Review of Deviant Desires


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review by Vamp

Deviant Desires
by Katherine Gates
Juno Books, 2000

Something original! This book is for anyone who has ever been curious about the many forms human sexuality can take.

I couldn't wait to read this book after I knew it had been published, and I was delighted when I was informed it would be the next book I would review. I'm a bit of a sexual adventurer, and I'm always looking for things off the beaten path to learn about and possibly enjoy. This book combined a few old favorites of mine with some brand new discoveries.

There are nine major chapters in the book, and each examines a fetish or a cluster of related fetishes. Rather than writing dry descriptions of the play, the author goes out and interviews people who do it. I really liked the fact that she let the fetishists speak for themselves most of the time. The author seems to make a real effort to find out what the attraction to the fetish is, and to pick out "favorite" scenarios. For example, she took the time to find out that around 60% of the fans of WAM (Wet and Messy) like people to be clothed while the mess is being made.

The author projects a real enthusiasm for understanding most of the fetishes she presents in the book, and rarely writes in a style that makes you feel she is negative or unkind about things.

There are TONS of illustrations and photos in this book, but my favorite are always of the people who were interviewed. I had heard of many of the people before, but SEEING them was a treat! Each chapter immerses the reader in rich images and informative sidebars featuring things like references, terminology, and equipment lists for each special interest. One of my MOST favorite things is a list of keywords that make it easy to go find more info on the internet. BRILLIANT! I haven't seen someone do that before, but I hope it catches on!

So what fetishes does the book cover?

The first fetish that is delved into is that of the "Turkey Man". I have to tell you that I think she could have done a whole chapter on this and the related "vore" fetishists. Instead, we just get a taste of this story with no interviews. That's really too bad since this was one of my favorite subjects.

Along with this introduction to the idea of "unusual" (less well known) fetish she goes over some basic concepts of alternative sexuality such as the difference between SM and abuse (such as put forth in the SM vs Abuse Policy statement drafted by the Leather Leadership Conference) and the credo of "Safe, Sane, and Consensual". This is very well done but understandably short. I hope that those who choose to pursue their sexuality take the time to do some reading and networking before venturing forth too far into uncharted waters.

After the introduction she studies Ponyplay (a form of roleplay in which someone takes on the role of a horse). I've done a lot of this play (as I talk about on my BDSM Animal Training site) and I found it fascinating to read about other people involved in it. I think she chose really good people to represent the fetish and presents a fairly wide variety of motivations involved. I was ESPECIALLY happy that she talked to Paul Reed of Equus Eroticus magazine and his pony Frisky. I'm always sad to hear people talk about how they'd love to do ponyplay but they think they can't because they aren't shaped like some impossibly thin plastic beauty queen. Frisky is a GREAT pony AND the choice of one of the more prominent players AND she is a beautiful larger woman. Another favorite part of this chapter was a very brief discussion of Shep. He isn't involved in pony play, but he gives readers a glimpse into the broader spectrum of human animal training that is not discussed or explored in this chapter otherwise. Shep roleplays as a Old English Sheepdog and can sometimes be spotted at The Other Pony Club's events. I really wish the author could have expanded on that theme a bit and talked about human puppies, human pigs, and other variations but she does do a brilliant job with the ponies. Perhaps in her next book or on her web site at Deviant Desires we'll see more in the future? I hope so! A special perk of this chapter is that it comes with The Other Pony Club's Ponyplay Logbook form (a type of a pony negotiation tool).

A favorite chapter of mine comes next, the Balloon Fetish folk! Looners (as they sometimes self-label) are fascinating to me. I first heard about them through my partner who had experiences with the looner version of cyber sex, I had been puzzled by his account of explaining to a woman in great detail how he was going to pop some balloons. I was somewhat jealous that he had gotten to be involved in something I hadn't ever experienced, nothing irks me like finding out I'm missing out on something! haha I've never really gotten the motivation of people who are into the blowing up, popping, fucking, pressing, or bouncing on balloons but after reading this chapter I not only GET it but want to TRY it. I finally get what they were seeing in those pictures of people popping balloons! I think it is wonderful when an author not only explores a topic but can give you such a clear understanding of motivations that you go from someone who is observing to someone who is suddenly understanding. She seems to touch base with a lot of the main folk in looner land such as Buster Steve and a lot of people that hang out at Balloon Buddies.

Moving on, the next chapter explores how Violet Beauregarde, the bratty gum chewer in the movie Willie Wonka became a patron saint to a certain group of fetishists. Remember how she chewed the gum when she wasn't supposed to and she blew up like a balloon? Well, welcome to the wonderful world of Body Inflation fetish! The author shows a pretty great variety, from those that completely indulge the fetish through artwork or verbal fantasy to those that buy intricate latex devices and fill them with air to watch themselves "grow". I've worn an inflatable hood before, and done some general inflatables type play but hadn't really thought much about the "growth" aspect of it before. To me, it was just bondage and/or breathplay. It was fun to consider it from another perspective! I think that I found the BigNoseGuy (his site is the Big Nose Appreciation Page) the most fascinating of all of the fetishists in this chapter though. He basically has a collection of morphed pictures that have women with incredibly long noses. I'm still trying to figure that one out, but I'm curious and delighted that such variety exists. Isn't it great to know there is so much variation in human experience? Another really interesting person interviewed is Inflate123. I could identify with his experiments in latex inflatables. He brings up challenges about that kink that a lot of folks may never have thought of, and I'm sure anyone with a latex fetish will find his interview fascinating. His experiences with different inflatables might prove a real money saver if you take the time to read what worked and what didn't!

The next chapter continues on the subject of growth, and looks at Macro fetish (sexual fantasies about REALLY giant human beings). I found Ron H.'s collages for Black Giantess magazine (Black Giantess Magazine c/o Ron H., PO Box 7711, Fredericksburg, VA 22401) incredibly fascinating. On top of being visually interesting, he says his artwork expresses his political views. I would have loved to have heard more about that. He talked about how he feels black women's feet (especially the bottoms of their feet) are never seen in magazines. I never thought of it before, but I think he is right. I don't believe that is an image that is often seen in print media or TV, and I really don't know why since it is such an erotic sight (at least for some of us that like feet). I think it was fun to contrast his motivations and visions with those of the more commercial Ed Lundt who publishes Giantess Magazine. Ed Lundt's humorous accounts of the demanding readership of his magazine made me laugh, and should be something that any publisher of adult content should be able to identify with!

Included in the Macro chapter is the Trample genre. I hadn't necessarily identified trample fetish with Macro fetish before, but I found that there were some very logical tie ins. The author seems to get most of her trample info from Queen Adrena, and even includes a bit of "Queen Adrena's Trampling Safety Tips". Apparently some of the most popular zones to trample are the chest, tummy, solar plexus, face, nose, crotch, and throat. All I can say to that is that I hope before attempting any of these things people go out and get an education on human anatomy. It may be fun to have someone stand on your chest, but if they put a heel down improperly on top of your xiphoid process (the small cartilaginous sword shaped lower portion of the sternum) you are not going to be having a good day. I don't want to discourage anyone, I just hope people are educating themselves on risks before going out and trying this one at home! Queen Adrena confides in this chapter that she's accidentally broken a man's ribs before, so be careful out there!

From Trample fetish we move on to Crush freaks. According to The American Journal of the Crush Freaks Vol. One erotic talk that could inspire a crush freak lover includes phrases like, "I'm going to squish you slowly, pressing down a little at a time, so I can feel your guts squish out." (I'm not sure this Journal is still available but it used to be ordered by contacting folks at The American Journal of the Crush Freaks, PO Box 946, Bellflower, CA 90707-0946)

To get into the minds of Crush freaks she sought out the grand daddy of them, Jeff Vilencia. I think she was a little hard on Jeff at times, but I could understand her issues with writing about this topic.

One of the hallmarks of a healthy pervert is the consensual nature of what we do. SOME crush freaks kill animals, bugs, or other creatures during their play (and somehow I don't think they signed any model release forms or negotiated for their snuff scene).

That said, I've always found it interesting when looking at my OWN reaction to this fetish that there is a hypocrisy involved in some of my moral indignation at some scenes.

If a spider is in my house, I squish it. I don't ask it if it wants to be murdered, I just WHAP it a good one. Why would I feel moral indignation if someone decides to take a photo of their foot squishing the spider? Why are they any more "dangerous" in their motivations than I am?

Then of course, beyond that question is one of the oldest of human quandaries. When is it okay to take a life? What guidelines do each of us use to make distinctions between higher and lower life forms? Many of us would feel fine killing the slugs in our gardens but wouldn't feel good killing a puppy, what is behind our value of one life above another?

Most of us are involved (in one way or the other) with the nonconsensual killing, torture, or abuse of other forms of life unless we happen to avoid any products that are tested on animals, are vegetarian, never use pesticides, and never wear any animal skin or fur. Even those of us that do refrain from all those things might bungle through a field of grass and step on countless bugs that won't live to see tomorrow. One might argue quite easily that vegetation deserves to live also, so the act of eating IT is also taking a life or at least severely pestering it.

Is it LIFE we value... or INTELLECT... or EMOTION?

There are a lot of uncomfortable feelings raised when someone wrestles with the moral question of exactly when harm is "okay" or "not okay". I think that is why this fetish really pushes a lot of buttons for people, both the negative and the positive.

I think that in light of the major issues involved in this kink, the author does an admirable job of presenting things and expressing her personal emotions while admitting that there may be some hypocrisy.

After that chapter we are ready for some comic relief, and we get that in the Messy chapter! Now, before you think I'm being flip and disrespectful by calling it "comic relief" you have to understand that a large element of WAM (Wet and Messy) for some people is slapstick. If you take a look at some of the pictures in Splosh! magazine you are going to be treated to many images of women with big smiles on their faces engaged in stuff that they think is exciting silly fun! Some good sites that I didn't see mentioned in her book that I thought I'd share with readers here are the Ultimate Messy Directory and Shokolada's Mess. You could also add the term "gunge" and "foodplay" to the keywords she mentions.

I was left wondering if the piesexual "Pieface Mike" had a web page, but after some digging I haven't found one yet. I hope he gets one, since I think it would be popular!

I kind of question the inclusion of a sidebar on Adult Babies and the group Diaper Pail Friends in this section. Perhaps I'm just too blinded by my own style of ageplay to see the relationship. My ageplay hasn't included any WAM like activities (and ageplay appeals to me in a very different way than WAM activities I do engage in). I guess I can see the loose connection, but I just imagine a lot of WAM fans went "WHAT?" when they read this section and saw infantilism there. I think for the same reasons, WAM enthusiasts may be less than thrilled to see panty wetters and such (like you'll find in Wet Set magazine) lumped into this category. In my limited personal experience, it is kinda irritating to WAM fetishists if you draw a parallel to excretory play. That is just my experience though, and goodness knows I don't have a ton in the "WAM" scene. I can say that I get a few of the same thrills, from both styles of play but they do have a very different feel to them. I'm one of the few people I've run into that does WAM and excretory related stuff too.

Here is where we get to the surprise section of the book for this reader! I hadn't heard of Clown Fetish before, or the adorable and interesting Ducky Doolittle AKA Knockers the Clown. There is a brief discussion of cake sitting and clown sex that really made me curious to find out more.

The next section goes back to controversial topics, but I think treats the subject matter very well. I'd have to say Hanne Blank's Big Big Love and this book are the best introductory resources or discussions about Fat Admirers and Feeders I've read. They take VERY different approaches with the subject and I hope that people read both for the balance. I think Hanne does a more thorough job of showing the difference between Fat Admirer culture and Feeder culture, but Katherine Gates explores the Feeder concept in a much more in depth fashion and interviews some of the women who enjoy being fed and gaining weight. The Feeder and Gainer culture (where the goal is to feed a partner or be fed by a partner so that there is significant weight gain) is a real controversial topic in fat activism, and it was refreshing to see it talked about so openly in this book.

Next, the author moves on to highlight a particular artist rather than the fetish he is famous for. His name is Romain Slocombe, and he is famous for producing art like Tristes Vacances (Sad Vacations) and the book Broken Dolls. If you were to look at the title of a Slocombe piece you'd learn volumes from, "Hematoma of left jaw with fracture of left suprarobital ridge." Basically, his pictures are of Japanese women wrapped in bandages, casts, or other medical gear. They sometimes look a little worse for wear (some light marks or scratches shown in the paintings) but they are generally shown after they have been bundled up and cleaned off. His photography (from what I've seen of it) generally appears to have very healthy young Japanese women bundled up in bandages and medical equipment (with none of the telltale signs of marks that appear in the paintings). I don't know why the author decided on focusing in on one specific artist rather than the broader categories of Medical Fetish and Cast Fetish, but it is a fascinating (if short) read. I guess I'm just greedy, I have fun reading about this stuff and it was sad to see there was such a short section on it. Those that have more of a general interest in medical fetish stuff might enjoy some of the FAQs and info found on the commercial site MedicalToys.com.

The last chapter is a great journey through a lot of different kinks including Slash Fiction, erotic Science Fiction, Furverts, Plushie lovers, dollers, and robot fetish. I think these really could have been separate chapters, and I was sort of confused at them being lumped together. Then again, I enjoy many of the above and tend to lump my interests into "Geek sex" so perhaps it does make sense after all! Haha

I enjoyed the brief glimpses of each though, and do think it is a nice jumping off point for someone who doesn't know how to start looking into any of these fetishes. If you'd like to explore these topics I suggest the Slash Fan Fiction Ring, Circlet Press, PeterCat's Furry InfoPage, Alt.sex.plushies FAQ, Alt.sex.fetish.robots, Living Doll House, and Maskon.com.

At the end of the book the author does something I haven't seen anyone do before, she "maps" out the fetishes. It is sort of a flow chart showing what fetishes seem to overlap or relate to each other. That was an interesting feature that some might find helpful. There is a limited bibliography at the end, but I'm afraid that it includes Brenda Love's "Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices" and that gets her two demerits! I can't stand that book! If you can read that thing as a fetishist and not get infuriated, all I can say is you are a better sport than I am.

Who would I not recommend this book to?

If you are looking for erotic materials or advanced how-to information you may be served better elsewhere. The book has a fairly heavy heterosexual slant, but I think that won't bother most people in this case. When pansexual materials are available the author is quick to offer them up.

Who would I recommend this book to?

It is an EXCELLENT book if you want a broad overview of some sections of the fetish community and the resources to explore further on your own.

For those who have more than a passing interest in fetish, the most valuable thing about the book is the interviews. I just couldn't get enough of those! I think kink is usually best described by the people who practice it (in my prejudiced kinky opinion) and I'm more interested as a reader in finding out about the people involved than in some sort of half baked theory as to the "cause" of it all. I was happy that most of the time Katherine Gates leaves any theorizing to the people themselves. When she steps away from that and comes up with Freudian explanations for things like Looners, she still isn't as bad as Brenda Love. In fact, she is rather thought provoking and interesting.

I genuinely enjoyed this book and found that it opened my mind to some new forms of enjoyment. I can't wait to see her next book, and I will be checking her EXCELLENT website at Deviant Desires. She is growing a real unique resource over there, and I feel really happy that someone is putting the elbow grease into such a project.

All in all a very fascinating read!

Vamp:)=

This review is Copyright © 1999 Vamp Ire.


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