Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Rubber coats have been around for a very long time...perhaps the very first item of rubber wear was the eponymous Macintosh,when Victorian inventor,Charles Macintosh covered his overcoat with black latex rubber to shelter him from the rain. As mentioned in a previous blog entry,the stuff was not very stable and on warm days the rubber would begin to rot and smell. It took Charles Goodyear to perfect vulcanisation of rubber and thereby make his millions. Along with rubber wellington boots,the first rubber raincoats were eagerly bought by a Victorian world without plastics or any of the modern waterproof fabrics. Oilskins had been used by sailors for centuries,but were heavy and a bit messy as they were basically just oil, grease or tar rubbed into cloth! Suddenly everyone could be protected from the elements. This might not sound too vital in drier climes,but in places like Britain where rain can be both unpredictable,ferocious and long lived,rubber clothing was a great boon. The earliest rubber material was wigan...cotton with rubber impregnated and many of the early designs try to allow for the coat to breathe as being under such a coat could make you sweat pretty fast!
There are plenty of wet places in the world outside the UK and the damper North Americans from the 1880's pretty soon took to wearing all manner of interesting rubber apparel from slickers to leggings,rubber hats and caps,galoshes of all kinds along with rubber boots and waders. A Sears Roebuck catalog of the time shows page after page of rubber clothing for all ages from children to the infirm. And of course all kinds of 'vital' medical items could be bought such as enema equipment,douches,corsets,incontinence aids and even rubber face masks to improve the complexion[!]
Macintoshes were always an important item of fetish gear. The Victorians must have first admired their ladies in shiny heavy rubber coats and found them interesting! Of course many gay men were interested in the gear other men were wearing and once again we have the associative interest in their gear. A large man in a heavy shiny macintosh,perhaps worn with waders,looks pretty homoerotic to me... Several different kinds of coat designs emerged. One was a kind of military double breasted coat,very similar to the fine leather coats worn by military officers. with maybe a high neck,wide chest flaps, cuffs,epaulettes,lots of pockets,a belt and tapered waists,these were the royalty of rubber coats. Even Motorcyclists in the UK often wore macs up until the 60's...Another more utilitarian look were for workmen and were pretty simple single breasted but heavy rubber coats,such as that produced by the Canadian Black Diamond company until the 1990's. Many were simple button seals but some of the American firemens rubber coats had interesting clips.
Sadly rubber coats have been largely superceded by newer fabrics which perhaps do the job better such as plastic and pvc,being lighter,or able to 'breathe' so you do not get soaked by sweat underneath. But there is a look and a mystique about a guy in a rubber coat...shiny and alluring that can never be replaced. Macs have a well deserved reputation for 'kinkiness' whether it be for flashing in parks,visiting a sex club or cinema to allow a quiet spot of self abuse, or just for parading around admiring the effect of the ripples of light coming off the folds as you move about. A strange fetish variety I have never heard of until recently were 'flutter freaks'....people who get turned on by seeing coats move in the wind!
Some rubber macintoshes are still made of course, for a discerning fetish market. Companies like 'Weather Vain' and 'Lakeland Elements' in the UK make a vast selection,mainly it would seem,with ladies in mind,though I am assured they do macs for men and made to measure gear also. I'd guess they have a range of rubber materials in various colours from latex to rubber impregnated cotton .I've often fantasized about having something made for me such as the Micro drawing on the top of the right column of this blog,but expense always puts me off... Rubber manufacturers like Regulation make a rubber coat,as do Invincible. These are made from latex,though I am a little dubious about the appearance. Latex does not tend to hang so well, and there is a danger of resembling a large fruit bat if you are not too careful! Far better to my mind are industrial rubber coats such as the Black Diamond ones [if you can find one!] or rubber riding coats. PVC coats seem to hang quite well too and look interesting.The Acme of rubber coats for me I guess would be the US Rubber Fireman's coat,now rarer than hen's teeth!
Chatting with an old mate the other day I remenisced about the early days in the UK of gay rubber in the 1970's...The Rubbermens Club and even the long established str8 Macintosh Society where guys guiltily and secretly [to my mind!] met after work in their business suits,putting on a rubber mac and wellies which they had kept in a locked briefcase all day at work [and me being moaned at for insisting in coming to the clubs in full rubber as 'perverts like you give all us guys a bad name'!] How different the world of tomorrow [now] with nightclubs of 300 guys in rubber can cavort around having all the fun they want!