|Went to Torture Garden on Saturday [9th July 2005]. Another exciting mini-adventure, especially as the venue was near Kings Cross and I was having a bad day. However, recovered enough to don leather jeans and assorted silverware to make an acceptable goth (though not really an acceptable fetishist - I didn't have the energy... thought for next time is to attend in the form of a strict school-marm - irony intended in light of my current profession...).
Now, I've been to Club Wicked a few times, which is a friendly, floating event for the serious fetishist. Torture Garden, an older event, is in a similar vein only a) slightly cheaper, b) much more popular, c) slightly less dodgy, d) much stricter for dress code. My mate had to take his teeshirt off once inside, as this was verbotten. Bad boy.
Somehow I got away with what I was wearing: in a black vest top, leather jeans, shiny high-heeled knee-high boots and more silver accoutrements than you could shake a stick at, I looked, as I said before, slightly more goth than fetishist, and more butch than I've ever looked at these events before. Think a kind of slightly goth biker chick thing. Yet again I was playing, like I do, with mildly bending gender stereotypes - no make-up but lots of curly hair; no skirt but very tight trousers, no fancy frills but lots of jewellery. Oh, and I was wearing a silver nose-ring.
And I danced. Oh yeah, mamma, I danced. Slowly at first as my post-Glasto leg injury is taking its time to heal completely, but after the adrenalin kicked in, I was shaking my booty in time-honoured show-off fashion. Bad girl.
I still get a little confused about the mores, structures, strictures and rules of the fetish scene. I am not a fetishist. I am queer, and have a sex drive that's defeated more than one member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces before now, but in some ways I'm rather vanilla. And I worry when I go to these things that I'll be the fetish scene's version of tuna - in other words, another gawping tourist. A rude, gawping tourist. After managing to mildly offend one person with my refusal (and believe me, it wasn't the first or last refusal I had to make that evening/ morning), I'm wondering if I shouldn't be getting some kind of glossary guide - not in understanding terms, which I think I do pretty well, but in phrasing my own without disappointing on any level deeper than a mere polite rejection should do. If that makes sense. I have no wish to be seen to be invading someone's space.
Tuna, by the way, is a gay scene term - it looks like fish but it isn't. Straight tourists, especially girls, come to revel in the otherness, then go home at the end of the night unsullied. Because they can, because to them it's a holiday from normal life, not life as other people have to live it.
Ahem, minirant over. But anyway, that's how I know it feels from the gay side, so I have to assume it's the same for the fetish side. So... how to avoid?
Anyway, I'm sure you want the gory (ish) details, none of this philosophical/ sociological ramblings. Well, having only been to two Club Wicked nights, I can only define Torture Garden by comparison: to my expectations and to Wicked. And what I found was that it appeared more aggressive, more sexual, and less... here's the tricky part to define... formally fetishistic. People carried their own activities/ preferences with them, in costume, carrier bag or leather briefcase. There seemed to be fewer showcases and, well, demonstrations/ workshops. Aha, yes, that's it, that's the word - because TG seemed to be more set up for the experienced scene, and therefore less of an educational experience than Wicked. More sure of itself, more aggressive, less tolerant.
This time I had fewer people coming and asking me to dominate them. I was very slightly torn between being relieved and disappointed/ insulted, but mostly plumped for 'I am going to be the least outrageous person here - let's dance, motherfuckers!' which worked out quite well, even though I often felt myself to be in the unusual position of mostly being ignored as I danced. Not something I'm used to. Heigh-ho, ego control...
However, as the night progressed, I was forced to turn down an ever increasing frequency of requests/ offers, some of which almost stunned me with their persistence and/or desperation. My usual line of 'I prefer girls,' (which is true - by a margin of about 20% probably, but there we go) seemed to have little effect on the latex-clad Asian Kiwi gentleman (whom I had to almost physically restrain - maybe he'd have prefered that, come to think of it), or the highly-muscled black English gentleman who was desperate to taste my vagina '... even if it's only for a minute - one minute. That's all. And if you're on your period I could do it all day... I love it. I really need to go down on you...!'
Extraordinary how a life changes. I've been out with some people that no amount of reasoned debate (or emotional blackmail) could persuade them to go down on me, and here I was turning down someone who was literally begging for it, pursuing me around the club. And there does seem to be that Marmite factor, doesn't there - people either love it or hate it in general. And I mean both the giving and receiving here - a love or hate for one by no means precludes the other. And it has a big impact on the old self-esteem, really it does - it's taken several people since to persuade me that I don't taste/ smell bad, for example... be careful in bed, people, it's a delicate and complex thing you're doing there.
Hmm, further debate for another time/ the comments section, maybe....
Oooh, but one thing that was no different from Wicked was the scary older men... and quite within what I'd expected of a fetish club as well. Only the TG ones are far more resistant to hints, and far more persistent. I found myself wary of telling them off... I had a feeling it wouldn't have exactly dissuaded them.
Other sights and sounds included the crazy DJ, lording it big-style, bringing us up splendidly with some banging progressive house (or something - good dance music, anyhoo); very energetic, very very thumpy. The DJ was last seen grabbing some woman by the hand and hauling her down to the ‘Couples Room.'
And yes, I went and had a look at the Couples Room. I sat very, very still, and then had to run away - my brain was getting overloaded. Or some organ, anyway.
- The Polish couple dressed as SS officers (yeah, I wondered about that as well), who seemed keen for the wife to dance all sexy wid me. Oh, the dreadful agony (heh).
- The well-endowed black geezer wearing nothing but a pair of shoes, beating off to the rhythm of the dancers he was watching from the side, smiling hugely; the poorly-endowed white gimp-man who was fiddling to rather less effect. Maybe he was put off, rather than inspired by, the other fella.
- Being head-butted accidentally by my mate not once but twice.
- Finding out exactly how painful 5' stilettoes can be when they tread on your toe. Finding out how to move through the pain and use the energy another way... hmm...
- The unremittingly practical nature of many fetishist with regards to how they overcame the problems of transporting money, etc. in skin-tight gimp costumes.
- Extraorindary chat-up line: 'This is going to sound really strange, right, but you have really great eyebrows; you must do a lot of work on them.'
- One of the group of ‘surgeons' turning to me during a particularly jet-fuelled passage of dance track and saying, with utter wide-eyed sincerity 'Ecstacy is great.' The conversation after this can best be described using the words ‘minimal' and ‘repetitive.'
- Memorable quote: 'My name is George and I'd like to play with you for a while.' [snaps chain across thighs]
- The only woman I saw with more clothes on than me was dressed head-to-foot in a simulacrum of an Islamic chador/burqah with a mass of shiny silver ‘bombs' attached to her by means of the yellow ‘fuses' wound around her neck. I immediately bristled when I worked out what it was then almost as quickly relaxed. It was an fairly witty play on people's assumptions about Islamic culture and, in this particular instance, was interesting in that it stretched the concept of ‘subversive.' Why did people find no offence in a man beating off in time to the music, or shiny latex gimps on parade, or the many SS/ Gestapo uniforms, but found offence in her costume? What does subversive/ perverted really mean? The debate (between her and a much-pierced gentleman with plastic blue hair) behind us made the long, long queue for the cloakroom increasingly hilarious.
- Walking past Kings Cross St. Pancras, reading the ‘Still Missing' posters that people have made, feeling as though I was moving through layers of imprinted emotion on the air.
- Finding out that, having missed the first train back at 5:24am, due to queuing issues at the cloakroom (naked black geezer had lost his ticket - wonder where he'd been keeping it?), we had to wait until the 6:24am bus, which would get us into Milton Keynes at 9:30am, due to stopping at every tiny bastard town en-route. [I'm still tired now, what do you think?!]
- Chatting utter bollocks through tiredness on the way back to Euston (walking, even in those boots, turned out to be way quicker, both ways) and on the coach until I passed out.
- Craving, and getting my wish 10 minutes before the bus left, a freshly-baked ham and cheese baguette. I was so very happy. If only all of life's desires could be so easily answered. True contentment is a hot baguette at exactly the right time. Nice.
Questions still to be answered:
- Should I be offended when people get confused by my general butch-femme look when the original point is that I want them to be confused?
- Will I return to visit the fetish scene again?
- Will I ever take any of these gentlemen up on their offers (one was tempting, for its sheer cryptic nature)?
- Will I ever get used to the brief (about 30 minutes) misanthropy that envelopes me when I get home from these things and my mask is dropped?
- What is the value in a society that considers itself open yet still wants its ‘freaks' safely locked away? And what would be the value in a society that did not define the behaviour I witnessed Saturday night as abnormal (or at least unusual) and wish to segregate it, make it ‘special.'?
Well, and that concludes our tour, ladies and gentlemen...
The saddest thing about this past weekend was waking up on Sunday to a text from friend JC along the lines of: 'Hey Fay! Where were you? We missed you! Had a perfect day, going on holiday now, hopefully speak to you soon.'
I didn't understand it at first, so fell asleep again, then woke up, understood, and fell asleep to dreams of recrimination.
In your opinion, what's the best apology/ excuse for having missed someone's wedding because you completely forgot about it?