printed onto the rubber material as a signature feature of their collection for the Fashion Show. One such piece, which has been photographed and posted on a few fetish-related websites already, features a near-flawless, ‘color-favorable’ copy of The Great Wave by legendary Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849) across the front bodice of a latex corset. It is but a small and yet staggering taste of the artistry that is so integral to the reputation of James and Slinka as truly formidable garment designers.

Naturally, there are dozens of other printed patterns and designs that have been produced by Ego Assassin over the past several months (“Through a hell of a lot of trial, error, anger and heartache,” James recounts with a half-smile). Once the process and procedure for creating the designs, images and patterns on the latex had been perfected, naturally the rapid interest in their product lines began to grow. The one thing James and Slinka refuse to compromise on is the commitment to quality through patient design, printing and construction processes. “We don’t hide our process, and while it’s really pretty simple it’s also very labor intensive,” Slinka said. “We have no interest in mass production. We’re in an industry where customers are extremely passionate about their clothes. We want them to know that we’re equally as passionate about making them as they are about wearing them. ”

There are certainly other successful latex garment designers throughout North America – and Europe, for that matter. Some entities (specifically in the New York and Montreal areas) have been in business for years, if not decades. However, the universal truth here is that many of those companies tend to produce product that has become somewhat “standardized”. In short, the variance in artistic style, and even quality, has varied little from company to company. Many of those “more established” design houses rely on repeat business from loyal customers merely due to the simple, convenient fact that competition for “name brand” product isn’t exactly fierce. Very few latex garment enthusiasts are 100% completely loyal to one particular brand, for instance.

It is exactly the very uniqueness of the Ego Assassin product that sets distinguishes them from the competition. While they too will build garments for “everyone from hardcore fetishists to soccer moms”, it is their momentous decision to commit to the superior formula being produced exclusively by Elastica Engineering combined with their own without-peer design and artistic skills that truly will make them (if they aren’t regarded as already) the absolute best in the business. That’s quite an accomplishment in such a relatively short period of time.

Their personal story, about how they came to be as a couple, couldn’t be exactly billed as “typical”. As it happened, they met while doing some modeling work. “My first thought of him was, ‘that boy spends way too much time on his hair.” Slinka said of James with a smile. “I mean, boys don’t wear make-up, right? I wasn’t sure I wanted to date a boy who might spend more time in front of a mirror than I did.” A chance meeting at a fetish event a short time later, some shared beverages and a mutually enjoyable conversation led to the discovery of a mutual interest in fetish wear – and specifically, latex. James, who had for years been employed as a professional artist in some capacity, was given the task of making his new lady-love a “one of a kind rubber dress” in the way of a somewhat playful challenge from Slinka herself. Little at that time did either of them realize that a white latex one-piece dress that featured a large “handcuffs” motif across the chest area would quickly lead them both toward the design adventure of their young lives. “It was really quite crude compared to what we’re doing now,” Slinka laughed. “But I wore that dress until it was eventually no longer recognizable as ‘white’, and it was falling apart.”

The white “Handcuff Dress”, as they called it, garnered a tremendous amount of attention at the huge annual Northbound Leather fetish extravaganza that year. “So many people were asking us ‘wherever did we find that dress,” James said. When fellow revelers were informed that James had, in fact, crafted the dress himself, the requests for product started coming immediately. “We even took a couple of orders while out on the dance floor,” he said. That fateful Northbound Leather event (titled, somewhat appropriately ‘Climax’) was five years ago. Ego Assassin, for all intents and purposes, has therefore been “in business” for a little less than five years.

Both James and Slinka credit the immensely popular and respected “Fetish Diva” Midori and Toronto promoter extraordinaire Craig Galbraith of Subspace and Torture Garden fame with being amongst their first true champions of their work. “In the first few years, there wasn’t a real lot of interest in us, especially in our own back yard,” James said. “But thanks to word of mouth from Midori and Craig especially, we really started to develop a loyal following and customer base.”

The quality of their product line has obviously and dramatically improved. Some of their more popular pieces – printed tops, their in-demand “Reverend” Bondage Skirts and a variety of mind-boggling dresses – have garnered attention in some very high profile camps. Their designs have been featured prominently in the Japanese edition of Vogue (Vogue Homme) magazine, and thanks to the enthusiastic endorsements of an admired and in-demand fashion stylist named Nicola Formichetti and the highly-respected fashion photographer Stephen Klein, orders have been placed for no less a talent than Lady Gaga for product that was to be seen in one of her over-the-top popular music videos (Bad Romance). Some of the Ego Assassin pieces were even targeted for use in some of Lady Gaga’s live stage performances.

Good stories about good, talented people usually end with a typically cliché commentary about the past. It cannot be said, though, that “the rest is history” in this particular instance: Ego Assassin is still revolutionizing the latex fashion industry and have started making history. You’ll be hearing about them for a long, long time to come.

Kardynyl SynysTyr

(All Photographs courtesy of Ego Assassin)

Torture Garden Redux: Five Days of Flesh and Fantasy in May

Madness!  This love was a part of me, like my own flesh; it had taken the place of my blood and marrow; it possessed me entirely; it was I! ~ Octave Mirbeau, The Torture Garden, 1899

Brace yourselves, rabid and feverish fetish party enthusiasts. The seeds that were planted last summer have taken root, and they are growing. Those roots are strong; as strong as the finest Japanese bondage rope, and they run about as deep as any exploration of individual desire would dare to descend.

The mind-exploding fetish party experience, known universally since 1990 as the exotically-named Torture Garden, makes its return to Toronto – and just in time to help devotees celebrate the May long weekend. In a somewhat appropriate yet potentially risky move, the venerable old franchise started over a decade ago by the British DJ “pair extraordinaire” David Wood and Allen Pelling has been expanded. This year, Torture Garden Toronto has evolved from a single evening’s festivities into an entire, exhilarating long-weekend of flesh, fantasy, revelry, indulgence and ecstasy.

The main motivating force behind bringing the legendary DJ pair and their franchise festival to Toronto, Craig Galbraith, is no stranger himself to organizing a large-scale “good time” for the over-all benefit of North American fetish party enthusiasts. For several years, he has been one of the prime (and most popular) event organizers in Canada’s largest city, and he is the tireless, brilliant mind behind the wildly-popular monthly Subspace Fetish Nights in Toronto. His efforts have become so admired (and so adamantly supported) by a good percentage of the gargantuan Toronto-area fetish scene that he’s generally and simply known as either just “Craig” or, more playfully familiar if not somewhat colloquially as “Craiger”.

“I’m just a regular guy who really just loves to throw parties”, Craig has been quoted as saying on more than one occasion. “I’ve only ever wanted everyone who wanted to come out to simply have a great, great time.”

Craig’s evolution as a major event organizer certainly mirrors that of his Torture Garden “mentors” David and Allen. His events started simply enough, with small gatherings in intimate settings either in private abodes or in much, much smaller nightclubs. It wasn’t long before demand, however, made him realize that he was soon going to have to look for ever-larger digs in which to satiate the rapacious appetites of his patrons. “Each time we held a party, they got more and more popular and even more in demand,” Craig said. “We needed to get larger venues just to accommodate everyone who wanted to come.”

The need for larger space eventually evolved into his well-patronized, exceedingly popular Subspace nights, held once a month at one of Toronto’s largest tri-level nightclubs (the legendary Toronto landmark nightclub, The Big Bop, which sadly closed its doors, forever, earlier this year). And yet, the demand for even greater bacchanalian and hedonistic pursuits still continued to clamor ever louder. Craig wasn’t entirely sure exactly what, let alone where, his ever-burgeoning party plans would allow for the accommodation of all who demanded entrance through his doors. It was sometime during the early months of 2009 that Craig realized the solution: he would organize another gathering, in a different location, and give the alternative crowds exactly the mystical, frenzied and adrenaline-fueled atmosphere they were collectively demanding.

Enter Dave TG and Allen TG – the aforementioned Messieurs Wood and Pelling, of course. Without going into a dissertation on the negotiation process involved that would eventually land the Torture Garden franchise in Toronto, suffice to say the first TG event (held at a venue known as The Opera House) in the summer of 2009 was, by all reviews and reports, nothing short of a runaway, smashing success.

Naturally, Craig’s crowds still demanded more. While other event organizers, in any community in any town in any number of countries, are undoubtedly envious and would give their metaphorical left arm to have the kind of “problem” that Craig has, it truly is a testament to the work ethic, dedication and drive that Craig has to simply give the “people exactly what they want.” What he decided to do wasn’t revolutionary by any means. Other event organizers were putting their names to more than one event on a regular basis: why couldn’t he do the same? The biggest difference, of course, being that for all intents and purposes, other events produced by other organizers tended to be rather viewed as virtually the same party, but slapped with a different name, or “theme”. There were exceptions to that, of course: Northbound Leather’s fetish nights (the longest continuously running fetish event in the world) and Sir Alex Dark’s monthly gatherings have always pushed the envelope in Toronto when it comes to keeping large-scale parties exciting and fresh. But Craig knew he had to do something a little bigger, with a little bit more of a “bang”, in order to once again raise the bar on his own uncompromising level of quality.

Striking a deal with the Torture Garden franchise, one which hadn’t quite been embraced by North American audiences in some large American cities with same degree of enthusiasm as their European counterparts, certainly managed to turn more than a few skeptical heads. Craig himself wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the initial 2009 Torture Garden Toronto event marched inexorably towards its debut date. He needn’t have been too worried: The Opera House was full of locals from every part of the Greater Toronto Area, and had attracted a sizeable crowd of attendees from not only all over North America, but from Europe and other parts of the globe as well. By all accounts, Torture Garden Toronto in 2009 was an unmitigated, unquestionable success. No sooner had Torture Garden Toronto 2009 ended, that the demand (of course!) for more started from the masses.

Thus, Craig being the man he is, he felt compelled to have to raise the bar one more time in 2010 and immediately began laying the groundwork for what very well may prove to become his magnum opus: an entire Torture Garden Toronto weekend. Instead of staging the event during the summer as he and his TG compatriots did a year ago, Craig moved the entire show to May in order to take advantage of a statutory long weekend. The festivities will commence with an Industry Night Martini Party at Toronto’s Club Nocturne on Thursday, May 20th, and wind up an almost-unbelievable four days later on Monday, May 24th with a late-afternoon “wine and cheese wind-down” at a venue known as Café Taste in Toronto’s trendy Queen Street West neighborhood.

It is the Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening scheduled events, however, which are sure to cause the most reverent discussions long after the weekend has come to pass. On Friday, May 21st, in a private location, the official Launch Party will take place as an enticing “warm up” to the rest of the weekend’s festivities. Saturday evening, May 22nd, features the main event at The Opera House (735 Queen Street East). Three of Canada’s most respected and beloved spin doctors – DJ’s Lazarus, Pale and Prospero – will be joined by the aforementioned founding musicologists, David TG and Allen TG, in serving up an enticing and inciting wall of sound: an appropriate enough and perfect companion for the visual, intoxicating “torturous” displays that are sure to assault the eyes, and senses, of every attendee.

In addition to up-and-coming local Japanese bondage artist Lotuslily performing her jaw-dropping solo Kinbaku sets, the stage will be graced by the likes of world-popular fetish performers Satomi, the Tokyo Love Doll and Florida’s popular latex performance artist Rubber Doll. The much-sought after rubber garment designs of Kaori’s Latex Dreams will command people’s attentions during the fashion show segment of the evening’s performances, and Vivid Angel (described as “Freak Show Royalty” by some publications) brings her 10 years of experience as an exceptional vaudeville-style performer to the Torture Garden stage, and the mind-blowing hooks-and-suspension troupe I Was Cured will be doing their best to make audience members cringe in awed respect (and delight) with their high-flying flesh and metal aerial displays. Back as well for a second year is the amazing body painting artist ARK Angel, who has single-handedly raised the fetishistic practice of tribal and animal-like body art to atmospheric levels of appreciation amongst die-hard party-goers. There certainly should be more than enough eye and ear candy to gorge one’s self on, Saturday night alone.

As if a high-octane Saturday evening wasn’t enough, The Opera House will once more swing open its doors on Sunday, May 23, for an evening of “Medical Mayhem”. The expected dress code and the (scheduled performances) should be fairly self-explanatory. Whether Torture Garden guests are contentedly trying to recover from Saturday night’s debauchery, or merely getting wound up to a fever pitch for more, both Saturday and Sunday feature a series of seminars (to be held at two different locations on respective days) that can offer interested parties a little of the usual kind of instruction one would expect from such educational presentations – and a little of the unusual, as well. One of Sunday’s seminars in particular appears to be geared more towards the “Medical” theme that encompasses the evening’s “mayhem” to come.

It is true that Craig certainly has an enormous amount of planned delights for his guests during Torture Garden Weekend. What might be surprising to those contemplating purchasing tickets to any one night will undoubtedly be somewhat shocked to realize that prices are far from prohibitive. Even three-night passes and all-inclusive VIP entrance badges are exceptionally reasonable, price-wise. “We have never-before seen in Canada performers, over 20 acts, and several excellent locations that will make Torture Garden Toronto a ‘can’t miss’ event”, Craig said. “Toronto’s Fetish Weekend is going to be what it was intended to be: a fantastic party and a hell of a good time for everyone! It was important to keep the cost of tickets and passes reasonable so that everyone who wanted to come out and experience something new could really afford to do so.” The top-level pass, the all-inclusive VIP badge, includes access to all nightclub events, all seminars and even the “after parties” – and at a considerably less price-point than other large-scale events of a similar nature. Those who are wavering as to whether they wish to attend one or more of the scheduled events may wish to spend some time on the website, and allow the excellent selection of images and videos to help weigh their decisions. Truly, only the annual Northbound Leather event every fall in Toronto ranks with Torture Garden when it comes to spectacular stage and fashion shows, outstanding performances, and especially the dizzying range in personal selection of fetish attire by the prodigious and visually-theatrical guests at large.

Out of town attendees can still find rooms available at the host hotel, Toronto’s Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel located at 123 Queen Street West (directly across the street from Toronto’s space-age, landmark City hall complex). A full schedule of events, performers, seminars and information about “after parties” and any other assorted, necessary information can be found by visiting the Torture Garden Toronto website. Tickets for any, or all, of Torture Garden Toronto Fetish Weekend are available for purchase directly through the website or for pick-up in person at Northbound Leather at 586 Yonge Street in Toronto’s downtown central core.

After reaffirming that the entire enterprise truly has been a venture “for the people by one of their own”, Craig was asked just how he expected to be able to metaphorically “raise the bar” for next year’s event (and there is sure to be one). “Oh, I’m more concerned with making sure everyone has a fantastic time this year”, he said.

“But, I’m sure I’ll think of something!”

(All photos courtesy of Torture Garden and Torture Garden Toronto.)

Northbound Leather: Twenty Years of Fetish Night Finery

Quick: Who amongst you can tell me which is the longest-running continuous Fetish Night in North America?

Hint: The operative term here is “continuous”. Other organizations (Society of Janus, The Eulenspiegal Society, Black Rose, Leather Rose, etc.) certainly could lay claim to being “long-running” in the planning and execution of various events and fetish parties. Here’s another hint: The answer … isn’t located within the United States. Unless you aren’t the type to take notice of headlines, the answer should be fairly obvious. There has been no other regularly scheduled and (regularly and punctually-produced) fetish event in North America other than those scheduled by Toronto’s Northbound Leather. Over the past twenty years, host locations certainly have changed, but one thing has remained constant: a great time has generally been had by all, without fail and without interruption. In the event that you’re a “numbers person”, that’s 240 straight months without interruption.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The iconographic and legendary emporium of leather fashion and fetish finery has long been one of the most visible suppliers to any number of fetish and SM enthusiasts, worldwide. The tireless “First Family of Leather”, George and Anna Giaouris, have spent a near-lifetime not only outfitting tens of thousands of satisfied customers (including some very “big names” in the entertainment industry, as an example), but have been enthusiastic supporters and sponsors of dozens of fetish-related events across the continent.

 The very first Northbound Leather Fetish Night, twenty-some years ago, attracted approximately 60 total admirers and enthusiasts. The 20th Anniversary Party that was held at Toronto’s newly-renovated Club Revival on February 20th had advance ticket sales in the high-hundreds alone. My beloved – the extraordinary and alluring beauty known across the continent as the incomparable Lady J – and I were amongst the first ten or so people to have arrived. We were greeted immediately by a gaggle of close friends, and we secured our spots close to the performance stage along a far wall.

It wasn’t long before the crowd started pouring in – dressed in some of the most amazing, colorful and extraordinary fetish wear this town hadn’t seen since the triumphant debut of Torture Garden in Toronto last summer. There is something about a “special event” (be it a debut or a celebratory anniversary) that brings out the absolute passion that lovers of all things “fetish” so feverishly love to exhibit. The atmosphere was hectic, eclectic and definitely electric: the growing, pulsating crowd was further whipped into the heights of fetishistic frenzy with some unbelievable performances by self-bondage artist (and sure to be, if not already, the next great sensation within our collective SM-related realm) Lotuslily and a stirring musical treat from Baron Marcus of the popular genre group The Vampire Beach Babes. Baron Marcus was “accompanied” by a bevy of leather and latex beauties, each wearing modified miner’s masks outfitted with stark white lights, whose gyrations and salutations were an absolute delight to the assembled throng. George Giaouris, the rightly-designated “Godfather” of the Toronto Fetish and SM Community, has long been an advocate of showcasing and helping to develop new talent.

The 20th Anniversary Night was certainly no different. While Baron Marcus has been somewhat of a staple and known presence within the Goth community for several years, it was refreshing to have his hypnotic, exceptional and mesmerizing vocal talents showcased before an appreciative “new” audience. It goes without saying that Lotuslily’s performance resulted in the usual jaw-dropping appreciation for her speed and her skills – but several folk in the crowd (who beforehand had no idea who she was) were heard to be whispering their respect for her, amongst their peers, long after her performance had ended. In an original “twist” to her performance, one of her suspended moments was captured for all time: not on film, but on paper. Northbound Leather had hired the services of a pencil artist to produce an exceptional and original piece of art, live on stage, while Lotuslily continued to weave her suspended webs. It was an exquisite, elegant and thoroughly classy touch.

Northbound Leather’s fetish nights have long succeeded where other events have either failed, or have never dared to venture. The invisible line that seems to divide the Gay and Lesbian leather events (from coast to coast, for that matter) has never been a metaphorical ‘line in the sand’ at a Northbound Leather event. In a word, the Northbound Leather Fetish Nights have (for years, if not for over a decade) could best be described as pansexual: different sexualities, different preferences and expressions and indeed, entirely different identifiable communities have been able to come together and meet on Northbound’s common ground, and feel truly united (and comfortable) under a common umbrella. The Northbound Leather Fetish Nights, over the years, have not been dominated by one identifiable social group: fetish folk from all walks of life (gay, lesbian, transsexual, heterosexual, queer, etc.) have been able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, and openly express themselves without derision, contempt or hostility.

That’s rare: and it’s the one single reason as to why the Northbound Leather Fetish Nights have been so successful, and have exhibited such uninterrupted longevity, for the past two-plus decades. It simply doesn’t matter if you’re gay or Goth, there is always a welcome spot for everyone at a Northbound Leather Fetish event. While there has been some grumblings heard within (predominantly) Toronto’s large gay leather community regarding the “melting pot” atmosphere of the parties, the vast majority of Northbound loyalists seem genuinely thrilled to participate in such an open, and accommodating, environment.

The other factor that separated this particular Northbound Leather Fetish Night from any other is the patronage of some of the more prominent Community leaders, and seasoned SM professionals, that came to enjoy the carnival-like transpirings on a cold Saturday evening. Many of Toronto’s best-known and most respected SM professionals were in attendance, and all seemed to have an incredible time. One memorable moment (captured in the photo at left) showcased four of Canada’s best-known and respected Dominas: Lady J, Mistress Katina, Ms. Marina Black, and Baroness V. While this photo was being taken, an adoring and appreciative crowd of acolytes – male, female and transgendered alike – gathered around and gaped open-mouth in appreciation of the moment. “Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be on the floor and in front of those eight beautiful legs”, one reveller was heard to whisper. Just off to the right, while this photo was being taken, the brilliant organizer behind Torture Garden Toronto, the extremely affable, approachable and popular Subspace Craig, could be seen on the dance floor with more than just a few “fans” vying for his attentions. Just across from him, and on the other side of the four Dominas linked arm-in-arm, another popular event organizer, Sir Alex Dark, was seen smiling appreciatively while holding his girl (a thoroughly engaging and beautiful woman simply known as Dollface) tightly to his side. All of this was happening on the main floor of the nightclub, while on stage yet another well-known event organizer (Lady Viktoria) was just finishing up a scheduled performance of her own. Without question, it is rare that such a collection of influential and admired SM Community figures are seen enjoying each other’s company within the same sphere and space.

The point simply is this: For the past twenty years, Northbound Leather has provided a sanctuary for everyone who professes either a deep love or an idle curiosity for our lovely, self-expressive lifestyle. It’s the “secret formula”, the very “glue” that binds us all together. Northbound Leather, the store, is the common link and their 20th Anniversary Fetish Night (especially) was certainly the common ground in which all fetish people, from all walks of life, could joyously express themselves in a truly unique setting and atmosphere. The night, celebrating the past twenty years, was perfect: here’s hoping the 20th Anniversary Fetish Night was also a fitting way to usher in Northbound Leather’s next twenty years.

(All photos courtesy of Northbound Leather)

Fresh, New Blossom: The Erotic Rope Art of Lotuslily

She came, like so many have before her, literally unannounced and figuratively, out of the blue. A somewhat strangely timed and happenstance encounter during a large Fetish convention (ShibariCon in Chicago) was the catalyst that propelled this diminutive, gregarious and energetic flower to indeed (and you’ll excuse the gardenistic superlatives), bloom. A scant ten months ago, no-one had ever heard of her. Now, she is on the verge of becoming the next great, “in demand” rope bondage artist of our time.

There is little doubt that the majority of you have definitely seen her work – if you are an admirer of all things bondage. Her photos have been copied, traded and pasted on Fetish-related websites, and social media websites, for months now. What she does certainly isn’t unusual itself by any means: other, more notable names have published books and self-promoted themselves ad nauseum regarding the artistry inherent to any form of rope bondage. Other notable, high profile fetish personalities have specialized in publishing works that brought the seductive, nearly-meditative and specialized qualities associated with Japanese rope bondage to the forefront of our attentions. But what this particular fresh and aforementioned new sensation does within the realm of rope bondage enthusiasts is, truly, very unique: she does it to herself. While she is an accomplished and self-described “rope top” in her own right, she usually isn’t known for having a willing subject to secure and “have fly” for an appreciative audience. Other self-bondage artists have come before her, to be sure – but few (if any) have displayed the technical expertise; the intense, artistic raw beauty of both her performance itself and the finished “package” (when she has completed suspending herself); and the jaw-dropping speed in which she manages to safely display her sleek, bound feminine form.

We are discussing a beautiful young lady who is known in artistic bondage circles as none other than Lotuslily. She has already developed a massive following across the United States and Canada, and is starting to gain significant attention from our “stodgier than thou” cousins in Europe and Asia. While it is certainly true that Lotuslily has (inadvertantly and without intention) ruffled certain members of the “bondage establishment’s” feathers, it is equally true that noted Masters in the artform, including no less an authority than “M” from the revered Demonsix Group (himself a student of the incomparable Master “K”), has described her efforts as “very promising work here, (with) great aesthetic and design.” “M” has encouraged Lotuslily to “continue working with Kinbaku” and that her “work is looking like some of the most promising work I have seen in North America in a long time.”

(Author’s Note: There is a common and wrong perception that the word Shibari is the term for Japanese rope bondage. It’s not: The actual term is Kinbaku, which in Japanese literally means “erotic bondage”. The word Shibari, like almost all misappropriated terminologies in our lifestyle, caught on in the 1990’s due to an error in translation on some rope enthusiast early websites and such, and has been propogated as accepted fact – even amongst gigantic trade show organizers. Shibari, in Japanese and in current context, literally means “to tie” – but it refers to a certain tie that is used when using twine or string to artfully tie up packages. While technically Shibari could be  loosely interpreted as being associated with tying up people, to the purist it isn’t correct. Just because it’s become part of the modern lexicon still doesn’t make it “accurate”. The correct and appropriate term for Japanese Erotic Bondage is, and forever shall be, Kinbaku.)

Her meteroric rise to prominence began innocently enough. As a child, she professes to have had a somewhat obsessive  fascination with puzzles. It became a tradition during gift-giving seasons to always ensure that she had a puzzle or two to ponder – and she would sit endlessly, hours upon hours (“except for eating and sleeping”, she said) until she managed to solve and complete the puzzle. Naturally, as she grew to maturity, so did the complexity of the puzzles she loved to tackle. Smaller, hand-held puzzles gave way to larger, table-top monstrosities – the completed 3-D statue and landmark versions began to fill every shelf in the family home – and she was fascinated at the intricacies by which each precision piece was cut in and placed in order to form a seamless work of art. She also appreciated the fact that viewing the Cathedral of Notre Dame, for instance, even in puzzle form, from different angles and perspectives held a breathtaking beauty all of its own.

Her exploration with Japanese bondage, in her own words, began as a somewhat natural extension of both the beauty of the puzzle itself, and the beauty of the completed product. “I’ve moved from static pieces and models to beautiful, living, pieces of art,” she said. “Flesh and rope have replaced cardboard and foam. I can ‘see’ the final vision in the piece I am working towards.” Self-bondage was not where Lotuslily (and you’ll pardon the obvious), “learned the ropes”. She found a simple and “great joy” in being initially bound by expert partners. In her own words, the experience of being bound for pleasure was “incredibly powerful.”

She soon found, however, that in order to grow and be true to the aesthetic that she had quickly come to embrace, if she wanted to give her art to the en mass fetish world, she would need to do one (or both) of two things: she would need to show her skill and talent by tying and suspending willing subjects, or she would need to tie and suspend herself. She chose to do both – and while her skills as a bondage “top” are formidable and are more than enough to satiate the desires of a crowd of curious onlookers, it is in her self-bondage performances where Lotuslily really produces mesmorizing performances. In essence, her body is a blank canvas, her jute rope her brushes, and the entire performance space her stark canvas.

There is no way to adequately provide a justifiable description of just how … beautiful … it is to watch Lotuslily craft one of her self-suspension Kinbaku performances. When she quietly entered the public performance scene just a few short months ago, she immediately began to turn heads. Small, impromptu “demonstrations” at Fetish Nights evolved into more organized, full-scale “happenings” (she was undeniably the “hit” of the Everything To Do With Sex Show, a huge three-day, fun-filled convention surrounding our “favorite physical pastime”, in both Toronto, Ontario and Halifax, Nova Scotia) where turned heads gave way to dropped jaws, popping eyes and ultimately stunned, appreciative, silent and absolute respectful awe for what the massive audiences had just viewed unfolding before them.

To try to put into mere words the beauty, power and magic that is on display when Lotuslily performs one of her self-bondage routines would not be enough to do the lady, and her artform, justice. Sometimes, no matter how talented the wordsmith, there just aren’t enough combinations of vowels and consonants stringed together that could adequately describe just how incredibly mind-blowing it is to watch her perform. It isn’t just the procedure of wrapping the rope and tying the various knots that she uses to “fly” for her spellbound crowd: it’s the speed in which she does so. Watching Lotuslily perform is part aerial ballet (think Cirque du Soleil); part meticulous engineering (there is an absolute beauty in suspension bridges, is there not? Same thing here.); and part pure athletic expression (she might put some Olympic gymnasts to shame, in how effortless and seamless her movements are). In short, in order to get a full appreciation of what sets Lotuslily apart from all the bondage artists who have come and gone before her, you simply have to see her art.

“I cannot find words that truly capture what I feel when I tie myself,” Lotuslily said. “I’m told that it’s peaceful to watch. I suppose in some senses, I find myself in a meditative state. I rarely think of much else other than the technical parts of the ties. But increasing practice brings muscle memory to my fingers, and technicality is of less importance. I often recall precious moments, partners, loves, and smile softly at the moments. Occasionally, I’m so overwhelmed with emotion that it brings tears to my eyes.”

Kardynyl SynysTyr

(Those in the Southern Ontario region can see Lotuslily perform at the Northbound Leather 20th Anniversary Event, at Club Revival, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, February 20th, 2010. Tickets are available through Northbound Leather and at the door.)

Fresh, New Blossom: The Erotic Rope Art of Lotuslily

She came, like so many have before her, literally unannounced and figuratively, out of the blue. A somewhat strangely timed and happenstance encounter during a large Fetish convention (ShibariCon in Chicago) was the catalyst that propelled this diminutive, gregarious and energetic flower to indeed (and you’ll excuse the gardenistic superlatives), bloom. A scant ten months ago, no-one had ever heard of her. Now, she is on the verge of becoming the next great, “in demand” rope bondage artist of our time.

There is little doubt that the majority of you have definitely seen her work – if you are an admirer of all things bondage. Her photos have been copied, traded and pasted on Fetish-related websites, and social media websites, for months now. What she does certainly isn’t unusual itself by any means: other, more notable names have published books and self-promoted themselves ad nauseum regarding the artistry inherent to any form of rope bondage. Other notable, high profile fetish personalities have specialized in publishing works that brought the seductive, nearly-meditative and specialized qualities associated with Japanese rope bondage to the forefront of our attentions. But what this particular fresh and aforementioned new sensation does within the realm of rope bondage enthusiasts is, truly, very unique: she does it to herself. While she is an accomplished and self-described “rope top” in her own right, she usually isn’t known for having a willing subject to secure and “have fly” for an appreciative audience. Other self-bondage artists have come before her, to be sure – but few (if any) have displayed the technical expertise; the intense, artistic raw beauty of both her performance itself and the finished “package” (when she has completed suspending herself); and the jaw-dropping speed in which she manages to safely display her sleek, bound feminine form.

We are discussing a beautiful young lady who is known in artistic bondage circles as none other than Lotuslily. She has already developed a massive following across the United States and Canada, and is starting to gain significant attention from our “stodgier than thou” cousins in Europe and Asia. While it is certainly true that Lotuslily has (inadvertantly and without intention) ruffled certain members of the “bondage establishment’s” feathers, it is equally true that noted Masters in the artform, including no less an authority than “M” from the revered Demonsix Group (himself a student of the incomparable Master “K”), has described her efforts as “very promising work here, (with) great aesthetic and design.” “M” has encouraged Lotuslily to “continue working with Kinbaku” and that her “work is looking like some of the most promising work I have seen in North America in a long time.”

(Author’s Note: There is a common and wrong perception that the word Shibari is the term for Japanese rope bondage. It’s not: The actual term is Kinbaku, which in Japanese literally means “erotic bondage”. The word Shibari, like almost all misappropriated terminologies in our lifestyle, caught on in the 1990’s due to an error in translation on some rope enthusiast early websites and such, and has been propogated as accepted fact – even amongst gigantic trade show organizers. Shibari, in Japanese and in current context, literally means “to tie” – but it refers to a certain tie that is used when using twine or string to artfully tie up packages. While technically Shibari could be  loosely interpreted as being associated with tying up people, to the purist it isn’t correct. Just because it’s become part of the modern lexicon still doesn’t make it “accurate”. The correct and appropriate term for Japanese Erotic Bondage is, and forever shall be, Kinbaku.)

Her meteroric rise to prominence began innocently enough. As a child, she professes to have had a somewhat obsessive  fascination with puzzles. It became a tradition during gift-giving seasons to always ensure that she had a puzzle or two to ponder – and she would sit endlessly, hours upon hours (“except for eating and sleeping”, she said) until she managed to solve and complete the puzzle. Naturally, as she grew to maturity, so did the complexity of the puzzles she loved to tackle. Smaller, hand-held puzzles gave way to larger, table-top monstrosities – the completed 3-D statue and landmark versions began to fill every shelf in the family home – and she was fascinated at the intricacies by which each precision piece was cut in and placed in order to form a seamless work of art. She also appreciated the fact that viewing the Cathedral of Notre Dame, for instance, even in puzzle form, from different angles and perspectives held a breathtaking beauty all of its own.

Her exploration with Japanese bondage, in her own words, began as a somewhat natural extension of both the beauty of the puzzle itself, and the beauty of the completed product. “I’ve moved from static pieces and models to beautiful, living, pieces of art,” she said. “Flesh and rope have replaced cardboard and foam. I can ‘see’ the final vision in the piece I am working towards.” Self-bondage was not where Lotuslily (and you’ll pardon the obvious), “learned the ropes”. She found a simple and “great joy” in being initially bound by expert partners. In her own words, the experience of being bound for pleasure was “incredibly powerful.”

She soon found, however, that in order to grow and be true to the aesthetic that she had quickly come to embrace, if she wanted to give her art to the en mass fetish world, she would need to do one (or both) of two things: she would need to show her skill and talent by tying and suspending willing subjects, or she would need to tie and suspend herself. She chose to do both – and while her skills as a bondage “top” are formidable and are more than enough to satiate the desires of a crowd of curious onlookers, it is in her self-bondage performances where Lotuslily really produces mesmorizing performances. In essence, her body is a blank canvas, her jute rope her brushes, and the entire performance space her stark canvas.

There is no way to adequately provide a justifiable description of just how … beautiful … it is to watch Lotuslily craft one of her self-suspension Kinbaku performances. When she quietly entered the public performance scene just a few short months ago, she immediately began to turn heads. Small, impromptu “demonstrations” at Fetish Nights evolved into more organized, full-scale “happenings” (she was undeniably the “hit” of the Everything To Do With Sex Show, a huge three-day, fun-filled convention surrounding our “favorite physical pastime”, in both Toronto, Ontario and Halifax, Nova Scotia) where turned heads gave way to dropped jaws, popping eyes and ultimately stunned, appreciative, silent and absolute respectful awe for what the massive audiences had just viewed unfolding before them.

To try to put into mere words the beauty, power and magic that is on display when Lotuslily performs one of her self-bondage routines would not be enough to do the lady, and her artform, justice. Sometimes, no matter how talented the wordsmith, there just aren’t enough combinations of vowels and consonants stringed together that could adequately describe just how incredibly mind-blowing it is to watch her perform. It isn’t just the procedure of wrapping the rope and tying the various knots that she uses to “fly” for her spellbound crowd: it’s the speed in which she does so. Watching Lotuslily perform is part aerial ballet (think Cirque du Soleil); part meticulous engineering (there is an absolute beauty in suspension bridges, is there not? Same thing here.); and part pure athletic expression (she might put some Olympic gymnasts to shame, in how effortless and seamless her movements are). In short, in order to get a full appreciation of what sets Lotuslily apart from all the bondage artists who have come and gone before her, you simply have to see her art.

“I cannot find words that truly capture what I feel when I tie myself,” Lotuslily said. “I’m told that it’s peaceful to watch. I suppose in some senses, I find myself in a meditative state. I rarely think of much else other than the technical parts of the ties. But increasing practice brings muscle memory to my fingers, and technicality is of less importance. I often recall precious moments, partners, loves, and smile softly at the moments. Occasionally, I’m so overwhelmed with emotion that it brings tears to my eyes.”

Kardynyl SynysTyr

(Those in the Southern Ontario region can see Lotuslily perform at the Northbound Leather 20th Anniversary Event, at Club Revival, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Saturday, February 20th, 2010. Tickets are available through Northbound Leather and at the door.)