Torture Garden Japan

Interview with David Wood by Ira Lupu

What comes to mind first when you hear words ‘Torture Garden’? It may be a 1899 French decadent novel by Octave Mirbeau or an album by John Zorn’s band Naked City. If you’re not that into decadent literature and avant-garde music, you might just imagine a blooming garden furnished with Judas cradles, Brazen bulls and other torture devices. But if you have at least slight interest in fetish/BDSM culture and history of British underground, you surely know Torture Garden as an eponymous London fetish club, and legendary party series started in 1990 by David Wood and Allen Pelling.

Yet ‘party series’ is a rather poor term to describe the dark extravaganza of Torture Garden events. Apart from nightclub’s regular booze & dancing, they are also about radical performances, like Ron Athey and Franko B’s blood rituals; S/M messes; fetish fashion shows, and special musical acts. Kinky visuals and strict fetish dress-code make Torture Garden events a mixture of morbid fairytale and your secret sex dreams, shared in the most welcoming atmosphere.

With time, originally tiny and arcane world of Torture Garden in London had steadily grown into a whole commercially successful fetish empire — and also a travelling circus. The first country to host David and Allen’s parties outside UK was Japan. Japan, with its kinbaku traditions and certain taste for all things deviant (for traditional European mind), seem to be a perfect match for Torture Garden. ‘From the beginning, I was seen as another perv’, — laughs Torture Garden Japan initiator and long-time organizer Sota Suzuki, referring to year 2001 when debut party has been held in Tokyo. — ‘But then 10 times more people came than we actually expected. I imagined Japanese market [...]

Industrial Soundtrack for the Cultural Decay

To celebrate the release of Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay, a documentary released this month plotting the birth of the Industrial music genre, below is an exclusive fanzine featuring an interview with director Amélie Ravalec alongside a mix by British industrial band Konstruktivists (below):

Danny Fox at Sang Bleu Los Angeles opens this evening

We’ve spoken to Danny Fox about his private view happening this evening at the Sang Bleu pop up tattoo shop in Los Angeles. After the Sang Bleu Contemporary Arts and Practice Space invited painter Danny Fox to have a residency at our space, this evening he will be showing the work he’s created there. We spoke to Danny to find out more about the work he has been making.


Recently you have been working from your hometown in Cornwall after living in London for years and now you are in LA, how has working in these radically different spaces affected you work?

In London I had years to figure out what I wanted to do. I was chipping away at it for a long time, so all the work I made there is very laboured, thick with layers of re workings. After those works had been shown I felt I had become synonymous with certain images so I back to cornwall to try to do something different. The work I made there is more abstract, less scenic. As far as the surroundings go Cornwall in winter is mostly about staying inside apart from the odd outing to the local. I made around forty works there. It was 5 months of howling wind and rain. So I came to Los Angeles. Here I’ve made 15 paintings in 2 weeks. I’ve tried to paint the country, historically and culturally but also can’t help taking the piss out it. It’s been good to be warm but these painting are basically drive/ thru fast food versions of what I normally make.

Could you explain what some of these new paintings look like? In terms of them being ‘drive/thru / fast food versions of what [...]

Carl Williams of Maggs chooses Sang Bleu his best bits from Book and Room

Carl Williams is the man behind the counter culture department of Maggs Bros Ltd. If you’re not sure of what or who Maggs is; its an antiquarian booksellers in London’s uppercut area of Mayfair.

Maggs has been selling some of the rarest and most specialised books since 1853. Where the rest of the company sells the likes of first edition Charles Dickens’ and Medieval manuscripts, Carl finds original Velvet Underground posters and rare zines made by the most obscure subcultures. In essence Carl’s job is pretty heavenly, he is largely responsible for saving and recognising culture usually dismissed by institutions for their ‘low culture’ connotations which is only more exciting due to the context of the Maggs Bros. traditional setting.

Unlike the usual bookseller discovering subcultural press, Carl invests in the most mind blowing material culture that you could have only dreamed of knowing existed. So to celebrate his stall at the book fair ROOM&BOOK opening today at London’s ICA, he’s chosen us some of his favourite pieces that he’ll be displaying their this weekend.



FLAGELLATION, ROGER.         [Fessées (Spankings)].
A collection of sadistic drawings. Small folio, 38 drawings on full pages; 27 fully worked in coloured pencils, with 11 on versos with some partly erased, all in pencil with a few partly coloured, 14 versos also annotated largely in blue pen in French, bound in on stubs, with a signed ‘frontispiece’ tipped on to a cutaway cream paper window, tissues giards, blanks, in recent quarter blue straight grained moroco, marbled paper boards, gilt titles on spine, 5 raised bands. N.p., n.d., 1950s.   £1,250
A rare submissive’s illustrated testimonial to a dominatrix or fellow sexual role player. We do not know who the creator of these [...]

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Live at Sang Bleu London

Last Thursday Sang Bleu Tattoo was transformed into a one off live music venue for the eagerly anticipated debut performance from Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. In and amongst the pit, this would be the first of many moshes for the Rattlesnakes who start touring in June. It’s always a breath of fresh air to hear new music at a time when our airwaves are overrun with the manufactured and mundane. Being crammed into a hot sweaty basement, as the sounds boomed from wall to wall shaking ourselves and the pentecostal church next door, it was an evening not to be forgotten. Forgoing any expectations we had,  it’s truly got us excited about what’s in store for the year ahead. Check out the video from last Thursdays show below. 

Check out Frank Carter’s debut art show Modern Ruin at Sang Bleu Contemporary until 17th June.

Video credits: David Ranson

Aaron McElroy – Flesh, Sexuality and the Voyeur

Intimate and erotic images lay before me; my eyes lay focus upon small flesh curvatures, awkward contortions and pink nude bodies. Aaron McElroy, Brooklyn based photographer has amassed a body of work that explores female sexuality through the narrative gaze of the auteur himself. The power of suggestion is heightened purely by the disjointedness of the dream like images; a chronicle of pleasure, addiction and beauty.


Power does not behold the anonymous, half clothed or naked. We are the dominant; our gaze captures parts of flesh that we can control as the viewer. A faceless body that openly allows us to imagine the missing pieces, manipulating the whole image with small glances. Lost identities become whole through visual domestic banality. Folds of skin, loose hair are incarcerated by one square image, but as you look deeper the habitat of this space is wholly private. Sheets strewn in the background, blank walls and random household items create an intrusion into the private sphere of the host. This no longer is an image of celebration towards the female form but instead an exploration of a male gaze towards the body. An unfolding of pleasure and fiction.



How did you get into photography?


It was really random… I’d never thought of photography as being this kind of art form – I was never interested in art. I started taking pictures because I wanted to fill up my apartment. After that I started taking classes. You didn’t need a degree to get in – it was along the lines of: ‘You like photography? Well, we’d like your money’. So I basically just got involved really quickly and it opened itself up in [...]

Black Baron

Perhaps the only White division fighting in the Russian Civil War that stood out so much with the intensity of its attributes and diversity in participants was the Partisan division, which evolved into the army of ataman Annenkov. According to the Division’s tradition, every volunteer covered his chest or wrist with a tattoo of an Orthodox Cross, skull with crossbones, or a snake  bizarrely wrapped across the body. Some soldiers even had “God with us and Ataman Annenkov” tattooed.

Volunteers with such tattoos agreed that in the case of captivity, they wouldn’t be spared.

A nostalgic love for the old Imperial Army inspired Boris Vladimirovich Annenkov to create the Black Hussars Regiment (following the example of the former 5th Hussar Regiment of Alexandria), Blue Lancers Regiment (same as the 10th Lancers Regiment of Odessa), cuirassiers, dragoons and “Leib Ataman” regiments. Despite the need of resources and constant fighting operations, Annenkov was able to equip his army in an authentic form.

The Division’s flag was a black canvas covered with a skull and crossbones reading “God with us.” The same slogan was put on all the army’s armoured cars and carriages.

Hussars were wearing black gymnasterkas (double breasted shirt tunic), “chakchiry” (so-called hussar pants) with silver stripes and pelisses decorated with the white cords . The peaked cap also depicted skulls instead of the cockade and rosettes on the boots too.

The Cossacks of Ataman’s regiment wore papakhas, silver skulls on the gymnasterka’s sleeves, patched lapels, lampasses on the trousers and a monogrammed “AA” (“Ataman Annenkov”) on the shoulder strap.

When Russian people suffered Bolshevism oppression
Our little troop was raising riot replication

We left our homes and wives and mothers
We fought with Reds we wanted rest for others…

Two years rebutting the dark force, our deaths were counting hundreds
Another [...]