At last year's party, the strap-on dildo Mary Uzi was wearing snuck out, pushing up her skirt to reveal a pinch too much.
Uzi, a local adult-business owner and performer, was feigning a cowgirl-gone-naughty on an elevated stage. Her outfit came complete with boots, a hat, a tiny vest and two more dildos for pistols. As Uzi shot 'em up and accidentally showed it off, the crowd went crazy.
Of course, Uzi's display was not intentional; city laws prohibit disrobing or simulating sex acts inside clubs such as Rock Island.
But on the annual fetish-party nights, Adkins says, people come out of the woodwork to reveal a side of themselves they don't normally show, and unique things can happen.
Rock Island started throwing the Fetish/Fashion Party in 1996, to "bring things you don't usually see to Denver," Adkins says. The city wasn't keeping up with the changing sex-fashion scenes of New York and San Francisco. So now, for one night, local and international designers meet in Denver to model the latest in hard-to-find leatherwear, corsets and sex products.
What a fetish is or what a fetish does knows no boundaries. Like a cat-o'-nine-tails, a fetish comes in all different sizes, colors and textures. No one attending Whip It! will be there to work on their insular ideas of conformity--unless, of course, that's their fetish. The mantra for patrons of Whip It!, Adkins says, is more like "anything goes."
"It's the one day a year when you can wear a see-through dress and duct tape around your breasts and no one will look twice."
This year the event is being hosted by fetish supermodel Gina Velour, who is as easily recognized by fetish-magazine flippers as Cindy Crawford is by readers of Vogue.
Velour established her fan base during a performance in an unusual hardcore porn flick titled The Operation, which used an infrared surveillance camera to read changes in skin temperature. Film critics praised the movie for using its innovative technique to defamiliarize, and thus bring a new perspective to, the usual skin-slapping porn scenes.
"The infrared reads as black-and-white," wrote Gregg Rickman of the SF Weekly when the film played at the Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. "Organs bloom like fantasy fungi and variations in skin temperature register like rot spreading over fruit."
While Velour's movie won't be screening at Whip It!, Adkins is attempting to create an atmosphere that's just as visually stimulating. Between fashion catwalks, actors will perform erotic plays and fantasy sequences. Dancers will perform in cages. Attendees will have access to the wooden X-racks and spanking booths; a gynecological chair (its use is still being determined) will also be on hand. The climax of the evening will be a dungeon scene performed by multiple leather-clad actors. Adkins says it will test their creative abilities, since they must tantalize the audience with erotic images while being careful not to violate those pesky city ordinances.
And this year's partygoers won't catch a glimpse of Ms. Uzi. Despite last year's crowd-pleasing performance, she has since ridden her pony to New York City. Besides, says Adkins, "we saw a little bit too much of Mary last year."