Matt Cavagnino
23.08.22
Education

Melbourne Rubberman 2021 with Matt Cavagnino

Unlike other fetish fashion Rubber is sexy, colourful, inclusive and fun for everyone according to its growing community. Melbourne Rubberman 2021, Matt Cavagnino talks us through the fun, joy and inclusivity of this skin like material and the booming culture around it.

Do you remember your first experience with latex? Was it the rubber gimp in American Horror Story? Was it Violet Chacki (with rubber puppy in tow) modeling latex for Richard Quinn earlier this year? Perhaps, most famously, it was the femme-fatale, rubber-clad Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns? Superheroes? Pop superstars?


Regardless of what popular cultural reference you were exposed to, the world of rubber and latex is now present more than ever. And with that, a curiosity for this strange material. What about it - so shiny and skintight - that makes people fixate on it as a way of life?


Who am I? I’m Matt (He/They), I hold the title of Melbourne Rubberman 2021. I’m also the current president of Melbourne Rubber, Australia’s largest community group for latex enthusiasts. Melbourne Rubber is the place to call home for those who embrace an inclusive approach to rubber. We believe rubber is for anybody who is turned on by it. We value diversity, and welcome all genders, sexualities, races and abilities. I’ve been involved with the latex and fetish community for nearly a decade, and I’ve learned to not only embrace my fetish further as the years have gone by, but appreciate how latex is the future of fetish for queer folk. That’s a pretty bold statement you may be wondering. By the end of this article, you may see why!

Let’s start off with the most important (and often confusing) question; do I call it rubber, or latex? The answer is - both! The simplest way to view it is latex - the actual material is also called “rubber”, a synonym that has been stuck since the material first emerged as a manufactured product in the mid-20th century. Latex rubber (confusing I know), particularly non-vulcanised rubber, is used to create many things; medical gloves, condoms, and importantly, why you are here reading this article: clothing.

The allure of latex as clothing for people can come from a number of reasons - the feeling of having a skintight “second-skin”, the smell, the sensation of the material on your body, the endless options and opportunities for latex clothing that have taken inspiration from fashion trends over time is astounding. As I sit here writing this in my latex, I pause for a brief moment to take it all in. A sensation of ecstasy, feeling every inch of my skin brush and stretch against the rubber. The smell hits my senses and intensifies this urge. It’s one I’m accustomed to now after years of practice.

I feel as one - as if I’ve bonded with an alien organism and become ‘otherworldly.’ As I go about my business in the outside world, people stop and admire it. They vaguely know what it is. They’ve seen it before somewhere. Unlike the dominance of leather, latex has been in our cultural zeitgeist far longer than you would believe.

I feel as one - as if I’ve bonded with an alien organism and become ‘otherworldly.’ As I go about my business in the outside world, people stop and admire it. They vaguely know what it is. They’ve seen it before somewhere. Unlike the dominance of leather, latex has been in our cultural zeitgeist far longer than you would believe.


The 1960s saw rubber garments popularised throughout the underground BDSM scenes, but it had begun to seep outside of this intimate society into the mainstream. As Cassidy George wrote in their BBC Article From Fetish to Fashion: The Rise of Latex, “As rubber clothing increased in popularity, some wearers came to discover it was both pragmatic and sexually pleasurable.” Actresses' media appearances, like Diana Rigg in The Avengers television series, in numerous latex catsuits paved the way for fashion designers like Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren to bring latex into the world of fashion from the 1970s onwards. Today, fetish-inspired clothing is everywhere. With celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry donning it for mainstream media, latex has become more approachable and available for a wider audience.

Superheroes have played an important role in popular culture in supporting the allure of skintight clothing. Unlike the iconic erotic art of Tom of Finland, rubber has never had the archaic, muscle-bound leather Cop, Cowboy, or BLUF (Breeches and Leather Uniform Fanclub) stereotypes found in his artwork. Instead, spandex superheroes in their tight, risque, and always highly detailed mutli-coloured costumes, did the same for people over generations. By being transcendent across time, the concept of the superhero and the skintight outfit gives the individual a sense of invincibility - can they, like the fictional beings they idolise, be just as impenetrable?


But there is another impenetrability to latex that’s unmatched by any other fetish material - its accessibility. Unlike the traditions and protocols, however strict and old-guard they are found in the leather scene, there’s no real rules or regulations you have to live by to wear it, take part in it, do things in it. YOU make those rules. And here is the crux of this argument - it is not the material that makes the fetish; but the culture surrounding it. Rubber, in my opinion, is the contemporary choice for the modern kinkster. The absence of such rules allows for a celebration of all genders, sexualties, and identities. Much like the superheroes we idolise, rubber represents hope. Hope in a more inclusive future where we’re allowed to be who we want to be in fetish.


Melbourne Rubber has achieved this. Initially male-only, since we embraced everyone as an inclusive organisation we’ve found that our knowledge of rubber has increased ten-fold. In organising our events, I am often amazed with the response from individuals who would have never been to a rubber event, let alone a fetish event come up and say to me “because of this, I will go out and buy rubber” or “I never would have taken an interest in this if this event wasn’t so queer and diverse.” This is so important to hear that rubber appeals to a new generation; there’s a new fetish mindset of people willing to embrace change. Through making latex accessible, we show that rubber has a bright and beautiful future for fetish folk, queer or otherwise.

Initially male-only, since we embraced everyone as an inclusive organisation we’ve found that our knowledge of rubber has increased ten-fold. 

Rubber is here and now - I've found rubber, out of all other fetishgear to be super flamboyant, super serious, super camp, and everything in between. The dynamics of latex allows for it to be a celebration for all kinksters. To engage and explore with latex opens pathways never before considered, in public or private. Since it became a part of my world, it’s made me feel uniquely powerful - not in aesthetics, but in the thoughts, actions, and how I view things around me. As new generations of kinksters dominate the scene, I find the younger people gravitating towards latex in huge numbers. Is this because we find reinvention in ourselves by embracing such an intense, skin tight material, much like the superheroes we grew up idolising? Is it from embracing the accessibility potential for all people partaking? Only the future will tell, and you’ll find me there leading the charge.