I'm a jeans and t-shirts kind of girl, so I was daunted by the strict "fetish" dress code of the Northbound Leather fetish night at 5ive. Leather, latex, lingerie, PVC, uniforms, übergoth, no denim except under chaps --no exceptions! Zowie, I thought, I'd be out of luck if I had a denim fetish.
Smacking the "fetish" label on the attire requirements is a bit misleading, since technically a fetish is a non-sexual part of the body or a material object that arouses desire or is necessary for sexual gratification - say, a foot, a shoe, a balloon or a material like leather or fur. So to engage in fetishistic activity one is not necessarily required to don a pair of rubber pants and a corset.
Still, rules are rules, so I dig around in my closet and find boots and a shiny mini-skirt that will do the trick. The boyfriend, David, is a bigger problem.
If you need the perfect outfit for a 1950s jazz man, a rudeboy or a rockabilly, he's your man, but no matter how much we play with these combinations, we just can't come up with an acceptable look. So we call our goth friend Marcus and, before you can say "Oh my god! I am not wearing that!," he has David suited up in PVC lace-up pants and a mesh top and the three of us are off.
The crowd at 5ive is dressed for the most part according to code. It runs from your basic black leather to the more elaborate body harness. One person is wearing a headpiece that looks like the orthodontic gear I had in grade 6. Jeez. And I thought it just made me look geeky.
Some guy is getting paddled at a set-up in the corner. A heavyset man in a black hood (hostage style), with his equipment chained up, bounces around the dance floor.
What we have come to know as fetish is mostly bondage, discipline and sado-masochism (BDSM), which in actuality aren't fetishes. Rather, BDSM and actual fetishes are "paraphilias," or "abnormal" sexual desires, abnormal being a relative term. Homosexuality was once considered a paraphilia. Now it's all the rage. And bondage, discipline and sado-masochism are actually pretty run-of-the-mill paraphilias. There are many more fascinating ones.
Macrophilia is the desire to be a tiny little person at the mercy of a humongous one. Some people (usually men) get off on the idea of being crushed under the foot of a giantess. Sometimes they imagine themselves as insects or enjoy watching live insects (or even small animals) being crushed by real live feet. This is popularly known as "crushing." A less violent and certainly more-fun-for-the-insect paraphilia is formicophilia, in which sexual arousal is achieved by having insects crawl all over one's genitals.
We order drinks, and I ask some guy if he'd like to have insects crawl all over his genitals.
"What kind of insects?" he asks.
"I dunno. Ants."
"What kind of ants?" What am I, a fucking entomologist?
The links between paraphilias are interesting. Crushing can be linked to both macrophilia and foot fetishism (for an amazing map of all this stuff, go to www.deviantdesires.com). Macrophilia is growth-related. There are all kinds of growth-related paraphilias, including belly button and nose growth.
I chat with the lovely George, who runs Northbound Leather, for a while. He points out characters in the room, telling me a bit about them and illustrating how this night is a haven for some. I understand the concept of acceptance but am confounded by the idea of creating a community out of a sexual proclivity.
Many of us may have specific desires but feel no need to share them with a group.
Obviously, there's a high level of exhibitionism within the "fetish" community, a deep need for attention and an undercurrent of desperation that I personally find unpleasant.
I ask George about coprophilia, and he laughs and says he has to draw the line somewhere. I knew that. I'm just kidding.
Coprophilia (also known as scat fetishism) involves smearing human feces on oneself. Coprophagia involves eating it. It's messy. Other messy fixations can involve urine, mud, quicksand or goopy foodstuffs.
Sexual deviation isn't always a good thing (see crushing small animals and eating shit above). Lots of paraphilias are dangerous, like pedophilia (especially popular these days, with the Internet), asphyxiophilia (sexual arousal through suffocation), erotophonophilia (arousal obtained by attempts at killing someone), or apotemnophilia (arousal by having a part of your body amputated, not to be confused with acrotomophilia, the much more benign activity of being aroused by amputees). Go to www. thefetishlist.com for more definitions.
Though BDSM can also run into dangerous territory if one isn't careful, the goings on at 5ive are comparatively safe.
After hanging around for a bit and getting ripped on Rev, Marcus announces that he'd like to be paddled. So we borrow a paddle from some girl and truss him up in an available contraption with his hands spread out in straps above his head.
A zaftig woman wearing lots of makeup and shiny stretchy black stuff does some things with her crop, standing face to face with Marcus and caressing his ass while David and I smack him from behind.
Then David says, "Well, we're here. I might as well give it a go."
So he drops trou and we truss him up. But then the girl comes and wants her paddle back, so someone gives me something that looks like a cat o' nine tails but with more tentacles and without the knots. I let the other woman do most of the work (caress his butt, breathe in his ear, fondle him, etc). I give him a few good whacks, but I'm getting kind of bored. I'm just not into whipping people, especially in front of other people.
Finally, we take him down and I ask, "How was that?"
"Ah, nothing to write home about," he whispers in my ear with a shrug.
Well, there are plenty of other deviances out there to choose from.