We chat to fetish photographer Sly Hands about #MRM7
13 March 2016
Recon recently caught up top fetish photographer Sly Hands to talk to him about the upcoming Manchester Rubber Weekend – an event he helped to create. Here's what he had to say:
Recon: Hi Sly How's it going? You must be pretty busy at the minute getting ready for Manchester Rubber Weekend. How's all the prep work going?
Sly Hands: Hey guys! Yeah the weekend always takes up a lot of time and effort; we're not event organisers but I think we're getting better at it each year! The booklet's out, which needed all the venue/event details, artwork, adverts, times etc., so that's a huge bit done. Now it's a case of getting the physical bits and the crew ready, so it's getting exciting!
R: This is your 7th year of putting on the event, and it seems to be going from strength to strength. How does it feel to see something you helped create develop the way it has?
SH: I'm absolutely thrilled and still always slightly shocked, as it just began as a group of mates wanting to build a community in the local scene, inspired by the Chicago Rubbermen. I think it's the passion of the people in Manchester that's really helped. We just like to have fun - even if it's a bit rough around the edges - and I think that's what's helped it grow, as more of our international friends want to come and join in the party! We've got guys coming from over 20 different countries, from as far as Canada, the US, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland and Norway. So while it's not a huge street fair weekend, it gets a really nice cross section of hot guys from across the world.
R: We often hear from guys on how much fun they have at your events. What do you think it is about your get-togethers that are so enjoyable?
SH: I think our ethos of being about community first and foremost has really helped us, as we're a not-for-profit group. It sort of takes that serious edge off. I like to think it's like a weekend of house parties - obviously not actually in a house - but have that feel of just getting all the people you've met from all these different events together to have a laugh and a drink. We always try to encourage a friendly atmosphere of smiling, saying hey, welcoming new faces and making sure they've met others over the course of the event. Setting the tone that way already makes for a fun weekend of hanging out and playing. If we can make the weekend slick, fun and run smoothly on top of that it's all just a bonus!
R: What parties and events can guys look forward to this year?
SH: There's a great variety, from sleazy to frivolous. We've got Alert! - Manchester's cornerstone fetish event - which has an amazing permanent play area in its new venue, that you have to check out. Darkcell is going to be more of an alternative dance party. While Slick is more cruisey, with lots of bondage going on. Some of the popular favourites - which aren't really kinky but a great chance to socialise and not take ourselves too seriously - include the Market with pup area and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence providing the bingo. The bingo is as camp as it sounds, but helps us raise loads for charity, and last year we gave away insane amounts of rubber gear. It was packed, as people wanted to get their hands on new outfits and it was all for a good cause.
There's some new things like the walking tour, which is led by a really passionate guy who's on top form with his history. He'll take locals and visitors alike through a journey of industrial revolution, the Madchester clubbing scene, our proud gay village and the bomb that changed everything. We also have a new Thursday night event where guys can grab dinner with some fetish cabaret, and a Monday morning chillout, for when everyone's been kicked out of their hotels and need to nurse their hangovers!
Unashamedly I have to admit one of my favourite bits is Geartunes, our little homage to the Chicago guys. Oscar's Bar goes all out to welcome wall to wall rubber guys, in a tiny bar, all singing to show tunes. Whether you like them or not, just seeing everyone really laughing, singing and swinging cocktails - like some fabulous Oktoberfest - never fails to make my weekend. It really just sums up that we don't take ourselves too seriously in Manchester. There's plenty of time to get macho in the dark, but as the rubber community grows we have to embrace and welcome all the kinksters, of all shapes and sizes. We don't believe there's just one hot gay mould.
R: You're obviously well known for your incredible fetish photography. Are you working on any projects at the moment?
SH: Aw thanks! I'm always trying to better myself. I've recently got new kit and it's gorgeous to see the higher resolutions and details, so having lots of fun with all that. Aside from trying to always keep a fresh eye on fetish for guys' portraits and editorials for companies, I'm starting to work on some gallery collections to exhibit, such as a series based around some of my favourite ancient mythology. I've also recently been approached about a book, so fingers crossed that all works out!
R: We loved the imagery you produced for #MRM7. Have you had a good response to it?
SH: You'll make me blush if you carry on! Yeah the main weekend poster has been really popular and I've had some lovely, encouraging messages from people. I'd had the idea to create a pastiche of the iconic flag raising at Iwo Jima for several years as it's become a symbol of freedom in popular culture, but I needed the perfect location and weather conditions, so I was very excited to finally get it done! I wanted it to be a comment on the comradery and brotherhood the scene needs to thrive. We used guys that were all recent additions to the scene, to show the new wave of guys coming in and leading the way.
R: Team Recon will be heading to #MRM7 for our first taste of Manchester fetish. We can't wait. What's the scene like in the city?
SH: Awesome you'll have a great time! Manchester's really spoilt for choice with the gay scene mostly being in one area - The Village. After Queer as Folk, which was set in the city, it sadly became quite the tourist spot, full of hen parties and cheap shots. To some extent that's still there, but more and more we're seeing classier joints popping up with a modern feel, that have quality drinks, food and entertainment. There's also lots of queer alternative nights springing up, and a huge creative scene using venues outside of The Village. These nights have a mix of punk, drag, fetish and straights - all just getting sweaty under the same roof! It's part of why we love Manchester so much, it's never afraid to be different!
#MRM7 runs from Thursday 21 – Monday 25 April 2016. For more information, select the links below.