Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fetish, Anyone?

Fetishes are called kinks or perversions and refer to any deviance from the accepted “normal” sexual practice. But is there not a certain flexibility allowed for them? Homosexuality, for example, has been called a perversion and in certain places still is deemed one, though no longer so in enlightened Western societies.

Then there are practices that opinion is divided about. Take anal intercourse between men and women. Whereas oral sex is no longer considered kinky, anal sex is still judged such in certain quarters, where not much has changed since Annabella Lady Byron was granted a divorce from her husband for requiring anal sex..

Certain perversions are associated with some kind of violence espoused by consenting adults, e.g., sadism and masochism (S&M). Others, however, are more peaceable, as, for instance, foot fetishism. An entire society, the Chinese, went in for foot binding, which had nothing to do with preventing wives from escaping their husbands, but with the latter liking to toy with tiny feet.

Why this impulse? On the one hand (or foot) because smallness itself is appealing—think puppies, kittens, babies, and miniatures of every kind. But also, I think, because for the smaller foot, toes are more proportionate. They can be only so big, and on a large foot they have a way of looking like a puny appendage. On a smaller foot, they have a way of blending in seamlessly into a symmetrical balance.

Still, why a foot fetish, and none on, say, a calf or knee? It would seem to have to do  with feet being usually hidden in shoes, and thus, when exposed, a kind of revelation. Other parts that would be erotic if bared, like breasts, remain mainly concealed. In any case, male attraction to the female bosom, an approved erotic zone, is considered normal.

Because hands are on full display, there seems to be no serious hand fetishism. There is, however, shoe fetishism for high-heeled women’s shoes, a kind of transference from feet, but I would wager offhand not all that frequent.

Much as I respond to a beautiful bare female foot, the stimulus is minimal on a beach full of bikinied women. Partly, this is a matter of excess, of indiscriminate exposure devoid of mystery. More so perhaps because there the exposed foot does not carry a promise of greater things to come. Conversely, a fully clad woman’s bare foot does induce further expectations of disrobing. Then again, a skilled woman can, with a bare foot, induce a fricative male orgasm. In any case, scantily clad ubiquitousness invites detumescence.

Why, all things considered, should it be all right for a man to caress, kiss, suck or nibble a woman’s breast, but not her foot? The answer would appear to be that, in the former, pleasure is shared; in the latter, one-sided. But then why is fellatio approved, when a woman would more likely prefer a lollypop or ice-cream cone to a penis and sperm?

Or is it enough for the woman to simultaneously merely sense the pleasure she is giving?

The eroticism of the foot has quite an outlet in literature. Take, for instance, Sir Thomas Wyatt’s famous poem that begins, “They flee from me, that sometimes did me seek/ With naked foot stalking in my chamber . . .” The epithet naked in preference to bare may be simply due to the need of a bisyllable to make the iambic line scan. But then what of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome,” where the drooling Herod mutters, “Ah, thou art to dance with naked feet! ‘Tis well! ‘Tis well. Thy little feet will be like white doves. They will be like little white flowers that dance upon the trees.” Of course it could be argued that Wilde wrote the play in French, where it had to be “pieds nus” because there is no word for bare. But surely he and his lover “Bosie” Douglas, who translated the play into English, must have been aware of the implications of “naked.”

Both Robert Herrick and Sir John Suckling have written poems celebrating a woman’s foot peeping out from under her skirt while dancing though there the foot remains shod. But what about Shakespeare about Cressida: “Her eye, her cheek, her lip,/ Nay, her foot speaks”?

Still, the apogee of foot fetishism in English is in George du Maurier’s 1894 novel, “Trilby.” Its heroine begins as a teenage Irish beauty in Paris, posing as a model for painters and sculptors, often in the altogether. “’Yes,” she says to her British admirers, “’l’ensemble, you know—head, hands, and feet—everything—especially feet. That’s my foot,’ she said, kicking off her slipper and stretching out her limb. ‘It’s the handsomest foot in all Paris. There is only one in all Paris to match it, and here it is,’ and she laughed heartily (like a merry peal of bells) and stuck out the other.

And in truth they were astonishingly beautiful feet, such as one only sees in pictures and statues—a true inspiration of shape and colour, all made up of delicate lengths and subtly-modified curves and noble straightnesses and happy little dimpled arrangements in innocent young pink and white.

So that Little Billee . . . was quite bewildered to find that a real, bare, live human foot could be such a charming object to look at . . . .

The shape of those lovely slender feet (that were neither large nor small), facsimiled in dusty pale plaster of Paris, survives on the shelves and walls of many a studio throughout the world, and many a sculptor yet unborn has yet to marvel at their strange perfection, in studious despair . . . .

It is a wondrous thing, the human foot—like the human hand; even more so, perhaps; but, unlike the hand, with which we are so familiar, it is seldom a thing of beauty in civilized adults who go about in leather boots or shoes.

So that it is hidden away in disgrace, a thing to be thrust out of sight and forgotten. It can sometimes be very ugly indeed—the ugliest thing there is, even in the fairest and highest and most gifted of her sex, and then it is of an ugliness to chill and kill romance, and scatter love’s young dream, and almost break the heart.

And all for the sake of high heel and a ridiculously pointed toe--mean things at the best!

Conversely, when Mother Nature has taken extra pains in the building of it, and proper care or happy chance has kept it free of lamentable deformations, indurations, and discolorations—all those grewsome [sic] boot-begotten abominations, which have made it generally upopular—the sudden sight of it, uncovered, comes as a very rare and singularly pleasing surprise to the eye that has learned how to see!

Nothing else that Mother Nature has to show, not even the human face divine, has more subtle power to suggest high physical distinction, happy evolution, and supreme development, the lordship of man over beast, the lordship of man over man, the lordship of woman over all . . . .

Trilby had respected Mother Nature’s special gift to herself—had never worn a leather boot or shoe, had always taken as much care of her feet as many a fine lady takes of her hands. . . .

With the point of an old compass, [Little Billie] scratched in white on the dark red wall a three-quarter profile outline of Trilby’s left foot, which was perhaps the more perfect poem of the two.”

Later, the great sculptor Durien comes visiting and, recognizing the foot on the wall, exclaims, “Tiens! Le pied de Trilby! Vous avez fait ca d’apres Nature?” and remarks, “Je voudrais bien avoir fait ca, moi!” The only thing du Maurier does not mention is a high instep, but being as much a visual artist as a writer, he includes among his illustrations for the book two little sketches of Trilby’s foot. There are several references throughout the novel to Trilby’s “beautiful [or alabaster] white feet,” plaster casts of which enriched their vendor and whose mural image was vainly tried to be removed from the studio wall. But let me move on to two incidents that reverberate in my memory.

One long-ago summer, my then girlfriend was driving us in her car. She was barefoot, and I, sitting next to her, pointed out how pretty her foot looked on the gas pedal. She was both surprised and delighted: it had never occurred to her that she had pretty feet. Another time, I went backstage to congratulate a lovely actress on her performance. She was barefoot, and for the first time I really saw her feet. They were large, flat, wide and, not to mince words, ugly. I was appalled, and wondered whether could ever again give her a rave review. Luckily I never saw her again, on or off the stage.

 I truly think I have figured out how I got my (mild enough) foot fetish, even though such a thing, I imagine, rarely has its etiology. Back in my childhood in Belgrade a maid who cleaned floors would attach a special brush by its strap to her bare foot for that purpose and scrub away. This afforded me my first glimpse of female flesh (the leg was bare too) and filled my young soul with erotic excitement.

I still admire a well-turned foot, preferably on the small side. I wonder what Francois Villon meant in his “Ballade des Dames du temps jadis,” in which he celebrates women for their beauty or power. One of them he refers to as “Berte au grant pie.” [Accent aigu on the E.] I recall, by the way, that Eric Partridge designates Bertha as a Teutonic name, meaning bright or shining one. So was this “grand pied,” as we would say now, perhaps also bright and shining, for Villon--an object of admiration or deprecation or merely observation?

Idle but enjoyable speculation. Let us now, however, turn to higher things.


  1. Hearing John Simon talk about anal sex is a little disconcerting. It's like coming across a sticky porn magazine in your dad's underwear drawer.
    Is there really a guy named John Suckling who wrote about sexy feet? That's too good. And, he's a "Sir" to boot!

    I loved the "lolly-pop" reference. Hysterical!

    What exactly is a "fricative male orgasm". Is that an orgasm with lots of consonate sounds?

    Girl's feet are okay, but guy's feet are gross. Mine are. I never cut my toenails and they get long and thick and yellow. Of course, I've been married awhile, so that type of thing goes pretty much unnoticed. There's not a lot of toe sucking going on in MY house, I can tell you that.

    My wife used to paint our son's toenails (and fingernails) when he was a year or two old. That used to make me mad for some reason.

    I'm not a big "foot" guy. Feet are pretty icky. People don't clean them very well because they're way down out of reach. Feet stink sometimes. Then, you got all that "toe-jam" stuff. Did they really let people squish the grapes with their feet to make wine? Gross! That's why I drink beer.

  2. A mild foot fetish is a good thing to have, it allows for much-needed but harmless extra-marital activity to take place. One can go to Pandora's Box on 26th St. and have some great conversations with comely young women while down at their feet. One's wife would probably be more angry about the session's monetary cost than its innocuous goings-on.

    Fricative has to do with friction, so a fricative male orgasm involving a woman's feet would be--- well, as Bryan Ferry sang in "Love is the Drug", you can guess the rest...

    1. Unless you WORK at Pandora's Box, how are you getting down close to their feet?

      "Pardon me, Mam. I know you don't know me, but may I help you try on those shoes?"

      I wear multi-colored mirrors on my hobnail boots.

    2. "Unless you WORK at Pandora's Box, how are you getting down close to their feet?"

      By paying to do so!

    3. Well!! Okay then. Now we're talking.

      Jesus, I thought Pandora's Box was a shoe store! Hehe!

    4. Here's the link to a quite good documentary about Pandora's Box:

  3. Simon wrote about how he popped a massive boner over Barbara Bach in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. He said he had dirty ideas when Bach was all tied up by Jurgens.

    I'd like to see remake of SPY where Simon plays the villain and have his way with a favorite ho of his all tied up and shit.

    1. Mr. Simon did do an acting turn on an episode of the 5th season of THE ODD COUPLE; the episode was titled "Two on the Aisle":

    2. I saw that episode. He did a great job. Although completely natural, the performance was marked with a sprinkling of whimsy. He could have won an Emmy, but some people behind the scenes didn't care for him.

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    4. I did hear there was talk of bringing Mr. S. on the show as Felix's fastidious European cousin -- the idea was he'd visit and out-neat Felix, driving him to the brink, much to the amusement of Oscar....

  4. Would have been a great idea. I've always thought of Simon as a cooler version Felix Unger. Felix without all of the emotional baggage.
    Unger was the perfect name for those two natty SOBs

    1. The comic possibilities! Felix drops a French phrase to show off his erudition, and Mr. S. corrects his pronunciation, while Oscar surveys it all with a deadpan look and Felix's blood pressure rises.... I have to get some of the show's DVDs from Netflix, they say the 2nd season is the best place to start....

    2. Just looked it up. The original Felix was Art Carney (didn't know that). Sounds good. I liked Art.

      Original Broadway director: Mike Nichols (Should have directed the film, it would have been better. Still, not a bad movie)

      Little known fact: Pat Sajak once played Felix (in Hawaii).

    3. Art Carney as Felix, wow -- I can picture him as playing Oscar, but not Felix.

      I was wasting my life (albeit enjoyably) reading reviews of the DVDs of the TV show -- this comment made me chuckle:

      In another fan favorite [episode from season 3], "Password," Oscar and Felix are a washout on the classic game show, thanks to Felix's arcane clues ("Aristophanes" for the password "bird").

    4. I saw that one. Pretty good.

    5. Lubed Up Larry, do you know the music of Ween? They are semi-retired now, but their work is amazingly eclectic and gloriously politically incorrect -- here's links to a few of their classics:

    6. No, I don't know them. I listened, and they're hysterical. Funny lyrics.

    7. "The Blarney Stone" is my fave

    8. Great Ween pick, I'd never heard "The Blarney Stone" before!

      On the literary front, I just discovered for meself the fiction of Elissa Wald -- I first heard of her because she's one of the Pandora's Box clients in the 1996 documentary 'Fetishes' (link can be found in the comments above). She is an excellent writer, with themes of dominance and submission throughout her work -- highly recommend 'Meeting the Master', a collection of short stories, and her novel 'The Secret Lives of Married Women':

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  6. I guess the foot fetish is the gold standard of the "fetish". I once had a mild fetish for necks (especially the Fran Jeffries neck in the original "Pink Panther"); which brings up the related issue of a temporary fetish... I once knew a woman who had a hand fetish in men: she seemed to be drawn to a hand at once elegant and masculinely veined. Perhaps the most amusing fetish would be for left elbows.

    Mr. Simon's reasoning about the why of the foot fetish is interesting and makes sense. In Kurt Vonnegut's novel "Cat's Cradle" by the way, he has a rather extended digression about foot fetishes; and for some reason, Vonnegut had a knack for being able to delve deeply into such a subject without the slightest whiff of unseemly creepiness.