Starting at the Bottom

It was a full, swollen moon on the Friday night of Fetish Factory's traveling monthly party, Alter Ego. And that was before the spanking, whipping, and flogging even began. I prepared myself for Club Boca's freaky fete in goth-anime style with plenty of black eyeliner, two pert little pigtails, and an ensemble complete with fishnet, thigh-highs, and platform boots.

More of a fetish sympathizer than an activist (that's the story I'm sticking to), I positioned myself at a railing overlooking the dance floor. The fetish fashionistas had blown at least a week's worth of working (wo)man's pay on a single outfit.

Breasts bobbed atop tight-laced corsets. Tushies flirted from beneath tulle tutus. Pecs and abs strained against leather straps. And naughty bits pressed against the small confines of their G-strings and thongs. If they weren't already elevated by the musical beats and freely expressed sexuality, many folks simply stood half a foot taller because of their platformed and spiked footwear.

Others had opted for lower-budget alternatives. Take the guy in only a G-string and black sneakers, for instance. Or the topless, tribal-painted chick in just a skirt and boots.

Around the multitiered club, cages, racks, and tables — some with cuffs and chains — were receiving their first victims of the night. Some tormentors wielded riding crops, others whips and floggers. Their subjects had gleams in their eyes brighter than the pink rising in stripes and blotches on their skin.

I was still visually soaking up the kinky energy when a middle-aged man with thinning hair leered at me suggestively. He invited me over by patting a small patch of barstool vinyl between his legs as he leaned back and puffed on his cigar. Definitely a Who's-NOT-your-daddy? moment for the Night Rider history book.

I wound my way through the pulsing bodies and multiroomed club space. And in my head, I judged an unofficial dance competition.

For scariest dance, my award went to the petite chica in a pink nightie who assaulted thin air in a five-foot radius so that she looked like she'd just escaped from the violent ward of the insane asylum. In the erotic category, the prize went to a cheeky, pink-and-white-latex-clad woman who undulated preternaturally, her arms and torso writhing through the smoke. I awarded extra points for exposing her perfect derriere while extending her gam on the railing. Indeed, she had a leg up on her competition.

Engrossed in all the T&A, I didn't notice the man who calls himself "The Evil Master K" until he was fast upon me. Behind nerdy glasses and an eager smile, he didn't look like he'd live up to his moniker. He held out two pairs of leather floggers, both buff-colored (maybe because they'd waxed a few asses?), to determine my interest before I politely declined.

Instead, I found a group of folks in one of the booths near the front who were standing on their seats to dance. Predictably, one woman was grinding her rear end into the bulge in her partner's leather pants. In a less predictable move, the dude tugged her pants down and ran his tongue up her mostly exposed butt crack.

Bootilicious? The smile on his face said "yes."

In the bathroom, a scrawny brunet with a heavyweight attitude was giving guff to a guy in a skirt for using the women's room.

"You don't come to these things often, do you?" the man asked, irritated by her reprimand.

"Hey, if you're gonna be in touch with your feminine side," she shot back, "then help me find a tampon!"

Soon, however, a steady stream of Y-chromosome packers — some cross-dressers, some not — demonstrated the clientele's established disregard for the gender divisions specified on the bathroom doors.

When I returned to the bar, I was so seriously pondering the sexism of separate bathrooms that I hardly saw the guy who kissed me and said "Smile, baby" as he passed. It jolted me out of my sociopolitical contemplation just in time to notice (but not soon enough to dodge) the return of the Evil Master, who was determined to show me the secrets of his craft.

I guess it was because I related to his dork vibe (something I've never outgrown even after quitting the math team in high school) that I didn't walk away. He showed me how he'd fashioned the smaller floggers himself from the leather seats of a 1991 Ford Taurus. Obviously, they were destined for ass action, even before they were born as an S&M tool!

"Yeah, you can make them out of all sorts of leather," he explained. "You've got your cow leather, pig leather, deer skin leather, soft leather, stiff leather."

"He's the freakin' Bubba Gump of leather," I thought to myself, though he never pretended to know everything there is to know about the floggin' bidness.

Soon I found out that fetish wear could be functional in more ways than one: Several attendees wore gas masks — a fashionable (I guess) solution to secondhand smoke. My friend Rose wore a sailor dress and cap, which prompted guys to stand and salute. An inspiration, really.

Another fellow sported the latest must-have for the sexually active: a full body suit of yellow latex, including a full head mask with a five-inch black phallus protruding from the mouth area where scuba breathing apparatus might have been. It's a 21st-century, STD-risk-free, muff-diving suit. Who said "God is dead?" Someone is obviously answering prayers.

Since the evening's theme was 1950s fetish (and an excellent opportunity to promote the newly released movie The Notorious Bettie Page), the entertainment included an old-school striptease including a burlesque-style barker drag king.

Cranberry-haired Angela Ryan sang "Whatever Lola Wants" — a seductress' song of her irresistibility from the 1955 Broadway hit Damn Yankees — as she stripped out of her vintage dress, ruffled corset, evening gloves, and seamed stockings and down to her ruffled panties and pasties.

The barker, Dee Dee Luxe, performed a striptease of "his" own: In less than three minutes, he became a she — first by removing the red pinstriped suit, white shirt, black hat, and short wig to reveal a magenta-sequined top, then similarly styled pasties, and long, platinum-blond hair. The real surprise was in her undies, but the excitement was short-lived. She whipped out a liquid-spraying strap-on and got off — the stage, that is.

Back at the bar, more guys were saluting Rose as they passed. I wasn't sure I wanted to meet a romantic interest here, so I figured I'd scout for her. When a guy in a Mohawk paid respect, I smacked Rose on the arm.

"He's cute!"

"He looks like a sub," she shrugged.

Thinking she was riffing on her nautical theme, I couldn't figure out exactly what a submarine might connote in the fetish context. Someone who goes down on someone in the bath, perhaps? Someone who uses a periscope?

"A what?" I asked.

"A sub!" Rose repeated, looking at me incredulously. Exasperated, she nearly shouted her explanation: "A submissive! He looks like a bottom. I don't want him. I'm the bottom."

Speaking of bottoms, just as I was preparing to go, the booty-licker had made his way over to us and sat down on a stool right next to us. He might have strange tastes, but he sure was good-looking — a broad smile, a smoothly shaved head, and a bare, perfectly muscled chest. (Sigh.)

"What are your fetishes?" he inquired.

"Um," I hesitated, unsure if my interest in fine-assed, half-naked guys with hard nipples constituted a fetish, "I'm not really sure."

"I'm into feet, legs — I love these," he said, just barely touching the pink lace at the top of my thigh-highs before continuing his list, "and face-sitting—that's where..."

I interrupted him. There were some things that still needed clarification. Like, why are white pancake makeup and fake blood acceptable fetish party attire? Or, when did a Star Trek look — specifically, a huge plastic rectangle over the shoulders and light-up cabled tentacles on the back — become a fetish? And where did all these deviant people come from?

But a definition of face-sitting? A girl didn't have to be a crack reporter to figure that one out.

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Marya Summers