|the deviants' dictionary Briefing Updated 16 May 1997|
|Boots and Shoes
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The interest varies from a mild preference for having partners dressed in a particular kind of footwear as part of an overall look, to an all-out fixation on the footwear itself, whether or not it is being worn.
Boot- or shoelicking may be a way of expressing a footwear fetish; it is also a popular activity in domination games. See the notes on Hygiene below.
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These British-made boots, also known as Docs and DMs, were launched as general purpose work boots in the 1960s but have long been associated with the skinhead image, being the original 'bovver boots'. In fact the early skinheads did not wear them exclusively, and could also be seen wearing loafers, moccassins, other work boots and even canvas baseball boots. In the 1970s they were worn by punks and in the 80s passed into more general fashion, being particularly popular among British gay men who had absorbed elements of the skinhead look. Despite their assimilation into the fashion mainstream, they still maintain their association with violence and masculinity for many people.
The trade mark in fact refers to the 'Air-Wair' soles with their characteristically grooved edges. These are made of strong acid-resistant polyurethane with a trapped layer of air to provide support and comfort. The uppers have been made by a number of manufacturers: the classic design is a work boot in oxblood or black leather, either stitched to the sole with yellow thread or welded, laced with either eight or ten eyelet holes each side. The more holes, the more forbidding the boot looks, and 12 or 14 holes are now popular, though examples with twenty holes or more have been made, rising up to the knee. Weapons-grade versions with steel tipped toecaps, known as 'steelies', are sometimes worn but by no means essential. At the other extreme, ordinary shoe uppers have been fixed to the soles, providing the wearer with a respectable way of indulging their preference. The humble Air Wair sole has also partnered a myriad of fashion innovations, from 'greasy-look' leather, suede, and colours like purple and green to monstrosities such as tartan docs and the transparent PVC version decorated with photos of babies from key 1980s street fashion house Red Not Dead.
In recent years the company has added another sole known as the 'Ranger', presumably in response to the popularity of Caterpillars and other fake walking boots, replacing the almost flat traditional design with a slightly higher heel and ridged grip. This is available with a similar range of uppers. The Ranger has found some acceptance amongst skinheads and DM fans but arguably doesn't have the same disreputable pedigree as the classic design.
In Britain, the standard 8 and 10 hole Docs are widely available through high street shoe shops. Anything more specialised requires seeking out. There is a whole department store dedicated to Docs in Covent Garden, but mainly of the fashion variety. Bigger branches of Shelly's do a specialist range.
Another aspect of DM lore is the laces. Traditionalists insist these should be flat, like soccer boot laces, though the Covent Garden store supplies round ones. As well as lacing the boot, the laces should be long enough to wrap two or three times round the top, which means laces of at least 2m (6') length for 14 hole boots, and these are not always easy to obtain, except, for some unexplained reason, in Edinburgh. The colour of laces can also have some significance. Black is supplied and is a safe bet; in certain circles yellow can indicate a preference for sex involving piss; red can mean either fisting (as in common BDSM codes and symbols) or indicate left-wing politics; and white is a known, though by no means universal, skinhead code to indicate extreme right or racist politics.
Dr Martens Department Store, 1 King Street, LONDON WC2. Tel +44 (0)171-497 1460, fax 379 1460. Underground: Covent Garden.
Shelly's Shoes, 266 Regent Street, LONDON W1. Tel +44 (0)171-287 0939. Underground: Oxford Circus.
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High heels are a cult all of their own, and the fetish for them has been named altocalciphilia. According to Rossi (cited in Love 1992:110) they were invented by Catherine de Medici to compensate for her own lack of height, and introduced to the US by a prostitute who brought a pair from France to New Orleans where they were immensely popular with clients. Their appeal is paradoxical. They are uncomfortable and inhibiting to wear, especially at the extreme heights (up to 24cm/9") preferred by the aficcianado, forcing a posture that emphasises vulnerability and the more 'feminine' aspects of a woman's body, giving them an appeal as footwear for bottoms. Yet they are also the stuff of many a femdom fantasy and standard-issue kit for the professional dominatrix, perhaps in part due to the weapon-like nature of the heels themselves, which can be used as implements in surface play and CBT scenes.
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There is very little in the literature about the hygiene aspects of bootlicking but bootlickers must be running a small risk of contracting amoebic, bacterial and possibly other infections from street dirt, a risk that is markedly increase if the soles are licked too. Given that most people wouldn't wish to lick through clingfilm (saran wrap) or dental dams, the best way to reduce the risk is by washing the boots thoroughly or even disinfecting them -- make sure to rinse well. The ingestion of small quantities of boot polish seems harmless enough, though vegetarians should be aware that it often contains animal products.
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