(Editor’s Note: This interview with model and latex fashion designer Caliente was conducted back in August 2012 by Tom Heckbert for the now-defunct website Eyestrane.com. It’s been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Tom.)
Caliente was born in 1982 (no secret), grew up in the Bavarian gingerbread city Nuremberg, and actually does not consider herself a real “model.” She writes:
So, what, who am I? Well, I am a German latex fetishista and I like photo shoots. Somebody described me a very long time ago:
“Beneath my facade a little bit ambivalent and emotionally severely disabled person … a versatile, individual mix of freaky insanity, realism, sarcasm, strenuous oppositions and pure joy of life.”
In 2008, the Virtual bar became a reality in Berlin and I fell in love with this special material – latex.
My Ex-boyfriend Ronny Thiele SYB (strip-your-brain.com) is a well known German (fetish) photographer from Karlsruhe. He convinced me, in 2008, to model in my first photo shoot ever in my life. I really enjoyed it and subsequently had most of my photo shoots with him. Due to having little or no time for shoots in between work and life, I rarely do shoots anymore. I am also not buyable or bookable; it just has to be the right, passionate photographer and the right time/place for me to do it anymore. Actually, nearly all the photographers I used to work with became friends of mine and it was always a pleasure to work with them (Andi Bell of rebell-arts.de, Jules Kramer of fetish-fotos.de, Swen Brandt, Carnivore Pictures, and some others).
In 2010, I moved to Stuttgart and started a webshop for latex wear from different manufacturers as a side job. I failed, due to having no time to devote to it. In 2011, I got married to the best man in the world. Unfortunately it’s not easy for a fetish-girl to find an honest and true man.
Since March of 2012, we have lived in Shenzhen, China and will be here until March, 2014. Yes, I am learning Mandarin!
I have always been bothered by the mostly very high prices of stylish and fashionable latex clothes. Everything I like is always too expensive.
Now my husband (Latextronic) and I design our own pieces exclusively for Latex Catfish. Our label is called “Froschkönig”/“Froschkoenig” (from the novel The Frog King from the German brothers Grimm), which will be launched this autumn. I also model for Latex Catfish. Latex Catfish produces premium latex wear “made in China” for reasonable prices and it is a pleasure to cooperate with them.
EYESTRANE: Caliente, it is a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell us a little about how you first “discovered” latex and what you thought about it the first time you put it on? How did you feel?
CALIENTE: I actually loved the material rubber for a very long time. The smell, the texture, e. g. rubber bands fascinated me. As a teenager, I also always enjoyed wearing the tightest cotton jeans and tops. I liked the pressure. I discovered latex clothing 2008 in Berlin. Draven, thank you for the doors you have opened for me. I literally fell in love with my first latex piece; a black dress. Amazing pressure, perfect fit and beautiful shiny material. I love tight latex clothing. Actually, I was scared to wear the dress because I was scared that others might recognize my abnormal fetish. I was very confused and insecure.
EYESTRANE: What do you like now about latex clothing?
CALIENTE: I like wearable latex clothing. Wearable for parties, dancing, clubbing, not only for “playing” or “at home” usage. With my designs, I would like to show that latex clothing doesn’t have to look “slutty” or is only made for “erotic usage.” For me, latex doesn’t automatically mean “sex/erotic.” For me, latex is simply an absolutely fantastic and unique material. I know it’s hard to wear latex if you are not a fetishist, so I am aware it might never ever become “regular fashion/wear.” I personally love latex and therefore my designs are results of my passion. I love tight latex that smooths onto me like a second skin; a shiny, perfect, firm skin and I still adore the smell of it. I don’t like thick latex because to me it’s uncomfortable.
EYESTRANE: Do you remember your first fetish photo shoot with your ex-boyfriend? What is it that you liked about modeling?
CALIENTE: Yes, I remember. Actually I felt pretty “misplaced“ because my self-esteem was, and sometimes is, pretty low. He always showed me the pictures in between the photo shoots and I actually didn’t really realize it was me. Most times I still don’t like myself on photos. Photo shoots gave me a different view of myself and a little bit more self-esteem. Furthermore, I am fascinated by photography, art and architecture since being a child. I love what photographers are able to create! Working with light, technique, and sometimes even without any retouching/Photoshopping.
EYESTRANE: Since then, you have turned your love of latex into a business with your husband. What are some of the challenges to designing with latex that you may not have with other materials?
CALIENTE: Latex is a very special material and not all cuts/designs are possible to be produced. For me the most difficult part is the zipper. Any garment feels so much more comfortable without any zippers but if you actually would like to wear your outfit for some time you simply need at least one. We don’t glue or produce ourselves, we only provide our ideas and drawings.
EYESTRANE: What about other material like rubber or PVC? Are they more difficult to work with or harder to wear than latex?
CALIENTE: Latex actually is very, very thin rubber and a natural material. PVC is an artificial material which I only like for shoes/heels. In my opinion PVC is pretty rough, not smooth, no smell. It’s just kind of hard “plastic.” I guess PVC is much easier to work with but I have never tried because it’s not my fetish.
EYESTRANE: Is all latex created equal? I’ve heard that the very latexy smell is evidence of poor quality material.
CALIENTE: Not all latex sheets are the same quality. There are high differences in production and also in price. Low quality sheets come with a lot of stains, flaws, enclaves, etc. High quality sheets should not have any stains or enclaves but due to being a natural product it still might occur. I have never heard of the latexy smell to be evidence of poor quality. The typical rubber smell is unique and should actually be evidence for natural material with high quality. Just imagine a household rubber band … the rubber smell is unique and I personally only worry if latex smells different than that smell.
EYESTRANE: Are there any special things to look for, like flaws that may occur in latex that the layman might not think of? How much wear and tear is reasonable before an item rips?
CALIENTE: Latex is a very reliable and elastic material (e. g. condoms). Some catsuits even have a “neck-entry” which means you can stretch the neck-hole to slide inside the catsuit. There are no zippers at all. You need to have some power to do that but the material is definitely very stretchable and elastic. Still there are some things that should be avoided. Furthermore latex requires some care.
- Sharp or hard materials can cut the latex (fingernails, jewellery, etc.)
- Any kind of metal should be kept very, very far away from latex. Even stainless steel can flaw light latex colors. These stains are not removable! Nevertheless if metal should be needed on a garment I wrap paper around it to protect the latex from it.
- Sunlight can harm latex and bleach colors.
- Too much water can destroy the texture of latex (e. g. too high humidity).
- Sweat can destroy the material. Therefore it is necessary to carefully wash the clothes from both sides after every time you wear it. I rinse my clothes very carefully with not too hot water. After cleaning I prepare a bucket with water and a few drops of silicone oil. I pull my clothes trough this mixture and tap around a little bit to ensure the oil can reach evenly. Afterwards I let dry (really dry) from both sides on plastic hangers. White stains might appear after washing but those will disappear once completely dry. Due to the oil-bath my garment will shine and be easy to put on.
- Oil and additives (perfume, hairspray, etc.) also can destroy latex. I only use silicone oil for my latex.
- If you fold your latex and store like this for a very long time the latex might break on the knit-line.
- If you hang your latex (plastic or wooden hangers) it might stretch out.
- I store my latex clothes: lying, dark and dry. Every single piece wrapped in a plastic bag to avoid any staining or flawing.
EYESTRANE: Do you think part of the point of wearing latex is to feel constricted and slightly uncomfortable?
CALIENTE: No, I love to wear latex and feel very comfortable. I don’t wear latex for bondage reasons. I guess people who don’t like the material, people without latex fetish will definitely feel highly uncomfortable due to the pressure, the sweating, etc.
EYESTRANE: Latex is a lot about empowerment, strength and sexiness. Do you think you could create very soft, delicate, romantic pieces?
CALIENTE: Yes! In my opinion latex must not always be sexy and kinky and “pervy.” Nevertheless, it is very hard to design something really soft, delicate and romantic due to the material characteristic. For our first collection I have designed a very special dress based on my self-designed taffeta wedding dress.
EYESTRANE: Latex designer, Atsuko Kudo has designed latex wear for idols like Lady Gaga and Grace Jones, supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell and even Olympians like Jessica Ennis have worn dresses for photo shoots. Do you think that latex is becoming more accepted in the mainstream?
CALIENTE: Yes it is becoming more accepted but still a lot of people don’t actually know that latex is rubber. A lot of people think latex is shiny spandex material and some don’t know the difference between PVC and latex. Especially people outside the fetish or BDSM scene are not very familiar with that. I think latex will never become mainstream due to its characteristics. I think if someone doesn’t have a latex fetish its very uncomfortable to wear (sweating, intense care required, smell, pressure, etc.).
EYESTRANE: Are there any artists, models, photographers or designers that inspire you?
CALIENTE: I am inspired by a lot of people and mostly they are not famous. Of course I adore Lady Gaga but I also am a huge fan of “real-life” people mostly from the German fetish scene.
EYESTRANE: How did you first meet your husband and did he share the same interests as you?
CALIENTE: My husband also is a latex fetishist and we have met through this same passion.
EYESTRANE: How has been your experience living in China? How have you adapted to the culture? The food?
CALIENTE: Even China is very different from Germany I think I have adapted quite well so far. This experience already enriched my life and I will never forget!
EYESTRANE: When did you first begin working with Latex Catfish? Can you tell us a little about your design process and the way it will be manufactured?
CALIENTE: We began working with Catfish after we have ordered from them for the first time in June 2012. The excellent quality of latex and workmanship really surprised us and we wanted to know the people behind this great work. Due to having so much design ideas in our heads we decided to establish our own label “Froschkoenig.” We create new designs and provide our drawings, ideas and details (colors, thickness, etc.). Catfish then produces the prototypes first on our fit. Every item is produced by hand, not only prototypes. Due to the high quality standard and long experience with this material Catfish is able to always deliver premium products – and therefore also the best possible partner for us to cooperate with. For product pictures we have photo shoots with Catfish and besides taking the photos we already discuss more designs and ideas. It is a pleasure to cooperate with them and I simply love what we are able to create together.
EYESTRANE: Can you tell us a little about what we can expect from your upcoming line?
CALIENTE: In September the new Catfish shop will be launched including shopping-basket and many new products. Our first collection will be available – there will be flowers, transparency, kink and noble classy … I hope you are ready – you should not miss!
EYESTRANE: What are some of the things you like to do in your free time?
CALIENTE: modeling, movies (horror, splatter, thriller, animation and documentations), drawing, art and dancing (electro-music, minimal, reggaeton). Besides I also love to cook!
EYESTRANE: Tell us about some of the things you have achieved you are proudest of.
CALIENTE: Latex Catfish: LatexCatfish.com.