The Fetishist - Nina Kate

Published: 27 April, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 211, May, 2012

On a sunny day in late March, I had the pleasure of chatting with Nina Kate. As we were talking, she was working on a pair of leggings for a hair show she had coming up at the weekend in Manchester. No stranger to fashion, Nina is also the founder of Jane Doe Latex, and most recently its offshoot, Jane Doe Apparel…

Jane Doe Apparel is a new line of unisex street wear. We make T-shirts, jeans, vests, all kinds of stuff. They’re things you can wear every day. For some people the latex is obviously quite extreme, and although people like the idea of it, they don’t necessarily want to spend that much money, so Jane Doe Apparel is a clothing line that is affordable and people can wear it just right out of their house.”

Nina works out of her home in north London, an area that is particularly middle-class, filled with actors and artisans. It is a far cry from Whitechapel where she first lived as an adult in London, a place where she experienced a couple of muggings. “It was fun,” she says, almost sarcastically but then adds, “I mean, it obviously had its dangers, but it was alright.” Nina was brought up in Camden but then moved to Cambridge (“a place that has enough going on to not be considered a backwater”) at the age of 14 as it was a more affordable place for her family to live, and their house in Camden was falling apart. Returning to London at 18 she began to become more involved in the fashion scene, particularly latex.

“At that time I was working for quite a lot of different people, but I thought in the end that it was rubbish so decided to do it on my own. It’s been seven years now that I’ve been working on Jane Doe Latex. I started small, rather than take out a huge bank loan. I just did whatever I could and grew it that way, and it’s become successful. It would be great to have a shop, but it wouldn’t be feasible in a place like London.”

The fetish club scene, explained Nina, has two sides to it. “There’s the people that go that expect ‘stuff’ to happen… they try to hook up, or whatever. But I’m not of that persuasion at all. I go to have some drinks and dance around with friends all night. They’re pretty much like any other clubs, except you might see someone being fisted in the corner! But it’s the same as a rock club, everyone is so much nicer than a normal club.”

When Nina was younger she used to dress up a lot, and would go to school in her dressing-up outfits which didn’t go down particularly well. When she was about 15 or 16 she started to hang out with some older people and discovered latex. She even had her own little fetish club in Cambridge. Her father was a pyro-technician and used to take the family on tour with him, to places like France and Spain. Nina and her sister even got to join him on a Rolling Stones tour where she got to meet her favourite Rolling Stone, Charlie. She was just seven at the time and fondly remembers when “they put me and my sister in charge of the screens on the mixing desk, which really pissed Mick Jagger off because we put them all on Charlie!”

From about the age of 14 to 16, Nina used to pester her mum about getting tattooed; eventually her mum gave in and got her her first. Despite the wings on her back being “kinda crappy”, Nina is quick to say that she’s seen worse. “And it was good that my mum made me wait. After that, it wasn’t so much full steam ahead, I kind of got lots of small silly ones, like stars in various places and things like that because I didn’t have the money or know how to go about getting good ones. I guess it wasn’t really until I moved back to London and started to know people that I got big ones done.”

Nina aims to be completely covered one day, but has never failed to be amazed just how much skin there is. Even with the vast amount of tattoos she has, she’ll still look at herself in the mirror and think she isn’t that covered. “One day my mum phoned me and made me promise to her that I wouldn’t tattoo my face until after she was dead, which I thought was a bit harsh!”

I asked Nina what kinds of tattoos she liked, “I like feminine tattoos, I guess. I have a lot of birds on me. I’m not sure you’d call the style I like new school, but it’s certainly not old school. I think with the ‘Ink’ shows people are looking for meaning where there isn’t meaning, and I find that really dull. However, I can understand that if someone’s uncle has died or whatever, then it might make sense to get a portrait. That’s not to say I don’t have tattoos that mean something to me. I’ve got my cat on my calf which was done by Inma. It’s just his little regal face, slightly grumpy, exactly how my cat looks.”

She also has a very prominent rose on the side of her neck. “That was done by Matt Difa at Jolie Rouge. He was very reluctant to do it at first, but I convinced him in the end. I was young at the time, I was female, and not a tattooist, so I understood where he was coming from. I thought it was admirable. You see all these teenagers getting their hands and necks tattooed and you think ‘oh my god, you idiot!’, so it’s good to have tattoo artists like that who are making sure you know what you’re doing.” Nina observes the fashion of neck and hand tattoos on young people as something negative. “I mean, you can’t get rid of it like a bad haircut. What happens when you’re 30 and want to get a job? You’re fucked mate!” Nina’s current project is getting her entire left leg done by Magda at Thirteen Diamonds in Piccadilly Circus. “It’s going to be a dancing lady with a skull face, with loads of flowers and things around it. I’ve had one session already, and it took two-and-a-half hours just to put the stencil on it!”

Whilst running her own business, Nina also finds time for other ventures. Quite recently she started to get into acting and found that the more she did it, the more she enjoyed doing it. The first part she had was for a music video for the band Spectrum. “I had to be the albino version of the singer, and lip-sync the words to the songs which I’d only heard the morning I got there, in double-speed, whilst getting loads of crap dropped on my head!” Recently she’s also done music videos for Jesse James’, Drop the Line, and even a Mexican pop star. She is currently working on a TV show called Dead Boss for BBC3 which is due out some time in spring.

At Simon Drake’s House of Magic, Nina works as a magicians assistant. “You go to the place, have dinner and stuff, take a tour of the haunted cellar (where I’m a vampire) and then there’s the magic show. I do it about once a month at this time of the year, but back around Christmas I was doing it twice a week.” Nina met Simon Drake when she and Vicki Blows were doing a shoot for Bizarre magazine in the House of Magic. They got to chatting, got along really well, discovered that Simon also knew Nina’s father, and then it turned out that he was also looking for an assistant.

Nina is married to Stich D of the metal band, The Defiled, and the idea for her most recent venture, Jane Doe Apparel, stemmed from him. “We’d been talking about it for ages. He’s obviously in this band with all these guys, and they’re not going to buy latex dresses. So it sort of went from there, it seemed like an obvious place to branch out to and it’s always something

I wanted to do. It’s great that I have all these other things too, because it gives me things to fall back on, and it’s quite nice to get out of the house! It gets a bit stuffy working from home, especially on sunny days like this.”


Text: Tom Abbott; Photography: Ayesha H & Murdermile Studios


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