A bouncy crowd gathered Saturday night at the Union Square Ballroom in New York City for the seventh annual New York Rubber Ball, where the line between fetish and fashion blurred. Women emulated Forties pinups with World War II-style nurse outfits, Bettie Page hairdos and pencil skirts in bright cartoon colors, while men dressed like anime characters — one arrived outfitted as a rubber Sonic the Hedgehog. Partygoers lounged (if their costumes permitted) on slick benches or dropped by the lube station to get their costumes shined.
“For the most part, if I put enough lube on them they should be good for a couple hours,” said lube station operator Adriana Evans, who shines shoes professionally during the day. “But if they want to come back because it’s a nice massage, then I guess it’s OK. As long as they tip me then I’m cool.”
Though Evans doesn’t have a latex fetish, she was attracted to other aspects of the event. Later, a woman in long gloves bent Evans over a bench and drummed enthusiastically on her backside. Afterward, the two hugged and laughed.
The public spanking drew spectators, but no one seemed surprised. The night’s main event, well aside from the crowning of Miss Rubber World, was a lineup of fashion shows by New York rubber and latex designers.
“I love high fashion everything,” said Kelly Lee Dekay, a spokesmodel for the line Klawtex. “It was interesting to me that Mugler and Versace always had these heavy fetish influences. I think what happens with a lot of latex is it becomes a little bit novelty. These cuts are a little bit more couture based.”
The brand’s designer, Klawdia Rothschild, whose work has been featured in Vogue Italia, presented Thirties costumes worthy of Jean Harlow and Clark Gable — all, of course, in latex and rubber. Other designers showcased military, superhero or sophisticated latex looks.
“It’s really claustrophobic,” said model Stella Rose, who wore a full body latex suit for the first time in the show. “I actually feel like I’m in a compression chamber and every part of my body is being squeezed into itself. I’m also wearing silicon breasts built into my suit — when you’re encasing yourself like a sausage you can just build around yourself. It’s kinda cool.”