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Image from a workshop in San Fransisco, 2019.
Skeeter in her workshop at Mr S Leather, San Francisco, 2019.
Photo: Tom Cubbin

Crafting Desire: An international design history of gay male fetish making

Research project
Active research
Project size
Project owner

Short description

Through a design historical approach that emphasises acquisition and transfer of skills, practices and aesthetics, the project will examine gay male leather and fetish culture through enquiry into modes of amateur and professional making.

A walk around any ‘gaybourhood’ in Berlin, London, Chicago, Amsterdam, or Stockholm reveals that, in an age of globalised manufacture, there persists a shop in many Western cities with a workshop for hand-making leather harnesses, whips, cages, torture racks, and other products. Around the corner might be a club built by amateur makers containing spaces for sexual encounters and equipment for contorting the body into uncomfortable positions. As remnants of the sexual liberation of the 1960s and 1970s, how have such businesses, clubs and stores evolved? How has gay leather and fetish culture been physically made?