This July, we’re heating things up with Sex-Rated: The VICE Guide to Sex in India. Come with us as we dive deep into Indian sexuality, as well as cherry-pick some of the best videos and stories about sex from VICE around the world. Read more here.
When Karan* held a woman’s feet in his hands during his pedicure training course, he started shivering and sweating. His classmates thought he was just nervous and asked him to calm down. Karan was also beginning to get a hard-on.
“I felt awesome. I thought this is my purpose in life—serving women,” he says in one of our many conversations that spanned days and multiple mediums. Karan, who requested we don’t share his surname, for fear of judgment and repercussions from his family and friends—“who think of people like me as weirdos”—lives in Mumbai with his mother. He has a ‘thing’ for women’s feet and has kept it a secret since he was 10.
Karan is a virgin. With his particular fetish, “There is no sex involved. It is all about tease and denial.” During college his friends made fun of him. “I used to praise feet when we checked out girls in college.” They would say, “What the fuck! Look at the boobs, man. Why feet?” He stopped saying anything about women’s feet, feeling that something was probably wrong with him.
“I never had a girlfriend in college,” Karan says. He realised his fetish of being turned on by women’s feet when he was ten, when he started enjoying giving his aunt foot massages. “She also used to make me do some household work. I enjoyed that too. I don’t know why. I felt like this is the best thing in the world. And all I wanted to do was to serve her.” In his childhood, he once got into a fight with his cousins. The sister of the boy he was fighting, slapped him. “I loved it.” He recalls other moments of humiliation that turned him on.
Karan never spoke to anyone about this, because of the stigma attached to fetishes. But he tells me, “You may be the first vanilla person I’ve spoken to openly about my fetish.” Today, he holds an MBA in Operations Management and works at an IT firm in Mumbai, feeling that, “that vanilla life is pretty boring.”
Karan signed up for a week-long pedicure course at Panache Academy for Rs. 7,000 in 2012. He had seen a man giving a woman a pedicure at Tip and Toe Spa, at Infiniti Mall in Goregaon West. “When I saw that, I went mad. I knew that was my dream job.” During the first half of the course, he was asked to clean men’s feet. “I was repelled. It was a turn-off. I wanted to run away.” But then the last two days were “amazing”. He got to touch and hold womens’ feet. There were other hidden delights. “When the pedicure trainer used to shout at me for sloppy work in front of other girls, I loved it. That was a turn on.” He soon realised he was, “not just a foot fetish guy but someone who wanted to get beaten, humiliated, and used by decent women.” As a curious journalist I wanted to know how he managed his erection. “Pedicurists have a towel on their lap, so that hid it.”
The four years after the pedicure training course were lonely and isolating for Karan. He found others like him—people who loved being a slave to a mistress on the Internet. He would look at foreign womens’ feet and masturbate to the visuals.
India has an underground, but flourishing BDSM scene. There are platforms like fetlife, collarme etc. that cater to people who are into bondage, domination, sadism and masochism. Karan wants to be a submissive controlled by a Mistress. But his foray into the Indian scene has been slow.
When he visited his maternal aunt in New York, he decided to meet a Mistress, who would beat him, order him around, slap, whip and humiliate him. And he was willing to pay for it. “They charged 150 dollars per session. I couldn’t afford it.” Three weeks later, he returned to India, disappointed.
One and a half years after coming back from New York, when he met a Mistress for the first time in a hotel—he had found her on Facebook—he felt “bad”. She was an Indian Goddess [from Delhi] and was visiting Mumbai for sessions. “She asked me to lick and kiss her feet for an hour, and then asked me to leave.” For Karan, it was the worst kind of a session. After a play session between a submissive and dominatrix, there is usually some form of aftercare. For Karan, there was none.
So far, Karan has met five dominatrixes in India. “I save my salary to pay the Mistress.” He gives us an example of a good session between a dominatrix and her slave. “I attended a session with a Delhi Mistress. She spoke to me about my fetishes. She told me her limits—what she won’t allow—and then she started slapping and whipping me with her belt.” Later, the Mistress made him relax by making him kiss her feet “so I forgot the pain”. “I feel scared by looking at the Mistress and her whip, but scared in a happy way.”
For the last 18 months, he is a “paypig” to a Mistress in Delhi. Paypigs transfer money to a dominatrix when she orders them. Paypigs or ‘cash cows’ like feeling controlled by a ‘strong woman’, as Karan explains. His need to be controlled has now extended to his Mistress controlling his wallet. [The rare fetish of financial domination entails transfer of money from a slave, mostly men, to the Mistress and she controls how much the slave spends.]
“I take a session every three months. I pay for my Mistresses’ shopping, groceries, and flight tickets.” The maximum he’s spent so far on a session is Rs. 15,000 rupees. There are other slaves who spend more depending on their limit.
A session is like a trance, Karan says. “When a Mistress keeps her feet on my face, I go in a trance. I have tears of joy.” When he enters the ‘subspace’, [an intense experience that a submissive experiences when he/she gives up complete control to the dominant partner during a session], he does anything his Mistress demands. During a particularly brutal session he was asked to drink her pee from the toilet. “I am not into pee but when she asked me to drink it, I did it just to please her. During a session, you do whatever the Goddess orders you to do. It makes me feel completely owned by her.”
Karan is careful to explain that his Mistress doesn’t “rinse” him beyond his capacity. [He likes a woman control him and rinse him of cash.] He buys her shoes, bags, and clothes from her Amazon wishlist, and gives her cash too. “I don’t question why she needs the money. I just go with the flow and pay when I’m ordered to.” With the money he’s spent on Mistresses, he could have gone on a trip across Europe. “But nothing makes me more happy than being humiliated by her.”
Karan still doesn’t really understand where his fetish comes from. More importantly, he doesn’t even want to know why being a slave and a paypig makes him happy. “I saw my father beat my mother regularly when I was young. He was short-tempered. So seeing a woman dominate is like a role reversal. I am fed up of seeing male domination.”
Confused by his own desires and wishes, he visited a male gynecologist, hoping that talking to a man might help him understand his own needs. He told him about his foot fetish and about his non-inclination towards sex. “The very act of sex is repulsive to me. The very idea of dominating a woman turns me off.”
So what has being a paypig, and a slave taught him? “To be obedient, work for others’ comfort, be disciplined and well-mannered. If something gives me happiness then I would embrace it instead of questioning why it is making me happy. And I am not hurting or cheating anybody. So I don’t have any guilt either.”
*Name changed on request.
Follow Maroosha Muzaffar on Twitter.