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Some people prefer whips and chains, others prefer balloons. A fetish can include sexual arousal from traditionally non-sexual objects or body parts, like feet and stuffed animals. A sexual fetish is defined as a sexual attraction to an object that plays a big role in his or her sexuality. Virtually everyone has a fetish of some kind whether it is feet, latex, lacquer, or leather. Then there are the more bizarre which include furries, armpits, and balloons. Furries make for an innocent way to break into the fetish game.
With any fetish, there is range of acceptance as well as misunderstanding of a kink. Hence the need for safe words so things don't get out of control for the BDSM crowd. For some men and women that have a balloon fetish, they like nothing better than to spend their time watching their sex partner blowing up, over-inflating, and bursting colorful balloons. Others enjoy just being surrounded by the latex balls. In the same way that people have a “type,” when looking for a potential partner, some looners have a particular type of balloon. Some ballons are actually blown up to resemble sex organs and used as proxy. They have a preference when it comes to the balloon’s size, color and brand. Some of the pleasure is more general in nature, but looners actually get sexually excited from balloon behavior.
A fetish is typically caused by an early interest, or in some cases, a fear of an object that would later develop into a sexual attraction. According to studies, a vast majority of looners express a sexual interest in balloons before the age of 14. Whether this stems from either an attraction or a hatred for balloons, the fact is, that these children always had the feeling that balloons are special. We learn about the world through the senses, and balloons have much to offer all our senses. For example, in an episode of Strange Sex on TLC, a man named Christopher admits that he remembers coming home from school and pleasuring himself with a balloon as a child. That eventually developed into his erotic love for balloons and he hopes to share that appreciation and attraction with a woman.
Fetishes may initially find their origin in a persons early teenage years. Latex, similar to the Rubberist fetish, is generally characterized by the skin-like feel associated with the texture that one might remember from childhood. This feeling also might be comparable to the feeling of a pair of breasts later in life. Yet, the early fascination of an object may have a major impact later in life. It is very common, that any random object standing nearby, or being used while a person gets his or her’s first orgasm may also later evolve into a fetish for that certain object, especially if the object is frequently used as an aid in masturbation, simply because it worked the first time.
Bart Hess is one of the most tactile and intuitive contemporary artists experimenting with textiles for their visceral impact. While studying his craft at the Design Academy Eindhoven, he presented A Hunt for High Tech, accompanied with the evocative short film that visualized the incredible concepts behind his masterpieces.
The attraction to balloons can range from the erotic to more sensual. On National Geographic Channel, an episode of Taboo features a man named Dave admits to having a purely platonic relationship with many balloons. He thinks of balloons as his family and has fathered over 65,000 of them. Each night, Dave chooses a balloon and tucks it under his shirt and sleeps with it.
Just as there is range of intensity that people feel towards the balloons, there are also different positions within the fetish according to what you enjoy. Someone who is a popper likes popping balloons and the anxiety leading up to it while non-poppers do not enjoy the popping, but are more excited by the look and feel of the balloons. Someone labeled a popper usually finds the exploding of balloons to be sexually arousing and considers it to be ‘the main event’. They play with balloons with the intent to pop them. Yet, there are some poppers that have a fear of balloons popping, but they find it arousing so they do it anyway. A non popper would probably prefer to play with balloons in ways that do not involve popping the balloon.
However, poppers, non poppers, and semi poppers all have one thing in common. They see balloons as something exciting and special. Our brains are designed to remember positive experiences more so than negative once. Since the majority of experiences surrounding a person’s first orgasm is often times a very pleasant experience, the brain will also capture what happened in their environment while that pleasant experience happened. That means the brain will make a connection between the pleasant experience, which in some cases is sexual satisfaction, and the object that was used to achieve the pleasurable feeling which in this case is a balloon.
A variation of the looning fetish is the “Bubblegum Balloon Fetish” or “Bubblegum Looning”, where, instead of latex balloons, bubblegum is used to produce small to big balloon replicas (depending on the size of the gum). In this case, the “popper” or “non-popper” difference is absent since the balloons can be produced over and over, as opposed to latex balloons that pop and must be discarded. Bubblegum looners tend to like watching people produce balloons with bubblegum or producing balloons themselves.
As with balloon looning, Bubblegum Looning can be used in sexual activities to enhance sexual performances. In many cases, bubblegum balloons may be blown against some partner’s body parts to enhance sexual excitement or as a form of game play. A number of looners also enjoy other variations, such as rubber glove balloons, beach balls, inflatable PVC plastic toys, and inflating bin liners or garbage bags.
Looning, like many other fetishes, is misunderstood. People associate many fetishes as taboos, practiced by weirdos and the disturbed when in fact, your elderly neighbor next door could be a looner and the CEO at the company where you work can be a Furry. The misconception that accompanies sexual fetishes have forced many of them to be an underground of hidden aspect of people’s lives. But with access to the internet, many people are becoming more educated about fetishes, which will hopefully lead to a greater understanding and acceptance in the future. People fear what they don’t understand, which is the direct reason that many write off fetishes as taboo. But ultimately, many people have a certain kink that excites them. It can be as simple as light spanking or as extreme as Furries and intense bondage. The kink often manifests itself in sexuality and artistic expression.
Lucy McRae and Bart Hess make up the collaborative effort known as Lucyandbart. They create an imaginary and transformed physical body. Using inflated balloons and rubber materials their work is breathtaking in its technical beauty and underlying message. The often shocking realism of their work leaves one with conflicting emotions. By stripping the silhouette of its human emotions or expressions, the bubbled balloons are both fascinating and off putting at the same time.