Best Place to People-Watch (2007)

The Fetish Factory's Alter Ego parties at Club X-It

"Nipple laws and genital laws are in effect," one regular says, describing the Fetish Factory's monthly Alter Ego parties. "So women have to have the electrical-tape X's covering stuff up, and for men, a banana hammock is perfectly acceptable attire as long as the banana stays in the hammock." Funny but not quite accurate. Although there's a good dose of near-nudity at Fetish Factory parties, the company's point of distinction, actually, is its dress code. That's precisely the thing that keeps out, say, the pervy tourist in Spandex but brings in the young professional who just likes to walk around in a (rather tasteful) ball gag from time to time. In fact, Fetish Factory parties are more like fashion shows. They have themes such as "Apocalypse" or "Tribute to Bettie Page," and attendees take the dress-up requirement seriously. It's not uncommon for someone to have dropped $1,000 on a latex outfit or to show off her new customized catsuit. So the great thing about people-watching here is that the people don't mind you watching, especially the performers — like the two dancers who showed up in matching gas masks connected by a tube, or Rubberella, who might make an appearance wearing a clear plastic outfit and goggles. "The crowd is the most respectful and friendly crowd, better than sports bars or anywhere," the regular says. "You know, if somebody wants to have a threesome, they'll just come up and ask you — politely."

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