As fetishes are concerned, I had no idea that track suites, sneakers and musty socks are a thing. Absolutely it can be sexy seeing men in athletic gear but to the point of fetishism? Why not? Anything is possible I guess but it was still enlightening to read an in-depth VICE article about the passion of the Scally Lads or Trackies. Check out a couple of the excerpts below.
Deep within the fist-stretched bowels of the gay fetish scene, Britain’s working class and their budget sportswear chic have become objects of sexual fascination. Tracksuit bottoms tucked into white socks, trainers, caps, hoodies and clunky Argos gold are all eroticised by scally gear fetishists.
Sites such as Sketboy.com and Sneakersex.net feature guys who look like your local skunk dealer, fucking and jizzing in each other’s trainers. The gay porn production company Triga Films produces comically titled bluecollar porn called things like Dads ’n’ Lads: Council House and Job Seeker’s Allowance: Extra Benefits, while UK Scally Lads has a web shop selling the cum-stained sports gear used in each photoshoot. There are hookup sites, too. FitLads.net and Trackies.com are strewn with profile pictures that look like mug shots pulled from the vaults of Merseyside Police’s Anti-Social Behaviour Taskforce. Shaven-headed guys scowl into the camera, accessorising cans of lager with Staffordshire bull terriers.
Much like the biker-loving leathermen and boot-licking skinheads of decades past, scally fetishism perpetuates a long-standing cycle of re-appropriation of working-class aesthetics within the gay scene. Phil Hamill, the founder of Trackies.com and the internet’s largest gay fetish network, Recon, sees this as a natural step in cultural evolution.
This fetish, in particular, is said to have grown out of the happy hardcore club scene that flourished in the Greater Manchester area in the late 90s. While the term “scally” has been used in the region to denote working-class youths with a penchant for violence and criminal behaviour for decades, most of the fetishists I spoke to associate the term with that specific scene and era. It’s not clear when it crossed over into the fetish scene, but most of the sites I’ve mentioned appeared on the web three to four years ago – the two exceptions being FitLads, online since 2003 and Triga Films, which has been committing burly builder orgies to celluloid since 1997.
Although incredibly niche, this isn’t an isolated scene confined to the fringes of the UK’s gay underground; it’s just as popular in France, where they hold annual “Mister Sportswear” competitions, and enjoys sizeable followings in Holland, Germany and Italy. Ladz, a bi-monthly sportswear fetish party in Amsterdam, regularly attracts 400 to 500 punters, while Trackies’ Facebook page has over 22,000 likes. To put this into perspective, that’s almost a third as many as popular gay cruising app Grindr.
This obsession with being a “real man” was a recurring theme as I researched this piece. Ultimately, whether it’s consciously recognised or not, scally fetishism is a fixation on masculinity. A fetish develops when sexually arousing, inherently human qualities become associated with an inanimate object. In the case of sportswear, it’s the macho posturing and boisterous, hetero-normative masculinity of the scallies who wear it. “A suit doesn’t work for me. I don’t consider that masculine at all,” says Phil. “I guess the point I became attracted to sports gear is when I started seeing really masculine guys wearing it.”
Nearly everybody I spoke to echoed this sentiment. Most traced the origins of their fetish to their sexually formative years, when they began associating the people they were attracted to with the clothing they wore. “At school my mates were what you call ‘lads’ lads – into football, smoking, girls. I knew I liked guys, and these mates were my point of reference,” says Lee (not his real name), another guy I contacted on Trackies. “When you’re from a certain background, you wore those types of clothes. As I started fooling around with guys, I realised that their clothes turn me on too.”
“Straight” and “straight-acting” are words you see a lot on Trackies profiles. Everyone seems to be looking for an archetypical straight boy, and I wonder if the extensive use of ALL CAPS and poor spelling are all front, just superficial attempts at fitting into loutish stereotypes.
In some cases, this obsession with heterosexuality and fear of effeminacy is so extreme that it carries a tinge of homophobia. One guy, who declined to talk to me, proclaims on his profile: “I hate those fucking skinny jeans-wearing, glitter-faced queens. I like guys to be guys, and I might be a bottom, but I ain’t no sub-bitch either.” Even Lee, who claims he’s cool with his sexuality, admits, “The guys I met on FitLads.net back in the day were just typical blokes, but now it’s just like Gaydar, full of Soho queens who ponce around.”
This piece really attempts to delve into the psyche of a Trackie and does get a little disturbing towards the end. Check out the full article here.
Photos from a shoot for the Trackies website, “the place for guys who love trackies, trainers and scally gear”. All images by Picsbygaz.com, courtesy of Trackies.com
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