Fakir Musafar was the star attraction at Body Probe, the first event of the TG weekend on Friday May 18. It has been 12 years since he was last in the UK, and in that time TG audiences in particular have seen some fantastically cutting-edge body art performance by some of its most extreme and experienced practitioners from the UK and USA.
However we were all strongly aware that in a real sense everything we had seen was following in Musafar's footsteps, and what the show may have lacked in extremity or edginess was more than made up with charisma, warmth and theatricality. It also somehow created a cultural bridge between a celebratory sixties new-age vibe of San Francisco and the slightly cold ‘show me something outrageous’ attitude of London in the noughties.
Polish art-shockers Suka-Off did more of their brooding pervy performance stuff, proving most cruelly that you can have your cake, but you cannot eat it if someone has sewn your lips together before the start of the performance. The in-the-round presentation combined with the leisurely pace of the unfolding ‘medical’ drama meant the paying audience spent a lot of time looking at a bevy of photographers' rear ends, as the snappers repeatedly invaded the performance space in single-minded pursuit of perfect shots.
The final Body Probe show saw Satomi trussing herself up to shibari perfection and proceeding to cavort with a dead octopus, which may well have been the same dead octopus with which Midori and Amrita tormented Kumi upon the exact same stage the following night.
‘Midori and Amrita tortured Kumi for hours, by, among other things, half-drowning her in a bucket and whipping her with a dead octopus’
The main event on Saturday, the TG Birthday Ball itself at SeOne, was totally sold out, but not as overcrowded as last year, as TG had sensibly decided to reduce the total number of tickets on offer at the London Bridge venue, which was used in its entirety.
It was well up to standards of previous large scale TG events, with an amazing variety of shows, including a full scale fashion show from Torture Garden Clothing, House of Harlot and Jane Doe Latex, some excellent live music across a broad spectrum from The Flaming Doo Dits (swing) to Berlin's Noblesse Oblige (electropunk) and some blisteringly good dance music from DJ Sota Suzuki (TG Japan).
Other performances and featured appearances included Midori and Amrita in kimonos torturing Kumi for hours, by, among other things, half-drowning her in a bucket and whipping her with a dead octopus (see note above). Suka Off and Satomi appeared again, while, with no submissives within reach, American dommes Von Livid and Miss Mya hurled each other around the stage instead. Other appearances included Datura, Empress Stah, Scottee, Psycho Clowns, Vivid Angel, Ryan Styles and Texas Chainsaw Travelling Sideshow.
It is hard not to compare TG’s big celebration to the Rubber Ball since both now take place in the same venue. But the differences were more in personality than quality. TG always unites a disparate crowd of fetish related subcultures in its own inimitable way, without yet displacing the Rubber Ball’s almost institutional public celebration of a more traditional old-school private sexuality.
‘The after-party — a dance ’til we drop type of scenario — carried on as the sun rose high over the empty Sunday streets around London Bridge’
The after-party — held in a part of SeOne that spontaneously closed and reopened under a different name via a different door around 5.30am — was less of a ‘chill-out until the stimulants wear off enough to let us sleep’ affair and more of a fully turned up ‘dance till we drop’ type of scenario, and carried on as the sun rose high over the empty Sunday streets around London Bridge.
Barely half a day later the Weekender ended in Shoreditch at Cargo, a few streets away from where we began on Thursday. The Pearl Necklace featured shows from Ryan Styes, Urban Voodoo Machine (complete with a disinterred zombie on drums, it appeared), Empress Stah, Lucifire, Fancy Chance and Lady Ane.
The crowd was stylish if a little restained, as befits those who had either hardly slept or not felt like attending the Birthday Ball at all. The vibe was more Lady Luck than full-on TG, and this felt about right for the final wind-down. Any heavy rubberists left standing would certainly have started to melt by now. JFcpx
Coming soon: more galleries to be added to this report! More TG Ball audience shots and Pearl Necklace pictures are on their way!