"He's new. Wearing a polyester number from Burton's. Looks cheap. Not like that one over there. Savile Row, he got that from, for sure."
It is 11 PM in a cellar in the bowels of King's Cross, in the center of London—specifically, the still-slightly-ropey area round the back of the station. Doug, my hairy, red-faced guide, dressed in a natty brown three-piece suit and bright purple tie, pauses for a breather. He mops the sweat from his brow with a silk handkerchief. He is visibly excited, and no wonder: Doug is a suit fetishist, and we are at City Boys, London's premier (and, it seems, only) party for men who like to cruise in a tuxedo or perfectly-pressed trousers, dress shirt, and blazer.
The venue we're in hosts a number of the capital's more offbeat special interest parties; it's something of a last bastion of sleazy London in a part of town that's been all-but gentrified in the last few years. Tonight, though, the sight of a load of mainly middle-aged men standing around and sipping bottled beer in suits makes the place look more like it's been hired out for a risk assessment conference than a fetish party.
However, the video screens dotted around the room tell a different story, beaming out movies from the suit porn studio Men At Play. As a club remix of Marc Almond's "Worship Me Now" pulses in the background, a guy in suspenders is shown having sex with a second guy in a pinstripe number.
In the gloom of the basement bar, which is divided up by black drapes hung from the ceiling to create curtained-off play areas, the sophistication of the guests' attire ranges from baggy, charity shop pleated trousers scuffed at the knees to immaculately-pressed Kilgour two-pieces with cutaway collared shirts and lush, expansive double-Windsor knotted Hermes ties. Tie and pocket square hues range from solid Square Mile blues and yellows to intricate paisley. So what is it exactly about suits that some people find such a turn on, and is it a fetish of the same order as, say, rubber or latex appreciation?
Jamie McDonald, who mans the cloakroom tonight and has worked at the club for five years, says that suit fetish is much more subtle.
"Ideas of a fetish are something out of the ordinary and 'kinky,' yet something as mundane as a suit, or feet, even fingers, for some, can be a fetish. I wouldn't necessarily call it subversive if someone wants to look smart and enjoy a natural pleasure."
And yet, presumably there is more to it than that. Anyone hoping to join the US website suitandtiefetish.com is faced with nearly 40 questions about their suit-related kinks, ranging from the relatively innocuous "Do you like silky suit coat linings, vest, and waistcoat backings?" to the more telling "Is looking at men in suits in catalogues and on the internet like looking at porn to you?" to the downright explicit "Do you cum on suit clothing?" and "Are you into suit bondage?"
Certainly, many of the men I speak to at City Boys are extremely particular about the cut and feel of their own suits, and those of the guys they seek to interact with in the club's darker corners. I ask Jamie how many of the regulars are hardcore suit and tie fetishists as opposed to dabblers just looking for a bit of action.
"About 95 percent are serious," he says. "As well as just enjoying wearing suits, they also enjoy quality materials; not just in suits, but in the shirts, ties, cufflinks, handkerchiefs, socks."
And do they find high-quality designer clobber more erotic than, say, something cheap and shiny?
"Definitely. Some of the guys have commented about the low quality suits on some 'newbies.'"
One of the striking things about the club is how formal—almost "straight"—it looks in comparison with other fetish parties I've been to. Until, that is, you explore some of the darker corners where all sorts of things are going on. Does that add to the excitement?
"That is an element which has been there since the beginning… and has appealed to guys, to cruise, flirt and take it further, should they choose."
Tom, the club's promoter, has more to say on what makes suits so appealing.
"I think the turn on is because it is not a typical gay fetish like leather or rubber. There is a link to the real world. Like with sportswear, you can wear it in your daily life, and nobody would even think that it is a fetish, or you get turned on wearing it. It's also about masculinity. For me, a guy in a suit looks very manly. Also, power and dominance plays a part within the suit fetish. There seems to always be a boss and an office boy who has to work that little bit harder to please his boss."
I ask Tom what his strangest encounter at the club has been over the years.
"One night, there was a gorgeous young guy here. I started talking to him, and he told me that he was working at an investment bank in the city. He seemed very straightforward, and five minutes later, I found myself with him in one of the darker corners of the venue. After we'd finished our business, he told me he had to go because his girlfriend was waiting for him. I never saw him again, but it was one of the best encounters I ever had. I just wonder how he explained the stains on his suit to his girlfriend."
By now, it's after midnight, and most of the men who aren't getting to know each other in the two dungeon areas at the back of the club are standing around, beer in hand, cautiously eyeing one another in the hope of getting some action. I take the opportunity to ask Doug where he bought his outfit.
"This? Oh, it's Primark."
But you look like the kind of guy who'd spend considerably more on looking good.
"Well, I normally do. But what I'm really into is getting pissed on while wearing a suit. So it makes no sense to spend much."
"Best night I ever had was when I met this beautiful Swedish man with a huge beard. I dared him not to go to the toilet for the whole night. Finally, he pissed on me, in me suit, and it was like the heavens opening. I walked home wringing wet with a smile on my face that night, I can tell you."
As Doug stares wistfully into his pint of cider, I make my excuses and leave the denizens of City Boys to their exceptionally well-dressed play. In a city like London, where people have such varied tastes and yet so many venues that previously accommodated those tastes are being closed down, it is heartening that an event as niche as City Boys is still thriving.
Names have been changed. CITY BOYS runs the first Friday of every month at Central Station, from 7 PM to midnight.