The Year of COVID meant sacrificing a lot of things. Time with family, communal, in-person camaraderie, getting absolutely railed by a series of strangers in a semi public space. And while the return this year has been fitful, 2022 is looking better thanks in part to Fist Fest’s recent return to in-person events. And with next year its 25th anniversary, our holes are already open in anticipation!
Fist Fest—initially founded in Southern California but for the last several years primarily based in Augusta, Georgia—returned with its popular FFull Moon and October FFist Fest events this year, and the gratitude felt by the reunited community was as potent as the pheromones. With three events scheduled for 2022, Fist Fest President Larry Shockey spoke to us about the in-person events in the age of COVID, what to expect from the event, and the radical sea change that the public perception of fisting has undergone in recent years.
On requiring proof of vaccination to attend.
People understood. We’re creating a safe bubble for people to come and play. People wanted to get back out and be with the brothers. That’s what this is, it’s a brotherhood. And we’re going with that same policy next year.
On the changing demographic of the fisting community.
It’s been a sea change. The median age is about 40 years old whereas five years ago it was probably 50. And the attitude of the guys! We have puppies, twinks, trans men, faeries. It runs the gamut. So it makes it way more interesting now. I remember five or six years ago, we had some faeries that came with toenails painted and glitter on their face and some of the older guys came up to me and said, “What the fuck is this?” I just laughed and told them to get over themselves, and I painted my toenails jungle red. It’s a lot more relaxed now.
The first weekend of July was the most racially diverse weekend we’ve had in a very long time. And I just think that’s wonderful. It used to be all white guys, and it’s much much less so than that. Fisting is kind of the new oral. People say that and it really is.
On how Fist Fest has evolved.
The pool is clothing optional at the Parliament Resort, and the guys just love to get out there and play. [In previous years] people were filming their sessions and posting them on Twitter and tagging us and I said, “Well hell, let’s just have a pool party!” So we designated a Saturday afternoon as our pool party, and we set up a bar and got a DJ and just made a big thing of it.
Years ago, I did monthly fisting parties in San Francisco called Hell Hole. It was a warehouse party, thumpy music, dark. I did that for a very long time and I’d kinda been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. And for me Fist Fest was outside, clothing optional, around a pool. But there was interest, so we did a Hell Hole: At the Edge of Hell party in a warehouse space at the resort with a bar, with a DJ and dim lights and all that and the guys just loved it. Now it’s one of the big things that people look forward to every time.
On first timers visiting Fist Fest.
You’re new for 20 minutes. And after that, you’re family. And it’s very true. In order to ease people into the weekend, we have registration on Thursday from 3 PM to 6 PM, and at 6 PM anyone there for the first time gathers out by the pool and they’re taken on an orientation. A lot of guys have never been to a large play party, so they’re really given an orientation about what to expect.
People never think they’re experienced in fisting until they can take an arm to the shoulder, but whatever your level is, you’re fine. When you think of the number of people who have never taken a hand. [Laughs] If you can take a hand, you’re in a percentile of a percentile of a percentile. You’re in the ethersphere or people, so come on! Don’t judge yourself. And be honest with people about your level of experience. Sometimes people say, “I’ve never taken a hand,” and I encourage those folks to come to me. I know who’s there and likes to play with novices and will take their time and work with them.
At registration, in addition to our regular dog tags, we have two colors of tags that
folks can choose to wear if they want: black is for mentors and red is for pledges. The purpose of that is to be a door opener for communications or questions. This is a family. It’s a family reunion. Everybody comes up and hugs and kisses, “How’s your family, how’s your husband, how’s your dog? Let’s go play.”