When the modern fetish scene took its first bold steps out of the closet with the opening of London’s Skin Two club in 1983, we pretty much had to make up the rules as we went along.
Now, nearly three decades down the line, fetishism is a widely-acknowledged alternative sexuality, and latex, that most fetishised of fabrics, has been transformed from secret obsession to pop superstar’s costume of choice.
But the pace of change and acceptance of fetish interests and activities has not been the same everywhere.
In London we are fortunate to boast an enviable concentration of top latex designers and fetish clubs, making first connections with the fetish lifestyle in our city relatively easy for the beginner.
In other places, however, pursuing an interest in pervery and “coming out” as a rubber fetishist can still present considerable difficulties for individuals.
Even though masses of information for those with latex interests is now available on the internet, those not already au fait with the scene will not necessarily find it easy to distinguish the genuinely valuable pieces of info from the rest, let alone assemble them into a cohesive picture of how to pursue and progress one’s interests.
If only someone in the latex scene with plenty of experience, a balanced overview, a full understanding of the concerns of today’s newbies and good communication skills were to put all their knowledge into one comprehensive resource — how great would that be?
Well, that’s just what Danish rubberist Rasmus Andersen, better known as 3XL, has done in a new e-book called Rubber Life.
3XL, the man behind websites Lust Love Latex and LatexWiki, is a familiar face at many international fetish events. And if you don’t already know what he looks like, there are 40-plus pictures of him in Rubber Life to help with recognition.
Authorial vanity aside, Rubber Life does largely live up to its cover-page blurb’s claim to be the ultimate beginner’s guide to the fascinating world of latex.
Via some 90 clearly-designed pages, Rubber Life takes the reader through the various stages of assimilation into the world of latex, with six chapters titled Latex and you, Your latex wardrobe, Latex care, Coming out, Community, and Finding a latex partner.
The text is an easy read, focusing on providing information of consistent style and quality in easily-absorbed bite-sized chunks with no waffle. Considering English is not 3XL’s native language, the English standard of the text is very high, with just the odd clanger that might make you smile.
The book works equally well as a continuous read (I read the whole thing in a single sitting) or as a resource that can be dipped into at any page to fill a particular gap in one’s knowledge. And although it’s aimed at beginners, a lot of the content will be of use to those further down the path of rubber delights.
Firm guidance is a real boon when you’re just starting out, and most of the time, the author’s unequivocal stance on best latex practice is welcome. However, he occasionally doesn’t flag an area where experts disagree and where inclusion of some alternative wisdom might be enlightening.
Take the section on latex care for example. This chapter aims to cover everything you need to know about the best ways of putting on your latex garments, polishing them, maintaining their appearance, cleaning them, storing them and repairing damage.
Usefully, advice is included on what not to do, including a list of things that will harm your latex, such as contact with copper or brass, or prolonged exposure to sunlight.
But it would have been good to mention that all clothing manufacturers do not agree on all aspects of caring for latex, and to acknowledge that there are factions strongly for or against the use of talc, lube and/or various kinds of polish as dressing, shining and storage aids.
Apart from that, it’s hard to find much to criticise about the content. I do, however, have a couple of niggles with the way Rubber Life is being marketed.
First, it is a bit misleading of the publisher to illustrate his web sales pages with images depicting Rubber Life as a physical book, without any text alongside explaining that this is not a true representation of the product on offer.
Second, while the current introductory price of €29.95 (around £25/$40) might seem reasonable for a printed book, it is harder to justify for a mere downloadable PDF.
We rightly expect e-books, which have no printing costs, to be cheaper than their paper equivalents. Charging almost €30 for Rubber Life will probably encourage bootlegging — something that more realistic pricing might avoid.
However, there will doubtless be those who feel that the chance to get their hands on such a thoroughly researched and nicely presented introduction to today’s latex scene is worth every penny (or cent) of the asking price.