In the late 20th century, people would marvel at the beauty of a magazine that spoke to us. Skin Two was groundbreaking and its effects on the kink and fetish community resonate today. We visit with the founder and publisher of this ground breaking publication when @timparkerwoodward joins @hitherecatsuit as we discuss the history of fetish in London, the beginnings of Skin Two and how it lives on today thanks to @honourclothing and @skintwoglobal. The show premieres on Tuesday, March 28.
Having graduated from the London College of Communication, I worked with several well known book and magazine publishers. Then I set up Woodward & Partners, which became the major headhunting firm in the publishing industry, finding people for top jobs with most of the better known UK publishers.
In 1983, my life changed. I noticed a small article in the Evening Standard about a fetish club called Skin Two. It seemed like another world of whips and chains, rubber & leather. I had to go – but I was too nervous to go on my own. So I called my friend Julie for moral support.
Julie looked fabulous in a gleaming rubber catsuit and stilettos. I looked rather less fabulous in something cheap from the only fetish shop I could find. Skin Two was a revelation. No one was allowed in unless they were in rubber or leather, uniform or drag. No street clothes at all. It was another world. There was bondage going in in corners, submissives kneeling at their dominants’ feet and much more besides. Quite a lot more.
There had been nothing like this before. Skin Two was not part of the exploitative sex industry at all – it was run for love, not money. We had no idea at the time, but fetish people were everywhere. Pop stars, housewives, old folk, dominatrixes, all sorts. This was the birth of the modern fetish scene that’s now spread worldwide.
Having found where I belonged, I went back the following week and the week after that. Chatting with photographer Grace Lau one night, we decided that this called for a magazine. Not a porno mag, but something that reflected the inclusive, non-sexist vibe of the club. I was volunteered to be the Publisher/Editor, Grace took the photos and we printed a thousand black-and-white sixteen-page copies, which my girlfriend Suzy sold at the club.
Around this time, the founder of the club was “exposed” in the Sunday tabloids. His public career under threat, he dropped Skin Two like a hot stone, leaving me to carry on with the magazine. It was only supposed to be a hobby, but Skin Two magazine grew and grew, helping to fuel a growing fetish scene across Europe and the USA. Somehow, long before the internet, people found out about Skin Two as far away as Australia, Japan, the USA, etc.
The next step was to bring back the Skin Two club. Michelle Olley came up with an idea – the world’s first really big public celebration of fetish style, the Skin Two Rubber Ball. Four thousand people packed Hammersmith Palais, there was massive publicity, there was a book, there was a video and copycat events sprung up in Toronto, Los Angeles, Berlin & Paris. The Skin Two Rubber Ball became an annual institution for several years, until similar events sprang up in London and we moved on to do parties at Sydney University in Australia and in the USA. We did several years in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Leeds and Birmingham here in the UK and smaller niche events for fun.
For six years, I ran the Skin Two retail warehouse, selling fetish clothes, accessories, books and magazines. We also manufactured clothes for a time, before licensing Skin Two Clothing to our friends at Honour, who have further developed the clothing brand.
I never did make Skin Two a profitable capitalist enterprise – it was always a labour of love and always lost money. However, was great fun and you meet the nicest people. There was a Skin Two magazine, online store, clothing label, film, dance music album, websites and several books. I wonder who wrote that little feature in the evening paper in 1983; they certainly started something.
I am pretty sure I’m the only person in the world to have had permission to take photos at private fetish clubs across the UK, Europe, USA & Australia for twenty five years. Must do a book of the photos once day…
Now, I run a smaller party group, just for a few friends The Chardmore Society. Also KFS TV, a red internet TV channel. KFSTV can be seen 24/7 worldwide on a TV set, laptop, smartphone, PC, Mac, iPad – almost anything connected to the web, at www.kfstv.net