When one thinks of fetish what comes to mind? Perhaps the obvious like leather, BDSM. Maybe feet or boots? If adventurous maybe pup play or adult babies?
I'm here to tell you fetish is everywhere, everything, all encompassing. Whatever the creative mind can conceive will be fetishized. In the 21st century fetish is on the tip of becoming mainstream. When one thinks of mundane franchises like 50 shades of grey, it already is.
How did we get here? Do we understand what fetish really is?
Fetish: a form of desire in which gratification is linked to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, practice etc…
*fixation, obsession, compulsion, mania, fancy, taste, fascination, idee fixe…
*an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers, considered to be inhabited by spirit.
*fetish is pre-religion, perhaps the foundation of religion? *the personal belief in something without any scientific proof it exists. Empowerment of symbols, ideas, faith in one's own prayers… one's own desires…
Don't let the sexual aspect of fetish hang you up. … deep meditation and prayer are just as intense as orgasm.
If you don't believe me, check out a Baptist church service.
Fetish is a big part of early 21st century culture, but the history of fetish is vast and complex.
I give you-
Marquise de Sade 6/2/1740- 12/2/1814 Known for his erotic writings combining philosophical discourse with sexual fantasies. A proponent of absolute freedom, unrestrained by morality. The words sadism and sadist are derived from his name. Btw- he created most of his writings in prison.
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch 1/27/1836- 3/9/1895 The term masochism is derived from his name. He wrote Venus in furs, (1870). The novel draws themes of dominance and sadomasochism inspired by his own life.
Pierre Molinier 4/13/1900- 3/3/1976 Lived his life in Bordeaux, France creating paintings, drawings and many self-portrait photographs feature fetishistic eroticism including homosexualism and transvestitism. He lived the sexual obsessions most surrealists only dreamt about.
Anne Cecile Desclos (11/23/1907 – 4/27/1998) French journalist and novelist who wrote under the pseudonym Pauline Réage. Best known for her erotic novel story of o, 1954).
Irving Klaw (11/9/1910-9/3/1966) Irving Klaw was an influential American merchant of sexploitation, fetish, and Hollywood glamour pin-up photographs and films. His great contribution to the world was to commission fetish art with models like Bettie Page. Irving Klaw is a central figure in the "bizarre underground," the pre-1970 fetish art years.
Bettie Page (4/22/1923- 12/11/2008) From 1951 through 1957, Bettie Page posed for photographer Irving Klaw for mail-order photographs with pin-up and bdsm themes, making her the first famous bondage model.
Elmer Batters (11/24/1919 – 6/25/1997) A pioneer fetish photographer who specialized in capturing artful images of women with an emphasis on stockings, legs, and feet, placing him ahead of his time in popularizing foot fetishism imagery as erotic entertainment.
George Dureau (December 28, 1930 – April 7, 2014) An American artist based in New Orleans whose long career was most notable for charcoal sketches and black and white photography of white and black athletes, dwarfs, and amputees.
Charles Gatewood (November 8, 1942 – April 28, 2016) Photographer, writer, videographer, artist and educator, who lived and worked in San Francisco, California. Gatewood produced over thirty documentary videos about body modification, fetish fashion and other alternative interests. His subjects include the Folsom Street Fair, Dadafest and burning man.
Fakir Musafar (August 10, 1930 – August 1, 2018), An American performance artist, photographer and early proponent of the modern primitive movement. He experimented with and taught body modification techniques such as body piercing, tightlacing, scarification, tattooing and flesh hook suspension.
Robert Mapplethorpe (November 4, 1946 – March 9, 1989) An American photographer. His most controversial work is that of the bdsm subculture in the late 1960s and early 1970s of New York City. The homoeroticism of this work fuelled a national debate over the public funding of controversial artwork.
Quentin Tarantino (March 27, 1963 - ) American filmmaker. His films are characterized by nonlinear storylines, satirical subject matter, an aestheticization of violence. It may seem surprising that I include Tarantino in this list. It is my opinion he has a major foot fetish. For confirmation check out his films again with my suggestion in mind. Specifically Kill Bill, (2003 & 2004) and his most recent- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, (2019).
Me! - Rick Castro (July 20, 1958- ) American photographer, filmmaker, writer and blogger whose work focuses on bondage, sado-masochistic sex, fetish and desire.
There are numerous other artists, practitioners and enthusiasts creating fetish on a regular basis, so I'm happy to say the legacy will continue.
This article can be found in Recon ISSUE_02, along with other articles, photography and artwork focused on fetish and kink. Available in fetish locations around the world now and online soon.