INTERVIEW: Fetish Fridays

Fetish Fridays celebrate their second successful year of bringing kinky shenanigans to the Brisbane stage. This Friday, Brisbane Leather Pride’s vice president, Lucero, clues me in on next Friday’s big playdate.

ZENOBIA FROST: Last year’s Fetish Fridays series were a great success, blending performance and play. What has changed as the event’s concept has developed through 2014?
LUCERO: The success of last year’s Fetish Fridays meant that we didn’t want to change much about the events themselves. What we’ve done is have the events at three different venues including holding one on the Gold Coast to make them more accessible to those living outside of Brisbane.

ZF: FFs are developed in collaboration with Brisbane Leather Pride. How important has it been to create a wholly inclusive space?
L: Incredibly important. Part of the Brisbane Leather Pride mandate is to be inclusive of all genders, orientations, lifestyles, etc. We aim for these events to be entertaining, educational and sometimes challenging but we endeavour most of all in making them accessible to everyone.

ZF: What will make even newbies feel at home?
L: The Fetish Fridays events are a great introduction due to the performance nature of the events. Many kink related events are promoted solely as ‘play’ parties, which implies that you must be an active participant to attend. While I know from experience that this is not the case, it certainly can make people nervous about attending. What you will get with Fetish Fridays #3 is a night of entertainment that will show a newcomer to the scene some of the things possible in the kink world — a showcase if you will. The BLP committee members in attendance will also be available to answer any questions people may have.

BLPZF: Tell me about the performances planned for FF #3. What will be your highlights?
L: Redbear and his beautiful partner Namaiki are seasoned performers who will no doubt put on a very moving rope performance. Dolly de Ville is spectacular on pole and fresh from competing in Miss Pole Australia. Reigning ‘Miss Burleque Brisbane’ Magnolia Knife will add some sass, while you can expect something dark from self-proclaimed Old Guard Goths Rex and Ruby.
I will be doing a suspension piece with the amazing Nix, but the highlight — for me at least — will be Master Pierre, who has something very special indeed planned with his pup Jolt. I do not want to give the game away before the night, but Master Pierre’s show will be both entertaining and challenging.

ZF: Your speciality is rope — though it’s not your only area of expertise. How do you make rope-play performative?
L: Honestly? By having an amazing rope bottom, Nix, who does all the hard work and makes me look good. Match this with some theatre, great music and costuming, and I find it is possible to transform a fairly simple rope suspension into something that will take the audience on a journey. Like most performance-based art I truly believe it is about telling a story and having the audience engage.

ZF: Tell me about FF’s newest space. How will it transform from performance to play space?
L: For the final Fetish Friday of 2014 we have chosen a secret location in the heart of Milton. Due to the successful nature of the shows last year, the chosen venue was practically at capacity, so this year we picked a bigger venue with plenty of space.
As the performances come to a close the lighting will dim and the music will start to change the atmosphere of the venue into something of a more underground club feel. As with all kink events, it is the people that make the most prevalent changes and I would expect to see the kinky regulars to start playing almost straight away. Non-active participants are encouraged to stay, watch and ask questions or if they feel comfortable get involved in a safe environment under the watchful eyes of staff and dungeon monitors.

ZF: The event also has a charitable side. Tell me about FF’s support of the Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC).
L: Proceeds from the event will go to support Brisbane Leather Pride this year, as we have just applied to become incorporated after our Inaugural General Meeting in May. While BLP is a not-for-profit venture and all non-performers donate their time voluntarily, there are of course some costs involved. That said, we have a long running association with QuAC and so we donate all monies raised from the excellent raffles held at each Fetish Friday to them. So far, over the first two events, we have raised over $500 for QuAC.

ZF: What’s the number-one thing that makes Fetish Fridays a highlight of Brisbane’s kinky calendar?
L: The kink scene is by its very nature is a somewhat underground place and still taboo in many people’s minds. This is one of the few times that the kink-curious can meet with the experienced and ask real people real questions in a safe and well-managed space.

FETISH FRIDAYS #3 runs from 7pm – 2am on 5 September 2014 in Milton, with the show itself starting at 8pm. (The exact location is sent with your ticket confirmation, but it’s close to Milton train station.) Tickets $30.

INTERVIEW: Fetish Fridays

Much more fun than Casual Fridays, Frankie Vandellous (curator of Alchemy) has collaborated with HazyinSeptember (from Brisbane Leather Pride) to run a trio of evenings celebrating Brisbane’s kink communities: Fetish Fridays. Over three consecutive weeks, Number 29 Club has been home to all sorts of playtimes for public consumption. The final show is coming up — this Friday, 6 September. I spoke with Ms Vandellous herself (on the night of the second show) to find out a little more.

Words: Zenobia Frost
Photos: Stuart Hirth

ZF: Take me on a tour of the venue on Fetish Fridays; walk me through that front door and describe the atmosphere you wanted to create.
FV: Fetish Fridays is being held on the lower level of the Number 29 Club, a male-only club — so already, we are staging a revolution! An open-air courtyard leads to a dark room with a small stage at the other end. It feels like a “back room” performance: alternative, underground, where anything could happen (and does)!

Photo by Stuart Hirth

ZF: It sounds like FF#1 was an electrifying success with audiences. Tell me about your goal: to create a safe space to blend fetish with theatre.
FV: With established Doms, burlesque dancers, and drag performers in our program, we turned kink into performance. My aim was to provide an opportunity for the “kinky and the curious” to celebrate Brisbane’s vibrant kink community, showcase its diversity, and to show how technique can be elevated into artistry. I hoped to provide a launching pad for discussion and a desire to engage further in the community.

ZF: Do you think FF#1 was successful in those goals — did it educate and titillate?
FV: I walked away from FF Part I feeling that this event was one of the best I have worked on in a long while. There was not a single heteronormative performance on the first night, and the energy of the room was one of celebration and community. I know that some audience members walked away feeling a renewed interest or hunger. I hope that they find satisfaction.

ZF: Tell me about the crowd — I bet they were a well-dressed bunch.
FV: There was such diversity! There were corsets and fetish-wear, suits and sweatpants — even leather harnesses and jock straps! We also had a diversity of ages and experiences with kink. We had attendees who had never even attended a burlesque show sharing the room with established members of the kink community. This was a truly inclusive event.

Photo by Stuart Hirth

ZF: How has the BDSM community in Brisbane taken to these gigs? What kind of feedback have you received?
FV: Both the performers and the audience have given me great feedback; there is a lot of excitement about this project, and I have heard that it has been spoken about extensively in the BDSM community over the weeks leading up to it. As our first attempt, we are improving each week, and certainly looking to enhance the viewers’ experience in the future. The team involved in this project are already planning our next step… Stay tuned…

ZF: FF#2 focused on gender-bending, drag and burlesque. What were the highlights?
FV: There were so many performers that I was excited to watch last night. I love Vivienne VSassy’s burlesque performances and appreciate RedBear’s passion for rope. I knew that Miss Gen had been working extensively on her rope routine and she is a true rope artist, and I was excited to see Tara Raboom Deay perform her drag strip routine. I was also very excited to see Labrys perform — the last show of the night. She blew me away with her aesthetic vision, safety precautions, attention to detail, and performance. I will just say that it involved a hospital bed, needle play, a violet wand, a camera projecting live onto a television screen, a Whitney Houston song, and an actual female orgasm.

Photo by Stuart Hirth

ZF: Each FF has raffled prizes in support of QAHC — a damn good cause. Do you feel it’s perhaps time for Brisbane’s queer and kinky folks to rally together against potential consequences of the coming election?
FV: It is always the time to rally together. That is the short answer. Certainly, events such as Leather Pride are perfect expressions of the interplay between the kink and queer communities. However there are a number of aspects to this issue that Brisbanites will need to negotiate in order for there to be consolidation allowing for political action. It is my hope that FF can create a place for intersection and good-will.
My reasoning in creating a raffle for QAHC was the concept of what constitutes a “healthy community”. I truly believe that a healthy city has both a vibrant creative culture and sexual culture, where participants can express themselves in dymanic and healthy ways. QAHC has a history of supporting the kink community. For example, they have allowed Peer Rope to utilise the QAHC space for monthly workshops.

ZF: The final event samples kinky delights. What kind of advice would you give a curious beginner.
FV: Have an open mind. We are offering an event in the spirit of community building, fundraising, and hospitality. Everyone is welcome. Certainly, elements of the evening may be shocking for some viewers. It is vital to understand that those involved in the show are rehearsed, and experienced individuals versed in Risk Aware Consensual Kink (RACK), they know exactly what they are engaging in, and have the ability to stop at any time. Not all performances will be on that side of the spectrum, however; we have moments of comedy, dance, and lots of fun as well.

The final FETISH FRIDAY, Part III, takes place on 6 September, 2013. Tickets are $15 on the door.