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January 27, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 04
 
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Sex Talk by Simon Shepard
Speaking of Fetishes
"I don't know just what it is about black leather," says a fellow who shares a widespread fetish, "but the sight of it, the touch, and even the smell go straight to my crotch. There are lots of people who like the sight of a man dressed in leather, I guess, but for me, even the cowhide itself makes me hard."

Yes, the raunchy range of erotic excitements is - thank goodness - damn near limitless. And there's no accounting for taste. Be it long hair, beards, or bellies, what's erection-producing to one man may be not-so-hot to others. High-top sneakers make some guys stiff, while others drool over redheads. On the wilder shores of sex, dressing up in furry animal costumes has its tumescent fans, while others shoot their wads watching men sitting on balloons till they pop. Really!

(While most of us would call all the above, and many other specialized turn-ons, "fetishes," the strict medical definition is somewhat different. Classically, a fetish is a "paraphilia" - an intense, recurring, unusual sexual urge. More specifically, a fetish is focused on an inanimate object or on a particular body part. But who, except for psychologists, is really keeping track?)

Often a paraphilia is rooted in youth, maybe even childhood, and first manifests as full-blown fetishism in late adolescence. Chronic fetishism is often a life-long affair, though sometimes the craving gets less intense as a guy gets older. Lots of fetishism is, in fact, harmless. But kinkiness can be a problem when it becomes uncontrollably compulsive, or when, say, a love of feet precludes relating to the guy they're attached to.

The growth of the Internet has eased the lot of many a fetishist. These days, finding someone else into silky panties - if only for a long-distance correspondence - is a relative piece of kinky cake. "When I was younger, I used to think I was the only guy turned on by medical gear," says one doctor-loving dude. "But now I can go online and explore all these websites with photos of men in cervical collars, or with their arms and legs in casts. It's kind of comforting to know I'm not alone."

There are guys who have multiple fetishes, and some times fetishism is linked to other paraphilias, too; a love of boots, for example, can be played out in masochistic groveling before a master's powerful size 12s. But one sadistic leatherman complains, "It's easy to misread signals at leather bars. Though black cowhide is the universal uniform for Gay men into SM, it can also be worn by guys whose sexual tastes are vanilla but who just get off dressing up in leather. Somebody can look like the kinkiest guy in town but be into nothing more than giving head. It can get kind of confusing." Poor baby.

Many of us harbor erotic secrets, whether it's lusting after manly tattoos or getting turned on by the sight of a middle-aged guy in diapers. And - as long as nobody gets harmed - who is to say fetishism is wrong? Of course, a fetish can seem silly or even disgusting to those who don't share it, but screw 'em, right? While it can be safer to just stroke off to fetish porn, or to engage in solo play, there's someone out there who shares your tastes and a consensual multi-guy fetish scene can be a red-hot voyage of discovery. So get out your thong underwear, sheer dress socks, or studded leather harness, and get it on. Your twisted little libido will thank you.



Simon Sheppard is the author of Sex Parties 101, Kinkorama, and In Deep: Erotic Stories, and can be reached at SexTalk@qsyndicate.com. Visit Simon at www.simonsheppard.com.

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