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On Facebook, there are groups with names like Male Feet (6k+ followers), Barefoot and Ticklish Men (nearly 9k followers), and myriad others. A quick search of the blogosphere reveals blogs with names like Barefoot Male Celebrities, where you can get up close and personal with the tootsies of stars like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, or whomever else’s feet you admire. Some of these sites feature posed publicity shots, or candid shots of celebs shopping for groceries in their flip flops. Others, like the Facebook groups, invite members to share selfies of their well-pedicured toes.

And it’s so varied and particular.

Some foot fans prefer to see the top of the subject’s feet, while others like to get a nice look at the soles. Then there are those who like to salivate over shots of naked guys — well, they’re not completely naked. They still have their socks on and, yes, the foot-fetish world includes a subculture of those who like to look at socks.

There are also foot-fetish videos. Some are for adults only — one man will suck on another man’s toes as he pleasures himself. Or maybe the guys will assume the 69 position and pleasure each others’ toes. Some of the videos are humorous. Facebook’s Barefoot and Ticklish Men features an amusing video in which a teenage boy plays guitar and sings Robbie’s Big Toe as two girls remove his shoes and socks. 

Further down the page there’s a photo of a cute guy in his late twenties, sitting on the floor strumming his guitar in his bare feet. Comments include “wow!!” and “What a sexy guy. Nice toes. Beautiful!”

There are thousands upon thousands of sites like these across the internet, and they collectively cater to a wide array of fetishes and tastes. Like men’s feet? Boy’s feet? Girl’s or women’s feet? Boots or socks? There’s more than a few sites ready and eager to make you happy.

So what’s the sexual appeal of feet?

Foot fetshism is a pronounced sexual interest in feet. It is more common in men than in women. For a foot fetishist, points of attraction include the shape and size of feet and toes (e.g., long toes, short toes, painted toenails, high arches, soles etc.), jewelry (e.g. toe rings, anklets, etc.), treatments (such as pedicures or massaging), state of dress (barefoot, sandals, flip flops, high heels, socked feet, hosiery, etc.), odor, and/or sensory interaction (e.g., rubbing the foot, tickling, smelling, kissing, biting, licking, sucking toes, rubbing genitals on foot).

According to Dr. A James Giannini of Ohio State University, interest in foot fetishism often increases during times of STD epidemics — a foot cannot transmit HIV or gonorrhea.

It’s believed that foot fetism is caused by a crossing of signals between the feet and the genitals in the somatosensory cortex, the portion of the brain which controls the sense of touch. A number of celebrities have publicly admitted to being foot fetishists, including filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, actor Jack Black, singer Enrique Iglesias, and possibly even the King, Elvis Presley.

Darryl, a gay man who declined to reveal his last name, spoke to us about his own personal attraction to other men’s feet. “For me, it’s the feeling of a guy’s feet fresh out of the shoes,” he said. “Warm and soft as I remove his socks.”

Darryl emphasized the importance of good foot grooming. “I’ve been into this since about the age of five,” Darryl says. “As I grew up, the urge for tickling guys’ feet was getting stronger. Around age 12, I came up with a sneaky method of getting a guy’s feet into my lap — I’d talk about a comedy, a WWII spy movie plot — an SS agent is caught smuggling weapons blueprints. When asked for their location, he is tortured.”

Darryl was only too happy to demonstrate the torture method — foot tickling. “This worked like a charm,” he says. “Through high school, I tickled over 30 guys!”

Darryl wants closeted foot fetishists to know they need not be ashamed. “Anything outside of ‘normal’ behavior is labeled as ‘weird’ or ‘kinky,’” he says. “As a kid, I thought my urge to tickle guys was odd. I worried that if word got around, I would get beaten up.”

But as with others who have sexual differences, Darryl found out that he’s not alone. “Going online over 20 years ago, I found out this is a common fetish,” he says. “It’s not strange or bizarre — no more than crossdressing or leather whips. Whatever turns you on!”