Kinky boots

Kinky bootsKinky boots are boots with extreme characteristics which are intended to present a dramatic sexy appearance, such as by a prostitute or dominatrix. Extreme characteristics might include very high heels, thigh- or crotch-high length, or unusual colors or materials. Boots like this can be related to boot fetishism, which thus makes them a form of fetish clothing. The term is ambiguous, since what can be considered kinky by some can be seen as elegant fashion by others.

Boots of this type, and specifically the thigh-high leather boots worn by Honor Blackman in her role as Cathy Gale in The Avengers, are referred to in the 1964 song “Kinky Boots” by Blackman and her Avengers co-star Patrick Macnee. Usually, nowadays the term is connected to the type of thigh-length boots used by Julia Roberts in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman and by Madonna in her Re-Invention Tour in 2004.
The term “kinky boots” was coined in the UK in the early 1960s when high boots, which had previously been worn in the “underground” fetish and sadomasochistic world of the dominatrix and her clients, broke into mainstream female fashion. The term “sexual kink”, meaning not entirely straight, was used, often in a jocular sense, to describe an unusual sexual desire that was not sufficiently deviant to attract the word perversion. Since men who were attracted to women in boots, which symbolised power, were heterosexual, the term “kinky” was applied to them, rather than “perverted”, which at that time mainly implied homosexuality. The term thus became applied to the boots that were worn by women because of their previous association with SM.

The original kinky boots were calf- to knee-length pull-on black leather boots with 4- to 5-inch heels and pointed toes. This was the kind of boot worn by Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg (Emma Peel) in the original Avengers television series. Capitalising on their popularity, Blackman and Macnee (John Steed) cut the single record called “Kinky Boots”, which became a Top 5 UK charts’ hit in 1990, 27 years after its original release. “Kinky Boot Beasts” make a brief appearance in the Sea of Monsters sequence in the 1968 Beatles’ movie Yellow Submarine.

The boots were soon available in other colours, white being popular, and all heel heights. Later, from the mid 1960s onwards, the stiletto went out of fashion and calf and even thigh boots with lower thick heels or even flat heels came into fashion. These made it across the Atlantic Ocean to the States and were called “go-go boots” in the U.S.; however in the UK they were mostly still called “kinky boots” and the term was still being applied to the high-heeled platform boot, a popular fashion item of the 1970s.

Thigh-high boots

Thigh-high bootsThigh boots as articles of fetish clothing date back to at least the 1950s when Irving Klaw used them in the costuming of the women in his erotic photography. Since that time, they have been a staple of fetish and adult photography. For instance, Bob Guccione photographed the 1982 Penthouse Pet of the Year, Corinne Alphen, in a pair of black leather thigh boots for her feature layout. Similarly, Dwight Hooker photographed the Playboy 25th Anniversary Playmate, Candy Loving, in white leather over-the-knee boots for her layout.

Until the 2000s, fetish thigh boots were generally distinguished from fashion boots by being more extreme in many design dimensions, particularly heel height and platform height. In the late 2000s, this trend began to change as couture designers, particularly Christian Louboutin, began to experiment with more extreme designs in their shoes. Consequently, the difference between the two now is more a function of the materials used. In particular, fetish thigh boots tend to be constructed of polyurethane (PU) or vinyl (often incorrectly referred to as patent leather). In addition, they are generally produced in China and sold at low cost. An example line of inexpensive fetish thigh boots is sold under the brand name Pleaser.

A select group of European cobblers have specialized in higher-priced thigh boots for the fetish market. Legendary among these was the London-based Little Shoe Box, which crafted both ready-to-wear and custom thigh boots in leather and real patent leather. The Little Shoe Box, however, ceased operations in 2005 after 40 years of operation. Three other cobblers, Leatherworks Ltd. (London), Biondini (Italy) and Jean Gaborit of Paris have continued the tradition of producing higher quality fetish thigh boots. Jean Gaborit also specializes in boots and made-to-measure boots.

Jean Gaborit maintains its own online shop, but most other fetish boots sold online are commonly sourced from either Pleaser or Biondini—the latter more in Europe.

Fuck-me shoes

fuck-me bootsThe phrase possibly originated in America, where two similar terms are used: “‘fuck-you shoes’ implying a disregard for convention or propriety, or ‘fuck-off shoes’ where ‘fuck-off’ means both outsize and aggressive”. Tight trousers were called “come fuck-me’s” as listed in a 1972 British dictionary of slang, while a 1974 book is cited as making a reference to a person wearing “a pair of fabulous 1940s-Joan-Crawford-fuck-me’s”. The song “We are the Dead” from David Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs album mentions “fuck-me pumps.”

Prominent feminist Germaine Greer brought what had been an “obscure” term to more mainstream notoriety when she used it in 1995. Greer used the term in referring to British journalist Suzanne Moore’s alleged “hair bird’s-nested all over the place, fuck-me shoes and three fat inches of cleavage”. Greer made the remark in response to a column Moore had written about Greer in The Guardian, where Moore had mistakenly repeated an incorrect rumor that Greer had a hysterectomy as a voluntary decision to have herself sterilized.

Greer was also quoted during the 1990s as criticizing a number of women writers that she termed “lifestyle feminists” who were, in her view, espousing feminism at nothing more than a superficial level. Moore’s response was that her fashion choices were dictated by her own tastes and not to please men: “as someone who grew up with punk and Madonna, I take it for granted that women dress to please themselves and not men…” Moore has said her footwear is “not worn just for the benefit of men”, implying that the intention is twofold, to please both her and observers, although she also says “Most of the pleasure [of buying shoes] involves a private fantasy that begins with me and ends at my feet. Men don’t get a look in”.

The incident, and the term, received coverage in British media and beyond, and the term has become associated with Greer in popular culture. Greer had been denouncing stiletto shoes as symbols of women’s subordination as early as 1971. She continues to use the phrase “fuck me shoes” in public speaking when discussing gender and clothing styles society deems appropriate.

The expression was further popularized when British jazz singer Amy Winehouse released the single “Pumps” (originally titled “Fuck Me Pumps” on her 2003 album Frank), a song about gold diggers.

In January 2011, in an forum with teenaged students in Cartagena, Colombia, Greer noticed the popularity of silicone breast implants in the audience. She asked students why they thought women tennis players wore skirts, and asked why a young woman would choose to wear stiletto shoes: “So you think the shoes are her fetish? […] I call them fuck-me shoes,” she said, “because you can’t walk in them but you can wear them in bed.”

Boot worship

Boot worshipBoot worship is a term for the practice of extreme adulation of boots in BDSM, usually carried out while the footwear is being worn by the dominant partner.

It is related to foot worship in a derivative way, in that the adulation may really be attributable to the proximity of the boots to their master/mistress. The foot is usually considered one of the “lowest” and least appreciated parts of the body, and it is a kind of humiliation to be kissing and licking someone’s foot.

In Boot worship, the humiliation goes one step further. The submissive willingly worships the dominant partner’s shoes, and often without even being asked to. This reverence for the footwear that encloses the dominant partner’s foot is sometimes an expression of extreme devotion or loyalty, sometimes a concrete admission of inferiority or defeat, and sometimes both.

Thus boot worship may include sniffing or inhaling from worn boots, as well as licking, kissing or cleaning their exteriors by licking. Sometimes polishing of the boot can also be done. Chewing and eating of leather shoes can also be done.

It may also consist, more passively, of the submissive lying prone and being “trampled” by the dominant partner. Heeled boots may lend themselves to sucking, in an approximation of fellatio, anal and urethra insertion. The dominant partner can also sometimes beat the sub or slave with the footwear while wearing it. They can also have the submissive lying down in front of them and then place their boots over the submissive’s mouth, face, or body instead of the floor.

Boot fetishism in popular culture

Boot fetishismThe television series The Avengers, which ran in the 1960s, often featured fetishistic clothing, with Emma Peel, played by Diana Rigg, wore boots as a characteristic sign of her as a sexy and strong woman. Patrick Macnee and Rigg’s predecessor Honor Blackman (as Cathy Gale) released a 45 RPM single in 1964 titled “Kinky Boots”.

Female comic book super heroines and villains like Wonder Woman and Catwoman also often wear boots as a sign of combined female power and sex appeal.

Jill, protagonist of the video game Mighty Jill Off, is a sexual submissive with a fetish for boots.

Boot fetishism

Boot fetishismOne of the earliest descriptions of boots as a fetishistic object can be found in Émile Zola’s 1868 novel Thérèse Raquin. Actual boot fetishism is described in the diaries of 19th Century British woman Hannah Cullwick, of which parts have been published.

Hermine Hug-Hellmuth described boot fetishism scientifically in 1915. This article has also been published in English with comments by Arlene K. Richards in 1990, as Female fetishes and female perversions: Hermine Hug-Hellmuth’s “A case of female foot or more properly boot fetishism” reconsidered.

Boots were used by S. Rachman as a subject for research on conditioning as a cause for fetishism in the 1960s, making men sexually aroused by seeing pictures of boots, but the results have been put into question later, as boots already were very much en vogue for sexually attractive women at the time.

Unlike shoes, boot styles have often appeared as street wear before they inspire fashion designers. Boots are usually seen as a sign of empowerment for the wearer, especially when worn by women. This may be a reason for the connection to BDSM, where boots usually are seen as a statement of dominance. So called boot worship became a common subcultural practice among sadomasochists and related fetishists in the early 20th Century.

High-heeled boots help to elongate the calf, creating a longer-legged appearance which is generally considered to be more sexually attractive. The length of the boot shafts also adds to this impression. Boots have been displayed in magazines such as Leg Show and there are also magazines and websites aimed directly at this fetish. The fetish of the boot may be accompanied by a fetish for the material which it is made from, like leather, rubber, or latex. Boot fetishism is often targeted at fashion boots and riding boots but there are also boots expressly made for fetish purposes, like ballet boots and some forms of thigh-high boots (see these respective words for references).

There is also a very prominent subsection of mostly gay men who fetishize men’s boots. “boot worship” is a common practice in this group, to the point where there is a yearly contest to see who is the best bootblack. The types of boots favored by men differ from those worn by women, with men typically preferring more sturdy, rugged boots, such as combat boots, jump boots, motorcycle boots, or riding boots. These boots feature prominently in outfits worn by leather enthusiasts in competitions such as International Mr. Leather.

Shoe fetishism in popular culture

Shoe fetishismIn the 19th century, Central European students drank wine or Champagne from their lady’s shoe or bootlet as a sign of devotion. The custom is noted in the 1882 opera, Der Bettelstudent, where Symon drinks Champagne from Laura’s shoe at their wedding. In commemoration of this romantic tradition, the French shoe manufacturer Louboutin issued in 2009, a glass shaped like a woman’s shoe, which was reviewed critically by the German daily, Die Welt.

The Sex and the City episode, “La Douleur Exquise!”, featured a shoe salesman with a shoe and foot fetish, who allowed Charlotte York to have expensive shoes for free, simply for allowing him to assist her in trying on various pairs of open shoes whilst he openly complimented her on the state of her feet and offered reflexology. The relationship came to an end when Charlotte figured out she had been getting discounts because she was letting him hold her feet, and was further discomforted by the salesman obviously climaxing while assisting her with the sixth pair of the day.

The movie There’s Something About Mary featured a former boyfriend of Mary, Dom “Woogie” Wooganowski, played by Chris Elliott, with a shoe fetish. He tried to steal her shoes.

In the animated comedy show Family Guy the character Glenn Quagmire has a foot and shoe fetish, among other fetishes.

In the 1993 Spanish movie, The Bilingual Lover written and directed by Vicente Aranda and adapted from a novel by Juan Marsé, shoe fetishism pervades the whole story.

In the 1995 movie, While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock, the main character’s landlord played by Michael Rispoli has a shoe fetish.

In the 2000 Japanese television series, Bus Stop the main character, Musashi, has a strong interest in high heels, and at one point repairs a broken high heel for the woman he is pursuing.

Prevalence of shoe fetishism

Shoe fetishismIn order to determine the relative prevalences of different types of fetishes, scientists obtained a sample of at least 5000 individuals worldwide from 381 Internet discussion groups. The relative prevalences were estimated based on (a) the number of groups devoted to a particular fetish, (b) the number of individuals participating in the groups and (c) the number of messages exchanged. Using these measures, feet and shoes were found to be the most common target of preferences. This is consistent with an analysis of millions of search queries by users from the USA that were accidentally released during the AOL search data scandal. Sixty-four (64) percent of the sampled population that had a preference for an object associated with the body had a preference for shoes, boots, and other footwear.

Shoe fetishism

Shoe fetishismShoe fetishism is the attribution of attractive sexual qualities to shoes or other footwear as a matter of sexual preference, or an alternative or complement to a relationship with a partner. It has also been known as retifism, after the French novelist Nicolas-Edme Rétif (October 23, 1734–February 2, 1806), also known as Rétif de la Bretonne. Individuals with shoe fetishism can be erotically interested in women’s shoes. Although shoes may appear to carry sexual connotations in mainstream culture (for example, women’s shoes are commonly sold as being “sexy”) this opinion refers to an ethnographic or cultural context, and is likely not intended to be taken literally. Another fetishism, which sometimes is seen as related to shoe fetishism, is boot fetishism.

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