Problems you only have at fetish events:
When teetering down a marble staircase while encased in a skintight sleeve of a dress, perched atop seven and a half in heels, do not ‒ I repeat DO NOT ‒ attempt to grab the handrail for balance.
Because it's covered in lube.
That was lesson # 1 that I learned quickly (and the hard way) at the 7th annual San Francisco Fetish Ball, which took place at the gloriously opulent beaux-arts Grand Ballroom of the city's historic Regency Center on a nippy evening in March.
The lube (which is used to keep latex outfits shiny and supple) flowed thickly and freely that night, along with many latex-encased visions of beauty, more than a few cornea-scarring disasters, and a fascinating, sometimes ground-breaking collection of latex couture served up by the top designers in the industry. Round it all out with some of fetish's top models and performers ‒ Darenzia, Angela Ryan, Kumi, Apnea, and Perish ‒ and you've got yourself one hell of a night.
This year's official theme was Metropolis, but the general consensus seemed to be "anything goes." The patrons consisted of many, many a man in military uniform (some were more than happy to deliver an accompanying history lesson, whether you wanted to hear it or not), a smattering of zombies, some dude in a scuba diving outfit, a plumber, Wonder Woman, and a red-and-white rubber zebra.
But one of the best-dressed awards goes to a fixture of the San Francisco clubbing scene, Francis, for his simply brilliant "I'm with stupid" latex t-shirt.
Of course, a big fetish fashion party wouldn't be complete with out Italian artist and pretty boy Filippo Bertoncello, who seems to charm the pants off of every one he meets (the fact that he's not wearing any certainly helps).
The performances and fashion shows kicked off with a delightful breath of fresh air ‒ an expertly executed, delightfully seductive tango performance by rotating pairs of dancers bedecked in latex fashions from Bodycult (Germany). It was hypnotic watching the lithe dancers wrap their limbs around each other, and fascinating to watch the latex meld and twist with their movements.
Emcee duties were handled by Sister Roma of San Francisco drag activists The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (her best line of the night, delivered to a squawking drunk girl who repeatedly interrupted Roma's introductions: "Oh, honey ‒ I loved you in Two Girls, One Cup.")
SF-based designer Madame S took inspiration for her collection from the aforementioned 1927 Fritz Lang film, rendering beautiful, striking shapes in rich metallic hues. Models robotically shuffled across the stage while clips of Metropolis flashed across the screen behind them. The result was beautifully creepy.
Antiseptic Fashions served up some intricately rendered leather collars that drifted all the way up to the models' noses, serving as ornate couture muzzles.
And Pretty Pervy closed the show with insect-inspired inflatable latex creations, featuring an alien-like gasmasked creature emerging from a giant latex cocoon.
The run away winner of the night, however, goes to the performance presented by Stockroom.com, featuring designs from Syren and Stormy Leather. This massive, Mad Max inspired epic featured award winning burlesque performer Diamondback Annie draped in a breathtaking latex dress measuring 12 feet long and 9 feet in diameter, surrounded by slavish minions wearing gas masks shaped like the head of Anubis. It appeared as though Diamondback Annie was perched atop stilts ‒ but she soon whipped off the slick gown to reveal she was standing atop the shoulders of a masked slave. As the Anubis slaves worked themselves into a frenzied orgy of groping, the music segued into the Scorpions hair metal classic "Rock You Like a Hurricane," culminating in the moment when Annie shot off her trademark glitter-spewing codpiece.
It was truly a show stopping spectacle, and - to put it crudely - totally fucking awesome.
As the night wore on, the masses of skyscraper heels wore through the flesh of many an unfortunate fashion victim (myself included). Men and women alike staggered en masse to the couches, flinging off said torturous implements and curling their naked, raw toes into the Regency's sumptuous carpet, uttering moans of relief.
As always, beauty is pain ‒ but whether it is intentional or incidental is up to the wearer.