8 People Explain What They Wish People Knew About Their Kinks & Fetishes

Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Most folks can wrap their brain around vanilla sex — you know, sweet, happy, no surprises sex. But the world of kink and fetishes is rife with myths, misconceptions, and straight-up confusion.
And it’s not just a lack of knowledge that makes people scratch their heads when you move from missionary position to ménage à trois. There’s a lot of stigma surrounding kinks and fetishes, since what gets one person hot and bothered may be scary, offensive, or a deal breaker for another. And that’s totally okay — sexual proclivities aren’t one-size-fits-all.
"Everyone should realise that having a fetish or being involved in consensual kink is nothing to be ashamed of nor judged for," said Danarama, Director of Kink University (link very NSFW). "Sexuality is the most essential drive of any living creature, and anything that invigorates your enjoyment or desire for sex with your like-minded and willing partner is something that should be explored and celebrated."
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So how should we talk about kinks and fetishes? First, a couple of definitions. A "kink" is "any unconventional sexual desire, concept, fantasy, or practice" that "bends away from proclivities that are generally considered 'straight,' or what would seem typically arousing to others," while a "fetish" is "a sexual desire that is initiated or heightened in the presence or appearance of a particular material, shape, or part of the body" (like when someone is aroused by earlobes or the feeling of silk), Danarama said.
But that’s only part of the picture: Every person with a kink or fetish has his or her own story. So we talked to eight people with kinks and fetishes, and asked them what sparked their particular interest, how it plays out in their sex lives, and what misconceptions they want to clear up.
*Heads up: While everything you're about to read is consensual, some of the descriptions are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers. And while we fully encourage exploration and experimentation, we also endorse educating yourself about any techniques you’re looking to try to ensure safety.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Lola, New York City, 34
Kink/Fetish: Spanking

How/when did you first get interested in spanking​?
"The first time I was spanked in a sexual way was in high school. I’ve always been a little kinky, and my second boyfriend was really into experimenting. We were probably around 15 years old and futzing around with handcuffs while we messed around. One day, while we were playing around at his house, he gave my ass a couple of really good smacks — and that was it. That was the moment."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"I am a submissive and a masochist. Spankings are one of my favourite ways to experience pain. I’m actually not a big fan of being spanked while I’m being fucked, because it snaps me out of the moment. Spanking for me is a great warm up for sex, but not so great during the act."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"I think spanking is very triggering for some people because they associate it with getting in trouble or being punished for doing something wrong. I’ve even heard people associate it with abuse. It’s not abuse if it’s consensual."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"I wish people knew how cathartic spanking can be. I’ve worked through a lot of heavy shit with spanking. After a good spanking session, I feel amazing; I feel free. It’s a lot cheaper than therapy."

"Also, while spanking sounds like an easy thing to do, there are definitely things you should know before you start wailing away on your partner. You can cause a lot of pain — the bad kind — and damage if you hit someone in the wrong way or in the wrong place. Do your homework first!"
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Monk, Seattle, 46
Kink/Fetish: Rope bondage

How/when did you first get interested in rope bondage?
"It was 13 or 14 years ago. My mother-in-law gave me a book on rope bondage, The Seductive Art of Japanese Bondage by Midori. I went to Home Depot, bought some nylon rope, and decided to try it out. Then, I found a recipe to make rope, since I’m a DIY, crafty kind of guy. So I went ahead, made a batch, and the missus went, ‘Oh my God, let’s do more of this.’ Although I found it arousing, I was conflicted at first — I thought a nice guy shouldn’t get aroused like this. But I realised that the sexual charge I got from the act is a healthy thing."

"I founded The Twisted Monk in 2004 with the intent that rope is not a restraint; it connects. And the woman isn’t demeaned or doing anything against her will. That’s why in the how-to videos on our site, it’s my wife and I doing the demonstrations. We’re laughing and having fun — there’s nothing scary or intimidating about it."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"Rope is to sex, what rice is to cooking. It can be served as an ingredient, side dish, or as the main attraction. Rope is the connection, and it’s all about intent. Do I want to ‘take’ my partner? Do I want to wrap my partner up, cocoon him or her, and make them feel safe? If so, I adorn them with a lot of rope. There are so many ways you can use rope. It can be as simple as using a short length for a cock ring to several feet for full suspension bondage."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"If you Google rope bondage or go on a lot of kink sites, you’ll see images of people, who all look a certain way, suspended from the ceiling. People think: I don’t look like that, so rope bondage isn’t for me. A lot of the preconceived ideas people have about this kind of play comes from porn. It’s not realistic."

"So much of the imagery we see surrounding rope bondage is heavily slanted toward a heterosexual male binding a heterosexual female, who also looks like a gymnast. But yes, men like being tied up, too. Folks also assume that, in order to do rope bondage, you need an encyclopaedic knowledge of knots. Unless you’re doing something like suspension bondage, if you can tie your shoes, you already know all the knots needed to do good, connected, safe rope play."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"Take a class or learn from a mentor. There’s a lot of material out there, but it needs to be from a credible source. It’s like learning how to ride a motorcycle by watching a YouTube video — no sane person would do it."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Ms Pomegranate, Baltimore, 40
Kink/Fetish: Corsets

How/when did you first get interested in corsets?
"It was gradual, much like going into a cold pool, until you no longer notice the coldness. It starts at home with a thought ‘What if….’ or ‘Wouldn’t it be sexy or freaky to…’ Nearly all people that come into the kink world started in their own bedrooms, and depending on their experience, it can morph into a full-fledged pursuit of their kink or fetish. I could say romance novels fuelled my love of corsets, but perhaps it was any historical book where a woman was laced tightly into a confining piece of clothing."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"I wear corsets as much as possible, certainly at any kink or play party I attend, and sometimes even out in ‘vanilla’ life. It has even morphed into this love of all types of alternate clothing — latex, rubber, etc."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"As a kink educator, the biggest obstacle I have to overcome is the notion that something is ‘wrong’ with us. It’s simply not true. We are people who were willing to see what the other side offered and found it suited us — there’s no traumatic story, no emotional problems, no illegal porn stashed away on my computer. Sexual exploration seemed to stop somewhere in the past 20 years, as if vanilla boundaries were the only valid ones. Despite all the damage Fifty Shades of Grey has done, at least it has spurred a conversation."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Chad, Chicago, 37
Kink/Fetish: Cuckolding

*Cuckolding is a dynamic involving a husband, a wife, and a third man. The husband is the “cuckold” (sometimes shortened to “cuck”), and he likes to watch his wife have sex with other men.

How/when did you first get interested in cuckolding?
"I originally came to it through porn in my late 20s. My main sexual impetus has always been female pleasure. As a heterosexual guy, when I was younger, I didn’t particularly care about seeing erect cocks in my porn. I was more into solo women or lesbian scenarios."

"Over time, though, the light bulb came on that many women get their primary sexual pleasure from guys. I like how this fetish focuses on the woman’s revelling in abundance. I get off on the idea of a woman being so insatiable, wanton, and willing that even traditional relationship boundaries can’t hold her back in her pursuit of pleasure."

"Unlike many guys who are into this fetish, I’ve never been married, nor have I had a girlfriend cheat on me. I do like that cuckolding can reduce — if not completely eliminate — the typical anxieties and trust issues that build up in many conventional relationships about fidelity."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"In addition to masturbating to cuckolding and hotwifing porn, I connect periodically via the internet with couples who are seeking a man to join them to pleasure the wife. It doesn’t necessarily have to culminate in intercourse. For me, it’s included giving an hour-and-a-half-long full-body massage to a first-timer wife as her husband watched, and fingering a more experienced woman to multiple orgasms while her husband and I sucked her breasts. If the woman comes away happy, then I’m happy."

"Good communication is the key, whether you’re the wife, girlfriend, husband, or third wheel. You want to make sure that everyone comes away with a smile on their face and no bruised feelings. It’s better to take it slow than to rush. Focus on the woman's comfort and pleasure, and everything else will fall into place. Safe sex practices are also essential."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"There are plenty of misconceptions. One stereotype in cuckold porn is the huge black guy with a 12-inch cock pounding a woman who’s verbally abusing her white husband and his 2-inch cock. That’s not necessarily what happens, nor is this fetish an automatic indicator of male bisexuality."

"It also doesn’t mean that the husband doesn’t love his wife or that he’s trying to get her to sleep with other guys so that he has a free pass to do other women. Often, the husband is totally obsessed with his wife’s pleasure. He just wants her to have as much as possible."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"It can be whatever you want it to be. This is a very psychological fetish. You can inject huge amounts of energy into your sex life just by playing with the idea, whether or not you ever invite someone else into your bed. The build up is as important as the 'main event' — or even more important. Talking about fantasies, dressing provocatively in front of strangers, engaging in some light touching or dancing with others, posting anonymous photos on the internet… these are options that are low-risk and high-return."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Luna, Bedfordshire, U.K., 32
Kink/Fetish: The Appearance & Feeling Of Latex & Balloons

How/when did you first get interested in latex and balloon fetish?
"I have always liked things a little wacky and wild; I especially like dressing up as a vixen. When I began modelling, I met some latex designers, studio owners, and specialist photographers, and realised how much fun I could have dressing as other personas. I did a trial shoot for a latex designer, met some great people, and loved the outfits I was given to model. From there, I got into the more fetish side of things. Through my following for my latex work, I was approached to do some balloon fetish model work. Latex and balloons go hand in hand, so I jumped at the chance."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"I love dressing up and playing a character, but I know this isn’t to everyone’s taste in the bedroom. I certainly don’t act as dominant as I do when I model for fetish shoots, and I like to keep the ‘real’ me separate from the stage me."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"With balloon fetish, a lot of people think it’s childish; and with a lot of fetishes, people think they’re odd or involve explicitness. It’s far from that. I feel that fetishes are tame and innocent, and something people enjoy for whatever reason. Most are suggestive, but not explicit. It’s far sexier to see a woman in a tight-fitting latex wiggle dress than totally nude. Fetishes allow you to use your imagination; they’re really just foreplay."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"I often get mistaken for an airhead, perhaps because I pose in my undies. In fact, I have a first class honours degree and work really hard."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Jefe, Brooklyn, NY, 51
Kink/Fetish: Exhibitionism/Voyeurism

How/when did you first get interested in exhibitionism/voyeurism?
"I first realised that this was interesting for me about 15 years ago, when I discovered public parties where people had different types of sexual encounters. I suppose that I'd always sort of known in the back of my mind that it would be hot or a turn on to watch others having sex, but when I actually had my first sexual interaction in front of others, it was so amazingly arousing."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"I have a regular partner that I live with. We occasionally, maybe two to three times a month, go to a party where we can ‘play’ with an audience and also watch others. I also engage in dialogue online, on FetLife.com, about events where this can happen."

"One of my most memorable experiences came from a Craigslist ad, where a lesbian wanted to join a man in a peep show booth and watch him masturbate. She didn't want to touch or be touched. It was so hot, because there was the combined element of voyeurism — watching the live nude girls inside the peep show — and also exhibitionism inside the booth — being watched by the woman who otherwise wouldn't have wanted any sexual contact with me."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"I think that some people think that voyeurs can't ‘do it’ on their own and that’s why they like to watch, and that is 100% not true. For many of us, voyeurism is like one spice that gets added to a rich blend of kinks or fetishes that create a satisfying sex life."

"In terms of exhibitionism, I fear that too many people associate that with non-consensual exhibitionism, like flashing in public, or exposing oneself out in the world. For many exhibitionists, a big part of the satisfaction is knowing that the people watching are enjoying it, and are getting genuine pleasure out of being a part of the activity."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"That both voyeurism and exhibitionism can be a part of a rich, robust sex life, and that people who enjoy it are not necessarily otherwise stifled or limited in their sexual pleasure. People who engage in this fetish enjoy knowing that they are giving pleasure to themselves, their partner, and the folks watching, or that by watching, they can contribute to the pleasure of the folks having sex."

"Also, know that an invitation to watch is usually not an invitation to touch, or even necessarily an invitation to talk, discuss, ask questions, or make suggestions."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Gray Fisher, Philadelphia, 49
Kink/Fetish: Clothed Female Naked Male (CFNM)

How/when did you first get interested in CFNM?
"I got into CFNM around 10 years ago. I have had a foot fetish since I was a teenager, and this kind of goes hand-in-hand with that, because it’s definitely something submissive in nature. I read a lot of erotic fiction online, and began taking an interest in stories and nonfiction articles about parties where multiple women are served by one or more naked men, but the women are fully clothed and going about their business. No sex, just lots of teasing, with the men’s reactions readily apparent for all to see and comment on. I found that very arousing, being a submissive guy. I searched out some parties, but couldn’t find any in my area."

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"I’ve integrated CFNM with my foot fetish. While I was between marriages, I met a few women on Craigslist and rubbed their feet. Sometimes, I would get naked at some point, but they never did. And a few summers ago, I met two young women as a result of an ad I placed. After massaging their feet, I told them about CFNM, and they said 'go for it.' So that day, and every other occasion with them that summer, I’d strip off my clothes at some point while worshipping their feet."

"My wife of the last four years knows about my fetish, and while she won’t participate in a group scene — she says she doesn’t 'play well with other women' — I am often naked in the bedroom long before she is. She also talks a good game to get me to the peak of excitement, often fabricating a humiliating scenario involving sales girls in a Victoria’s Secret store. Another kink I have is buying lingerie for myself, not so much to wear it, but for the arousal of embarrassing myself in front of the sales staff."

"Mostly, though, I write about these fantasies and compile my stories for the fiction anthologies I publish. That’s a thrill in itself."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"Maybe that it’s closely linked to S&M or BDSM. It really isn’t. There’s a large mental aspect to it, but guys who are into this usually don’t expect anything physical to occur. If there is touching, it’s about teasing, not about domination or pain, and usually the guy doesn’t have an orgasm in front of his audience."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"It’s all about having fun. It’s exciting and fun for the women involved, as well as the men. Hopefully, everyone goes home after a scene and has mad sex with his or her partner."

"Embarrassment can be a huge sexual turn on. People who have been caught having sex in a public place know this, and probably relive it in their minds for a long time afterward, despite the shame of the moment. CFNM is also pretty common in popular culture. Anytime a guy gets locked out of a room without pants in TV or movies, it’s CFNM-light. Usually, it’s played for laughs, but in reality, it can be very exciting."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit
Minx, Washington, DC, 39
Kink/Fetish: Bloodplay

*Bloodplay is the act of using blood in sexual or fetish situations.

How/when did you first get interested in bloodplay?
"I’ve always known that I had an interest in kink, but I didn’t know what it was called. I came out officially in college in ’97, and since then, I have explored different kinks. Never say never. What you don’t want to do at 25 you will so love at 35."

"When you find a partner who is interested in what you’re interested in and finds it hot, too, it’s like a supernova, and you’re able to explore an avenue that you never would have been able to explore before."

"What I think people don’t realise about that is how much responsibility and how much effort you have to put into doing something that’s a little off the beaten track. I had to go to classes on how to do this safely, correctly. I practiced and practiced — countless tomatoes have lost their skin to my terrible scalpel practice before I could use it on a real, live person. You don’t want to harm someone. I also had to go to my doctor and say, 'Look, I’m into this. I really want to do this. I want to do this appropriately. What kind of tests do we need to have?'"

How does it play out in your sex life currently?
"[My partner and I] have our share of vanilla sex. I mean, it’s a lot of work, right? You have to boil all the stuff, and you have to use all the disposable stuff because it’s germs, germs, germs, bacterial infection, oh my God. But when we want to do something special, then we go through all the work of creating the cleanest environment we can, and, my God, it’s so hot. I mean, we use scalpels, we use blood cupping, you know, all that kind of stuff. And it’s shared intimacy. We do it on each other, because we’re both switches, and it’s the hottest thing in the world to turn around and see your male partner jacking off using your blood as lubricant."

"It’s a primal thing. I have a very factual job. I’m a very in-my-head kind of person, and something about that act of opening skin and sharing that most intimate of things really turns off the thinking part for both of us, and it’s beautiful. It’s amazing. It’s so hot, but it’s only possible because of all the pre-work."

What misconceptions do you think people have about it?
"I think it falls into two camps: That’s so incredibly hot; I need to learn more. Or it’s some sort of judgmental, disgusting thing. If you’re not wired that way, that’s fine. But for those of us who are, I cannot think of a more positive influence in my life than the kink community and the people that I’ve met and the relationships that I’ve had. I can’t live a full life without this. This kink is a sacred space for me, and not in a pagan kind of way, but in a fundamental, positive, intimate, wonderful way."

What do you wish people knew about it?
"They don’t realise when you’re at a kink event and you see a kidnapping, or some sort of gang bang, or even bloodplay, that it’s been negotiated for months. It looks spontaneous; it looks incredibly hot; everybody’s joining in. Oh no. That’s all been agreed to and worked out. It’s like legal representation with contracts — not stupid Fifty Shades of Gray contracts — but like actual sane people having actual sane conversations, not in the heat of the moment, about what’s going to happen. That’s what allows the incredible hot play that kink is based on. We all know that’s what has to happen, but it’s not as hot to talk about that part."
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