I blame the stage version of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. I was in a semi-pro production of this musical several years ago, and the theme was updated to concentrate heavily on fetish wear and practices. We had a pony boy in the chorus, with his lovely leather-clad Mistress. Riff and Magenta were collared slaves. I may or may not have portrayed a ruler-wielding schoolteacher. That sort of thing. The dance numbers were…entertaining.
Anyway, in the course of that show the entire cast did a lot of research into the world of fetishes (we even took a field trip!), and learned many fascinating things. This was before I’d embarked on my current career of smut-writing, so it was a real eye-opener for me. But once I got past my initial shock, of course I was intrigued by it all. Not just the D/s part, which wasn’t entirely new to me even then, but the whole panoply of sexual fetishes. The variety, the sheer mind-boggling creativity. That was several years ago, and I've learned so much since then, but I still credit that show with providing me a turning point in how I viewed human sexuality.
The downside? Once seen, it cannot be unseen. Once you’re aware that some people like to do freaky things with eels, for instance, it’s nigh impossible to see a bunch of eels (a “bind” of eels, I think it’s called) without thinking about that. And wondering, not for the first time, why certain cultures seem to have so many and such extreme affinities for that sort of thing (I’m looking at you, Japan…and Germany, don’t think you’re flying under my radar, either). If I see somebody dressed in head-to-toe leather these days, I make some baseline assumptions I simply didn't used to make. And I am no longer able to view, with innocent unawareness, anyone wearing a full-body animal costume of any kind.
Usually this all happens where it started - on the internet. So usually it’s not a problem in the "real" world. But yesterday I found myself standing in the gift shop at the local fine art museum, commenting to the cashier that the newly arrived collection of jewelry (made out of little bits of rubber piping in black, gray and red) looked a whole lot like fetish wear. She agreed, and more to the point she knew instantly what I meant and didn’t bat an eye at my remark. My sister, standing next to me, was a lot less sanguine about my cheerful discussion of fetish-themed jewelry. Although it was my sister who proceeded to point out that the collection also included purses (some of which, gosh, I’d think any latex-loving fetishista would be thrilled to have because they were pretty cute).
It may not usually be a problem, but it certainly is an unavoidable fact that now I'm aware of this stuff, I can't ever be un-aware of it again. I can’t unsee all the sundry things I’ve seen people doing with rubber hoses (or, sadly, eels). Nor can I completely isolate that knowledge from my experience of the world around me. And I have to admit it does change, even skew, my perception of everyday objects at times. Sometimes it makes me wonder just how “vanilla” the world around me really is. I mean that sure was an awfully high concentration of rubber piping for a non-industrial application.
Sorta made me sad I’m allergic to latex.
But I wouldn’t mind being allergic to eels.