Tony’s aim was to apply the professional journalistic experience gained at senior editorial level on Skin Two and before that, on weekly music paper Sounds, to the creation of a fetish website that would combine the best qualities of print and digital media in a single, free-to-view online product.
The Fetishistas soon became established as an authoritative fetish media brand, able to attract high quality contributions from kinky creatives around the world and welcomed at fetish events from Amsterdam to Zagreb.
In almost eight years years of publishing, the original website developed into a sizeable and unique record of fetish culture and creative endeavour with tens of thousands of images and hundreds of thousands of words.
In November 2014, a new Fetishistas site — the one you’re viewing here — was launched on the WordPress platform. It adds a welter of exciting new design features and functionality along with numerous editorial and promotional opportunities never possible with the old custom-coded site.
But in order to maintain its accessibility as a historical record, the old site has been retained as an archive under a new URL: thefetishistasarchive.com. On the archive site, you can access everything published in the first eight years of The Fetishistas, in its original form. The final year of old site content can also be found ported across to the new site.
Two brand new Fetishistas products are also due online in early 2016. These new resources will be of great appeal to anyone interested in fetish/BDSM events or latex clothing, and will vastly increase the opportunities for people who run such businesses to maintain a constant editorial presence.
Before his involvement in fetish publishing, Tony Mitchell enjoyed a career as a rock journalist on the London-based music weekly Sounds. Joining the paper as a musical instrument specialist in 1975, he gradually broadened his skills to become an all-rounder who could write for and edit any section of the paper.
It was a job that undeniably had a glamorous element, giving many opportunities for foreign travel and meeting musical heroes. But as Tony’s position on the paper became more senior, it also became more deskbound, and by the late ’80s he felt it was time for a change and the pursuit of excitement once again.
The direction that change would eventually take was determined some years earlier, when the original Skin Two club first opened its doors in a Soho basement in January 1983. The club was launched by one of Tony’s music biz friends, David Claridge, along with theatrical designer and latex fashion pioneer Daniel James, and Mitchell immediately became part of the the club’s ‘inner circle’.
When actor and puppeteer Claridge left to pursue his television career as the man behind TV-am’s Roland Rat character, the club changed its name to Maitresse and the Skin Two name was acquired by book industry headhunter Tim Woodward for a fetish fanzine project with photographer Grace Lau.
Mitchell was introduced to Woodward shortly after the first issue of Skin Two was published in 1984, and began contributing to the project from issue 2, while still working full-time on Sounds.
Over the next three years, Mitchell’s involvement in Skin Two increased as the magazine grew in size and frequency, and by the time it was ready to launch its own fetish retail showroom in 1987, Tony was ready to put professional pervery first and leave his Sounds job. He continued freelancing for the music paper for a few years, until it was closed as part of a takeover deal with EMAP.
The early ’90s were a time of great excitement in Skin Two’s world. The fetish scene was spreading across the globe, with new clubs, designers, product manufacturers and other business ventures appearing virtually every week. Skin Two’s empire was constantly expanding, and Mitchell was involved in every aspect, both as Woodward’s business partner and as a hands-on editor and designer.
He helped launch the Rubber Ball in 1992, and art-directed and designed all the business’s retail catalogues including the Skin Two Murray & Vern catalogue widely covered in magazines like Vogue and Elle. And when the business decided to diversify into making its own latex fashions, he assisted with the set-up of the Skin Two Clothing company headed by a young Robin Archer.
For most of the 1990s, Mitchell’s official editorial title on Skin Two magazine was Art Director, but for much of that time he was already de facto Editor of the magazine, an arrangement that left Woodward free to focus on his numerous management responsibilities across the different Skin Two companies.
With publication of Skin Two issue 25 in 1998, Mitchell assumed the title of Editor — final recognition of the job he’d been doing on the magazine for some years. He remained in that role for eight more years, until growing differences with Woodward over how the brand should be managed came to a head while Mitchell was covering the Fetish Factory Anniversary Weekend in Florida in May 2006.
A friend phoned to tell him that while he was away, his editor’s job had been advertised on the Skin Two website. It marked the end of more than two decades’ involvement with the top fetish brand he had helped to build.
Fortunately, during his last years at Skin Two, Tony had been looking at launching his own fetish publishing brand as a sideline to his main Skin Two work.
So when he suddenly found himself disconnected from his old job, he set about revising his ideas for a secondary occupation and turned them into a plan for a replacement full-time business. That replacement was launched in February 2007 as TheFetishistas.com.
(Updated February 2016)