â€œMe stand and have to wait in a lineup? Moi? In all my fabulousness, and with this amazing smile? Fuck that!â€ ~ Fetish Model TheRichard, vocalizing his displeasure with having to wait in a line at an undisclosed event.
So another MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend has come and gone. In a nutshell, there are two very distinct and strikingly different points of view to consider when attempting to author a summation of the long weekendâ€™s festivities:
If you identify, agree with or endorse the above quotation uttered from the lips of the â€œfabulousâ€ TheRichard, then thereâ€™s a good chance that you had a fantastic time and were completely oblivious to some of the more disconcerting aspects of the Weekend that transpired, or;
If you completely find the statement self-serving, arrogant, pretentious, and more than just a little assumptive and obnoxious, thereâ€™s a great chance that youâ€™re all too aware of some of the disconcerting aspects of the Weekend that transpired â€“ but you still probably had at least a pretty decent time during at least one of the weekendâ€™s â€œmain eventsâ€.
The truth, very simply put, is that there were some wonderful things about the MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend. There were some memorable moments and some eye-boggling displays of Fetish Finery that would put any large-scale fetish event, anywhere in the world, to complete shame. The main functions for the weekend (two at Le Medley, a large and extremely accommodating and appropriate venue for such a large festival event; and one at Le Club Cleopatra, a smaller and purely inadequate space entirely too cramped and decrepit to host large crowds of finely attired Fetish folk) could all be described as â€œabove average club nightsâ€, for certain. The elaborate costumes and the extensive rubber, leather and PVC ensembles alone virtually guaranteed at least some memorable moments in each event attendeeâ€™s long-term memory.
Equally true, though, and in total objectivity and fairness, there were some aspects of the MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend â€“ after having five years of experience to rely upon â€“ should have been better planned and executed. There were also several questionable incidents and â€œperformancesâ€ that (to both an experienced purist and a relative newcomer alike) could best be described as â€œavoidableâ€ and â€œinappropriateâ€ at best â€“ and downright offensive at worst.
What I noticed above all, however, was a clear division in opinions regarding the overall quality of the MontrÃ©al weekend. I spoke with several people during several different points in time and over all three main days of the event, and gathered a number of valuable opinions. Lady J, as ever always, was an extremely popular personality at the Weekendâ€™s events and respects were given and paid to her by a large contingent of adoring acolytes. When casually asking any of these fine folks their thoughts about the weekend, there just didnâ€™t seem to be lot of room for vague interpretation, or any â€œmiddle groundâ€. Some of the lovely event goers we spoke to were clearly having a fantastic time and raved that they couldnâ€™t believe how much damned fun they were having. To a person, the opinions expressed by that group of people were all first-time event attendees: meaning none of them had ever attended a MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend before. Conversely, those who had been celebrating the grandeur of the Fetish Weekend at least once before during the eventâ€™s five-year existence all had loud complaints.
In essence, those that had never experienced the event before understandably were having a grand time and were probably more than just a little over-excited and overwhelmed by the sheer delightful explosion of fetish livery on display in the downtown streets of MontrÃ©al (and especially Rue de Saint Catherine). At the same time, those who could be considered event â€œveteransâ€, when asked, were quite vociferous in their opinions â€“ and some even red-faced outraged â€“ over what appeared to nothing more than a recycled version of the exact same event that began five years ago with very little true change.
While there is definitely something to be said for the old adage â€œif it ainâ€™t broke, donâ€™t fix itâ€, it is also true that at least an infusion of some fresh new (but appropriate)Â ideas would undoubtedly been more than welcomed by some of these fetish folks who have made the trek to downtown MontrÃ©al every Labour Day Weekend for the past five years.
What follows is a detailed account of what was good, bad and just downright ugly about the 2009 MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend:
The air at the host hotel, the Hotel Gouverneur, was electric from the moment Lady J and I first pulled up to the front door. Coincidentally, we were greeted by the fabulous and alluring Mistress Katina (one of Torontoâ€™s best-known professional Dominas and a truly enticing and engaging spirit) before we even exited the car (affectionately named â€œBettyâ€, as in â€œGood Old Reliable Betty Boopâ€). In her usual effusive, engaging and completely affectionate way, Mistress Katina gave us both a warm reception â€“ greatly appreciated after the five-hour drive to MontrÃ©al â€“ and positively informed us that she â€œexpected, as usual, to have a great time.â€ While Lady J excused herself and wentÂ inside to attend to the matters of checking in, I was introduced to some other members of Mistress Katinaâ€™s immediate circle of friends â€“ some incredible people who would play an enormous role in helping me laugh and relax with their amazing humour, wit and charm well into the wee hours of the Saturday night to come. After saying our â€œa bientotsâ€ to Mistress Katina and her gaggle of gorgeous friends, I joined Lady J in a fairly lengthy line-up of fetish folks checking into the hotel â€“ and all in good spirits and excitedly looking forward to the weekend ahead. As mentioned, it was an electric start to the event and we were both looking forward to seeing more at Friday Nightâ€™s opening party at Le Club Cleopatra. The evening got even better as Lady Jâ€™s incredible Handmaiden, the incomparable Angelically Depraved and her adoring husband, the over-the-top handsome Skull Bill (both making an exhausting 13 hour drive from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to be with us for the weekend) arrived to share the room (and the next several days) in anticipated revelry. After a quick bite to eat, our foursome got dressed: Lady J chose to wear a collection of leather goodness consisting of a long, butter-soft leather skirt, an absolutely perfect over-the-bust leather corset procured earlier in the year from Northbound Leather, shoulder length leather gloves paired with very tall platform gothic buckle boots, and topped off with a custom-made chain and leather neck piece. Angelically Depraved was adorned in a custom-designed chain and leather halter and skirt that to describe as â€œjust a little revealingâ€ would be one of the classic understatements of the entire weekend. Skull Bill and I â€¦ well, weâ€™re men. Our choice of attire was considerably more toned down and far less interesting, but I must say of the two of us, Skull Bill truly looked far, far better than I in his trappings throughout the weekend. Friday evening was truly no exception. After taking a few photos, we headed down the street and into the night â€¦ and unfortunately, that’s all I can report that was “good” about Friday night.
Saturday Night, though … was exceptional. The Latextacy Ball was, in absolute fairness, worth the drive to MontrÃ©al and the price of the ticket, alone,Â for all those who dove deep into their pockets. The fashion show – a continuous display of latex excellence from some incredibly talented designers. The performers were rock solid. One performance in particular stands tall in my collective memory: a man dressed in one of the most amazing “circus like” costumes I’ve ever had the pleasure to see picked up a seven foot tall metal pyramid – and promptly started spinning it about his body. When the pyramid lit up in a neon buffet of delicious color, the crowd exploded. It was one of the highlights of the entire weekend for me, that performance. Directly after the pyramid spinning came a trio of spinners who held their own for the appreciative crowd, spinning batons, umbrellas and “Neon Poi” to the delight of the gathered throng. The outfits, of course, were mostly exemplary. Our entourage had an amazing time on Saturday Night, and the host, Eric Paradis, is to be commended and lauded to the highest degree for putting on one of the best Fetish displays and parties I believe this hemisphere has seen in a long, long time.
The Victorian Ball on Sunday evening was billed as a “play party”: but sadly there was just too much going on in Le Medley for anyone to really take advantage of the outstanding stations assembled by Porte Rouge (a dungeon equipment manufacturer from Toronto). I will discuss the travesty that was the “stage show” at the “Ugly” phase of this review and exactly why I felt this particular party simply destroyed all the good feeling built up from such an exceptional Saturday night. What I can say about the Sunday event, though, is that if it was possible to out-do the fetish wear in assemblage that night, Sunday certainlyÂ was second in quality to the overall weekend’s events. We had a good time, essentiallyÂ – despiteÂ what you are going to read later on in this review under the “Ugly” sectionÂ – and it was a fitting send-off for the long drive home the following day.
We were told Le Club Cleopatra, on Friday night,Â was only â€œtwo blocksâ€ and â€œa five minute walk, topsâ€ away from the hotel. Wrong! It was actually at least five blocks away and a good 20 minute hike away from the corner of St. Hubert and St. Catherine Streets where the hotel is located (and with the ladies in skyscraper heels, this was no mean feat). I had a moment of trepidation when the event staff at first couldnâ€™t locate the pass that had been left for me at the front door â€“ and one of the girls twittered excitedly in French about how terrible I personally looked in Lycra pants (yes honey, I do speak and understand French to a fairly comprehensive degree). The girls managed to find my pass, however, and we entered the venue and prepared for a nightâ€™s worth of extreme fetish fun. It wasnâ€™t. The venue was ridiculously over-crowded to the point where our foursome ended up near the washrooms against a far back wall just in order to get a place to stand with a bit of breathing room â€“ but in fairness we did get to see the remains of what appeared to be a pretty decent stage performance (described in an earlier â€œLive Blog from MontrÃ©alâ€). I must admit, gentle reader, I was not comfortable in that crushing crowd of people â€“ a good portion of which did not show up in any kind of â€œfetishâ€ attire at all. There was a dismaying number of blue jeans and T-Shirts in the assemblage â€“ a fact we were further loudly informed about (back at the hotel later in the evening) by a very upset attendee from Pennsylvania who questioned the reasoning and validity for shelling out (up to)Â $175.00 for an event VIP pass to attend a fetish event that advertised itself with a â€œstrict dress code enforcement policyâ€ when that quite obviously wasnâ€™t the case. In fact, all through the weekend, I was astonished (and more than just a little perturbed myself) at the amount of people walking into the events dressed in obvious â€œstreet clothesâ€ â€“ yes, even at a Victorian Ball a modern business suit is still a modern business suit even though you might be wearing a cheap dime store plastic mask, people â€“ who had MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend VIP passes draped around their necks. To my way of thinking, if you purchase a VIP ticket for a large fetish event that would tend to indicate you are expected to participate accordingly: the very least some of these people could have done was purchased a pair of leather pants and a fishnet or sheer top. Regardless of whether they had purchased a pass or not, the people who came to this event and made absolutely no effort to â€œdress appropriatelyâ€ should have been refused entrance by the event staff at the front door.
There are event attendees who spend thousands of dollars â€“ not to mention those who pour hundreds of work hours into custom-hand crafted creations of their own â€“ into looking their best for an event of this nature and to allow the â€œjeans and T-Shirtâ€ contingent as much access within the sanctuary of the party itself is, pure and simple, an infuriating insult. This should be a lesson to all event organizers: if you charge premium prices for VIP passes to a fetish event, you should stick hard and fast to the â€œenforced dress code policyâ€. Itâ€™s the masses that do take the time to dress and look amazing that have their photos taken and promote your events, time after time, on websites and in printed magazines. Itâ€™s they that you need to cater to and listen when they express concerns of this nature. If you need to refund the full price for five or six people that were refused entrance to your party even though they didnâ€™t obey the very conditions outlined (i.e., strict fetish wear enforcement) when purchasing the VIP pass, then so be it. It doesnâ€™t make sense to alienate 100 people who paid full price and followed the â€œdress codeâ€ enthusiastically for the sake of pocketing a few hundred extra bucks from those who have no intention of dressing appropriately â€“ let alone who have any clue about what the word â€œcommunityâ€ happens to mean.
We attended a number of the seminars given on Saturday afternoon. The first one, as described in an earlier “live blog” post, was outstanding. I would take any number of classes from Dunter, the presenter, anytime. He was an excellent teacher and the class he gave was first class. The beautiful, articulate and truly amazing Contessa Alura followed and gamely tried to present a breath play workshop – but she admittedly had some troubles with a “no show” from her intended demonstration partner (kudos to the girl known as Cat for stepping in to help at the absolute last minute), the constant interference from two of the gallery members who thought they knew more than she did (they didn’t), and the simple fact she didn’t have enough time to present a topic of such gravity in the window of opportunity afforded her. I thought she was an excellent presenter, though – and has great potential to be one of the top educators and facilitators in Canada. I hope this experience doesn’t deter her from wanting to do more instructional workshops: the Lady handled the adversity with amazing class, elegance and true professionalism. The last seminar I (somewhat) attended was given by a man whom I thought was a little too into himself to pay appropriate attention to the safety of his volunteer subject – and his “scene” ended up going somewhat horribly wrong at the start. By all accounts, he spoke about himself too much; didn’t really care to show the entire room what exactly it was he was doing; and delivered in the end a somewhat “satisfactory” demonstration on rope bondage. Lady J, in fairness however, did say that she learned a couple of new things from him – which is saying something – so perhaps with some practise and a little more attention to proper teaching techniques and the safety of his volunteer, this man could be, as well, an exceptional presenter.
The only eye-rolling event of Saturday night was a “rock star show” on stage, while an extremely intriguing suspended hoop aerial performer was giving the performance of her life twenty feet above the crowd. I wonder if the guitar players were even aware that hardly anyone inÂ that crowd was paying any attention to them – and devoting all their attentions on the aerial display? There was barely a ripple when they finished their performance and quietly left the stage – but there was thunderous applause a few moments later when the performer was finished her acrobatics. The guitar players were, of course, known to the crowd – and I will spare them any embarrasment from mentioning who they were. I heard a number of people mumbling something to the effect that “it’s the same schlock and schtick every single year – when are they going to realize no-one wants it?”
These were the only “bad” things I can say about Saturday, though. All in all it was really a good day – and night.
I had scheduled anÂ interview with Eric Paradis, one of the two (!) event organizers of the MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend (Note: there is a mountain of politics involved in the MontrÃ©al community and our foursome got earful after earful about it as we ventured from store to store on buying missions across the downtown core of the city. It is too lengthy to get into a dissertation about here: but suffice to say the notable absence of several past professional models and related businesses could hardly have come as a surprise considering the amount of contempt I personally bore witness to, at several retail locations, for the event itself) for Friday evening. Unfortunately, he choose not to have that discussion with me at that time – and he was far too busy the rest of the weekend to speak with me. I do not fault him for this – but there are some questions that I would dearly love to have answered in regards to the events that transpired at the Victorian Ball on Sunday evening.
Without pulling any punches, there was one “performance” that bordered on the obscene – and one that was outright disgusting, inappropriate, questionable and sent completely the wrong message to newcomers and established fetish and SM folk alike.
There was some kind of weird SM-related demonstration going on-stage, in which I believe was supposed to entice the crowd to start engaging in various bondage and SM-related play at the stations – but the crowd was far too interested in continuing to dance than they were in actually utilizing the equipment. Most of it went unused, by my observations, until quite, quite late into the evening when the crowds had thinned considerably. I will refrain from commenting on the “demonstrations” themselves – except to say they were absolutely pathetic. The central demonstration, given by someone whom should have known better, was just simply laughable in its presentation.
The “obscene” scene, in my opinion (and I am sure there are several who actually thought the performance was inventive and outstanding) involved one of the male models, an over-sized phallus, and about seventy-two gallons of spurting liquid. You can use your imagination, I am sure. The best part of that performance, to be sure, was the end of it – when the event organizer himself somehow had the responsibility of having to clean and mop that stage of that mess. I felt badly for him: it had to be somewhat humiliating having to be seen with a mop cleaning up the remains of a “gargantuan simulated body fluid bath”. The start of that particular performance showed great promise: the same male model used a modified electric violin to give his two female model counterparts a hot shower of glowing sparks (obviously some kind of hidden grinder in the violin interacting with the metal bow he was using). Aside from my wonderment at whether the latex clothing they were all wearing survived the flying spark show intact, it was a fantastic start to the performance set. If they had of ended the performance right there, it would have been viewed as a triumph. Unfortunately, the giant dong and “fluids” came next and … well … it just cheapened and destroyed the overall effect of their entire efforts.
The “performance” that I personally felt was offensive and completely unnecessary involved two male models (I will not mention their names, it isn’t fair to them as they were only doing as probably instructed) wandering into the crowd to “abduct” two girls in school girl uniforms, and carry them back, kicking and thrashing, over their shoulders and back onto the stage – where a simulated “rape scene” took place. Of course, the “school girls” somehow got the upper hand and their “revenge” by “overpowering” the male models, pseudo-taping them back to backÂ – and proceeding to kick, stomp, punch, face-slap, bite and generally heap utter abuse on their former “tormentors”. Now I am not a prude by any means and we all have “dark places” in the recesses of our minds in which such deviant thoughts do inhabit – but a fetish event is not the place to be showcasing a message that “rape” and “retribution”, no matter how staged, is remotely appropriate. A man in Toronto was recently crucified and completely ostracized from the general community in a very, very public way for compromising someone in a seemingly non-consensual way: does such a scene, then, displayed in front of hundreds of people, qualify as “okay” and “appropriate” simply because it was done under the auspices of a large sanctioned event? Not only, in my opinion, does this kind of performance send exactly the wrong message about what sadomasochism is supposed to be all about (safe, sane and consensual), but it only serves to further reinforce the stereotype that SM … is violence. It isn’t: it’s another way to love amongst those that practice the art with those they respect, adore and cherish. The performance was in extreme poor taste and, quite frankly, showed exactly just how little regard and understanding there still exists towards SM – the very root of those that love their varied and valued fetishes and SM-related adornments. The event organizer really should be ashamed for allowing such garbage to infest and putrefy what otherwise would have been described as a “pretty decent affair.” After five years of party planning experience, he should have known better.
I had my own issues and challenges to deal with during my stay in MontrÃ©al: I freely admit Lady J, Angelically Depraved and Skull Bill deserve a gold medal each for having to put up with my building frustration and indignation about what I felt was a substandard over-all event. The highlight was so very high – Saturday night’s party was exceptional and worth the price of the ticket alone. But the low points, as described above, certainly made me feel quite glad to be home. I also completely realize I am not going to win a lot of new friends with this review – but I also cannot in good conscience give a glowing and false opinion about an event I felt was completely inferior to any of the events that preceeded it this summer. Northbound Leather’s Pride event was enormous fun … Subspace and Torture Garden were both absolutely perfect and far, far superior to the MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend each on its own … and the Church Street Fetish Fair was a great day with fantastic people under very trying, hot conditions.
I just wish the MontrÃ©al Fetish Weekend had of lived up to its advance promise and not been only a single evening of exceptional fun. I truly hope the organizers learn from the mistakes of the past years, collectively (and I am told there have been several), and present a far more “Community minded effort” for the global fetish community as a whole, rather than massage the egos of a select few who seem to believe anything and everything they touch will instantly turn into fetish gold.
Yes, dozens of people had a great time, to be sure. It must be said that my three companions, I believe, certainly have their own opinions about what was fabulous and what wasn’t in MontrÃ©al this past weekend. Dozens more – and I spoke personally with several of them and on the recordÂ – did not and probably won’t be coming back, mainly commenting onÂ all of the issues I have touched on above. I think that alone is a shame – and I can only hope the organizers learn not to rest on past laurels, and learn that “pushing the envelope” does not always equate into “instant acceptance and success”. Au revoir, MontrÃ©al, et Ã©coutez-bien.
(Photos: The images displayed are in no way related to the accompanying text – they are presented in somewhat chronological order only. No attempt has been made to associate any of the models or attendees with any inference related to the express opinions of the author. Any assumption of such association would be incorrect.)