Jeff of LA Interview
I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a pioneer in the rubber bondage scene, the head latex designer of the Stockroom, our own Jeff of LA. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did!
Lucky Lana: Let’s get to the nitty-gritty, shall we? Why rubber?
Jeff of LA: Rubber is sexy! It’s perfect for bondage, the feel, the texture of the material is so sensual. It really embraces your body. I like the super shiny look of it, the way it stretches and even the smell of it.
The first time I tried latex, an old boyfriend of mine locked a rubber hood over my head. It was the most intense experience! The rubber blocked out all the light, the smell was so sexy and it fit like a glove. And unlike leather, you don’t have to worry about making a mess! Ha!
Lucky Lana: Well said. How did you start working with latex?
Jeff of LA: It was kind of a fluke. I received a BFA from the Art Institute of Chicago and didn’t know what to do next. Art doesn’t usually pay the bills, you know. I then had a series of jobs that weren’t at all art related. I got bored with that.
When living in New York City, I was part of the 80’s Gay Leather scene. I hung out at the Spike, the Eagle, and the guy I was seeing was a founding member of the New York Bondage club so we spent a lot of time playing at those meetings. I was a wild time!
When I wasn’t at the leather bars, I was hanging out in the underground music scene, a lot of my friends were in punk/hardcore bands at that time. It’s funny, in both of those scenes the guys wore lots of leather!
I started going to San Francisco for the Folsom Street Fair- that was my favorite thing to do for my vacation. The week leading up to the fair is always fun, the city is full of leathermen.
At that time I had a very stressful job as the buyer for the largest bookstore in New York City. After several years of visiting, I fell in love with San Francisco, so I decided to say “Fuck it all” and move there!
The leather scene in New York was thinning out and San Francisco’s was exploding. I thought it was so cool to see guys walking around in full leather or rubber in the middle of the day! You’d never see that kind of thing in New York back in the late 80's.
I moved there without any idea of what I was going to do for a living. I just knew that I wanted to do something more creative than ordering books. I saw an ad the in one of the gay papers. There was a fetish company looking for a latex prep person. I went for the interview, and it turned out to be Mr. S. Leather. It was every gay leather boy’s fantasy job to work at Mr. S.
It was a basic introduction to latex. Excellent training. I was cutting, gluing zippers, whatever they needed me to do. The latex department was very new at that time. But within the first month, I was moved from prep into production.
Lucky Lana: How did you cross over into design?
Jeff of LA: I wanted to start designing for Mr. S, so my first project was rubber hoods. I was extremely naïve! I had no idea how complex a hood design could be. The face has so many different planes to it. Getting the fit right on the hood is really tricky. But I surprised myself, and it came out really well. They liked the hoods so much they asked me to design some more items.
Six months after that, the latex department’s supervisor went back to school, so they made me head of the department! In less than a year I went from the prep guy to designing latex and running the department. I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of serious rubber bondage gear at that time. Since bondage is one of my major kinks, I decided to focus heavily on designing more latex bondage gear. I designed the majority of the latex bondage items that they still sell. The latex items that I didn’t design, I repatterned or tweaked the design while I was there.
Lucky Lana: I heard you did designs for a few celebrities.
Jeff of LA: While I was at Mr. S, I made a whole line of outfits for Joan Jett for two of her tours. She is so nice, really down to earth. And I made all the rubber clothing in the movie 8mm. Joaquin Phoenix wears a t-shirt I designed, that was cool to see on the big screen! I’d love to do more of that.
Lucky Lana: How did you come to work at the Stockroom?
Jeff of LA: I decided to leave San Francisco because I had been spending more time in Los Angeles. I loved the weather in LA and was tired of all the fog and rain in San Francisco.
I was always a fan of the Stockroom site, but I noticed they didn’t have any latex items. So I approached Joel (the owner of the Stockroom) and proposed starting up a latex department from scratch. JT’s Stockroom gave me the freedom to design things the way I thought they should be designed.
I was able to use my 7 years of experience at Mr. S to design a line of latex bondage gear for JT’s Stockroom that was one step better than what I’d designed before. I saw a lot of room for improvement. I was able to create more functional, better looking, more efficient gear. I really believe that we make the best latex possible.
Lucky Lana: You’ve designed so much latex gear that we see all over the place, why don’t people know your name?
Jeff of LA: I am the famously anonymous latex designer! Ha! I’m pretty low key. I think there a few people out there that know about me, but I’ve never really promoted myself. My designs are everywhere, but no one knows who I am. It’s kind of cool to be anonymous! It’s also nice to get some recognition after all these years!
The first time I saw someone wearing one of my designs out in a bar I went up to the guy and told him how excited I was to see him wearing my design. The guy just gave me that look like, “ right buddy, sure you designed this!”
When I go online, I see my designs all over the internet. I love seeing pics of people enjoying my gear. I'm proud of my work. Most of my designs from Mr. S. and the Stockroom have been knocked off. I guess that old saying is true…. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But of course, they are not as well made. They take a lot of shortcuts and do it on the cheap.
Lucky Lana: What makes the Stockroom gear so special?
Jeff of LA: With my 12 of years of experience, I always want to improve on designs. I designed all the bondage items to fit better, with stronger construction techniques and to look much sexier looking.
For example, our sleepsack has a ten gauge zipper, as opposed to an eight gauge that our competitors use. It’s expensive, but twice as strong. If you turn our latex gear inside out, you will see that our zippers have are sealed onto the garment with latex zip guards. That’s a step that a lot of companies leave out.
I always like to design gear so that it is adjustable to different body types. For example, I use adjustable buckling collars instead of snap collars. It looks sexier too!
With all of our bondage gear rivets and snaps are heavily reinforced with one or two layers of canvas and a second layer of latex. We have an excellent track record as far as our work holding up. Some of our competitors don’t even hem the edges, that saves them money, but the garment will tear very easily.
I looked at Vac Beds from other companies and was shocked at the shoddy workmanship. I train our latex production employees to be craftsmen and to have a sense of pride in the quality of their work.
We only use the highest grade garment latex from a company in London. It’s a lot more expensive, but you just can’t compare the quality. We have a top secret exclusive source for our latex glue! We worked with a glue manufacturer here in the states to find the perfect glue. It lays smoother and has a much stronger bond. If I told you their name I’d have to kill you! Ha!
Lucky Lana: Oh my, then don’t tell! What’s new for the latex department?
Jeff of LA: I’m currently designing a frameless Vac Bed that should be more affordable an versatile than our current Vac Bed. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s going to be really intense!
I’m really excited about expanding our wearable section. In the coming months, we’ll have a new line of men’s and women’s wearables. We always want to offer our customers new and exciting items as well as all the latex basics.
Lucky Lana: How does the Stockroom give back to the rubber community?
Jeff of LA: We have been very supportive of the rubber scene. We always donate prizes to local rubber clubs, events, parties and groups. Our rubber customers are very devoted, they are the coolest! There are lots of great rubber fetish sites like rubberzone.com, rubberist.com and worldrubbermen.com that we support. The feedback that we get from people on these sites helps us with our designs. We love to hear new ideas.
Lucky Lana: Do you have any last words for our rubber enthusiasts?
Jeff of LA: A common misconception is that rubber doesn’t last. That's not true at all. You just need to invest in a quality latex products that are well made. That means the edges are hemmed, that areas that are riveted and reinforced, and it’s made with good quality latex. If a latex garment is washed after use and stored properly, it should last for years and years. I have items that are over fifteen years old! I take good care of them and they are still in great shape.
Lucky Lana: Thank you Jeff for your time, and for making the rubber world a better place.