Jed Phoenix is a self-described Queer-Techno-Fetish-Punk (Q-T-F-P). Her style and identity draw on differing, sometimes overlapping interests in her life. This consciously avoids simplistic categorisation and the uniformity of single subcultural identities in favour of an assertive individualism. In an oral history interview for Brighton & Hove Museums Renegade collection she explains her style and identity:
‘My influences are the queer side of things because I came out as queer when I was in my late teens. I’d sooner label myself, if I need to use any labels myself, as queer, as opposed to gay….queer just sums up an awful lot of other things as well….Queer is a sexuality thing and it’s a lifestyle thing as well. The Fetish is important because I was involved in, been involved in a Fetish scene for about seven years; done lots of performances in the Fetish scene. Techno because I like techno music and Punk because I’m on the edge and a bit subversive so it has to be the whole Queer-Techno-Fetish-Punk.’
Jed Phoenix, oral history interview, OH000118
The Queer Lifestyle
Queer identity began to emerge in the early 1990s as a radical rejection of the blanket term ‘gay’ and its assimilationist culture. Many felt that the term gay had outlived its use, having come to represent the limited interests of a middle-class white male identity. Overtly political, Queer opened up the possibilities of an identity or identities based on difference, giving a voice or visibility to those who were marginalised by, or disagreed with the mainstream gay scene and its commercial interests. Queer suggested a rethinking of gender, sexual and political identities, and of the assimilationist stance taken by the mainstream gay lobby.
The Q-T-F-P outfit in Brighton Museum’s Renegade collection was worn by Jed Pheonix and designed by her under her clothing label Obscure Labels. It is an example of how the four different influences in her identity are brought together in one outfit.
Queer-Techno-Fetish-Punk is a fusion of different styles and designs. Brighton & Hove Museums’ Renegade collection contains garments worn by Jed Pheonix, a self-titled Queer-Techno-Fetish-Punk, made by her company Obscure Labels. These clothes reveal the influences of Punk style, Techno music, the Fetish scene and Queer lifestyle.
A love of techno music and clubbing has inspired this top (right). The detachable sleeves with plastic fastenings, appliquéd motifs and rubber horns are all features of modern day clubbing design. They reflect the cyber or futuristic influence that is inherent in the technology and sound of techno music itself. The detachable sleeves and the soft fabric of the t-shirt also reflect the need for comfort when clubbing.
Punk and Fetish
Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s Punk bondage trousers, originally designed in the mid 1970s for their label Seditionaries, have influenced the design of Q-T-F-P trousers (below). Both feature bondage straps and a bum flap, however there are key differences; the original Seditionaries trousers had a single bondage strap between the legs, whereas on these trousers bondage straps run the length of each leg, and are made from modern webbing fabric with plastic fastenings. As Jed explains all the straps mean that ‘one size fits all so they’re expandable and just versatile’.
Q-T-F-P hair styles are also influenced by the dyed mohicans and shaved heads of punks. Jed Phoenix describes her hairstyle:
‘It’s always glued and painted spiky, quite harsh spikes. I can almost have someone’s eye out. Shave it twice a week, sit in the bath for an hour every week to wash it out. I mix the paint with the glue and then just sort of twist my hair into the two separate little rows of spikes using a paintbrush.’
Practicality is also consideration in the Q-T-F-P look. As Jed Phoenix explains:
‘(I wear) combat boots because I can drive in them, I can’t drive in stacks although I do have a few pairs…I’ve got a pair of DMs that I’ve kind of customised…(but) I don’t wear them very often ‘cos they’re not as chunky…I prefer to wear combat boots.’
Oral history interview in Brighton & Hove Museums’ Renegade collection, OH000118
Queer Techno Fetish Punk outfit worn by Jed Phoenix, 1999
This outfit was worn by Jed Phoenix and designed by her for her clothing range Obscure Labels. It is a fusion of four different styles and influences: Punk style, Techno music, the Fetish scene and Queer lifestyle.
The outfit is part of Brighton & Hove Museums’ Renegade collection, which illustrates the history of subcultures in Brighton. It includes, from top to bottom:
Black top with rubber appliqué and red cotton sleeves with detachable sleeves, CT003904
Black cotton pinstripe bondage trousers with red lining, nylon webbing straps and quick-release fastenings, CT003906
Black leather combat boots, CT003907
Brighton & Hove Museums’ Renegade collection has one complete outfit made by Obscure Labels which illustrates the Queer-Techno-Fetish-Punk style. The founder Jed Phoenix explains her inspiration:
‘A lot of it I’ve designed myself without any training, so that’s sort of like a punk influence … The clothing started out as printed t-shirts with an obscure font [lettering]. It was basically because of the fragmentation of labels because you can be called something like Queer or Anarchist or Lunatic but it doesn’t tell the whole story and so I fragmented the letters to make it a bit more obscure. And then I can have like little pin-on panels saying things like Not Well Suited To Work, Anti-Establishment etc. So that’s how it started. And then the sleeves, the detachable sleeves came into play and that involves webbing, quick-release straps. It’s quite a fetishy kind of bondagy, punky sort of thing. Trousers with lots of straps as well, one size fits all so they’re expandable and just versatile basically.’
Oral history interview for Brighton& Hove Museums’ Renegade collection, OH000118