Tonight the movie about Tom of Finland has it’s premiere here in Norway. I was able to see it a couple of weeks ago, in a preview at the Oslo Fusion International Film Festival. I will not spoil the movie, just give my impression and thoughts.
The movie is set in the time period from the second world war to the mid 80’s, a period of time with big changes in our community. From it being illegal to be gay. Passing through when to be gay was an mental illness, ending in the aids crisis. It is hard to see what those pioneers of our community had to cope with. But still they stood their ground. I my self, born in the mid 80’s, just remember how the AIDS epidemic was portrait in the media. It is nothing compared to the tragedy for so many guys.
Touko Laaksonen (aka Tom of Finland) is protraied as in a way which is easy to relate to. His discovery of himself and of his art was quite a journey. The impact his work had on guys in the US, it must have been overwhelming for him. We get to see different aspects of Touko’s life, family, friends, love, loss, fear, acceptance. It is a movie about one man, but what an artist and what a legacy?
This movie should be a mandatory watch for everyone who are of the opinion that the fetish community doesn’t belong in the LGBT community. There is no room for doubt that our place are right in the middle.
One lonely boot hanging in-front of the building and a small sign high upon the wall is the only sign of Antwerp’s biggest and hottest fetish club.
This fetish venue is in the northern part of Antwerp city centre, in a quiet street. They even have a sign on the way out informing visitors that this is a residential area, and to keep the noise to a minimum outside.
As the Boots is a members-only club, you have go sign up for a membership to be able to enter. But you can sign up for a weekend membership, if you are visiting for a short period, like for the Leather Pride Belgium. And you can do it at the door. You will get a card that says that you are a member, to use the next time you enter. You do not need the card when you are inside the club.
When entering the club, you get a drinking card, where your coat hanger number is noted (if you use one). This is also used when you order something at one of the bars, and you pay when you leave.
The club is using the whole building. Starting at the bottom, which might be one level below street level. Here you can find some play areas, with benches, slings, gynaecology chair, as well as a small bar, with a sling and benches. The level above is mostly used as a hallway, but it also contains an extra cloakroom. The next level is where you enter the club, with the reception, cloakroom and toilets/changing area. You will walk up one flight of stairs from street level to get to this level.
Above the reception, you will find the main bar, with a smokers lounge and a large number of boots hanging in the ceiling. Further up it is a cruising floor, with a labyrinth, tub, slings and benches. And at the top level, there is a small bar among seating and play areas.
The area above the main bar might be closed off if it is a slow night. Be aware of the black light they are using, some might find that it makes it difficult to see when the eyes are directly exposed. Not dangerous, unless you walk into a wall.
We were visiting during the leather and fetish pride, when the city was full of hot and horny men. And probably most of them visited the Boots at some point, judging by the sexy atmosphere that was felt throughout the building.
If you take a taxi back to your hotel, make sure they start the taximeter. I got ripped off. One should think that such things would not happen in Belgium, but I was wrong.
This is store is probably my favourite store. They have a good selection, the staff is helpful, and the atmosphere is relaxed and sexy. Most Mr. B. stores have somewhat the same articles and the same design. The staff in Amsterdam makes the big difference. It is difficult to point out exactly what they do in Amsterdam compared to for instance Berlin, maybe a more relaxed attention to the customer. The balance between getting personal space without being left alone is just right for me.
Another nice feature, if you can call it a feature, is that their workshop is also located in Amsterdam. So, when they didn’t have the leather pants I wanted in my size, it took just a couple of hours to get a pair from the workshop. Just enough time to relax and grab some pancakes with cookie filling, from one of the Creperies in the street.
The products they sell are mostly of their own brand, but they also have some fetish articles from other brands. There is something for every taste, also rubber, neoprene and sportswear. I myself love the leather items with stitching on the sides, like the belts and ties. It is a nice detail. When I think about it I have a pair of boots from this store as well. They are the only pair of high boots I have tried that fit strait of the shelf. It should be said that this is not a cheap store, but the prices are reasonable when compared to other stores with the same quality and service.
If you are going to Amsterdam, this store is definitely worth a visit. Remember that if you want tax return (if you are from outside the EU, like Norway), you need to bring your passport.