Dressing for Pleasure: John Willie’s Bizarre and the Golden age of Kink Press, with Fenella Hitchcock.
Monday, Oct 12th
6.30pm – 9.00pm
English artist John Coutts, better known by his nom de plume of John Willie, is arguably one of the most influential figures of the sexual underground of the Twentieth Century. As the mastermind behind mid-century fetish magazine Bizarre, Willie was one of the first to transpose the spirit of European kink press to a North American audience, presenting a blossoming fetish community with home-grown smut of their very own. In its brief and sporadic run, Bizarre was able to showcase a range of forms for non-normative sexual self-display, drawing material from myriad sources (including fashion magazines of the day) with a particular focus on body modification and BDSM.
This illustrated lecture looks at the role of dress within sexual identification and practice and the ways in which the fields of fetish and fashion repeatedly intersect within Bizarre. It will also consider the wider influence of Bizarre’s aesthetic on subsequent sexual subcultures.
Fenella Hitchcock is a writer, researcher and lecturer, specialising in dress history. She trained in pattern cutting and design and is currently completing a postgraduate dissertation at London College of Fashion, based on the life and wardrobe of Soho character Sebastian Horsley. She cites her other research interests as gender, the macabre and subcultural style.