"Everyone thinks 'fetish' is something dirty," says Dave Vidra, the creative director of the fetish-heavy Organ Grinder's Ball VII, which comes to Metropolis this weekend. "It isn't. Just because someone is into a fetish doesn't mean he or she is a pervert."
Maybe. It's Vidra's job to separate the genre's "hobbyists" from the merely perverted. He looks for things that are both "eye-catching and extremely stimulating," starting with the salacious images flaunted on the fashion runway and including nearly every other sight the Organ Grinder's Ball offers sore eyes (and, in the case of the Spanking Rack, sore asses). Vidra's goal is to outdo each previous ball's attractions. He embraces the challenge, whether it means dangling artists from the ceiling by hooks in their backs or sending a steady stream of scantily attired models down the catwalk.
"Psychologically," he says, "[fetishists] are healthy persons because they are being truthful about their wants and needs." Especially when those needs involve black-clad women named Greta, bare bottoms, and 20-inch thong whips.
Part fashion show, part fetish fete, and part fund-raiser (proceeds from a kissing booth go to the Cleveland AIDS Taskforce), the Organ Grinder's Ball was founded seven years ago by Tommy Viets, president of TV Productions, which presents the ball. Viets says that the 1,000-plus people who attend each year include housewives, attorneys, businessmen, and waiters by day who all become "vinyl, leather, latex, and chains by night."
And though sporting fetish attire is appreciated -- and will help you fit in -- it's not required for admission. "This is really an event for people who aren't familiar with the whole fetish scene to kind of get a taste of it and see if it's something they like," Viets explains. "Generally speaking, people really like being risqué, but they don't really know how to go about it. This event lends itself as a way to introduce people to something they might be missing."
And it's safe to say that most of the world is missing amenities like the Spinning Rack of Torture, the Adult Crib, the Foot Worship Throne, the Spinning Bondage Horse, the Human Birdcages, and the Vertical Submission Machine, as well as the more pedestrian array of slings, swings, and restraints. And more than 60 models will showcase the latest in leather and latex.
At the heart of the Organ Grinder's Ball is a desire to remove the shame (except for shame fetishists) associated with rubber-and-leather culture, Vidra says. "Our goal is to entertain, but also to take away the stigma from the whole fetish scene. We allow people the freedom to express themselves. Fetish can mean different things to different people -- anything from a suit and a tie to leather."
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