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)