photo by Agent Mondo
Uzi fashion show, ca '94
a vast, enduring and long-existing lifestyle and fashion movement incorporating an often specific menu of multidimensional styles relating to issues of sexuality and power. Fetish specifically deals with objects, images, things or situations that connote a hidden sexual meaning.

Fetish is frequently maligned and misunderstood to be about depraved carnal sex. It is indeed some of that. But to most of us the actual sex part is not always that central. What fetish is really about is the psychology and theater of sexuality as we ordinary people and fetish practitioners as well, choose to express it. Most of us know fetish as BDSM (bondage, domination and sadomasochism). But the word fetish pertains to a vastly broader sexual psychology. Fetish relates to all sorts of sexual eccentricities found in most ordinary people. Fetish relates to ancient sexual rituals and the way sex has influenced nonsexual life and lifestyle for thousands of years.

Central fetish themes are found in the Libertine movement established by the perverted outlaw Marquis de Sade (source of the term sadism) and his mistress Justine whose sister joined a convent if I recall correctly. Sade's art was his defiant literary pieces (starting circa 1758).The Marquis spent much time in French lockup for crimes most of us would not vindicate him for. Yet, in historical retrospective, he is regarded as the centerpiece to many variant philosophies of sexual freedom for having immortalized numerous personal deparavities both evil and innocent.

Today the fetish movement is an incongruous collection of many sexual lifestyles. At the bottom end are those centered on cheap trashy promiscuity and overindulgence in pornography. At the middle there are thousands of fetish clubs devoted to reasonably moderated sexual adventure by otherwise average people who are usually neither promiscuous nor pornographic. Then there is high fetish which is essentially conducted in underground film, photo art and fashion. Most people are unaware that fetish has been a huge influence on counterculture fashion and in rock music. Lux Interior and Poison Ivy of the Cramps would be a good example. But the Stones and Bowie were doing transvestite fetish long ago. And there was Rocky Horror Picture Show and Annie Lenox of the Eurythmics.

A good fetish model is ideally a visual dreamer who enjoys the thrill of a particular role. Fetish is an ideal theme often used to parody the deeper realities of neofeudalism and slavery in today's hegemonic social-economic order. In that sense fetish is high theater and social commentary through fashion statement. It is an indispensible and essential tool of the art crimes revolution found everywhere from David La Chapelle's brilliant photography to the mischief of Betty Page and the New York Dolls. To the ordinary prude, fetish is garbage. But to the underground artist, fetish will always remain vital in one reinvention upon another from the very real Joan of Arc to endless future themes yet to be seen. Future fetish promises to be particularly interesting as man's general psychosis and autopsychoanalysis deepens, providing new interpretations of sex and creating new sex symbols relating to class warfare, government intrusion, privacy warfare, citizen enslavement, social responsibility and other facets of the new castration. Fetish practioners, like many of those in goth, are often mainstream consumers and willing participants in the value system of their own enslavemnet, yet pretend to be "out there". This explains why today's mainstream fetish is a boring ready-made cultural statement. I mean take a look, most fetish pictures and fashions are directed to look like other fetish pictures and fashions even on the high end.

True art crimes fetish will often be a darkly humorous and deeply artistic or cerebral flashing of the bird to the psychological conventions of everything mainstream in social power and economics as these forces interplay with sexuality. For that matter, the middle class mall rat fetish practioner will be repeatedly banished as artists reinterpret and redefine fetish in future millenniums. As new fashion designs, photo themes, theatrical and film fetish variants emerge, they will continue to be eaten alive by moneyed middle classes. But true fetish will more often be on the unpopular edge of individual insanity as opposed to anything from the socially accepted mainstream which is the root cause of most insanity in artists (including Agent Mondo's insanity). Real fetish is a terribly psychological, artistic and sexual process in total conflict with consumerism and ready made fashion. It is more of an art turd of surrealist Antonin Artaud than an after school fashion statement by Vivienne Westwood. It defies being followed. You give birth to fetish individually or in small isolated groups.

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