Note: This interview first appeared on the now defunct WHIP! magazine.
The Gimp Man of Essex mixes all that is fine about Essex: the dark seduction of Depeche Mode, the cheekiness of Denise Van Outen, the rubber-clad fetishness of Jessie J and, of course, the happy-go-luckiness of TV’s Ross Kemp.
If you haven’t seen or heard of him before then here’s a little blurb:
TGMOE is a pop up fetishist who can suddenly appear out of the blue in towns all over Essex (and sometimes in various boroughs of London). Dressed head to toe in latex, he brings joy to the public while also raising funds for mental health charity MIND.
And he’s even had tattoos inked in his honour!
It’s taken us a long time, but after a couple years of stalking him we’ve finally got around to interviewing him.
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Gimp Man of Essex…
Firstly, what made you slip on the suit and get out there?
I originally had a fierce urge to wear rubber in public. I had tried going out in latex jeans but nobody batted an eyelid. I then had the idea of going out it total enclosure. I thought hard about it and made sure I was not breaking any decency laws etc. I also decided to go out during the day so as to avoid school kids and also remain safe in broad daylight. I built myself up until I could not wait any longer went for it!
How did that very first appearance in public feel? Where was it and were you nervous beforehand? How did it go?
The gimp’s first outing was to the Essex town of Colchester. I parked at the top of a multi storey car park that was empty. I then got ready and apprehensively tottered down the stairs to the ground floor and out onto the street. My first 100 metres were covered nervously, but I was getting cheered and whistled and my confidence grew. Within minutes I was strolling around full of the joys!
What has the best adventure and response been from the public? Have you had any special requests?
The best response has been Basildon and Clacton on sea. The people at both of these towns really made a fuss of the gimp and were constantly stopping him for photos and to chat.
You’ve been doing this for a couple of years now – how has the adventure changed in that time?
The gimp has existed for over three years now. In that time I have found people are quite used to him, and even those who haven’t heard of him are cool with him being about. I suppose in that time the “edge” has worn off slightly, but I don’t want to take chances, I need him to stay kinky but vanilla friendly, if you know what I mean?
I hope you don’t me asking, but why did you pick MIND as a charity to fundraise for? What has MIND’s response been to your fundraising adventures?
I had a conversation with a photographer lady about using the gimp for charity. She suggested Mid & North Essex MIND, I had a look into what they were doing and having been through some depression in the past I decided I would fund raise for them.
What has been your favourite day out so far?
My favourite day out so far? Hmm, I reckon the second time I went out. It was with a lovely lady photographer around Colchester. We were taking lots of photos and I think it attracted even more attention than the gimp being on his own as they could ask her what was happening rather than approaching the gimp. The only downside was it was 25 degrees and we managed an hour and a half before we had to cut it. If it had been cooler I reckon the gimp could have done the whole afternoon!
How quickly can you get into your outfit?
I have the dressing down to a fine art. If I dress from scratch it takes me around ten to fifteen minutes. I normally find a quiet spot so I can get the suit, boots, hood, gloves and accessories on and get out of the car had have a quick polish up.
How do you deal with any wardrobe malfunctions that arise? How much maintenance does your outfit need with all the hours of service it puts in? Do you ever have to stop and polish?
A wardrobe malfunction can put an instant stop to a walkabout. I have had two suits split and my hood nose separated once. Luckily these have always happened before I have set off, so mission aborted!
The suit needs some maintenance. I make sure it is thoroughly washed after every use to remove body oils, dried, talced up and siliconed ready for next time. I always check for any possible weak spots, I had a suit with just a front zip that stopped at the bottom of the crotch rather than going round to the top of my bottom. I found that with all the walking this created a weak spot on the crotch which showed up with the dreaded white sweat running down my legs! I had a patch put in to prevent it tearing and strengthen it.
For the fetish fashionistas out there, where do you get your suit from?
The gimp is on his third suit. The very first was a Murray and Vern suit. After that I needed one fast and bought one from Swiss rubber on Ebay. That one lasted well and went pop in November 2015. I sent a couple of messages out to see what was available quickly and Libidex kindly donated the gimp a new suit. He went to the Liberation shop to collect it and was treated like a king! He went for a nice walk about around Covent garden to celebrate! So his suit is Libidex, as is the hood. The gloves are chlorinated items from Ebay. He used to wear toe socks but the Libidex suit has feet so they are not worn now.
Finally, what is next for the gimp?
What is next for the gimp? As this gimping thing is squeezed into the daytime it is difficult to say. I do like the idea of just turning up unannounced in a town and taking people by surprise. I asked people on my page what they would like to see the gimp do but most people are happy with him as he is. I mean a half marathon in mid July is most certainly out of the question. Also there is the need to remain anonymous as family and friends do not know this side of me!
It would be nice to see a few others doing this up and down the country, almost like a gimp franchise! Most people who do go public in latex find it addictive. It provokes a nice reaction from most people, if you use common sense and watch peoples reactions you learn to stay away from those who don’t like the look of you but speak to those who do. It is far easier then people think and definitely one for the rubberist’s bucket list!
Run along to The Gimp Man’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more info. Please also visit his Just Giving page as soon as you can. Your donation to MIND will go a long way.