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.)

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)

“And You Want To Be My Latex Salesman?” The Artistry of Kink Engineering

Ah, can there be a more sensual and gentle envelopment of sheer intoxication … and ecstasy …than that which comes exotically wrapped within an alluring kiss of latex?

Within the past few weeks, there has been a curious growth in the selection of new on-line forums devoted to all things latex, and across numerous related websites. One very popular website in particular, the wildly-successful and enthusiastically supported Fet Life (as the prime example), saw the formulation of a straight-forward “Where to Buy Latex?” discussion group. Within mere minutes, the group was populated with latex lovers from every metaphorical corner of our globe; each one with a timely and topical suggestion where (within their respective areas), an enthusiast may actually purchase their finest and favored rubber trappings. It should not come as a surprise to any that many of the “known” names in the fetish supply and demand business – Polymorph, Libidex, House of Harlot, Vex, etc. – were undoubtedly mentioned and appropriately vetted. Invariably, a great many of the postings tended to direct adamant potential customers to online aggregators (such as eBay, as the best example) rather than to the individual designer/manufacturer and their respective websites. In short, it wasn’t the brand per se that the enthusiastic forum writers were championing, as much as it was the individual styles and pieces themselves.

In other words, it didn’t seem to matter which manufacturer a particular latex catsuit may come from: it mattered more what selection of colors were available, and particularly, what the cost was.

There is a strange relationship between latex enthusiasts and rubber garment designers and manufacturers. Some die-hard rubberists will forever swear that one particular designer or design house is “without question” the best bang for their hard-earned buck and simply won’t spend their money anywhere else; while another clear across the continent (or ocean, for that matter) another equally anxious purchaser is far more concerned about availability.

Enter, if you will, and with apologies to Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander, a self-described “latex salesman.”

He is perhaps best-known in latex circles as the Mad Scientist. Working in close conjunction with his long-term partner in life, and in enterprise (an absolutely brilliant-minded and drop-dead-fetish-model-gorgeous beauty by the name of Archean), he has managed to create not one, but three successful enterprises which feature and utilize the sensual sap of everyone’s favorite fetish tree (that’s ‘rubber’, in case you’re not quite keeping up with our tour).  Within the time frame of only the past twenty months or so, they have managed to not only have founded the corporate entities known as Elastica Engineering, Sheet Latex.Com and Kink Engineering – but have managed to gain a solid, loyal and extremely enthusiastic customer base. They’ve managed to garner and win the respect of these rubber enthusiasts (and we all know latex fetishists can be a potentially finicky lot) without having to design a single garment.

You see, Mad Scientist and Archean work on the industrial side of things. They’re suppliers – of some of the most innovative, durable, colorful, versatile and coveted natural rubber materials that the wide world of all things “fetish” has ever seen. Their business model is simple enough to understand: Elastica Engineering is the development and production (and major) component of their business and Sheet Latex.Com is the order fulfillment component. What about Kink Engineering, you ask? Patience: we’ll get to that very soon. You won’t be disappointed.

It would do them a serious injustice to give away even a single one of their trade secrets: but suffice to say both Mad Scientist and Archean come from actual engineering backgrounds, and both are directly responsible for the “recipe” which makes their sheet latex product unique, and dare it be argued superior, to all other similar products currently available. An example: during an in-person demonstration of the resiliency of their product line, a single 6” swatch of astonishingly translucent sheet latex (“If you can’t read a newspaper through it, we don’t want it”, Archean told us with a confident smile) was stretched, before our eyes, to a length of at least four feet – and could have been stretched farther still before encountering a catastrophic ripping point.

Over the years, these eyes have seen a lot – an awful lot– of latex. Not once have I encountered latex with quite the sheer strength, and mind-boggling flexibility, of the Elastica Engineering product. My beloved partner in this life and I happen to own quite a few pieces of latex wear that are easily thirty years old – and strong enough to have been stitched and sewn together rather than traditionally glued. It is my opinion that the product we saw demonstrated for us this past week is far, far stronger.

“We really try to give (our manufacturing partner) a continuous challenge,” Mad Scientist said, “so that we can equally continue to introduce, and evolve, new products.”

In truth, Mad Scientist is being far too modest when he describes himself as a simple “latex salesman”. In essence, what he and Archean have managed to do is enter into an enviable partnership with an Asian resource and manufacturer in which the formula which makes the material so strong was co-developed through a (sometimes painful and relatively agreeable) communication process. One of their biggest supporters, and best customers, is the Toronto, Ontario design house Ego Assassin, a rapidly up-and-coming serious and heavy “player” to the latex garment game in North America. According to Mad Scientist, “it isn’t a coincidence” that admiration for Ego Assassin designs, and subsequent orders, have increased significantly since supplier-and-designer entered into agreement with each other. “It’s a symbiotic relationship, like any good marriage,” Mad Scientist said. “We’re both trying to help each other out when we can. That leads to increased orders (for both) at the same time.”

“Ego Assassin was the ‘missing link’ for us in our construction process. We took their excellent introductory course on latex construction – and they worked closely with us to provide us the education and skills necessary to perfect our own process.” (Author’s Note: You’ll be hearing much more about Ego Assassin in the weeks leading up to the spring and summer Fetish wear ‘Season’!) One of the new products being offered by Elastica Engineering, developed with the aid of Ego Assassin, is a “Do It Yourself” latex craft kit, in which the buyer receives all the tools necessary in order to craft their own small latex garments or “toys”. “It’s not enough to give you the expertise to make a latex dress,” Mad Scientist said. “But it’s more than enough to give you a taste.”

However, there are and never will be plans to go head-to-head with their appreciated and revered clientele. “It’s our interest to do more of the bondage-crafting and supply side (of the latex business). Ego Assassin is the master of the runway and we will keep a strict ‘no-compete’ policy with them,” Mad Scientist said.

If it was the garment supply-side alone that was so enormously ground-breaking and successful, that unto itself could end the story here on a satisfactory and appropriate note. But wait … there’s more!

Both Mad Scientist and Archean are self-described “obsessive innovators” (really, can anyone think of a better definition of the professionals known as ‘Engineers?’). This brings us, of course, to the Kink Engineering side of their enterprise. One might make a persuasive argument that Kink Engineering was created out of need: Both Mad Scientist and Archean had more than just a casual appreciation and interest in somewhat more ‘extreme’ methods of restraint, and both are simply observant and intelligent enough to recognize a potentially lucrative supply-and-demand trend.

One of the most recently popular and in-demand prototypical bondage apparatus devices introduced within the past decade or so has been the full-latex enclosure simply called the “Vacuum Bed”, or “Vac Bed” in short. For the uninitiated, a “Vac Bed” could best be described as one of those vacuum “food saver” or “space saver” devices you see featured on popular cooking shows, or during late-night infomercials on television. Naturally, “Vac Beds” are built on a much larger scale and are designed to keep humans (rather than carrots and cabbage or unused blankets and linens) in a stringent state of bondage. The premise of the apparatus is simple enough: Entice a willing man or woman (or even both) to “slip between the sheets” of latex that are attached to a specially-constructed vacuum frame; affix your basic, hardware-store variety home vacuum cleaners’ suction hose to a valve attached to the specialized frame of the vacuum bed, flick the “on” switch – and watch complete immobilization ensue.

One of the standard problems with most Vac Beds has been in trying to discover a fool-proof way in which to keep the seal absolutely tight, all around the frame, to prevent inevitable air leaks – and therefore sometimes a disappointing and early end to a fascinating yet somewhat scary complete bondage experience. Naturally, with the strength of the sheet latex being developed by Elastica Engineering combined with a deep appreciation (can we possibly even declare a ‘fetish’ for?) Vacuum Bed restraint systems, it was a natural progression for Mad Scientist to move towards designing his own. Like most trained engineering professionals, he and Archean weren’t content just to follow a basic, standard pattern pioneered by others. He wanted to create a superior product with superior materials – and Elastica Engineering’s sheet latex products, naturally, were to be the focal point. While they admit their first efforts weren’t entirely and exactly what they’d “hoped for” in the way of perfection, it didn’t take them very long to work out the kinks (you’ll pardon the play on words, of course). They demonstrated their first fully-functional Vac Bed not too long after, and waited someone nervously for their first orders. “Our first sales model for the Vac Beds saw us selling five (units) in the first year,” Archean said with a very satisfied sigh and a smile. “We actually sold twenty-five.”

“That first Vac Bed we built – we can admit it – it was a mess, the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen,” Archean said, noting it still occupies somewhat of a hallowed place within their work space. “But we worked at it, almost non-stop – and we got better.”

Since then, Kink Engineering has expanded their Vac Bed product line to include tongue-wagging, incredibly sensual 3-D versions of their Vac Bed system. “Really, we initially just wanted to tweak the old, standard initial design,” Mad Scientist said. “Our main focus was to solve the air leakage problem, and we managed to do that early on in the process. Like our sheet latex product line, our Vac Beds have evolved: Ours are more bondage intensive, they provide a better play experience.” Kink Engineering Vac Beds now come in a variety of style, colors and degrees of translucence.

We could end our tour right here, with a full and bittersweet telling of how Mad Scientist and Archean met, fell in love and eventually strode into a brave new business world together, hand in hand and heads held high with eternal optimism. But wait! That’s not all! There’s still more!

The engineering twosome have introduced a custom-crafted line of hand-decorated, “Fashion Gas Masks” (Your Humble Narrator calls them ‘Fash Masks’ for brevity). The mask itself is based on two different styles of somewhat popular, but older, European industrial gas mask designs – but it’s what they do to them artistically that sets them apart from similar “custom offerings”. Each “Fash Mask” is a one of a kind creation: whether a customer has a deep interest in a spiked, old-school punk or Goth style, or leans more towards more of the Steampunk aesthetic, Mad Scientist and Archean can assure each customer a one-of-a-kind, wearable piece of industrial-age art that is sure to provide the buyer years of deep satisfaction, and admirable peer recognition, at any fetish event they may attend while wearing one.

Any of the products outlined in this tome are available for order directly from Sheet Latex.Com and Kink Engineering. Other projects currently in development include an interesting (and needed) online blog and “how to” guide being created by Archean. “There are lots of people who would love to buy a latex catsuit,” she said. “But you might be surprised at how many people actually don’t know how to get one fitted, let alone get one on, properly. We’d like to be able to help with that, get more people interested in latex. Rubber really shouldn’t, and doesn’t need to be, so intimidating to people.” Part of her online education plans also include advice (“A distinct advantage when coming from a woman,” Archean said) on how partners can “cross that communication bridge” and appropriately inform their partners of a developing interest in latex wear.

“You just can’t look bad in a latex catsuit,” she said. “It’s all about fit: Everyone can ‘rock’ a properly-fitted rubber catsuit. They’re absolutely beautiful!”

(Photos courtesy of Kink Engineering and Lord Morpheus)