Ten years ago, I went to my first fetish party. I'd seen pictures of so many guys attending street fairs and club nights in their hot gear and decided I wanted to be part of that crowd, too.
Adrenaline was pumping through me when I first ventured into the local fetish scene of my home town, Munich - I was so shy and nervous. I expected everything to look like a Tom of Finland drawing. It did, to some extent - people wore tight leather or rubber on their muscular bodies - but amongst all the sex, there was also a huge amount of laughter and banter, with a relaxed social aspect that I never knew existed. One of my most memorable sights was a very fit guy in sneakers and a jockstrap being fisted on the bar… in a huge blonde wig. It totally changed my view of the fetish scene. It's a sexualised place, but it can also be full of laughter.
Nowadays, when I attend a party or event it's still a thrill; something I look forward to for a long time, as anticipation builds. I even sometimes keep the flyers and posters of some of the parties I've visited - I've still got the booklet from my first Fetish Week London somewhere in a drawer... But I'm still slightly on tenterhooks until I get to the party itself.
What should I wear? How do I get to the venue? What's the vibe like? Do I pay for my drinks upon exiting the club or should I stick some cash down my boots?
When I travel abroad I usually check the Recon events listings to see who else might be there. It makes it super easy to get in touch with local guys and ask them about the event.
The first couple of times, I also felt nervous about putting on my rubber gear, trying to cover it as I leave the flat and head to the underground or a cab. Will other people notice? Can they hear the squeaking? Oh god, I'm leaving little puddles of sweat, what will the others think? It takes some time to get more comfortable about it all and realise you're going to be just fine.
So, here's my personal view on what to do or avoid when you're heading out in gear:
1) Confidence is key
You're a strong, independent kinkster taking charge of your own life. You can do this. You're looking hot. You're basically a superhero under those track pants. If others stare, give them something to stare at, and put some bass in that walk-of-shame the next morning.
2) Safety in numbers
Every superhero needs a Justice League, or at least a sidekick. If possible, I usually coordinate travels to clubs with friends. Going to Folsom Europe, I once sat in a U-Bahn carriage that had more kinksters on than regular riders. It was a great feeling. Be mindful, though, as big groups or cliques can look intimidating to others at a party.
3) Be approachable
I get it, we're all trying to act as tough and cocky as possible, but just a smile or eye contact can make the difference to another shy kinkster who's struggling to summon up the courage to talk to you. However, it's not a one-way street. If you want to talk to someone, don't just wait for them to make the first move. Take control and say "hi" - even if you're a sub. And don't expect people to know who you are when you're wearing a mask - we don't all have x-ray vision.
4) Flattery will get you everywhere
"You look fantastic, who are you wearing tonight" is the standard opening line on any red carpet - it also works pretty well at fetish events. A lot of thought and work goes into some outfits, and we're all vain AF. If you see something you like, make a compliment. I've said "Hey, great outfit" to many people who I considered out of my league, but it gets you talking.
5) Don't touch, unless you've got permission
Consent is sexy. Wearing gear is not an invitation for sexual harassment. And no means no, even in a darkroom.
6) Know your limits
Boundaries are there to be pushed, but make sure you're not writing cheques your body can't cash. It'll be no fun at a fisting party without some previous experience. If you're noticing halfway through a bondage scene that it's not your cup of tea, there'll be frustration, but don't let that stop you from trying something different or from saying "stop" if you're not feeling it.
If you're taking drugs, be aware that it doesn't just affect you, but also others around you. Not everyone enjoys spending all their time comforting others during a bad trip, and the club owners might get in trouble with the police or licensing authorities because of your behaviour.
7) Enjoy yourself!
Don't feel ashamed and don't shame others, and never, ever take any of it - least of all yourself - too seriously.
8) Avoid post-event blues
You've had a great weekend full of sleazy fun and great experiences? Awesome! But at some point, everyday life inevitably kicks back in, and it can be quite a drop. Review your pics, book the next holiday or phone your kink friends to tell them about your experiences to make them green with envy.
Check out the digital copy of Recon Issue_01 using the link below for other fetish articles, interviews, photography and artwork