FIRST OR SECOND SKIN?
THE RISE OF FETISH CONSUMPTION CULTURE
Roskilde University, Denmark
This paper suggests that fetish consumers transcend the concrete, realist, physical meaning of
objects constituting the fetish culture to more abstract, fantasy-like, eroticised dream-events. The
success and growth of the fetish culture can be explained by its ability to transcend, and thus to
absorb not just fetishists but many kinds of sexual and aesthetic minorities from all kinds of
social and cultural background.
(Un-)covering the skin in fetish culture is an expression of freedom from official norms and
values, “a special type of communication impossible in everyday life”, with “special forms of
marketplace speech and gesture, frank and free, permitting no distance between those who came
in contact with each other and liberating from norms of etiquette and decency imposed at other
times.” (Bakhtin 1984, p. 10) Covering the body with SKIN TWO has then to be interpreted as a
way of leaving the limitations of the natural skin. Masking the face with DEMASK is then a
method to take off the masks, we all have to wear in order to follow social and cultural norms
and expectations. And getting involved as well as contributing to fetish consumption culture –
both in terms of re- and undressing the body, by showing off, hiding and manipulating the
natural skin, can then be interpreted as an attempt to escape the first skin by using a second skin
– in order to renew, differentiate, and also in order to escape from the first. Finally, as suggested
in this study, fetish consumption culture is a significant form of “pro-sumption”, as this
consumption culture depends on the active contribution of the consumers – based on
presumption of internal community solidarity and a feeling of being different compared to
“normal(ized) mainstream” culture, which fetishist subcultures are, however, diffused to already.