Shifting Perceptions: The Morpheous Bondage Extravaganza at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

“All art is quite useless.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

There are those who, out of some bizarre, delusional and grandiose vision of self-importance, write books about their art form – and then loudly insist that (because they’ve written a book or two) that they be recognized as some sort of “expert in the field”. These “artists” in turn demand certain rights and concessions, especially if it means they’ll somehow be perceived as superior to their peers, within their very own Community at large. In short, the demand to be vetted and recognized as both an “artist” and an “authority”, while clamored for long and incessantly, usually results in one thing: the “artist” soon finds he doesn’t get invited along to many really fun parties.

I’m speaking of Oscar Wilde, of course, author of the above quote and written in a somewhat autobiographical way in his shocking, landmark gothic thriller, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde cleverly manages to insert himself into his narrative – and brutally criticize himself relentlessly – as one of the main antagonists in his timeless tale of extreme arrogance, and self-destructive vanity. In the end, of course, Dorian Gray is done in by his own hand – and as a result of his own narcissism.

The real Oscar Wilde wasn’t much different from the fictional representation he portrayed himself as within the pages of his book. He was, however, intelligent enough to realize his shortcomings and even to provide entertainment for his readers by mercilessly deprecating himself. It was Oscar Wilde’s belief, as reflected within the quote above, that the realm of Victorian-era “Artists and their Art” was nothing more than a breeding ground of rampant ego, over-indulgence, and violent, self-destructive behavior. The quote above is, within the context of The Picture of Dorian Gray, an expression of envy towards a very non-talented man (the Wilde character) and a painter who has been commissioned to produce a portrait of “a most extraordinary, beautiful young man”: the title character, Dorian Gray. Those familiar with the story know very well that Dorian Gray is so taken and in love with his own image in the mirror, that he cannot bear the thought of aging and becoming less beautiful. He makes a deal – ostensibly with the Devil himself – to remain in appearance forever young, and to have the painting age through the years.

Despite what you may think, this isn’t a story about Oscar Wilde or his creation, Dorian Gray. It is, however, important to use this masterwork as an analogy. For in truth, “art” hasn’t really changed much. It’s been said that Art is an imitation of Life. It’s truly refreshing, then, when someone comes along who is successful at turning Life … into Art.

The all-night, gigantic artistic installation known as Nuit Blanche (“White Night”) started in some great European cities (there is a heated dispute as to exactly which city started it: Paris, St. Petersburg or Berlin) in 1997 as a revolutionary idea to turn some of the world’s great cities into gargantuan art galleries. Since 1997, Nuit Blanche events have become an extremely anticipated and popular staple on the social calendars of several other world-class cities, including Lima, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Leeds, Atlanta, Los Angeles and, of course, Toronto. New York City played host to its first Nuit Blanche event (called Bring to Light) during the same night that Toronto held their annual event: October 2nd. The “movement” continues to grow – and the roster of talented artists wishing to participate continues to increase.

The Toronto Nuit Blanche event easily draws over 1 million people into the streets of downtown and West Toronto for one night. The event always begins at 7:00 pm and runs straight through until 7:00 am. Some of the installations – those that would have made Oscar Wilde himself cringe – are, as expected, over-the-top and self-indulgent in the extreme. The world of fine art, as per Wilde’s commentary in The Picture of Dorian Gray, rarely if ever takes advantage of collaborative efforts. Making “art” seems to be an exhaustive effort that ultimately will result in telling some deeply personal aspect of a story, or make an opinionated social commentary, based on the workings within the mind and the emotional investment of a single artist. It’s rare, really, to come across “art” where the credit for the success of the piece can be attributed to more than one man or woman.

This is where our story takes a sudden left turn. For the past three years, one man has been determined to educate and expose to the masses his art form during Toronto’s Nuit Blanche event. He is a man quite well known within his own Community, and he is quickly making a name for himself within the mainstream as both an author, and a self-proclaimed “Guerilla artist”. He is known by the moniker Morpheous – and whether you are irresistibly drawn to his work, or don’t care to understand it, there is one universal truth: what this man does, make no mistake, is “Art.” He is responsible for one of the most viewed art installations of Nuit Blanche, very simply called Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza. It’s an almost embarrassingly simple, non-pretentious and easy-to-remember title for a revolutionary (some say controversial) art installation. It’s also easy enough (as Oscar Wilde so brilliantly managed to allude to in Dorian Gray) to dismiss Morpheous’s efforts as nothing more than “people being tied up in public”, and to question whether what the present audience is witnessing or not can be categorized as “art” – or whether its straddling a very fine line between art and commercialized pornography. Considering that, in point of fact, and after conducting a little research, no other art installation during Toronto’s event had a line-up to get into the venue to view the pieces (the lineups for the Bondage Extravaganza reached about half a block long at several points during the evening), it would be very hard for the haughty, self-aggrandizing “art critics” to merely dismiss the installation as “mere smut.” Anyone who witnessed the Extravaganza knows, without question, what they were witnessing was true dedication to a most difficult-to-master visual medium.

Morpheous himself was active (pretty much) for the entire scheduled 12 hours of the event. He took a few moments to conduct interviews, drink some much needed water, and speak enthusiastically and engagingly with both old friends and new visitors alike. Morpheous is an gregarious man, and he is always approachable. He is rarely seen without a smile, and he is well-known for immediately putting nervous new models for his photographic sessions and apprehensive new contacts immediately at ease. One needs to spend only a few moments talking with Morpheous, and they immediately are made to feel comfortable, and welcome. The man just doesn’t have the rampant ego that needs to be satisfied in the way that many “artists” and “authors” do – and this clearly sets him apart from his peers (both in the fetish/SM world and in the artistic community).

By rights, and by virtue of his long good-standing within the Toronto alternative lifestyle community, Morpheous could have taken the route that most other “guerilla artists” take, and claimed the spotlight for himself during his Bondage Extravaganza. But this wouldn’t be compatible in keeping with what everyone knows about the man: while he is proud of his accomplishments over the years (an argument could be made that Midori, the world-famous sex educator and fetish world presenter, for instance, may not have achieved that status were it not for Morpheous’s tireless efforts to promote her during the early days of her career; especially in Canada), he is quick to credit his friends and family with being the true contributors to his success. “I wouldn’t be able to even apply to do a project like this,” he said while doing some rather gorgeous and wicked looking knot work on one of his favourite models, “if it wasn’t for the other people in this room. I owe a lot to some of the people behind me.”

Some of those people are, in their own right, fairly well-known in the Toronto alternative scene. There is a lovely and engaging young dance instructor who goes by the name of elle, for instance, and there is little question that she is as tirelessly devoted to Morpheous’s triumphs as she is to her own. On the night of Nuit Blanche, elle somehow managed to keep the “riggers” (those who performed the actual bondage) and the “bunnies” (the bondage models) within a tight schedule – no small feat when you consider the display space was, from start to finish, literally filled with dozens of mesmerized onlookers. When she wasn’t making sure things were running smoothly, like Morpheous, made sure the gathered media was well-informed, made sure the guests were comfortable, and all through the night did so with cheerfulness and an engaging spirit that simply defied the coming pull of exhaustion.

Then, there were the other performers. It is impossible to pay appropriate respect and attention to everyone who volunteered their time during Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza, but it isn’t too far outside the realm of over-used superlatives to say that each and every person who volunteered their skills, talents and time succeeded beyond words in helping to make the entire evening truly a mystical, awe-inspiring display of sensual expression. There wasn’t a single “rigger” or “bunny” present that complained about their use, misuse, or aches and pains: there was this almost ethereal, admiring sense of a true Community being displayed within a relatively tiny space. Sure, the rope work and each individual case of “boy or girl human mobile” (as coined by one of the enthusiastic and eminently beautiful models, Ohhh) was mind-stopping to behold: but the ballet that the viewing audience was deliciously subjected to for twelve straight hours was nothing short of incredible.

There are three others that briefly need to be described for their singular contributions in making the Extravaganza such a unique and collaborative success: the displays continuously exhibited by bondage artists Daddy Aslan (who did a wonderful plastic wrap piece in a lovely departure from the main, traditional ‘rope work’ of the evening),  Lotuslily and a man named Ruairidh from Toronto and an immensely promising young performer named Cannon from Michigan turned an already enjoyable night into an evening of pure visual ecstasy. Lotuslily is already well on her way to becoming an international star within the alternative lifestyle global community, and she certainly didn’t disappoint at Nuit Blanche. But watch, in the future, especially if rope bondage is “your thing”, for these two men Ruairidh and Cannon. They have two unique styles; two distinct stories to tell.

Ruairidh works with rope the way that Jackson Pollack worked with paint: you’re just not sure what it is he’s doing or where he’s “going” and you simply have to continue to watch him work until he’s finished. When he has completed his tying, and his model is turned slowly enticingly in a wide arc for the audience to see, it’s shockingly beautiful to behold. All the pieces suddenly come together to form a single, stunning bound creation: it isn’t a stretch to say that it’s very much like a flowering vine wrapping itself around a gorgeous, statuesque female form, creating a truly timeless and classic image.

Cannon is no less proficient – but his strength lies in how powerful his ability to perform is. He holds both his soon-to-be-restrained subject and the audience completely under his spell. His movements are subtle, but oh, so sensual. When he begins to apply the ropes to his weak-kneed model, it is like watching the Phantom of the Opera himself seducing and enticing the hapless Christine to succumb and completely give herself over to the pleasures soon to be tightly restrained within. This young man is a joy to watch: there are few who bring such delicious, jaw-dropping theatricality to his rope bondage performances.

The people mentioned above were all vital and necessary contributors to the success of the exhibit – but in truth, every single person who gave of their time surely must receive credit for making the Extravaganza such an enormous success. No truer example of a “Community coming together for a common cause” could be as well illustrated.

In a somewhat experimental atmosphere and in a potential-for-explosive-ego-clash environment, Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza succeeded far and away in proving one very important thing: When the goal is the collaborative and mutual success of an entire Community of performers and practitioners, and personal ambition and ego are left checked at the door, astounding things can transpire. This installation was one of the most popular of the entire Toronto Nuit Blanche evening, and for good reason: the people from Toronto were able to witness the artistic elegance and beauty that can be expressed using living models and mere rope as a breathing canvas. There can be no greater accolades for Morpheous, or his fellow artists, than knowing he managed to simply make people think. That is the aim of all artists – and for twelve amazing hours, the Extravaganza unquestionably made rope bondage somehow seem more “accessible” and less daunting and frightening to several people who, like the masses, tend to stereotype and associate sadomasochism and fetishism with simple violence.

Oscar Wilde wrote his scathing, personal critique of the art world and personal vanity in 1890. Over a hundred years later, human nature really hasn’t changed all that much. There are still people who create art, or write books, and then just expect that because they have done so, the world should come crawling to their feet to recognize and worship their “genius”. Within the fetish community, there are certain individuals who have written long (and boringly dry) “how to” volumes about bondage. Then, there are people such as Morpheous, Lotuslily, Ruairidh and Cannon who actually do raise the level of perception of intricate bondage (especially utilizing rope) from “sensual foreplay” to “High art”. It’s a wonderful evolution, really: one very high-profile adult magazine editor tried, in vain, to argue in the mainstream media that bondage was, indeed, truly an art when he allowed photos of a reigning beauty queen to be published within the pages of his periodical. Ultimately, his efforts were ridiculed – and the queen lost her crown. Thankfully for both, each went on to much bigger and better things.

The age is different, now: thanks in large part to the development of large-scale art installations such as Nuit Blanche in the world’s great cities, the beautiful “human mobiles” that are created when a talented man or woman lovingly applies rope to a beautiful, semi-clad or naked body – and then effortlessly makes that body appear to float, twist and turn comfortably, alluringly, seductively in the air – can finally take their place as “High Art” within the consciousness of those who earn their living within the creative world. This isn’t pornography: this is a loving, personal expression performed by people who have a true passion for the psyche, sensuality and desire that is associated with the very-human need to turn trust and control over and into the hands of someone else; even for just a few minutes.

For that reason, Morpheous and his fellow bondage practitioners are, without argument, respectable artists. Due to the popularity of the 2010 Nuit Blanche Bondage Extravaganza, Morpheous is already planning for 2011. “It will be three times larger”, he said with a slight mischievous smile. “If you think this year was really sensual and spectacular, just wait for what we get to show Toronto next year. We’ll have lasers and everything!”

(All photos courtesy of Morpheous and Toronto Nuit Blanche, Photographer: Jeff George)

Shifting Perceptions: The Morpheous Bondage Extravaganza at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche

“All art is quite useless.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

There are those who, out of some bizarre, delusional and grandiose vision of self-importance, write books about their art form – and then loudly insist that (because they’ve written a book or two) that they be recognized as some sort of “expert in the field”. These “artists” in turn demand certain rights and concessions, especially if it means they’ll somehow be perceived as superior to their peers, within their very own Community at large. In short, the demand to be vetted and recognized as both an “artist” and an “authority”, while clamored for long and incessantly, usually results in one thing: the “artist” soon finds he doesn’t get invited along to many really fun parties.

I’m speaking of Oscar Wilde, of course, author of the above quote and written in a somewhat autobiographical way in his shocking, landmark gothic thriller, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde cleverly manages to insert himself into his narrative – and brutally criticize himself relentlessly – as one of the main antagonists in his timeless tale of extreme arrogance, and self-destructive vanity. In the end, of course, Dorian Gray is done in by his own hand – and as a result of his own narcissism.

The real Oscar Wilde wasn’t much different from the fictional representation he portrayed himself as within the pages of his book. He was, however, intelligent enough to realize his shortcomings and even to provide entertainment for his readers by mercilessly deprecating himself. It was Oscar Wilde’s belief, as reflected within the quote above, that the realm of Victorian-era “Artists and their Art” was nothing more than a breeding ground of rampant ego, over-indulgence, and violent, self-destructive behavior. The quote above is, within the context of The Picture of Dorian Gray, an expression of envy towards a very non-talented man (the Wilde character) and a painter who has been commissioned to produce a portrait of “a most extraordinary, beautiful young man”: the title character, Dorian Gray. Those familiar with the story know very well that Dorian Gray is so taken and in love with his own image in the mirror, that he cannot bear the thought of aging and becoming less beautiful. He makes a deal – ostensibly with the Devil himself – to remain in appearance forever young, and to have the painting age through the years.

Despite what you may think, this isn’t a story about Oscar Wilde or his creation, Dorian Gray. It is, however, important to use this masterwork as an analogy. For in truth, “art” hasn’t really changed much. It’s been said that Art is an imitation of Life. It’s truly refreshing, then, when someone comes along who is successful at turning Life … into Art.

The all-night, gigantic artistic installation known as Nuit Blanche (“White Night”) started in some great European cities (there is a heated dispute as to exactly which city started it: Paris, St. Petersburg or Berlin) in 1997 as a revolutionary idea to turn some of the world’s great cities into gargantuan art galleries. Since 1997, Nuit Blanche events have become an extremely anticipated and popular staple on the social calendars of several other world-class cities, including Lima, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Leeds, Atlanta, Los Angeles and, of course, Toronto. New York City played host to its first Nuit Blanche event (called Bring to Light) during the same night that Toronto held their annual event: October 2nd. The “movement” continues to grow – and the roster of talented artists wishing to participate continues to increase.

The Toronto Nuit Blanche event easily draws over 1 million people into the streets of downtown and West Toronto for one night. The event always begins at 7:00 pm and runs straight through until 7:00 am. Some of the installations – those that would have made Oscar Wilde himself cringe – are, as expected, over-the-top and self-indulgent in the extreme. The world of fine art, as per Wilde’s commentary in The Picture of Dorian Gray, rarely if ever takes advantage of collaborative efforts. Making “art” seems to be an exhaustive effort that ultimately will result in telling some deeply personal aspect of a story, or make an opinionated social commentary, based on the workings within the mind and the emotional investment of a single artist. It’s rare, really, to come across “art” where the credit for the success of the piece can be attributed to more than one man or woman.

This is where our story takes a sudden left turn. For the past three years, one man has been determined to educate and expose to the masses his art form during Toronto’s Nuit Blanche event. He is a man quite well known within his own Community, and he is quickly making a name for himself within the mainstream as both an author, and a self-proclaimed “Guerilla artist”. He is known by the moniker Morpheous – and whether you are irresistibly drawn to his work, or don’t care to understand it, there is one universal truth: what this man does, make no mistake, is “Art.” He is responsible for one of the most viewed art installations of Nuit Blanche, very simply called Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza. It’s an almost embarrassingly simple, non-pretentious and easy-to-remember title for a revolutionary (some say controversial) art installation. It’s also easy enough (as Oscar Wilde so brilliantly managed to allude to in Dorian Gray) to dismiss Morpheous’s efforts as nothing more than “people being tied up in public”, and to question whether what the present audience is witnessing or not can be categorized as “art” – or whether its straddling a very fine line between art and commercialized pornography. Considering that, in point of fact, and after conducting a little research, no other art installation during Toronto’s event had a line-up to get into the venue to view the pieces (the lineups for the Bondage Extravaganza reached about half a block long at several points during the evening), it would be very hard for the haughty, self-aggrandizing “art critics” to merely dismiss the installation as “mere smut.” Anyone who witnessed the Extravaganza knows, without question, what they were witnessing was true dedication to a most difficult-to-master visual medium.

Morpheous himself was active (pretty much) for the entire scheduled 12 hours of the event. He took a few moments to conduct interviews, drink some much needed water, and speak enthusiastically and engagingly with both old friends and new visitors alike. Morpheous is an gregarious man, and he is always approachable. He is rarely seen without a smile, and he is well-known for immediately putting nervous new models for his photographic sessions and apprehensive new contacts immediately at ease. One needs to spend only a few moments talking with Morpheous, and they immediately are made to feel comfortable, and welcome. The man just doesn’t have the rampant ego that needs to be satisfied in the way that many “artists” and “authors” do – and this clearly sets him apart from his peers (both in the fetish/SM world and in the artistic community).

By rights, and by virtue of his long good-standing within the Toronto alternative lifestyle community, Morpheous could have taken the route that most other “guerilla artists” take, and claimed the spotlight for himself during his Bondage Extravaganza. But this wouldn’t be compatible in keeping with what everyone knows about the man: while he is proud of his accomplishments over the years (an argument could be made that Midori, the world-famous sex educator and fetish world presenter, for instance, may not have achieved that status were it not for Morpheous’s tireless efforts to promote her during the early days of her career; especially in Canada), he is quick to credit his friends and family with being the true contributors to his success. “I wouldn’t be able to even apply to do a project like this,” he said while doing some rather gorgeous and wicked looking knot work on one of his favourite models, “if it wasn’t for the other people in this room. I owe a lot to some of the people behind me.”

Some of those people are, in their own right, fairly well-known in the Toronto alternative scene. There is a lovely and engaging young dance instructor who goes by the name of elle, for instance, and there is little question that she is as tirelessly devoted to Morpheous’s triumphs as she is to her own. On the night of Nuit Blanche, elle somehow managed to keep the “riggers” (those who performed the actual bondage) and the “bunnies” (the bondage models) within a tight schedule – no small feat when you consider the display space was, from start to finish, literally filled with dozens of mesmerized onlookers. When she wasn’t making sure things were running smoothly, like Morpheous, made sure the gathered media was well-informed, made sure the guests were comfortable, and all through the night did so with cheerfulness and an engaging spirit that simply defied the coming pull of exhaustion.

Then, there were the other performers. It is impossible to pay appropriate respect and attention to everyone who volunteered their time during Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza, but it isn’t too far outside the realm of over-used superlatives to say that each and every person who volunteered their skills, talents and time succeeded beyond words in helping to make the entire evening truly a mystical, awe-inspiring display of sensual expression. There wasn’t a single “rigger” or “bunny” present that complained about their use, misuse, or aches and pains: there was this almost ethereal, admiring sense of a true Community being displayed within a relatively tiny space. Sure, the rope work and each individual case of “boy or girl human mobile” (as coined by one of the enthusiastic and eminently beautiful models, Ohhh) was mind-stopping to behold: but the ballet that the viewing audience was deliciously subjected to for twelve straight hours was nothing short of incredible.

There are three others that briefly need to be described for their singular contributions in making the Extravaganza such a unique and collaborative success: the displays continuously exhibited by bondage artists Daddy Aslan (who did a wonderful plastic wrap piece in a lovely departure from the main, traditional ‘rope work’ of the evening),  Lotuslily and a man named Ruairidh from Toronto and an immensely promising young performer named Cannon from Michigan turned an already enjoyable night into an evening of pure visual ecstasy. Lotuslily is already well on her way to becoming an international star within the alternative lifestyle global community, and she certainly didn’t disappoint at Nuit Blanche. But watch, in the future, especially if rope bondage is “your thing”, for these two men Ruairidh and Cannon. They have two unique styles; two distinct stories to tell.

Ruairidh works with rope the way that Jackson Pollack worked with paint: you’re just not sure what it is he’s doing or where he’s “going” and you simply have to continue to watch him work until he’s finished. When he has completed his tying, and his model is turned slowly enticingly in a wide arc for the audience to see, it’s shockingly beautiful to behold. All the pieces suddenly come together to form a single, stunning bound creation: it isn’t a stretch to say that it’s very much like a flowering vine wrapping itself around a gorgeous, statuesque female form, creating a truly timeless and classic image.

Cannon is no less proficient – but his strength lies in how powerful his ability to perform is. He holds both his soon-to-be-restrained subject and the audience completely under his spell. His movements are subtle, but oh, so sensual. When he begins to apply the ropes to his weak-kneed model, it is like watching the Phantom of the Opera himself seducing and enticing the hapless Christine to succumb and completely give herself over to the pleasures soon to be tightly restrained within. This young man is a joy to watch: there are few who bring such delicious, jaw-dropping theatricality to his rope bondage performances.

The people mentioned above were all vital and necessary contributors to the success of the exhibit – but in truth, every single person who gave of their time surely must receive credit for making the Extravaganza such an enormous success. No truer example of a “Community coming together for a common cause” could be as well illustrated.

In a somewhat experimental atmosphere and in a potential-for-explosive-ego-clash environment, Morpheous’s Bondage Extravaganza succeeded far and away in proving one very important thing: When the goal is the collaborative and mutual success of an entire Community of performers and practitioners, and personal ambition and ego are left checked at the door, astounding things can transpire. This installation was one of the most popular of the entire Toronto Nuit Blanche evening, and for good reason: the people from Toronto were able to witness the artistic elegance and beauty that can be expressed using living models and mere rope as a breathing canvas. There can be no greater accolades for Morpheous, or his fellow artists, than knowing he managed to simply make people think. That is the aim of all artists – and for twelve amazing hours, the Extravaganza unquestionably made rope bondage somehow seem more “accessible” and less daunting and frightening to several people who, like the masses, tend to stereotype and associate sadomasochism and fetishism with simple violence.

Oscar Wilde wrote his scathing, personal critique of the art world and personal vanity in 1890. Over a hundred years later, human nature really hasn’t changed all that much. There are still people who create art, or write books, and then just expect that because they have done so, the world should come crawling to their feet to recognize and worship their “genius”. Within the fetish community, there are certain individuals who have written long (and boringly dry) “how to” volumes about bondage. Then, there are people such as Morpheous, Lotuslily, Ruairidh and Cannon who actually do raise the level of perception of intricate bondage (especially utilizing rope) from “sensual foreplay” to “High art”. It’s a wonderful evolution, really: one very high-profile adult magazine editor tried, in vain, to argue in the mainstream media that bondage was, indeed, truly an art when he allowed photos of a reigning beauty queen to be published within the pages of his periodical. Ultimately, his efforts were ridiculed – and the queen lost her crown. Thankfully for both, each went on to much bigger and better things.

The age is different, now: thanks in large part to the development of large-scale art installations such as Nuit Blanche in the world’s great cities, the beautiful “human mobiles” that are created when a talented man or woman lovingly applies rope to a beautiful, semi-clad or naked body – and then effortlessly makes that body appear to float, twist and turn comfortably, alluringly, seductively in the air – can finally take their place as “High Art” within the consciousness of those who earn their living within the creative world. This isn’t pornography: this is a loving, personal expression performed by people who have a true passion for the psyche, sensuality and desire that is associated with the very-human need to turn trust and control over and into the hands of someone else; even for just a few minutes.

For that reason, Morpheous and his fellow bondage practitioners are, without argument, respectable artists. Due to the popularity of the 2010 Nuit Blanche Bondage Extravaganza, Morpheous is already planning for 2011. “It will be three times larger”, he said with a slight mischievous smile. “If you think this year was really sensual and spectacular, just wait for what we get to show Toronto next year. We’ll have lasers and everything!”

(All photos courtesy of Morpheous and Toronto Nuit Blanche, Photographer: Jeff George)

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.)

Believe: A Somewhat Kinky Twist to the XXIst Winter Olympiad

There are some moments that are destined to be forever frozen in time – and enshrined in a special place of remembrance within our own minds. How apropos then, that a few of those frozen moments came courtesy of the Opening Ceremonies for the Games of the XXI-st Winter Olympiad, currently (and finally some would say) underway in the glimmering, emerald city that is, without question, the jewel in the Canadian crown.

There were the usual protests that dogged both a torch relay, coast to coast and throughout a vast country. The protestors continued their demonstrations, outside B.C. Place Stadium and relatively peacefully, during the opening of the Games themselves. The death in October of the man who spearheaded the city of Vancouver’s bid to host these Winter Games and was destined to never see his dream come to fruition with his own eyes (Jack Poole) was a crisis that, perhaps, lesser Organizing Committees may not have fully recovered from. The already somewhat subdued atmosphere surrounding these games was further driven into a very nearly funereal state when word came of the sudden death (training accident) of a Georgian slider named Nodar Kumaritashvili literally hours before he was to march with his team in the Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremonies. The omens for Vancouver looked exceedingly grim, indeed.

If you will perhaps allow Your Humble Narrator, namely me, a momentary indulgence or two, Dear Reader, before we continue on to the main point of this missive … There are moments when one cannot help but feel a surge of nationalistic pride. In my own past, I’ve had two moments that stand out as signature memories that I associate with immediate and undeniable emotion that relates directly to how I feel about our people – Canadians – as a Nation. The first involved the groundswell of support, from coast to coast, for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club when they won the World Series, back to back, in 1992 and 1993. Every city and town in the Great White North turned shades of blue for two straight Octobers – and the unifying aspect the Blue Jays brought to our nation cannot be understated. The second involved a single, seemingly unimportant ice hockey game in Calgary (I was there), between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames. It was known that the Rangers, featuring Number 99 himself, the immortal Wayne Gretzky, were not scheduled to play in Calgary the following year (1999), and the speculation was running rampant that The Great One was going to call it a career following this current season (1998) or the next. This is important to note: it was not lost on a single soul that what the Calgary crowd was witnessing could (and did, in fact turn out to be) Wayne Gretzky’s last hockey game in Calgary.

I will never, ever forget this … In a building that for nearly two decades was by far the most brutal and unpleasant place, fan-wise, for Mr. Gretzky to have to play in (he was a member of the hated rival Edmonton Oilers, remember, for years), when he made his final appearance on the ice with less than a minute to go in the game … nearly 20,000 people stood up, en mass, and roared their thanks. For ten straight minutes the man the city of Calgary loved to hate … was at last, a true hero, a national hero, and they saluted and cheered him loudly and endlessly. They cheered him mainly for what he had accomplished as a Canadian – not as just an ice hockey player. I have never felt more pride at being born Canadian than in those moments.

That was, until last night. We’ll talk a tiny bit more about Mr. Gretzky a little later.

Last night, however, topped both of those cherished memories. What unfolded before our eyes was a story of what it is to be Canadian. The myriad of exceptional performers somehow, miraculously, managed to make those in attendance (and the massive television viewing audience) overcome the moroseness that permeated the start of this special night. By the end of the performances, it didn’t even really matter that a major mechanical malfunction during the ceremony’s final moments brought proceedings to an awkward and somewhat uncomfortable standstill for about five minutes. The tragedy of the immediate past had given way to a euphoric feeling … of accomplishment. We believe these Winter Games are going to be the most memorable – the best – in history.

Yes, even the “wilder” side of Canadians got into the mix a little. During a coast-to-coast tribute to Canada’s various and culturally varied regions, a contingent of mohawked, kilted, leather corseted and combat booted and high  energy fiddlers invaded the stage for an unbelievably uplifting, raucous musical tribute to Canada’s Maritime provinces. Most of the women who joined the “wildmen” were adorned in some fashion of extremely well detailed leather gauntlets that marched their rakish leather corset-tops. This, following an amazing performance by a single artist suspended above the Stadium floor in a glowing blue canoe; covered in furs, head to toe and with a hairstyle that would put the best Viking horns to shame. The “Viking” in the blue canoe proceeded to have a fiddling contest – with his shadow being cast against an enormous Harvest Moon. At first, the audience is led to believe the shadow on the moon is indeed just that – until the shadow starts going off and playing, dancing in it’s own direction (but all in perfect syncopation and harmony with his “live” counterpart in the blue canoe).

But shadow play contests and Maritime punk-rock fiddlers (some that would put the infamous Ashley MacIsaac to shame) aside, there is something even more remarkable about these Opening Ceremonies; something that could be considered quite kinky and twisted, in its own way.

The people chosen to light the Olympic flame within the Stadium couldn’t have been chosen any better. Rick Hanson (the Man in Motion), Canadian skating legend Catriona Le May Doan, Canadian skiing legend Nancy Greene, Vancouver-born and raised NBA basketball superstar Steve Nash and, (in the supreme choice of all who believe what is “right” within the Canadian world) Wayne Gretzkycollectively did the honor of lighting the flame – despite the fact that a serious hydraulic malfunction prevented one of the four gigantic “ice crystals” from rising beneath, and tower above, the Stadium floor. It was left to Mr. Gretzky to venture out – completely unannounced – into the streets of Vancouver and carry the Olympic torch some 20 blocks from the stadium to the waterfront, where the “permanent” Olympic Cauldron had mysteriously appeared. Mr. Gretzky was taken to the outdoor Cauldron on the back of a Police Ford Tahoe pickup truck, and as word spread of the voyage, throngs of jubilant people ran alongside, each completely unaware they had just made a small entry for themselves into the history books with the “escorting” of the flame. There is no bigger symbol of our country than that embodied in the voice and stern countenance that belongs to Wayne Gretzky. The man has never failed to answer his country’s calling. He answered, in spades, this time as well. His lighting of the outdoor Cauldron was the perfect ending to a near-perfect – and Canadian – evening.

Bob Costas, the absolute best sportscaster in the world, in his NBC Broadcast last evening, seemed at first bemused – and then in awe – of a not-so-subtle change in attitude emanating from the Canadian hosts. He carefully and patiently, perfectly, informed the American viewing audience that the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games were designed to be Canada’s “debutante” party as a world power in the world of winter sports competition. Mr. Costas at times seemed to marvel at the “Hollywood feel” of the pageantry taking place before him: he certainly made a point of mentioning this kind of overt, “in your face” presentation was very unexpected from his cousins to the North. In the way that only the vocally perfect Mr. Costas could do, as the Cultural Pageant was winding down, he quipped: “”Some say the Canadian initiative of Own the Podium and winning the overall medal count represents a shift in Canadian attitude, to be so openly assertive and ambitious. Canadians as a group are among the most friendliest and most welcoming people on the earth. But I don’t see anything incompatible with saying hello, welcome, we’re very friendly, we’re glad that you’re here, we want you to enjoy yourselves …  and now we would also like to kick your butt!” 

That is the kinkiest, most twisted thing about the start of these Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver: We might be Canadian and we might still be the friendliest people on earth, but this time we have a swagger in our step and we have a true sense of National Identity that heretofore had only been recognized amongst the Americans. The Opening Ceremonies went from being a potential tragedy-filled “Grief-Fest” to the best “coming out party” our Nation could have asked for. It’s up to the athletes, now, to carry that new-found sense of national accomplishment forward, and make their countrymen and countrywomen proud.

Canadians? Calm, assertive, brash and expectant? Impossible, you say! That, my friends, is truly the kinkiest twist imaginable to the start of what appears to be a most amazing Olympiad. No more sadness, just let the real Games being!

Art undressed in San Francisco

111iWillPoster_SF - emailErik von Gutenberg recommends “art undressed”!

Erotic Signature, in partnership with NancyPeachErotic.com and Vibe Promotions, announce the continuation of its Second Annual Erotic Art Exhibition Tour, namely ARTundressed, during the weekend of November 19 – 21st, 2009. The Exhibition features the winning artists from the Erotic Signature’s 2009 Erotic Art Competition. The Tour kicked off in Miami, exhibited in Los Angeles, and is now in San Francisco.

 

The Exhibition will take place at CALIFORNIA MODERN ART GALLERY – 1035 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103; with the Opening date scheduled for Thursday November 19th, 2009 (6pm – Midnight); Friday (6pm – Midnight); Saturday (3pm – 9pm); and Saturday Late Evening (9pm – 3am) marks the closing party (the GOOD, the BAD, and the KINKY Ball) at CLUB 1015, located at 1015 Folsom Street.

 

The Event’s focal point includes a presentation of some of the world’s best erotic art, yet the weekend celebration will be so much more.  This one-of-a-kind event presents something for everyone; whether you are an art enthusiast or connoisseur; mainstream, or into alternative lifestyles; the collection of the artworks being showcased is designed to literally stimulate all of the senses.

Our goal is to awaken and heighten the senses.  We will touch the mind, body and spirit of all while enjoying various aspects of an erogenous journey through dancing, socializing, role-playing, and interactive participation. Combined with some of the best local and international talents, live performers, as well as the support and participation of some of the most prominent organizations in the art community, this year’s ARTundressed is definitely one event not to be missed!

ARTundressed 2009 / SF includes:

  • Art Exhibition at: CALIFORNIA MODERN ART GALLERY – 1035 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Live shows and performances; Live bands and deejays; Fashion Shows
  • Body Painting, Live Drawing, Fine Art and Photography
  • A Silent Art Auction on Saturday evening to benefit The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR)
  • The Closing Party: “the GOOD, the BAD, and the KINKY” Ball (Sat. night @ CLUB 1015 – Folsom Street)

The Art Exhibition presents:

  • Over 160 international artists featured in Erotic Signature’s “The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today” .
  • An impressive and Eclectic Collection of about 250 pieces into the Exhibition
  • More than 20 international winning artists scheduled to be in attendance
  • Participation and installations by Local artists, as well as Masters of the Erotic Art. 

Erotic Signature strives to provide strong relationships between all aspects of the erotic art market worldwide. Through various methods of publishing, special events, art exhibition and marketing, our organization works to validate erotic art and call attention to the achievements of this ever growing community, whether it is in music, art, fashion, entertainment, or commerce.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

www.artundressed.net– The ARTundressed Exhibition Tour, including Press / Media registration.

http://www.eroticsignature.com/  – “The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today” competition and publication

http://www.eroticsignature.ning.com/  – A Social Networking Community for Artists, Photographers and Art Enthusiasts.

                http://www.nancypeacherotic.com/ – The Website of artist Nancy Peach.

Art undressed in San Francisco

111iWillPoster_SF - emailErik von Gutenberg recommends “art undressed”!

Erotic Signature, in partnership with NancyPeachErotic.com and Vibe Promotions, announce the continuation of its Second Annual Erotic Art Exhibition Tour, namely ARTundressed, during the weekend of November 19 – 21st, 2009. The Exhibition features the winning artists from the Erotic Signature’s 2009 Erotic Art Competition. The Tour kicked off in Miami, exhibited in Los Angeles, and is now in San Francisco.

 

The Exhibition will take place at CALIFORNIA MODERN ART GALLERY – 1035 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103; with the Opening date scheduled for Thursday November 19th, 2009 (6pm – Midnight); Friday (6pm – Midnight); Saturday (3pm – 9pm); and Saturday Late Evening (9pm – 3am) marks the closing party (the GOOD, the BAD, and the KINKY Ball) at CLUB 1015, located at 1015 Folsom Street.

 

The Event’s focal point includes a presentation of some of the world’s best erotic art, yet the weekend celebration will be so much more.  This one-of-a-kind event presents something for everyone; whether you are an art enthusiast or connoisseur; mainstream, or into alternative lifestyles; the collection of the artworks being showcased is designed to literally stimulate all of the senses.

Our goal is to awaken and heighten the senses.  We will touch the mind, body and spirit of all while enjoying various aspects of an erogenous journey through dancing, socializing, role-playing, and interactive participation. Combined with some of the best local and international talents, live performers, as well as the support and participation of some of the most prominent organizations in the art community, this year’s ARTundressed is definitely one event not to be missed!

ARTundressed 2009 / SF includes:

  • Art Exhibition at: CALIFORNIA MODERN ART GALLERY – 1035 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Live shows and performances; Live bands and deejays; Fashion Shows
  • Body Painting, Live Drawing, Fine Art and Photography
  • A Silent Art Auction on Saturday evening to benefit The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR)
  • The Closing Party: “the GOOD, the BAD, and the KINKY” Ball (Sat. night @ CLUB 1015 – Folsom Street)

The Art Exhibition presents:

  • Over 160 international artists featured in Erotic Signature’s “The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today” .
  • An impressive and Eclectic Collection of about 250 pieces into the Exhibition
  • More than 20 international winning artists scheduled to be in attendance
  • Participation and installations by Local artists, as well as Masters of the Erotic Art. 

Erotic Signature strives to provide strong relationships between all aspects of the erotic art market worldwide. Through various methods of publishing, special events, art exhibition and marketing, our organization works to validate erotic art and call attention to the achievements of this ever growing community, whether it is in music, art, fashion, entertainment, or commerce.

For more information, please visit the following websites:

www.artundressed.net– The ARTundressed Exhibition Tour, including Press / Media registration.

http://www.eroticsignature.com/  – “The World’s Greatest Erotic Art of Today” competition and publication

http://www.eroticsignature.ning.com/  – A Social Networking Community for Artists, Photographers and Art Enthusiasts.

                http://www.nancypeacherotic.com/ – The Website of artist Nancy Peach.

Art show Cannibal Flower

cf_flyer_1009Erik von Gutenberg recomends the Art Show from Mickey!

I am featured artist for the traveling art show CANNIBAL FLOWER, curated by LC, Valentine, Michele Waterman and crew.

the show is held in new location somewhere in or around Culver City.

5797 Washington Blvd.
CA, 90034
Mark Mothersbaugh, Robert Miltenberg, Chris Peters, Chet Zar, Mear One, Alex Garcia, Ekundayo, Paul Chatem, Dabs and Myla, Nate Seubert, Craig “Skibs” Barker, Tiki Jay One, Liz Brizzi, Joe Bravo, Brian Robertson, Michael Pukac, L. Croskey, Erick Rodriguez, Delphia, Anton Godard, Donna Louise Seron, Katherine Siy, Nicole Bruckman, Macsorro, Salah, John P. Wales, Shay Davis, Paul Torres, Patrick Hammerlein, Kyle Harper, Shahid Brown, Michele Waterman, Emiliana Henriquez, Andre Ajibade, Matt Rae, Terri Berman, Douglas Alvarez, Carlos Ulloa, Eban Lehrer, General All, A. Laura Brody, Richard Arthur, Kelly Thompson, Stephen Canthal, Taslimur, Rebecca Peloquin, Dion Macellari, Brendan Tierney, Rory Gilmore, John Hicks, Ted von Heiland, Anna Chung, Nick Wildermuth, Snow Mack, Emily Scott, David Foto, Mickey M. Edtinger, Sergio D. Robleto, N.S. David, Yuki Miyazaki, Atiba Azikiwe Andrews, Jose Carabes, Cambria, Glenn Arthur, Cate Rangel, Ubaldo Miranda Villa, Greg Yoshitaki, Elizabeth Caffey, Marla Carter, Donna Letterese, Sarah Ramirez, Michelle Cohen Laura Diamond, and more…

9pm – 1am

There will be many more artists besides me, such as

Admission is $8
$6 entrance with a costume

Resident DJ’s - 
Mr. NumberOnederful
X-Point
Guest DJ’s
DJ Jas Shepherd of KPFK’s Forward Motion

Patrick Icon from C.A.V.E Gallery
DJ Bus Rider

check out Mickey: http://www.mickeyme.com/

ADVENTURES IN THE OUTER REALM: NEW SUPERHEROINE ART

Avatar-1Erik von Gutenberg follows the recommendation of Diana Knight!

Lisa M. Hayes is a comic artist who produces superheroine fetish art. Very fun, VERY VERY naughty! This is the latest from Lisa. NIGHT MISTRESS. A character based on your truly. Awesome! Visit Lisa’s blog ULTRAFEM to read the comic,

Anyone who remembers the original Ultra Fem discussion groups back in 2005-06 will know that Ultra Fem’s sidekick Under Girl is absolutely essential for the series. Can’t have Ultra Fem without Under Girl.

They’ll also remember how much trouble I had with Under Girl. I’ve never had a really clear idea of what Under Girl should look like. She’s always been kind of generic. Ultra Fem, Night Mistress, The Scratch and Big Girl are all very clear in my mind, and I know exactly what I want when I draw them. Even Batboy and Cattail, the other sidekicks, are very firm for me. But Under Girl has escaped me all this time. When it was UG’s turn for a redesign, I didn’t know what to do, so she’s remained on the shelf.

At FetishCon last August, I met a model named Zeek who had a very young look, and I thought I’d try using her as a starting point. It didn’t really work. BUT THEN… while browsing for other stuff a couple of weeks ago, I saw… THIS:
undergirl_sketches

I went, “OH MY GOD!!!! IT’S UNDER GIRL!!!!” I showed these pictures to a friend of mine, and said, “Look! It’s Under Girl!” And she said, “Ooo! Yeah!”

I normally don’t use photos as a base layer for a drawing, but this girl… Jeez, I don’t have to change ANYTHING! I did these tracings to prove my point. SEE?!!

Source: http://dianaknight.blogspot.com/2009/10/new-superheroine-art.html