What is Torture Garden?
Torture Garden is the World’s largest Fetish / Body Art Club. Events Attract 800 – 2500 people monthly to various London venues, with occasional International tour events all around the World.
Alan Pelling and David Wood formed Torture Garden as a Fetish Club in Oct 1990. Alan’s background was as an alternative club promoter & DJ ¬ new to London, and David’s was a conceptual art & film graduate who had been going to fetish clubs since 1984. Together they were bored with the existing retro alternative clubs and suburban style fetish clubs. They wanted to create a new kind of radical & edgy alternative fetish club that combined diverse & progressive music, multiple environments, fashion, performance, visuals, installations, market area and more. 100 people came to the first event at the Opera On The Green venue in a shopping precinct in Shepherds Bush on a Wednesday night, but by the 5th there were 500 and it was rammed! By this time TG had developed its own unique crowd that combined the Alternative post Goth / Industrial, hard-core SM, Fetish Fashion and Gay & Straight scenes, with the totally new Body Art / Piercing scenes. There was no other crowd and club in the world like it! Charlotte Hellicar joined TG Productions full time in 2003 as company manger following briefly working for TG Clothing and having been TGs “doorbitch” for a number of years, and Yasmin Kay became part of the team in 2018. In May 2019 David left the club to move to New York, but remains involved with archive projects having been the creative director of the company for nearly 3 decades
Why Torture Garden and TG?
Torture Garden was named after the 1899 novel The Torture Garden (Le Jardin des supplices) by Octave Mirbeau , which was set in a Chinese Garden of Torture. We chose it more because of the exotic and mysterious images that it evoked, rather than the specific novel itself. From the beginning we often shortened Torture Garden to TG, because it was shorter and didn’t scare the Bank manager! But it was also a reference of influence to an earlier TG – Throbbing Gristle ¬ the seminal industrial experimentalists and founders of Psychic TV, Temple Ov Psychic Youth, Coil, Chris n Cosey etc. TG’s circle logo was literally inspired by the back of a lorry on a rainy motorway drive! Keep an eye out in France?
Acceptability of Fetish
In the 80’s and early 90’s Fetish & SM was still taboo and very underground, and even dressing in Rubber and going to a fetish club seemed a dangerous activity. As TG’s notoriety grew, so did the ‘shock & scandal’ reports in the tabloids, resulting in the Police frequently forcing venues to close or cancel events in 1991 – 1993, and the shadow of the Spanner Case also hung over the scene during the early 90’s. However, as numbers attending grew at prestigious venues such as the Ministry of Sound, and fetish fashion and creativity influenced the mainstream, fetish became trendy and venues actively wanted us at their venues. As British society opened up to sexuality in general during the late 90’s, the media also changed in their attitude to fetish. From tabloid to channel 4, fetish was now generally depicted in a positive light. In the 2000’s it seems that everyone knows someone that’s been to Torture Garden and it’s generally becoming acceptable. However fetish and fetish clubbing is not for everyone, and we don’t want just any-body at our events. In the media fetish is viewed as fashionable every few years with mainstream designers and pop stars constantly taking inspiration from the underground fetish scene.
TG’s multi-dimensional events cater equally for a huge range of open-minded individuals from young fashionable clubber to alternative arty weirdo, burlesque cabaret fan to sophisticated SM regular. Providing something every-body from any age group (18-60+), sexual orientation and gender. Creating an environment that accepts and encourages individualism, diversity and free self-expression. Ultimately it is the crowd above all that generates the energy and atmosphere of an event, and the TG crowd is the most diverse, radically dressed up and cutting edge crowd in the world wide scene. It is they who have made TG what it is. At TG the crowd are the stars and everyone is a celebrity, but famous visitors have included Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Tease, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Boy George, Katie Price, Courtney Love & Marc Almond. Unfortunately Adam Ant was turned away for not dressing up enough! There are also rumours of other famous faces, but it is the easiest event to appear at in disguise if you don’t want to be recognised!
Shows / Performance / Art
More than anything else TG has become world renowned for its incredible & theatrical performances and fashion shows. As well as staging extreme artists that no one else would put on, or encouraging & developing performance, burlesque, cabaret and circus when there was no other platform for such artists in the 1990’s, and also discovering future big names when they were unknown. Dita Von Tease made her UK & European performance debut at TG in 1999, Pop Star Paloma Faith appeared as a surreal singing performance artist in her early days, and all the scenes biggest names have appeared over the years. Including: Fashion: Torture Garden Clothing, E Garbs, DeMask, House of Harlot, Conflicto, Inner Sanctum, Murray & Vern, Manuel Albarran, So Hip It Hurts, HW Designs, Northbound Leather, Puimond, Bibian Blue, Katarzyna Konieczka, Eaton Knot. Music: Tiger Lillies, Avenue D, Death In June, Boyd Rice, Genitorturers, Test Dept, Minty, Lab 4, Flesh Fetish, Von Magnet, Noblesse Oblige, Ernesto Tomasini, Urban Voodoo Machine & Viktoria Modesta. Performance: Dita Von Tease, Paloma Faith, Fakir Musafar, Archaos, Ron Athey, Franko B, Divine David, Lukas Zpira, Midori, Kumi, Marissa Carnesky, Masuimi Max, Porcelain Twinz, Suka Off, Psycho Cyborgs, Ryan Styles, Scottee, Gawkagogo, Lucifire, Empress Stah, Chrysalis, Yusura, Hamish McCan, Miss Crash. Art Exhibition / Installations: Araki, Franko B, Trevor Brown, Romain Slocombe, Charles Gatewood & Espira.
TG is a progressive clubbing concept, it’s never been tied to one style of music or fashion. As our tastes changed with the times, so TG evolved, fusing fetish with whatever clubbing sub-culture we were into. From the very beginning TG always wanted to be more than just a one room – one music club, and it’s established club lands most diverse music policy, with 3 to 6 rooms currently ranging from Electro House & Booty Breaks, Tech House and Techno to Dub Step & Drum n Bass in the Club Arena; Glamour Trash & Disco Punk to Electro Clash & RnB Mash-ups in the Ballroom; Electro Swing to Burlesque Exotica & Sleazy Rock n Roll in the Cabaret Room; and Eastern & Ritual to Experimental & Film Soundtracks & almost anything atmospheric in the Dungeon room.
Many have described their first experience of entering a TG event as like stepping into another world. Like a scene from a film, a fantasy, it can be anything that you want it to be. TG events are about fantasy and role-play, and fully themed events can create a complete experience, including themed dress code, club décor, visuals, music, performances and installations. Themes have included: Crash, Animal Love, War, Circus Side-show, Turning Japanese, Mid-Summer Nights Dream, Arabian Nights, Medical, Uniform, James Bond, Summer Beach Party, Halloween, Masque Ball, Heaven & Hell, Sci-fi, Jungle, Moulin Rouge, Carnival and Sex!
There have been so many magical moments at TG events over the years and everyone’s experience is different. Some personal favourites include: the Crash themed party which featured crashed cars in the venue and came closest to our aim of creating the total experience of stepping into a film set; the E Garbs fashion show at the Ministry of Sound in which models were transported up & down the catwalk suspended off the floor on a pulley system (some upside down!); Ron Atheys extreme body performance at TG Leisure Lounge, where the shocked security were poised to storm the stage and a famous Spanish performance artist fainted in the front row; and the Body Art – Art Kor hook hanging suspension from the ceiling of the Brixton Academy in front of 2500 people; or the Animal Love themed Valentines Ball that attracted a posse of Fur Suiters!
A fetish club is an environment that encourages the exploration of one’s sexuality, but there are also strict codes of conduct within fetish clubs. Touching anyone without permission or any form of harassment of any kind is strictly forbidden. In general fetish clubs are the safest, friendliest and most relaxed club environments. They are places where men, and especially women can dress-up and be themselves without fear of harassment. TG is a safe and consensual event with respect being at the core of the club, the club operates a zero tolerance policy towards anyone who cannot behave appropriately ( check our FAQ section for more info on this)
The TG dress code strives to avoid narrow limitations and encourage individual imagination and diversity. A modern fetish club is is more about fantasy and transformation than just rubber and leather. Also, many of the best outfits seen at TG are made by those wearing them or assembled from various second hand articles (i.e.: theatrical costume or uniforms). So if you can’t afford expensive latex or leather costumes then explore personal fantasies and use your imagination, or even try body paint! Please always remember that if your outfit wouldn’t turn heads in the street – don’t bother to wear it to Torture Garden. Also, many of those attending bring their outfit in a bag and get changed within the club.
TG in the Media
As well as the fetish & underground press, TG has also been featured throughout the mainstream media, including: The South Bank Show, Arena, Jack Dee, The Girlie Show, Fantasy Channel, HBO, MTV etc, as well as in Time Out, The Face, Sky Magazine, FHM, GQ, Virgin Atlantic, Loaded, Spectator, Ministry, Wax and MixMag to name just a few.ub.
TG Books, Videos & Music
TG has produced its own range of Photographic and Art Books – Torture Garden Body Shocks to Cybersex & Body Probe, various DJ CD’s, TG Cybersex Video, Torture Garden X DVD and T-shirts, which have worldwide distribution in major stores such as Tower, Virgin, HMV, Books Etc and Dillons.
Torture Garden on Tour
As London is the world’s capital for fetish clubbing and Torture Garden is the world’s largest and most famous fetish club, the TG style of fetish clubbing has proved a popular export. With a small team providing DJ’s, Visuals, Fashion Show and Performance, TG has staged regular full events or been guests all around the world, including: Tokyo, Moscow, Rio, Sao Paulo, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, San Antonio, Portland, Paris, Croatia, Rome, Athens, Helsinki, Berlin, Amsterdam & Naples. TG has also toured the UK with events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Manchester and Milton Keynes! For TG’s international events it always works in partnership with a local promoter that understands the local scene.
Torture Garden Berlin
Torture Garden celebrates its 30th Birthday in October 2020 and we maintain we strive to maintain our relentless quest of delivering new and diverse events both in London and internationally.February 29th 2020 saw us making our long awaited debut in Berlin at the amazingly decadent setting of the Metropol venue to resounding reviews. We are excited & enthusiastic about building on our first event. Torture Garden is not looking to replicate or setting out to compete with what already exists Berlin including passing judgement on other events, other clubs or scenes. This event will not be simply a Torture Garden eventhappening in Berlin or a Berlin Scene Party happening in Torture Garden. Itwill be TG Berlin, a unique fusion of the world’s leading fetish club from the world’s fetish capital in unison with the world’s largest diverse and hedonistic capital city where pushing boundaries is not only permitted but expected by Berliners.From the point of its conception Torture Garden recognised and continues to emphasise that it is the audience that makes our events what they are. We merely provides the ‘canvass’ or offer environments that allow people to express their imagination and creativity which results the amazing outfits; celebrating the significance of cultural diversity and sub cultures; the appreciation of the value of freedom of expression which informs the attitudes, values, thinking and ultimately people’s behaviour which allows them to participate and make their mark (or stain) in the continuing Torture Garden legacy.For those of you yet to experience Torture Garden it is the place where Heaven meets Hell... And where the ‘TG regulars’ will warn you, ‘to be careful what you wish forbecause you just might get it! (And especially because you are in Berlin!)’