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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)

The Truth behind this February 14th "Love Business"

For some reason, this time of year (St. Valentine’s Day), for one reason or another, almost always seems to be less of a love-fest and more of a “massacre.” Misfortune does seem to happen – and with a vengeance – to couples, and right around this time of year. Personally speaking and also speaking from personal past experience, February 14th is usually the day pinpointed as the exact date in which couples realize they are never going to be able to  “grow old” with the person sitting right across from them. Men and woman seem to go through a staged piece of “performance art” in an empty show of affections towards their partners – because it’s the “expected” thing to do. The truth is, this vacuous and near-meaningless day, except to those who believe the day is simply for an exchange of bright red cards and candies (namely children), unfortunately for a lot of couples is more a realization that “this isn’t going to work” than an affirmation of “forever in love.” 

Think about it: how many couples have you known whose relationships have fallen apart either on, or shortly before, St. Valentine’s Day? Isn’t it somewhat of a sick, twisted bit of irony that the patron saint (and his patron calendar day) devoted entirely to the notion of “love everlasting” is, statistically at least, merely a stale and staged, obligatory and nearly-catatonic, expressionless and passionless reciting of poetry, flowery speech and near-robotic like handing over of the aforementioned cards and chocolate hearts? Isn’t it true this is how we’ve collectively all been “programmed” since we first exchanged crude, paper hearts in our Grade School classes with the cute little red-haired boy or girl that sat right next to you?

Where’s the truth behind this “Love Business”? And indeed, it is a “business” – a booming one. Valentine’s Day festivities are the second highest average of disposable income expenditures, per person, of any secular Holiday (Christmas is the first, naturally). That’s a lot of diamond rings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets. Is that what “love” is all about? Is this what St. Valentine had in mind? Who the hell was St. Valentine in the first place?

Oh, wait: “Valentine” was the name of several martyrs who died vicious, horrific deaths; none of which are associated with “love” in any fashion. While that unto itself might be somewhat considered “Cosmic Righteous Karma” (when taking into account our earlier discussion), what’s the real deal with this whole “love” thing then, huh? What’s the real story behind the red hearts and those that are so essential to February 14th?

You’d best be prepared for a bit of a shock, gentle readers: St. Valentine’s Day actually has its genesis in the one thing that is very near and dear to our little candy-red hearts: Fetishes. Specifically leathers, feathers, furs, whips and yes – even blood.

See, there is one thing that evolving religions (most notably Christianity) always have done very well: they “borrow”, adapt or outright just steal festivals that are popular to the mass population of the particular time period, give it a “wash” in the waters of acceptable recent doctrine, and mold and shape it (sometimes with force) into what amounts to the exact same festival but with a new spiritual focus. It’s a really good way to keep control of your population, after all: give the people their gods and goddesses, keep their flagons filled at the festivals with wine and ale and encourage a little “letting loose” every so often, and they’ll be quite content and happy. In Roman times, that usually meant if you were a Senator, Governor or Consul and responsible for any segment of the population’s collective happiness, the best way to keep your head on your shoulders, and not have it severed by any number of opportunistic political assassins, was to give the populace what they wanted.

The populace wanted Festivals. Specifically, they wanted festivals that involved wine, food, open-air spectacles, games, – and, of course, sex. The February Festival of Lupercalia was regarded as “beginning of the fertility period” of both the Earth, and (of course) women. The Lupercal (“Wolf’s Den”) is the cave within the Second of Rome’s legendary Seven Hills in which the babies Romulus and Remus (the mythical founders of Rome) were suckled by a “Capitoline She Wolf” – and therefore the inference is that the Romans are celebrating not only the very reproductive re-birth and nurturing of the Earth (the beginning of another harvest season cycle), but they were celebrating the very genesis of Rome itself.

Without going into long, long detail about the carnage and carnality that this particular Festival ultimately became infamous for (no less an exceptional ancient chronicler than Pliny the Elder has graphically described many Lupercalia rites and rituals), it must be said that Lupercalia was all about excess. Some of the festivities included the sacrificing of livestock (usually goats) and engaging in head-to-toe “body painting” in the blood; extreme indulgence in wine and strawberries (more about them a little later); and an insatiable appetite for sexual release and pleasure. Lupercalia was, after all, the start of the fertility cycle in Roman eyes, and stimulation was absolutely essential to the long-term success of the crops in the field and the (leather) crops in the hands of noble farmers seeking approval from the gods and goddesses for good health, good fortune and especially great “fertility.”

What seems to be the most revered Ritual of Lupercalia, (certainly the most written about) featured scores of women lining the streets of Rome, backsides turned street side, in the hopes that one of the Luperci (the acting “High Priests”, a mostly ceremonial but much-desired role amongst the noble farmers), dressed in ritual goatskin leather garments and covered in blood, would bless them with a hard strike from one of these leather “crops” (which actually are long whips with double-tailed extensions, but sporting a very long, riding crop-like handle). These leather “crops” were called februa – and each woman who was selected by the passing throng of noble farmer-priests, all day long and throughout the Seven Hills of that ancient capital, to receive whip strokes felt that they had been purified by the pain, and their future ability to reproduce was assured (if not immediately realized) for another year at least. In case you’re wondering, the month of February actually does derive its name from these ritualistic leather crops/whips. The Romans had a deep, deep seeded belief that being whipped was purifying (kind of like pushing a yearly “Sexual Reset button”), and the women who lined the streets and offered their bodies up to be whipped would, at times, injure themselves in the fight for the Luperci’s attentions. The februa, the idea that pain is purifying and the idea of atonement for past behavior (“sins”) are some of the more popular “borrowings” from Lupercalia that found their way into aspects of the Christian church. The februa has been replaced by the scourge; purifying and painful atonement has evolved into “confession”, etc. You get the picture, I am quite certain.

The Feast of Valentine was (and still is) a direct adaptation from the Roman Lupercalia. In other words, a far more sanitized and Christian-friendly version of the wine, whips and love fest – you get the idea – that the Roman mass populace (Christian or not) still so loved. How did we get from a Roman Pagan Wine, Whips and Sex Fest to shy lovers exchanging simple cards, flowers and if they’re lucky, something sweet and chocolate to suckle on?

During the early Christian Rome era, the first so-called “Christian Emperor” – Constantine, who actually was a devotee of the god Apollo his entire life and was only converted to Christianity on his deathbed – knew that this strange, secular new faith was sweeping through Roman streets and towns with no sign of waning in influence, or popularity. Constantine was a smart enough man to know that in order to consolidate Rome’s power, the entire Empire needed to be united under a single faith. Contrary to what many modern Christians believe, a previous Emperor named Galerius was the first to actually decriminalize and issue an Edict of Tolerance in regards to Christianity. The edict allowed the public the right to practice the Christian faith openly if they so chose to. What it did not allow was Christians to own land – let alone have churches built.

What Constantine did, in regards to the Edict of Tolerance, was extraordinary: He simply issued an edict of his own (The Edict of Milan) that afforded the early Christians the exact same rights and privileges as every other citizen of the Empire. He also actively encouraged the early church to build – and is solely responsible for donating the land in which Vatican City now occupies. Simply put, Constantine was a very smart man: he saw that the followers of Christ were dramatically on the rise, and the followers of the old gods and goddesses were dramatically in decline. His decision to unite the Empire under the Christian banner was not fashioned from any shard of faith in the “new religion” in the slightest. It was a political necessity in order to satiate and mollify the growing masses of Romans being converted, and therefore avert any future Civil Wars. To quote author Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code): “He simply backed the winning horse.”

More to the point of our story, Constantine brilliantly managed to solve a major, dividing dilemma: How to merge the old Pagan gods and goddess traditions with the newly sanctioned, official “state” religion of Christianity? His plan was surprisingly simple: He “created” a heroic and martyred figure and named him Valentinius (no doubt, the Romans being meticulous record keepers, pulled from the pages of at least one Roman Annual), and acclaimed this new figure a true, devout follower of Jesus Christ who had perished in the act of spreading the testaments. Conveniently, Valentinius (the name means “Valiant Man”) was given the title “Sanctus Situ” – “Elected of Saints”, the very first Christian Saint thus recognized (St. Peter’s sainthood came much, much later), and was made the patron saint of “the acts needed to insure the successful harvest.”

It was a bold and absolutely brilliant – but transparent – move. The Romans of the day, it is quite certain, were bemused by this decreed new “sacred figure” who wasn’t quite a god, but was still more miraculous (in death, at least) than the common man. “Valentinius” was tolerated as the central figure of the new Lupercalia for a generation or two, simply because the people had been allowed to carry on their beloved “sex festival; and all legally and with the very approval of the new Christian lawmakers. As what was expected to happen, Valentinius “himself” eventually started to drew “admirers”, and within a few short decades this convenient, invented and expedient new champion of Christianity went from being an amalgamation of several martyred figures (who carried the Valentinius name) into being proclaimed the only “Saint Valentine” at the Council of Nicaea (the very Council that, in essence, “elected” Jesus Christ as “The Divine Manifestation of God in Human Form”). St. Valentine was “awarded” a Feast in his honor (February 14thin our modern Gregorian calendars), and it wasn’t until the start of the Dark Ages that “The Feast of St. Valentine” had its sensuality and excess turned down, just a tad. Naturally, everything related to sex and pleasure at the start of the Dark Ages more or less ceased to exist – insofar as mass public displays were concerned. Upon penalty of imprisonment, or worse, the goatskins, wine and whips were all quietly phased out of the celebration … But not the strawberries. The bright red fruit, the clergy allowed the masses to have.

It was believed that strawberries were a powerful aphrodisiac (aren’t they still?), and strawberries were consumed in mass quantities during Lupercalia (remember that whole “fertility” schpiel?). The strawberry was considered so potent and divine a magic, Romans cut the strawberries in half and shared it with their partners. Take a look at a sliced piece of strawberry one day: what do you notice? It kind of looks like a Valentine’s Day “heart”, doesn’t it? There are other stories, no doubt somewhat based in fact, that “red hearts” were actually a simple graphic representation of a woman’s bottom, as seen from the back and if she happens to be bending over at nearly a 90 degree angle. Both explanations have an air of truth about them, and now you know where that particular piece of beloved graphic Valentines imagery stems from.

Why am I sputtering all this nonsense about Valentines, Pagan lust festivals and mutli-seeded red fruit, I can hear you asking?

Easy! My beloved Lady J has been away and is coming home from the East Coast this week. For me, the Feast of St. Valentine, the Lupercalia, St. Valentine’s Day, whatever you choose to call it, is an opportunity to express my deepest affections, highest respects, worshipful esteem and … True Love … to the woman who has given me her hand. In my eyes, the whole world may know just how honored and grateful I am to even be allowed to hold said hand – and in the spirit of those who “Love”, it seemed appropriate to give a brief rundown of Fetish and Kink’s rightful mention as the true genesis of this “Day of Love”.

I do need to go, now though. I need to run down to the local grocery store and pick up about seventeen pounds of strawberries.

VonGutenberg.com Announces Site Launches & Affiliate Program

90x728 CoutureWednesday, January 27th, 2009

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
VonGutenberg.com Announces Site Launches & Affiliate Program

(San Francisco, CA) This week two premiere sites featuring fashion, fantasy and lifestyle have launched, VonGutenbergCouture.com and VonGutenberg.com/shop. VonGutenbergCouture.com offers high-end couture for men and women, corsets, lingerie, shoes and boots, masks, hats, goggles and other accessories from world renowned designers, Antiseptic and Xander, along with local Bay Area favorites—buy off the rack or have items designed to custom fit you and your lifestyle. VonGutenberg.com/shop offers VonGutenberg Magazine for individual sale or subscription, tickets to VonGutenberg-sponsored events, fantasy art, erotic books and more—there’s definitely something for every fetishist in your life.
 
And what would any site be without an affiliate program! This is one affiliate program that is unique and definitely puts its money where its mouth is—all the goods on both sites are tangible and have excellent payouts from 5 to 15 percent (depending on the item) with a minimum monthly payout of $50. Affiliates can track their statistics online 24 hours a day—it’s easy to navigate, the statistics are automatic and the affiliates have the tools to give them more control over their commissions and the ability to better convert traffic.
 
“I am very excited about the new sites and how efficient our system is for our affiliates,” Entrepreneur and owner of VonGutenbergCouture.com and VonGutenberg.com/shop, Erik Von Gutenberg. “Many sites have affiliate programs, but affiliates can be left in the dark about how to increase their traffic and what their actual payout is. Affiliates should sign up for our program as soon as possible to cash in on huge commissions.”

To subscribe to Von Gutenberg, find out about VonGutenberg-sponsored events and/or shop in the online store and more, go to www.vongutenberg.com/shop or for fantasy couture go to www.vongutenbergcouture.com  . For more information about Von Gutenberg Magazine, VonGutenbergCouture.com and/or VonGutenberg.com/shop, email Erik Von Gutenberg at evg@vongutenbergmedia.com. All press inquiries should be sent to Erika Icon/The Rub PR at the rubpr@gmail.com.

VonGutenberg.com Announces Site Launches & Affiliate Program

90x728 CoutureWednesday, January 27th, 2009

VonGutenberg.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
VonGutenberg.com Announces Site Launches & Affiliate Program

(San Francisco, CA) This week two premiere sites featuring fashion, fantasy and lifestyle have launched, VonGutenbergCouture.com and VonGutenberg.com/shop. VonGutenbergCouture.com offers high-end couture for men and women, corsets, lingerie, shoes and boots, masks, hats, goggles and other accessories from world renowned designers, Antiseptic and Xander, along with local Bay Area favorites—buy off the rack or have items designed to custom fit you and your lifestyle. VonGutenberg.com/shop offers VonGutenberg Magazine for individual sale or subscription, tickets to VonGutenberg-sponsored events, fantasy art, erotic books and more—there’s definitely something for every fetishist in your life.
 
And what would any site be without an affiliate program! This is one affiliate program that is unique and definitely puts its money where its mouth is—all the goods on both sites are tangible and have excellent payouts from 5 to 15 percent (depending on the item) with a minimum monthly payout of $50. Affiliates can track their statistics online 24 hours a day—it’s easy to navigate, the statistics are automatic and the affiliates have the tools to give them more control over their commissions and the ability to better convert traffic.
 
“I am very excited about the new sites and how efficient our system is for our affiliates,” Entrepreneur and owner of VonGutenbergCouture.com and VonGutenberg.com/shop, Erik Von Gutenberg. “Many sites have affiliate programs, but affiliates can be left in the dark about how to increase their traffic and what their actual payout is. Affiliates should sign up for our program as soon as possible to cash in on huge commissions.”

To subscribe to Von Gutenberg, find out about VonGutenberg-sponsored events and/or shop in the online store and more, go to www.vongutenberg.com/shop or for fantasy couture go to www.vongutenbergcouture.com  . For more information about Von Gutenberg Magazine, VonGutenbergCouture.com and/or VonGutenberg.com/shop, email Erik Von Gutenberg at evg@vongutenbergmedia.com. All press inquiries should be sent to Erika Icon/The Rub PR at the rubpr@gmail.com.

Sabina Kelley – burlesque dancer & pin up model

CMW3Erik von Gutenberg recommends Sabina Kelley. An international pin up model and burlesque star!

She specializes in Pinup, Fashion, Glamour, Fetish, Swimsuit, and Lingerie style shoots. Sabina:

I’ve been modeling professionally for 7 years and I’ve worked with some of the best photographers in the world including David LaChapelle and famous Pinup photographer Bunny Yeager. When I’m not modeling, I’m dancing. I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old, and am trained in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and pointe. I went from a small town ballerina to a big time Las Vegas Showgirl. I was a Showgirl at Ballys Hotel in Jubilee for 2 and a half years, and I’m currently a burlesque dancer that travels the world performing.

I am a heavily tattooed model and known very much for being the spokesmodel for tattoo conventions worldwide, and for being on the cover of numerous tattoo magazines. While some people love my tattoos there are people who would rather hire me without them. As of right now, I have two full sleeves. So I can wear long sleeves and make it look like I have no tattoos.

I also write my own Pinup article for each issue of Car Kulture Deluxe Magazine called “Pin Down Pinup”. If you want to learn more about the Pinup scene, my thoughts and opinions check out the magazine at www.CKDeluxeMag.com. If you have a suggestion or questions for me for my layout feel free to send me an email.

If your interested in Booking Sabina, for either Modeling or Burlesque, please go to her website and you can contact her:

http://www.switchbladestilettos.com/index.php

index_01

Sabina Kelley – burlesque dancer & pin up model

CMW3Erik von Gutenberg recommends Sabina Kelley. An international pin up model and burlesque star!

She specializes in Pinup, Fashion, Glamour, Fetish, Swimsuit, and Lingerie style shoots. Sabina:

I’ve been modeling professionally for 7 years and I’ve worked with some of the best photographers in the world including David LaChapelle and famous Pinup photographer Bunny Yeager. When I’m not modeling, I’m dancing. I’ve been dancing since I was 2 years old, and am trained in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and pointe. I went from a small town ballerina to a big time Las Vegas Showgirl. I was a Showgirl at Ballys Hotel in Jubilee for 2 and a half years, and I’m currently a burlesque dancer that travels the world performing.

I am a heavily tattooed model and known very much for being the spokesmodel for tattoo conventions worldwide, and for being on the cover of numerous tattoo magazines. While some people love my tattoos there are people who would rather hire me without them. As of right now, I have two full sleeves. So I can wear long sleeves and make it look like I have no tattoos.

I also write my own Pinup article for each issue of Car Kulture Deluxe Magazine called “Pin Down Pinup”. If you want to learn more about the Pinup scene, my thoughts and opinions check out the magazine at www.CKDeluxeMag.com. If you have a suggestion or questions for me for my layout feel free to send me an email.

If your interested in Booking Sabina, for either Modeling or Burlesque, please go to her website and you can contact her:

http://www.switchbladestilettos.com/index.php

index_01

what katie did – 10 years on and no sign of sagging

111shopErik von Gutenberg recommends what katie did!

This November, the UK’s first designer of elegant, faux-vintage lingerie celebrates her 10th anniversary. What Katie Did is a company born from one woman’s love of vintage underpinnings, and her fascination with the way they had changed, almost unrecognisably, in the last hundred years. A decade down the line, she now has a flagship store in Portobello Road and her signature bullet bras and suspender belts can be found in Topshop, ASOS and Liberty of London; not to mention on A-List celebrities on the covers of glossy magazines.

From the circle-stitched bullet bras, faithfully recreated from originals, to period perfect fully-fashioned seamed stockings, the entire collection screams old fashioned sophistication. What Katie Did’s steel-boned corsets are also widely regarded by burlesque artistes and pin-up girls nationwide as the very best you can buy off-the-peg. Each one is a marvel of design and engineering, with a version to suit every figure; whether you want a gentle curve, or a Dita von Teese-esque 6-inch reduction that would set a lesser mortal’s eyes watering.

The What Katie Did A/W 09 collection introduced the Josephine range – a semi-sheer cheetah print that will have any vintage vixen embracing her inner Bettie Page – as well as new additions to the favourite scarlet satin and black lace Lulu range; plus some opulent new Showgirl corsets. What Katie Did’s classic styles – the black satin Maitresse, gorgeous peach Harlow and sheer organza Cabaret lines also make a welcome return.

But there’s one more thing Katie does better than anyone else: sexy shapewear. Forget the dreadful, flesh-coloured monstrosities endorsed by so-called TV style gurus, the aptly-named Glamour foundation garments will not only smooth you out and ensure your vintage dress fits the way it should; you’ll feel like a silver-screen siren wearing them. The Glamour range comes in both black and vintage peach, ensuring they work under any outfit. And boy, do they work!

Vintage style and sophistication but with modern technology and comfort – could there be a better combination?

Notes to editors:
The UK’s best-known faux vintage lingerie label What Katie Did is celebrating its 10th birthday in November. The A/W 09 collection features their signature satin, lace and organza confections, which are joined by a brand-new range of cheetah print lingerie inspired by 20s cabaret artiste Josephine Baker. Their famous steel-boned corsets are now available in more designs and colours than ever, and the range now includes the decadent new Showgirl corsets, alongside the sophisticated Glamour range of shapewear. The new collection is currently available to purchase from What Katie Did’s flagship London Boutique and whatkatiedid.com; as well as from Liberty of London, TopShop, ASOS and other selected online retailers.

Contact:
For more information about What Katie Did, please contact katie@whatkatiedid.com, or call +44 (0) 845 430 8743.

111showgirlIf you’ve ever felt like modern underwear has lost the glitz and glamour of yesteryear, then you’re not alone. But, when she launched her company What Katie Did, ten years ago, Katie Halford could never have dared to dream that her lingerie designs, born from her life-long love of vintage shapewear and ‘proper’ hosiery, would appear in Vogue magazine. Yet appear they have, and not only in Vogue – her creations have also graced the pages of Harpers Bazaar, Look, Pop and many more; even mens’ magazine Esquire recently featured Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley in a Maitresse bullet bra. But, not content with taking the fashion world by storm, Katie, along with the UK’s top retro photographer Tony Nylons, is now set to conquer the literary world.

The launch of A Serious Study of Mid-20th Century Lingerie coincides with What Katie Did’s 10th anniversary, and is a gorgeous, glossy retrospective of lingerie in the last century. Lavishly illustrated with full-colour photos by Nylon Flash creator Tony Nylons and cheeky pin-up sketches by artist Charlotte Thomson, this beautiful book details the development of what we would describe as ‘modern’ underwear – from the decline of the heavily-boned corset to the invention of the bra, the rise and fall in popularity of foundation garments and the history of stockings. Katie also details the story behind the pin-up girls of the 40s and 50s, and the exotic fetish scene which launched icons like Bettie Page.

The book is divided into five sections: lingerie, shapewear, stockings, pin up and exotic, each featuring Tony Nylon’s signature photographs. Playful cheesecake pin-up is interspersed with old Hollywood glamour, and rounded out with the darker, more fetishistic shots; all featuring the UK’s top burlesque artistes and pin-up models. Charlotte Thomson’s delightful illustrations pepper the pages, making this book a must-see for fans of lingerie, fashion history, photography and design alike.

A Serious Study of Mid-20th Century Lingerie (100 pp., A4 softcover, £20 RRP) is being launched at this year’s Goodwood Revival (September 18th, 19th and 20th 2009), and signed copies will be available for sale at the What Katie Did onsite shop (some info about the shop); and it will be available for purchase from whatkatiedid.com and the company’s Portobello Road retail shop from the 21st September.

#####

Note to Editors:
Faux vintage lingerie designers What Katie Did, pin-up photographer Tony Nylons and artist Charlotte Thomson have teamed up to launch their new collaboration – a beautifully illustrated book entitled ‘A Serious Study of Mid 20th-Century Lingerie’. It features the story of lingerie, corsetry and stockings from the early-mid 20th century, plus a history of pin-up and fetish photography and art. It is being published by Jeep Promotions Ltd, and available online and in selected retailers from the 21st September 2009.

Contact details:
For more information about the book, to arrange a book-signing or interview, please contact katie@whatkatiedid.com, or call Katie on: +44 (0) 845 430 8743. For promotional images, please email tonynylons@nylonflash.co.uk.

ISBN: 0-9534470-7-3

To place orders, please contact Jeep Promotions Ltd,

5 Chestnut Avenue,

Wheatley Hills,

Dncaster,

South Yorkshire,

DN2 5SW

United Kingdom

Website: www.jeepworld.co.uk

Te: +44 (0)1302 739000

what katie did – 10 years on and no sign of sagging

111shopErik von Gutenberg recommends what katie did!

This November, the UK’s first designer of elegant, faux-vintage lingerie celebrates her 10th anniversary. What Katie Did is a company born from one woman’s love of vintage underpinnings, and her fascination with the way they had changed, almost unrecognisably, in the last hundred years. A decade down the line, she now has a flagship store in Portobello Road and her signature bullet bras and suspender belts can be found in Topshop, ASOS and Liberty of London; not to mention on A-List celebrities on the covers of glossy magazines.

From the circle-stitched bullet bras, faithfully recreated from originals, to period perfect fully-fashioned seamed stockings, the entire collection screams old fashioned sophistication. What Katie Did’s steel-boned corsets are also widely regarded by burlesque artistes and pin-up girls nationwide as the very best you can buy off-the-peg. Each one is a marvel of design and engineering, with a version to suit every figure; whether you want a gentle curve, or a Dita von Teese-esque 6-inch reduction that would set a lesser mortal’s eyes watering.

The What Katie Did A/W 09 collection introduced the Josephine range – a semi-sheer cheetah print that will have any vintage vixen embracing her inner Bettie Page – as well as new additions to the favourite scarlet satin and black lace Lulu range; plus some opulent new Showgirl corsets. What Katie Did’s classic styles – the black satin Maitresse, gorgeous peach Harlow and sheer organza Cabaret lines also make a welcome return.

But there’s one more thing Katie does better than anyone else: sexy shapewear. Forget the dreadful, flesh-coloured monstrosities endorsed by so-called TV style gurus, the aptly-named Glamour foundation garments will not only smooth you out and ensure your vintage dress fits the way it should; you’ll feel like a silver-screen siren wearing them. The Glamour range comes in both black and vintage peach, ensuring they work under any outfit. And boy, do they work!

Vintage style and sophistication but with modern technology and comfort – could there be a better combination?

Notes to editors:
The UK’s best-known faux vintage lingerie label What Katie Did is celebrating its 10th birthday in November. The A/W 09 collection features their signature satin, lace and organza confections, which are joined by a brand-new range of cheetah print lingerie inspired by 20s cabaret artiste Josephine Baker. Their famous steel-boned corsets are now available in more designs and colours than ever, and the range now includes the decadent new Showgirl corsets, alongside the sophisticated Glamour range of shapewear. The new collection is currently available to purchase from What Katie Did’s flagship London Boutique and whatkatiedid.com; as well as from Liberty of London, TopShop, ASOS and other selected online retailers.

Contact:
For more information about What Katie Did, please contact katie@whatkatiedid.com, or call +44 (0) 845 430 8743.

111showgirlIf you’ve ever felt like modern underwear has lost the glitz and glamour of yesteryear, then you’re not alone. But, when she launched her company What Katie Did, ten years ago, Katie Halford could never have dared to dream that her lingerie designs, born from her life-long love of vintage shapewear and ‘proper’ hosiery, would appear in Vogue magazine. Yet appear they have, and not only in Vogue – her creations have also graced the pages of Harpers Bazaar, Look, Pop and many more; even mens’ magazine Esquire recently featured Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley in a Maitresse bullet bra. But, not content with taking the fashion world by storm, Katie, along with the UK’s top retro photographer Tony Nylons, is now set to conquer the literary world.

The launch of A Serious Study of Mid-20th Century Lingerie coincides with What Katie Did’s 10th anniversary, and is a gorgeous, glossy retrospective of lingerie in the last century. Lavishly illustrated with full-colour photos by Nylon Flash creator Tony Nylons and cheeky pin-up sketches by artist Charlotte Thomson, this beautiful book details the development of what we would describe as ‘modern’ underwear – from the decline of the heavily-boned corset to the invention of the bra, the rise and fall in popularity of foundation garments and the history of stockings. Katie also details the story behind the pin-up girls of the 40s and 50s, and the exotic fetish scene which launched icons like Bettie Page.

The book is divided into five sections: lingerie, shapewear, stockings, pin up and exotic, each featuring Tony Nylon’s signature photographs. Playful cheesecake pin-up is interspersed with old Hollywood glamour, and rounded out with the darker, more fetishistic shots; all featuring the UK’s top burlesque artistes and pin-up models. Charlotte Thomson’s delightful illustrations pepper the pages, making this book a must-see for fans of lingerie, fashion history, photography and design alike.

A Serious Study of Mid-20th Century Lingerie (100 pp., A4 softcover, £20 RRP) is being launched at this year’s Goodwood Revival (September 18th, 19th and 20th 2009), and signed copies will be available for sale at the What Katie Did onsite shop (some info about the shop); and it will be available for purchase from whatkatiedid.com and the company’s Portobello Road retail shop from the 21st September.

#####

Note to Editors:
Faux vintage lingerie designers What Katie Did, pin-up photographer Tony Nylons and artist Charlotte Thomson have teamed up to launch their new collaboration – a beautifully illustrated book entitled ‘A Serious Study of Mid 20th-Century Lingerie’. It features the story of lingerie, corsetry and stockings from the early-mid 20th century, plus a history of pin-up and fetish photography and art. It is being published by Jeep Promotions Ltd, and available online and in selected retailers from the 21st September 2009.

Contact details:
For more information about the book, to arrange a book-signing or interview, please contact katie@whatkatiedid.com, or call Katie on: +44 (0) 845 430 8743. For promotional images, please email tonynylons@nylonflash.co.uk.

ISBN: 0-9534470-7-3

To place orders, please contact Jeep Promotions Ltd,

5 Chestnut Avenue,

Wheatley Hills,

Dncaster,

South Yorkshire,

DN2 5SW

United Kingdom

Website: www.jeepworld.co.uk

Te: +44 (0)1302 739000

Fetish Star Dita von Teese at the Jean Paul Gaultier show

Dita_Von_Teese(1)Erik von Gutenberg recommneds Dita von Teese, the fashion fetish Burlesque Star. She was also at the latest lingerie show from Jean Paul Gaultier.

PARIS — The man who gave the world Madonna’s pointy cone bra has outdone himself, serving up padded fanny puffs and even a turtle-shell shaped pregnant lady belly piece with his spring-summer 2010 ready-to-wear collection Saturday.

Gaultier mixed his trademark lingerie-as-outerwear look with hip-hop inspired streetwear, layering powder pink bras, garters, bustiers and padded and pointy prostheses of all ilk under and over extra-wide jeans, funky overalls and military coats.

Pointy bras were built into a pair of oversized overalls, the straps crisscrossing in the back to form Gaultier’s signature X, while the tails of an oversized sports coat were cut away to reveal a pair of round bottom-covers.

One model even wore a bustier in chocolate brown with a massive convex pregnant belly cover.

“Instead of filling oneself with silicone or collagen, why not try these prostheses, which can be taken off,” said Gaultier with a laugh. “It’s perfect!”

French fashion’s one-time enfant terrible described the collection as a “return to the source.”

“I wanted to get away from the increasing bourgeois understanding of fashion. When I started there was a real desire to be individualistic and to mark our difference from one another,” he told reporters in a backstage interview.

Though there was nothing earth-shatteringly innovating about the collection – Gaultier has been incorporating street fashion and foundations into his collection since the start of his career more than 30 years ago – the show still radiated energy, excitement and an endless sense of possibility.

In a welcome change from many of Paris’ blond-haired, blue-eyed catwalks, Gaultier’s models were of all different of ethnic origins, their brown, black, blond and red hair pulled into playful side pigtails. Many of them sported fake tattoos reading “Jean Paul” in Gothic lettering across their necks or down their arms, which were piled high with stacks of Rajhastani-inspired bangles.

Gaultier’s shows, always held at his label’s central Paris headquarters, never fail to draw celebrity guests and Saturday’s show was no exception. Rihanna, a regular at this season’s Paris shows, turned out, as did Janet Jackson, Katy Perry, French actress and loyal Gaultier friend and fan Catherine Deneuve, and burlesque star Dita Von Teese.

Source and Copyright: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5hV-J9kBa78mIZj5o85Dz8ikzICtg Canadian Press