Friday, November 19, 1999

Rubberwear 101

(Leather Life column published in Lavender Magazine, Issue #117, November 19, 1999)

PHOTO: B.D. Chambers

Of all the Fabulous Fetish Fabrics on the scene today, rubber is second only to leather in popularity. By the time you read this, rubber enthusiasts from around the world will have gathered in Chicago for this year’s Rubber Blowout weekend and Mr. International Rubber 2000 contest, and Mr. International Rubber 1999 (and former Minneapolis resident) Thomas Smith will have passed the sash to his successor.

I recently talked with B.D. Chambers, who represented Minnesota in the competition to select Mr. International Rubber 2000. Chambers is a local rubber enthusiast who is also a past president of the Atons leather club of Minneapolis, and who in 1998 was the first Mr. Minnesota Olympus Leather. We started by defining our terms: Just what exactly is meant by saying someone is “into rubber”? According to Chambers, “Rubber, like leather, encompasses a broad range. There are people who are strictly into latex, and the more tight-fitting they can find the better. Other people are into industrial gear, hazardous-materials and other protective clothing, or diving suits. And some people do all of them. Basically it’s an interest in clothing that is form-fitting and makes you sweat.”

What’s the attraction of rubberwear? Chambers says it offers “overall body stimulation. Particularly if you get into tight latex pieces and you use a good silicone lube underneath when you put it on, it will slide over your skin and hug your body in a way that even leather cannot. It’s like getting a full-body massage as long as you’re wearing it. Industrial gear, rain gear, and gas masks summon strong, aggressive, masculine images such as that of an oil rigger up on his rig—or, if you’re into sludge play, the sewer worker down in the ground. There’s also the sensation of the lack of sensation—when you get into gas masks and chemical-handling suits, you are cut off from the outside world, so you have the effect of a portable isolation tank. It creates its own bondage.” (There’s quite a bit of crossover between those into rubber and those into bondage.)

Chambers muses that the appeal of rubberwear can be almost primal: “You begin to recapitulate the womb. It’s dark. It’s warm. It’s moist. It’s constricted movement. All your sensations come to you second- or third-hand. It strikes some deep chord, some half-memory, of the womb. Especially the whole diving bit—when you start playing in a pool of warm water, well, let’s just talk about rebuilding the womb right there! And if you’ve got a partner who’s working with you in a scene and whom you can trust, there’s a great sense of intimacy and trust, and feeling secure and safe.”

Latex, unfortunately, can be expensive. And it demands a commitment to care and maintenance as well. A latex garment can tear, at which time there are two choices: “Invest in a good tire repair kit and learn how to repair it, or be prepared to buy new every time it rips.” And, as we all know from condom seminars, oil (even skin oil) will eventually destroy latex. Therefore, steer clear of Crisco and other oil-based lubes, and wash and rinse your latex wear after you’ve worn it. Dishwashing detergent works well for the purpose, although Chambers speaks highly of Dr. Bronner’s soap, an almond-oil-based castille soap available at health-food stores—“It cleans off the skin oils and lubes very nicely, rinses cleanly and leaves no residue, and it’s a very neutral soap that’s nice to work with.”

What about body hair and rubberwear? The general assumption has been that if you have body hair you don’t wear rubber, or else you shave, but Chambers disputes this. “If you have body hair, talc or baby powder will help get the latex on comfortably. Getting it off can be a challenge—I recommend, and this is my general recommendation for wearing rubber products—silicone lubes. A lot of people like Eros, which is from Germany. Another good one is Colt. Wet Platinum is the one I recommend overall, first of all because it’s less expensive, and secondly because it adds Vitamin E—which is an oil, so you’ll want to rinse it off after you’re through using your rubber. But I’ve noticed that the strictly silicone lubes tend to evaporate, so you can get the rubber on, but to take it off you have to step into the shower. The Vitamin E in Wet Platinum keeps the silicone from evaporating, and it does wonderful things to moisturize your skin. Apply the lube to the garment and just slide it on, and when you’re done wearing it the garment slides right off—even with body hair.”

Because latex clothing must be form-fitting, shopping can be difficult. Stock items are made to standard sizes, and if they don’t fit properly the only option may be to have pieces custom-made. Some local stores stock rubberwear (for example: Fit To A Tee Leather, Lava Lounge, and Sex World), and rubberwear can also be ordered by mail or over the Net. For industrial and chemical-protection gear, check out army surplus stores and second-hand shops on a regular basis. You’ll probably find pieces that appeal to you at prices that won’t empty your wallet.

For a great introduction to the world of rubber, visit This entertaining, attractive, and well-written site contains pictures, stories, a Rubber Lovers Contact List, and links to vendors, clubs, and organizations all over the world.

Upcoming Leather Events (for Calendar section)

Friday, November 19

Atons Club Colors Night
7-10 PM, The Minneapolis Eagle
A fundraiser for next summer’s Gopher XIV run. Hors d’oeuvres, drink specials, door prizes, boot polishing available. $3 at the door. See the Atons website at or call for more information.

Friday, November 19

Sixteenth Annual Blue Moon Ball
7 PM, The Main Club, 1217 Tower Ave., Superior, WI
Formal wear is suggested.

Sunday, November 21

Black Guard Chili Feed
X-X PM, The Saloon
One of the Twin Cities’ longest-running leather traditions. $X at the door.

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