After his first fetish club shoot, he soon became a prolific documenter of kinky clubbing in the capital and beyond, displaying a real talent for depicting the exotic creatures found at events like Torture Garden (his favourite gathering).
But following more than a decade of focusing more or less exclusively on nightlife photography, he began thinking about switching his fetish focus away from live reportage.
First he gave up shooting stage performances to focus on photographing audience members. He also began reducing how often he went to clubs armed with a camera.
Then at the end of 2018, he gave up club photography completely, and has devoted his energies since then to a new creative passion: location-based model shoots.
We’ll still be seeing him in fetish clubs, he promises; he just won’t be carrying a camera.
That’s partly because he wanted to get back to enjoying fetish clubbing as other clubbers do, rather than always being in work mode and experiencing everything through a viewfinder.
Having made this change, Marcus was happy to accept a Fetishistas invitation to collaborate on an article combining a retrospective on his club years with a showcase for his new passion for location shoots.
Lockdown gave him the opportunity he needed to review the many thousands of images in his archives, and between us we managed to whittle them down to a final selection of about 250, covering the 15 years 2005 to 2019.
The eight galleries of his photos in this article not only document MarcusT’s development as an artist over the last 15 years; they also represent a milestone in the look of The Fetishistas itself.
That’s because, with the exception of just the first half-dozen of his pictures from 2005/6, the gallery images here are all displayed at the new size of 1920 pixels (ie full HD width) — a considerable increase on our previous 1200 pixel standard.
This will be the new standard image size for Fetishistas galleries from now on.
Not content with this, however, Marcus also provided us with so much fascinating detail in his answers to our interview questions that we felt obliged to make our July Cover Story into a three-pager in order to accommodate everything. Think of it as not so much a magazine article, more an online photo book!
As with many of the fetish scene’s most talented ’togs, photography is a side-interest rather than main occupation for MarcusT . By day, he works as a UX (user experience) architect for a large organisation. But he is as thoughtful and articulate about his “spare-time creative passion” as about his day job.
In fact, anyone who spends any time in his company will tell you that while Marcus likes his fun, he’s also quite the serious thinker — a school maths wiz who read Philosophy and Economics at university before embarking on his current career.
So what does he think triggered his interest in things fetishistic?
MarcusT was born in London to English and Dutch parents. “My mother is the Dutch one and most definitely artistic, which she in turn gets from her father Godfried Lonis who was a prolific artist,” he reveals.
When he was younger, his parents had a vintage clothing shop in Camden Town where he occasionally helped out.
“So naturally I would make the most of my breaks to wander around and explore,” he says. “That’s how I first encountered alternative fashion, thanks to trad goths galore, punks hanging out on the bridge and around the lock, and endless wonderfully colourful and shiny fashion at Cyberdog.
“This surely must have influenced what stimulates me visually,” he reckons.
At school he sometimes looked through lad’s mags, and a regular feature in Loaded called Getting Away With It, with B&W photos of the fetish and goth scenes by ex-NME photographer and youth subculture specialist Derek Ridgers, made quite an impression.
As apparently did occasional articles about Torture Garden describing it as an exclusive, decadent and deviant place, he adds. “I remember thinking that I would like to check it out someday.”
What does Marcus remember about his initial encounters with the fetish scene in the capital?
“2005 was a pretty long time ago, and I have a terrible memory! I do remember spending a lot of time on the London Fetish Scene website over the first few years but I think I discovered that and the community in general through the people I met at the first parties I went to.”
His interest in kink had been awakened a little more while at university where he “began to explore sex with a regular partner, buying many toys and some outfits” (though nothing latex).
“But it wasn’t until 2005 when I was living in Camden Town that I picked up a flyer for Torture Garden. I realised it was the club mentioned in Loaded all those years ago, showed it to my partner at the time, and we decided to go.
“So we did a little research, went shopping for latex as that seemed like the right thing to do — I bought a black latex top and trousers at Regulation — and we headed to our first TG together the following weekend, which was in June 2005.”
Unfortunately, the evening ended prematurely when his partner twisted her ankle wearing her new high heels.
“But I had seen and experienced enough of the party (and the people) to know without doubt that I had found something wonderfully exciting that I couldn’t wait to return to and explore further.”
Which Marcus did, the following month — and almost every month since. But more of that later.
By 2005 MarcusT was already photographing mainstream/vanilla house club nights and the rock and metal scene in Camden Town — in particular the Sin City and Inferno nights at the Electric Ballroom.
He’d got into doing this via the site DontStayIn.com (aka DSI). It encouraged people to take photos of themselves, their friends and others at parties, upload them to the site and tag the people that they knew (“about a decade before Facebook made this normal,” he notes).
But how did he get his first break photographing a fetish night? Promoters have, after all, traditionally been pretty wary of people they don’t know wanting to take pictures at their events.
“I cobbled together a gallery of the best TG-like photos I’d taken at other parties,” Marcus explains, “and attached it to my email to TG asking whether I could photograph one of their parties sometime.”
The answer from Charlotte TG was that they weren’t sure they needed another photographer — at that time they had Bobette as a regular, and Daf [Dafydd Owen] had joined recently.
“But she said they liked what I’d sent, were willing to give me a go, and said that if I did a good job then perhaps I’d be welcome to shoot another one sometime.
“The rest, as they say, is history. I photographed the next TG and almost every one for the next 13 years as one of their regular photographers, until I retired at the end of 2018. So clearly I did something right!”
At that time, Marcus recalls, being photographed in clubs was still rather unusual. Most people on the fetish scene were privacy-conscious to some degree, plus he was an unfamiliar face behind the lens.
“So I often found myself having to explain why I was taking photos, where they would end up, answer questions about myself, show them the photos I’d taken of them, sometimes delete ones they didn’t like (or even all of them), and so on.
“After a few events I realised that I needed my own website and a business card with the web address on it, so people I photographed could find my images of them more easily.”
He updated his cards, site and branding/watermark a few times over the years — you’ll see various iterations of the MarcusT watermark in this article’s galleries. (And if you weren’t sure, it’s pronounced Marcus-Tee, not Mar-cussed.)
“But somehow I never really got around to renaming myself to something less mundane than ‘MarcusT’, which is of course exactly what you think it is: my first name with the initial of my surname appended.
“I kind of wish that I had, but would it actually have made any difference to anything? I guess I’ll never know, and it’s far too late now!”
In his early efforts as a fetish ’tog, was Marcus inspired by any particular fetish or fetish-influenced photographers?
“I do remember (very early on) looking through endless fabulously sexy and inspiring photos of Bianca Beauchamp taken by Martin Perrault and wishing that one day I would find a muse like her. I’m still seeking my own Bianca. If she’s out there I’d love to meet her!
“In addition to shoots with friends, models and performers that I’ve met through the scene, I’ve also shot with partners.
“Many of them have been fairly keen to be photographed, and one in particular was pretty active as a model (plus had a following on Instagram etc).
“So we had a great symbiosis doing many shoots over the time that we were together, and quite a few since. We both still repost our images from time to time.”
In his club photography days, Marcus was known to be pretty particular about whose events he photographed, restricting himself to just a few London clubs and a few events further afield. Which events were his favourite to shoot, and why?
“Club RUB always featured a very colourful and shiny crowd so I spent many nights there,” he says. “I went to a few Subversions too, but its emphasis was more on the BDSM end than the fashion and partying, so I didn’t find it as photogenic.
“I’ve always been drawn to the dark aesthetic of the goth scene and in Club AntiChrist I found the perfect fusion of goth, fetish and music that I loved. So photographed that for almost as many years as Torture Garden, though less frequently.
“I used to love going to Festival Of Sins, which blended kinky and kitsch cabaret, art installations and interactive elements, a lively dancefloor and a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere which always resulted in good photos.
“The FetishGuerilla and German Fetish Ball parties in Berlin feature the most diverse, beautiful and well dressed party people from all over the world, so those are favourites too.
“I’d also like to mention and recommend the excellent ZDR parties that Zara DuRose has been putting on in recent years. She always does a great job of theming the décor, and the crowd put a lot of effort into their outfits too.
“And of course, last but certainly not least, Torture Garden feels like my spiritual home!”
And it isn’t just TG’s London events that Marcus enjoys. He has been to TG franchised nights in Athens, Rome, Glasgow and, most recently, Berlin. But, he adds, TG Japan was the most exciting adventure of all.
“I had only been to Asia once before — in 2008, doing a whistlestop tour of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia — and I’d always wanted to visit Japan.
“So all I needed was a little push, and that particular year the dates were announced early enough for me to be able to book time off work and make arrangements.
“So I made plans with my excellent friends Ian and Shea, known to many around the world as globe-trotting party people and fashionistas par excellence.
“I encouraged others to come along too, so there ended up being around 20 of us at the party in Tokyo!”
It was very different from all the other TGs he’d been to, Marcus says.
“As you might expect, the crowd were mostly Japanese, though there were also many ex-pats. They were extremely well dressed — quite possibly the best dressed TG I’ve ever been to — but quite reserved to start with.
“So it initially felt more like an elegant soirée — not least because the venue was a very chic restaurant that had been taken over and transformed for the evening.
“However, a blend of local and British performers and DJs helped the party get going, and although there wasn’t a dungeon or couples room, there was a room full of candles where dominatrices and their slaves seemed to be enjoying themselves.
“So it ended up being a rather decadent and memorable party indeed.”
During his Tokyo trip Marcus was able to visit the boutique of the legendary Kurage, known from high-profile appearances at international fetish events for incredible, otherworldly creations incorporating industrial rubber and textures such as tyre treads.
“Kurage owner Kido took us to a local restaurant where we enjoyed what was for me the most fantastic meal of the entire trip,” he adds. And there will be pictures to prove it; Marcus does like to photograph his food.READ MORE – GO TO PAGE 2 OF 3