With Inquisition X only two short weeks away, the discovery of a previously hidden castle at Fox Studios came as a welcome surprise to the Leather Pride committee.

The following account is taken from the diary of one of the SLPA members who was there at the time.

As we turned around the corner, we saw a vast complex. A large stone castle, hundreds of years old. The towers rose into the sky with dark windows revealing little of the interior. A chill went down my spine.

We were all amazed. A castle? Right here in the middle of Sydney? How could this be? Our questions went unanswered. The castle had clearly been abandoned for some time, which raised more questions. Who had lived here and what did they do?

Several members of the expedition pushed open the gigantic doors which revealed a large interior chamber. As we entered, our torches produced eerie shadows on the stone walls. Further examination of the room gave us a few clues as to the origin of the castle. A rusty chain on the floor, an ominous-looking set of manacles -¦ there were strange inscriptions on the walls. During the night, we explored the castle and found four chambers, and each revealed something about their previous use.

To members of Sydney Leather Pride, this could only mean one thing. We had stumbled on a scene of torture and depravity from an earlier era -“ perhaps even going back to the 18th century. It was the perfect place for Inquisition X.

When the SLPA members returned to their office, they showed others a picture of the tower. Although the castle had been empty for several hundred years, a pair of hands in chains were clearly visible.

The 10th anniversary of Sydney Leather Pride Association’s (SLPA) dance party Inquisition is the major fundraising event for SLPA as well as a celebration of the leather lifestyle for both leather-women and leather-men. Held on Saturday 27 April, it is also the final event of Leather Pride Week 2002.

As this is the 10th anniversary, the SLPA party team have looked both to the past and the future when designing the party experience. Inquisition has always been a hardcore party where, once a year, partygoers shed their usual selves and reveal their wild side. This is the second time the party has been held at the Hordern Pavilion, and the venue allows the space and scope to build on the last two parties to make Inquisition more of an experience than simply a party.

This year’s Inquisition will be sensational, said Sue Lord, Inquisition X party producer. The party and production teams have all worked hard to present a party that will stand apart from all other Inquisitions. As it’s the 10th anniversary, we have created a party that will be remembered for its imposing scenic, spectacular lighting and twisted shows. Partygoers should be prepared to be impressed.

DJs for the night are Gavan Bright, Mandy Rollins, Mike Kelly and Feisty in the main room; and Chip, Jason Leahy and Annabelle Gaspar in the chill-out area. The party production team are joined by producer Sue Lord, fresh from her success with F*ck Fashion; lighting designer Jamie Ivarsen, whose lighting work has been seen at Mardi Gras 2002, Redemption and Beyond parties; show producer Gil Douglas; and scenic designer Stefan Elliott.

Elliott’s most recent works have been the 2002 Mardi Gras parade floats for John Marsden and the Sydney Star Observer tribute to Richard Wherrett, but he was also behind the lead float for Mardi Gras 2000 and the re-design of the Rose of Australia cocktail lounge in Erskineville. Elliott is also a member of the scenic sub-committee of the Mardi Gras party Committee.

It’s an experience you cannot get by going to Mardi Gras or Frisky or Sleaze, Elliott admits. In fact, Inquisition is a party of an altogether different nature.

Elliott says he wouldn’t be surprised if partygoers had trouble finding their way out of the dance space. Expect to forget yourself, he warned. You could do laps and still not know where you are.

Lighting designer Jamie Ivarsen is thrilled about the approaching party, saying that while it has been hard work, due to a short series of deadlines, it has nevertheless been fun and exciting. Some of the stuff we have been coming up with is amazing, he enthused. We’ve gone for a much stronger theme for the 10th anniversary and there will be consistency from the moment you arrive at the party.

Each space will be coloured and lit differently because each room is different, he explained. We are lighting every space the way we imagined that room to look and, without giving too much away, it will be visually stunning, will create an exciting atmosphere and the main lighting on the main dancefloor -¦ well, we certainly are pulling out all stops to make it exceed everyone’s expectations.

Show producer Gil Douglas says, at the risk of sounding clich? there’s something for everyone. The shows? They’re wild and wonderful, sick and twisted -“ just like me! he laughs. They’re visually stimulating and sexy, dark and dirty.

No one special stars in the shows because they’re created by the community for the community, Douglas explains. All the people who are appearing are practitioners, if you like, from the leather, underground, specialised community that this party particularly caters to. There are also those special punchy moments -“ effective theatrical moments enhanced by the lighting and music -“ which will shock and pleasure everyone.

There was a recent film about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, Elliott mused, and in the manner of that film, we expose practices of secret guilds within our castle whose traditions and practices have been developed over centuries and which now can be experienced by intrepid partygoers. Expect a collision of legendary institutions, of days gone by with a contemporary feel.

Elliott would not elaborate on the four spaces hinted at by the SLPA committee, saying only that in terms of desired experiences, the party would be something like a choose your own adventure story. Where you go to in terms of the adventure is up to you, Elliott explained. Partygoers will be able to move swiftly from one experience to the next -“ from intense to chilled to celebratory to dark. We don’t want to prejudice anyone’s expectations, but expect some challenges in the manner of an 18th century castle.

Don’t miss this one, Sue Lord concludes. It will be talked about for a long time, so dress for the occasion.

In keeping with past years, ticket sales are kept well below capacity for the Hordern as SLPA want to make full use of the space for encounters and pleasures.



Tickets for Inquisition X ($85, $65 concession) are available from Mephisto Leather, Karnal Leather, Radical Leather, Hares & Hyenas (Melbourne) and the Toolsheds at Darlinghurst and Newtown. Concessions are available only from Radical Leather.

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