Dr. Suzy’s SCHOOL for FETISH at LA’s First Fetish Film Festival
Brothers and Sisters; Lovers and Sinners; Artists and Exhibitionists; Voyeurs and Connoisseurs; Bootlickers, Corset-wearers, subbies and Dommes: get ready for the first LA Fetish Film Festival! It’s our virgin festival, our maiden voyage, our first time. There’s a first time for everything, but there’s only one first time for anything. We’ll never get to have a second first time, so let’s make this a great time; after all, it’s about time we celebrate the cinema of fetish in the City of Cinema and Fetish. Many thanks to Michael Simmons, director of “American Fetish” (Best Film, 2010 Fetisch Film Festival—Kiel, Germany), for bringing this newborn festival to term, this weekend, April 14-16. Michael has asked me to introduce him at the awards ceremony as well as open the festival with an “Introduction to Fetish.”
So here we go…Dr. Suzy’s School for Fetish is now in session. Listen up, or I’ll make sure you can’t sit down! First, let us define our terms: What is a fetish (Une fetishe! Ooh la-la! C’est quelque chose Français, bien sûr)? A fetish is a thing—a boot, a breast, a bra, a burqa—or an activity—watching, being watching, spanking, being spanked—that the fetishist endows with great power—sometimes with great sexual power, sometimes with great religious power, sometimes both. In the classic sense, the fetishist objectifies, glorifies and downright deifies the object, body part or activity, above and beyond any mere human being.
Take the foot fetishist. For him—or her (but usually him)—a beautiful foot is the foot of the Goddess. In fact, the foot itself is the Goddess. Or take the leather fetishist, for whom the smell, look and feel of leather is heavenly, intoxicating, powerful. Then there are the pain fetishists, the martyrs, the bad boys and girls who love to be punished, restrained, tortured, humiliated, tied up, spanked, slapped or more. Most intense fetishes stem from childhood or adolescence, a developmentally influential time, during which a beloved individual—mother, father, sibling, governess or maybe a teacher—wore or did something special, or perhaps a traumatic personal experience left an impression that took hold in the form of a fetish.
But fashion can also stimulate fetishes, and fetishes can be very fashionable. Not all fetishes are in fashion all the time, though. The people who struggle most with “fetish guilt,” who worry that they’re weird (“Am I normal?” is the most common question I get as a sex therapist), tend to be the ones with the unfashionable fetishes. Sometimes their angst stems from nothing more than being acutely out of fashion. Take guys who like to wear silk stockings, but happen to live in the 21st century; they take on significantly more guilt than they would have, had they lived in the 17th or 18th century, when many very manly men (like our Founding Fathers, for instance) wore silk stockings. Clothing fetishists struggle with being in or out of fashion.
Then there are Body Part Fetishists, who might worship buns or nipples or hair (oh my!). Object Fetishists like to be intimate with inanimate objects, e.g., boots, panties, bras, leather. Then there are what I call the Action Fetishists. These are the voyeurs and the exhibitionists. The oral and anal sex fetishists. The BDSM fetishists. The chronic masturbators. And there are what I call Feeling Fetishists, who may be more socially acceptable, but can be just as compulsive. For instance, adrenaline junkies fetishize danger. Romantics fetishize love. Drama Queens fetishize suffering. Terrorists fetishize fear. Fascists fetishize control.
Originally, the word “fetish” meant a religious object, so it’s no wonder that that so many of us fetishize religious objects: Cross my heart and hope to die (the little death)! Some people have a fetish for money—perhaps the most popular female fetish, next to love. Think about it: Many women can’t enjoy sex unless they’re paid or in love. Marriage is what I would call a socially sanctioned “forced fetish.” We’re only supposed to enjoy sex in marriage; if that’s not a forced fetish, I’ll eat my boot.
But back to the classics: bondage, sadism, masochism, voyeurism, exhibitionism, pscyhrocism (that’s being aroused by the cold). Fetish terms like these originated in the work of 19th century psychologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing. In his Psychopathia Sexualis (1885), Krafft-Ebing was also the first to recognize the difficulty of drawing the line between fetish and “normal” sex, when he said most lovers engage in “horseplay…just for fun’ and that doesn’t make them sado-masochists. Krafft-Ebing defined a “fetish” as something that the fetishist requires in order to get aroused; nowadays, with the growing international fetish movement infiltrating fashion and culture in numerous ways, the meaning of the word “fetish” has grown much looser, encompassing anything that turns the fetishist on. We have Fetish Fashions and Fetish Balls, and now we have the LA Fetish Film Festival, featuring many of our friends and frequent guests on The Dr. Susan Block Show, including Dark Phoenix, Rubbernecro, Sinn Sage, Kilo, Master Liam, Sir Nik, Sex & Metal, Lily Cade, Katie Kinns, Ash Hollywood, Olivia Belafontaine, JuxLii, Catchh and Janel.
Can your relationship benefit by exploring a fetish? Absolutely. I’ve seen many couples resolve their issues with rage and peacefully channel their violent impulses through playing responsible BDSM games together. It can even help to reduce domestic violence. And it’s the Bonobo Way! At least, the way in which we explore fetishes, is in keeping with the Bonobo Way. The American Military Industrial Complex seems to have a fetish for torture—nonconsensual torture. This is very dangerous, to you, to your victim, to the country, to the world and, at the end of the day, is simply not good clean fetish fun. Not that such tortures—dominance and submission, sensory deprivation, being forced to wear or not wear certain restrictive or revealing garments—aren’t erotic when performed consensually. The key is consensuality—or, in less clinical terms: love and respect.
What about fetish addiction? Even with love and respect, can you become addicted to a fetish? Of course! In a non-clinical sense, anything pleasurable can be “addictive.” The best things in life are addictive, including, hopefully, the brand spanking new LA Fetish Film Festival. Develop a fetish for it, darling. You know, it’s got a fetish for you.
Go to the LA Fetish Film Festival! Make your reservations here.
See much hotter fetish pix and clips from previous shows and orgies on DrSusanBlock.tv.
Learn to share your fetishes and more with your partner(s). Read The 10 Commandments of Pleasure