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Inside Hollywood's Club Deco Drive, the House of Fetish reeks of the faintly sweet smell of Gonesh number 8 incense. As patrons clad in leather, lace, and latex look on from the concrete dance floor or the comfy leopard-print couches, on stage, Florida Dom subjects the supine bodies of his two female slaves to some titillating pyrotechnics. A curvaceous slave named Laura lies nude in front of the crowd, full-frontally coated in candle wax. Florida Dom amuses himself with some edgeplay, which involves making patterns in the wax with chemically treated string, which would burn Laura's skin if touched directly to it. ("It's dangerous if you don't know what you're doing," he later explains.) He then tops the wax off with flash cotton and ignites it in a display of fireplay, sending a cloud of flame above her. Applause breaks out.

Just another third Friday of the month at Club Deco Drive, host to the county's kinkiest club-within-a-club. House of Fetish is the brainchild of Miami club impresario David Cordoves. The onetime promoter of the Church, a goth-themed night that previously held court at several clubs in Miami, Cordoves started the London Ballroom three years ago at various venues in Miami. He and Sean Newman, owner of the Fetish Box in Dania Beach, brought the Ballroom and its once-a-month fetish night to Club Deco Drive two months ago; on January 5, they decided to discontinue the London Ballroom nights and focus solely on the monthly spankin' session.

"It's a tough crowd to captivate," Cordoves declares. "It's very easy to do a mainstream party. But to do what we're doing? Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy -- it's tough."

On this night, Florida Dom expounds on his own tough love for his three female slaves. He says they have lived with him in Fort Lauderdale in a 24/7 dominant-submissive relationship for a total of ten years. "I own them," he says matter-of-factly. "They all live with me." One slave is an accountant, one's in marketing, and the other works in administration. "They belong to me. They have no decision-making authority. I control them freely," he continues in an eerily serious tone with his black leather flogger resting ominously over his shoulder.

Florida Dom reviews his personal definition of the slave-dom relationship: "You have to love someone deeply enough to do anything you ask them to do, to please and trust them deeply enough to know they'd never ask you to do anything that would damage you emotionally or physically."

Against the backdrop of the fireplay show is a wall of television screens broadcasting softcore bondage-themed porn featuring a gagged woman wrapped in pink cellophane while a leather- and latex-clad woman towers above her, dripping hot wax onto her body. Back at the other end of the dance floor, a slave pen awaits those who want to indulge publicly in bondage, spanking, and other play.

Tall, topless Cheryl, outfitted in black hot pants tethered to her thigh-high black boots, starts dancing seductively on stage. She douses her already pierced and adorned nipples and torso with a bottle of iodine as she kicks off her piercing show. She sticks three needles in a column into each breast. In between the bloodless piercings, the Miami resident gyrates and shoots come-hither looks to those on the dance floor.

While that's transpiring, Florida Dom whips his slave Gladys in time to the heavy industrial beats. Winding up the flog at least three feet back before each blow, the silver-pony-tailed dominator looks the part in his black pirate-like shirt. Gladys leans forward on her elbows against the railing and closes her eyes. "It really feels like a deep massage. It doesn't hurt," slave Laura explains as the leather tassels land across Gladys's bare back with a stinging firecracker crack.

"There's an art of submissiveness that brings it to another level. It's a different way of loving," Laura continues, clad in a leather vest, lace top, and black skirt that could pass as a business suit. "We're very sane people. We're not crazy. We enjoy something, and we're willing to go for that. It's almost like a high."

Cheryl concludes the show by impaling her torso with at least six more acupuncture-like needles in a diamond pattern. As if on cue, the song "Rough Sex" by Lords of Acid stalks out of the speakers.

The monthly event draws a modest crowd of fetish headstrong. In a punk-rock flashback, some men have spiked hair and mohawks and leather biker jackets, while other guys rock the androgynous goth look with both long and short black skirts. For many of the girls, cleavage-enhancing, lace-up, latex corsets are the couture du jour.

Some move to the accelerated throb of the Revolting Cocks "Beers, Steers and Queers," Consolidated's "You Suck," and more classic industrial club fodder. Patrolling the perimeter of the dance floor is a shirtless middle-aged man wearing a black thong dangling with floor-length tassels. His wrists are bound together in front of him, and a phone number (presumably his) is scrawled across his chest.

As the night winds down, clubbers sit around a modified St. Andrews cross near the bar. Three women stand sandwiched together against the cross while a man lashes their wrists to its frame. He explains that they will be the submissives in the next scene where two dominant males will be in charge. On a nearby sofa, a woman lies across a guy's lap while he spanks her.

For his part, Cordoves is adamant about staying true to fetish fanatics like these, refusing to water down the antics at the House of Fetish for a broader market, instead striving to create a new niche of naughtiness in sex-ravenous South Florida. "The word is spreading like wildfire," he says. "It's just a matter of time."

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Leah Gliniewicz

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