Skin Two started as a fetish club in a Soho basement in Autumn 1983. This was the first modern fetish club, a mix of creative types from the media world and just anyone who wanted a place for fetish people to go. Skin Two started a community which has grown ever since and spread around the world.
When publisher Tim Woodward and photographer Grace Lau first attended London’s notorious Skin Two fetish club in 1983, they were astounded by its freedom. Embedded in a rather dull wider fetish scene of early 80s London, one including “just a few older folks in rubber raincoats meeting in cocktail bars or the Mackintosh Society”, Skin Two was a groundbreaking society that combined people of every walk of life and ages.
"It's been said that donning leather was "wearing the past." while dressing in latex was "wearing the future." Nowhere is that idea expressed more vividly than in the pages of the Euro-fetish zine Skin Two."
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF SEXUALITY AND PERVERSION
Fashion itself, as a discourse as well as a design practice, has confused definitions of fetishism and eroticism. Bondage fashions for women, which emerged with Vivienne Westwood's punk collection of 1976/7 challenged any simple reading of women as objects of fetishism. 'Sex is the thing that bugs English people more than anything else. So that's where I attack' commented Westwood. She subsequently inspired many punk women to reinvent the meaning of sexual fetish codes for themselves through their relationships to leather and rubber.
Leather, PVC, rubber and latex (Skin Two) have at least a threefold function. They create a unified impression for others, (in order to) support the wearers self-image and thirdly besides an aesthetical function, they also can serve to advertise the wearers interests.
Amazed by the sexual liberation and inclusivity of the Soho weekly night of “whips, chains and rubber”, they decided something was needed to capture this sensation – not a porn mag, but something that reflected the club’s progressiveness. In 1984, Woodward and Lau launched Skin Two, the magazine – its name paying homage to the club but also a nod to the metaphor for latex being a ‘second skin.’
It was quickly found that fetishists worldwide had been waiting for something like this; a quality magazine, produced as a labour of love by fetish people for fetish people. Soon, I gave up my career in mainstream publishing. Over the years Skin Two magazine grew and now it’s an international glossy publication, collected by fetish people worldwide.
The first issue was only 16 pages and only 1,000 copies were printed, in black and white and stapled together. This format was maintained for the first eight magazines. Skin Two Magazine was later converted to a glossy quarterly, sold around the world in many outlets including Tower Records and Borders (both now defunct) etc., as well as by mail order direct from the Skin Two main website. Inside the 80s aestheticised Skin Two archives, readers enter a world where women of all genders are in control of their sexualities and the gaze which perceives them; queer experiences are in constant celebration and everyone is a master of their own autonomy.
At its peak in the mid to late 1990s, Skin Two was present in book form, Music CD, movie/film, and several club events around the world. Skin Two also issued a fetish outfit series in the late 1990s including Rubber, shiny PVC and accessories for women and men through their Skin Two Clothing line. Skin Two Personals were established to allow individuals to make contact with other fetish fans around the world and in your own town.
“The masochist's endorphin rush is the same as the Martyr's ecstatic final reunion with God. It exists above and beyond the vanilla world of orgasm."
More than that, we can explore the fetishist roots of Jean Paul Gaultier, gawk at the work of the world’s best fetish photographers, and explore how sex really is at the core of humanity via topics like fetish and religion, fetish and gender, fetish and queerness.
Skin Two reader comments: rubber, leather and S&M are going through the same stage now that the condom went through ... it was an illicit object, but now anyone can buy a pack virtually everywhere. I look forward to the day when I can walk into Burtons and ask for a rubber suit. The press exposure fetishism is getting is bringing that day closer.