Shock headlines hit the international fetish scene with a triple whammy in the run-up to the German Fetish Ball. In the aftermath it seems appropriate to recall the stories and look at what happened next
— writes Tony Mitchell.
In fact, never before in the 13-year history of this event have there been so many headlines to keep our tongues wagging while we were in Berlin.
First of this year’s shock headlines concerned the withdrawal of the Marquis Ninja Girl Show from the Ball, followed by the announcement, as the Berlin festivities began, that House of Harlot had gone into liquidation.
Then later in the week came the sad news that Libidex co-owner Nigel Walker had died suddenly at the age of just 59.
These were stories that added layers of surprise, anger, bewilderment and sadness to the more usual feelings of anticipation, enthusiasm and excitement among those attending the world’s premier fetish weekend.
And the blitz of shock headlines isn’t over yet. While in Berlin, I got wind of a story about another German business that will make some pretty big waves when it surfaces, probably very soon. I have to sit on it for a bit longer though!
My original Marquis story, published on May 3, was soon in need of an update as I discovered that ex-owner Peter Czernich had not quit, as had been assumed in my original report.
It transpired that Peter was still onboard at Marquis, though the exact nature of his continuing role was apparently up for discussion once new American owner C Michael Martell had finished driving in America’s goldRush Rally.
But posts on Facebook suggest that questions still remain unresolved in the mind of some followers of Marquis’ changing fortunes.
One of these is: has Issue 65 of the mag, with its Ninja Girls cover, really been pulped? And if so, have a small number of printed issues somehow survived intact, as rumour suggests?
I also discovered that despite the best efforts of House of Harlot founder Robin Archer that were behind another of our shock headlines, not everyone was entirely satisfied with the way the assets of the business were disposed of.
But it’s difficult to guarantee 100 percent satisfaction to everyone who feels they have a stake in a business that’s being wound up.
My impression is that Robin tried really hard to do the right thing all round, and succeeded to a greater extent than some other owners of closing fetish businesses I can think of.
She also did the rounds of the German Fetish Fair before attending Saturday night’s Ball, and on Sunday, attended both the Pandora Deluxe/Fetishistas Goodbye Dinner at Mirchi Kreuzberg, and the Fetish Karaoke night on Warschauer Strasse.
So in a short time, days after taking over the brand, she was able to meet a cross-section of the international scene’s movers and shakers in her new capacity as HoH owner. Which will have done her no harm at all.
Much of my daytime in Berlin on Friday 6 was spent on the phone with Libidex boss Simon Rose. We were working together on a draft statement following the sudden death on Monday 2 of his close friend and business partner Nigel Walker, which provided the third of the week’s shock headlines.
Nigel’s responsibilities in the firm had included taking care of company press releases, but on this occasion, sadly, he wasn’t available for the job. So I was glad I had time to help Simon put together a statement for publication both by Libidex and The Fetishistas.
Before this point, I had known Nigel well enough to know that I liked him, without having anything like the level of familiarity shared by his Libidex colleagues.
But by the time of the final draft, I felt I knew him really well — and wished I’d known him much better in life. It turned out we had many similar points of cultural reference, and he was clearly a fun guy.
I was able to attend his funeral at Golders Green Crematorium last Friday (13) and while it was obviously a sad occasion, I can safely say that he had a brilliant send-off. It was a non-religious ceremony, which I think rather freed his friends and family to celebrate the real (and much loved) man.
Appreciations from his two daughters and from Simon (dressed in one of his favourite Reform Club outfits as an RAF Air Vice-Marshall) were so funny, it was hard not to clap at the end of each tribute.
On top of the coffin was a striking wreath of latex flowers made by the Libidex staff (see above). Libidex colleagues old and new were there in force, and a group of them later went off to the Reform Club to drink a last toast or three to their friend.
No doubt they downed more than a few of Nigel’s favourite G&T cocktails: three measures of gin to one of tonic. Never did things by halves, did Nigel.