It’s with a great deal of pleasure that I present an interview that is long overdue here at Erotic Vancouver, but one which I think could arrive on no better occasion. I have a long history with Sin City, having been there as their very first Dungeon Monitor when they opened in 2001. People often assumed, at that point, that I’d been friends with Isaac and Aaron (aka Mr. Dark) for sometime to have landed that role. In truth I had approached Isaac after a concert he’d thrown, and told him I had a few ideas about how I thought the dungeon should run. He said he’d have Aaron contact me, and when that hadn’t happened after a few days I assumed I’d been fobbed off.
I hadn’t. When Aaron did contact me a couple of weeks later it was with a very clear plan. It was clear that not only had Isaac listened to me, they’d spent some time figuring out how the ideas of a great many other people other than themselves fit in with their very formidable vision. This was a project they were dedicated to, and they were determined to get it right. After some more talk and handshakes I was glad to come on in a very small role in what, over the years, would turn into a VERY BIG THING.
Flash forward 15 years, and with the continued success of Sin City, all of its theme parties, and of course the amazing Vancouver Fetish Weekend, and it’s clear that hard work continues to succeed and inspire.
So, without further ado, the Sin City interview with the multi-awarded Isaac T, aka DJ Pandemonium.
Erotic Vancouver: It’s hard to believe that Sin City has been around for 15 years, and it’s been an amazing run of success. But promoting and running an event that long can be incredibly draining. What keeps you motivated to continue delivering events that you obviously put the proverbial 110% effort into?
Isaac T: It’s all about empowering and celebrating a community which you truly love, and creating a circle of inspiration that goes both ways. We’ve taken on great risks and many, many losses over the years to try and continually step up what is possible in our local kinky event scene, and there are certainly times we’ve looked back and ourselves wondered how on Earth we ever pulled off some of the major events in the past, considered all the setbacks, challenges and obstacles it took to make them happen. But for every drop of energy and passion that has gone into every event, it’s been returned tenfold in appreciation and enthusiasm from the big family of friends new and old that comprise our extended fetish family! When we see people who have been in the scene for a long time still being inspired, when we see new people who were nervous about getting involved in kink coming out for the first time, coming out of their shell, and experience an awakening into a sexual realm of comfort, safety and creativity where they thrive, these are incredibly rewarding experiences to share with people, and the fuel that keeps us going. We’re continually honoured to be part of people’s paths into and through the kink scene!
Erotic Vancouver: Can you tell our readers how Sin City first got started?
Isaac T: Almost two decades ago, the kink scene was very different in Vancouver, with much more limited options for people to choose from. Cell phones, Facebook and internet event listings were not a thing yet, and events were a lot harder to find and become part of. After moving to Vancouver in 1994 from Ottawa, I nonetheless of course found my way into the alternative/industrial/goth/freak scene and wound up becoming a DJ and promoter since I quickly realized there weren’t many events to go to, and I was highly motivated to volunteer time and change that, and help make more of the events celebrating the subcultures, scenes and styles I loved. Back then the alternative scene and the fetish scene were almost interchangeable, with a huge amount of crossover between the two. Meanwhile I had become friends with another fellow named Aaron Harrison, also known as Mr. Dark, who was well known as one of the city’s few leatherworks, working both custom designs for local kinksters, and representing local scene cornerstone shop Cabbages & Kink at the notorious Body Perve Social Club fetish nights which were happening monthly at the time. At the time there really was only one fetish event happening monthly and it was quite clear that people were clamouring for more, and both of us regularly would comment in conversation that this city needed more kink options! Eventually we basically said to ourselves, why do we keep just talking about this, and not step up and help out? Between the two of us, we had a huge skill set and background covering most of the major aspects which would be needed to get a new event off the ground, we had a ton of fresh ideas to take the scene in new directions, I had connections and access to venues from my already four years as a promoter, and thus in May 2001, the first Sin City was born. And it’s been on an unbroken streak of 15 years since …. Who would have thought! It’s crazy to see how hugely the scene has grown over the decade and a half we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of it!
Erotic Vancouver: Sin City certainly changed Vancouver’s nightlife. How have you seen the night change over the years?
Isaac T: Well right off the bat, one of our first ideas for Sin was to change up some of the still prevailing attitudes of the late 90s fetish scene in Vancouver … at the time, you basically had a club night with a killer dance floor OR you had a fetish night with a dungeon and a play areas. Events basically never had both. And we really wanted to combine the two – obviously there are limits to how far a pervy play party can go when held in a public venue versus private, but we really wanted to see an event which featured BOTH a killer dungeon AND a killer dancefloor, with both energies feeding into each other. Nowadays this is common for fetish events, particular as DJ culture has grown, but back then it was a very concept. Fetish club events might feature one flogging cross, that’s it! Suffice to say, it was a huge success!
Another thing that was a prevailing feature of the time was that music at events was kept to just one or two themes. For example, house, or just 80’s + industrial. We really wanted a night where both sexually, creatively, and musically, anything goes and anything can happen. It seems amazing to think about now, but people were actually very resistant to a club night of any kind where people had to learn to expect anything all night and wasn’t just a standard set of themes. Nowadays this is the norm everywhere, DJs just play a mashup of everything, styles be damned, but Sin was way, way ahead of the game for introducing ‘anything-goes’ formats in the city.
We’ve also witness the meteoric rise of appreciation for electronic music in the city. And so at one point, seeing this growing demand for an all-electronic music dancing option from our attendees, plus a need for more space in the venue as attendance grew, we undertook to renovate two new spaces at our club, and Sin expanded into being a two room + dungeon event, with a mixed format main room, and an all-electronic second room featuring a rotating cast of A-list Vancouver DJ talent. Nowdays there are several fetish events which are electronic ONLY … we love seeing how things grow, change, and evolve, and have always embraced new trends in music … since music is the background of setting the mood for KINK!
It’s hard to keep it short when describing the changes which have happened over a scene over 15 years – so the only other major change I’ll mention is the incredible proliferation of other events out there in the Vancouver scene. At one point, for bigger fetish club events, there really was just us for a period of almost 8 years. Now there are multiple fetish-crossover and sex-positive events every weekend. We’ve always welcomed the growth of new options for the fetish community of Vancouver and the lineup of swinger, BDSM, GLBTQ+ events these days is truly staggering.
Erotic Vancouver: Sin is pretty legendary for it’s exceptional décor for so many theme events. Where do you get your ideas for that?
Isaac T: Both myself and the original co-founder of Sin City, Mr Dark, are pretty demented people when it comes to dreaming up projects, adults who love crafting, playing dress-up, and putting dozens more hours into projects than normal sane people ever would. Between the two of us, with backgrounds in special effects, set decoration, prop building and more, we’ve definitely come up with some absolutely hair-brained ideas which we thought would be sexy, funny, inspiring, and taken things further than even we ever realized … a motivation and ‘NEVER LET THINGS GET BORING OR STAY THE SAME FOR TOO LONG’ mantra that resounds with the event and its production team to this day. We’re highly networked with the local film industry and have access to a lot of talent and gear from the local industry that often blows people’s minds … “Where on earth did you ever find this?”
When brainstorming new ideas, we always ask ourselves, what would be fun, inspire people, but also be an easy theme to incorporate into a fetish look and atmosphere? Of course we’ve had some themes which didn’t work out quite as well as we’d hoped, but this also happens when you take risks to shake things up. There are so many themes that Sin has become known for – it’s hard to believe we’re celebrating things like the 12th Anniversary of some our longer running events this year, such as our military fetish ball in November!
Erotic Vancouver: So in 15 years you must have some pretty incredible memories. What are one or two that most standout for you?
Isaac T: It’s funny, we have had some absolutely mind-blowing major things happen at Sin, but many of the memories that most resound with me personally are more intimate ones. For example, at our most recent XXX-Mas party, we had a packed house, amazing, sexy Christmas Kink outfits everywhere, with a full dancefloor going on which Vertigo rope was staging a truly impressive rope suspension performance on our main stage play area. Eventually they had a girl suspended upside down with some impressive and beautiful rope & bamboo work, in the shape of a Christmas tree, complete with Christmas lights. We killed the lights on the dancefloor and played ‘White Christmas’ by Bing Crosby, and everyone had a sensuous slow dance, illuminated by our sexy human Christmas tree slowly rotating on the stage. The moment was magical, romantic, unforgettable and highly naughty.
Erotic Vancouver: You’ve also had some amazing performers grace the various Sin City stages; I won’t get you in trouble by asking you to name your favorites, but I will ask who you think it was a real coup to get to come here to Vancouver?
Isaac T: Masuimi Max was our first international fetish performer, and took a lot of networking and building to the point where it was able to happen. Now she’s one of our greatest friends, and she’s been great for our scene’s international recognition, commonly mentioning the Vancouver scene as one of her favourites world wide. (Shameless plug – she’s also headling Vancouver Fetish Weekend this year!) Ophelia Overdose all the way from Germany was a major highlight! We’ve also had the privilege of hosting shows by some incredible talents from the Shibari world from Japan, including Saki Kamijoo and Hajime Kinoko. Many thanks for the folks from Kink Underground for all their work helping making that happen and bringing the opportunity our way! That’s just the tip of the iceberg ….
Erotic Vancouver: 15 years and you’re about to move to a new home venue, the stunning Imperial. Can you tell us what prompted the change up, and share your obvious excitement about it?
Isaac T: Simply put – it was time. Sin City started out at Club 23 West and was there for a decade before it closed without warning due to financial and physical complications with the venue. Suddenly we had to find a new home. We actually embraced this challenge, having access to and relationships with many venues, so Sin City became a travelling invasion for about a year and a half before settling on The Imperial, a newer venue at the time which suited everything about Sin City perfectly. However, no sooner had we settled there for a few months, than our old venue re-opened under new owners. Obviously we jumped at the chance to come back!
Since then, it’s been two years and two new owners. The sad fact is the venue has been allowed to slide into a state of disrepair, and is a shadow of it’s old self. Essentially it’s a punk rock dive bar now – which, don’t get me wrong, I personally totally love, and we still have some events there from time to time, but it’s just fallen way below a standard which we feel comfortable offering up as a venue where several hundred people convene, often in scant or expensive outfits, in a sexual atmosphere. We’ve had the venue close down over our heads once already, and didn’t want that to happen again, so we made the difficult choice to have a PROPER goodbye party this time, and move back to a world-class venue as our home for what’s grown to be a world-class event.
I simply can’t glow about the Imperial enough. First and foremost the staff are fully accepting and supportive of our kinky cluture and go above and beyond to help make the events as perfect as possible for all our attendees. The club was a kung-fu theater in the 80s and has since been heavily renovated into a beautiful multi-media events space, with ample comfy seating, loads of areas we can convert into play spaces, not least of which is the main room on stage Dungeon, underneath the full size movie theater screen, perfect for larger than life kink visuals.
Erotic Vancouver: Any other changes or surprises you’d like to let us all in on? Or do we need to wait to see?
Pandemonium: One of the new additions in the works in the main room at the Imperial is an ultra-high rigging point side stage showcasing high level suspension performances by Vertigo Rope. It’s been a hell of an undertaking working out the technical details but it’s going to be something very exciting to see once it’s all worked out! There’s even more changes coming, including ever more play spaces around the club, but you’ll have to come down and check it out to find out about them!
Erotic Vancouver: This summer also marks the 4th Annual Vancouver Fetish Weekend. What do you expect will be some of the biggest moments of that?
Isaac T : Undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Vancouver Fetish Weekend is the VIP Fetish Cruise on the Sunday! The Saturday main event is a bit of a coup this year, since technically the venue 560 is closed, but we’ve managed to work things out to get it open for night especially for our event. The lineup for this year is beyond stacked – the Sunday closing party at the Penthouse alone features no less than six international and local high-level performances, right in a legendary, intimate venue, with the stage literally inches from the attendees. The energy at that party last year was positively tribal. We’ve hugely expanded what’s happening at the Friday opening party at the Imperial as well …. Really, people can just expect MORE, MORE, MORE kink entertainment & experiences on every level!
Erotic Vancouver: Other than hard work and perseverance is there anything you think you owe the incredible success of both Sin and Vancouver Fetish Weekend to?
Isaac T : First and foremost, I can without a doubt say that we have an amazing scene of fun-loving, open-minded kinksters here in Vancouver, who truly make social atmosphere at all our events what they are. I am in no way exaggerating when I say that our scene has a reputation for being FUN and CRAZY KINKY the world over – we hear it when we travel to Florida, to Berlin, and we’re seeing more and more people from other corners of the world coming here to have a taste of our local community. Secondarily, we have an amazing back up and support team at Sin City and VFW, hard-working, heavily talented folks without whom there’s no way we could surmount all the hurdles that inevitable come up, and just get things done, making these zany kinky dreams coalesce into reality.
Erotic Vancouver: Thank you so much for your time, and most of all thank you for the incredible parties you continue to throw. You’ve got the last word, so what would you like to say?
Isaac T: Thank you Reive for putting this interview together and for all your hard work helping foster growth in the local scene yourself over all the years. My final word is simply, Vancouver kinksters, stand tall and proud, you are an amazing bunch of people with a boundless supply of positivity, creativity, and sexual energy that I am both humbled and honoured to have somehow fallen into being a part of. Together we’re all going to make some truly amazing moments, magic & mischief happen in the coming years!
If you’d like to know more about Sin City Fetish Night check out their website.