Currently reading : Lick my Pit
The tongue was pressed against the flesh and trailed against the natural curve of the body. Along its way down it absorbed the sweet trickles of the sweat, whilst savouring the tension of the skin. It moved gradually across the ridges and bumps, each circular movement of the tongue enthused a new sensation. The breath warmed the quivering area. It travelled further and further down the stretch of skin, searching for new tastes and smells. A smaller and wider arch was found. Squirming in delight from the likely new folds of skin ready to be explored, the tongue began travelling around the bend of skin. The body tenses. Muscles contract. The elbow – the tipping point of pleasure.
Although rather an ordinary fetish when compared to other forms of sexual excitement, the armpit is a site of sensory recreation that employs a number of bodily senses to induce pleasure. Also known as Maschalagnia, the sexual allurement towards this area manifests itself as a combination of intoxicating aromas and the anticipation of friction. It is a beauty of its own. The urge to act upon this fetish stimulates the senses. To the eye its appeal is in its shape, when the arm is stretched, the hollow space of the under skin is inviting and the possibility of envelopment tantalising. To the nose, the odour is pure and animalistic; the devotee savours the skin and the hair. To the tongue, the textures and the sweet tastes enable new boundaries of playful intimacy. For the receiver, a sense of unbridled passion and a playful force that stimulates other parts of the body.
Cultural aesthetes have explored this fetish through both high and low channels. Digging into the depths of gay porn I am presented with handfuls of men offering their underarm as an earthly essence of lust. Forgoing the chemical mask that covers up the natural smell of desire, tongues and penises are thrust upon the contours allowing different pressures to induce new opportunities of pleasure. Hair, sweat, saliva and often semen are combined to create a transparent layer of coveted affection. Heterosexual relationships also indulge in such style and since the armpit first appeared in Charles Féré’s1902 book L’Instinct Sexuel as a fetish tool, artists have sought to express the female underarm as a source of sexual exploits. Hair, an underlying feature in the artistic expression of female underarms portrays a sense of empowerment over sexuality. Méret Oppenheim, photographed by Man Ray in 1933 is an example of both the fetish and erotic qualities of underarm hair.
Oppenheim’s armpit is inviting, the naked indulgence of flesh is surpassed by the open curve at the forefront of each picture. The arc of hair presents itself to the voyeur as a symbol of female authority, within the realm of desire. Oppenheim’s face is only very visible in one of the photographs and this style was also present at a later date in the work of Robert Mapplethorpe. A series of photographs by Mapplethorpe of Lisa Lyon, the first Women’s bodybuilder champion, focuses on the form of the female body. Her strength coupled with her naked breasts and thick thighs presents the viewer with new shapes of feminine sexuality.
Photographed in 1984, the strength of Lisa’s body is channeled through her underarm, whilst the erotic poses challenge the rules of femininity. Mapplethorpe openly contested the conformity of sexuality and gender; Lisa presented him with a form he could construct ambiguously. Her masculine traits are presented through the upper body, the deep void of underarm muscle exhibited to symbolise its indistinctness. The sexual allure of Lisa’s underarm originates from the same strength seen in the Maschalagnia worship of gay porn, an open invitation to fantasise about the depths of the black shadow and a thickness of skin that can withstand the rubbing of a menacing force.
Although often an afterthought in the sexual repertoire of the masses, the armpit presents itself as a void of fruitful exploration. Through touch, taste, smell and sight the fleshy arc of supple skin is a spice box of variety. As the sun begins to pry itself from the grasp of spring, we will become more accustomed to the curvature and bend of the skin, whilst being saturated with images of arm stretched women in magazines, inviting those who seek it, to get lost in the fetish world of the flex. The tank top a formidable force in the world of Maschalagnia.