Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Red Spotlight: Michael Jasek

Every week this year, the Lainsville Freak Town Herald is chronicling some of the alternative community's biggest players. This week, Todd hopes that area entrepreneur Michael Jasek will be more interested in talking about his custom rubber fetish gear business, and not interested in the reporter's bodily functions.

The Red Spotlight: Michael Jasek
by Todd Jones, FTH staff reporter and investor in paper towels.

My editors have informed me that my byline will humiliate me again. After last week's article, I don't think so.


Luckily for me, this week's subject is much more compatible. We are both male, we are both foxes, and we are both disturbingly kinky. In fact, he's the one who suggested that I refer to him as my 'subject'. Michael Jasek is a Russian Silver Fox who has been cultivating a line of customized rubber gear that looks as much at home in science-fiction movies as it does while its wearer brandishes a bullwhip in a dingy basement dungeon.

I joined him in his house, which was immediately weird. I thought it was a duplex. "It's kind of like a mullet. Business in the front, party in the back," he said, giving me a shotgun tour. One side of his house had been retrofitted into a business: the living room was the lobby, the bedrooms were a dressing room and 'tryout room', and the basement was where he did his actual work. "I don't really know when I got into rubber gear. I spent a lot of my childhood in the hospital, so it probably came from having guys in rubber gloves playing around with me while I was under. Masks, too."

All of that was evident in what Michael made. To use his words, imagine the iconic Batman suits from the Tim Burton movies on forward. Then, make them into sex play gear. Sculpted rubber in any color and design, enhancing the body until it looks intimidating or like a plaything. Full coverage, from gleaming boots or strange latex toe socks, to zentai-like hoods and immense complicated gasmask hoods. He and his business partner had packed the house with display examples at every turn, including a vicious-looking wolf mask hood perched right on the kitchen counter. They made and sold off the shelf gear as well, although most of that is sold through a shop at the venerable club The Pit.

"I've always been a nerd," Michael told me, as we transitioned from the business side of his house over to the personal side. "I've been watching science fiction movies, fantasy movies, comic book movies my entire life. My parents let me watch the War of the Worlds TV show when I was in third grade. That was a really violent show. Did you ever see it?" I proceeded to say no, and listen to Michael go off on a massive geek tangent that wound through horror and science-fiction. He seemed very eager to slip into these discussions without any warning or knowledge that he might be boring. Luckily, he isn't really boring, unless you don't like anything he likes. Then, you shouldn't be standing in his house.

On the personal side, he had one room with an ominous lock. He opened it up with a key combo and a pass card and let me in. The room was cool and dry and fans whirred up as soon as we got in, adjusting the temperature according to the fox. The room held a collection of movie, comic book, and videogame costumes. A traditional and animal-hybrid Darth Vader, spandex and rubber Batman suits, and one that I recognized even though I didn't think I should. "Is that a klingon?" I pointed out. "Yes! That's from Star Trek Six. I used to love ogling Sci-Fi fan magazines, but I usually just looked at the pictures. I could definitely get into the stories in actual shows and movies, but there was something so visually appealing. As I got a little older, I started wanting to dress up like characters, and then I started getting aroused by it."

Michael looked very unusual, very iconic, just standing there. He had the dark charcoal fur of a silver fox, but instead of ashy tips, he was dusted with red. His hands and feet were deep, burnt red, as was a shock of a 'mohawk' between his ears. He caught me inspecting as we went downstairs to the 'play' side of his basement. "No one had seen a silver fox at my school, and so they all made fun of me for being a weird fox. I really wanted to be a regular red one, like you. When I was a teenager, I got some fur dye and turned myself red, but it only colored the light parts. I ended up looking like an inverted fox. That got me more impressed attention, so I kept doing it and permadyed it later."

The 'play side' of his basement was a dungeon fit for the most disturbing sexual tastes. Flat medical exam bed, gynecological chair, St. Andrews whipping cross, head and foot stocks, bondage horses and benches, torture chairs, a stand-up cage and a puppy cage, a sling, and enough toys and gear to fill a sex shop. Most of it was old hat to yours truly; my day job is filming people having sex. Some of it was too medical for my own sanity. I pointed out a big console with various hoses. "Oh, that's an anesthesia machine. It really works, so no touching. I told you I was in the hospital when I was a kid. Well, I wasn't really sick." Michael started to look frightened, simply by talking. "You've probably never met anyone who was the 'proxy' part of Munchausen's By Proxy, right?"

Munchausen's By Proxy is a psychological disorder where a mother seeks attention by way of unnecessary medical treatment. The By Proxy part means that she doesn't seek it for herself, but for her child. Michael talked around the subject, trying to give me a global sense that he'd spent years essentially used as a medical practice dummy, but without being particularly specific. He looked like he would throw up any second. Then, as he started demonstrating various other medical implements - including a full set of anesthesia breathing gear  - the terror drained away and he seemed just as excited as he'd been to show off his authentic Darth Vader suit upstairs.

I didn't fare so well and asked that we go look at something else. He opened the door back to the other part of his basement, where he actually made the flashy gear that he sold for most of his living. I hadn't seen the back part of the workshop; he decided to tell me how he had reinvented sizing and modeling using 3D software and a 3D printing service. I could babble on about that, but my attention was caught by a huge glass cylinder full of unpleasantly yellowy liquid and covered in tubes and hoses. It looked like a movie prop. I even recognized it. "That's from Aliens, isn't it? When they get into the medical labs after landing on the planet."

"Yep!" Michael beamed and lost his train of thought instantly. "That's a facehugger. It's not just a movie prop, it's kind of a... it's kind of a toy. It's, well, you see that thing on the end of the umbilical? That's a Laryngeal Mask Airway, kind of  way of intubating someone without having to shove a tube through their vocal folds. It's for breathing if you're paralyzed in the hospital. I thought those facehuggers were some kind of demon sex freaks in a way; the attach to your head, knock you out, shove their ovipositor things into you and then grow an alien. It's really rapacious, really victimizing. I thought that would make them a perfect toy for breath play, which is just about as terrifying. Unfortunately, this thing I made only really fits on humans."

I was quite glad I was a fox.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Red Spotlight: Tomasz Dusicielski

Every week this year, the Lainsville Freak Town Herald is chronicling some of the alternative community's biggest players. This week, Todd Jones models for one of the top controversial BDSM photographers in the area, possibly even the country. 

The Red Spotlight: Tomasz Dusicielski
by Todd Jones, FTH staff writer and wolf magnet

About that picture? Yeah. Hold on a minute.

We got a lot of feedback from our first Spotlight feature, mostly because Hawk swears a lot and we didn't edit it out. I don't really understand how someone can complain about profanity from someone else who threatened to use yours truly as a sex toy just to keep up his reputation, but you can find some of the best responses in this week's letter column.

Keeping with the theme of 'tall, intimidating men in leather business suits', I sat down to have a chat with one of the more prominent fetish photographers of the last decade, Lainsville's own Tomasz Dusicielski.

Actually, when I showed up at his studio-slash-apartment downtown, he almost slammed the door on me. "I don't want any, go find some other shit," he said, and I had to actually stick my foot in the door to keep him from slamming it. I hurridly introduced myself and reminded him that we had an interview appointment. "Oh, you are fox bitch who was playing with wolf last week." Thanks to Hawk, I had a new reputation.

Tomasz was a cougar and like most cougars, he looked pissed off just by existing. He had a tendency to squint and turn his ears back a lot, and was prone to flexing his hands like he was going to swat me. He was clearly tolerating my presence, and just barely at that. However, as he tried to be polite, it became pretty obvious that he barely tolerated anything. The simple act of making me coffee unleashed a steady stream of rowling displeasure at everything in his kitchen.

While Tomasz called his coffee machine a dirty pair of whore's underwear (At least that's what an intern who knows Polish said when I played him the interview recording), I had a look around. He lived in a big loft apartment where the kitchen, living room, and dining area all merged into one huge space. Mixed in with upscale black leather furniture was camera equipment: hot lights and strobes, seamless backgrounds, gobos and tripods. I knew cigars for the first interview; I knew camera equipment for this one.

Which Tomasz did not care to talk about at all. "This machine stuff, I don't care about it, I just want to take pictures. I need to have light, so I buy light. I need to have camera, so I buy camera. I need victims, so I go out and find people."

Victims?

"I don't say victims, what are you talking about?"

So I played it back for him, and he hissed in my face. I mean all-out fangy big-yawn spit-spray throat-rattling hiss.

Tomasz was Polish, and the only person I'd ever met who was human-born. He had come to this country with his family and ended up in Albany. His family struggled to make ends meet, doomed by his father's gambling addiction.

Then, shortly after his tenth birthday, Tomasz got sick. "I had the flu, but then I stopped having all the, I don't know, sneezing and coughing, and just had fever and aches and had it for months and months. Then it got worse and finally one day I faint in school, so my parents take me to hospital, and I was there for ever, no one knew what was wrong, only that I was maybe dying. It was animal sickness."

Animal sickness is, of course, the retrovirus that threatened to wipe out most of humanity and that started the whole hybrid community. These days, there are only a handful of cases each year, mostly in developing countries. That explained why Tomasz got the short end of the stick; by the time he was admitted to the hospital, his body was starting to turn into one large cancer. That meant one treatment: being turned into a hybrid. The disease has a much more effective treatment if caught early during regular screenings, but the last ditch attempt is the hybrid conversion.

Tomasz spent two years having his body killed and replaced in situ with that of an IPC-2 cougar. To compound the trauma, he was made a ward of the state halfway through as his parents tried to declare bankruptcy and ended up being deported.  Without his family there to help him through the process, he had to gain his wits with the help of medical staff that, in his own words, "were useless shits of humans." Afterwards, he was sent to a foster family that were oppressive Catholics.

He spent the rest of his school years struggling to stay in his grade, suffering from broken English and a bad attitude, not to mention poor social skills. He blamed the transformation. "I am like an animal that can think too much, or maybe a human that cannot stop having animal thoughts, it invades everything, I am distracted and I hunger and lust for things and it fills me up until I want to scream and run around and, and make biting on everyone and even worse, I don't know."

Interviewing him was very hard, because he would often decide to tell me something irrelevant to the question I'd ask, or he'd tell me to fuck off or mutter something only to come back and answer it later in the evening with no provocation. Not to mention the poor command of English, something that he admitted he could probably work more on. "But then I would be some good statement of how it works to be a hybrid, but that is not true, hybrids are slaves for humanity and I am broken."

Despite being churned up by the state medical system and spit out as a broken, snarling, chirping cougar, Tomasz managed to find his niche. He befriended his downstairs neighbor (who, interestingly enough, is also someone I will be interviewing) and ended up buying a digital camera off him. Tomasz immediately discovered that his unusual state gave him a unique perspective and started documenting everything he could with the camera.

"No, that isn't how I say it," he corrected me, as he started setting up an array of lights. "Things happen, and they mean other things, and I like to document the... I like to see the time and space of a situation, the horror and beauty and matter-of-fact? Is that the word? And I am freak, I like to have sex and do terrible things at same time, and so that is what I take pictures of."

His studio was rimmed with some of his photos, almost like a ceiling-edge wallpaper border, placed up high enough that they'd never be in most shots. They had dates underneath, like a giant timeline. The actual quality of the photography didn't change much but his style slowly morphed. His early shots were shockingly candid and stark, frank work that evoked Robert Mapplethorpe. They grew increasingly polished, but still frank and disturbing, often triptychs that explored some poor sap's sexually violent torture.

Tomasz agreed to be interviewed on one condition: that I would model for him. Okay, sure. I'd seen quite a bit of his artwork before, especially some that he'd done for an ad agency that wasn't particularly erotic (although unsettling.) I also promised that we'd print his choice of photo from the shoot alongside my shot of him looking like he wanted to throw me out of his apartment, which was how he looked the entire night.

After I saw his little timeline of photos in his studio, I wasn't so sure I wanted to model, and I was definitely sure that we'd have fun trying to print an unedited photo.  One of the models in some of his early shots was a fox, and that fox was not shy. Or, if he was shy, Tomasz took pictures of him anyway. The final one he appeared in looked like some kind of alien-machine rape scene.

Tomasz disappeared into a room that he announced as his dungeon, which he suggested I not go into if I was squeamish. I wasn't really squeamish, but I also thought it might be some kind of foreshadowing trap so I stayed put.

He returned with one of those big black trays that you mix cement in. "You stand in this," he said, and put it in front of the sofa.

Now, you really do have to read this next part in order to truly understand what Tomasz is about. It's frank because he's frank, frank and broken. Also, I have the go-ahead to freak people out from the editors. If little old ladies who complain to the FCC when they see boobs on TV are reading this newspaper, they shouldn't be writing in to complain. It's called the fucking Freak Town Herald for a reason.

Tomasz set up his camera to be triggered remotely and then came over to me. He wore a black leather suit, with the blazer made out of black hornback alligator leather and the pants of regular cow or lamb. His cowboy boots matched the jacket, and as he finished setting up his camera, he pulled on a pair of black riding gloves.

He walked up and came up behind me, then grabbed me around the front of the chest. "Now I take pictures of fox who makes porn video," he said, and then strangled me with his black-gloved hands. "I know who you are, I see you with wolf-dog and some human. Fox is filthy."

I moonlight as a videographer for Rough Trade Studios. Yes, it's true. I film porn. That's all the plug I'm going to give myself.

He strangled me, and I peed myself, and that's why there's a photo of me looking like I spilled coffee on my lap next to one of Tomasz looking like he wants to claw my  face (I was the cameraman for that secondshot) off my head.

I am convinced that the editors are going to use this series to humiliate me. You're all coming along.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

01011001 (or, Stereotypes)

Why would you want to write about animal-people, as opposed to regular people? In order to be recognizable and interesting to humans, the animal-people (or anthropomorphic animals, or furries, or werewolves, or K'zin, or those cat things from Doctor Who, etc.) would have to be mostly human in behavior in order to engender empathy.

OR DO THEY?

Seriously, one of the questions that any obsessively thoughtful furry fiction writer will inevitably encounter is, "why are they furry?" Why are you writing about furries? It might be interesting why the furries are furry, but that's internal to the story. The author's motivation is external.

You could probably argue that the author's motivation is not very pertinent to the story, in which case, you should stop reading this article because that's what the goddamn thing is about in the first place, asshole. If you have that attitude, you probably also go read blogs about things you don't like just so you can complain about them in the comments.

Assuming that you actually care about why someone would write about anthro animals, read on for some discussion as to why I write about them, and why I think they are important. You'll also find out why the title is in binary.


Monday, June 20, 2011

A Dark World: Animals (Pt. 1)

World building and porn go together like nerds and spirited discussions of sports at the local watering hole. In other words: they don't.

I don't really write porn, though. I write about sex. I just happen to like describing it in graphic detail, often while exercising my own fetishes. Apparently that means porn, not erotica. I read it on the internet so it must be true.

Almost all of my stories that involve animal hybrids (aka anthropomorphic animals, aka furries) take place in one particular town, and more importantly, one overall alternate near future. I'll start off with the most pertinent bits:

Animal people?! Read on.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Red Spotlight: Hawk

Every week this year, the Lainsville Freak Town Herald is chronicling some of the alternative community's biggest players. This week for our first installment, we're taking a look at a black wolf who is shaping up to take the place of the singular-named Carl as king of the kink hill.



The Red Spotlight: Hawk
by Todd Jones, FTH Staff Writer and Donut Bitch

"King of the hill? This isn't a fucking playground." I made the mistake of letting Hawk read the proposed byline for this first Red Spotlight article, and it was the first thing he mentioned when we sat down for a leisurely dinner.

He suggested the setting for our interview, a private booth at Casey's Steakhouse. If you aren't familiar with Casey's, it's located right at the edge of the gay district and is attached to The Bell Tower Hotel. That'll give you an idea of the clientele: men, usually middle-aged, mixed attire from business suits to biker gear, and plenty of cigar smoke. Luckily, I'd been a cigar fan for years so I braved the atmosphere and the price tag.

Hawk fit right in. He towered over me at about six-foot-seven, and he had leather head to toe. "Let me tell you about this outfit. This outfit cost thirteen thousand dollars. This isn't like wearing designer shit at a red carpet event, this is like putting your fetish where your money goes." Leather suit jacket with dark red hornback alligator on the lapels and up around the collar, fitted leather pants, a stunning pair of tall leather boots, and dress leather gloves that he refused to take off until we had food steaming in front of us. It didn't look high fashion, perhaps more high weird, like a cavalier mafia pimp. The only thing missing was a cigar, which he promised to leave until after dinner. Smart puppy. "I like telling people how much it costs, because frankly, they care. It's impressive. It's like having a fancy car. Even hipsters care if you have a fancy car, even though they say they hate it. If they didn't care, they wouldn't fucking open their mouths. Plus, it was fucking expensive." He seemed honest about that justification.

I couldn't really argue with that. 

---

Hawk was born Harold Allen Kirsch, in  Brooklyn, New York. His childhood was marked by familial problems. "My mom was human, which pretty much led to every joke you could imagine about being half skinbag. It doesn't actually matter, I guess, in a biological sense. I don't have human parts any more than any other hybrid. My dad was a black wolf just like me, though, and everyone assumed my mom was a total slut for wanting some animal humping her all over the place. Funny thing was, my dad was actually the slut."

The Kirsch family moved to Lainsville when Hawk was eight years old, trading a run-down brownstone for a trailer 'in the middle of nowhere' out on Hog Lake Road. His mother got a job as a park ranger for the nearby Hog Lake Nature Conservation, while his father mostly worked sales jobs while pining away for the big time as a screen writer. "I thought my dad was full of shit. If he wanted to be a writer, the big city was it, and Lainsville kind of had this reputation of 'that place near Albany'. Not so big. Plus, he was a total fucking cad. I don't even think he was hiding it by the time I hit high school."

The wolf spent high school alternating between AP mathematics and drama club, both of which set the stage. Drama wet his appetite for costuming, culminating in him winning a forensics award for reenacting the famous 'badass' monologue from trashy soft-porn cowboy B-flick "The Gunslinger". Math, on the other hand, "Sucked ass. So I was good at math, so what? I wasn't one of the smart kids, I mean I didn't fit with them, they all had rich families and I lived in a trailer with a park ranger and a jerk." Once he graduated, Hawk went off to Lainsville CC to study mechanical engineering, which landed him a stint doing diesel engine development for a marine power company. "Imagine me, wearing this shit, sitting behind a desk drawing stuff with Auto-CAD. Isn't that funny?"

His choice of career somewhat led to his meeting the influential Carl, former owner of Casey's, The Pit, and almost an entire street of retail shops in the gay district. "I ended up at The Pit the day I graduated from community college. I got on my bike, which I'd worked on in school, and figured I'd hit The Pit, which was then a rough kind of leather biker club. I ran into this total freak, this maned wolf who acted like some bad mashup of movie pirate and 80's glam rocker. I kind of fell in with him and he kept me coming back to the club and causing trouble. Eventually, Carl took notice and instead of banning me, had me stay in this insane bondage dungeon he had for a week. He wanted to teach me a lesson. Actually, one of his friends wanted to mess with me, but I ended up on Carl's good side as a result. I took everything in stride, you know? They dished out weird shit and I took it."

Hawk slowly started shaping his life together, turning some inherited property out in Carlton Hills from an old house into a stunning Ralph Claude modernist revival house. He started a custom motorcycle engine company, then merged it with Lainsville Powersports, then bought up a string of dealers. "All that engineering shit really ended up helping me, because I could go down to the machine shop and hold a conversation with the guys building our gear, and I wasn't being patronizing. I could have stepped in, I could listen to their complaints and it meant something. I wasn't just the guy with the fancy car and the nice boots who had the big office." 

Fifteen years later, and Hawk was no longer causing trouble at The Pit. Just a week before my interview, the infamous club reopened - with the black wolf at the helm. "Let me put it this way: when I first set foot in The Pit, it was rough. It was hard and kinky, it was like a cross between some downtown overindulged night club and a fucking cowboy saloon for gay ranch studs, it was the kind of place where you would get heckled, pushed around, maybe even coerced into shit you didn't want. Carl got it polished up to the point where you went there because you were going to get treated like that. I'm keeping that up, and I'm just making it more. I'm going to turn up the volume. I'm going to make it a place where you can have a drink with your kinky friends, you can sweat it out on the dance floor, or go all the way to the bottom or the top. I am, to use some business buzzword bullshit, vertically integrating the gay kink experience."

I had to wonder why we weren't at the revamped club for the interview. Hawk had lit up when talking about it, like he was genuinely excited instead of just smug and sarcastic. I waited until after dinner, when we were both sated and Hawk was enjoying a Padron 7000 Maduro. The gloves went back on. He leaned forward. "You want to know why I didn't take you to the club? You better print this or I'm not gonna look like enough of a tawdry asshole. If I showed up at The Pit with some little fox on my arm, I'd have to live up to my reputation. I don't know what your newspaper would think of their roving features reporter coming into work with wolf cum running down his leg."

I don't know what they would think, either.