Having studied sexual fetishes for twenty years (which is itself a kind of fetish), I'm long past the investigation of shoes, pain, vomit and rubbing up against people on the subway. My first real job out of college was working as the circulation manager for the Spectator, a Bay Area adult-entertainment publication, which was fueled by classified advertising — often for very distinctive "services" and interests. While there, I became acquainted with a number of memorable characters: Peg Leg, a one-legged call girl with a very full dance ticket (and some remarkable prosthetic attachments); The Coach (gym shorts, silver whistle, clipboard); and a sexually ambiguous individual who just called him/herself "The Sneezer." (I'll let you use your imagination there.)
At first glance, this may seem to be one of the most widespread: take mirrors on bedroom ceilings, or the ever-increasing number of sex tapes made by both celebs and amateurs. But catroptrophilia is quite a bit stranger. I've spoken at length with four catroptophiles, and despite divergent backgrounds, their remarks have some eerie similarities. What they're excited by is the perception of a kind of Other — a psychic double or doppelganger. "I'm haunted," one man told me, "by this idea that I had a twin brother who died at birth — or worse, was adopted out. In the mirror I catch a glimpse of him again." Although exclusively heterosexual in his physical relations, his greatest fantasy — and the essence of his fetish — was imagined sex with his phantom twin. (Think of Woody Allen's famous quip about masturbation: "Don't laugh, it's sex with someone I love.") A female interviewee put it very succinctly: "She knows what I like."
Remember those 1950s horror films about colossal women? For those who love to be afraid of very big women, the Museum of Sex in New York has a fabulous exhibit on this fetish. More mundanely, we see hints of it in all those odd couples: little, reedy men and large, "ample" women. I met one couple where the size difference was so profound, the husband was referred to intimately as "The Dildo" — his whole body was seen as a sexual organ relative to his massive partner's bulk and stature.
Once, interviewing a woman with this fetish, I showed her four pictures of naked men: a well-endowed eighteen-year-old model, an extremely thin bearded man in his early thirties, a heavily muscled former professional athlete in his late forties, and Peter North, the porn star. Asked to choose the most "virile and masculine" of the group, she selected the bearded man instantly. What I didn't tell her was that the bearded man had terminal cancer and was quite seriously ill. Her selection directly defies the view that our choices of "attractiveness" are driven by an instinctual appraisal of health and reproductive capacity. When I presented a Photoshop-modified picture of the man without his beard, she no longer recognized him. In fact, she was repelled.
Chremastistophilia — Excitement at being robbed or held up
I've met several chremastistophiles, all of whom had been arrested on petty charges at some point in their lives — drug possession, minor theft, etc. All expressed a strong libido, but also a climax dysfunction. They got aroused, they just didn't get off easily.
With so many animatronic characters in our midst, we're really not that far from artificial sex partners. Japanese robotics innovators are already on the case. Wouldn't sex robots solve many problems associated with prostitution: moral, social, hygienic? In any case, this fetish casts a rather ominous light on seemingly harmless activities like doll collecting, and even ventriloquism — after all, a ventriloquist's job is to merge with the immobilized puppet in question. One Oakland woman I met derived acute arousal from being treated like a doll or mannequin by her female partner, whether she was being stripped, posed, redressed into clothes again, or restrained. The process of manipulation, the loss of all will and direction, brought her a kind of release that she said (tellingly), "left orgasms for dead."