I once wrote a column called "Hanky Panky"(May 26, 2011) about the art of "flagging" and it caused quite a stanky. Flagging is when you put a bandana in your pocket to indicate your kink according to the bandana's color. An example I gave was flagging a red bandana to show an interest in "bloodsports" (incorporating non-lethal cutting into your sex life). A reader threw a little fit about it, somehow confusing me with a vampire. But I wasn't recommending that you go under the knife. There are more mellow, manageable fetishes to try out, but first, what's a "fetish" anyway? Well, it's hard to find quality information about fetishes that doesn't included superlatives like "sickest" and lots of judgement. Until now.
A fetish isn't just something you sexually enjoy (or we'd all have orgasm fetishes) but it's more specifically an object or act required for sexual satisfaction. You don't actually have a shoe fetish because your closet is stacked with Louboutins. You might, however, if your partner must be stepping on your groin with them in order for you to orgasm.
Some say fetishists are born so, others say they had some traumatic childhood shit go down that ingrained a problematic love of stilettos. Some fetishists feel that their "kinks" are changeable, and others say they're as much a defining part of their identity as being gay or straight. In my book, the only "bad" fetishes are non-consensual.
The majority of fetishes fall into BDSM dynamics, revolving around dominant/submissive roles and/or some kind of strong physical sensation, whether that be corporeal confinement (ie. wearing a rubber bodysuit) or pain-as-pleasure (i.e., spanking). Others focus on specific materials (i.e., latex), body parts (i.e., feet) or objects (i.e., stilettos). Luckily, the most common are easy to try at home!
"Voyeurism" and "exhibitionism" are, respectively, the enjoyment of watching others get it on or showing your sexy stuff off. Make a sex tape, for instance, spy on your partner masturbating from the closet (with permission) or get some friendly neighbors and bigger windows. Don't jerk off on public transportation.
"Watersports" have nothing to do with jet-skis and everything to do with urinating on each other—easy.
"Plushophilia" encompasses both "furries" (those who dress up as animals) and the "plushies" who love them. We're not talking cat-ear headbands, we're talking mascots. Go Wildcats!
Other common "humanimal" fetishes are pony-girls/boys and puppy-girls/boys who often come complete with bits, collars and, of course, anal plugs that give a naughty little pet its defining tail.
"Foot worshipers" don't just settle for any old foot. This encompasses all licking/sucking/penetration involving your little piggies but also crosses over into licking/cleaning/being walked on by a nice pair of heels or boots.
"Bloodsports" are very dangerous if not done professionally. Because this kink can be about the mere feel or threat of a sharp, metallic object against the skin, try it out with something blunt like a hefty letter opener.
Material fetishes are safe, easy and cheap. Mr-S-Leather.com has everything from rubber body suits to liquid latex that you brush on the skin to create a non-toxic, removable elastic.
Breath control play ranges from the extremely dangerous to the manageable-with-care, things like face-sitting and smothering. Novices should try a hand over the mouth or a ball gag and should never attempt any choking. Death by orgasm isn't as glamorous as it sounds.
Costumes and role playing (doctor/patient, Clinton/Lewinsky) have forever been part of the kink community. A fun new one is "dollification"—one partner's the doll and the other the master. The doll gets to dress up but can't move unless the master physically moves them.
"Genital worship" is a great excuse to stop and smell the... roses. Washing, shaving, a steady hand and lots of trust all go into spending some kinky quality time with your partner's pubes.
So, now you want to try out a kinky fetish. Or maybe you've always had one. But how do you present such a thing to your wife/first date/beautiful stranger? Next time.