Photographs from various events around 200-2003.
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Photographs from various events around 200-2003.
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A year after starting the site it had become an unstoppable monster, dragging me headlong in its wake. At the same time Oz was pressing me to get started on the club we had talked about over the last couple of months. I was flush from a few months of a well paid job that was starting to get boring so I decided to quit my day job and take on the twin tasks of running the site and building a club.
At first everything was down to Oz, he knew a lot of people and set us up with a venue and some models for our first flyer. This is where I came in, my photography and design skills would be used to draw up a flyer that we would distribute in all the right places and get the clubbers we needed to make a profit.
Photo shoots would become my forte over the next eighteen months; I would go from a struggling amateur to an experienced professional, from a film SLR and a cheap flash to a full studio setup. I would meet hundreds of models along the way and make quite a few friends.
Our first shoot was in the venue itself which was sometimes, by day, a photographic studio. We decorated one corner with drapes and furniture and put our couple of models to work. One was a well known model that Oz had somehow managed to persuade to work for us and the other was a curvy and good looking friend who had the right outfit.
Oz drove a big Australian car imported from his homeland, something straight out of Mad Max, a big V8 muscle car with blacked out windows, lowered with shining rims and sleek looks. The interior was all leather and Oz delighted in having others drive him around while he disported with young ladies on the back seat, savouring the feeling that those around him couldn’t see through the blacked out windows and know what he was up to.
Arriving early as usual I had the chance to check out the venue. When Oz turned up at the venue in his car I had been waiting for a while but the sight of two sexy nurses emerging from the darkened depths of Oz’s beast of a car made the wait worthwhile.
Both girls were wearing rubber nurses uniforms, one white and one red, they posed and pouted for us, showing cleavage, leg, and bum. With Oz’s encouragement they engaged in a little mild lesbianism for the camera their tongues entwining as they grasped at each other’s bodies. Mild lesbianism turned suddenly into full blown grappling and Oz and I stood back in amazement as our two models started working their hands under each other’s skirts, their faces locked together in a kiss that lasted ten minutes while they worked each other to orgasm, completely forgetting about us.
It takes an awful lot of effort to run a club event. you need to find and book an amicable venue, beg, borrow, build, or steal enough dungeon equipment to amuse your punters, hire an overpriced DJ to play some tunes that might have been cool no more than three years ago, you need at least three people, preferably five or more, to lug evrything into a van, out of it at the venue, set it all up, and then stuff it all back into the van afterwards.
You need transport for everyone involved and a van for all the kit, everyone has to get there at the right time and wearing the right clothes, you need at least four to six hours just to get things set up to you satisfaction, and that’s once you’ve had some practice, the first time will take all day and all night and still not be right.
You will spend more time awake than you have ever before, at least twenty four hours and maybe as many as thirty two hours of straight work. The day after the event you will be sitting at home at two o’clock in the afternoon and you will break down in tears for absolutely no reason at all, just because you are so tired that it’s impossible not to cry. If you’re getting on in years it will take you a day or two to recover and woe betide you if you try to go to another event in that time.
On top of all that you’ve got to spend all the time the club is open acting as a genial host, welcoming everyone, shaking hands, smiling. The first few hours are easy, it’s fun to meet people and you feel happy when they enjoy themselves, but there comes a time where you’re getting tired and you know that there’s still six or more hours to go, and that the outfit you’ve wedged yourself into is chafing at a highly sensitive spot but you still have to smils, shake hands and make people feel welcome. You won’t get to sit down at all, your feet, ankles, and knees will feel as if they are burning and it just doesn’t stop.
Did I minion that you need a van? I like vans, they have a purity of purpose that is lacking in so much modern machinery. A van is good for one thing, taking a bunch of crap from one place to another. Thats all they do, they’re boxes on wheels. Pure function.
Any attempt to make a van into something else invariable ruins it. Alloy wheels? Not if you want to carry more than a light load, those steel wheels that come with your van might be ugly but they’re strong. Want to lower your van and fit a body kit, spoiler, and wide wheel arches? It’ll still be a sluggish box and you won’t be able to ride up the kerb without losing the cash you just spent.
A van does what a van does. Load it with boxes, load it with luggage, load it with bags of rubble, get in and drive. You’re done. In comparison, cars lack a great deal of purpose. I know that they seem to be quite functional at first, after all how else could you get four people from one place to another? But cars get modified, they have to be sportier, they have to be sexier, they have to have leather seats and aircon, they have to have a brand identity, you have to want them.
This is because they lack purpose. Nobody wants to buy a box on wheels with four seats. What people buy is an idea, an image, they buy the fantasy that this car will get them laid. Or that this car over here will make other people think they are rich, or clever, or kind to animals, or have a stupendously huge penis.
This is why cars are impure, because they are trying to fulfill the dreams of so many different people, the desires of a zillion individuals. This is why there are so many different colours, and brands, and styles, and nuances of design. Nobody buys a car that hasn’t been designed to the nth degree.
But vans, oh vans are different, they’re like clones, you can swap one van for another and who cares, it’s a big white lump with a door in the back that you put stuff in. Vans are cheap, vans are whores, they’ll let you put what you like in there and charge you the same whatever you do with it. If you have a need to be fulfilled a van is your man.
Besides organising the club and photo shoots I also had to work on the website and still needed to turn up at a club every week to take photographs. This sounds like an ideal job: swan around at a club taking photos of gorgeous women. What could be easier?
Photographing a fetish event is quite hard work, a decent camera weighs a couple of kilos with lenses and flash and you’ll have to carry it carefully through heavy crowds with just one arm. A decent weight absorbing strap is an absolute must. Even once you have the right kit and have gotten a photopass with a plus one there’s still the actual job to be done.
It always took me half an hour or longer to scope out an event and decide on the first few people I would try to snap. You can’t just snap away at fetish events as people are entitled to their privacy, the wrong picture in the right place could cost someone their job and livelihood, so it is de rigueur to ask first. Technique for simple portraits is straightforward, set the camera to F4 aperture and 125 speed and adjust the flash to get the right illumination. Once you’ve got that right you can fire away all evening and every picture will come out perfectly exposed.
A lot of photographers try for zany angles when doing fetish reportage but to my mind it just makes them look drunk and amateurish. I go for proper portraits of people and make them as flattering as possible by crouching down to compensate for the short distances. I’m proud to say that nearly every shot I took at the clubs was properly exposed and showed the subject to their best, whatever that might be.
Stage shows are another story entirely, they usually run anything from fifteen minutes to an hour late from the scheduled time and the start is signalled by a sudden rush to the stage. The smart photographer will be lurking nearby ready to grab a prime spot or elbow others out of the way to grab the best angle. The constant lighting changes and hectic motion of the performers makes shooting a show extremely difficult but I managed to get more than my fair share of good shots even so. All it takes is practice and an eye for composition.
Unfortunately practice and an eye still don’t make you a professional photographer. What really cuts it is the ability to sell your photos and that’s an area where I’ve always been sadly lacking. I have seen other photographers, ones I considered quite amateurish, go on to fame and fortune simple because they managed to get their images sold. It’s a pity but there you have it, fortune favours the bold.
The crowd at a fetish event is an interesting phenomenon, it is, like all crowds, made up of individuals but even so there is classification to be made.
A large portion of the men at a fetish club will be dressed in leather jeans and either topless or wearing a rubber t-shirt. This is primarily because there is not as much choice for fetish wear for men and thus the fallback position is the trusty leather jeans and rubber top. The more adventurous spice up their outfits with Mad Max overtones, leather and rubber armour plated road warriors.
Next come the various dressed up gentlemen, leather coats, frilly shirts, frock coats, tuxedos, and other fashionable outfits of eras past. Then there are those who dress in uniforms and the unpleasant minority of those who decide to wear Nazi regalia.
It takes a special kind of idiot to think that looking like a Nazi is somehow cool or daring. Yet here was a crowd of them all admiring each other’s uniforms, they’d decided that the look was all that mattered, as if somehow it was possible to disconnect all the suffering and anguish caused from the fashion choice. Some of them claimed to be collectors of WWII memorabilia but it was strange how they only collected Nazi items. Others said that the uniforms had a classic style but never considered any other period to be worthy of note. Secretly they all desired to be members of the master race, as if somehow wearing the uniform would change them from a bunch of overweight, middle class, racist trash into higher beings. All it did was make them look desperate and out of date, the punks had broken the stigma of wearing swastikas a decade previously and anyone caught wearing one now was seriously un-cool.
Sadly even the neo-Nazis outclass the last group of men found at the clubs: the wanky men. So called because they are often found masturbating around the edges of anything even vaguely arousing. Usually dressed in a minimal amount of clothing they appear lost and forlorn until a group of them works up the courage to shuffle over to a carnal scene.
Then there are those who put some serious effort into their outfits, the ones who are photographed, the ones who delight the crowds. A scarlet Emperor Ming, an inflatable jester, an all covering lycra body suit with only holes for eyes, rubber Star Trek costumes, and lastly, and most weirdly, a rubber milkman.