Club SIN Montreal

Erik von Gutenberg is proud to announce the program for Club SIN in Montreal for first quarter 2011. If you plan a trip to Montreal make sure it is on the weekend with a club SIN event.

CLUB SIN :Club Sin is Montreal’s longest running fetish in one legendary location, the Cabaret Cleo. Since 1975, the venue is home to some of the most flamboyant transvestites and female impersonators. Creatures of the night alight and become their true secret self on the first Friday of the month. Be it latex, military garb, glamour dolls, gothic lolita’s, leather, pvc and play related fetishes, Club Sin brings everyone under a safe and sane social umbrella featuring an elevated stage dance area which also doubles as stage set for the midnight fetish shows.

Comfortable seating areas are aplenty making this a fabulous place to meet new fetish friends. Admission is $10 at the door and a fetish/goth/glam dress code is in effect. Best player/outfit run a chance of winning top prixes every month! Join us and discover the birthplace of the Montreal Fetish Weekend. Club Sin @ Cabaret Cleo’s, 1230 St-Laurent (2nd floor), Montreal, QC.  www.clubsin.ca

CLUB SIN : REDLIGHT : February 4th … A true celebration of Montreal’s RED LIGHT district featuring shows, dance and play … Malefice burlesque … Sir Kira BDSM … DJ Miss Lydie & Kommandandt Jack

CLUB SIN : GOTHIKA : March 4th … Thrills, chills and sexy fantasies … l’Espace annual fetish/goth bazaar … Shows, dance and play … DJ Faith
  
CLUB SIN : SINSISTER : April 1st … Shows, dance and play … DJ Miss Lydie & Kommandandt Jack
www.clubsin.ca Photos Martin Perreault, fashion and show by ville design

Club SIN Montreal

Erik von Gutenberg is proud to announce the program for Club SIN in Montreal for first quarter 2011. If you plan a trip to Montreal make sure it is on the weekend with a club SIN event.

CLUB SIN :Club Sin is Montreal’s longest running fetish in one legendary location, the Cabaret Cleo. Since 1975, the venue is home to some of the most flamboyant transvestites and female impersonators. Creatures of the night alight and become their true secret self on the first Friday of the month. Be it latex, military garb, glamour dolls, gothic lolita’s, leather, pvc and play related fetishes, Club Sin brings everyone under a safe and sane social umbrella featuring an elevated stage dance area which also doubles as stage set for the midnight fetish shows.

Comfortable seating areas are aplenty making this a fabulous place to meet new fetish friends. Admission is $10 at the door and a fetish/goth/glam dress code is in effect. Best player/outfit run a chance of winning top prixes every month! Join us and discover the birthplace of the Montreal Fetish Weekend. Club Sin @ Cabaret Cleo’s, 1230 St-Laurent (2nd floor), Montreal, QC.  www.clubsin.ca

CLUB SIN : REDLIGHT : February 4th … A true celebration of Montreal’s RED LIGHT district featuring shows, dance and play … Malefice burlesque … Sir Kira BDSM … DJ Miss Lydie & Kommandandt Jack

CLUB SIN : GOTHIKA : March 4th … Thrills, chills and sexy fantasies … l’Espace annual fetish/goth bazaar … Shows, dance and play … DJ Faith
  
CLUB SIN : SINSISTER : April 1st … Shows, dance and play … DJ Miss Lydie & Kommandandt Jack
www.clubsin.ca Photos Martin Perreault, fashion and show by ville design

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

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

~ Anne Roiphe, American Feminist and Author

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kardynyl SynysTyr

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

Throwback to the Future: NYC’s Fetish TRIBE EXPERIENCE Revisited

It is true that large fetish and SM communities have been around for a very long time. There has been a great deal written about some of these communities: most of it utter nonsense, and fabricated solely in the minds of self-effacing, somewhat narcissistic folk who make grandiose and ridiculous claims of “having been trained within a European Great House” in some bizarre equivocal attempt to justify their experience and/or expertise levels (admit it, dear reader: you’ve met at least one such individual).

Some of these communities have even been featured – exaggerated and fictionalized extensively though they may be – within the pages of popular fetish and SM ‘modern’ literature. The most famous example of this would invariably be the Great Estates of Roissy and Samois, so central to the fictionalized, but based in absolute fact, account of Pauline Reage (pseudonym for the late French journalist Ann Desclos) in her taboo-shattering, epic erotic novel, Story of O – the work which will continue to be the benchmark by which all other SM-related works shall be forever weighted against.

Therefore the oldest Communities, and most respected and revered, are typically assumed to be found in some major European centres, most notably London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris (Note: Roissy actually existed at one point: the Chateau described in Story of O was demolished to make way for construction of Charles de Gaulle Airport in 1966, some twelve years after the publication of the novel). Others, such as The Society of Janus in San Francisco and The Eulenspiegel Society (TES) in New York, have been functioning relatively blissfully for decades in North America. While these larger, more matured social organizations still rely on a degree of extreme privacy and adhere to their rules – some very old rules – regarding acceptance of new members and observation of some very near Mason-style Code of Conduct and disclosure policies, the availability of information to the masses (and instantaneously) through the wonders of the Internet Age has forced some of these revered “institutions” to begrudgingly adapt to new recruitment and retaining methods

There are two distinct and large differences that are invariably considered in any discussion of “new wave” versus “old guard” variety Fetish Nation building: One, naturally, is how revered the somewhat secretive and private nature of our chosen life continues to be within the ranks of the people, contrasted with how open and readily available inclusion is to virtually anyone willing to pay entrance fees to events, or even in some cases membership dues. The vast majority of new Fetish/SM based Community groups actually don’t charge membership fees at all – which means the ‘screening’ process that used to be so integral for acceptance within a like-minded SM-focused peer group is, now, virtually non-existent. The discussion, therefore, centers on how “new wave” or “next generation” groups actively police themselves. In the “old days”, an enthusiastic potential new Community member literally was made to jump through a series of exasperating figurative hoops in order to just secure an interview with a Community representative, who would in turn take their membership nomination to a higher authority. That potential new member, almost universally, had best have a respected sponsor already within the Community, too – or their chances for acceptance and inclusion would become a whole lot more difficult. In essence, potentials had to “prove” that they were responsible, honest and generally upstanding people worthy of everyone else’s respect. It just wasn’t very easy to get in through the front door in those days: you were made to work hard to secure your inclusion. This process had several advantages, the most obvious being that those who had selfish agendas, or were shown to not have the temperament or emotional stability to complete the process just weren’t inevitably invited to join the collective – and this made for a near-harmonious social structure. Everyone knew, and loved, everybody else, in time: The issues of ego, unbalanced behavior and what we refer to today as “drama” rarely needed to be dealt with. When something came up that was considered a grave injury or disservice to the Community as a whole, the offender was generally ostracized completely, and not allowed further participation in Community events and functions. The fear of that severe a punishment alone was enough to generally keep those with agendas of their own quite “in line.” In the 1960’s and 1970’s especially, and to a lessening degree in the 1980’s and 1990’s, if you were ostracized from one Community, it was likely you weren’t going to find very many people to play with. Now, in the New Millennium, and thanks to the advent of instant access to any information via the World Wide Web, it is very easy for an “outcast” member of one community organization to latch onto another one – and without any kind of vetting process what so ever.

Second, and far more of an issue, is what can only be described as the “fracturing” of entire Communities into smaller, more “specialized” practitioners. For “old guard” SM folk, there was a sense of “we’re in this together”: It wasn’t (and still isn’t, in some old quarters) the leather crowd holding court over the latex crowd; who in turn cast a contemptuous but curious eye to the spandex or PVC people. There wasn’t so much a sense of superiority of the large tribal-influenced Body Modification contingent over the straight out-and-out whip-bottoms and pierced pure masochists. There was a sense of “your kink isn’t my kink, but we’re all in this together – and united we’re stronger.” I can personally attest, during the 1980’s in particular, to the strength of the Society of Janus in San Francisco as a prime example. Strangely, the Society of Janus started to come apart at the seams the moment a “younger element” voiced a desire to have more of an active say in how the Society conducted business. When the ‘old guard’ objected – cracks began to appear in the old Community’s framework, and eventually an inevitable series of splits occurred. Some of those now-decades long wounds have failed to completely heal, and some of the splinter groups have long since vanished. The Society of Janus has survived, though – and is currently regarded as the second-oldest, continuous communal SM Organization in the United States (The Eulenspiegal Society being the oldest – which has had “fracturing” issues of its own over the decades of its existence).

(Note the Second: It should be noted that “old guard” is used here as a metaphor, not as a de facto title. The reverence to “Old Guard”, those that paved the way the way for literally every one of us to be able to freely express our sadomasochistic tendencies and desires, is an entirely separate storyline, and is too intricate and glorious to do justice to within the paragraphs of this particular piece.)

It is a very old maxim that people are afraid of change. It is far more comfortable to live – sometimes blindly so – in a comfortable, familiar manner. In the case of the Society of Janus, an argument could be made that the community elders were, more or less, dragged kicking and screaming into the modern electronic age. Those organizations and businesses that embrace new methods of communication and technology are certain to continue to prosper and grow their ranks and loyalties. Those that resist change soon find, sadly, that they just don’t have a playground (or even playmates) around to explore the wonders and joys within this particular expressive lifestyle that we’ve collectively chosen. To the unending credit of both the Society of Janus and The Eulenspiegal Society, they have found ways to embrace the tools of the digital age (websites and social networking especially) and have figuratively weathered the thundering storms of lightning-quick change – and survived.

If there is a downside, though, it’s that the ‘storm weathering’ in both of these important, historically-significant large community groups in North America was (more or less) solely undertaken for the benefit of existing, long-term members, and as a potential ‘recruitment and contact tool’ in the same sense and manner that any aggregator in the modern age reaches out to potential new members (or customers). That is to say, the use of the Internet to educate the masses of the people about the existence and offerings of these large communal groups is both a bane and a boon: In the shotgun approach to recruitment, the “screening” or vetting process has virtually disappeared – and the contact information (which used to be so incredibly difficult to obtain, as mentioned above) is oh-too-easily available, right down to contact names, (Email) addresses and telephone numbers, with a simple click of a button. Shotgun approaches are sure to bring interest and new, enthusiastic members to respective communities – but that approach has absolutely zero positive effect upon weeding out the quality, community-minded people from the opportunistic, mercenary, narcissistic and potentially destructive poisonous types. Sadly, as ever-growing examples of aforementioned “drama” continue to populate our communal messaging systems and digitally megalithic gathering places (such as the popular website Fet Life, for example), the latter appears to be far more the “norm” than the “exception”.

Which is exactly why the New York City Fetish TRIBE is so incredibly, wonderfully unique.

The main movers and shakers of what is called the NYC Tribe Mike B., Kelley Dane and an amazingly engaging, alluring and supremely magnetic personality known locally as Powder – have managed to create, and promote, an exceptional, large new Community that is based on a perfect blending, or balance, of “old world” ideals with “new age” methods. In essence, what the troika has managed to deliver to the Fetish and SM world at large is a hybrid: they take the best of what made the “old world” groups (such as their distinguished older ‘cousins’ in New York, TES) perfected in the way of a true Community bond and “self-policing” system, and combined it with all the advantages and glamour that the positive exploitation of digital media can provide. Working in concert with a young, Mohawk-sporting, engaging and enthusiastic Education Coordinator who goes by the moniker of Rocky Horror, the foursome produced – and entirely succeeded – in bringing something quite new, and in the opinion of many in attendance, revolutionary weekend-long event to North America’s largest social stage.

The New York City Tribe Experience was held, for the first time, in early October, 2010. It ran for five, virtually full days – from October 7th to 11th, and by all accounts there simply wasn’t a down moment to be found during the entire time. “Tribesters” from all parts of North America – Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Florida, Arizona, Montreal and Toronto – gathered for several feverish days of unparalleled Fetish and sadomasochistic delights that, without a word of bias or favoritism, culminated in the absolute best (the majority of attendees agreed) experience in their lives.

Did it have the unending eye candy that a Montreal Fetish Weekend brings? No, not really. Was it as deliciously performance-laden and eye-popping as a Torture Garden event always is? Absolutely not! Was it as well-attended or as truly spectacular as either the huge annual Northbound Leather events or the Von Gutenberg Fetish Balls? Not even close! Neither, it must be said, was the NYC Tribe Experience designed to resemble as such. Naturally, there were four entire evenings of near-exhaustively paced parties – but there were other factors in play throughout the weekend that simply set what Mike, Kelley, Powder and Rocky were able to accomplish far above anything most of the attendees had experienced before.

What is even more impressive: they managed to accomplish four entire days of all-inclusive absolute revelry for an astonishing ticket price of only $75.00. That’s $75.00 for VIP access to all four large parties and all day-trips and excursions. The organizers also set up a billeting system for out-of-town guests, in order to defray the cost of attendance and spare visitors (who may not have been able to attend the Experience otherwise) the sting of having to pay somewhat ridiculous hotel room rates. This was an exceptionally welcome, and fantastic, idea: our little group spoke to a few people who took advantage of this billeting system (in which Tribe members volunteered a room, or a bed, or a couch even, for a night or more in their own homes) – and fast made new, solid long-term friendships from these arrangements. All in all, many precedents were established during this initial New York City Tribe Experience – and with few exceptions, the organizers managed to make it all click meticulously.

It wouldn’t do the Tribe organizers any justice to delve into deep, detailed and intricate dissections of each of the four main parties – three of which exist on their own merits as “separate but connected events” within the New York City fetish scene (Impact, Dress to {xcess and Suspension). The main distinguishing feature of all three of these “Main Events” is that they were held in three unique venues. Other weekend-long events tend to be limited to one, and in some cases (like the Fetish Weekend and Torture Garden, for instance), two, main locations. Having the three main evening gatherings in three separate, but relatively central locations enabled the organizers to present somewhat of a fresh atmosphere to each themed party. For instance, in order to get a sense of what is being described, some weekend long Fetish events will have two large-scale parties, on consecutive nights, at one appropriate club or event hall. What one of the criticisms of this format has been, is that in reality, the second-night’s gathering in the same locale tends to be a virtual ‘carbon copy’ of the previous night’s fun – even though the entertainment line-up will invariably differ. There was no sense of déjà vu at the Tribe Experience. Each party – while attended by the same people, featuring the same equipment to play on and featuring an inordinate amount of the same costuming – nevertheless felt like a “new”, and quite vibrant, titillating separate event. Whether this was done by accident, out of necessity or completely be design, it absolutely worked.

What also worked, and were themselves delightfully quirky and unique events, were each of the “sideline day trips” that the Tribe brain-trust organized. Ranging from an afternoon of Croquet in Central Park (wearing nothing but the finest knickers and lingerie, of course) to an awe-inspiring witnessing of the “dawn’s early light” (complete with bagels), on the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, each little day excursion was intended to – and succeeded in – recharging the metaphorical ‘batteries’ that had been drained from exhortations and excitations at one of the large parties the evening previous. These “day trips” were an exceptional and very welcome idea: it is without question that similar, somewhat gimmicky events will be planned for other Fetish weekends in other large centres heading into 2011. They were reported to be extraordinarily fun – and eminently succeeded in bringing new-found friends much closer together in so short a time span.

Which leads to a necessary few words in regard to the participation of other identifiable groups that collectively thrive under the translucent “Tribe umbrella”: It is rare – even unheard of – for so-called “competing organizations” to come together, let alone work together, to give the vast populace a truly encompassing, communal experience. The “day trips”, and several of the “official” functions connected with the NYC Tribe Experience were all encouraged to be, and actively were, sponsored by entirely outside and separate entities. For instance, the Kinky Jews group were responsible for hosting the early-morning Brooklyn Bridge sunrise breakfast excursion on Sunday morning, and the NYC TNG crowd were responsible for hosting the unforgettable Lingerie Croquet in Central Park (an event, I may add, that was featured on several morning NYC news magazine shows and prominently in at least two major New York daily newspapers – you can’t purchase that kind of free publicity in New York so readily). Without question, never since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in San Francisco has there been such an immense and successful collaboration of large, Fetish and SM community-focused organizations joining forces, and resources, in an effort to just bring their New York City residents and respective guests such an undeniable good time.

I cannot go any further without mentioning the professionalism, dedication and indeed the pure class of Mike B. in particular. This in no way casts a dispersion on the other three organizers mentioned within the body of this piece, but something happened on Friday evening that was extraordinary, and should be held as an example of what the definition of a “responsible event organizer” can be.

At Friday night’s big event (the Impact play party), there were some glaring safety issues regarding the placement of equipment and monitoring staff that our little “entourage” immediately viewed as areas of extreme concern. Without going into exorbitant and unnecessary detail, it must be said that Mike B., when quietly informed of our concerns (he had just arrived a few moments before and therefore had not had even a chance to take his coat off, I might add – a bit of a social faux pas on my account admittedly) immediately leapt into action and within a few minutes had directed his staff to rectify the potential dangers. The rest of Friday’s festivities proceeded without incident – much to the happiness of the huge crowd. This is the mark of a dedicated man who obviously cares deeply for the quality of experience that he plans to present to each and every one of his guests.

By extension, the other organizers are equally worthy of laudability. In an area of our Fetish world where it is usually the work of a single person, or a duo at best, that reaps the praise of a grateful community for their event-running efforts, it is remarkable that four and more answerable individuals can work to create such an awe-inspiring great experience with such total comprehension, and so little tension, between them. Regardless of whatever issues, troubles or “drama” any of these organizers may have had to face prior to the commencement of the Tribe Experience weekend, they didn’t allow those issues to cloud their abilities to present to their people a world-class, and first-rate professional Fetish and SM affair.

It was a masterstroke of pure genius to host the weekend’s educational component – the Tribe Workshops – in the same venue in which the final soiree was going to be produced. Lady J, my beloved life mate, and I were guests of the irrepressible Mistress Lyn and sjoe for the entire week (a week in which saw Your Humble Narrator finally be able to pay respects to a childhood hero – Ulysses S. Grant – who lies within an immense, magnificent tomb at Riverside Park), and for most scheduled events our intrepid foursome made the long drive from Long Island into the City in order to partake in the festivities. I say “most”, sadly, because one of our troupe became quite ill with a serious infection and ended up missing all of Saturday’s fun (yes, it was me). But I digress slightly: Lady J and I were asked to conduct two basic single-tail whipping seminars on the Sunday afternoon, and I readily admit that in my weakened, sickened state, my first impression of the venue wasn’t entirely favorable.

It didn’t take us long to warm up to the place, though; this unassuming little edifice known as The Delancey. Skeptical first impressions quickly gave way to silent admiration as we realized this four-level nightclub was, in truth, the absolute perfect venue in which to host all of Sunday’s educational seminars. Our own two seminars were conducted with great joy and without a single hitch, and all of the classes were well-attended and enthusiastically participated in by the Tribesters who chose to come out. Because of the aforementioned illness, our foursome simply could not stay for the Suspension event that was held in the same venue later on that same evening – but reading the concerned and heartfelt notes left for me by many of our new Tribe friends the next morning, it was absolutely evident that we’d had to pass on a history-making occasion. At the time of this writing, over an entire month after the final doors closed on the Tribe Experience, there are still excited stories being swapped about the grandeur and hedonistic delight of Sunday evening’s Suspension – such so, that it is without question that the event is certain to become a long-running, essential ‘staple’ on the Fetish party circuit for New York City (and area) dwellers for years to come. I am still wondering how all four of the organizers pulled it off, and so amazingly well: Mike B., Powder and Rocky in particular were so obviously exhausted they collectively resembled something from a George Romero Zombie feature by Sunday afternoon. And yet, all of them (joined by Kelley) somehow managed to suck it up, and then pull off, a highlight worthy, signature event to cap an unbelievably sumptuous weekend of great fun and glorious decadence.

That, my friends, is what every event organizer in every major town should aspire to create. The New York City Fetish Tribe is a revolutionary concept. It is the evolution of the “old” perfectly enhanced with all the advantages of the “new”. It is a community of fantastic, joyful and dedicated, responsible people enraptured within breath-depriving, sensual experiments in ecstasy during some of the best-planned, and best executed, large-scale event gatherings on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Tribe is what many of the ‘old’ communities had aspired to be, and for reasons that limited those eras legally and socially, could never truly be.

The Tribe Experience is a hopeful gaze towards the future – and a shining example of what other large alternative-lifestyle communities should aspire to be.

(All photos courtesy of Aeric Meredith-Goujon Photography and NYC Fetish Tribe. All Rights Reserved.)

Throwback to the Future: NYC’s Fetish TRIBE EXPERIENCE Revisited

It is true that large fetish and SM communities have been around for a very long time. There has been a great deal written about some of these communities: most of it utter nonsense, and fabricated solely in the minds of self-effacing, somewhat narcissistic folk who make grandiose and ridiculous claims of “having been trained within a European Great House” in some bizarre equivocal attempt to justify their experience and/or expertise levels (admit it, dear reader: you’ve met at least one such individual).

Some of these communities have even been featured – exaggerated and fictionalized extensively though they may be – within the pages of popular fetish and SM ‘modern’ literature. The most famous example of this would invariably be the Great Estates of Roissy and Samois, so central to the fictionalized, but based in absolute fact, account of Pauline Reage (pseudonym for the late French journalist Ann Desclos) in her taboo-shattering, epic erotic novel, Story of O – the work which will continue to be the benchmark by which all other SM-related works shall be forever weighted against.

Therefore the oldest Communities, and most respected and revered, are typically assumed to be found in some major European centres, most notably London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris (Note: Roissy actually existed at one point: the Chateau described in Story of O was demolished to make way for construction of Charles de Gaulle Airport in 1966, some twelve years after the publication of the novel). Others, such as The Society of Janus in San Francisco and The Eulenspiegel Society (TES) in New York, have been functioning relatively blissfully for decades in North America. While these larger, more matured social organizations still rely on a degree of extreme privacy and adhere to their rules – some very old rules – regarding acceptance of new members and observation of some very near Mason-style Code of Conduct and disclosure policies, the availability of information to the masses (and instantaneously) through the wonders of the Internet Age has forced some of these revered “institutions” to begrudgingly adapt to new recruitment and retaining methods

There are two distinct and large differences that are invariably considered in any discussion of “new wave” versus “old guard” variety Fetish Nation building: One, naturally, is how revered the somewhat secretive and private nature of our chosen life continues to be within the ranks of the people, contrasted with how open and readily available inclusion is to virtually anyone willing to pay entrance fees to events, or even in some cases membership dues. The vast majority of new Fetish/SM based Community groups actually don’t charge membership fees at all – which means the ‘screening’ process that used to be so integral for acceptance within a like-minded SM-focused peer group is, now, virtually non-existent. The discussion, therefore, centers on how “new wave” or “next generation” groups actively police themselves. In the “old days”, an enthusiastic potential new Community member literally was made to jump through a series of exasperating figurative hoops in order to just secure an interview with a Community representative, who would in turn take their membership nomination to a higher authority. That potential new member, almost universally, had best have a respected sponsor already within the Community, too – or their chances for acceptance and inclusion would become a whole lot more difficult. In essence, potentials had to “prove” that they were responsible, honest and generally upstanding people worthy of everyone else’s respect. It just wasn’t very easy to get in through the front door in those days: you were made to work hard to secure your inclusion. This process had several advantages, the most obvious being that those who had selfish agendas, or were shown to not have the temperament or emotional stability to complete the process just weren’t inevitably invited to join the collective – and this made for a near-harmonious social structure. Everyone knew, and loved, everybody else, in time: The issues of ego, unbalanced behavior and what we refer to today as “drama” rarely needed to be dealt with. When something came up that was considered a grave injury or disservice to the Community as a whole, the offender was generally ostracized completely, and not allowed further participation in Community events and functions. The fear of that severe a punishment alone was enough to generally keep those with agendas of their own quite “in line.” In the 1960’s and 1970’s especially, and to a lessening degree in the 1980’s and 1990’s, if you were ostracized from one Community, it was likely you weren’t going to find very many people to play with. Now, in the New Millennium, and thanks to the advent of instant access to any information via the World Wide Web, it is very easy for an “outcast” member of one community organization to latch onto another one – and without any kind of vetting process what so ever.

Second, and far more of an issue, is what can only be described as the “fracturing” of entire Communities into smaller, more “specialized” practitioners. For “old guard” SM folk, there was a sense of “we’re in this together”: It wasn’t (and still isn’t, in some old quarters) the leather crowd holding court over the latex crowd; who in turn cast a contemptuous but curious eye to the spandex or PVC people. There wasn’t so much a sense of superiority of the large tribal-influenced Body Modification contingent over the straight out-and-out whip-bottoms and pierced pure masochists. There was a sense of “your kink isn’t my kink, but we’re all in this together – and united we’re stronger.” I can personally attest, during the 1980’s in particular, to the strength of the Society of Janus in San Francisco as a prime example. Strangely, the Society of Janus started to come apart at the seams the moment a “younger element” voiced a desire to have more of an active say in how the Society conducted business. When the ‘old guard’ objected – cracks began to appear in the old Community’s framework, and eventually an inevitable series of splits occurred. Some of those now-decades long wounds have failed to completely heal, and some of the splinter groups have long since vanished. The Society of Janus has survived, though – and is currently regarded as the second-oldest, continuous communal SM Organization in the United States (The Eulenspiegal Society being the oldest – which has had “fracturing” issues of its own over the decades of its existence).

(Note the Second: It should be noted that “old guard” is used here as a metaphor, not as a de facto title. The reverence to “Old Guard”, those that paved the way the way for literally every one of us to be able to freely express our sadomasochistic tendencies and desires, is an entirely separate storyline, and is too intricate and glorious to do justice to within the paragraphs of this particular piece.)

It is a very old maxim that people are afraid of change. It is far more comfortable to live – sometimes blindly so – in a comfortable, familiar manner. In the case of the Society of Janus, an argument could be made that the community elders were, more or less, dragged kicking and screaming into the modern electronic age. Those organizations and businesses that embrace new methods of communication and technology are certain to continue to prosper and grow their ranks and loyalties. Those that resist change soon find, sadly, that they just don’t have a playground (or even playmates) around to explore the wonders and joys within this particular expressive lifestyle that we’ve collectively chosen. To the unending credit of both the Society of Janus and The Eulenspiegal Society, they have found ways to embrace the tools of the digital age (websites and social networking especially) and have figuratively weathered the thundering storms of lightning-quick change – and survived.

If there is a downside, though, it’s that the ‘storm weathering’ in both of these important, historically-significant large community groups in North America was (more or less) solely undertaken for the benefit of existing, long-term members, and as a potential ‘recruitment and contact tool’ in the same sense and manner that any aggregator in the modern age reaches out to potential new members (or customers). That is to say, the use of the Internet to educate the masses of the people about the existence and offerings of these large communal groups is both a bane and a boon: In the shotgun approach to recruitment, the “screening” or vetting process has virtually disappeared – and the contact information (which used to be so incredibly difficult to obtain, as mentioned above) is oh-too-easily available, right down to contact names, (Email) addresses and telephone numbers, with a simple click of a button. Shotgun approaches are sure to bring interest and new, enthusiastic members to respective communities – but that approach has absolutely zero positive effect upon weeding out the quality, community-minded people from the opportunistic, mercenary, narcissistic and potentially destructive poisonous types. Sadly, as ever-growing examples of aforementioned “drama” continue to populate our communal messaging systems and digitally megalithic gathering places (such as the popular website Fet Life, for example), the latter appears to be far more the “norm” than the “exception”.

Which is exactly why the New York City Fetish TRIBE is so incredibly, wonderfully unique.

The main movers and shakers of what is called the NYC Tribe Mike B., Kelley Dane and an amazingly engaging, alluring and supremely magnetic personality known locally as Powder – have managed to create, and promote, an exceptional, large new Community that is based on a perfect blending, or balance, of “old world” ideals with “new age” methods. In essence, what the troika has managed to deliver to the Fetish and SM world at large is a hybrid: they take the best of what made the “old world” groups (such as their distinguished older ‘cousins’ in New York, TES) perfected in the way of a true Community bond and “self-policing” system, and combined it with all the advantages and glamour that the positive exploitation of digital media can provide. Working in concert with a young, Mohawk-sporting, engaging and enthusiastic Education Coordinator who goes by the moniker of Rocky Horror, the foursome produced – and entirely succeeded – in bringing something quite new, and in the opinion of many in attendance, revolutionary weekend-long event to North America’s largest social stage.

The New York City Tribe Experience was held, for the first time, in early October, 2010. It ran for five, virtually full days – from October 7th to 11th, and by all accounts there simply wasn’t a down moment to be found during the entire time. “Tribesters” from all parts of North America – Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Florida, Arizona, Montreal and Toronto – gathered for several feverish days of unparalleled Fetish and sadomasochistic delights that, without a word of bias or favoritism, culminated in the absolute best (the majority of attendees agreed) experience in their lives.

Did it have the unending eye candy that a Montreal Fetish Weekend brings? No, not really. Was it as deliciously performance-laden and eye-popping as a Torture Garden event always is? Absolutely not! Was it as well-attended or as truly spectacular as either the huge annual Northbound Leather events or the Von Gutenberg Fetish Balls? Not even close! Neither, it must be said, was the NYC Tribe Experience designed to resemble as such. Naturally, there were four entire evenings of near-exhaustively paced parties – but there were other factors in play throughout the weekend that simply set what Mike, Kelley, Powder and Rocky were able to accomplish far above anything most of the attendees had experienced before.

What is even more impressive: they managed to accomplish four entire days of all-inclusive absolute revelry for an astonishing ticket price of only $75.00. That’s $75.00 for VIP access to all four large parties and all day-trips and excursions. The organizers also set up a billeting system for out-of-town guests, in order to defray the cost of attendance and spare visitors (who may not have been able to attend the Experience otherwise) the sting of having to pay somewhat ridiculous hotel room rates. This was an exceptionally welcome, and fantastic, idea: our little group spoke to a few people who took advantage of this billeting system (in which Tribe members volunteered a room, or a bed, or a couch even, for a night or more in their own homes) – and fast made new, solid long-term friendships from these arrangements. All in all, many precedents were established during this initial New York City Tribe Experience – and with few exceptions, the organizers managed to make it all click meticulously.

It wouldn’t do the Tribe organizers any justice to delve into deep, detailed and intricate dissections of each of the four main parties – three of which exist on their own merits as “separate but connected events” within the New York City fetish scene (Impact, Dress to {xcess and Suspension). The main distinguishing feature of all three of these “Main Events” is that they were held in three unique venues. Other weekend-long events tend to be limited to one, and in some cases (like the Fetish Weekend and Torture Garden, for instance), two, main locations. Having the three main evening gatherings in three separate, but relatively central locations enabled the organizers to present somewhat of a fresh atmosphere to each themed party. For instance, in order to get a sense of what is being described, some weekend long Fetish events will have two large-scale parties, on consecutive nights, at one appropriate club or event hall. What one of the criticisms of this format has been, is that in reality, the second-night’s gathering in the same locale tends to be a virtual ‘carbon copy’ of the previous night’s fun – even though the entertainment line-up will invariably differ. There was no sense of déjà vu at the Tribe Experience. Each party – while attended by the same people, featuring the same equipment to play on and featuring an inordinate amount of the same costuming – nevertheless felt like a “new”, and quite vibrant, titillating separate event. Whether this was done by accident, out of necessity or completely be design, it absolutely worked.

What also worked, and were themselves delightfully quirky and unique events, were each of the “sideline day trips” that the Tribe brain-trust organized. Ranging from an afternoon of Croquet in Central Park (wearing nothing but the finest knickers and lingerie, of course) to an awe-inspiring witnessing of the “dawn’s early light” (complete with bagels), on the walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, each little day excursion was intended to – and succeeded in – recharging the metaphorical ‘batteries’ that had been drained from exhortations and excitations at one of the large parties the evening previous. These “day trips” were an exceptional and very welcome idea: it is without question that similar, somewhat gimmicky events will be planned for other Fetish weekends in other large centres heading into 2011. They were reported to be extraordinarily fun – and eminently succeeded in bringing new-found friends much closer together in so short a time span.

Which leads to a necessary few words in regard to the participation of other identifiable groups that collectively thrive under the translucent “Tribe umbrella”: It is rare – even unheard of – for so-called “competing organizations” to come together, let alone work together, to give the vast populace a truly encompassing, communal experience. The “day trips”, and several of the “official” functions connected with the NYC Tribe Experience were all encouraged to be, and actively were, sponsored by entirely outside and separate entities. For instance, the Kinky Jews group were responsible for hosting the early-morning Brooklyn Bridge sunrise breakfast excursion on Sunday morning, and the NYC TNG crowd were responsible for hosting the unforgettable Lingerie Croquet in Central Park (an event, I may add, that was featured on several morning NYC news magazine shows and prominently in at least two major New York daily newspapers – you can’t purchase that kind of free publicity in New York so readily). Without question, never since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s in San Francisco has there been such an immense and successful collaboration of large, Fetish and SM community-focused organizations joining forces, and resources, in an effort to just bring their New York City residents and respective guests such an undeniable good time.

I cannot go any further without mentioning the professionalism, dedication and indeed the pure class of Mike B. in particular. This in no way casts a dispersion on the other three organizers mentioned within the body of this piece, but something happened on Friday evening that was extraordinary, and should be held as an example of what the definition of a “responsible event organizer” can be.

At Friday night’s big event (the Impact play party), there were some glaring safety issues regarding the placement of equipment and monitoring staff that our little “entourage” immediately viewed as areas of extreme concern. Without going into exorbitant and unnecessary detail, it must be said that Mike B., when quietly informed of our concerns (he had just arrived a few moments before and therefore had not had even a chance to take his coat off, I might add – a bit of a social faux pas on my account admittedly) immediately leapt into action and within a few minutes had directed his staff to rectify the potential dangers. The rest of Friday’s festivities proceeded without incident – much to the happiness of the huge crowd. This is the mark of a dedicated man who obviously cares deeply for the quality of experience that he plans to present to each and every one of his guests.

By extension, the other organizers are equally worthy of laudability. In an area of our Fetish world where it is usually the work of a single person, or a duo at best, that reaps the praise of a grateful community for their event-running efforts, it is remarkable that four and more answerable individuals can work to create such an awe-inspiring great experience with such total comprehension, and so little tension, between them. Regardless of whatever issues, troubles or “drama” any of these organizers may have had to face prior to the commencement of the Tribe Experience weekend, they didn’t allow those issues to cloud their abilities to present to their people a world-class, and first-rate professional Fetish and SM affair.

It was a masterstroke of pure genius to host the weekend’s educational component – the Tribe Workshops – in the same venue in which the final soiree was going to be produced. Lady J, my beloved life mate, and I were guests of the irrepressible Mistress Lyn and sjoe for the entire week (a week in which saw Your Humble Narrator finally be able to pay respects to a childhood hero – Ulysses S. Grant – who lies within an immense, magnificent tomb at Riverside Park), and for most scheduled events our intrepid foursome made the long drive from Long Island into the City in order to partake in the festivities. I say “most”, sadly, because one of our troupe became quite ill with a serious infection and ended up missing all of Saturday’s fun (yes, it was me). But I digress slightly: Lady J and I were asked to conduct two basic single-tail whipping seminars on the Sunday afternoon, and I readily admit that in my weakened, sickened state, my first impression of the venue wasn’t entirely favorable.

It didn’t take us long to warm up to the place, though; this unassuming little edifice known as The Delancey. Skeptical first impressions quickly gave way to silent admiration as we realized this four-level nightclub was, in truth, the absolute perfect venue in which to host all of Sunday’s educational seminars. Our own two seminars were conducted with great joy and without a single hitch, and all of the classes were well-attended and enthusiastically participated in by the Tribesters who chose to come out. Because of the aforementioned illness, our foursome simply could not stay for the Suspension event that was held in the same venue later on that same evening – but reading the concerned and heartfelt notes left for me by many of our new Tribe friends the next morning, it was absolutely evident that we’d had to pass on a history-making occasion. At the time of this writing, over an entire month after the final doors closed on the Tribe Experience, there are still excited stories being swapped about the grandeur and hedonistic delight of Sunday evening’s Suspension – such so, that it is without question that the event is certain to become a long-running, essential ‘staple’ on the Fetish party circuit for New York City (and area) dwellers for years to come. I am still wondering how all four of the organizers pulled it off, and so amazingly well: Mike B., Powder and Rocky in particular were so obviously exhausted they collectively resembled something from a George Romero Zombie feature by Sunday afternoon. And yet, all of them (joined by Kelley) somehow managed to suck it up, and then pull off, a highlight worthy, signature event to cap an unbelievably sumptuous weekend of great fun and glorious decadence.

That, my friends, is what every event organizer in every major town should aspire to create. The New York City Fetish Tribe is a revolutionary concept. It is the evolution of the “old” perfectly enhanced with all the advantages of the “new”. It is a community of fantastic, joyful and dedicated, responsible people enraptured within breath-depriving, sensual experiments in ecstasy during some of the best-planned, and best executed, large-scale event gatherings on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Tribe is what many of the ‘old’ communities had aspired to be, and for reasons that limited those eras legally and socially, could never truly be.

The Tribe Experience is a hopeful gaze towards the future – and a shining example of what other large alternative-lifestyle communities should aspire to be.

(All photos courtesy of Aeric Meredith-Goujon Photography and NYC Fetish Tribe. All Rights Reserved.)

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)

Tonight SIN FISTED Burlesque Artist and Contortionist

Erik von Gutenberg is proud to present SIN FISTED tonight in a stunning Burlesque and Contortionist performance! We are happy to add her to the performer list last minute and we are looking forward to her stunning show!

Von Gutenberg Magazine and Madame S present the Von Gutenberg Fetish Ball TODAY at supperclub in San Francisco! The only pansexual event and we will welcome ALL female and male fetish party vixens! This is a 21+ event!

All genders and sexual orientations are welcome!

San Francisco, the sin city of the world this weekend!

Location: Supperclub San Francisco
Street: 657 Harrsion Street, Soma District
Date: Saturday Night, September 25
Time: 7pm Bondage Dinner in the supperclub
Time: 9pm general admission or VIP for the Ball

Official Program during Bondage dinner with Master of ceremonies KINGFISH :

Bondage theme throughout the club

Suspension performance by Mike West

Latex Burlesque Show by Mina de Sade

Dangerous Freak Show by the Reverend and Kendra James

Stand up Comedy by Alicyn

Fashion Show by West Coast Leather

DJ Shatter from local Bondage a GoGo and DJ Netic from local DNAlounge

Later in the night we will see another 2 highlights of the night with:

SIN FISTED and Fetish Superstar PERISH at midnight

Here the menu of the 4 course BONDAGE dinner at 7pm TONIGHT

Maine lobster

Skewered, with orange dressing, lobster remoulade and frisee

Lamb loins

with liquid polenta, broccolini, smoked tomato’s and gremolata

poached peaches

hazelnut tuile, ice cream, white chocolate sauce

veggie

1st vegetarian salad with avocado cream radishes and carrots

2ndrd vegetarian lasagna

Get your tickets here until 6 pm TODAY: www.vongutenberg.com/shop or at the door, dresscode enforced

Tonight SIN FISTED Burlesque Artist and Contortionist

Erik von Gutenberg is proud to present SIN FISTED tonight in a stunning Burlesque and Contortionist performance! We are happy to add her to the performer list last minute and we are looking forward to her stunning show!

Von Gutenberg Magazine and Madame S present the Von Gutenberg Fetish Ball TODAY at supperclub in San Francisco! The only pansexual event and we will welcome ALL female and male fetish party vixens! This is a 21+ event!

All genders and sexual orientations are welcome!

San Francisco, the sin city of the world this weekend!

Location: Supperclub San Francisco
Street: 657 Harrsion Street, Soma District
Date: Saturday Night, September 25
Time: 7pm Bondage Dinner in the supperclub
Time: 9pm general admission or VIP for the Ball

Official Program during Bondage dinner with Master of ceremonies KINGFISH :

Bondage theme throughout the club

Suspension performance by Mike West

Latex Burlesque Show by Mina de Sade

Dangerous Freak Show by the Reverend and Kendra James

Stand up Comedy by Alicyn

Fashion Show by West Coast Leather

DJ Shatter from local Bondage a GoGo and DJ Netic from local DNAlounge

Later in the night we will see another 2 highlights of the night with:

SIN FISTED and Fetish Superstar PERISH at midnight

Here the menu of the 4 course BONDAGE dinner at 7pm TONIGHT

Maine lobster

Skewered, with orange dressing, lobster remoulade and frisee

Lamb loins

with liquid polenta, broccolini, smoked tomato’s and gremolata

poached peaches

hazelnut tuile, ice cream, white chocolate sauce

veggie

1st vegetarian salad with avocado cream radishes and carrots

2ndrd vegetarian lasagna

Get your tickets here until 6 pm TODAY: www.vongutenberg.com/shop or at the door, dresscode enforced

Dance of the Afflicted: Five Days of Torture Garden Toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torture Garden, the Good:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torture Garden, the Bad:

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

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

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

Torture Garden, the Ugly:

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

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

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

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

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