My cup of tea

By | Fri 1 Sep 2006


“Don’t you have a fetish . . . you know something a bit mad?” My friend asked me while we were both eating at Sizzler. “I dunno,” I replied, mouth full of junk, “my ex used to drip hot wax on me and bite me, I kind of liked that . . . not sure if that would pass as a fetish . . . Oh yeah and I find the site of blood a real turn on. A bit vampirical; I like the sight of my own, I like the sight of other people’s.” “Well, what about you,” I asked. Dissecting his Malibu chicken, he looked up at me, grinning, “I’m not gonna tell you, am I? Next thing I know, it’ll be local news.”

It would have been impolitic of him to let me privy to his fetishes. I have a fetish for promulgation: can’t keep my mouth closed. It turns out that having a fetish is not at all unusual; despite what you may think, you probably have a lingering fetish that you may have defined as something less sinister.

The word fetish is most likely derived from the word fatisso, from Portuguese, or fetio, which means charm or sorcery, or more literally, false power. The word is thought to have been introduced by Portuguese sailors and traders as a name for a talisman – or lucky objects with magical powers which were the totems, carvings and beads that they found the natives of West Africa worshipping. It is from this that we can deduce one commonly known fetish; which is an irrational reverence of an object. Fetishism, as a psycho-sexual condition was first recorded in 1897 by Henry Havelock Ellis and the definition evolved to mean: sexual gratification gained from an object, action or feeling. Nowadays (I’m sure you don’t need telling), the word fetish is mostly linked to a more pornographic/licentious nature than to the worshiping of spiritual effigies.

“I was looking on E-bay this week for some trainers; found a pair of fetish running shoes,” my friend told me, “advertised as ‘old, very worn and really nasty smelling.'” “What, some people like that stuff?” “James, check out the net, it’s full of it!”

There’s nowt as queer as folk

E-bay: type ‘fetish’ in search and it reveals 4,500 objects. I wasn’t surprised to find leather masks, high heel shoes and hand cuffs: The conventional fetish was everywhere – just like the flocks of tie-dyed/dreadlocked pseudo hippies labouring spiritual on Khao San Rd. – the abnormal can quickly become the normal. What I wanted from my fetish search was a sexual libertine, a pariah with no other friend than the internet and his/her secret indulgence. Wading through pages of sadistic punishment tools and neo-punk bling, nothing really interesting revealed itself, except maybe “the rubber hood with pump up gag inducer.” Typing in smell/fetish it found “worn hanes socks army daddy smell fantasy fetish sports.” A search for used underwear came up with nothing: “No matches.” It’s common knowledge (or possibly common myth), that high school girls’ knickers are sold in vending machines in Japan; so this stuff is out there somewhere. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to understand why men might be aroused over a younger girl’s underwear. . . It doesn’t, does it? I won’t get bogged down in propriety . . . It’s the worn socks, the stinky shoes that are confounding. There are many kinds of fetish, two are categorised as inanimate: Media fetish – obsession over the material; just like a rubber mask. Form fetish – obsession over shape; maybe boots, G-strings. An animate fetish might include hair, pecks, spit, bums and breasts. There is also an action/feeling/concept fetish – suffering, adrenaline, violence etc. A survey carried out by AskMen website (5 million readers a month) showed the most common fetishes for men (not listed in any particular order): stomachs, leather, rubber, vinyl/latex, domination/submission, body piercing, feet/hands, voyeurism/exhibitionism, water, golden showers, braids/ponytails/ pigtails, fingernails/lipstick. And it seems the most common fetishes in women are: love, romance, money and control. Dr Susuan Block, University of Southern California, says, “In the classic sense, the fetishist requires the fetish object in order to have sex. The male needs it to get an erection. For the female, sexual arousal and fetishism are always a little more mysterious and difficult to pinpoint. Let’s just say the female fetishist needs the fetish object to enjoy sex.” Apparently men have more of a penis fetish than females as they are oft obsessed by its size, and in turn some men can become aroused at the sight of a large penis. Dr Block went on to say, “Most male penis fetishists are bisexual, but that doesn’t mean they want romantic relationships with men. They tend to be disinterested in all other aspects of the male body (which is why they are sometimes drawn to transsexuals or she- males), but they are obsessed with the phalluses of other men.”

Fetishism in Thailand

At the moment, Chiang Mai doesn’t have any specialised fetish clubs, bars, shops, although Bangkok’s underground fetish scene is nascent. Not too long ago a friend and I were invited to a club by a young girl. Everyone was dressed in kinky outfits, and when we were coerced into entering a dark tunnel, we were submerged into a pit of violent frottage. A love tunnel it was called – no faces, no sex discrimination, just a mass of over-zealous, rapacious hands in a pitch black tube. Something about it was grotesque; it felt like being violated; and not to mention completely surprising to find this in a high end club in Thailand.

Located on Sukhumvit 33, there is the first fetish bar in Thailand, The Cave. A dungeon of strange proclivities, bordering on moral turpitude, it offers its guest the use of whips, candle wax and bar girls dressed in leather suits that will beat, slap, slice suck and sully your body for the right amount of money. Anything goes apparently, not sure about coprophilia, you may have to personally request that – anyway, it is potentially dangerous and could lead to giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, shigellosis, amebiasis, Campylobacter and hepatitis: and if the diseases don’t bother you, the excrement might. Although quite fascinating, they seemed to offer nothing traditionally Thai. What about black and white uniforms smeared with som tam – hot chillis and brittle crickets inserted into scared orifices – sucking the sweat out of a construction labourer’s balaclava?

Folkswagen and the phallus Fetish

After putting the word out I was looking for a fetish expert in Chiang Mai I was contacted by an amiable and interesting bloke called Nick Thompson. From Australia, Nick now works at CMU under the auspices of John Hopkins University, USA. As a public health researcher he works with amphetamine users, creating awareness of the consequences of drug abuse and the possibilities of HIV contraction. He recently conducted a study in four prisons throughout Thailand exploring several issues – sex, rape, drug use, tattooing and penile modification. What Nick then told me consolidated exactly what Dr Block had said about man’s obsession with his penis.

After his prison study there surfaced a new high risk HIV factor in the form penile modifications, so he applied for permission to do an outside study with 100 amphetamine users, most of whom had been in jail. He found that 50% of them had at some time modified their penis. 80% of them while locked up and the others having found an Ajarn Modify (Modify doctor) on the outside. The three most common ways to upgrade your member are as follows:

Fung Muk (the ball method) – consists of sharpening a toothbrush to a fine point. Stretching the penis and inserting a small ball (sometimes the ball from a whisky bottle used in the neck to stem the flow). The balls are massaged in and then the shaft is bandaged with whatever they can find to do the job. This is done all over shaft to make a bumpy penis that is thought to stimulate a woman.

Pha Benz/Pha Volk – Again the manifold toothbrush is at hand to scarify the head of the penis, branding the symbol of a car into the bell. In Nick’s words, “Takes brand marketing to a new level.” Scarification increases the size and thereby turns the woman on.

Sheet Yar – literally means inject drugs, but the most commonly used drug is fish oil. Whack this into your shaft at various points and you have an undulating John Thomas.

And men are willing to do this for a woman. Or are they doing it for themselves? According to Nick, nine out of ten women he interviewed didn’t enjoy the new experience with their selfless lover; in fact, they said it was damn painful. The condoms often split and the bulbous penis often bled and caused bleeding in the woman, all creating a much higher risk of HIV infection, not to mention other diseases. As Nick amusingly and ironically pointed out, “You just can’t put a condom over a Volkswagen, it’s potentially dangerous.” In their endeavour to be bigger men the guys also suffered from all manner of procedural infections. Even though this is not hidden knowledge, more and more men are constructing these souped-up phalluses. Whilst interviewing, Nick was told by a Fung Muk neophyte, “On the outside you modify your bike, on the inside you do your cock!” As they used to say on Blue Peter, “Kids, don’t do this at home.” Nine out of ten women can’t be wrong, but still my inbox is crammed daily with solicitations from companies offering to ‘enhance my manliness’ and ‘give me a monster cock’.

There are reasons people want to smell dirty socks, even pay good money for them, but unfortunately I didn’t find out why. You never know, maybe i’ll buy a pair and see what all the fuss is about. It’s important to get out there and live a little; wasn’t it William Blake who said, “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”? As far as Chiang Mai is concerned, that’s as much as I discovered about the prevailing underworld of fetishism. If you have a weird fetish or know someone who does, then write to me. I just want to know.