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Kinky boots are boots with extreme characteristics which are intended to present a dramatic sexy appearance, such as by a prostitute or dominatrix. Extreme characteristics might include very high heels, thigh- or crotch-high length, or unusual colors or materials. Boots like this can be related to boot fetishism, which thus makes them a form of fetish clothing. The term is ambiguous, since what can be considered kinky by some can be seen as elegant fashion by others.
Boots of this type, and specifically the thigh-high leather boots worn by Honor Blackman in her role as Cathy Gale in The Avengers, are referred to in the 1964 song "Kinky Boots" by Blackman and her Avengers co-star Patrick Macnee. Usually, nowadays the term is connected to the type of thigh-length boots used by Julia Roberts in the 1990 movie Pretty Woman and by Madonna in her Re-Invention Tour in 2004.
Origin of the term
The term "kinky boots" was coined in the UK in the early 1960s when high boots, which had previously been worn in the "underground" fetish and sadomasochistic world of the dominatrix and her clients, broke into mainstream female fashion. The term "sexual kink", meaning not entirely straight, was used, often in a jocular sense, to describe an unusual sexual desire that was not sufficiently deviant to attract the word perversion. Since men who were attracted to women in boots, which symbolised power, were heterosexual, the term "kinky" was applied to them, rather than "perverted", which at that time mainly implied homosexuality. The term thus became applied to the boots that were worn by women because of their previous association with SM.
The original kinky boots were calf- to knee-length pull-on black leather boots with 4- to 5-inch heels and pointed toes. This was the kind of boot worn by Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg (Emma Peel) in the original Avengers television series. Capitalising on their popularity, Blackman and Macnee (John Steed) cut the single record called "Kinky Boots", which became a Top 5 UK charts' hit in 1990, 27 years after its original release. "Kinky Boot Beasts" make a brief appearance in the Sea of Monsters sequence in the 1968 Beatles' movie Yellow Submarine.
The boots were soon available in other colours, white being popular, and all heel heights. Later, from the mid 1960s onwards, the stiletto went out of fashion and calf and even thigh boots with lower thick heels or even flat heels came into fashion. These made it across the Atlantic Ocean to the States and were called "go-go boots" in the U.S.; however in the UK they were mostly still called "kinky boots" and the term was still being applied to the high-heeled platform boot, a popular fashion item of the 1970s.
Boots are a common female fashion these days, so the term is now usually only used for the original type of dominatrix S&M boot — very high stiletto boots, generally of thigh length and in either black or white or bright shiny colours.
The film Kinky Boots was released in 2005 and told the story of an ailing company of high quality traditional men's shoe manufacturers that found a new lease on life making high heeled footwear for transgender people and drag queens. A musical adaptation follows a similar plot.