International day of fetishism
Today, while I was painting a sea of eyes and thinking that maybe I would have to paint the man before the evening football match started, something happened to me which I can describe like a feeling of a mixture of something strange and upsetting. After consulting the dictionary of synonyms and antonyms and discarding words like heteroclite and chimeric, I could call the phenomenon picturesque and unusual. Someone could say I’m paranoid, and maybe they wouldn’t be completely wrong.
Anyway, while I was writing this article, my PC shut down, as it does at least a couple of times a day, and I lost all I had previously written. In any case, the fact is that while I was waiting for the surface of my masterpiece to dry, on my Facebook page I noticed a feed from a certain Patrick Li, a white Asian male in his thirties, in a latex policeman outfit, who was being interviewed by an ORF journalist. The occasion was today’s International Fetish Day.
Leaving out the fact that I needed a new PC, my thoughts after what I had just seen came in the following order:
a: I didn’t know any Patrick Li, but after checking, he turned out to be a virtual friend of mine.
b: I didn’t know that there was an International Fetish Day. Lately, again through Facebook, I had learned about the Dog’s Day, and logically about the Cat’s Day. (By the way, who decides to dedicate a certain day to a category, or an animal, or a cause, who applies for them, who approves of them?)
c: Once upon a time, at least when I was a kid, the holidays were dedicated to saints. Mine, St. Daniele falls on October 10th, even though my parents decided to call me Daniel. But this is another story, and another luck, since my brother’s name is Oliver and he has no name day and it was good luck to be named after a saint to whom people have appointed a holiday. (I need to say that I spent my childhood and some of my youth in Ischia, a small island in the South of Italy).
d: Why in the midst of the current situation, ORF interviews a transvestite who talks about fetishism? Maybe they think that sexual practice, which includes bondage and ball busting, can raise the spirits of all of us, children and adults included?
e: But above all, how does Facebook algorithm know that in recent weeks I have been researching fetishism? Through my google search? Or by analyzing the messages on the topic exchanged on Facebook platforms? There must be some kind of evolution taking place in the way algorithms in general obtain and process personal information. More and more frequently YouTube, for instance, in the section for recommended music for you, proposes bands and genres that are absolutely not in line with my preferences, but which surprisingly meet my taste later.
Now, after having looked at the eyes in my painting and having realized that they are not as spectacular as I had thought, after all, I decided do a google-search about the International Day of Fetishism. In conformation that this time the Facebook algorithm had done its work well, I can say that fetishism is actually a topic that interests me.
So, doing a search in Wikipedia in Italian, under the sentence “International Day of Fetishism” I get Marxism, a speech by Pope Francis and then, Dario Argento – these appear as the most relevant results. I decide to switch to the English version. This time the results are much more, also because, from what I read, this holiday is an English invention. Paraphrasing for copyright reasons what I find on the site (Wikipedia is protected by copyright, even if it has the nerve of calling itself a free encyclopedia?): International Fetish Day has been held since 2009 every third Friday of January. Members of the British BSDM community decided to dedicate a day to celebrate fetishism.
Anyway, stayin on the topic, the most popular place where British fetish enthusiasts meet, is a club called The Torture Garden. Founded in the 90s, after having fought for a long time with the local authorities for the right to stay open, it has now become the largest European fetish club, and a sort of an institution in the city of London – a city where I lived for a certain period of my life, where having fun and living new experiences was all that mattered to me. My encounter with the Torture Garden dates back to 2005.
I remember that I went to the place alone. I can’t say I did it because I was driven by a particular interest in fetishism, but more likely because of my desire to participate in a different type of party. At that time, as it is still today, it was necessary to comply with a very strict dress code, whose keywords are: Fantasy, Fetish, SM, Body Art, Drag, Rubber, Leather and PVC. Absolutely prohibited: cotton t-shirts, street wear or regular club wear. In order to explain the dressing code, one of its founders once said: “If what you’re wearing wouldn’t get you stared at in the street, don’t bother even queuing up to get in.”
As for me, I opted for a military disguise: military boots, tight black jeans, army colonel’s shirt and a hat. I bought everything at Camden Market. Later, I also decided to paint my face white. I didn’t know what to expect or if they would let me in.
The address at the time was near Vauxhall – a fairly peripheral neighborhood south of the river Thames and certainly not famous for being the center of nightclubs and bars. I remember circling around the srtreets till I noticed a gathering of people at the end of a tunnel road. I decided to get closer. They waited in line to enter through a small unmarked door with no signs or lights – an entrance to a building in one of those streets and alleys near big bridges one comes upon in any European metropolis. The few people in the queue, however, were dressed rather ordinarily. So: suburbs, no signs, few people in line. For a moment I was beginning to question myself whether I was at a rave party, but then, after asking, I got a confirmation that I was at the right place. After getting the security’s approval of my clothing, I found myself in the blinding light of the entrance hall of the club next to which there was a changing room for those who, upon leaving their homes, had not wanted to be seen in erotic latex catsuits, for instance, and had opted for changing in the club.
After that, my memories are somewhat confused, tangled, coming in no order. I will try to describe the various images that still remain engraved in my mind. The first is that of a man lying on the ground who was being trampled by two girls with oriental features. Another vision is that of Catwoman who was pulling two men on a leash, like dogs. Then there was that girl who, twisting to a circle attached to the ceiling, was playing with a snake, or the image of another girl, lying under a candelabra made of many small candles that poured liquid and scorching wax onto the girl’s half-naked body.
I remember low lights and loud music and a strange feeling of disorientation: I saw people disguised in scary costumes, but the atmosphere in general was one of complicity and relaxation. I saw the others around me as part of a well-defined group, almost like a closed circle, but without written rules, open to anyone who wanted to be part of it as long as one deeply shares their beliefs and views. If that is the case, acceptance is instant.
What I did not understand at that time was the nature of the world of fetishism, BDSM and transvestism. I did not realize that for some it is almost a necessity and the only way to be able to fully experience their sexuality, which many would define as a deviation from the normal. For others it is just a game, a way, like many other mechanisms, to go beyond the routine of traditional sexuality.
Well, yes, for some, sex can even become boring and predictable when you overdo it. That is probably why, when I went to The Torture Garden, although appreciating what was happening around me, I felt like a fish out of water. In other words, I did not fall into any of the two categories mentioned above, but I had a lot of fun, and I certainly recommend to anyone visiting London not to miss the opportunity to participate in this show.
–By Daniel De Luise