Flashbacks and Photographs and the Good Old Days

Someone recently expressed an interest in buying some of my vast collection of Forum back issues, so I spent part of an afternoon excavating the back mountain of the office to see what I actually had in there. Of course, before passing any on to anyone else, I had to have a quick flick through to check if there was any of my own writing that I particularly needed to keep.fetish club, Forum, sex club, photography

My main gig, in all the years I was involved with the magazine (roughly 20, all told) was reviewing the then-mysterious-and-underground world of fetish clubs and, now and again, swingers’ clubs. As those reviews were generally short – originally a couple of paragraphs per month, graduating to slightly longer pieces as the years went by and the scene got more interesting – I decided that it would be a saving of space just to snap each page and file them electronically. Of course, this took a very long time to do as I couldn’t resist reading every single piece, and, variously, sniggering, cringing or licking my chops in avid reminiscence of some of the stuff I used to get up to. Favourite flashbacks included a trip to Rotterdam at the end of the 90s, the earliest versions of what is now London Fetish Weekend, and any amount of curious little clubs that probably disappeared after only a few months of existence.

There was one aspect of my reviewing days that not only gave me plenty of headaches at the time, but now seems almost impossibly archaic, and that was the photography. At the beginning, of course, photography simply wasn’t allowed: people were terrified of being seen, recognised or outed (and there are still elements of this in the current scene – some venues still

flashback, photo, fetish club
At a kink club some time around 1999.

do things like put a sticker over your phone camera…) But there came a point where a major focus of the whole business was fabulous fetishwear, and it began to be part of my job to get some snaps to go with my words.

Photography has just not ever been one of my top skills, and being a cheapskate, I tended to go in for single-use cardboard box cameras a lot of the time, with predictably crap results. After a while, I had the wits to buy myself a Polaroid, which at least helped me ensure, on the spot, that I had a usable image or two, but I rarely got around to obtaining any pictures of myself. Nowadays, of course, as long as you have permission, you can get the perfect shot, every single time. But I’m still slightly wistful for the old days.

Perhaps I just need to pull on my party pants and go out a bit more often. I can always pass it off as research.

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