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50 Shades of Grey may have brought BDSM culture under mainstream America's microscope, but we're here to report that the fetish scene has been alive and well here in South Florida. But it's not all chains, ball gags, latex, and pleather. There's an entire community aspect, with strict rules on party etiquette, dress code, and letting your wildest fantasies run free. Plus, the roster of attendees includes a set you might not expect.
Call it Christian Grey fever or a hit from kinky Cupid, we were curious about the world of doms, subs, rubberists, and pets. We tapped in Danny AE (he preferred we didn't use his full name), general manager of The Fetish Factory, a South Florida-based sex store (which you know all about from our adult store roundup) that credits itself with bringing the glam fetish scene from London to South Florida.
When Glenn FF, a former healthcare professional with a serious interest in latex, opened his Oakland Park store, he was faced with a dilemma: customers weren't satisfied with just wearing the costumes at home. In response he co-founded the party, and since 1995 Fetish Factory has been throwing the self-proclaimed largest monthly glam fetish party in the U.S., with its biggest shebang yet to come: a four day fetish weekend in May to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Scroll down to learn more about what to expect from your first fetish party, because when alter egos are unleashed not everything is what it seems.
When you envision a fetish party, you envision a lot of latex, dangerous contraptions, strange harnesses, people doing the dirty. Is it really like that?
You can have both types of parties. It really depends on who hosts it. Do your research, read reviews, and find real answers. The right fetish party is not dangerous, strange, or dirty. The right fetish party offers a safe and friendly environment for you to unleash your fantasies in. There will be latex clothing, amazing creations, friendly open-minded people, and play areas for you to get your kink on that are managed by people that know how to use the equipment... Then there is the latter, and these parties and organizers distort reality and give good events a bad name.
What are the most common fetishes at these parties? The strangest?
I really don't want to offer you a few words to describe a huge painting, but the most common ones are engaging in flogging, wax play, rope bondage, foot worshiping, voyeurism- but those are just a few of the things that you see. What's going on in people's minds is uncanny and in their minds is where true satisfaction lies. It's not always physical pleasure. Foreplay is the ultimate game. Tease and denial is the best form of flattery. It can lead to a cat and mouse game.
A cat and mouse game?
There are two types of cats: the good cat and bad cat. The bad cat chases the mouse and once caught, eats the mouse. The game is over. The good cat chases the mouse around the house and once caught, marvels over it and sets it free just so that it can repeat the chase over and over again. The thrill is not the kill, the hunt is.
So dress code is clearly an important element of fetish parties. What do you wear?
See, the dress code equalizes the crowd and makes everyone the same. It's hard to think less of a man who enjoys wearing a tutu when you're a man wearing a skirt... The dress code pushes you to become something else and adds color and beauty to the party... The dress code allows for you to experience your alter ego, your inner self.
What if you don't want to go full out with my costume. Any tips on easy and cheap costumes a newbie can wear?
You don't have to go full out. If you're a newbie there are plenty of ways to do so, from kinky lingerie to vinyl pants. (Yeah, both can apply to girls and dudes). However, 99 percent of the people who come once keep coming and start becoming more adventurous with their outfits. All we ask is that you try. Take a moment to speak to us or pass by our showroom and let us guide you.
Fetish party etiquette: what's the 411?
Get ready to see and experience things you've never seen or experienced. Be respectful- don't touch unless asked to touch, don't engage in play with someone who hasn't invited you, and play safe. Don't be an asshole. Educate yourself a little before you show up at the door. Have fun, smile, and be a good human being. When you engage it must be consensual where both parties are agreeing to play the game.
What kinds of people go to fetish parties?
What I've learned through the years is that everyone has an alter ego locked inside... You can be poor, rich, white, black, gay, straight, young, older, single, married... We attract all demographics, socioeconomically diverse and fully pansexual. The person behind the mask could be a cop, a lawyer, a plumber, a blog writer from miami, a college teacher, or the girl next door.
What's one misconception people have about fetish parties you wish you could change?
When people say, 'oh, you're into that freaky shit?' or 'oh, that's that freaky shit.' In my mind I think, 'whats freaky about any of this?' The word 'freak' is antagonizing and really ignorant. It's one of those words that should be deleted from the dictionary. People in our crowd have perfectly normal lives with normal wives and kids and important positions in high-end places. Putting on a ball gag to keep your mouth shut while you get tied up and spanked in latex will NEVER make you a freak. It makes you awesome, adventurous, open-minded and will make you feel great. These are things that are nothing to laugh about, your fantasies are nothing to take lightly.
So Fetish Factory celebrates its 20th year this year. What was the fetish scene like in the 90s?
In the 90s, the owners [of Fetish Factory] engaged in BDSM [bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism] & D/S [dominance and submission] house parties. The house parties soon grew into nightclub parties. Those house parties became referred to as dungeon parties that you attended to either "beat or get beat." Dungeon parties still exist all over the U.S. and all over the world. What is unique about Fetish Factory is the movement towards glam-style fetish parties. The emphasis is on music and fashion with a daring attitude.
What inspired Glenn, the owner of Fetish Factory, to build his fetish empire down here in 1995?
Glenn was involved and exposed to the hardcore BDSM scene in New York at a very young age. After a very successful career in health care, he sold his company and decided to look for something new and exciting to create. Glenn had a personal interest in latex and the way it changed peoples attitudes and transformed them. After hosting BDSM events for almost 2 years, just before opening the store, they went to London where the underground scene was brewing a whole new movement in hosting glam rubber club events. That experience set the tone and focus on bringing a similar style of events to the U.S.
What came first, the store or the party?
The BDSM parties came first. When we opened our doors we found ourselve catering to an extremely diverse crowd that was intrigued by our passion to create a movement. They came from every corner. After several month the customers were coming to the store asking us what to do with these outfits we were selling. 'We're tired of chasing each other at home,' they would say. There was no where to go, so because of our sense of community and drive to be more than a store we created the party for those like us who love to dress up in fetish fashion and have a safe haven to enjoy our fetishes.
What's next for Fetish Factory?
Fetish Factory continues to reinvent itself and go far and beyond. We have have tons of tricks up our sleeves and, rather than talk about it, were just gonna do it and you're gonna find out. Actions speak louder than words, and the best is yet to come.