Theresa is an artist’s assistant, who prefers a surreal doll-like look when dressed in her fetish gear.

Normies by day, fetish obsessives by night

The latex-clad patrons of Bound. During the day, they’re office regulars working a 9 to 5. At night, the kink and fetish gear comes out.

“I remember descending the narrow staircase [at East Williamsburg venue Tilt], which is plastered with old show flyers into what can only be described a goth candy-nightmare dreamscape. Every kind of body dressed head-to-toe in black leather, PVC, latex, chains, fishnets, silk and lace… I instantly felt at home.”

Jessica, a plant scientist working for a startup in Brooklyn, is describing her first experience at Bound, a quarterly (yes, four times per year) fetish night that took place at Tilt (now gay bar Vault), before finding a home in Bushwick club Elsewhere.

Bound started, as founder Katie Rex explains, as a “hedonistic experiment for non-cis men” interested in a choose-your-own-adventure BDSM night, where patrons are encouraged to safely explore their secret kinks outfitted in harnesses, leather and latex. New York’s hottest club night has it all: cake sitting, cage play, and a stellar lineup of techno DJs. On her first visit there, Jessica, the plant scientist, “got into the cage and had the pleasure of experiencing the Dom. Vanessa’s electroplay while being chained up and put on display,” she says. “I’d say initially my experience of Bound was love at first zap.”

This description could sound off-putting or exciting, depending on your threshold for comfort. But it’s a welcoming safe space for all, enforcing a strict fetishwear door policy and encouraging cis-men to pay extra at the door if they have the means, says Rex. It’s become an underground phenomenon, and will be heading to Detroit next weekend to open the Movement techno festival.

Attending Bound, you may come across any number of latex-clad patrons there to let loose in some of the most body-constricting get-ups around. And you may wonder, what do these people look like in the daylight? What do they do? We found out.

Name: Theresa (pictured at top)

Age: Immortal

Occupation: Artist assistant

Can you describe what you do for a living?

I create extensive collage under-paintings out of materials I’ve sourced from books, newspapers, found objects and assist the artist in silkscreening and painting additional layers over them.

How long have you been in that job?

About five years.

How would you describe your clothing that you wear to work?

I have two “uniforms” I oscillate between: a pink jumpsuit and white overalls. I need something sturdy with pockets that can take the abuse of gel and paint and also hold my blades, sharpies and other supplies.

When did you first get involved in fetish dressing?

When I was a kid I caught a glimpse of a news segment on TV featuring women in patent leather fetish wear. I was enamored by their outfits… the rest is history.

How do you literally get into your outfit/get-up?

Patience and Pjur.

Can you tell me about something amazing you witnessed at Bound?

I was in Zone 1 [of Elsewhere] and a women was laying on the bar in front of me. She had her legs up and someone was stapling dollar bills to the back of her thighs. It was the pivotal moment where I recognised how much of a safe space this event had created.

What does it mean to you to personally to have found this scene?

It’s a combination of cathartic experiences. I’m always intrigued and inspired to dress up on theme and that is celebrated here. Both getting into character and dancing, especially to dark techno, are therapeutic outlets for me.

Does your fetish dress extend to your sexual encounters?

That info will be available in my memoirs.

A plant scientist for a Brooklyn startup by day, Jessica likes to put on music by TRVST or Burial while getting into her gear.

Name: Jessica

Age: 29

Occupation: Plant scientist

Can you describe what you do for a living?

I am the head plant scientist for a startup company in Brooklyn. My job is centred around research and development with a focus on biological systems and all things plant and material science. Our work is in the realm of CEA/CTA (controlled environment agriculture/ controlled technology agriculture). My specific role is creating experimental designs, rigorous plant testing, monitoring data acquisition, analysing results and reporting to diagnostics a team of electrical and mechanical engineers.

How long have you been in that job?


I have been with my current company for a little over a year, I started working with them in March 2018. I have been working in plant science for the last five years.

How would you describe your clothing that you wear to work?


Half of the time my work clothes are covered with a lab coat, but in general I wear long pants, long sleeves and comfortable shoes.

When did you first get involved in fetish dressing?


My personal intrigue for fetish wear was a natural progression from a deep love at a young age, of cult horror and sci-fi/fantasy films (primarily from the ‘50s to ‘80s), classic vintage pin-ups, and punk music. As I got older (late teens, early twenties), the iconic images stuck with me and inspired my collections of lingerie, latex, hardware and leather.

How do you literally get into your outfit?


The first step of getting into my outfit it turning on some music usually Ancient Methods, Skinny Puppy, TRVST or Burial. Next, depending on my look, I either lube myself up or fuss with chains and straps for an indeterminable amount of time. Have you ever put on a garter belt? I swear it is its own weird science no matter how often you do it.

Can you tell me about something amazing you witnessed there?

Witnessing people getting lined up to get put in the cage to have Dom. experiences by Jooj and Vanessa was pretty inspiring.

“It’s like Bound is this bubble of how the world could work in terms of intersectionality, individualism and freedom if the xenophobes and predators didn’t exist” – Jessica

What does it mean to you to personally to have found this scene?

I have been a part of the punk scene in NYC and Philadelphia for more than 15 years. I identify as a queer body and finding this scene means I have access to a platform for being social in a community where there is space for me to be myself.

What appeals to you about Bound?

Bound has enforced a strict door policy which curates a safe environment and sets itself apart from almost every other party in NYC. It’s like Bound is this bubble of how the world could work in terms of intersectionality, individualism and freedom if the xenophobes and predators didn’t exist. There isn’t anything wrong with being a voyeur if you understand and respect the environment; after all, there’s so much to see at Bound.

Does your fetish dress extend to your sexual encounters? If so, how?

Yes! There is something magical about having a big reveal underneath your regular outfit. My partner and I are very playful and my fetish dress adds excitement and pleasure to our encounters – some pieces are more utilitarian than others.

Jon, a 25-year-old paralegal, is into the pup scene and incorporates drag make-up into his looks.

Name: My legal name is Jonathan but my club/drag name is Villain

Age: 25

Occupation: Paralegal

Can you describe what you do for a living?

I work at an entertainment law firm that primarily focuses on transaction deals. The lawyers I work with primarily work in the indie film and VR spaces, and we help our clients with all the various legal elements that go into creating feature length films, TV shows, and VR projects. This includes reviewing and drafting contracts, negotiating with talent agencies, and film financing etc.

How long have you been in that job?

I’ve been working in entertainment spaces for a few years now but with regards to specifically the legal space, about two years. I’m going to be heading off to law school soon though, which I’m excited about.

How would you describe your clothing that you wear to work?

The clothing that I wear to work is pretty standard and bland, but not too formal. I usually will show up to work in a long sleeve t-shirt and long pants. It’s a pretty casual environment.

When did you first get involved in fetish dressing?

It’s sort of been a weird evolution for me. When I was growing up in San Diego, I used to sneak out to the gay neighborhood, Hillcrest, and be enamored by the drag queens and club kids I used to see. I then started dabbling with traditional drag in college, which was extremely fun for me, but put that on hold when I got a scholarship from my uni to do two years of school/work abroad. I spent one of those years in London, where I became quick friends with a tattoo artist and a piercer I used to go to and they invited me out to some amazing fetish events and club nights. My interest in fetish dressing evolved as the next step in my love of drag, but also grew from an emerging sexual maturity.

How do you literally get into your outfit?

I always like to include elements of my drag upbringing in my fetish looks, which usually includes a heavy degree of makeup. I enjoy the entire process, which has become a cathartic activity for me. Washing and shaving my face, gluing my brows down, lubing up my body for rubber, and even coming home and taking it all off has all become a ritualistic process, enhanced by the ear-splitting disco music that blasts from my speakers at home.

“Something unique I experienced at Bound was a woman who brought a staple gun with her and was dancing and having people staple tips (like dollar bills) directly into her flesh” – Jonathan, 25


What does it mean to you to personally to have found this scene?

What means most to me is the sense of community that the scene provides. As a queer person, I’ve definitely faced my fair share of rejection from my biological family and general society, but the various nightlife and fetish scenes that I’ve become involved with have always been extremely welcoming and nonjudgmental. It’s important for me to build these support systems that have evolved into surrogate families of mine. The idea of a “chosen family” has become much more openly discussed lately and that’s exactly why I continue to participate in these scenes, and we even refer to each other using familial titles (with the occasional power dynamic title thrown in i.e. alpha, master, sub, etc.)

Does your fetish dress extend to your sexual encounters? If so, how?

Yes and no. I have a variety of crops, whips, harnesses, wrist/arm/ankle bands, ropes, rings, ties, masks, and hoods and I use a lot of the same gear in my sexual exploits, but I wouldn’t say the two are necessarily intertwined or that one is an extension of the other. While there definitely is a sexual element to the looks that I create, I don't put on any of my looks with the intent to have sex in them; however, a lot of the gear is still used in my sex life separately.

Lanee has been a video editor for five years, but has been experimenting with fetish wear much longer, since 2014.

Name: Lanee Bird

Age: 27

Occupation: Commercial video editor and fetish photographer

Can you describe what you do for a living?

I work a day job as a commercial video editor with a primary focus on beauty content for cosmetic brands. Any additional free time in my schedule is spent on my personal creative practice as a fetish photographer. The latter is work that I try to keep very separate from my vanilla clients.

How long have you been in that job/line of work?

About five years working in various forms of production.

How would you describe your clothing that you wear to work?

I typically wear some version of a suit to most of my commercial jobs. Not necessarily because the job requires it, but because I believe that garments like blazers and slacks feel like an alternative way of expressing power during those moments when fetish wear is clearly not appropriate for the work environment.

What was your initial experience of Bound?

I’m one of the Bound event photographers and had a wonderful time shooting and meeting so many new folks the first time I attended the event. I think a lot of the New York kink scene finds its community within online platforms so it was great to be able to connect IRL with so many internet friends.

What does it mean to you to personally to have found this scene?

I’ve been involved in the kink scene for a few years now. It means having a safe space to share my interests with likeminded individuals, both in terms of bdsm practices and also creatively as a fetish photographer.

What appeals to you about Bound?

Great music, great people and great looks!

Does your fetish dress extend to your sexual encounters? If so, how?

I’m both a leather and latex fetishist, but have very different feelings towards the two in terms of my own kink practices. Personally speaking, latex is more erotic without ever feeling the need to play in a scene while wearing the latex. Leather on the other hand is something that I enjoy wearing and/or playing in.

What do you wish more people knew about this subculture, so to speak?

I would like people to inform themselves on SESTA/FOSTA, sex workers’ rights and the impact it’s had on our community. Please Google it if you haven’t heard of it to better understand its place in our political environment right now.

Kale, 25, takes out frustrations serving bros at an East Village bar by packing his leather outfits to work in the hopes of leaving early.

Name: Kale

Age: 25

Occupation: Host, photo assistant and model

Can you describe what you do for a living?

I work two jobs as a host at an East Village cocktail bar and at a Ramen juggernaut. I also intern as a photo assistant for a French photographer and I’m currently relaunching my modeling career after a three year hiatus.

How long have you been in that job/line of work?

Five years, since I first moved to New York. I’ve had many different gigs along the way to support my hustle.

When did you first get involved in bondage/fetish dressing?

Folsom East, three years ago. My fearless gay dad, Chris, showed me the healthy way of sexual exploration. I also did my fair amount research in my younger years (I discovered what sounding is when I was 16).

What was your initial experience of Bound?

I started going when the party was in its beginning stages, at Tilt. Everyone looked so free.

What does it mean to you to personally to have found this scene?

I’ve found a community that fully accepts all my quirks and fantasies. No one feels a type of way if I’m not in the mood to chat. Just dance.

What appeals to you about Bound?

Techno. Gearing up. Seeing all my friends looks. Thrashing around till 5 am. Releasing pent up energy that I’ve collected from telling East Village bros what to do all day.

Does your fetish dress extend to your sexual encounters? If so, how?

Sometimes. If I get lucky at the function. But if it continues at home, I can’t help but to get naked.

What do you wish more people knew about this subculture, so to speak?

That’s a double-edged sword. I do want everyone to be able to explore themselves sexually. I believe it is very essential. But there are those who involve themselves just for the aesthetics and clout. It’s important that the integrity of the queer-fetish community is upheld.

Vanilla only wears black to work, sometimes wearing a harness to subvert the conventions of her workwear.

Name: Vanilla Honey

Age: 24

Occupation: Architect, designer

Can you describe what you do for a living?

I work as an architectural designer at a firm in Brooklyn. I am on the track for licensure. I do many things, but most of my days are spent drawing and redesigning buildings using software called AutoCAD. I work on mostly residential projects at the moment.

How long have you been in that job?

I graduated May 2018. I was a student for five years, studying architecture and gender studies. I have been working at my current firm for seven months.

How would you describe your clothing that you wear to work?

I wear very simple, comfortable clothing to work. My typical look is black pants with a black top, black-heeled leather boots, and my black leather jacket. My whole closet is black, and I always need some leather on me – it’s my armor. Sometimes I’ll wear one of my leather harnesses too.

When did you first get involved in fetish dressing?

Three and a half years ago. I was living in London at the time and I had already begun to explore BDSM and kink. There are so many amazing fetish shops there and I came across one in Camden Market. When I walked in, I was overwhelmed and excited by the smell of leather and latex. I bought my first piece that day. It was a black leather cone bra and thong set. I still have it and every time I see it or wear it, I am reminded of that day.

How do you literally get into your outfit?

It depends on the outfit. Latex generally takes longer to put on especially larger pieces. There’s lots of lube involved. With any material, the more layered, heavy, and/or complex the pieces, the more time it takes to put on. When I start to dress for a scene, or a kink party, my mind goes into a meditative state. My experience begins when I start getting dressed. There is a ceremonious aspect to kink that I cherish.

Can you tell me about something amazing you witnessed there?

Once Bound moved to Elsewhere, there was so much more space and opportunities for performances. My favorite performance by far was one of Lindsay Dye’s cake-sittings. I had wanted to see her perform for a while and my mind was blown once I did. It was absolutely gorgeous; I was completely mesmerized. I stood up close to the stage, front row. As the cake was smashed and smothered and spread more and more, streaming across her skin, I remember flecks of frosting flying off of her and landing on me. The scent of sugar alone was hypnotizing and my mouth began to water. Her performance was one of the most beautiful, creative, and enthrallingly sexy performances I’ve witnessed to this day.

What does it mean to you to personally to have found this scene?

It means everything. When I realized I was kinky and interested in BDSM it felt like I was discovering myself for the first time. I was always kinky but I didn’t have a language in order to understand it and how I was connected to it. I didn’t understand it as a culture yet either. I realized my kinkiness at the same time I realized my queerness as well, which was overwhelming in the best way. I felt like I could breathe finally. These deeply important parts of my sexuality came into focus. BDSM is the closest connection I’ve ever had to religion. For me and many, it is deeply spiritual, healing, and ritualistic. Now it is a major part of my life, my identity and culture, something. I practice and live consciously everyday.

Does your fetish dress extend to your sexual encounters? If so, how?

My first thought when reading this question was how “sexual” or “sex” is being understood and asked about in the context of this interview. BDSM play and sex can be defined very differently and are certainly not always connected at all. There are many meanings and interpretations of what sex is. But what I will say is that for me, BDSM plays a major role in all my sexual and erotic play. My fetish wear is usually incorporated but not always. This depends on the scene or type of play and can change during a scene. It’s super contextual. BDSM toys/tools can also be part of my look and my role for a scene, which I use very often as well.

What do you wish more people knew about this subculture, so to speak?

This is such a big question. There is such minimal accessible and inclusive education available to help us better understand our bodies, minds, sexualities, and consent in general. So to zoom into kink and BDSM seems out of order. At the same time, understanding the root of BDSM’s consent protocols could be a really helpful way for outsiders looking in to understand kink culture and simultaneously, the ways in which kink culture can lead as an example for other sexual and cultural practices. There are much larger oppressive systems that need to change first in order to truly deconstruct the stigmas around kink culture that remain prominent today. Like anything else, when you are unfamiliar with something, do research, ask questions, and listen more in order to learn. Everyone has a relationship to their sexuality and it is theirs. I will always encourage ethical, consensual, and (health-consciously) safe exploration. It’s important and more of us need to make time to explore this apart of ourselves. Enjoy your journey.


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