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Doug Gaines is 37 years old and the founder of Foot Fraternity. He teaches special education and owns a greeting-card company for gays and lesbians, as well as a bookkeeping service. He has been with his lover for 12 1/2 years. This interview was taken from the Erotic Extremities chapter of Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission. For full information about obtaining this book, visit our Ordering page.


I [want] to let all people know that their sexuality is not something they've chosen--it's a part of them, just like hair color or eye color. Don't spend your life not enjoying what's pleasurable to you. I was shocked at the number of people who were into feet. I thought I'd start this little club: well, I have [received] over 20,000 requests for information over the years [just from my little ads]. People need to know that there are places to go for whatever you like, men and women, straight and gay, bi, whatever. There are wonderful people, professional people, good people [out there]. Most of my members are doctors and lawyers and accountants and teachers. We're real people--your brothers, your uncles, your cousins and aunts and mothers. [Our] stories need to be told. We were blessed with this thing called sexuality. Don't stick it in a closet. It's a gift. Have pleasure with it. I guess my emotions speak clearly: you've got to take the risk to be yourself.

I had to learn to be OK with who I was and not embarrassed by it. Many people are embarrassed by the fact that they like something different. The Foot Fraternity was established as an affirmation group. I found the need to affirm [others] because I [once] needed somebody to tell me, "You want to smell my feet? That's OK, it doesn't hurt anybody. It's innocent." That was a second coming out and happened in my 20s, when I was dealing with sexuality and being OK with who I was and accepting all of who I was--every bit of me. It took time and some counseling to realize that it doesn't matter what I like as long as it's between consenting adults and doesn't hurt anyone. It took a little time in my mind to redo my Catholic upbringing--thinking of missionary position as the only right way. [Once] I was OK with it, I thought, "I'm going to help other people." All people--straight [or] gay--need to be OK with what they like sexually, as long as it doesn't infringe on anybody else's right or intentionally hurt somebody who doesn't want to be hurt.

I have just two small ads out, letting people know that the Foot Fraternity exists, [but] I send out no less than 25 letters a week [to] people requesting information. That's a lot of people. I would say about 10% of my members are either married or involved with women. [Many] are married to women but need a man's feet in their life. A small percentage [are interested in women's feet], but the majority are into men's feet. [We have something which corresponds to] the stereotypical woman with the stiletto heels: a lot of our members enjoy worshiping the boots of a policeman, because it's a symbol of authority. Certain people only like Weejun penny loafers; [others] only like boots. [With] some, it doesn't matter as long as it's on a male foot. It's a diverse group.

I've been very fortunate [because] I've formed some interesting hypotheses from talking to thousands of people. I believe that our sexuality is determined before we're five years old; some significant emotional event happens to us in those years that makes that area erotic or exciting to us. I [also] believe that there's some genetic predisposition to liking certain things. Part of it is in the genes, and part of it is that significant event. Maybe we were bounced on daddy's knee, or daddy tickled us with his foot, and we were intrigued by watching daddy's foot come over our face. [Maybe] it was so emotional to us that we held onto that image, and that blended into our sexuality [at] puberty. I [still] don't know why the foot [and] all the verbalization and domination that goes along with it is so erotic to me. Quite frankly, I've had such pleasure with it that I don't really care why.

[The Foot Fraternity's] major purpose is to help guys meet other guys into their fetish and fantasy, primarily dealing with the foot, but also dealing with other things--uniforms, people being wet. [It's] very common [that] people into feet are into having their feet tickled or tickling somebody else's feet, which is very much a domination thing. [It] goes back to the early childhood: the most common thing parents do to a baby is tickle the baby. They tickle their stomachs; they tickle their feet. It's that significant emotional event that the person latched onto at an early age.

[The] organization deals with most any fetish; my only restriction is that you cannot ask for or go for somebody under 18. It has to be consenting adults. [But we have] gays, straights; we've got married men who are happy with their wives but are still intrigued by the male foot but want to keep their marriage, too. It's simply called the Foot Fraternity because that was where the prime interest was, but [members] realized that it overlaps [into] many areas; [it] gets into wrestling [and] many other things.

[When] people write for information, I send out an application with samples of the photos and videotapes that we do: foot scenes and shoe, boot, sock, tickle scenes. [The] magazine is [quarterly]; two times a year [it] has a complete listing of all the members, not with their names but with a code number. You read all these ads [and] check the ones that are intriguing to you. You write a letter [and] send [it] to me [for forwarding]. From that point on, you're on your own: I never give out any names or addresses. [That's] up to the individual. We also have gatherings once a year. This year, we had a four-day weekend gathering that was more like a family reunion. We had our meals together; we talked and shared on other issues [though] there was footplay going on as well. We took boat trips; we saw the city--it was just a group of people getting together who had a common interest.

We are [also] an affirmation group. We have a number set up for anybody to call so that at any time they can talk about what they're into. If they want me to suggest other members to them, I'll suggest the numbers they have something in common with. I'm sort of a foot yenta. I'll say, "Oh? You like that? You should write to this number, because he likes to have that done." I'm in a real good position to be a great yenta. I help match people together. And with my degree in special education [and] a minor in psychology, I'm kind of a counselor to a lot of the guys. [I] help them to be OK with who they are--which is why I think the group has been so tremendously successful.

I believe that with most people [the foot fetish] leads into other areas. For me it does. The foot fetish is the primary area of interest, but my interest in bondage, humiliation, and domination is very strong. It's not just the foot alone that I wish to serve and be beneath and worship. I consider myself to be submissive. However, in the foot scene, I find that it's very easy to play either a top or a bottom. For example, if I meet someone who is into the foot scene [and] is into working on feet, I don't mind having him work on mine. It feels very good, very comfortable, and I can play the part very well. It's intriguing, and I find that I can be versatile with it. However, if I had a preference as to what would be the most exciting, I would choose to be submissive.

[My sexual interest is] absolutely intrinsic [to] and so much a part of my life that I have built a business around it. The Foot Fraternity, which I started eight years ago, came into existence as an everyday form of work and is now a 60-hour-a-week job for me. [It is also] a source of pleasure, because it deals with the fetish that is so important to me. It has actually [extended] into my regular life in that I'm making it something that I can do as a living as well as something that I can enjoy sexually.

I think [foot fetishism] is definitely a bedroom activity--I don't do it on the streets. However, I am open about it. I have been interviewed by many major magazines and [was] asked to be on the Phil Donahue Show. In that respect, it's come out of the bedroom. I have no problem telling people this is what like and I'm proud of myself. I'm OK with who I am, and if you don't like it, that's your problem. I have found that to be very rewarding, because the more courageous and open I am, the more responsive people are with sharing things that are intimate with them. They'll give me [tips], basically saying things like, "There's this movie you have to see; there's a great foot scene in it you're going to love!"

I really enjoy and get off on smelling the feet of straight men, [because] they're almost untouchable. You think you can't get to them. They're straight, and they can make it with women, so I want to even worship them more, because they're in the majority of society. If I could get down and smell their feet and worship them, and they'll let me do that or let me buy their new shoes or socks and smell their old ones and be amused or laugh at me or call me their little faggot slave, the pleasure is tremendous! That they're amused by my humiliating myself, by my being degraded by them, is erotic. It's verbal eroticism. I don't want to be hurt, but I certainly don't mind them putting pressure on my face. I like the idea of being a footmat and being walked on, if I can support the weight of the man.

I explain to certain straight men that I'd like to buy their worn shoes or supply them new ones and purchase their old ones. It's something that's pleasing to me. The response has been incredibly positive. [For] most straight men, when they find another guy who wants to worship their shoes, socks, or feet, or whatever, it does two things. One is, when I'm willing to buy them new shoes and new socks and be in a very submissive position to them, if they have any male chauvinism or macho, it makes them feel superior to know somebody's at their feet; [it] builds their ego somewhat, which is exciting. Also, it's very nice for many of them. They say, "I'll gladly let you give me new ones. No problem." [Also], with many straight men, once they've had somebody massage their feet, even though they're not into it, they realize how good it feels, even though it's not sexual to them. Generally, the men that I deal with are so OK with their own sexuality that it's not threatening to them. If a man is not OK with his own sexuality, we'll never get to the point where I'll ask. I test his response; if [it] is nonchalant, I know he's OK with who he is and not threatened. He knows what he likes, and this doesn't bother him. It's a little more exciting if it's a straight man, because somehow the superiority I think they must feel places me even more in their respect. I like to hear their orders; I like to hear them laugh; I like to watch them look down at my face beneath their feet and smile [as if to say], "I can do anything to this guy." My hope is it makes him feel superior to me; and that he be amused by it or curious by it.

Animals work by body scents, and I think humans do, too. Some people like the strong, sweaty scent of a man. Feet gain a smell from being in a leather shoe most of the day; it's very pleasing to smell a man's odor. To put myself at his feet, to totally worship him, to worship all that is male ties [in] with my being gay and liking men. I worship the whole male person. I love to hear him give me commands to smell his feet. I like domination where I have to call him sir, or master, and he can say to me, "Get down there, you faggot, and smell those feet, and thank me for it!" It [is] very erotic to know that I have given this man power over me to control me with his feet, his socks, his shoes.

I would search for magazines in my teen years and save every picture of a man who was barefooted or sockfooted and put it in an album. I was very interested in baseball. Unfortunately, nobody ever took the time to teach me how to [play], so I was very clumsy. But it was my fantasy to be a baseball player. I was[attracted] to things that were somewhat related to the fetish, but it was a regular growing-up, no different from anybody else's. I had my favorite films, my favorite music; I liked the theater.

I worked part-time in a men's shoe store [in my teens] because I wanted to see what it was like to be able to kneel at men's feet and slip shoes on and off their feet. [Later] I worked in a bookstore part-time, and there was a man delivering the magazines, a truck- driver-type guy. He was brand new on the route, and I would go to the back door and open up to let in the deliveries. When he first came in, I said, "What happened to the other guy?" He said, "He was transferred to another route," and I real quickly used that time to say, "Oh, that's too bad! I used to massage his feet [and] get him a cup of coffee." I was just watching his response--if the response was nothing, I knew not to pursue it. But his response was, "It sounds interesting." So I said, "Well, I'll be glad to give you a foot massage. I do reflexology." The second time he came, I said, "Remember, if you ever want a foot massage, I'll be glad to do it." He said, "I remember; I definitely will." The third time he came a little early and said, "I think I'll take that massage this week and that coffee." I ran and got him a cup of coffee. [When] I pulled off his shoes, he said, "They're gonna smell." I said, "That doesn't bother me; I used to have to do this for my brother when I was young, and it never bothered me at all." So I pulled off his sneakers and massaged his feet; then I put his sneakers back on. I didn't go further than that. The next visit that he came, the same thing. I had his coffee waiting, and I said, "Are you ready for your foot massage?" He said, "Sure!" So I pulled off his shoes and did it, only this time I was a little bit more brazen. I said, "After I was done with my brother, he always used to make me kiss his feet and say, thank you." He didn't say anything, so I said, "Is it OK if I kiss your feet and thank you?" And he said, "Go ahead, do whatever you want." So I [did] and put his shoes back on. Then he sort of put it really together and knew what I liked and knew I was enjoying it. The next week he came [and] said, "We're going to do it a little different. We'll continue with the coffee and the foot massages, but you're going to unload the truck for me." I said, "Sure!" I unloaded the magazines while he had coffee. I rubbed his feet and then without asking, I brought my face down and rubbed [his feet] against my face and kissed the bottoms. He looked down at me and smiled, and I put his shoes back on. It got to the point where he would come each week. I would have to carry the magazines, kiss his boots, and thank him for allowing me to work for him, and then I would have to massage his feet and smell them and kiss them and thank him. That experience was an absolute delight. It lasted for about three quarters of a year, until, all of a sudden, his route was switched, and I lost track of him.

Another small, very short experience was when I [bought] a car. I usually go to the same place and [know] the manager of the dealership. I always buy my cars there. I said, "I'll be glad to buy this car if you let me get down on my hands and knees and kiss your feet and thank you." So what was he going to do? He wanted to make the sale! He said, "OK, go ahead." I got down and kissed his feet and thanked him for letting me buy a car from him. That's why I love car salesmen! I love to know that they'll consider letting me smell or kiss their feet. They're usually kind of amused by it.

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