Hairy Old Men in Boots, Pissing and Smoking Cigars

Gay people, you know, occasionally express a fleeting pity for straight people, the idea being that the great bland majority are missing out on a particularly fulfilling and enlightening way of life that they can never understand, just because they don't have the constitution for it. I feel that way lately about people who don't have fetishes. Having a fetish is like having a hobby, only better. Having a fetish gives you something to think about while your subway is stuck in the tunnel or your committee meeting is droning on. It expands the erotic zone beyond the bedroom out into the street. The world is fair game.

Pity most people don't see it that way. Boors!

Five (more or less avowed) fetishists gathered as a panel at GMSMA's May 8 program meeting to talk about the things that drive them sexually. These were men who appreciate the eroticism of a greater part of the universe than just human genitalia. Well maybe no one professed to be in love with the moon, but just about the only thing all five had in common was an attraction to things somehow associated with men. It's just more evidence (if more were needed) that human sexuality is infinitely diverse.

That is surely true in the case of foot fetishes. You'd think that once you realized you were gay, kinky, and into feet, that would be narrow enough, but no: there are guys who are turned on only by bare feet, only by socked feet, only by sneakers, only by loafers, only by wingtips, or only by boots. As first speaker of the evening, I decided to talk mainly about boots, since there is a noticeable preference for boots in the leather-S/M community even among men who do not enjoy the fetish.

To allow the audience to get into the head of a fetishist, I read a true account of the sexual odyssey of an ardent boot-lover. The writer early matured from a fascination with men's feet and shoes to an obsession with their boots, all before puberty. His sister's boyfriend was his first big fetish-feeder, but as a young adult he zeroed in on mounted police and other uniformed types. In a desperate bid for authenticity, he began passing out business cards for bootblacking among the local cops, and one day they showed up at his door, ready for some waxy action. Nothing, he says, can surpass the arousal he felt as he sat with that first police boot propped between his own legs, its leathery shaft towering to his lips, its owner gazing down to keep a check on the work's progress. After that, he could never get enough. For a year and a half he shined shoes in a large office tower.

He finagled his way into polishing the boots of Texas A&M Corps Cadets, motorcycle cops at a regional "rodeo," and-for a few blissful weeks of exile-the state police at barracks near his home. For him, boots represent power.

Polishing and licking boots are ways to acknowledge the power wielded by the man who wears the boots.

Power was an ingredient in at least two other fetishes as well. Lee spoke of piss as a way to assert dominance over another man (Lee personally prefers not to confuse dominance with humiliation, which he avoids). Piss, he said, is an essential component of raunchy sex. It's forbidden, it's dirty, it's downright shocking to many people. To ke