Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My [Secret] Life Online

So I was featured on Vice, in their show ‘My Life Online’.

What went down:

I was interviewed on a fetish author's blog called My Other Self a while ago. A film making company, Walking Fish Productions (WFP), contacted me saying they had found it and were interested in making a series of short documentaries on unusual practices in Melbourne, that the mainstream would not have heard about. A man who collects Magic Lanterns, for example. Did you know that magic lanterns were the first type of projection device that predates film? They were used in the 17th century, but now are extremely rare collectibles. The balloon fetish (or 'looners') was another idea. 

Anyway, WFP were awesome. They did their homework. Before filming I had a chance to just have a chat about the fetish and the potential doco. I mentioned previous features on looners and the community response as well as the featured person's response. I'm also personally interested in how documentaries are made, so I got some perspective on that. I was not sure I should actually participate, but YOLO! I said I would do it. We set a date for filming, and that was that!

During the filming process, I was prompted with questions, and I answered them such that it didn't sound like I was being interviewed, as they planned to edit what I spoke about together - and that they did. I gave them friends access to my facebook, so they chose clips from there to include.

Disclaimer: It might be a bit 'uh duh' but I'll put it out there - this is not my documentary, I had no creative input, I did not chose what content was included, etc etc. But on the other hand, beyond the prompts, whatever I said was whatever I said, no script, no nothing. It goes into my brain and straight out my mouth. This was beneficial in that my answered seem more authentic, but on the downside, it also meant thoughts were less articulated than I would have liked. I did say things I normally would keep to myself, because of the lack of pre-thinking, so hopefully that won't bite me in the arse.

My Response:

It’s actually a little surreal, watching a video about yourself, made by another person, done all pro.

I’m glad to add to the documentaries already available about the balloon fetish. My aim with this was to educate people on fetishes, to try and explain what it’s like for me (as I can only truly speak for myself) and a bit about what it might be like for others. I spent ages talking about all sorts of stuff, and as it was so long ago, I can't remember exactly what about. There were questions about my online videos, what type of comments I get, who watches them, how many views, etc.

I mention this mainly because I feel a bit weird talking about how many views and friends I have, considering the series is called ‘my life online’, like I think I am ‘internet famous’ with 800 facebook friends. I was directly asked how many facebook friends I had. This video was originally going to be part of a series about unusual things happening in Melbourne, but it fit in with Vice’s series I guess. I am not interested in promoting myself, per se. However Vice can do what they like. If they consider me a 'superstar' than so be it.

I saw the final version of the feature, in which they referred to the activity as 'masturbating with balloons' which made me feel a little uncomfortable. The videos, to a non fetishist, should appear sexually suggestive at most. Cleavage top, etc (Lol, I can't believe I actually said that!). I do usually finish myself off by hand, but that doesn't go online. I do not want to attract any extra sexual attention from non fetishists where it can be helped. Academic interest? I'm an open book! I asked for this to be changed, and they honoured that request which was awesome.

Now the porn superstar bit. I did not see this title until live, and it is probably the most embarrassing part of the whole video.

Porn. Now, I am not going to deny that these videos are sexual. Indeed, I started filming myself to get a different perspective on the balloon and of course, bright idea, lets put some of these online! What will looners say about it?! OMG hehehe YOLO. The thrill of putting a 'sex tape' online for the world to see how much pleasure (sexual or not) I get from a mere object. This taboo thing, attraction to an object, not only an object, but destroying the object, is so fucked up in society's standards. Yeah, I know, it is innocuous. But the world is struggling merely with non heterosexual relations, multiple partners and casual sex let alone this fetish stuff! Sure, it does not hurt anyone, but it's just plain weird. Anyway, I digress. The videos should not be considered 'porn' outside of the fetish (minus the suggestiveness of course) but on the other hand, it's the term that most people can appreciate. 

Superstar. This one is just really embarrassing. Someone clicks on this video about a porn superstar. Is this like the James Deen of balloons? No, it's some random chick who has 20k youtube views and 800 facebook friends. I do understand the looner community is fairly small, so it is relative. But balloon porn star' would get more click throughs. However if the title is too deceptive, it will not result in likes and shares, preventing the video from going viral. This is my experience with youtube - and yes, I do more than just 'balloon porn' on youtube.

The Freakshow

The media’s aim is primarily to entertain people. To tell an interesting story. When something unusual comes up, media makes a freak show of it. This is something I worried about. Well, at least this is a little more respectable than Jerry Springer, that's for sure. 

There is no dressing up 'balloon fetish' to make it seem 'normal'. 'I pop balloons for sexual pleasure'. It sounds completely normal to me, but I have to take the perspective of the uninitiated. People are also fascinated by the weird. I have learned to capatalise on this myself as I've been considered an eccentric person for my whole life, but especially as a kid. This has little to do with the balloon fetish. This is another story, but the point is, I know how people deal with 'weirdos'. They are shunned publicly, but privately, there are some people that are fascinated by strange behaviour.  There are others that want to help you integrate into 'normal' society. I expect a similar experience if exposed to the 'normals'. It is these people that want to watch a freakshow which generates the clicks and views. I know the other side too - I like to watch a good freakshow too. It is possible to do so without losing respect for other humans.

Having said that, Vice and WFP walked the fine line of entertainment and education very well. WFP did not go out of their way to make this exploitative. They dealt with it as if the balloon fetish was just an unusual thing that not many people know about.

I am curious to watch the impact it has on non looners, and especially non-fetishists. I could have a look at the tweets which linked to it, as well as comments on Vice's tumblr, and the negative reacts were basically 'lol no thanks', 'weird' and one 'lol attention seeking'. Most of the response was simply retweeting or reblogging it, so I will assume that's a positive. However I doubt these people actually watched it, or watched the whole thing. I've found as a youtuber, there are a bunch of people that make comments based on the title and thumbnail only. I am interested to get some more in depth responses, so I can get into the minds of those who find it so strange that they would actively shame and humiliate a fetishist - so they can be countered. I would love it if fetishists can disclose to their partners the fetish without any stress and fear of rejection. I am so fucking lucky I have such an awesome guy, but in the future I won't be lucky, it will be standard.


I don't know whether to regret my decision or to be honoured to have my story told. It is a risk and it depends on the consequences. I could be making a massive fool out of myself to the point it impacts my relationships and the rest of my life. Or this is a chance to spread the message that some people are weird and different... but that's okay.

Finally, this experience resparked that initial thrill I got out of putting my balloon videos online. Just sitting back and observing 'the damage' - in other words, how different people react to it.


  1. Hi Grim. I have to say, the documentary was quite good. I think you did an excellent job of representing real looners. I hope to see you back on youtube someday, I've really missed your videos there.

    Warmest regards.

  2. You will probably never read this because I don't know if you are still alive and well. I used to follow your facebook and youtube a long time ago. I hope to see you again because your videos were great! You could start a good career with Club Steffi or start your own studio dedicated on what you love. I was not into balloons and first but for years I studied and now I experienced what you were talking about. Thank you for peeking my interest about balloons. Hope you still are dong what you love and found either a man or woman who fills the same way towards you and balloons