‘Dressing for Pleasure’ is a delightful form of sexual exhibitionism. Wearing a gas mask is the ultimate stage where lack of oxygen causes a form of mild intoxication. It really is just a variation of the dangerous children’s game where a plastic bag is pulled over the head to cause asphyxiation, which in turn, produces a sensation of sexual pleasure.

Masking as part of ‘dressing for pleasure’ can be divided into the ‘active’ or the ‘passive’. The active is the form of masking which involves some kind of breathing restriction which can be controlled by either the wearer or the partner. The passive form is masking which cuts the wearer off from the outside world and allows him to develop a new identity. This form of disguise extends from the simple method of disguising the wearer’s eyes such as with goggles or a helmet.

The physiologists tell us that the skin plays only a minimal part in the body’s breathing. Even so, we know the lethal effect of heavy burns and also remember the girl in the Ian Fleming/James Bond film ‘Gold finger’ who had her body painted all over with liquid gold and died, it was assumed, because the pores of the skin could not get oxygen.

It is an interesting thought that masking and wearing rubber latex, which seals the body from oxygen, may in fact produce a form of asphyxiation which heightens sexual pleasure. It is an aspect that deserves attention if we are to understand this astonishing interest in wearing rubber

Another physical phenomenon that is rarely mentioned is the insulating effect of rubber and its ‘electrical’ effect. Remove a rubber dress in a dark room before a mirror and the skin is almost luminescent with the build-up of static electricity. Rub your hand over body hairs after wearing rubber and you will receive a mild shock. The skin’s natural sensitivity to touch is very much increased by rubber particularly at sensitive points. I am convinced that electrical charges build up at the erogenous zones of the body when rubber is worn.

The theme of so many rubber publications is the female form dressed and wearing rubber. Rubber lovers long to see ladies dressed in rubber. For the most part they are faced with a woman’s firm and deep dislike of dressing up in rubber, and the basic and unanswered question is why an interest in rubber is exclusively a male predilection. From reading Atomage it seems there are women who like rubber for its own sake, but I remain sceptical. I think these women are largely interested only in the pleasure they get from exerting a form of dominance over the man when they wear it.

If you ask a woman for her views on wearing rubber, and she is honest, she will say that she dislikes the smell, the heat, the anguishing narrowing effect and even the feel of the material. This is not to say that a looser garment styled in such a way that it doesn’t cling would not be acceptable, and the views in the Helen column support this thought.

Indeed as a fashion material, a woman will tell you that rubber has many advantages quite apart from its protective quality, but when asked to use it for sexual purposes, when passion produces considerable heat, women will tell you that they suffer a good deal of discomfort which tends to detract from the pleasure itself. The compensation may be, of course, that the man is more loving and more passionate and, therefore, she is prepared to accept some discomfort.

A few weeks ago I heard an extensive radio advertising campaign for household gloves. What interested me is that at no time did I hear the words ‘rubber’ or ‘latex’ mentioned. The protective qualities were highlighted in the advertisement – the cosmetic protection for the hands – but those two words were never mentioned once.

I believe the reason for this is because the word ‘rubber’ is associated with the condom for birth control, with the sheeting used in hospitals, and also with the protective sheeting used in wartime. The word ‘rubber’ has really no connection with the language of love, or the language of the bedroom.

Women have been taught from childhood that they should be beautiful, that they should fascinate and arouse men by their beauty and their personality. It is woman’s role to be the seductress. So the woman is conditioned to be loved for herself; make-up, garments, and jewellery are solely aids. She insists she must be loved for herself. It might be different if rubber was a material on the list of things that could increase or underline her beauty and her personality. She prefers the fragrance of a perfume that is listed or marketed as a feminine cosmetic. Silk, or crepe de chine, is not thought of in the same terms as latex. In a different age or in a different society, such a thing might be possible if women were to be ‘conditioned’ from childhood.

It might, of course, be different if the number of men attracted to rubber formed a significant proportion of the male population. This is not the case and so it is inevitable that a woman will say ‘I want to be loved for my own (personality) and not for the crazy stuff you want me to wear’.

It is ‘normal’ for a woman to change her personality by masking her face with a new make-up, disguising her appearance with sunglasses and wigs, changing her body’s shape with bra and girdles. This is the armour of seduction! Rubber is not on the list and you would need a widespread psychological and scientific revolution to place it there.

When it comes to love and seduction women follow the conventional pattern. They have been taught that man is the aggressive conqueror; that woman is the accepting, tolerant partner. Women who go out to work -and Women’s Lib are making changes in this concept, and another generation may develop a wholly different attitude to dress, to love, and to sex, and also to the woman’s role in society. there have already been two revolutions in our social patterns and ethics in this century, and there is still time for another. But liking rubber? No, I don’t think women will even consider it unless some scientist discovers health and cosmetic reasons for wearing rubber and it is marketed as a lifesaver, a personality enhancer or a love potion.

It savours of science fiction, but there might come a day when you will see an advertisement for skin tight rubber wear with copy that reads something like “Charge up your body cells electrically by wearing a super suit” or “become more sexy, develop your intelligence and your personality by wearing a latex suit”.

This may not be as far fetched as it may at first seem. The idea of the ‘second skin’ which shows and hides, exposes and isolates at the same time, is not new. It is the sort of second skin worn by mediaeval witches in the popular art of the period; it is the special ointment, the protection layer, donned by Siegfried when he bathed in the blood of a dragon; it is the fairy cake that makes invisible, it is the black untouchable invincible cloak. For when we examine the lure of rubber we find continually that rubber, although a modern invention, is a part of our folk lore. If rubber had not been invented we would have found something else. To some extent we have it in the smooth, shiny, plastics and herein lies perhaps the answer to the mystery.

– ‘W’ West Germany.

We agree with all you say. We would just like to add, however, that it is our experience over many years and with many customers, particularly the ladies, that when once they have become used to wearing helmets, either of rubber or leather, they all experience a very great release and find themselves able to do many more exciting things than they would ever have thought to do when their face was open. It seems that the people of primitive tribes knew this well as in all their tribal customs the mask figures prominently over thousands of years. It seems that they knew the value of release in preventing tensions and inhibitions building up to the stage when they become problems as in so many western societies.

The death of the girt in ‘Gold finger’ would have been caused by the blockage of the pores of the skin for the exhaust of impurities, not intake of oxygen. A professor who spent many years working with the Cousteau Diving Team on alternative gases for underwater survival told me that “a rubber suit, absolutely skin-tight, can be worn for many days without ill effect provided that ones body is very thoroughly washed clean with soap and water in a bath just before putting on the suit (which, of course, must also be perfectly clean) to remove all the bacteria from the skin so that it does not breed rapidly while you are encased in the suit “.

It does not seem as if any oxygen at all is actually taken in through the skin according to the scientific researches. The Professor stated that the myth of letting the skin breathe has been fostered worldwide by the big international cosmetic companies since the mid twenties and that over-exposure to the elements can be much more harmful than covering it all up! – Ed.