A decade of Savannah decadence is coming to an end.
For 10 years, Chris Cook has been the city’s unofficial partymeister. Every month he’s planned and put on the First Friday Fetish, a sex–themed bash that encourages outlandish costumes – or the lack thereof – and includes games, shows, a bit of light S&M play, dancing, drinking, music ... and all sorts of (legal) naughty activity.
Things can get pretty wild.
Friday’s event, Sex & Candy, will be Cook’s swan song. It’s at the B&B Ale House, where First Friday Fetish has been in operation since 2007; previously, Cook and company rolled at Tantra Lounge, Venus de Milo, the Jinx and a whole slew of clubs that either don’t exist any more, or now operate under different names.
Cook, 40, says he just wants to move on. He works a day job at Dozier Crane & Machinery in Pooler – and, most importantly, he’s the father of a 5–year–old boy named Jaden. “The parties take time away from my time with him,” says the retiring good-time king.
We also spoke with Becca Geyer Guardino, Cook’s girlfriend, who’s a member of the First Friday party–gal troupe the Hellcats.
How did all this get started?
Chris Cook: I had a close group of friends, back in the early ‘90s, we used to just kind of for fun dress up and go out and raise hell. We dressed up like disco kings, we did the drag thing some too. But after a while it became a regular thing with us, and I was the one doing most of the planning as far as having it at the house. It steadily grew. More people got interested, and I started making it more official – making flyers and passing them out.
And I had big house parties up until 2000. Then I got tired of fronting all the alcohol and cleaning up the mess at my house. Finally figured I should take it to an official venue. I had my first Pimp & Ho party at Devin Michaels Pub on Broughton Street. That’s when it all started being official.
Looking at the videos on your site, it all seems a bit dark and decadent. Was that always the idea – “dress up, show up, and see what happens”?
Chris Cook: Hardly anything is ever planned or rehearsed. There’s no particular shows that we do. We just kind of arrange the event, give it a theme, and let people dress up and come. We do have some girls on hand – the Hellcats – to run the fetish cross, or maybe to do a small little show.
But the party pretty much takes care of itself. It’s kind of chaotic. Organized chaos.
It’s all in good fun. But has it ever got out of hand? Did you have serious S&M people show up and make it weird?
Chris Cook: Not really. We’re not S&M people, we’re not lifestyle people. We’re throwing these parties just for fun, and show, and entertainment. But there have been parties where lifestyle people do show up, and they criticize some of the things we’re doing, because we’re not using the proper technique or what not. But they’ve never interfered with a party.
Becca Guardino: We do a show; we’re not doing lifestyle parties. We try to incorporate some burlesque–type themed show. For a sci–fi one, we did a Frankenstein woman. We have a fire–spinner. We also do domination shows. We try to entertain people by shocking them. What we do is for shock value; nothing necessarily really bad. Things you don’t normally see that bring people out of their element.
I remember for our sci–fi show, we had tin–foiled the entire bar. And we had some really crazy burlesque shows that night.
People will come in and get on the cross, and we’ll walk them around like a dog on a leash. I told somebody to go sit in a corner and not talk to anybody for an hour. And they did. But that’s what their fantasy is. At our parties, people have fun with a fantasy they might have, whether it’s schoolgirls, or Alice in Wonderland, or domination. It could be anything.
You must get some drunken frat boys stumbling in saying "I wanna see some skin!"
Chris Cook: We do get that from time to time. But I would say, with confidence, it's rare that we ever come into any kind of trouble with drunken frat guys coming in and just mouthing off and trying to get in our way. For the most part, everyone's very respectful of everyone at the party. You don't get a lot of rude people in there, to be honest.
Becca Guardino: We're there the whole time, out there networking with the people and having fun. We're partying just as much as the people are.
What do you get out of this personally?
Chris Cook: I like throwing parties. It's real creative for me, because I get to come up with a theme in my head, I get to design these flyers that I pass out. I get a lot of satisfaction from people coming to the parties and just having a great time.
Becca Guardino: For Chris, the party is art. It's not necessarily that he likes to go out and party - he likes to create a party. He likes to watch people have a good time.
I would never discourage him, but we both have children - I have a 4-year-old - and we can't have those flyers sitting around the house. We can't really go out and promote as much as we would like to. Jaden's getting older, and Chris wants to focus more on the kids now. I respect that.
Is there a sense in you that "I need to grow up now"?
Chris Cook: Yeah, especially over the past three years. I did finally grow up some, not fully, but I did grow up some. I gotta quit sometime, you know? I can't throw parties forever.
First Friday Fetish: Sex & Candy
Where: B&B Ale House, 411 W. Congress St.
When: 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, May 7
Music: DJ Analog