Ludacris has a thing for feet. According to a 2004 interview he gave to Today, the rapper, actor and one-time Fear Factor host judges a lady’s date-worthiness by how sexy her feet are, rejecting anyone who “tricks” him by pulling a displeasing foot out of her boot. “I have a foot fetish,” he explained.
That a household name like Luda came out and admitted he had a fetish was titillating at the time, but the fact that feet were his fancy was somewhat less so: According to a 2007 study of more than 5,000 adults, foot fetishism is the most common non-vanilla desire. And as evidenced by Ludacris’ admission, it’s also the most seemingly mainstream. Nowhere is that more apparent than on wikiFeet, a celebrity foot fetish site, founded in 2008, that bills itself as “the most extensive online message board and photo gallery of women’s feet on the Internet.”
According to The Guardian, more than 700,000 people visit wikiFeet every week to rate and review the feet of over 30,000 famous women’s feet. Some of these feet are attached to A-listers like Ivanka Trump, Whoopi Goldberg and Emma Stone, but the vast majority of them are C- and D-list feet submitted by a global network of users who pull them from public sources like social media, magazine covers, film stills and Google Images.
If you’re a foot fanatic, I’m sure you’ll find wikiFeet’s selection — sortable by nationality, foot size and birthday — to be robust and satisfying. If you’re not, I’m equally sure you’ll find absolutely nothing sexy about it — the images are zoomed-out, G-rated and no more erotic than your standard Getty photo. The comments are equally tame and nothing like the ones you’d find on a typical porn site. “Beautiful soles, with elegant form!!!!” reads one. “Very nice #bath” is another. They’re also very, very knowledgeable about feet.
This became clear a few weeks back when what appeared to be a nude of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez vaping in the bath surfaced on Reddit and 4chan. For a minute, it seemed like America’s youngest congresswoman was about to face her first sex scandal, but the image was quickly debunked by none other than wikiFeet, whose hilariously clinical analysis of the image revealed it was actually Sydney Leathers’ piggies in the tub, not AOC’s. Foot fetishists, it appeared, had saved the day.
It’s not every day that a fetish community saves a burgeoning politician from certain infamy, nor is it common for mainstream media to take its opinions seriously. However, foot fetishists aren’t your average group of kinksters — they’re a heavily populated clan whose outspoken celebrity members and uniquely positive media coverage has given them a louder, more commercially listenable voice than most fetish groups enjoy in today’s sex-negative climate.
Princess Fawn is a pro-Domme who’s been in L.A.’s bustling foot scene for six years. She tells me she started letting people worship her feet during her first year of college after her friend suggested she give it a try. “I’ve always loved people touching or massaging my feet,” she says. “I like it so much I’ve made it my speciality. I’d say it’s what I do with between 75 to 80 percent of my clients.”
Fawn says most people find her through the foot fetish community’s extensive network of kink and dating websites — Fetlife, Max Fisch, CollarSpace, Switter and The MousePad. On these sites, people browse pics, discuss the merits of stinky socks, debate whether foot tattoos are hot and come together to adore feet, shoes and everything related to them.
Long toes, high arches and soft, supple soles are the most prize-winning qualities in Foot World, but some people are also turned by what wikiFeet categorizes as “ugly feet” — bunions, bone spurs and all. Women’s feet are the more common object of fantasy, but there are plenty of sites dedicated to men’s leg-tips, too. (wikiFeet has a newly minted men’s section, where Zac Efron’s bad boys have been crowned 2018’s Feet of the Year.) Such sites also help people find their perfect match for in-person foot play, which Fawn says usually takes place at “foot parties,” kink events or in private sessions.
A lot can happen during a party or a session, but Fawn says her clients usually want to smell, kiss, massage or pamper her feet. Others want her to trample, kick or step on them with high heels or other footwear, while some request she wears certain styles like sneakers, ballet flats or boots. A few like to tickle or clean her feet, or just take photos of them. Most people ask her to wear toenail polish — foot fanatics almost always want polish.
However, though there can be a lot of licking, kissing and even some genital touching, foot play isn’t necessarily sexual in nature (and most BDSM workers won’t do it if sexual activity is involved). “The play itself can be pretty tame, but there is a magic that happens when a worshipper becomes completely entranced by the visual and smell of the feet,” explains Mistress Karin Sin, a Denver-based pro-Domme. “They become mesmerized and will barely look away. The opportunity to focus completely on the fetishized object with no judgment, jealousy or confusion in a safe space with a professional Domme is a good option for the people who feel they need to hide or tip-toe around their fetish.”
It’s also not a bad option for sex and BDSM workers who need to make a buck. Because it doesn’t necessarily involve “sexual touch” of the “genitalia, buttocks, anus, groin or breasts,” foot play doesn’t always meet the criteria for illegal sex work in most states’ penal codes. “A strict interpretation of the penal code would permit foot fetishism,” explains criminal defense attorney Lou Shapiro.
Of course, many types of BDSM don’t involve sexual touch, but few are as innocuous as foot play. It’s not as physically or psychologically risky as something like irresponsibly practiced knife play, master/slave dynamics or impact play, and it doesn’t lead to adverse results like STIs or unwanted pregnancy. It’s also conveniently unobtrusive and easy to conceal. Checking out someone’s feet as they walk by in a pair of irresistible ballet flats doesn’t out you as a foot fetishist in the way walking down the street in a gimp suit might out you as a submissive — it just looks like you’re looking at the ground. Likewise, a browser history full of “size 5 high arch stilettos” or “sexy Morton’s toe” isn’t as scandalous as “bisexual fisting gangbang” or “step-dad prostate surprise,” a handy truth that lowers its shock value toward the tepid preferences of the mainstream just a bit further.
However, what makes foot fetishes the most non-threatening — and therefore the most culturally approachable — kinksters is the fact that feet are universal. “It’s easier for many to understand being sexually turned on by a body part we all share compared to activities that seem removed from us,” explains Mistress Lucy Sweetkill of the BDSM collective La Maison du Rouge. That may explain why sex that involves penises and vulvas and boobs is more normalized than fetishes whose object isn’t as ubiquitous or concrete — if you’re familiar with something and can envision how good it might feel to get touched there, it might be easier to understand why other people fetishize it.
Because of this relative inoffensiveness, foot fetishes have been welcomed with relatively open arms in the media, something that gives it more social capital than more extreme-seeming fetishes like age play or cock-and-ball torture. As Sweetkill points out, “The topic of having a foot fetish or heel fetish has been positively covered on TV shows and movies, and there have been many celebrities that openly talk about their love for feet.”
Check and double-check there. Ever seen Pulp Fiction or Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special Deep in the Heart of Texas? Did you know Elvis used to have his handlers screen romantic interests based on their feet? Or that Olivia Munn likes to have her toes sucked?
Altogether, these factors contribute to the relative normalization of foot fetishism, a quality few kinks are privy to. Of course, most kinky subcultures and fetish communities don’t necessarily want to be mainstream, but being socially accepted does have its benefits. Because of its relative innocuousness and positive media presence, foot fetishism has been able to withstand the recent onslaught of online censorship efforts undertaken by social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Tumblr. That means it’s been able to flourish online even as other sites like Fetlife get sanitized to puritanical standards or shut down like Craigslist Personals. In other words, no one’s coming after wikiFeet.
Just the opposite, actually. While you can’t even say the word “sex” on Facebook without getting flagged anymore, some foot fetishists are actually profiting off social media, even in its repressed state. One article by News.com found that thanks to Instagram’s booming #footfetishnation, some popular accounts are raking in up to $90,000 per year selling photos of their feet to adoring fans. “It’s more open and easier to connect with each other now, and will remain that way to the extent that social media platforms don’t censor or delete foot fetish content since it’s all basically G-rated,” she explains.
Other social media sites are even rescinding their mistaken bans on foot content. Sin says Tumblr recently flagged a handful of her clothed barefoot images, but released them once she appealed because they “weren’t violating any terms.”
All that said, foot fetishism still has a long way to go toward total acceptance. In fact, according to a wikiFeet user poll — which I’m sure used a rigorous scientific methodology — over half of people with foot fetishes prefer to keep them a secret from their friends and partners.
Thankfully for them, though, there are millions of like-minded foot people and BDSM workers to walk them through it, literally and figuratively. “Sometimes cultural norms also make people feel bad about their interest in feet and they just want someone to talk to who makes them feel that they’re not strange or ‘weird,’” says Sin.
So, while foot fetishists may be entering the political sphere and are making way more money than I am, it looks like they’re only about a toe shy of total world domination — at least for now.