This the final part of our interview with Catasa Charisma. We hope you enjoyed this three part series. We must offer a tremendous thank you to Catasta for providing such thoughtful answers. It truly was a fun time. We hope our fellow latex afficianados found something inspiring along the way so that they can keep expanding their enjoyment of this very cool clothing.
Part I of the interview can be found here.
Part II of the interview can be found here.
K&S: Your books are incredibly detailed. Have you thought about translating this information to an instructional Youtube series on the thought that seeing the complicated happen sometimes clicks quicker than reading about it?
CC: Absolutely. That is another plan for the future. Often when I am making things I am narrating the processes of drafting and construction inside my head. I shall be doing such videos once I have a bit more free time. This could still be a couple of years away but eventually I want a host of videos which then anyone who has bought the Compendium of Rubber Garment Making will have free access to with hyperlinked tags in the manual to the individual videos.
That is one of my promises by the way for anyone who buys the Compendium that unless specifically told not to keep their email information then at anytime in the future when I make revisions of the book or add extra sections in they will always get a free updated copy.
K&S: President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” People tend to be fearful of things that are different.They express that fear thru agressive or demeaning behaviour towards others to express that their position is superior. Even without external pressure, a person can be fearful due to internal thoughts over how people will react.
This brings us to fashion. You can say the more different something a style is from the norm, the more people will react negatively. Do you agree with this. Is latex “too different” from what is accepted fashion to be common place. How much more extreme is it than wearing leather? Women often wear leather to corporate jobs. Is latex that much more extreme?
CC: Imagine someone saying to another that they couldn’t eat cheese because it was wrong, it was outright deviant and perverted and that they should be ashamed and if they aren’t then they are mad and possibly so dangerous to society that they should either be ostracised or locked away. Rubber is like cheese. Cheese is a product from milk. Rubber is a product from the milk, the latex, of the Rubber Tree, the hevea brasiliensis. They even come about through similar processes.
Sounds strange to think that others should be so horrified at another person enjoying cheese and yet we can experience that reaction when wearing rubber. Shit, us monkeys are so strange that folk would turn a blind eye to anyone who wore garments made from cheese but not so for rubber. But then the fear isn’t about rubber but all the associations they have to it.
I have to say though that while my own fear of what peoples reactions would be kept my passion for the material hidden away for three decades that when I did eventually come out and started to wear it publicly, either in part as everyday wear or fully encased from head to toe and walking the streets, I never got a single negative reaction beyond a couple lads in a van driving past one time who shouted some obscenities.
Yes, the ugly side of people can come out but I have never encountered this because of wearing rubber but because, as in the case of the obscenities and another time when I had a prosthetic breast grabbed, appeared as a desirable looking female. The rubber might have added to this because of various stereotypical associations but even so, it wasn’t the rubber that drew the response but that I was a woman first and I guess attractive second. It was more a reaction of male misogyny than any fear of rubber.
I agree that dressing against the norm will bring out the worse in people, maybe it’s a survival instinct to be wary against the unfamiliar and in this I have certainly faced more negative reaction, outright hostile abuse, but I wasn’t wearing rubber.
I remember at the end of the 1980’s I was once hounded out of a cafe in Whitby by local men in their forties and fifties for wearing a 1930’s style working mans suit, incredibly conservative but because no one else wore such suits like that at the time it drew this unwarranted attention. They got aggressive and in my face so I left and made a quick march down the street as they followed me out. It wasn’t the norm. But I relish the fact that it wasn’t too many years later that the wonderful Goths descended on the town in their hundreds due to its association with Bram Stokers Dracula. But rubber is simply too impractical a material to ever catch on for it ever to become a conventional fabric. We don’t have to fear peoples reaction to rubber, just the ignorant in general.
This is not to say, however, that in the past more conventional clothing manufacturers haven’t used rubber for its aesthetic and utilitarian purposes which the general public would wear. One use to get rubber girdles which would be perforated to permit the skin to breath and be lined with fibres to help with putting the garment on and only a couple of years ago a big fashion house bought out a range of coats that had panels of rubber built into them. There are many examples but none lasted very long, either better substitutes were found to the rubber or the rubber was being used for a temporary trend.
The biggest drawback to rubber becoming used in everyday garments, however, hasn’t really anything to do with how it feels, that it could make one sweat more etc it’s not even about how grippy the material can be when trying to put on. All of these things are easy to solve. In regards to rubbers clinginess, even when loose, rubber that has been chlorinated permits it to glide on with no effort, it removes the rubbers ability to grip and rubber can also be lined with an internal fabric. You can actually buy rubber sheeting whose underside is made from silk. So, there isn’t really anything that would stop rubber from ever becoming a conventional fabric other than there is no willing conventional garment manufacturers who see a potential in the material bringing them in a profit especially when there are so many cheaper and alternative fabrics that can imitate the look and partially the feel of rubber.
K&S: Is men’s latex wear more “extreme” than women’s wear?
CC: There is a perception that in general men will wear more extreme rubber wear than women but not in my experience. Women more often already wear more extreme conventional clothing than men. As men can get use to seeing female models dressed in sexy revealing latex lingerie or in a much greater range of conventional garments made in rubber, we can come to think that women need not have a true fetish for the material. In fact I believe under the definition of rubber fetishism by the World Health Organisation it is said that women don’t have the fetish at all! It’s just plain and simply wrong.
K&S: What do you say to someone who deep down would want to wear latex in public settings?
CC: I would say go for it but with this proviso. Rubber comes with associations of which in the general public eyes are formed through ignorance so this suggests that if you wear rubber then you could expect prejudicial reactions. If you have never experienced such prejudice, be it in any small or large way, don’t expect it to be pleasant. Don’t expect to come away feeling good and upbeat about yourself. It can actually be an eye opener and revolutionise your own thinking so in itself this can be good. You are putting yourself in the shoes of people who can encounter such ugliness everyday of their lives. But, this isn’t really a natural thing to desire so unless you are in a group think of ways in which those negative associations people have can be negated. Now if you don’t do this and you aren’t in a group, then expect either other people to have the fight or flight response.
But to counter against this you need to be aware of what it is about that rubber that stimulates the negative associations. I have already stated that in my experience it was never the material itself but just the associations to it and these most of us are already aware of, those associations to questionable sexual practices, gimps, dungeons, bondage and whips. So the more removed in appearance you are to these more directly associated things then the more you can fully wear rubber in public without fear, fully encased, fully transformed, multi-layered, more extreme than the norm. In fact you may find yourself being followed around, asked wonderful questions and have photos galore taken. far from being ostracised you can become a celebrity for the day.
K&S: The more I’ve looked into latex, the more I feel alone in a sense. Latex is such as subset of fetish that I feel there is no place to enjoy wearing it. If you’re not into BDSM, if you find “play parties”unpleasant, if you’re saddened that most Fetlife events include some variation of sex, swinging or play in their descriptions -it begins to feel lonely and boring.
How do you make latex fun for those people?
CC: So I wore rubber secretly from the age of 21 to 38. I knew nobody else who wore rubber and never attended any events. My isolation was very much a product of not the rubber fetish but allowing the secret shame of having the fetish dictate my behaviour which really was about ensuring that nobody knew about my guilty shame. As such this also meant I could never form proper relationships with others because how could I ever tell them about that thing within me, that nasty perversion, that abnormality? I can only speak for myself as to the evolution of my fetish life which began so much earlier than the actual wearing of rubber and say that at first I used stretched materials to explore my own body, I used it for binding and compression, for breath play and sensory deprivation and enhancement and of course for masturbation but once I‘d gone through a great deal of that what next?
When I could it was about trying to take the fetish into the more mundane world of washing pots, having a nice cup of tea in front of the telly, enjoying a bath and after that then attempting to go outside and walking the dog by moonlight across the farmers fields, going to the cinema and supermarket (albeit in the last two cases the rubber was often hidden away under conventional clothing).
There is this thing I feel with anything we have a passion for, anything that in truth is simply a fascination for something through which we can explore ourselves and the world, in which all it ever truly wishes is to grow, to relate ever more with aspects of the universe we dwell within, to understand it through and express our awareness through. But if it can’t go beyond the bedroom that is where it remains forever in this kind of raw primal state but stagnating and only ever stimulated by fantasises driven by desires to be set free, often illicit in form in which the individual is caught and often punished. The fantasies are not driven by the fetish but by the shame of having one, which we might explore and gain sexual gratification through the medium of our fetish. The fetish, in itself doesn’t really develop. The taboo does but not the fetish. I felt so trapped in this world I went through many a purge of all my fetish wear and apparel but I was always drawn back or, thats to say, it never left me simply because I got rid of the clothing. But then I didn’t recognise for a long time that it wasn’t the fetish to blame but the taboo, it was the taboo, the shame and guilt that I really needed expunging.
It wasn’t until I actually began to talk to others through the internet that I realised all this, that I had self analysed myself over the years and new exactly what the problem was. I had people considerably younger than myself exploring their fetishes for the first time with some serious concerns and anxieties as to what it all meant to them and found I was able to relieve some of their fears, explain things to them and actually it was this group and one person in particular who said I needed to embrace my fetish and show it off in the world, that I had something to contribute to other peoples lives. But how?
I guess the internet saved me, it allowed me to initially talk to others and speak openly for the first time about my life and once they said I needed to stretch my wings I decided I knew nothing other in life than my art. I have always been a visual speaker and so, with some new little bits of rubber began making little Youtube videos, just jumping up and down in front of the camera in rubber not having a clue what I was doing. Youtube was an excuse to do this but what I was doing was really for either the very first time in my life or a very long time began to truly truly enjoy my fetish. I was using it to explore something, what I didn’t know at the time, but at least something by dressing up in rubber and doing some silly antics, pouring cream all over myself and licking it off for example and then setting it creatively to music and editing the raw footage to sync with the music.
Again I had no idea about how to make videos but it didn’t matter, I was doing something positive it felt, something fun and the more I shared what I did under the name Catasta Charisma the more people out there wanted more from me, they loved my silly little films so I began to play more and more into it, making things ever more theatrical, dressing more and more outlandishly. And through the films I made friends and started to meet folk, and go walking around London and having photoshoots and going out to events and even taking other people out who had never experienced what they were like, then meeting professional performers and taking part in live shows, or getting to meet so many wonderfully creative people who made their own garments, inspiring me to make my own until eventually alongside ExxEss Latex, helping to put on international mammoth catwalk shows and meet all my fetish heroes who in the past had so influenced me. Then before you know it being asked questions for peoples blogs about my life.
From one small little incidence when I was a child discovered dressed head to toe in multiple layers of nylons and my distraught parents needing to know why, on seeing the chaos this brought to their lives for a small time, so traumatic to me as a six year old, I got my debilitating taboo and yet from another small incident where I was told to go and fly and do my silly little things my life changed forever. I could well have been dead by now. My life could have gone down a route in which my fetish was never set free and maybe I’d been content enough to have kept going for another thirty years of purging or maybe it would have caught up with me to such an extent I couldn’t live with it but no, I did start to have fun, I did start to play with it creatively and from it found life and love abundant.
I don’t know how to make latex fun for someone else, all I can do is talk about my own life, put it out there, share it and what I do. And maybe this will help others, maybe others will say, okay I’m going down to the river side and I’m going to roll around in mud. If you are going to share it don’t make it sexual, theres plenty of that already, unless that is a route you truly wish to explore but return to being a child who full of wonder and curiosity at the world just wants to play in it, just wants to explore it. See where it goes.
There is a wonderful YouTuber called Kumi Pete who just walks around his local shops in thick rubber layers of clothes. You almost get the impression that he knows nobody in the fetish world, that he’s alone, but he’s having fun creatively, he has to think about what he will wear, the route he will walk, where his camera must be set up, what he’s going to be doing in the frame. He has to do everything alone. He then has to edit his raw footage and. turn everything into a coherent whole. Yet for all this hard work, all the time and energy put into making the films, all we see is a mundane act of one man out buying groceries in rubber.
I love the guy and obviously he too must have this sense that he must share what he does. I feel it is very much the case that when we do this kind of thing, when we share our adventures in this way, all we are doing is exposing ourselves, laying before the world the diary of our day. It may be scrutinised, it may be ridiculed, it may be feared but it may also inspire and help others too to see that they are also not alone, that they don’t have to accept the stereotypical notions of what it means to have a fetish, and that they too can have fun by expressing their creative soul.
K&S: Women’s clothing seems to have such variety. Can men’s latex be as interesting? What are your thoughts on men’s latex fashion?
CC: One reason why I started to cross-dress in rubber was because most male garments didn’t fit me. Either they would be too tight between the legs or way too baggy. This was because of the dimensions of my body in which my waist to hip measurement is closer to a female standard than a male one. Also, for the aesthetics of display, for being seen on camera or out in the public, male designs were just horrible, they didn’t look good on my frame, they made me too self-conscious and so awkward, I couldn’t be comfortable and natural when wearing them. This was another reason why I began to make my own garments.
Things are improving, a greater diversity of mens rubber fashion wear on top of the fetish wear is much more available today than it was even just ten years ago. And there is a demand for it. Other than some of the more grand and outlandish things I might be asked to take on as a commission I get asked considerably for fun, bright, colourful, decorative casual wear. This is from men who are rubber fetishists, who already own a full wardrobe of conventional rubber fetish wear but who would also just like to have some things which are a bit more stylish for show or with which they feel they can just throw on and be more relaxed in.
Whether any of the major rubber companies will ever truly feel the demand is large enough for them to warrant the risk of diversifying their collections more is a different issue but the signs are there that they are attempting to. Men’s clothing can be incredibly interesting however, one only needs to look at paintings from the past to see how whacked out crazy things could be. And if women can wear typically male orientated clothing then why not the other way around. This doesn’t mean dressing as a woman, it doesn’t mean appearing androgynous, it doesn’t mean their sexuality is being threatened but that there is a huge variety of female clothing men are simply ignoring because it is in the female section of the shop which could look darn good on them.
K&S: Is there anything you would like to add?
CC: Fetishism imbues the world around us with meaning, meaning that the world around us doesn’t actually possess. The world may follow the laws of physics and everything may well relate through those laws but it is only through our fetishistic connection to the world that we give it real meaning, that we find it interesting enough to take the world within us to make sense of it.
Fetishism establishes our own personal laws of our relationship with the world. It helps to establish what our relationship is to it and see that we have a part to play. By happenstance rubber is my fetish. This innocuous material, this congealed substance that oozes as a sticky white milk from a tree, became for some reason so interesting to me that I allowed it to shape my life. I allowed it to shape a substantial part of who I am. Today I work with it, wear it, write about it, I dress people in it, put on shows with it, take it around the world, I photograph it, illustrate it, draw and paint it, I paint with it, and I meet many people who, while it may play a different part in their lives, may have a different meaning to them, may colour their world in a whole alternative spectrum, nevertheless have also, in part, been shaped by it. But for how much longer? What is the future for rubber and clothing made from it?
There is often this cry for rubber to be seen as a conventional material but really all this is is a cry for the prejudices associated with it to be lifted so folk need not be as fearful about wearing it publicly. But it wouldn’t matter if rubber did become a conventional material, this wouldn’t stop it from being fetishised by some people. All kinds of conventional objects, substances and materials are fetishised from shoes to woollen knitwear, from t-shirts to honey. It is even an occupation for many, employed to create fetishistic connections to commodities to make them more appealing for sale. But, I don’t think we are too far away from a time in which the latex from which rubber is derived will stop being harvested.
The rubber sheeting from which our rubber garments are made only accounts for a tiny percentage of the overall rubber industry and we could come to lose it over the next fifty years if not sooner. Most latex is collected for very different kinds of markets of which at present no cheaper or equally suited alternative substances to latex have been able to replace but this doesn’t mean that these other markets don’t keep looking and experimenting to find a replacement. With each new year new discoveries and alternatives are found.
Now it could well be that small plantations of the Hevea Brasiliensis might be able to sustain themselves on just the rubber sheeting market but of course, they might not, the farmers might well feel pressurised to find more profitable crops. Many rubber plantations have already been replaced as the overall rubber market declines but also as more profitable crops have arisen such as palm oil. New technology is being used to help extract latex from alternative plant sources but this is not being done for the rubber fashion market. And, maybe surprising to some, but there is a growing trend amongst many people who wear rubber to find a similar but alternative material to wear. And to this the ever emerging new types of fabrics being synthetically 3D printed, 3D grown, even organically grown from bacteria are being seen as attractive alternatives if not often seen as more desirable. It could well be then that we are in the last generation or so of rubberists, of people being attracted to wearing rubber but, this isn’t to be lamented for it isn’t the material at the end of the day that has a fetish but ourselves and we will gravitate to wherever it leads us and this actually excites me.
For anyone who has read this blog and would like to purchase the Compendium of Rubber Garment Making then if they were to quote FETISHNUN then they would also receive a free manual on how to make a nun’s wimple (the nun’s headpiece). They can find a link for purchasing the manual through the website link.
Catasta Charisma (Heath Clark)
website – catastacharisma.weebly.com
Facebook – facebook.com/catastasecrets/
Facebook – facebook.com/catastacreation/
Facebook – facebook.com/exxesslatex/
One thought on “Part III: An Interview with Catasta Charisma”