Don't be alarmed; they like it like that.
The event is called Fetish Heat, a summertime extravaganza for devotees of latex, handcuffs, goth apparel, whips, fishnet, piercing, S&M and Hello Cthulhu.
OK, I'm joking about Hello Cthulhu. That's just too twisted.
Fetish Heat is organized by the folks who back the Arizona Fetish Ball in Phoenix: Horns and Halos, and TNG:Arizona (www.tng-arizona.org). This will by no means be the first public fetish event in Tucson; Asylum and Heart-Five have hosted similar affairs in the past. But this could be the biggest, according to mastermind Mitch Palmer (sadism is his specialty).
"The Tucson fetish community is really growing," Palmer enthuses, "but as I understand it, it's extremely underground. If you're not invited to those events, you don't know about them. I don't want to rip on the Tucson scene in any way, because some of the events I've been to there have been absolutely outstanding, while some events in Phoenix have been absolutely disastrous."
Disastrous in terms of attendance, not personal injury. One of the big draws is the featured bands, and since Tucson has a higher band-to-venue ratio than Phoenix, Tucson bands have fewer opportunities to play than their counterparts in the Valley of the Singed--and that means their performances are more of a special occasion.
Bands at Fetish Heat will include Sin Machine, The Year, My Darling Murder and The Attitude; you can probably learn more about that in the Weekly's music section, assuming music editor Stephen Seigel hasn't accidentally asphyxiated himself while practicing one of his, um, hobbies.
Other attractions include the group Midriff Crisis bellydancing to goth-industrial music; the Cut Throat Freak Show with lightbulb eating, a bed of nails, pyrotechnics and razor's edge juggling (think Jim Rose Circus); strip pole and cage dancing by the women of Curves; the aforementioned flesh-hook suspension performances by the group Life Suspended (think OTO Dance hung from hooks piercing their backs); and such fetish performances as rope bondage, fun with candle wax, girl-on-girl biting and groping (a very popular attraction), body painting and an electrifying demonstration of the Violet Wand. If you don't know what some of these things are, well, you know how to find out.
Fetish fashions and accessories will be displayed and sold, and patrons are strongly encouraged to arrive in their own favorite fetish gear. "At the very least, they should dress in black," says Palmer.
What the otherwise broad-minded organizers will not tolerate at this event is the use or sale of drugs, the consumption of alcohol brought from outside or the display of genitalia.
So, who's into this? "You're looking at the widest possible demographics," says Palmer. "Lawyers, politicians, doctors, porn stars, strippers and normal students; straight, gay, all ages." Palmer's events, he says, tend to draw adults with money to spend on fetish gear rather than what he calls "the raver who spends five bucks to party for 12 hours." The bands will probably attract people between 18 and 40, he says.
"We'll have young people who are pierced and tattooed everywhere and know everything goth, standing right there with some 40-year-old who's as John Ashcroft as you can get, stepping out of the closet and doing this for the first time in his life."
Much as one might like to see John Ashcroft on a meat hook, the important thing to remember about fetishists is that they enjoy what they do. It's voluntary and fun for the participants. Nobody expects every element to be fun for everybody.
"Pain is one fetish among millions," says Palmer, "and not everybody is into it. A fetish is an act, any act, that causes a sexual response. If you look at the sky and you get a hard-on, you have a sky fetish. It's whatever causes a direct sexual response. It's not for us to say, 'My fetish is better than your fetish,' because that's bullshit. If you have a fetish, come to our event. Let's explore your fetish in all its glory, and you can learn about our fetishes, too."