If it was a time for anything, 2013 was a year that saw the Snow Fall(ing) full-bleed layout solidify itself as the du jour template for longform non-fiction storytelling on the Internet.
A large black truck parked across the field came into view. Two men were inside, one of them wearing a ski mask. It was Edward. He exited and approached while his driver peered at us through his sunglasses. I introduced myself and asked how much time we had for the interview. “Until it gets hot, I guess,” Edward said and explained that earlier in the day he had received information that African American ex-military sharpshooters who were now gang members had traveled from Detroit to stalk him and his fellow Klansmen before the rally. It sounded ludicrous, but then again I was standing in the middle of a garbage dump talking to a member of the Ku Klux Klan in 2013.
America’s First Hippie: Living, Learning, and Going Long with Gypsy Boots
Photos courtesy of Kees Van Voorthuizen
My mother hated hippies. She also wasn’t keen on meeting strangers, long-haired or otherwise. And her mood was especially dark that day in 1970 when the two of us were vacationing at the Hilton in Beverly Hills. She’d been waging a long battle with my father, her ex-husband, over me, their seven-year-old, and worried that she’d either lose custody or I’d “turn hippie” thanks to California’s corrupting influence. So when a hyperactive senior citizen with shoulder-length silver hair, a scraggly beard, and love beads around his neck approached us in the hotel lobby while banging a tambourine, shaking maracas, dancing a Russian cossack jig, and chanting, “I’m-a the Gypsy Boots, I live on nuts and fruits,” I wasn’t surprised when my mother yelled at him to get lost. I wanted him to scram, too. Ordinary hippies—the ones I saw on TV or hitchhiking through our New Jersey suburb—they intrigued me, but this one seemed crazy. Scary crazy. Why was this man who looked older than my grandparents behaving like a kindergarten escapee?
“Make him leave, Ma,” I whispered.
She certainly tried to. But Gypsy Boots was a man on a mission, which was to cheer up the sad-sack divorcee and kid he’d just come across. And, being irresistible, he succeeded. Within minutes, Gypsy had my mother and me smiling at him, then laughing with him, applauding his antics, trying out his musical instruments, and humming along to his inane ditties. Boots wasn’t drunk or on drugs, as I had heard other hippies were. Like the female protagonist of the film Harold And Maude, this guy was just chronically jubilant, the archetypal holy fool. After he was gone, leaving me with a free autographed copy of his self-published memoir, Bare Feet and Good Things to Eat, my mother admitted that she hadn’t felt this happy since before my father left her. It amazed me to hear her say that. And it amazed me to realize I felt the same way.
What I didn’t know then, and wouldn’t know for a long time, was that Gypsy Boots was important, nationally important, an odd figure who had changed the course of American culture. He wasn’t just an old hippie, he was the ur hippie. His journey started in the late 1930s, when Boots, nearing 20, left the working world, grew his hair and beard long, and went “back to nature.” This was way beyond Thoreau at Walden Pond: For years at a time, Boots would sleep in California forests, bathe in mountain streams, feed himself by foraging for nuts and fruits and vegetables, practice yoga, and wear practically nothing in the way of clothing. A dozen other Nature Boys, as they were called, kept him company (including eden ahbez, who wrote “Nature Boy,” the hit song for Nat King Cole, supposedly about Boots), but Gypsy was the most visible of the gang, the one who would eventually become a star.
Long before the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, “Hollywood’s ageless athlete,” as Boots was known, created a counterculture for them to inhabit. He did this by performing fitness demonstrations on network television and in movies, opening one of America’s first health-food restaurants, racing around LA in his crazily painted van with organic treats for a network of customers—all to spread his message, which was deadly serious in spite of his constant clowning: “Why cling to sickly, fretful, conformist ways when you can be your healthiest, happiest, most authentic self?”
Gypsy died in 2004, just short of his 90th birthday. With his centennial coming up next year, I’ve been thinking a lot about him—what he meant to history and what he meant to me.
Two and a half decades after our encounter in Beverly Hills, Gypsy reappeared in my life. By this time, my mother was long gone—she’d died of breast cancer at 49—and I was living in New York City, volunteering as a cook at a soup kitchen for the homeless. I didn’t think much about Boots; he was a luminous childhood memory, nothing more. Then, while browsing my shelves, I came across the memoir he’d given me, and I decided to bring it to the soup kitchen. Maybe we could use some of the vegetarian recipes he’d included in his book. As I consulted Bare Feet and Good Things to Eat while cooking, a middle-aged woman I worked with noticed the book and grinned and said, “Wow, Gypsy Boots! When I was a flower child in Hollywood in the 60s, Gypsy was such an inspiration. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s still going—I just ran into him last year!”
“Wait,” I said, “he’s still alive?”
“Sure, and he hasn’t changed one bit since the old days. He came roaring into this ashram I was at, shouting, ‘Don’t panic, go organic,’ and making everybody crack up.”
Until then, I’d never met anyone who’d known of Gypsy. So, he was still around, inhabiting the present as well as the past! That night, I called 411 in Los Angeles County and requested a listing for Gypsy Boots. I was doing this out of curiosity, but also as a sort of tribute to my late mother.
A PERPLEXING SURVEY OF THE CONGO’S MYRIAD RESISTANCE GROUPS
On my first day embedded with the UN stabilization force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), I visited a camp in the city of Goma set up to house rebel combatants who had recently surrendered. The facility was split along ethnic and administrative lines, with only a chain-link fence separating Hutu and Tutsi fighters who, out in the bush, have been spilling each other’s blood by the bucket for decades.
Alongside the scarred and lean young fighters at the camp were dozens of women—“bush wives,” we were told—and their children, all born in the jungle. Most of these women had been taken as sex slaves, who pull double duty as domestic servants forced to cook, mend, and serve as porters for their captors. Already warned by my UN minders that they were concerned about the extent of my coverage, I asked the camp’s public information officer, Sam, how close I could get when snapping photos. “Get your pictures,” he replied. “Just, please, avoid the children.”
Goma is the capital city of the North Kivu province of the DRC and is situated in one of the world’s worst geopolitical neighborhoods. To the southeast, there’s the Rwandan border, which largely consists of mountain jungles through which scores of Hutu militants passed in the wake of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, fleeing punishment for their role in the massacre of Tutsis there. Over the course of the next decade, this armed migration directly contributed to the escalation of ethnic and factional tensions in the First and Second Congo Wars, in which an estimated 5 million people were murdered. Meanwhile, to the northeast of Goma, the West Nile region of Uganda has served as a transportation corridor for heavily armed Acholi-speaking fanatics like Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)—who were made infamous by Invisible Children’s viral KONY 2012 documentary—to cross the border and drive deep into the DRC, where they’ve engaged in all sorts of ruthless behavior, like herding villagers into churches before burning them down to the ground.
FDLR ex-combatants, bush wives, and their children are processed for intake at a UN transit camp in Goma, North Kivu.
While KONY 2012 got a lot of flack for focusing on a rebel faction that had largely dissipated by the time of its release, ethnic conflicts are still erupting throughout the DRC, albeit of different varieties. These ethnic tensions are in turn exacerbating an already raging fight between local groups to control the illicit mining of cassiterite, wolframite, coltan, and other minerals essential to the manufacturing of everything from smartphones to air bags to jet engines. As a result of these tensions, a slew of foreign and native Hutu and Tutsi militias have renewed hostilities against each other.
The Disgusting Rivalries of Webcam Extortionists
In my writing this week about the sexual extortion of Amanda Todd by an online blackmailer, I connected a man named by the New Jersey sect of Anonymous (which, by the way, suddenly appeared on the internet in the wake of Amanda’s suicide) to a horrifyingly wretched group of mentally ill pedophiles that convince young girls to strip on webcam, and then record it. Then they use this footage to blackmail the girls into providing them—and a large audience of pedophiles who follow the blackmailers’ conquests—with further strip shows, which they continue to record. While the mainstream media has failed to catch up to this story with the level of detail and attention it so desperately deserves, they have been very eager to follow Kody Maxson out of his court appearances for “unrelated… charges of sexual assault and sexual interference with a minor” and discuss the Anonymous leaks that blame Kody and a man who goes by the screen name “Viper” for Amanda’s suicide.
After further investigation into this emotionally exhausting and highly disturbing world of online blackmailers, I have found that this community not only follows and shares the screen captured images and videos of these girls, but monitors internal rivalries among the blackmailers. This competition has led me to question whether or not Kody is the sole perpetrator in Amanda’s blackmail, and has made me realize the size and depth of this horrible online culture.
The article I published on Wednesday reported that Kody Maxson (who is known online as Kody1206)blackmailed an underage girl named Peyton, as detailed in a video from a series called the Daily Capper. If you haven’t read that article, the Daily Capper is basically an online newscast for the pedophile world, hosted by a news anchor developed using footage from the kids’ show Crashbox, speaking with a dubbed-over computerized voice. Amanda Todd, who was known to this community for singing on webcam, appears in a Daily Capper video published on December 19, 2010.
In a video from October 31, 2010, the anchor reports: “Peyton claims that she is free of her blackmailer’s clutches. She went on BlogTV earlier this week and shared her story with the world about how Kody blackmailed her.” Peyton told her side of the story in a video the Daily Capper ran, which was recorded off of BlogTV: “A month ago, he recorded me for the first time and then I was stupid enough to keep doing it because he said he was never going to do it again… and he didn’t want to ruin our relationship.” It is this deception of an underage girl that won Kody the “Blackmailer of the Year” award from the Daily Capper. In that video, Peyton describes Kody’s actions over a chilling, electronic musical score that was added in for effect by the Daily Capper: “Now I know that everyone that told me that he was like, a sick pedo that records girls, were right. If he threatens me I can just threaten him right back.”
Kody Maxson has told the mainstream media that someone with the username Viper, who New Jersey Anonymous is also after, is to blame for Amanda Todd’s blackmailing. In a Daily Capper video from December 5, 2010, the newscaster discusses the relationship between Kody and Viper: “Many have been saying that Viper has always been a role model for Peyton’s blackmailer, Kody1206. It seems Kody was also working to win ‘Blackmailer of the Year’ by screening caps of Peyton on BlogTV.” Evidently, Kody and Viper were very much aware of each other, as they traveled online in the same pedophiliac circles, and if this video is correct, Kody saw himself as Viper’s apprentice.
In an email I received yesterday, an anonymous reader showed me a profile that Kody Maxson had registered for what appears to be a site that enables Halo players to join up in teams and compete against each other. If you look at his profile right now, you can see that his username on the site is Kody. The official administrative posts from the site are credited to a “Kody” as well, which suggests that he may have been running this gaming site.
The Death of the American Hobo: The National Hobo Convention Reaches the End of the Line
When walking through a city, or a suburb, or a section of forest, I feel an enormous sense of relief when I come upon a set of railroad tracks. It is as if the fears and doubts and anxieties of daily life abruptly vanish. The vise grip that civilization and this world have on my head loosens, and for a moment I can breathe freely. The train tracks persist in the shadows of our stark, digitized 2001: A Space Odysseyfuture, relics of the time when iron behemoths and Pullman passenger cars cut through the inky-black primeval wilderness on their diesel-stained voyage through the night.
In this endless matrix of streets, cars, cell-phone towers, businesses, houses, jobs, and families, the train tracks are a trapdoor exit, a gap, an exception where silence and lawlessness still reign.
If highways and roads are America’s veins, the hundreds of thousands of miles of tracks are like those chakra diagrams in acupuncturists’ offices, the hidden flows of energy that affect the body as a whole. It’s as if the vapor of several hundred years of America’s daring and rugged spirit is contained within the wafting, intoxicating smell of hot railroad tar. It is the last truly American place, untainted by the regrets of modern progress.
Most people know that in the mid-1800s, Henry David Thoreau moved to a cabin off the banks of a little pond outside his hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, to live there for two years while writing a book called Walden. What is less widely known is that his cabin was no more than 300 feet from a set of railroad tracks leading into Concord, and that it was only a 30-minute walk down the line to get to his mother’s house.
On a recent visit to Walden Pond, while I was awed by the pristine site Henry David had chosen for his experiment, I saw that without the tracks—that lifeline, that trail of bread crumbs that could be followed back to civilization—his long hermitage could have been an unending hell. Thoreau had found the best of both worlds, the thing we all want—nature and civilization together in one tidy package.
I can only imagine that on some lonely, cold nights in his little cabin, when he was missing his friends in Boston, wondering why he had moved back to his birthplace to grow string beans, the sound of the train whistle echoing through the woods in the dead of night steeled his will to the task at hand and reminded him that while he was alone, he was still a part of humanity.
I grew up in the suburbs of central North Carolina, a gentle and compassionate eastern wood, where the freight train was a vital part of the texture of the landscape. In high school, on late autumn nights as multicolored leaves fell in my neighborhood, I listened for the din of the high school marching band in the distance and the whistle of the train as it chugged through dense deciduous forests and my spirit surged with excitement for the future and all that was left to be done.
I spent my formative years on the tracks. There was something magical about the way you could part the foliage or walk down a clay gully behind the CVS parking lot and suddenly enter a hidden world.
Just after I turned 18, on a crisp fall afternoon, I hopped my first freight train out from downtown Raleigh with my friend Doug MacPherson. Those pleasurable hours spent lying around on tarry pieces of lumber, trying to figure out the mysterious shuffling of cars and locomotives in the yard, are seared into the marrow of my bones—like a puzzle you don’t understand that begins to make sense the longer you look at it. My friend Cricket, a veteran train-hopper, gave us a little hand-drawn map to help us navigate our way once we got into the Linwood yard in western North Carolina. His advice was the stern warning given to most first-time riders: “Stay down and don’t let anyone see you.”
Vinyl & Ebay: A Fascinating Relationship
Hello and welcome to what I hope to be an ongoing series of features about one motherfucking gazillion-headed monster of a subject; a real blooming-onion of a feature idea…I state with fear and excitement. As the title makes obvious, the beast in question is actually a couple of bedfellows, vinyl records and eBay. My personal relationship and experience with this phenomenon will be unpacked gradually as the series moves forward, and at this juncture, I will only go so far as to claim my status as “retired but still fascinated”, with my hands-on participation existing within the boundaries of research.
What follows is a cursory look, in the form of a glossary, at the indirect and informal terminology and phraseology found in eBay auction/set-sale listings of vinyl records, or rather, in the title lines of such. Please understand that linguistically, many of the words below have been awarded a new life within the world of eBay record-flipping/hustling, much like Office Space or the Leprechaun horror series found their true calling via the post-theatrical rental/cable/Netflix act two. These are the “Now Meaningless Cultural Clusterfucks By Day, eBay Record-Hustler Tool By Night” that punctuate the following list; their existence as such will be obvious and immediate, so there’s no need for further flagging. Ok, before my post-intro, pre-goods reader drop-off reaches goes critical, I give you…
(WHAT THE FOLLOWING TERMS REALLY MEAN…)
“Minimal Synth” – Record most-likely sounds like warmed-over, low-rent O.M.D. or Yaz, but worse. This “movement” of the early-80’s was allegedly centered around Berlin, though I favor the rumor that it was fabricated by a certain group of dudes who run labels of the topical and tastemaker variety. Lacking the forward-thought, inspiration and genuine goods to build an influential and interesting roster/discography, they possibly dug up a bunch of bedroom no-talents from roughly 1980 – 1985 who only wanted to be the next Soft Cell or ABC, then used their findings as the basis for a mythical form of first-wave post-punk/DIY. Someone might pay WAY TOO MUCH money for this record. The acutely-tedious old stuff has inspired a quasi-movement of acutely-tedious new stuff.
“KBD” – By far one of the most abused title-line tags in the realm of eBay record-hustling (intake, output, flipping, desperation sales, etc). “KBD” is now utilized to draw attention to LP’s by The Cars, The Romantics early Duran Duran, Grand Funk Railroad and the MC5 at one end of the timeline, to Sugar or Ride reissue released this year. At this point, “KBD” essentially means that the music is rock-based and made by people who play guitars, basses, drums and to a lesser degree, keyboards. I will not waste your time with boring writing related to the origin and definition of the abbreviation, but for those who feel slighted by the absence of such information, I must issue an alienating inquiry: “Was the front door unlocked? How did you get in here? Who are you?”
“Private” or “Private Label” – A half-to-highly skilled record-peddler will use one or both of these to attract buyer/bidders who drop coin on fare featured in tattered, disgustingly-soiled copies of Acid Archives…sticking out of blown couches and being pee’d on by unhappy cats all over the land. Or those who don’t own the book but still collect titles given to the world in small numbers by the real private-label boom of the 60’s, 70’s and early-80’s. Get-rich-quick divorcees and “bless-their-heart” hardscrabble types use “private” or “private label” in an inappropriate manner simply because they are unaware of the 1985 – 1988 boom of tiny, small, midsized, medium-large, or disturbingly-massive independent or seemingly-independent labels that, of course, continues to this day. Call me a softy, but I suddenly feel as though I shouldn’t be making fun of these people. I just deleted a few sentences that would have ripped new assholes across the landscape of intensely-depressing post-1968 wall-to-wall carpet, sliding-glass-door, open kitchen apartment complexes. Did I just screw up and lose a lot of readers who just skipped the rest of this piece and are now figuring out different ways to call me a pussy in the comments section? Good riddance.
“Emo”– this one’s in decline, but during its salad days, it could be found throughout wide stylistic, aesthetic and demographic spectrums. We’re talkin’ everything from The Misfits to Simply Saucer to Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can to Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine to the OST of Bette Midler’s The Rose to Greg Kihn to Boyd Rice’s Non project to Alien Sex Fiend to John Zorn to Bunny The Bear and I haven’t even toe-dipped into the waters where the usual suspects swim. And I didn’t give a chronological framework for the aforementioned “salad days” due to a desire to include The Bunny the Bear, but I did see “Emo” used to assist in the selling of an album by this duo. And no, I did not see it affixed to someone’s listing of Bette Midler’s The Rose OST, such is my questionable way of making a point sometimes.
“Test” or “Test Pressing” –Many older test pressings, such as Shiner’s The Egg (went for $150 because it was one of five copies) or the gold-medal winner of late, a Chain of Strength test pressing made someone $1,600 heavier (the What Holds Us Apart 7” EP, released in 1990 on their own Foundation Records). But oozing from the multi-genre explosion-on-top-of-an-existing-explosion small-label explosion of the early-00’s, was (and still is…to a lessening degree) is the short-con of loading up pressing-plant order forms with at least 20+ test pressings and squirreling away the majority for future eBay action. Please note that band involvement is probably a case-by-case thing, but is a part of this sitch that remains unknown out of general disinterest in the overall scam.
On a lighter note, “test pressing” is sometimes used as “code” for bootleg or any otherwise unauthorized pressing of a record. But what has me hunched-over with painful guffaws is the poor saps who use one or both incarnations when selling promos. Do these sellers actually believe that the eBay po-po are out in large numbers, ferreting out title lines containing “promo” or “WLP” or other versions thereof? Or are they unaware of what constitutes a proper promotional release and figure that a blank-label with handwriting on it must be a label freebie? Oh shit, there’s that “bless their hearts” feeling again…
“180” or “180-gram” – a reissue that has, since its appearance in the bins or on the inventory lists, cock-blocked any of the sky-reaching final bid amounts/BIN’s previously associated with the original incarnation.
‘#’d’ or ‘?/500’ or ‘numbered’ – could mean just what it says, or could be an exaggeration of reality, otherwise known as “bullshit”…use and fall-for at own risk.
“DIY” – Unlike “indie-rock” or many of the other word-corpses that have been butt-fucked into nothing by the promotional sector, ‘DIY’ still means something (really bad) and it isn’t finished doing its noxious damage to our surrounding culture. Keeping it short and sweet, the ‘DIY’ mindset and beliefs have brainwashed and converted untold millions of idiots worldwide, especially in the last five to seven years. It continues to infect underground music to an acutely-negative end. The ultimate truth is that just because everyone can, doesn’t mean everyone should. ‘DIY’ has eliminated many of the crucial growth, struggle and financial obstacles that used to weed out tons of mediocrity and flat-out shit, so the use of “DIY” as an eBay record-flipping tag is fucking tennis elbow compared to the CREATIVE AIDS now found to be symptomatic of this awful religion. Go ahead and use it to bring attention to your Dream Theater auction for some subtle culture-jamming if confusion is your weapon of choice. Then again, you can always take an album with garbage-collage cover art and break it over the creator’s head for more visceral gratification. You know, if you really want to do the latter…only if you really want to…
“Rare” – indicates a seller who operates behind an antiquated pre-1990 mindset that assigns rarity and grossly-inflated worth to anything and everything pressed on vinyl. It might also flag a record that is genuinely hard to find, but that’s not as entertaining.
“OOP” – 1. “Other Ogre’s Pussy” in abbreviated form and the root-origin of the title and theme in the Naughty By Nature mega-hit, “OPP” 2. The record is now unavailable from the label’s own site, but can be easily found elsewhere online for a comparable price. 3. A inclusion that should be an exclusion listed below with the other inspiration-eluders. I felt that this feature needed one consciously bad joke, so it stays.
“Etched Art” or “Etched” – Might mean that the band or artist doesn’t have the goods to make to fill an entire LP or EP, so side 2 or side 4 suffers a band member’s etchings. Motivated by the very real problem of paying fans accepting some laughably-useless and barely-visible “art” as a suitable substitute for what the band is supposed to fill a release with. Do you want a small bowl of human feces with your slap in the face? It will be out momentarily, sirs and ma’ams.
“Limited” - Without an included pressing count (“Limited to ___” copies on dignity-erasing splatter vinyl”, etc), this word is totally meaningless and recalls other awesomely-vague consumer cons like “Each pair of green, free-trade sweatshop-free spirit animal flip-flops you purchase will create five jobs for unemployed Americans” or “A portion of your purchase will be donated to a someone who lives in a drainage ditch” and so on.
“Mint” – frequently utilized code for “opened, played a few times and maybe used in a domestic disturbance, but still shiny!”
Whatever happened to that long-rumored Facebook killer? Well, it’s complicated.
FETISHIZING THE LATEX DREAM IN THE BRAZILIAN RAINFOREST
Photos By Matheus Chiaratti
Jenni tries on Fetisso’s best-selling gloves in the factory’s stockroom.
Sometime in the mid-1960s, near the small Swiss town of Vordemwald, little Willi Graber was playing by himself on his grandparents’ farm. He wandered into the kitchen, where something in a basket of old clothes caught his eye: a pair of yellow latex kitchen gloves. He put them on. They made him feel funny. Immediately sensing their power, he walked outside and grabbed a piece of cow manure. It was a strange feeling—squeezing cow shit between his fingers and knowing it couldn’t touch him.
With these gloves, young Willi realized he could get away with all sorts of forbidden deeds, unscathed. He touched poisonous plants and stinging ants, plunged his arm into the creek and pulled out blood-sucking leeches. Drunk on his newfound power, he even inserted a latexed finger into the asshole of one unfortunate bovine. It was absolutely sensational. Of course, a few years later he started masturbating while wearing the gloves. Like any good Swiss boy, he’d been taught masturbation was wrong. But with the gloves on, it was different; it was OK. He felt protected. The gloves became his magic talisman that shielded him from God’s judgment. Slowly and strangely he realized that gloves and other garments made from other materials like leather or vinyl didn’t hold the same allure. Latex was it for him, and it became apparent that Willi had a fetish. Still, he had no way of knowing that decades later he would use his secret shame to his advantage by establishing a lucrative fantasy fetish-wear company in a paradisiacal stretch of Brazilian rainforest.
By no means was Willi the first person possessed by the power of latex, the milky white sap that drips from the scored trunks of rubber trees. During the Industrial Revolution, rubber was as important a resource as oil is today. Like oil, it was the impetus for mind-boggling exploration, exploitation, and violence in the service of empire. Rubber tappers who failed to meet their quotas in King Leopold’s Congo Free State had their hands cut off. To leverage the vast reserves of rubber trees in the Amazon, South American barons drove the natives into indentured servitude as seringueiros. These miserable workers were forced to scale towering Amazonian trees and gather their sap. In 1876, British explorer Henry Wickham smuggled 70,000 rubber seeds out of the Brazilian Amazon—an astounding act of botanical piracy and the beginning of the British Empire’s plantations in Asia. Henry Ford later purchased a piece of the Amazon as big as Delaware and Rhode Island combined to grow rubber trees and hired thousands of Brazilian workers to run Fordlandia, a failed Detroit-style processing plant and suburb in the middle of the Amazon.
Latex drips into a collection pail at a plantation in Pernambuco, Brazil. Moments before, a tapper dragged the tip of his knife down the bark; the red stuff is a chemical that helps the tree heal.
Karl Marx wrote in Capital that capitalists are basically fetishists, worshipping mystical powers that workers impart to the goods they create (sounds like Prada to me). Before latex, fetishists had made do with what they had—fur, silk, and tight-laced corsets. That was until 1823, when Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh concocted the rubberized fabric that laid the foundations for future BDSM fantasy. Though his Mackintosh coats were smelly, sticky, and sometimes melted on hot days, they were also hugely popular. Valerie Steele, author of Fetish: Fashion, Sex, & Power, identifies England’s Mackintosh Society as one of the modern era’s first fetishist organizations. During her research, she found a 1920s fetish magazine titledLondon Life that detailed “the thrill of maccing.” Today you can buy a snappy Mackintosh raincoat for $800 from J.Crew.