As other, more hardcore, fetish events experience dwindling attendances in this gloomy economic climate, Festival of Sins seems to go from strength to strength.
This could be just a coincidence — could be just because the event is naturally becoming better known with time. But part of its growing appeal must surely be because this bi-monthly night at Camden’s Purple Turtle has a style that clearly separates it from other events.
Its fetish-friendly, entertainment-based evening, combining burlesque/cabaret performances, fashion shows and live bands, is a unique mix on the London scene.
True, there are other regular burlesque nights that stage a variety of acts. True, there are the big annual fetish weekends that dedicate one night or one part of a big venue to cabaret performances.
But no one other than FoS regularly offers seven or eight live performances, including bands, at a night where fully-clad pervs, fetish-friendly civilians and the kink-curious mingle happily without the pressures of a strict dresscode or a heavy door price.
FoS, let me remind you, costs just £5 before 9.30, £6 with a flyer and £7 on the door. This makes their full door price cheaper than most clubs’ half-price guest lists! And yes, they do pay their performers. So, honestly, what’s not to like?
Oh, sorry: it doesn’t have a dungeon. Well go to Subversion then. And it isn’t the kind of place where couples can have furtive sex in dark alcoves. So go to TG. Just don’t tell me that you can get the mix that FoS offers elsewhere, because you can’t.
However, those of us (me included) accustomed to assuming that as long as you get to a club by 11pm, you’re not going to miss much of the action, do need to adjust our sights a little for FoS. The first acts here go on quite early, and consequently I missed the first couple of shows on June’s gluttony-themed bill.
I arrived just as my friend Aneta made her debut as a naked cake girl, under a layer of prosthetic foodstuffs created by Sammm Agnew. But as this performance took place within the audience, surrounded by an impenetrable huddle of bodies, I couldn’t actually fight my way through in time to catch it. Bummer.
Burlesque artist Vicky Butterfly looked stunning performing her talon-wielding twist on a ’20s flapper girl
First stage show I caught in full was by burlesque artist Vicky Butterfly, who looked absolutely stunning performing her talon-wielding twist on a ’20s flapper girl. I had to shoot the performance pap-style over the heads of other ’togs, so it was nice to get the chance later, when she came out into the audience, to snap her in close-up, with pal Veronika Valentine.
First of the evening’s two fashion shows was provided by Mort Couture, presenting their own particular take on Gothic style. Interesting clothes, but it was sometimes hard to tell whether the models’ still-life poses were a product of stage direction or stage fright. Still, their steam-punk weaponry was cool.
The live band element of a Festival of Sins night is generally the least predictable part of the overall package. In the sense, I mean, of knowing in advance whether you’re likely to get any pleasure out of a particular live set.
So it can go either way. I have seen some great bands at FoS — bands I would never have known to seek out on my own. But I would have been happy without one of tonight’s performances, featuring a vocalist who could apparently neither find nor hold a note.
The evening’s second, headlining fashion show was provided by Sinners Skin Latex, who hail from the Leeds area. In contrast to the mostly static Goths, their show was a boisterous cake-fuelled affair featuring the likes of Missy Starr and Aneta (again), who between them possess four of the best legs on the London fetish scene.
I’m told that this was just a taster of the latex style that designer Lauren aspires to, and that she’s hoping to have the opportunity to give us both barrels, as it were, at another night later in the year. I’ll look forward to that.
All the acts were introduced by FoS MC Nathan Shame, resplendent tonight in an outfit lampooning Ronald McDonald, and in great gobby form as always.
The highlight of his evening (not) came when he attempted to remove the top layer of his outfit, to reveal red ’n’ white striped combinations beneath. Unfortunately he couldn’t get the trouser bottoms over his boots and had to resort to crawling around the stage in ankle-hobbling trouser bondage.
Sometimes the best laughs are the unplanned ones, eh?
A little extra touch to the night’s quirkiness was provided by photographer Adam Robertson. As part of his birthday celebrations, he had persuaded a number of his model friends to turn up dressed as geeks, complete with “serious” glasses.
It proved just how much difference a pair of specs can make to the appearance of someone you think you know really well. FoS promoter May LR confessed later that she hadn’t recognised several of her mates who were thus attired.
They, on the other hand, now in all likelihood being able to see clearly in a club for the very first time, probably recognised her straightaway.
To celebrate his birthday, photographer Adam Robertson’s model friends turned up disguised as geeks in serious glasses