"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
"I think so, Brain, but where will we find rubber pants our size?"
(illo: modeling rubber pants in high heels)
Simple enough, if you're in New York: you go to the Baroness,
and have her custom-make a pair for you....
I am easily talked into things (read "gullible") --it's one
of the basic elements of my nature. It's not really a good
survival trait: in fandom, this has led to working on
conventions, joining the Lunarians, and even serving as
their secretary. I've described the Lunarians in the past
as a circle-jerk using Robert's Rules of Order as the stroke
book --and they haven't changed. However, I've gotten older, and
somewhat wiser, so I direct my masochism into somewhat different
channels: I'm involved with the leather/ s& m/ fetish/ radical
sexuality scene. This way, when I'm doing something perverse,
I'm more likely to get pleasure from it.
On the other hand, that same gullibility has put
me in some rather strange situations in the leather
scene: suspended by my ankles, tied down and set
on fire, mummified with plastic wrap and duct
tape, mummified with alginate and plaster.... So
when my friend Hilton mentioned that the Baroness
was looking for some models for the fashion show she
would be presenting in a few weeks, I said, "Sure,
give her my number." A few phone calls passed
between the three of us, and I had an appointment
for a fitting. After all, how dangerous could
modeling be? (Ominous chords, please....)
The Baroness lives and works in the East Village.
Way East Village, past the trendy shops, past the
bikers, past the skinheads, the punks, the goths --
all the way over into the mixed-income, real neighbor-hood
section. I walked over one January afternoon,
wondering just what I'd volunteered for this time.
All I knew was that this was a fashion show of rubber
and latex clothing.
(illo: "I'm the Best...")
I'd seen people in rubber and latex clothes at
various clubs and events in the city, and some of it
looked intriguing, but it had never really interested
me enough to investigate it further. My little
PVC-and-spandex jumpsuit was quite exotic enough in
texture for me. I'm just a good old-fashioned girl:
leather, lace, silk, chains, etc. Still, I've tried to never miss out on the opportunity to explore a new sensation, or learn about another fetish, with a few exceptions.
Be that as it may, I rang the bell, and was let into the apartment where the Baroness lives and works. A tall elegant woman with striking features and a wild mane of red hair greeted me, and immediately began telling her assistants which pieces to bring out for me to try on. "Do you wear heels?" "Are you willing to wear a collar?" "Would you mind being tied up in front of the audience?" "Do you own red earrings?" I answered the questions she fired at me, then stripped down to the camisole and tights I'd thought would be appropriate underwear for a fitting. We discussed
shoes, makeup, and she had me try on at least a dozen pieces.
Rubber and latex, for the record, do not move the same way that cloth, or even leather, does. They do stretch a bit, but not as much as you might think (or hope). In order to get into a snug-fitting piece of rubber clothing, you first powder the inside with corn starch, baby powder, or something similar. Then you squeeze, and slither, and squirm, and slide the piece over your body, smoothing it down and around your curves and bends. Then your assistant --and trust me, you need one --whips out the bottle of Armour-All, sprays you down (an odd sensation, since the rubber transmits the coolness and the pressure, but not the actual moisture), and buffs you to a mirror polish.
(illo: Vijay being buffed)
Shine, the Baroness' assistant, has a rubber-and-
latex fetish (he's the one who got her into
designing rubber clothing, actually), and he was
exceedingly careful to polish every last inch of
each piece. "I've never had my butt buffed this
way before," I remarked. "Isn't it lovely?" the
Baroness replied absently, as she pulled out a
little red latex apron, trimmed with green pine
trees and white lace, then shook her head, "Just
be sure to tell me if he's enjoying himself too
much...." Eventually she decided on several
outfits for me, in red and black. We scheduled a
rehearsal and second fitting, this time with me
bringing the accessories that I would supply, and
I was regally dismissed, to wander back west,
I still didn't quite understand the appeal of rubber clothing, but I didn't think it mattered. All I had to do was present myself in front of an audience, striding, posing, and looking as if I wore this sort of thing all the time. As a woman who had managed to play the brainless Victorian pseudo-Japanese maidens, imbecilic wards of idiot Major-Generals, mindless fairy bimbos, lovesick poetic bimbos, and moronic sisters/ cousins/ aunts of Savoy operas for five years with a straight face, this seemed comparatively easy; at least I wouldn't have to shriek and swoon.
We had two rehearsals, and shuffled some outfits between the ten models the Baroness had acquired. Some of them had worked with her before, and she had literally acquired one from a restaurant: "I handed her my card, and said that I'd like to use her as a model. She called me, and agreed. Simple enough." I've read far too many true-crime books in which that sort of thing leads to a body being found two months later in a ravine, I couldn't conceive of doing such a thing myself, but not everyone reads true-crime when their brains fry, I guess. I was particularly taken by Abigail,
a tall, exquisitely beautiful woman who designs hats for a living: just watching her smooth a turquoise latex skirt over her hips made me flush.
Surrounded by a number of people wearing rubber and latex, I began to get a sense of the appeal that it can have. It fits so snugly against the skin, reflecting light --black rubber can develop a mirror-like shine -- curving and folding, smelling faintly like white chocolate, as well as of the polishes used. Shine used a citrus-scented polish on some of the
pieces, which, combined with the baby powder and the white chocolate smell, was luscious. They squeak and pop quietly as you move in them as well, and the cool heavy folds of rubber falling against bare skin is a sensual
delight unlike anything else I know....
My portion of the show was relatively simple: I came out in a cute black rubber jumper and rubber boots in the first piece, a waist cincher in another, a kicky black miniskirt in a third, and ended up being tied up with rubber straps in the final piece. Simple enough... though we hadn't realized just how intimate we models would become with each other as we squirmed in and out of the pieces in the dark behind the performance area, nor how long it would actually take for some of the people to be unlaced and relaced and hooked into their pieces in the dark. This led to an extended pas de deux with another model, while we waited for the next one to finish getting dressed and emerge, but over all, it went well.
A few weeks later, the Baroness called, this time to ask if I would consider modeling for the catalogue she was putting together. I would have done it just for the sake of trying it, but she offered me the kicky miniskirt. While generous with my time and energy, I am not a complete idiot: when offered an expensive piece of fetish wear in return for what
sounds like a simple enough task, I take it.
Modeling sounds simple enough: after all, what are you doing? Just standing still, changing clothes and shifting occasionally, while someone takes photos. No problem --shouldn't take too long, and I can spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out in a cafe or a pub in the Village writing.
We played around with my makeup, and the Baroness painted my nails bright red (that was almost the most perverse sensa-tion throughout the entire series of shows). Then she pulled out the outfits that she wanted
me to model, and we started. The first ones
were simple enough: the miniskirt, first with a
lace top and four-inch spiked heels, with me
posing with a compact and lipstick, or just
turning in one direction or another. I began to
suspect that it wouldn't be quite as easy as I'd
thought, after the first twenty photos had been
taken. "Could you arch your back a little more?
That's it --now tilt your head about fifteen
degrees, and look to the left. Hey, Shine --
can you buff the left side of the skirt? Don't
(illo: Vijay posing for photos)
I wore flat shoes for the next outfit, but they wanted to catch me in motion, so I danced, and jumped up and down, while another two rolls of film were shot. Then back into the heels, and the waist cincher; then the sleek red skirt. That's when I really learned what models go through: "Okay, bring your arms up over your head, lift your chin and tilt it to the right, look left, arch your back. Now drop your shoulders, turn your left elbow out about fifteen degrees more, stick your ass out, push your tits out a little, look seductive, and relax. Now hold it just like that...." and I could hear half a roll of film being used. "Stay there --I want to get some color shots as well." Positions the human body only gets into in transition from one movement to another, held for prolonged periods, punctuated by minor movements, and the pervasive smell of Armour-All, as Shine darted in to buff the pieces over and over; hot white lights, tight rubber and latex pieces being slid over my skin back and forth... another piece, another contorted pose held for a small eternity....
"Let's do a fifties-style shot, since we've got you in the apron --
I'll get the glasses and a tray." A few minutes later, I found myself bent
forward, trying to look perky and cute, with a silver tray with filled
martini glasses on it. "Great, absolutely great! Now can
you hold it on one palm, and lean forward again? Great,
but just a little farther forward, and arch your
back a bit more...."
I knew it would happen: the tray slid off
my hand, and one of the glasses broke as it
hit the ground --and I fell forward as
well. Images of emergency rooms, and
explanations of what happened, as well
as "What if the skirt gets torn by the
glass?" flashed through my mind, but
I twisted, wrenching my back, and
hit the floor scant inches away
from the shrapnel.
(illo: Vijay droping the tray)
"Are you all right?"
"Yes, I'm okay. I hope you
got a shot of that fall --I'm
not doing it again!"
Five hours --four of
them in spike heels --and
twelve rolls of film later,
my first photo-shoot was done. We sat, drinking dark beer, and talked for a bit, then I walked west to the subways, in the cool spring night. Everything ached, everything felt stretched and contorted; even the subway steps made me clench my teeth and gasp. The next day, I was useless, living on ibuprofen and tea, and praying that the photos would be worth the pain. A few weeks later, I received a set of contact sheets, and was amazed by how many of the shots actually looked good. I did three more modeling jobs for the Baroness and learned about real catwalks, multiple flashbulbs,
navigating spiral staircases in long straight skirts, and how twelve models can strip completely and change in a closet (you get really, really intimate, and have one person lacing you up while you're stripping someone else, who's buckling a third person at the same time, that's how). The catalogue came out in time for Dressing For Pleasure, the big East Coast fetish extravaganza; even before I received my copy, I had people coming up and telling me that they'd seen my photos, and thought they were magnificent. Not quite the same sort of egoboo as from a fanzine, but still appreciated.
And in the winter, I received a phone message: "Velma, thanks again for all your help, and the wonderful photos, and by the way, I've put your ass on my Web page...." Excuse me? I did sign over the rights to the photos, but somehow, I hadn't expected that the Baroness would use one of mine on her Web site. (I wonder how many people have seen me....)
This year has been different,
comparatively quiet. Because of the
Baroness, I found myself being asked to
do a modeling job for Direktor Leathers,
a line that's exclusive to one of the
fetish stores in New York City. That was
simpler: only three outfits, though two
were corsets, one with a panniered skirt
with a train attached. I've actually
concluded that corsets are my main
interest in fetish gear, being a form of
body modification that can be put on and
off without necessarily causing permanent
changes to the body. (On the other hand,
there is a part of me that wonders how
I'd look with my waist permanently reduced
to eighteen inches --I have taken it
down that far briefly, but usually only
go down to nineteen to twenty-one inches.)
I've also done one more show for the
Baroness. This year's Black and Blue
Ball, an annual charity fetish event, was
held on a ship docked in New York Harbor.
The experience of walking while chained
to eight other people, in spike heels
(again), while going up and down stairs
on a ship shifting with the tide,
is... unique, I'll say.
(illo: Vijay at the ball)
Would I do it all again? Sure. Why?
Because I'm still gullible....
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Hard copy provided by Geri Sullivan
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Updated September 29, 2015. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.