Posts tagged story
Posts tagged story
(A prelude to our Performance coming up this Saturday)
"Is this what you were expecting to find?"
He crouches down beside the body, peering at the peculiar angle of the man’s neck. A train rumbles past, its sound wiping out his reply as he reaches forward with a fountain pen, pointing at a smashed web of circuitry embedded in the corpse’s chest, just under the collar bone.
"What was that?"
"I said yeah. This is exactly what I was expecting to find," said Cartwright. "The fights are on again."
Cartwright looked the photos over.
"Eight bodies in eight months. All in better-than-perfect shape, all enhanced with adrenal nets and neurojump webs." He handed the tablet back to his assistant, grimacing. "Dumped on or near the tracks. And we’re nowhere with this. We have no story."
The two of them leaned back against Cartwright’s car, watching the police work the scene. Cartwright turned away, squinting up at the undulating glass tower behind the fence. The moon was reflected again and again in its curved surface, multiplying itself.
"You’ve got The Rat," his assistant murmured.
"I suppose I do," Cartwright said. He dug his hands into his pockets.
The black walls of the plank shed rattled as a freight train rumbled overhead. The Rat sat on the edge of the rusted steel frame cot, wrapped in a tattered blanket, and coughed. A notched wooden chair rested against the wall nearby.
"I’m a wealthy man, you know," he muttered. "I just can’t get to any of it. They’ll kill me if they so much as scent me."
"Right," said Cartwright, stepping forward carefully. "You were saying."
"I was saying that I can tell you all about the fights if you got what I need. I was saying that I know everything you want to know. The Merchant of Bones, I shook his hand. The Open Lady, I kissed hers. The Cat, the Butterfly, I know them. I know them. But you have to pay me, or you get nothing."
Cartwright reached into his coat and the Rat flinched. The reporter eyed him, pulling a stack of hundred dollar bills from his inside pocket and laying it carefully on the chair.
"It’s not enough," The Rat hissed.
"It’s enough for you to start," replied Cartwright. "And then if I figure you’re telling the truth, it’s enough to bring you more. Of course, if I get enough - if we bring them down - then you got nothing more to fear, right? You can get everything back."
The Rat shook his head, grinning humourlessly. He reached for the chair. He thumbed the bills.
After a long moment, clutching the money with both hands, he bowed his head.
"First person you’re going to want to see, when you get in, first person you’re going to look for is the Maitre-D’. He looks like a servant but he’s the one running the show. You miss him, you got nothing. With him, the whole thing grows back like a hydra with all of its heads."
"Who is he?"
The Rat flashed an angry look at Cartwright for a moment, forgetting himself. The expression quickly faded, and he returned his gaze to the floor.
"He’s masked. Like they all are. You do this right, you’ll know who he is before I do. But it doesn’t matter. Does it? You have no idea. You don’t know anything."
Cartwright scowled. “I know enough. I know that they hold these goddamn fights every month just so that the freaks in the audience can get their kicks. And every time they do, one fighter - the loser - dies, and they dump him out by the tracks. So I know they gotta be close, and I know that we got about a month before it happens again.”
The Rat grinned again. “I told you,” he said. “You don’t know anything.”
He twisted the bills in his clenched fists.
"It’s not the loser you’re finding. It’s not one fighter that dies. For every one you find, there’s a dozen— look, the ones on the tracks - the ones you keep coming across. They’re not in the fights at all, my friend. They’re the invitation. And you don’t have a month. You found the new one, what, yesterday? Then, Mister Cartwright, the fights are tonight."
Cartwright took a step back.
"Get your friends together. You’re going to need them. I’ll tell you where to go," The Rat said, clutching the money to his chest. "Then you’ll see. Then you’ll see how this all works, and how many fighters die. And you’ll see what they do with the ones who don’t, and what that’s got to do with freaks getting their kicks
And the light caught the Rat’s eyes as he began to laugh his wheezing, whispering, desperate laugh.
An interview with Kink Engineering on the “Sex in Words” Blog
from award-winning sex journalist Jon Pressick
Note - Please take a moment to check out the Sex in Word blog… lovely stuff!
The design and craft of sex is, in my opinion, highly underestimated. When you go into a sex store or shop online, do you take time to consider the artistry and skill that has gone into creating those pervy products? Probably not, I mean, your mind is likely focussed on something else. But take a peek into your tickle trunk sometime and ponder the aesthetics and form of your toys and devices.
Mad_Scientist of Kink Engineering took his interest in latex, combined it with some good timing and a lot of hard work, and has created a company leading the way in latex kink products including their renowned sealing vacbed.
JP: How did Kink Engineering come about?
Mad_Scientist: In 2008 I had known about my kinky side for many years, but I had not truly acted on it in a meaningful way. Shortly after beginning my relationship with Archean, we took a course on latex crafting with the amazing designers at www.ego-assassin.com and learned the basic skills of crafting latex.
I had an interest in latex bondage devices and a background in mechanical engineering and thus set out to design some better functioning latex bondage toys for myself and Archean to play with.
Through some contacts from Ego Assassin we produced a Vacbed for an events promoter here in Toronto, and she showcased our work at the Everything To Do With Sex Show in 2008. From there we started a website and expected to sell maybe 6 vacbeds in a year just to pay for the web-hosting and to help us have a reason to continue honing our skills as latex crafters.
The business grew to the point that it began to put pressure on my full-time job and my relationship (time is a limited resource) and in 2010 I left my job to dedicate myself to the business full-time. Since then we have grown to add Archean to the roster full-time and also employ a 3rd employee part-time. We have also moved to a dedicated warehouse/workshop space to give us enough room to increase our production. Our most recent exciting move forward is the addition of a laser cutting machine to our toolkit to make insanely complex latex designs and overlays—and even custom engraved latex items.
In order to meet our own demand for the raw materials (latex sheeting) of our trade, we have also expanded from just making latex items to providing sheeting and supplies to other latex manufacturers and crafters here in North America.
JP: What kinds of products do you offer?
Mad_Scientist: Right now everything we offer is centred around latex. We actually run several distinct brands of latex products, which helps us to reach the target markets for each category of product.
www.sheetlatex.com provides latex sheeting and raw materials for latex designers, medical supply companies, artists, film/theatre designers and latex fetish hobbyists including “starter kits” for those who want to try out crafting with latex. www.kinkengineering.com is our bondage/fetish brand which produces latex-based bondage toys and some fetish/nerdy clothing items like capes and masks for latex superhero play. Our newest brand iswww.laserlatex.com which provides latex cutting services with our computer-controlled laser cutting machine, allowing us to produce items that are simply impossible to create by hand. We are really excited about the new possibilities that are opening up with this technology in house, including 3-D inflatable work with fine details, engraved/textured latex, custom logo/symbol work on existing products, and more. All of these brands are owned by our corporation Elastica Engineering which houses the online store and handles the transactions for all of the brands in one place. It’s also a nice safe name to come up on your credit card instead of Kink Engineering—which most of our customers appreciate.
JP: What was the first product that got you noticed in the scene?
Mad_Scientist: Our latex vacbeds were the foundation of the company and we have been focussed on latex bondage devices ever since.
I have always had a fetish for latex and bondage play and the vacbed seemed like the grand-daddy of all combinations of those two things. However, many in the fetish scene complained bitterly about how the vacbeds on the market were A) too expensive and B) too leaky because of large zippers used to close up the vacbed once the person was inside. This leakage required the vaccum cleaner that provided the suction for the vacbed to work to be on ALL THE TIME. This made playing in a vacbed both noisy and tended to burn out the motor in the vacuum cleaner if it over-heated from continuous use.
My first order of business with Kink Engineering was to make a better vacbed. Mechanical design training came in handy here, and I came up with a cheap, simple, and most of all, really functional solution to the problems of the vacbed. I also gave options for how the person inside would breathe, with both “head inside” and “head outside” styles of vacbeds to suit both the enclosure-happy and the claustrophobic-but-latex-loving fetishists!
We were lucky to have some customers who sang our praises online after we produced our first few vacbeds, and that coincided with the early days of fetlife.com where we have continued to have a vocal group of satisfied customers and excited followers who have been happy to recommend us to those interested in latex bondage toys.
JP: What is a vacbed and how does it work?
Mad_Scientist: A vacbed is essentially a giant latex bag. A person slides inside and either breathes via a tube to the outside, or sticks their neck through a “turtle neck” gasket to have their head on the outside, and then the air inside the bag is drawn out by a vacuum cleaner.
A frame around the perimeter of the bag gives structure to the vacbed, and the person inside ends up with the latex suction fitted to every curve, nook and cranny of the body. It is like having latex spray painted onto the skin, and the restraint caused by the stretchy latex holds the person in place with only a little bit of wiggle allowed before the body is pulled back to the position it was in when the air was drawn out.
Play with a person inside a vacbed can take many forms. The sensation of touch is amplified by the sensory deprivation of “head inside” vacbeds, and the sensation of a full body latex hug can be very sensual for people who enjoy helplessness. Other themes that ring very true with vacbeds include power exchange, massage, touching, and a sense of struggle in sexual situations.
JP: Is it difficult to compete with companies producing materials offshore for much less?
Mad_Scientist: Yes and no. We actually run a side-blog all about this atknockoffknockdown.tumblr.com and it is a topic of much discussion between us and our designer friends locally and online. We recognize that we simply cannot work at the same hourly wage as sweatshops in China while living in a first world country. No matter how much a customer might like to pay much less for our products, we do need to charge a rate that gives us a living wage and leaves some room for growth of the company.
On the other hand we do compete with them through holding our prices at reasonable levels. Just because it is a fetish product does not mean that we have to price it to the moon. We base our prices on paying ourselves a reasonable 1st world wage, and extending that respect to our employees, but there is no insane markup.
We also have kept a keen eye on customer service, smart and elegant design, and super high quality standards. Because of that our customers are not just satisfied with us, but often amazed at how we produce exactly what they always dreamed of. From us you get a product produced by people who understand the usage of that product, and the mentality of our customers who will be using the product. We often ask questions of our customers in the course of our order production process that bring up elements of their purchase that they had not even considered.
We talk back and forth with our customers a good amount. That is a very hard thing to get from a business run overseas in the manner of traditional money-centric business where customers are only a source of income and products are to be produced as cheaply as possible. That leads to corners getting cut, quality in constant decline, and customers who are dissatisfied, but have served their purpose of giving some money to the machine. I often think that customers to some overseas companies are as disposable as the products produced. Our customers are part of our community, and we care about them.
We also help to build the latex community by offering advice, running events, promoting small designers (yes, our competition) who are doing great work, and generally making latex as accessible and fun as possible. We allow our personalities to touch the business and people are naturally inclined to want to support those that they feel connected to. You get great fetish gear… and you get to know that you might have paid to feed our cats today!
JP: What is the allure of latex for you?
Mad_Scientist: The particular draw of latex for me, when worn by a partner, is the cognitive dissonance of arousal coupled with denial. Latex both accentuates the form of the human body by highlighting the curves with total form fitting, but can also can cover the body completely and deny access to sex in a way that can reinforce that arousal by denying the act itself. A real “look but don’t touch” situation.
Latex is also a very sensual material for the wearer themselves in terms of how it stretches, slips and slides across the body when worn. It hugs and moves like no other material, and unlike most fabrics, can be either high friction (sticky) or low friction (lubricated) to suit the mood of the wearer.
I have been interested in latex since the early days of puberty when I became aware of that side of my sexuality. Since seeing latex in the mainstream media in music videos (Madonna’s HumanNature video being one of the first incidences I can remember of thinking “oh, wow!” to latex) I was hooked on the tight and shiny accentuation of the female form.
This was always a secret side of my personality, with only a few small feelers put out to girlfriends along the way through university. Somewhere during my education as a Mechanical Engineer, I stumbled across images of latex vacbeds featured on a German fetish-fashion site www.l-a-tex.com and instantly connected with the perfect form fit of latex suctioned to the human body.
My exploration of latex didn’t really get started until partnering with Archean a little over 4 years ago, and I am pleased to say that I have introduced latex to her, and she has accepted that fetish into her life to the point that she is both a latex blogger who gives advice to potential latex wearers (via www.latexcloset.com) and the current Miss Rubber World 2011. She has been a huge positive influence on me, and a tireless partner in Kink Engineering.
JP: Did you think you’d be doing this kind of design and manufacturing when you graduated?
Mad_Scientist: Nope. But that would apply to virtually every job I’ve had since graduation. Let’s see… Actor, Robotics Engineer, Special FX designer, Web Designer, Musician, Indoor Landscaping, Teacher, Professional Science Nerd, Set Designer, and now Latex Designer. When I graduated I had no Idea what my first job would be… but I promised to keep my eyes open for opportunity. I really did that! However, I never ever would have expected back then that a work day could include supervising photos and video of beautiful half-naked women bound in latex devices of my creation. Most days are a lot more like normal work… but some days are totally magical.
But if I could go back in a time machine to myself when I graduated from grad school in 2002… the me of back then would have laughed himself half to death with glee at the place that I am now. That said, I still feel like I am just at the tip of the iceberg and that I have a long way to expand as both a business owner and as a designer.
JP: What are your plans for the future of Kink Engineering?
Mad_Scientist: Our joke around the office is that the plan is ‘World Domination’… but realistically I see the future of the business as growing the manufacturing side to the point where I can stop working on day-to-day production and spend more time on the design of new products, and the production of artistic showcases of what the company can do. I also obsess about avoiding the pitfalls of growth… where employees don’t share in the joy of a business and end up “just doing it for the money.” That’s the first step down a path that leads to loss of quality, loss of creativity, and the eventual slow and painful end of a company that started out amazing. I have been inside companies in that end game state, and I don’t want that to be how my business ends up in 20 years. Archean and I spend a good amount of time planning for expansion, and how that will affect every aspect of the business. We assess where we are weak and try to shore that up with great people, and we do our best to keep the spirit that got the business going in the first place alive and well. “We love this idea… how can it be done better!” and “We love this community… how can we make it stronger?”
Reminder: Please take a moment to check out the Sex in Word blog… lovely stuff!