The Russian empire is historically interesting for many diverse reasons. However, there is one lesser known fact about it and it concerns the labor market.
Namely, there is one profession that has now died out, but at one time was very significant: professional feet ticklers. The ticklers worked full-time and were professionals trained in proper techniques. The purpose of tickling was to arouse Russian Czarinas and other noble women.
It wasn’t only used as an unusual form of foreplay — sometimes the tickling was performed as a stand-alone pleasure. In his book The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe, William A. Rossi reports that foot tickling for intimate purposes was commonly used in the Muscovite palaces for centuries.
The profession exclusively belonged to eunuchs and women. Through rigorous practice they developed amazing techniques that brought them prestige. A skilled tickler would be very well paid.
The tickling experience was accompanied by the singing of obscene ballads and telling erotic stories to build the state of expectation.
There are records of many Russian noble women who enjoyed this professional service. Regent of Russia Anna Leopoldovna allegedly had around six different people employed as ticklers. They had to be available at a moment’s notice and ready to give her pleasure deserving of her noble status.
The most famous enjoyer of tickling services was Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796, the longest ruling woman in Russian history. She was known as a strong public ruling figure.
However, it is reported that she also had a strong “appetite”. When German soldiers raided her former palace during the second world war, they stumbled upon her secret chamber. They were surprised to encounter various erotic images and pieces of furniture, so much so that they photographed each one of them. Unfortunately, many of the photographs are lost.
Catherine married the erratic Russian Grand Duke Peter in 1745. Reportedly, he enjoyed alcohol more than he would enjoy time with his wife. He neglected her and indulged in playing with his toy soldiers, rather than paying attention to her needs and desires.
Upon succeeding to the throne in 1762 his rule was subjected to a coup, which led to his early demise. It is speculated that Catherine was the mastermind behind this act.
It could be that her passion for tickling started during her marriage due to her being unsatisfied. However, upon her husband’s death she was notorious all over Europe for her casual relationships with many men, some of them even 40 years younger than herself. She did not cease the pleasure of having her feet tickled, however.
Russia is not the only case of this practice. It was recorded in Ancient Egypt, for example. Queen Hatshepsut would use anise seed oil on her feet to prepare them for a ritual of pre-coital tickling. A eunuch would then tickle her feet with peacock feather and bring her to the peak of arousal.
Scientists researching tickling claim that besides provoking laughter, tickling has to do much with the fact that feet are extremely sensitive. However, neuroscientists researching our brains suggest that the sensation of tickling actually computes into the sensation of pain and can be extremely dangerous.
This practice is nowadays widespread in the certain kinky communities, which gives reason for scientists to think it a proof for their pain-pleasure hypothesis.
This activity was also used as a torture technique throughout history. There are some reports of tickling assaults nowadays. Be that as it may, it seems it served its purpose in the Russian courts and was not a fashion fad, but a beloved bedroom tactic.