It’s not surprising that, in the 40 years since the launch of the original Skin Two club on January 31, 1983, the origin story of this pioneering event has become a little muddled in the retelling – writes Tony Mitchell.
Individual memories from the period have naturally become less sharp with age — people involved in the original club are now in their sixties at least (seventies in my case).
But in some retellings of the tale, omissions of certain key details have led to some slightly misleading ideas about the birth of our modern fetish scene.
At an ISMS talk I’m hosting on Sunday Jan 22 at the Bishopsgate Institute in London EC2, I and two guest speakers also involved in the original Skin Two club will be shedding light on how the club came into being, who the original participants were and what went on at those early groundbreaking nights.
In contrast to what some versions of fetish history suggest, London’s original Skin Two Club was the joint brainchild of actor, club host, DJ and record label owner David Claridge, in partnership with theatrical costumier Daniel James, who is one of my two guest speakers.
Daniel was inspired by the project to create what were hailed as the first real latex fashion garments, subsequently much featured in Bob Carlos Clarke’s photography.
These days Daniel does a nifty line in (non-latex) custom shirts for the likes of Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood.
Beverley Glick, then aka ‘Betty Page’ and original Skin Two club member 001, is my other insider guest. Bev and I — both music journalists at the time — helped with Skin Two’s launch and were part of its inner circle until David Claridge left to pursue a more lucrative career in television.
If you don’t already know what TV job he landed, you might be quite surprised by what the talk will reveal!
Bev, incidentally, went on to have a career in Fleet Street newspapers and is now a professional communications coach. I went on to contribute to and later edit Skin Two
magazine (issues 2-56), before leaving and launching The Fetishistas in 2007.
Our ISMS chat will recall various cultural events in the decade before 1983 that helped create favourable conditions for Skin Two’s existence. It will cover the inception and relatively brief life of the original club itself.
At those original Skin Two club nights, music business and media folk, designers and others with hitherto private interests in fetish and BDSM could enjoy them openly in a ‘cool’ environment for the first time.
It was a distinct break from the guarded approach of old-school fetishists, and marked the beginnings of the much more visible scene we know today.
We will also detail the eventual change of name and management that allowed Tim Woodward to acquire the Skin Two name for the magazine he launched about a year after the original club appeared.
One of the noted media collaborators with the original club (and later the magazine) was music/fashion photographer Peter Ashworth, who shot the promo visuals for the club’s original flyers. Peter has kindly let us use some of his early Skin Two images including, for our banner, an outtake from his shoot with model Sue Scadding for the club’s first flyer.
The ISMS afternoon on January 22 has a two-hour slot from 3pm to 5pm at the Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2m 4QH. It will finish with an audience Q&A if time allows.
Advance tickets are available at £10 + fee from the ISMS Talk: Eventbrite link below.
It Started at Stallions, a party on the actual 40th anniversary of the original Skin Two Club, is being hosted by The Firm at Dalton Kingsland on January 31. Tickets for the party are available from the Firm Party: Eventbrite link below at £10 + fee.