Quentin Tarantino does it, Family Guy's Quagmire does it, the guy next door does it, and the birds and bees might even do it if it wasn't such a logistical bummer.
They lust after the foot.
Veteran kinksters will often shrug off the foot fetish as entry-level, benign and just so damn common. But how do the less fetish-minded know that the foot fetish is as common as they say it is?
One indicator is the success of FootNight, an event held in L.A. every few months that brings foot fetishists and female feet together for a night of licking, nibbling, rubbing, trampling, sniffing, smothering and the rich gamut of foot-and-person permutations. It marked its 12th year of local existence last Thursday with a signature bash at Club Joi's headquarters in downtown L.A.
“It's not the activity or the fact that people are into feet that's so shocking — it's not a [solely] modern thing — but the fact that we're able to organize in this way is, and the fact that it's been around for 12 years is a testament to [FootNight Founder] Steve Savage and the kind of party he wants to run and the kind of atmosphere he wants to have, that clearly other people enjoy too,” FootNight model Koko Kitten said. “Also, at other venues, they're not as foot-specific. This is a place where you can focus on foot fetish totally.”
Surprisingly, the event's aesthetic reflects the innocence of a school dance: Women (models) and men (clients) gingerly socialize in a large room, picking at a free hot buffet and unwittingly swaying to early aughts slow jams. Although a few women don corsets and other fetish accoutrements, most are indistinguishable from any vamped up Sunset Strip-type.
Once a connection is made — it could be in the eyes, in the toes, or in nervous free abandon — couples pair off and head to the catacomb of public rooms in the back to “play.”
Men, or occasionally couples, pay models 20 dollars for every 10 minutes of female foot-related activities, which vary greatly but always remain below the knee and within the letter of the law. Models told me that they generally pulled in $60-$300 a night, while remaining fully clothed, and almost all noted how respectful FootNight clients tend to be.
The diversity of feet (polish- and shoe-wise), body type, and age of models at the anniversary party was impressive. Some prominent kinky figures were there, including Isabella Sinclaire and Odette Delacroix, who have turned fetish into a viable career. But the majority of models are otherwise “normal girls” who use FootNight to supplement their civilian life, for pocket change, personal satisfaction, or a combination.
“One thing I was told when I first started modeling [is] that if a guy tells you no, don't take it personally,” long-time fetish model Sin Fisted explained. “Some guys may like when the second toe is longer than the big toe. They're all looking for certain things. Some guys hate it when girls wear red polish, so if you have red polish on, they're not going to want to session with you. Some guys like big feet, small feet, scent, some guys like bigger women for trampling, all these different factors, so they're really here to find the right feet for them.”
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Fisted, who performed a contortionist and pole dance number at the party, was wearing chipped purple polish on her size-nine feet with close-toed floral pumps. Others were painted silver, pink, black — scoped by passers-by whose downcast eyes usually belie something other than shyness.
Even with its lack of stereotypical macabre fetish imagery, some might be tempted to label the gathering a freak show – you can, after all, see three barefoot women jumping on a man's chest — but it achieves what many foot fetishists and enthusiasts are after: a safe, sane, consensual space to express their desires without judgement.
When Steve Savage, a soft spoken man from South Africa, founded FootNight in 2002, the community was less empowered. He said that the turnout at his first party in Las Vegas was strong, but that most of the men were too anxious to get out of their cars and enter the venue, forcing him to go car-to-car and personally persuade each one to go in.
Now, 50 Shades and several thousand websites dedicated to the subject later, foot fetish is experiencing a gradual mainstreaming, and Savage believes that FootNight has contributed to the subculture's transformation into something that's maybe not quite vanilla but at least consumable by a pop audience. Besides L.A. and Las Vegas, FootNight parties are held in Long Beach, Detroit, Florida, internationally in Toronto, and elsewhere. There are several other FootNight-like events in L.A., though Savage called them “marginal.”
Still, most FootNight clients were not willing to go on the record and proclaim their footlove to the reading public. Most models, who attend FootNight under aliases, said they were managing alter egos — day jobs and college courses and boyfriends and prying relatives — that they're like to keep separate from their fetish lives. (L.A. Weekly was not allowed to mingle with the guests, in order to preserve their anonymity, but was given a designated area for interviewing guests who were willing.)
One closeted male attendee acknowledged that despite how innocuous the foot fetish might seem, “There's still a sense that it's weird and deviant, and there is still a persistent notion that guys with weird or deviant predilections are undesirable.”
But FootNight mainstays believe that the event continues to help normalize the fetish. “This isn't some hidden, taboo party, despite how taboo fetish can be viewed. It gives an amount of normality to something so many people feel they have to hide,” said Caroline Pierce, a model who has been with FootNight since its inception. “Everybody in this room is here for the exact same thing, so it takes the weird, awkward, hiddenness out of it. And that's what's so cool about it.”
FootNight's promotional coordinator Russell Peter, who has a foot fetish and works for the event for free, agrees: “If this fetish becomes more mainstream, it opens the floodgate for so much more.”
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