A fetter's wheel is a disc two metres in diameter, mounted on a powder-coated steel A-frame that is bolted to the floor and wall. The disc is covered in padded leather, with three arm straps, three leg straps and a padded leather chest harness. And I am strapped into one, in a dungeon on a leafy street in central London.
The wheel's owner, Mistress Absolute, has spun and locked it such that I'm suspended horizontally, reflected in the mirrored wall opposite.
"Now, I'll blindfold you." She does.
"You'll feel extraordinarily disorientated." I do. It is marvellous.
"And when I walk away and pick up a toy [the echo of her boot heels on the stone floor, then the metallic rattle of chain links, puts my hair on end with anticipatory fear], you'll be beside yourself wondering what I have in mind."
An internationally sought-after "domme", Absolute excels in the extreme elements of fetish. But nipple clamps and leather straps are only one end of the spectrum. "Fetish is something, maybe a material or a body part, that arouses you. If a woman likes to wear silk knickers, or likes to be called 'baby girl' and act coy - that's all still fetish."
Catalysed by the internet, the scene has grown exponentially. On a cultural level, the music and club scenes are suffused with kink; on the fashion front, since Kate Moss sashayed down the Vuitton catwalk in black pants and lace-up hooker boots, fashionistas are pouring themselves into leather and latex. Moreover, this explosion of kink means now is the perfect time to explore any interests of your own. And a good place to start is FetLife (fetlife.com), a global network that is a cross between MySingleFriend and Facebook, but for kinksters.
Profile pictures include a perfect female body, hairless, with large round breasts, her head just out of shot (age 24); a beautiful, feline girl named Flirty (age 29) giving a blow job, her pointed breasts and arms painted with cheetah print; a head shot of Nikki (age 32), whose list of what she enjoys includes: being tied up, gagged, tickled, spanked, hot wax, knife play and kidnapping. She also gives out the same.
FetLife has more than 1,000 members, and judging by the events lists, they're busy. Opportunities range from meeting for a cocktail to being suspended from a ceiling. If you want to hasten the process of finding a kinkster who will pervert your world, you can even speed date.
Then again, you may prefer the old-school way and head out to a club. "Each has its own flavour," says Mistress Absolute. "Mine, Club Subversion [clubsubversion.com], has a dance floor and a play area, and is an intimate place to play. Or if, for example, you want femdomme worship [ie, women are dominant], go to Club Pedestal [clubpedestal.com]."
"For me a massive part of fetish is dressing up," says J, who lives between London and New York. "I adore latex dresses; they make every woman look amazing. And I love the way you take on a new character according to your outfit. I used to model, and since I found my way into the dungeons I have a place to be more and more outrageous. It's sexy."
Once you're at a dungeon-scening space, if someone takes your fancy, simply invite them to play (unless it's a femdomme night, in which case you will wait like a good boy until you are chosen). "Fetish clubbing is wonderful," J continues. "I love finding new pieces of equipment and being inspired. It's hard to put into words how good it is."
Kit is entertaining in itself. But, of course, you can also just be creative. Say you have a foot fetish: take your lover shopping, and when she's found the perfect stilettos, buy them on the basis that at nine o'clock that night she will present herself to you in nothing but them, stockings and suspenders. At the appointed time, seat her in a chair and bind her arms to it with bondage tape (£7. At She Said. shesaidboutique.com). Blindfold her. Kiss her. Kiss down the left side of her body: her breast, her waist, thigh, calf and ankle. Then remove her left shoe. Place her left foot in a bowl of hot water and wash it. Perhaps run the sharp edge of an ice cube along it afterwards.
When it is dry, massage her foot first with your thumbs, then run the points of your knuckles on the underside of her sole. As she starts to relax, run a nail once across the soft inner arch. Then with a pinwheel (£8.99. At Uberkinky. uberkinky.co.uk). Then a tickler (Yes For Lov caressing feather, £10. At La Belle Epoque. labelleuk.co.uk). Now lube her feet (hazelnut edible massage oil, £16.50. At Coco De Mer. coco-de-mer.com).
Push your fingers between her toes, then flick your tongue round the base of each; at last, take them one by one into your mouth and suck them. Suck them harder, now bite them up to the tips; with one hand caress her legs, and stroke her shut pussy.
As you eat her toes, and run the flat length of your tongue down her sole and trace circles around her ankle bone, apply harder, more rhythmic pressure to her clitoris. Bring her close to orgasm - but leave her hanging, frustrated; after all, this is a date between you and her feet - and repeat on the right side of her body. Decide if she should come. Maybe, if she begs.
Once she is wet and writhing in the chair, take the blindfold off. You might close her oily soles around your cock and let her masturbate you. Or you might take her seat in the chair, have her sit with your two big toes inside her (a pose known as barefoot contessa) and fellate you as gracious thanks for your worship.
Original article published in GQ Magazine, in January, 2012