While creating the characters who populate my stories, I've designed numerous costumes, some of which have been translated into real life outfits. Some have been for promotional appearances and book signings, some for fashion shows, and others for commercial lines of fetishwear. Below is a sampling of sketches and photographs. Go to the Past Event Galleries section for more examples.
In the course of realizing the Spider Garden world, where extravagent erotic expression is the norm, I reasoned that my characters would have fairly extensive wardrobes. I drew many variations on the Garden's basic courtesan and concubine outfits, using medieval Japanese and Chinese formal clothing as a jumping off point as well as contemporary fetish fashion.
Spider Garden Sketch Gallery | Spider Garden Photo Gallery
In 1996, my friend Midori introduced me to Molly Made, the creator of the So Hip It Hurts custom latex clothing line. Molly was already a fan of my work and proposed a collaboration. The three of us, with help from various photographers, made the first attempts to translate my designs into 3D, some of which appeared in UK fetish fashion mag Skin Two.
Rubber Ball Photo Gallery
The 1998 Rubber Ball in London played host to a special So Hip It Hurts Spider Garden-themed fashion show. Castellana Sasaya Nijan (Midori) was joined by chandelices, pony boys, and a luscious concubine or two.
Tranceptor | Tranceptor and Ravanna Art and Photo Gallery
For the premiere of the Tranceptor book at the 1998 Comic-Con in San Diego, Midori volunteered her services as the lead character as well her lover/rival Ravanna. With the help of Molly Made, we created her costumes out a variety of basic fetishwear and a few custom props (the Tranceptor's signature elbow and ankle blades). Patrick (pictured below with Ravanna) and I were in heaven - as were lucky fans and Last Gasp's Ron Turner who risked the family jewels for his opportunity to get close to the Tranceptor.
Elena | Elena Art and Photo Gallery
Midori also appeared as my dominatrix character Elena who was featured (unnamed) in Lumanagerie. Sadly, we couldn't find her a large black dog to lead around for her appearance at Comic-Con (not that they would have let us anyway...).
Metal Web at Comic-Con 2003 | Metal Web Photo Gallery
Latex concubine Joi (Lyn) and Reina Aurora (herself) dazzled convention goers at Comic-Con 2003 where we were promoting the release of In A Metal Web II.
Reina Aurora's outfit, created from various off-the-rack fetish items, was fairly easy to assemble. Of course, having the real-life Reina Aurora model it lent a unique air of autheticity! The biggest challenge here was hand-painting her facial and shoulder tattoos each day.
Joi's concubine outfit was a bit more problematic. I created her head piece from scratch using a bicycle helmet as a base and various pieces of pre-formed plastic conduit, sprinkler hose, electrical wire, styrofoam and painted wooden dowels for detail.
Fortunately, Joi's kimono-style latex top and backless hobble skirt (aka. the "Manning Skirt") are now available to the buying public. Created for San Francisco's Madame S fetish clothing line (see Links page) by So Hip It Hurts, these lovely pieces were whipped up by Allison on very short notice.
The Laboratory - Slick 1997 | Slick flyer | Laboratory Design Gallery | Laboratory Photo Gallery
SLICK was a bi-annual fetish event put on by San Francisco promoter Random that featured art and fashion shows, dj's,bands, and performers, as well as an elaborate play space and bumpin' dancefloor. Dedicated to the unconventional side of fetish club-going, SLICK encouraged attendees and performers to get creative.
I had worked with Midori on one of her previous SLICK performances, mixing a soundtrack and doing some body painting. We both decided that for the next event, we wanted to collaborate on something a bit more complicated. Midori's desire to be transformed into "something monstrous" led to a series of sketches of an H.R. Giger-esque female beast birthed out of a huge embryo by twin masked surgeons.
We were working with an extremely limited budget and had to improvise on most of our costumes and props. Midori's outfit was made out of a damaged latex catsuit, a modified Israeli-issue gas mask, some Japanese tabi-style boots, strips and chunks of industrial rubber, and about 300 metal eyelets which I had to hammer into the cat suit by hand. I cut our surgeons' lab coats into pieces, dyed them with glow-in-the-dark pigments, then had them machine-stiched back together.
Long-time friend and animator Chris Calvi was called in to do latex casting and prop construction. He single-handedly built the embryo and the internally-lit operating table and performed as one of the surgeons (I was the other one).
On the night of the performance, which had been dubbed "The Laboratory", each of us was operating under a bit of a handicap. All were wearing gasmasks which severely limited our vision. Chris and I were connected through our respirators by a length of hose which we had to be careful not to snag on anything. Midori, sealed in the claustrophobic sac for a good twenty minutes, was covered in about a gallon of sex lube. Somehow it all worked out ok.
Chris and I lurched onto stage in a cloud of fog to the warped dub of DJ Spooky's "Anansi Abstract" and commenced to remove our hideous creation from the embryonic sac with surgical precision.The erotic monster, delivered from her artificial womb, played with, then slaughtered her twin parent/surgeons. A happy ending of sorts...
Eidolon - Slick Fetish Ball 1998 | Eidolon flyers | Eidolon Design Gallery | Eidolon Photo Gallery | Eidolon Screen Captures
After the success of our "Laboratory" performance the previous year, Midori and I were invited back for another Slick event in January of 1998 - this time at the more spacious 1015 Folsom Club. The challenge was: how do we top what we had done last time - or at least - what could we do that would be somewhat different? We both wanted to push the level of grotesquerie and eroticism to even greater heights. I had been very inspired by artists I had seen at San Francisco's annual Butoh Festivals and by a kabuki performance that Midori and I had attended in Berkeley the previous summer. With the larger venue, there was also the urge to build bigger sets, more elaborate costumes, projections, and sound.
As I began doing sketches for the characters, I kept returning to the images of twins, the hermaphrodite split into mirror images. I thought of dark fairy tales - Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen" and the Devil's mirror which shatters, piercing the eye and heart of a mortal child. The "eidolon" as both ideal and an image without real existence became a central theme.
The appearance of two new collaborators - performance artist Jade Blue Eclipse and seamstress Monique, a former Dark Garden employee - helped to solidify our direction. Jade, Midori, and I had previously worked together on a couple of off-the-cuff fetish club performances. The contrast of Jade's androgynous sleekness and athletic dance style coupled with Midori's voluptuous curves and commanding stage presence was (in my opinion) an ideal match.
In addition to being a creative costume maker, Monique had experience in life casting - something Midori was eager to try. We decided that we would create masks for Midori and myself using a life cast of Midori's face. These would be the final eerie touch on the elaborate head dresses that I was sculpting.
Costume-wise, I was once again taking some of my cues from Giger's biomechanics since with our limited budget and tight schedule, it seemed that it would be easier to build costumes out of pre-existing industrial materials than to create things completely from scratch. I used styrofoam bicycle helmets as base forms and gradually built up layers of texture from plumbing paraphernalia and electrical wire. We filled out the rest of our outfits with items from Midori's fetish wardrobe. To further emphasize the hermaphroditic roles, my costume consisted of a full-length leather pencil skirt (effectively restricting any sort of quick movement) while Midori, decked out in leather corset and thigh-high latex boots, strapped on the biggest black rubber cock we could find.
Jade's outfit was a bit easier. She was wrapped in electrical wire and a type of self-adhering bandage material that is normally used for protecting the lower limbs of horses. I had been given several rolls of it by Amanda Wildefyre (a dominatrix who knows a few things about equine equipage). You just never know when stuff like that is going to come in handy ...
Our stage set consisted of a central pod flanked by two enormous crimson banners which Midori had painted with kanji and video monitors playing abstract animation sequences. We also projected 16mm animation loops onto the stage background and the surface of the pod.
A month of intense and increasingly frantic work finally came to fruition on the night of January 18th. Even a torrential downpour of monsoon-like proportions couldn't keep a capacity crowd from the Slick Fetish Ball. People watched spellbound as Jade the Androgyne writhed sinuously about the stage to a mixed soundtrack of Byzar, Scala, and Seefeel, heralding the emergence of hermaphroditic twin Eidolons from their lotus-like pod for a sensuous session of body worship.