Waxing lyrical: A brief look at earwax obsession and fetishes

Back in 1991 while I was holidaying in Goa (India), I was lying on the beach with my (then) girlfriend (next to a dead dolphin, but that’s another story) when suddenly I felt something being stuck into my ears. It was a Goan man making a living out of removing earwax from the tourists with a specially designed earpick. At the time, I didn’t think much of it and all I can recall was speaking to one of the staff at the hotel reception about it. She said to me that for some people in the locality, earwax was “almost an obsession”.

Recently, I was re-reminded of this incident when I came across an article on Danny Brown’s webpage called ‘The completely pointless Google experiment’. Brown’s pointless experiment was to find ridiculous and obscure facts by typing various phrases into Google to discover what came back as the number 1 result. One of the phrases he typed in was What is the weirdest earwax story ever?” He wrote that:

“Now I’m not one of these people that have a fetish for ear wax (and yes, they DO exist!) but this seemed like a rather innocuous question. According to the #1 result on Google, it’s using ear wax as a remedy for cold sores, as found on the Remedicated website, under ’15 of the weirdest home remedies as folk treatments ever’”

I wasn’t interested in the top-rated story (although I did read the Wikipedia entry on earwax and discovered that many types of whales have a build-up of earwax which increases with time; the size of the deposit is sometimes the only way to determine the age of whales that do not have teeth”). What garnered my interest was Brown’s assertion that earwax fetishes “DO exist” (his emphasis, not mine). My first online search led to websites talking about mimikaki. The term ‘mimikaki’ is a Japanese word and describes the act of picking earwax out of the ears. I also read that the removal of earwax is often done in the context of lover’s grooming customs and rituals with one website claiming that as with practically every aspect of Japanese culture, mimikaki is often fetishized”. The same website claimed that mimikaki services can be bought in a variety of Japanese establishments that offer massage and other grooming services. Someone else writing on the same website also noted:

“Ear picks are a commonly used item and preferred for earwax removal in East Asia. The person having their ears cleaned would lie down with their head in the lap of the person doing the cleaning. It is generally considered a pleasant feeling, like having one’s back scratched. The cleaning of ears is thus considered an act of intimacy, often performed by a mother to a child or, among adults, by one’s lover. It may also be performed alone or by professional (non-medical) ear cleaners on the streets of cities in countries such as China, India, Japan, Vietnam, and other Asian countries”

Having read this, I decided to see what it out there on earwax obsessions and fetishes. Academically, I found nothing (at least in relation to sexual fetishes). In the online world I came across various snippets relating to sexual earwax fetishes. An article about “five freaky fetishes” on the Daily Radar website included a paragraph on earwax fetishes and noted:

“Earwax. We’ve all heard of shit, piss, puke and so on fetishes. Frankly, I find them a little boring. Been there, done that…But I know there’s a big market out there for bodily fluids, so I came up with one you’ve likely not heard of before: earwax. It tastes like ambrosia if it was all waxy and it fits into many crevices of the body…It’s like naturally occurring honey is what it’s like! I don’t know why other bodily fluid fetishes have been popular enough to inspire Internet ‘memes’ while this earwax thing has yet to gain traction”

A 2010 news item in The Sportsman’s Daily claimed that Bill Belichick, head coach of the American football team New England Patriots had an ear/wax fetish. He was reported to have said: “I’m into Q-Tips. Any kind of swab basically. I enjoy sniffing ear wax. The hard of hearing really get my juices flowing. And I’ve got a headphone collection that would make the folks at Sony sit up and take notice”. In the same story, a sex therapist Dr. Clifton Hamels claimed that ear fetishes are among the rarest of fetishes. More specifically he said: “I’ve only had one patient that was into aural. But perhaps now that a high profile coach has let it all be heard, so to speak, other people will come forward and tell the world how they’re into ear”.

I managed to locate a few individuals on various online forums who claimed to have an earwax fetish. Most (but not all) of these were sexually based. Here are some examples

  • Extract 1: “I have a huge earwax fetish…Sometimes I like to have fantasies of swimming in men’s earwax. It makes me super horny and I can get orgasms by just thinking of it…I also have a fantasy where I find this giant guy and I have him shove me in his ear and use me as a Q-tip. Does anyone else have these types of fantasies or is it just me?”
  • Extract 2: “My fetish is horrible but I love it. have this earwax fetish. I sometimes daydream about swimming in a guy’s ears and drink the wax out of his ears. It makes me horny as hell. I sometimes imagine a guy pouring wax out of his ears and I start drinking and bathing the wax. I also do this as I’m masturbating and I get orgasms. I think of a lot of things about earwax to get horny. I hope I’m not alone because it is great and fills me with orgasmic energy. Sometimes I go without a month without cleaning my ears and sit on the toilet and pick my ears and eat it while masturbating and imagine its’ a guys ear wax”
  • Extract 3: Which of you ladies gets turned on by a man with lots of hot, yellow goop in his ears? I tend to have a lot of wax in my ears when I wake up and wonder if any pretty mommas around here find that sexy? Do you fantasize looking into my ear seeing something that looks like an apple pie cooking in an oven and just want to shove your tongue in there and dig out all that steamy slop. Sometimes I have so much it falls out and looks like pieces of buttered popcorn laying on my pillow”
  • Extract 4: “As it turns out, the guy has an ear wax fetish. Yup, he wanted me to use a Q-tip and clean out his ears. Then, he wanted to clean out mine. I couldn’t handle it and did everything I could to avoid the dreaded Q-tip. In the process of getting to know Ear Wax Boy, G got engaged. I was devastated, Ear Wax could sense I wasn’t ready to move on, and the romance ended”
  • Extract 5: “I don’t know if this is a fetish or what but I will explain. I have a earwax problem, I get quite a bit of it in my ears if I don’t keep them cleaned out. I find myself during the day sticking pin lids and other skinny things into my ears and scraping the earwax out, which I’d say is normal but what isn’t normal is I enjoy smelling the ear wax. I really love the smell and I could sit all day with earwax up to my ears. I think smelling someone else’s would be sick, I only enjoy mine”

The first four of these are obviously sexually based while the final one borders more on non-sexual obsession (although I openly admit that it may not be a true obsession). I should also mention that the person in Extract 1 was also a self-admitted coprophile (with sexual fantasies and arousal involving diarrhea), and also appears to have macrophilc tendencies too (i.e., sexual arousal from giants). Additionally, the first two extracts may be the same person writing in two different online forums as the fantasy about being used as a Q-tip also appeared in both accounts (although I edited out this reference in Extract 2). There may be some psychological overlap between earwax fetishes and acnephilia (that I examined in a previous blog). For instance, I observed discussion of “earwax nirvana” on the Pop That Zit website.

Obviously, I have no idea if these online admissions are representative of earwax lovers (or how genuine the accounts are). As I said earlier, there is absolutely no academic or clinical research on the topic of earwax fetishes (and to be honest not likely to be as there doesn’t seem to be any problem associated with such behaviour).

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Brown, D. (2008). The completely pointless Google experiment. November 17. Located at: http://dannybrown.me/2008/11/17/the-completely-pointless-google-experiment/

Choo, D. (2007). Japan hygiene. Culture Japan, August 10. Located at: http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/1026/Japan+Hygiene.html

The Sportsman’s Daily (2010). Belichick one ups Rex Ryan; Admits to rare ear fetish. December 23. Located at: http://sportsmansdaily.com/thescrum/?p=3610

Wikipedia (2012). Earwax. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwax

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Distinguished Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. In 2013, he was given the Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 800 research papers, five books, over 150 book chapters, and over 1500 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 3500 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on April 7, 2013, in Case Studies, Compulsion, Obsession, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Paraphilia, Psychiatry, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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