I never pass up an opportunity to dive into the weird end of the gene pool and tour the anthropological fringes of human behaviour. Especially when I’m pretty sure it won’t get me killed. As long as someone assigns me a flak jacket clearly stenciled with the word “observer” so no one tries to turn show-and-tell into fondle-and-inject, I’ll watch damn near anything.
A few weeks ago I was invited to tag along to a fetish event in east-end Montreal, hidden away in the dark recesses of a former municipal bath house. This was a regular get together for members of the scene — couples, loners and lurkers alike. Fetish gear was preferred, but the dress code had been relaxed as of this particular occasion. All-black garb was now acceptable, allowed myself and like-minded gawkers to get in, the reasoning being that a few dull normals coughing up the twenty-buck cover charge might help offset the event deficit.
The party was spread over several levels, the main focus being the dance floor that used to be the bottom of a large public swimming pool. Once inside, we were bombarded by lasers effects, techno music, and the sight of several paid performers playing in plastic kiddie “lube pools,” glistening with many more gallons of KY Jelly than you could hope to find in any three pharmacies. The painted six-foot-deep markers on the tiles of swimming pool confirmed what I already knew: I was in over my head.
The spectrum of garb was at once different and utterly the same. It reminded me of Hallowe’en night, when most of the trick-or-treaters come out dressed in near identical costumes reflecting what’s currently hot on the pop culture front. You always notice the rare individual who stands out amongst the Spidermen and Batmen and Harry Potters and came dressed in something truly original. The same holds true for fetish night. Most everyone there is dressed in a black latex/leather/rubber somethingorother that looks exactly like your most clichéd idea of what a dominatrix, slave, or Marilyn Manson concert refugee should look like. Then there are a small handful with enough of a personalized fetish that they stick out in a subculture that’s aesthetically designed to stick out. My favourites included the white-rubber nurse, the orange jumpsuit-clad “convict” and the two gay guys in United States Marine Corps dress uniforms. Semper Fi, sweetcheeks.
I was just having a sip of my drink when my arm was knocked to the side, making me spill mineral water all over the floor. No harm done, I was in a swimming pool. But I was irritated enough to turn around to see who did it. That’s when I saw the gimp.
He didn’t acknowledge my glare and he didn’t apologize. He probably couldn’t have said two words in that mask, but I would have accepted a “mmfft mrph.” Clearly he was a very rude gimp. Or maybe he was just looking to get punished.
Those who wanted to be punished or do the punishing could descend another level to the dank rooms and corridors beneath the pool. There you could find a variety of posts and benches of frames to bind your significant other to for a thrashing of mutually agreed upon intensity. All in front of an audience of like-minded tops and bottoms who were more into the voyeurism than the exhibitionism.
You could also go down there if you needed to pee. That’s where the bathrooms were located. No, I didn’t go in to check if anyone was inside getting peed on.
I only caught my favourite sight of the evening when we were back outside, leaving. There, in the chilly October night, were a collection of fetishists freezing their nipple clamps off. They were huddled around in their skimpy gear, shivering in the brisk air, smoking. Montreal, as cool with all sexual bents and kinks as it is, has now become flatly intolerant of smoking inside a public place. I can’t wait until January rolls around. Going outside to grab a smoke then will teach these gimps, slaves and bottoms what masochism is really about.