With the abundance of fundoshi erotica out there, it becomes hard (and how!) to remember that this simple cloth knot has served a utilitarian purpose for over a thousand years; that it has been worn without (sexual) incident on a daily basis by millions.
Of course, millions have also probably been seduced in a fundoshi, or done the seducing, or have succumbed to the temptation to pleasure themselves in a fundoshi. After all, it touches the male anatomy in ALL of the most sensitive and erogenous areas: the pouch cradles the balls and scrotum and stretches tautly across the penis; the twisted thong lays against the rectum. Short of flicking your nipples for you, the fundoshi all but insists on arousal. It invites the male and female gaze; the gay and straight gaze. It's basically impossible to ignore -- it covers and supports the genitalia but it also provides the eye with a powerful focal point. The eye transmits to the brain, the brain dispenses the sex chemicals. We feel a flutter in our naughty regions.
It's hard to gauge what sort of part the fundoshi played in the sexual history of Japan. No doubt many a warrior or fisherman had his fundoshi unwound as a prelude to sex, but what sort of responses did the garment provoke when it was worn commonly for swimming and labor? Was it as ordinary as socks are to us? No doubt some were taken in by the spell of the fundoshi, and erotic "shunga" artwork seems to support this, but much of the garment's erotic and homoerotic pulse through time is lost to history.
When I first started Fundoshi 4 All, I took the high road of sorts, talking about the practicality and brilliance of the fundoshi's design, but there was no denying the homoerotic charge of most of the photos I found. Lean, muscled bodies with canted hips and smoky eyes glowed up from my computer monitor, their straining fundoshis not really hiding anything. Hinting, in fact, at a world of "what might come next."
On top of that, there was plenty that wasn't suggestive at all -- it was explicit in its sexiness. Sometimes it was even raunchy.
The Western Inevitability
For Westerners, it's almost impossible to conceive of undergarments or scant loincloths in anything but sexual terms. Pin-ups, dirty magazines, even underwear ads tickle our sexual response cycles. Every striptease uses underwear as an "interval," a teasing presence, the last fig leaf to fall away and reveal forbidden nakedness. Nakedness is shameful, we're taught, and by the time we realize that it isn't we are wired for shame. This plays into our sexual psychodramas, emerging all along the spectrum from exhibitionism to voyeurism.
Enter the fundoshi.
Combining exoticism with skimpiness, modesty with lust, utility with sensuality, it is all at once underwear and not-underwear. Historically, it could be worn everywhere from the bath house to the shrine, with no shame. Body consciousness, it would seem, is different in the East than in the West.
For us to separate the fundoshi from sex and sexual hang-ups and sexual fetishes would require comfort and familiarity with it as an item of dress. So many built-in Western mores would need to be rejected: the buttocks as a source of shame, for example. It's tough for the Westerner to grasp the fundoshi (hehehe) as anything other than getting between them and the sexy genitalia.
This is not at all to say that the fundoshi is not regarded as a sexual item at all in Japan. To the contrary, that's where all the fundoshi clubs are! And in at least 99% of all fundoshi photography and video it is wrapped around Asian hips and buttocks, Asian cocks and balls. It's safe to say that the fundoshi is a fetish item for mostly Asian men; Asian women to a lesser degree and non-Asians coming in a very, very distant third. Asian homosexuals are probably in the top ranking as fundoshi fetishists, but it bears noting that many (if not most) Japanese men and also Thai or Chinese at some point in their lives wear a fundoshi. Maybe at a Hadaka Matsuri, maybe at an onsen, maybe swimming, maybe as part of a Shinto tradition, maybe while practicing martial arts, or maybe at gyms and clubs that cater to this particular taste.
(I really want to see the movie above, by the way -- and I'll be sure to let you know if I find it!)
Pornography is a Vessel for Imagination
Like all art -- all visual representation, really -- pornography is a vessel for the imagination. Before widespread access to pornography, I doubt as many people were fluent in sexual practices, tastes, and deviances as they are in contemporary times. Surely the Fifty Shades Of Gray phenomenon has introduced many a housewife and soccer mom to the pleasures and adventures of BDSM. Without pornography, would you have tried all the things you've tried? And are there things you've seen in pornography that you've never tried, or are afraid to try, or that you really want to try? Or that you really don't want to try, but you're glad you can watch others doing them? How many people get stimulated while watching porn and end up pleasing themselves, or tracking down a partner to get off with? How many people seek that stimulation out through the vehicle of porn?
The internet has brought a vast pornographic marketplace to our doorsteps. It has also provided a stage for us to act out and film or photograph our own sexual preoccupations. This access to porn of all types -- straight, gay, and bisexual -- has permitted the curious to indulge. It's nothing if not educational: I wonder what anal sex looks like? What happens in a bisexual threesome? Do people leave their fundoshis on or take them off while fucking? It's all just a simple Google search away.
Despite society's moralizing and judgement, things that may have been taboo are easily explored. Also, self-imposed limits such as I like watching two women have sex but I would never work up the nerve to ask someone to do that for me or I get turned on watching pegging but I'm terrified by the thought of anal penetration don't limit viewing at all. Personal taboos can be explored, personal limits can be exceeded in relative safety, unlocking and peeling away the layers of sexual desire and identity. Discovering what turns us on reveals more of who we are to ourselves. You might think you're the most hetero male out there until you chance across a video of a woman being double penetrated by two guys, and when the camera angle shows their dicks sliding against each other and their balls pressed together as they plunge in and out of her -- you get turned on.
Fundoshi: A Corset for the Male Anatomy
While it is many, many other things, the fundoshi also acts to bind up and at least partially immobilize the genitals. In a recent interview with the French gay publication Tetû, I was asked if I saw the fundoshi as a sort of "soft bondage." On one level that would be emphatically affirmative! Nothing feels better than being stimulated through your fundoshi and then having it loosened, freeing your sexual force. Tied tightly, it can be a gentle form of cock torturing. My lover has been instructed to leave my fundoshi on as long as possible; in the same manner as holding off ejaculation as long as possible this serves to heighten the experience and intensify sensations. Orgasms can build to a feverish pitch. In pornography, underwear and fundoshis deny us a direct view of cocks and erections. Coverings stretch, tease, and goad the imagination. In Japanese pornography, where genitalia is blurred out, a fundoshi also allows the action to be uninterrupted by unfortunate, distracting pixeled-out areas, at least until the cocks come out!
In addition, fundoshis can contain surprises: underneath that bulging pouch might be a cockring or a chastity device. When revealed, these extra kink ingredients can add to the scenario. Fundoshis can also contain secrets. When my fiancé was going away for a trip once, I wanted her to have some spectacular sex to think about until we could be reunited. The night before, I inserted a lubed-up black silicone butt plug and secured it in place with a snug white fundoshi. After getting ourselves quite hot and bothered with foreplay, she slid my fundoshi's pouch to one side and my penis sprung free, extra hard and engorged not only from the presence of the butt plug, but also from the fact that she wasn't aware of it! We had fantastic, fiery sex and my orgasm stretched out over a couple pulsating minutes as my rectum tried to close around the flared base of the plug but couldn't. So I just kept orgasming and ejaculating until chills were running all up and down my back. It was pretty magical.
The Music is Terrible
One subject that gets left out a lot is that porn is more than for the eyes. All kinds of other senses get utilized. Your skin tingles, your growing boner brushes your inner thigh. Your senses become heightened: smell, taste, hearing. So, why the cheesy club music and awful smooth jazz?? Come on, there's much more sensual music out there! I usually turn the volume down (thereby missing out on the moans and sticky noises, too, unfortunately) and play something else. Ambient music or Ravel's Bolero. Anything, really. Just like lighting, music has such a profound effect on mood and atmosphere. I'm always in favor of warm, dim lighting. Candlelight for example. That's just me though. Some people prefer blues or reds, broad daylight or no light at all. Some probably even think the awful music is great. Or they like even more horrible music, like Nickleback or something. Personally, I think Massive Attack's "Mezzanine" might be the sexiest album ever. But that's a matter of taste. It's just puzzling to me how much porn has a cheap an unimaginative soundtrack.
Porn: Something I'd Like To Encourage
Don't take any of this wrong -- I'm not critiquing porn because I don't like porn. On the contrary, I love porn! But I'd like to see it go to the next level, artistically. So much of it is intentionally dirty. What I mean by that is that there's too much caked-on make-up, too many stiletto heels and fishnets -- these are all outward signifiers of the idea of "dirty," and the actors rely on these tired stereotypes instead of being actually dirty.
The sweet faced, natural girl-next door type who does something unexpected with her fingers or her tongue is so much more erotic than the courtesan or the tart. Not that those cultural icons don't have their place. But look at the facial expressions of the man on the right, below. That's how we should all be feeling during the sexual enterprise. Bliss, enjoyment, surrender, wonder.
It's that wide-eyed wonder that will leave you open to the unexpected -- a string of anal beads in this case. And I really want to see this one, too! Preferably without pixelization. Good god, I am extremely hard contemplating the tiny thumbnails of this young Asian man in a startling white fundoshi being so expertly pleasured.
Where the fundoshi is concerned, I'd like to see this new blossoming of creativity and sexual openness sprout forth parallel to a growth and renewal of respect. Cultural respect is of the utmost importance, especially for someone like me -- a caucasian intrigued (fixated, more truthfully) on an item from someone else's history. Frankly I feel like the simplicity and ingenuity of the fundoshi make it universal, like the aforementioned socks, but I don't get to make that call. There are those who feel that the fundoshi is only for the Asian body proportion; that on a European, Latin or African body it looks wrong. I can't agree. I'm looking forward to more people, from more places, trying the fundoshi and continuing its history into the future. If this begins as a sexual exploration I'm all for it. It is the rare soul who will choose the fundoshi only based on utility -- if it's not part of your traditional background, chances are you like the fundoshi at least partly because you look/feel hot in one.
And it truly is a brilliant solution to the duality of the gaze: the gaze wants to see, but the gaze also wants to imagine. The fundoshi conceals and accents all at once. Certainly the same could be said for a pair of Calvin Kleins, but I can't make my own pair of Calvin Kleins! I can make my own fundoshi. Being careful in learning to tie it is not only fun, it's necessary -- once you can do it right, practice the tradition, embrace the ritual -- then you can experiment and move outward in all directions.
So this post, scattered as it is, is both a celebration of pornography and the fundoshi's role in it, as well as an inspection of those things. The considered life.
The All-Seeing Eye
Real sex is more sensation than visual, porno sex is more visual and you provide the sensations, with your hand or a vibrator. Porno sex is also anonymous: in general the personalities involved aren't as important as their packages; their hopes and dreams less important than their abs. You can look in on deviances you've only wondered about, be a fly-on-the-wall for scenarios that may be entirely impossible in your walk of life but that can fuel you anyway, and stoke your sexual fire. Contrary to those who claim that porn damages normal "healthy" sex, I've found that my libido has blossomed and my partner has certainly benefitted. Being creative in the sack is more than acting out things you've seen in porn, its about channeling that sense of free-spirited adventure and open communication about desire and fulfillment.
The Future Of Fundoshi Porn
The first priority of Fundoshi 4 All is to get as many people to enjoy the fundoshi as possible. Practicality has been a big selling point, but sensuality is just as vital. While a historical appreciation deepens our understanding and respect of the object and the culture that birthed it, a personal connection is what is truly essential. If that is from a love of all things Japanese, that is fantastic. If it is from an appreciation of design ingenuity or a DIY lifestyle choice, I couldn't be more pleased. But if it is because you sprout a woody every time you start to tie on a fundoshi, well you've definitely made a personal and intimate connection with what is otherwise a few yards of cloth.
As the fundoshi's following grows, we can expect its visibility to rise. More people will know what it is, more people will know how to tie one on. More shops will carry fundoshis. And more porn will feature fundoshis. That's a statistical inevitability on the internet!
What would you like to see?
Personally, I imagine a 5-part film that would engage both the homoerotic side of the fundoshi and heterosexual/bisexual creativity. I have one such idea (just waiting for a cameraman, actors, and funding LOL) to appeal to the homosexual or bisexual gaze. It might play like this:
- A swim team of sturdy young men are in a locker room, putting bright red fundoshis on themselves and on each other. Goofing around leads to touching; touching leads to rubbing, kissing, sucking, nibbling.
- Now the swimmers are in the water. As sparkling sunlight shines through, we are treated to many underwater shots of packages being fondled, of abs and inner thighs being caressed. At som point the fundoshis are untied and float away like long red streamers in the clear blue water.
- Next, our point of view is still underwater, looking up, as an endless stream of youths and men in bright white fundoshis swims over us.
- After that, we find ourselves in a secluded cove with two of the swimmers, one in red and one in white. They stand on the sand and rub their fabric-swathed bulges together as the waves lick their feet. Their fever is allowed to grow until one goes down on the other.
- We fade to an oppulent interior, a bedchamber where two muscular olive-skinned men are dressed in satiny pale yellow fundoshis, golden armbands and wristlets, ornate gold collars. All around them in alcoves naked women are coupled off, kissing and touching. The men lounge and lovingly touch. After a languid interval, they slide their pouches aside and rub their erections together until the silk bedclothes and their heaving chests are both painted with mingled semen.
- Next is a segment where each of the participants in the film models their fundoshi. The camera takes its time traveling the lengths of their bodies as they stand in relaxed poses, showing off both the front and the back of their fundoshi. Next are a series of more suggestive poses.
- Following that, we are back on the beach but it is night time. There is a bonfire, and the swimmers are artfully tying up one of them with slowly laced ropes. He is also blindfolded. After he is trussed completely, his fundoshi is gripped and carressed, his abs and pecs are touched, cocks are placed in his mouth. Finally his pouch is slid aside and turns are taken fellating him.
- Finally, we are in a more contemporary, modest bedroom, where two men in white fundoshis lay alongside one another, acting out in many ways what went on in the opulent bedroom of two scenes before, but without the women in alcoves or the hyper-richness. Just two guys in fundoshis pleasuring each other and ejaculating all over each other's chests and cocks.
Well this has certainly been a long and unfocused post... just some ideas on pornography in general, on the fundoshi specifically, and in how the two are successful together.
I love seeing fundoshis in "blue" films. There is enough garden variety porn out there that the mere presence of a fundoshi takes it up a few notches in my view. Plus, I'm almost fanatical about fundoshis! I love wearing them, I love seeing them on others, and yes they are a major turn-on for me. I still remember the day my fiancé asked me to show her how to wear one. I had never pressured her to do so, she had arrived there all on her own... and I was thrilled!
Many people are very judgmental about pornography. They feel it is exploitative, or that it is erosive to morality, or that it is a seedy industry. All those arguments can be made, but there is also a place for beautiful, moving, artistic --and, yes, arousing -- erotica. Press play, even if just on the films in your mind! We've no need to feel unhealthy about what we feel and what we do -- to me, that seems far more damaging.
What are some of your ideas for fundoshi-themed erotica?