Kitty’s Adventures at Torture Garden

Fucked It Fans, my apologies for the wait. I’ve been busy doing life things, changing careers really soaks up your time, especially when you’d been just sitting at a desk for a year! BUT the wait is over. I did a fun thing.

Wandering around in a corset, frilly knickers and a pair of heels is something I have always wanted to do. Something which I wholeheartedly imagined would happen within the bonds of a relationship(HA!) , not within the leather bonds of some sort of modern take on a  Berkley Horse (google it) while a crowd of twenty strangers clad in latex offer up words of sexually charged encouragement. But that’s what happens when you buy tickets to a Fetish Night called Torture Garden. In my quest to rid my mind of past conquests and focus on a more egocentric future, I took up a friend’s invitation to be spanked, and it was fucking brilliant.

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Arriving at Electrowerks, I was pleased to watch a group of seven or eight swaying men clutching bags emblazoned with the words “Fancy Dress Shop” being turned away by a plump girl wearing a latex pencil skirt and nipple tassels with the words “This is not a fancy dress party”. Having spent an hour or so frantically squeezing myself into lingerie in the fairly public changing areas of Camden Market, I was armed with a cream corset and was taking no prisoners. This is one thing the patrons of TG don’t fuck with. You follow the dress code. Leather penis pouches, bridles, duct tape and nothing at all are accepted, but you turn up with anything polyester, you’re gone. Inside, the balmy lighting and soft thud of familiar house music created an atmosphere of possibility, a tranquil oasis of sexual opportunity where to be present was to obtain a unique worldliness, unknown to the “Vanillas” drunkenly roaming the streets beyond. The eyes that watched us enter and pass by followed us without scorn, without a hint of haughty derision, but rather a knowing look that told us, “Welcome to the fun house”.

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The first thing I noticed, besides all the latex, leather and PVC was the diversity in the place. Three floors filled with every kind of person you can imagine. Curvy, emaciated, bald, old, young, gay, straight and everything in between I met a woman dressed in full PVC gimp complete with pigtails who claimed to be in her sixties! Damn Mama! And the energy in the place was electric, everyone talking and laughing, “what are you into”, “have you ever…”. And when my corset started slipping, I literally had five people offer to help! There was very much a “We welcome you with open arms for being brave enough to try this” vibe going on. And I’ve got to say, since my trip amongst the whips and chains and restrictive outfits, I have looked upon the world in a different, slightly pervier light. I now look at my neighbors and colleagues and think, whats your thing? What do you like? It was truly a trip out of reality, I was Alice, I’d fallen down the Rabbit Hole and now the Mad Hatter was Fingering the Red Queen in the corner while she spanked the Cheshire Cat. Also, and I’ll be totally candid here for a change (ha), I really thought that the night would be filled with weirdos and perverts, people rubbing their erection against you without so much as a “How do you do”. But there was a polite humanism that ran through the night, a respect that radiated out of every person there, dick in hand or not, and I felt genuinely safe.

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One of the most revealing conversations I had all night was with a man who had come out in drag for the first time. Something which I have always had an enormous respect for is the idea that a man, after months, maybe even years of pleading with himself, finally finds the courage to go out in a dress for the first time. That takes some balls. George (the draglet) was wearing full female garb complete with false eyelashes and heels, but forewent the wig, saying he thought it would have been too much. His girlfriend had wanted to be there that night to support him, but had a thesis on the normalisation of recreational drugs for her MA in criminology due. Amazing.  Some of my most amazing sights of the night included a couple dressed as a pair of Lindt Bunnies (complete with full gold bodypaint) a six-foot bald black dude wearing 7 inch stilettos ON COBBLES and two men wearing feather headdresses and dressed in leather harnesses with special penis holders, for their special penises. Amazing. It’s incredible how quickly you lose your inhibitions when everyone around you is either naked or getting that way.

My one bad memory is speaking to a middle-aged couple, the lady wearing a corset that made it look like she was smuggling two bald guys into the joint, the man wearing leather trousers holding a lead that was attached to his companion via the medium or a leather collar. They joined me at the bar and struck up a conversation regarding my headpiece (a bespoke piece by Twinks Burnett) and bought me a huge rum and coke. We were happily nattering away about how our evening was going, had I caught the self-bondage show (yes, I had, it was ridiculous) had they been to the medical themed room with all the creepy amputee mannequins watching people wank each other off (oh, there was lots of that). The woman laughed and, though I was standing half a foot away, I caught the strong smell of what I can only describe as ‘Cock Breath’. Such a lovely couple too.

At the core of it, TG is a place to be accepted, stripped (literally in some cases) of your outer shell there is nowhere to hide. No one to pretend to be anything else to. You don’t have to suck in your gut or wear enough makeup to make a drag queen blush (except if you actually are a drag queen obvy) It’s a place to be open and completely honest about yourself. It’s hard to lie when you’re standing half-naked in a room full of people who have literally just watched your ass get smacked with a flail. Somewhere in the cacophony of sound, made up of the slap of leather against skin and bamboo against skin and skin against skin, was a low rumble. A vibrating excitement which reverberated off of every body in the room, filling our minds with visions of the last days of Rome. Here there was no judgement, there were no ‘players’ no ‘sluts’, just people openly and honestly engaging in adult playtime, the likes of which I’ve never experienced before or since. As I wondered around the dimly lit rooms of London’s Premiere Playground with my modelesque friend, all 13 stone of me felt sexy, not because everyone was staring at me, but because no one was. There I was thinking how brave I was being, how brash, how incredibly daring. It turns out you don’t have to be confident in your body to go out in a corset, frilly knickers and heels; that’s how you gain confidence in the first place.

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Bikini Panic

As we bid a fond farewell to the icy bonds of winter, waving with one hand, flipping the bird with the other, there is but a moment of serenity during which time one contemplates the fast approaching summer with relative ease. We envisage the baking heat of the UK’s glorious festival scene, late nights in pub gardens and strolls along river banks wearing long white skirts, and many many necklaces. We save our pennies to buy tickets to far away lands where booze and debauchery flow as freely and as naturally as the rivers we dive into. We remember in a dusty haze the summer gone by, the baking streets, the radiant gardens and the endless bar-b-ques. The parties always longer and the hangovers eased by the gentle hand of the sun, caressing us back to life.  But as the sun gets hotter and we peel off our layers, emerging from our chrysalises, we come to realize that some are more butterfly than others and Bikini Panic sets in.Image

The summer has so much to offer in terms of entertainment, travel opportunities, family gatherings and endless partying, but let us not forget the hardships of summer. I will start with what I consider to be the paradigm of the summer blues; I’m talking chub rub. For those of you who are unaware of this most horrendous of afflictions, fuck you you lucky fuckers and please skip this paragraph because you do not understand the misery of chafeage. The summer before uni I took a trip to Rome with two girls I’ve known my entire life, the weather was glorious, that perfect European dry heat with just enough breeze to keep you from complaining… or so I thought. We had been walking around the city for a couple of hours wearing a dress cut just below the knee, and the fattest part of my inner thighs had been making out with each other the entire time, until it got to the point where the friction was too much and I had to dive hastily into and H and M to purchase some leggings. The other two girls reacted with a mixture of pity and amusement, they didn’t seem to understand the painful burning between my thighs was not something to be laughed at, it was a challenge to be overcome. Over the years I have tried several different things, from wearing little shorts beneath skirts and dresses, to braving tights in mid July to using what can only be described as a slick stick which allows your thighs to gracefully glide against one another. I have news for you ladies… essentially you just gotta grin and bear it.

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There’s no miracle cure, except the cultivating the thigh gap, which I’m pleased to report is gaining the press it deserves. I think it is hugely unfair to stigmatize those whose thighs must send carrier pigeons to communicate with each other, who will never feel the heat of a momentary embrace, the rush of a cooling dip soothing the blistering fires of friction. A thigh gap does not a demon make, it doesn’t make a girl anorexic, it doesn’t mean she’s so obsessed with how she looks that she’s shaved off part of her anatomy; it simply means that she was blessed with the gift of never having to apply a thick layer of soothing cream to her burning loins. Speaking of which, is it just me, or does the sun create this salacious atmosphere in which everyone reverts back to the times of the Bacchanalia? Fueled by illicit substances, booze and sunshine we all become little Eroses, flattering, flirting, squeezing, teasing, batting eyelids and flexing in a ritual as old as time.

Festivals are the perfect example of the sun creating this oasis of hedonism where naughtiness is shared in abundance, girls cavort in metallic unitards and neon wigs, wearing more glitter than you could throw at a Drag Queen, while boys unashamedly douse their freshly shaved chests with tanning oil and throw on yet another neon tank top. This is where my Bikini Panic is at its peak; in the hoards of people I would say 80% are body beautiful, perching happily on the shoulders of strangers, crop tops revealing a brown wrinkled area where my gut would be. What I wouldn’t give to wander around in a bikini top and denim shorts like a big ho, relishing the looks of voracity, but then you realize. Skinny bitch goddess over there hasn’t showered in three days either. Her skin is also caked in three days worth of makeup, glitter, sweat, Vaseline and sequins, and as the days wear on, the more sparkle she will don to mask the lingering scent of other peoples’ perspiration, her own tangy aroma concealed by layer upon layer of dry shampoo, deodorant and cheap perfume. Just like the rest of us, she has braved the packed queues for the hovel like porta-loos, she has played wee jenga, she has flown in the face of fecal graffiti and tampon paper chains.

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So, as the sun commences its 6 month reign, the clouds scamper off to the southern hemisphere and the Festival season begins, remember this: Bikini Panic is real, it is out there, but you can totally ignore it if you so wish. As long as you are in  an elated state, surrounded by your favorites, dressed like you stumbled into a fancy dress shop in the dark and smelling like a hobo’s pocket you are doing it right!