A: In your work as a designer and corsetier...
P: Forgive me - I am a designer who employs the corset and lacings into
his designs. I am not a corsetier - I have not attained that specialized
knowledge. There are only about five left in the whole world now, who
possess that art. I hope one day to be amongst them ... in the meantime, I
specialize in laced and boned garments.
A: Wilhelm Stekel believed that fetishism was not only a religion but a
form of true asceticism in that it avoids so-called 'normal' sexual
intercourse. If tight-lacing is your religion, how does the tying of the
final bow awaken your worshipful attitude?
P: To wear the corset all the time, the way I do, is my true discipline.
To be tied all the time - as I am - one is best when left tied. Except
when you bathe of course. I am always tied. It is very odd now to be
loose - to be loose, to leave the laces even slightly untied is wrong - one
feels unnatural, incomplete. It is essential to always wear the corset
very tight and well-tied. We understand the tying of the bow denotes
possession. The gentleman who has the pleasure of tying the final bow owns
you. The maid might do the lacings, but the owner of the laced will tie
the final knot. Both gentlemen and ladies in this modern age have lost the
sensibility to appreciate that possession - that benign ownership. The
only thing he might lace is his sneaker. [This said with a note of
despair, a melancholy laugh.] One is sadly left to manipulate only one's
own few laces.
A: Do you have a maid or valet to help you in dressing?
P: In a funny sort of way, I do, at times. Of course to have such a
servant to help one dress is the correct way ... But while I might be in
possession of my valet, or maid, they are controlling my sensations, as
they lace me. As Master of the Laces, might they not come to possess me?
A: I am certain you observe certain dietary disciplines. Perhaps you have
dinner early at home, like the corsetted gentlewomen of old, before going
out straight-laced to a dinner party?
P: Of course it is very important to observe a regular life under the
discipline of corsetry. It requires a regular, moderate intake, preferably
at the same time each day. To eat a meal at eleven in the evening is to
insure an uncomfortable sleep. An after-dinner stroll is recommended. I
sometimes work, engage in some little activity before bed.
A: So you sleep in corsets?
P: It's essential. Essential. In order to achieve any significant waist
A: Must you avoid certain foods such as meat?
P: Nothing deep-fried, no junk food. Beans are a disaster. Beer -
A: Describe the ecstatic trance of an extended corsetting.
P: In the beginning of my discipline I experienced it as a euphoria and
more often than I do now. Now I am only comfortable, and I am
uncomfortable without the corset. I see this trance-state in others now;
in the beginning, a kind of claustrophobia overtakes them, that in extreme
situations leads to a faint. It depends on their level. We seek a kind of
sustained euphoria that may take you by surprise - we call it the Corset
Moment. You cannot take anymore - cannot go forward - but neither can you
withdraw. Now that you have started, you must and you will go on. This
sensation I might liken to a roller coaster - fear, even terror, then
exhilaration. The corset has taken you over, you cannot think of anything
else. It takes over your mind. Your whole being is now subject to its
A: The Corset-Moment - would it come towards the end of your capacity to
suffer the restriction?
P: No - it is at the beginning. It is good to know when you are going to
have one. To have smelling-salts on hand is a good idea. But I must say
to loosen the corset at that Moment is a bad idea. One must pass through
it, emerge through discipline. It is alright of course to move about,
adjust it several times, always understanding the goal to be attained.
A: In my experience I have not met anyone as disciplined as you. The
reaction I meet with most often is rebellion, and the attempt to escape,
P: If you think they are not truly fashioned to attain the Corset Moment,
it is better to unlace them - to avoid a fainting.
A: In Stekel's case of the corset-fetishist, dating from 1905, he relates
from the man's 'fetish-bible': Self-realization! Cause and course of my
disease is defined. Cure impossible! My spirit is on the royal road to
insanity - the doctor predicts softening of the brain, sexual dementia."
There follows then a description of a humiliating interview with his local
Father Confessor, who of course can only urge him to be celibate and give
up even thinking about his fetish-love. Did you ever, perhaps early in
your life, suffer from a comparable self-hatred, or feel that you needed to
give up your love, find some 'cure'?
P: At a certain point in my adolescence, I did have some problems because
of my Christian upbringing, in regard to what I was being taken over by.
But I find that the guilt simply becomes a part of what you are doing. I
think everyone is unhappy in some way with that they are naturally ... so
the point of self-modification could be said to derive from a kind of poor
self-esteem. So to alter oneself in an extreme way might be an expression
even of self-hatred. But I think it is deep-rooted in human beings to
desire to alter one's natural self. We are prepared to push through all
barriers, sometimes in extreme ways. In the positive sense, this is art.
Alteration is often for aesthetic reasons. My Mistress would agree - as
she alters herself to be more aesthetically pleasing. Ladies have
different intentions than a gentleman in altering themselves. It is
attached to wishing to be other than what one is, both physically and
psychically. Self-hatred enters into it, but, in service to Art, must not
dominate. Unfortunately nowadays one too often performs the alteration
only for oneself. The happiest ladies have a gentleman behind them, and
these ladies usually have the smallest waists. They're very lucky. But I
often wonder, who is behind the gentleman who laces them? Is it a lady,
urging them on?
A: Pearl, we are sorry you no longer live in New York.
P: I have returned to London, to be closer to the source of what I do.
What's left of the art of corsetry is still alive in England.
Photos by Michael James O'Brian for Verbal Abuse Magazine, 1993