Fetish didn’t always have sexual connotations. A fetish was an object believed to have supernatural powers. From poppets used in fertility rituals, to clothing meant to bring luck or protection to the wearer, to the image of a comet blazing across the night sky—many things were fetishes to various peoples. Of course, they didn’t call them fetishes, or use words like supernatural to describe them. Those are colonialist terms. To the peoples who believed in them, they were sacred. They were physical manifestations of the divine. ________ Before the fetish party, my date, Pixie, and I went for a pint at a pub near Lake Wingra. We put money in the jukebox, spun each other across the slippery floor to the strains of “Nightclubbing” and “Venus in Furs.” The punk boys at the bar sneered at us. ________ Sexual fetishism is attraction to a nonliving object or nonsexual body part. You can have a foot fetish, but not a cock fetish. You can, however, have a fetish for strap-ons. Having a sexual fetish means being more turned on by the rubber cock or the latex bodysuit your partner wears than by your partner themselves. ________ At the party, I stripped down to boots, striped stockings, garter belt, panties, bowler hat. Pixie painted spirals on my torso with black body paint, then covered her palms and left handprints on my tits. While she did what she’d been hired to do—paint latex designs on partygoers—I searched the room for a sexy someone to fuck me rough and spank me hard enough to leave red handprints on my ass. Pixie and I weren’t lovers like that. We were almost-girlfriends who met up every few months, to dance in bars. We were lovers who were never going to fuck. I half-looked, but found no one. Most of the doms were sad middle-aged men. They walked around desperate, slumped, potbellies hanging over the waistbands of their leather pants. I drank a couple overpriced, weak whiskey & Cokes. The venue was drafty, I was cold; the soundtrack was bad techno played too loud on a shitty sound system. My head hurt. I was too sober and far from turned on. I chewed my ice and waited for Pixie. The times I glanced over at her were the only times that evening I felt anything like arousal. Her hot pink hair, corseted curves, raggedy skirt, lopsided top hat—god, she was gorgeous. ________ Most people use the terms fetish and kink interchangeably, though they’re not the same thing. A kink is anything that gets you hot and falls outside the bounds of politely heterosexual, vanilla sex. The difference between kink and fetish is that a kink is something that turns you on, whearas a fetish is something you need in order to get off. If you’re turned on by the thought of a woman whipping you and ordering you to worship her shiny boots of leather, but get just as hot when a boy kisses you tender and runs his fingers through your hair, you have a kink. If you can’t cum without the whips and the boots, it’s a fetish. ________ After the party, Pixie and I wandered the frozen streets until we found a pizza joint. The table next to ours was crowded with college kids, one of them a drunk frat boy so threatened by our presence he immediately set out to harass us. He noticed Pixie had a trace of an accent. I don’t understand your accent, he said. Is it Australian? English? Wait, it’s Irish. You’re Irish, right? She nodded. Damn right, boyo. Are you both Irish? Yeah, I said, faking a brogue. We ate our greasy slices and rolled our eyes as he spewed every anti-Irish epithet he could think of. When Pixie leant across the sauce-spotted table and kissed me, he flipped out. Ohmygod, are you guys lesbians? Fuck! He turned to his friends, said: We’ve got a couple of Irish lezzies here! I thought the Irish, were, like, the straightest race on the planet! He looked back at us, eyes burning with questions. Sure as anythin’, I said, someday we’ll have loads of babies with real Irish men. Until then, we keep each other company just fine. Ya ever hear that sayin’ about Irish girls havin’ a spring in their step? Now, why d’ya think that is? Pixie and I held hands and skipped out into the night, howling with laughter. We spent the rest of the night holed up in a damp basement. We uncorked a bottle of beaujolais and poured it into plastic cups, put pomegranate tobacco in the hookah. We blew smoke rings, sipped wine, until we were dizzyhigh. Divine decadence, we sighed. Devout debauchery. When the wine and tobacco were gone, we made out. She warmed her cold hands on my chest; my heart beat hard beneath the latex handprints. I removed her hat, ran my fingers through her hot pink hair. We kissed and touched so long I lost the edges of my body, lost track of where my skin ended and hers began. ________ I have some kinks, but they’re not all things that would fit neatly into a dating site profile. There’s no website where I can search for other people into: dancing to Lou Reed while the punk boys sneer. Being an Irish lezzie. Dressing like a Weimar cabaret performer. Making out with a girl dressed like a Dickensian prostitute. Kissing until you turn incorporeal. I don’t have any fetishes, unless by fetish you mean magical object. The following day, I carried Pixie’s half-broken top hat home with me. I never saw her again, but sometimes I place the hat alongside other objects on my altar. My altar to raggedy pixies, to whiplash girl-children and ghosts nightclubbing in the darkest bars. I lay these fetishes out as offerings, as physical manifestations of divine debauchery. I am so very devout.
Jessie Lynn McMains is a poet, writer, zine-maker, small press publisher, and spoken word performer. They are the author of multiple chapbooks, including The Girl With The Most Cake and forget the fuck away from me (Bone & Ink Press, February 2019). They have been publishing their own and others’ writing in zines and chapbooks since 1994, and have been performing their work across the US and Canada since 1998. They were the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, WI, and currently write a reoccuring music column for Pussy Magic. You can find their personal website at recklesschants.net, or follow them on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie