Kink to the rescue

Detroit's Exotic 4 to take over Clutch Cargo's - and merge many walks of life.

By Chris Azzopardi

If a cowboy is hanging with some leather daddies at Exotica 4, it's a triumph in Vena's eyes - and the start to solving larger social issues?

"I always thought that if the rest of the society were to adopt some of the atmosphere that we enjoy at Exotica, there would be a lot more acceptance in this world," says Vena, co-founder of the fourth Exotica Expo and Masquerade Ball, which occurs Nov. 7-9 at Clutch Cargo's in Pontiac.

A half dozen designers and fetish performers will get their kink on at the erotic event - one of the largest and most celebrated in the U.S. The Expo, with 4,500 folks expected, will feature 35 daytime and 15 night vendor booths from the nation's top fetish and erotic companies. Workshops will explore fetish photography, belly dancing, rope suspension and how to introduce your partner to BDSM. The Detroit Erotic Arts Collaborative will also host a two-day erotic/fetish photo shoot and exhibit with over 100 of the nation's top models and photographers.

For Los Angeles-based Vena, a transgender fetish model since 1999, Exotica is her Malawi baby. She, along with her local biz partner (and BFF) Ally Stapleton, spends 100-plus hours a week planning, promoting, negotiating and losing sleep over the event. She takes every measure to ensure guests are treated with every ounce of respect - no matter who they are, or what they like to do in bed.

"The LGBT community is my community," she says, "so I naturally chose to combine the two worlds."

This year, even with a growing number of overseas patrons, Exotica teamed with Skin Two Magazine, a UK-based fetish publication, which will cover the event. Vena and Stapleton, the founder of local alternative model/talent agency Chaos Productions, also made a conscious effort to become more involved with the BDSM lifestyle, enhancing the public play dungeon and adding workshops to each of the three days.

Vena wants Exotica 4 to be an example for the rest of the world: "It's a time to stop separating the straight, vanilla, gay, transgender groups," she says, "and give people a place where you're accepted for who you are."

Exotica Expo and Masquerade Ball

Nov. 7-9

Clutch Cargo's, Pontiac

Chris Azzopardi is the entertainment editor at Between The Lines. To reach him, send an e-mail to

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