While visiting the Van Abbemuseum for the Deviant Practice research fellowship, Sam Ashby received a text from a friend: “Eindhoven used to have the dirtiest gay club in the world.” This local story became an irresistible distraction from his original project, and Sam soon found himself on the trail of Vagevuur (Purgatory), a unique space for a number of fetishes including fisting, rubber, leather, s/m, watersports, military, sportswear, and scat, which closed its doors for good in 2008.
Through a series of dialogues, archive visits, online networking, and chance encounters, Ashby gradually built up a picture of the club and its history, including its origins in Roze Driehoek (Pink Triangle), a local queer activist group who were active in Eindhoven from the late-1970s and gradually disbanded in the late-1980s. Roze Driehoek’s bold political and aesthetic values had a strong emphasis on radical sex practices and freedom of expression, which created space for the development of Vagevuur. The club formed outside the dominant mainstream gay cultures of the time to create a utopian space in the midst of the international AIDS crisis, with an emphasis on self exploration, community and safe sex.
Sam Ashby is a British artist, graphic designer, and publisher. Since 2010 he has collaborated with writers, academics, and artists on his publication Little Joe, ‘a magazine about queers and cinema, mostly.’ His first film, The Colour of His Hair (2017) premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017 and won the Best Documentary prize at London Short Film Festival 2018.