San Francisco is a town that celebrates people in all their quirky, peculiar, and eccentric forms.  In this  Urban Profile column we tell the stories of the colorful characters that make San Francisco….well,  San Francisco.

I met Jacki at a dance class three years ago. I remember noticing two things about her right off the bat. The first was a large, u-shaped scar on her chest that she made no effort to hide, and the second was just how open and upfront she was about…well, everything. Within minutes of meeting her, I learned that Jacki is, in her own words, a fetish video producer (more on this later), and that a few years prior she had had a life-saving lung transplant (hence the scar) born of a rare respiratory illness.

But first, who is Jacki and what does she do? Quite simply, this Bay Area native is a producer of farting videos. Her videos, which are posted on various fetish-exclusive sites are downloaded and paid for by hundreds of consumers. These video clips, featuring Jacki in various stages of undress, farting noisily into the camera, fulfill a niche community of men who get off on women farting. Yes, you read right. Men watch her fart and tell her how hot she is, how hard they are for her and her farts, and how much they want her to sit on their faces and fart on them.

Fetish isn’t something new to Bay Area folks. As a city that celebrates nudity, ass-less chaps, and the Folsom Street Fair, San Franciscans are generally unfazed by what our more conservative counterparts call “sexual perversion.” But Jacki, my girl-next-door friend does not fit the typical profile of a San Francisco sexual deviant. With her fresh-faced cheeriness, completely unblemished skin (no tattoos, no piercings) and Euro-chic dress sense, Jacki looks like the furthest thing from a fetish girl. She jokes:

“When people hear that I’m in the fetish business they think latex, S&M, piercings and dominatrix whipping stuff. Seriously Suicide Girls is so 1998. We’ve moved on to farting people!”

Jacki’s foray into the world of fetish started in 2003, and as most things do, innocently enough. Jacki, at the time a fairly prolific ballet dancer, wanted to sell a pair of twice-used ballet shoes on eBay. She put them up for online auction, and the next thing she knew, a torrent of foot fetishists were engaged in a bidding war over her shoes. Surprised but unfazed, Jacki quickly recognized a business opportunity, one for which she would become globally famed.

From 2003 to 2007, Jacki periodically sold fetish items on the internet: shoes, socks, used underwear (yes, used underwear is sold as a fetish item outside of the infamous Japanese underwear vending machines!). Although a fairly successful fetish provider, Jacki considered herself a hobbyist at first. The sales provided her a side income, but starting out, Jacki didn’t pursue this to support herself. She still held her job at a real-estate investment banking firm, living (for all intents and purposes) a relatively normal life.

In 2007, disaster struck. Jacki found herself constantly out of breath, fatigued and unable to work. Eventually diagnosed with a rare lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary hypertension, Jacki was told that she needed a lung transplant. While waiting to get on the transplant list, and then waiting for an organ match, she lost her job and the medical insurance that went with it.

Faced with the desperate prospect of not being able to afford her own insurance and $15,000 per annum in additional specialty medication and expensive co-pays for hospital visits, Jacki could have given up. But ever the entrepreneur and optimist, she did not dwell on the failings of the U.S. healthcare system (although fail it did). Instead, Jacki realized that she would have to give her fledgling forays into fetish a full-time shot. As a seller of fetish items, Jacki had a flexibility that most nine-to-fivers would give an arm and a leg for.

“It was a job I could do on my own, in my own time, wherever I wanted and stop whenever I wasn’t feeling well. I found myself   making more money that I did with any other more ‘respectable’ job I’ve ever had.” 

The pair of used ballet shoes that started it all

Immersing herself full time in the world of selling fetish items, Jacki quickly became highly sought after. She soon transitioned her business from selling used items such as shoes and underwear (and tempting fate by shipping these items with the US Postal System) to filming and selling only fetish videos on the internet, her specialty being fart videos.

Her videos, which average five to ten minutes in length, can be purchased from her website (she requested I withhold the url) and third party sites such as Clips4Sale, the biggest seller of short fetish videos online.

I inquire if there is a plot and script for each video like some porn videos have. She tells me it is a lot simpler than porn, and that the vast majority of her videos are candid and off-the-cuff. She simply turns on the camera, tells her virtual viewers just how badly she needs to fart, and lets it rip. She says it is that very sense of spontaneity that appeals to her clientele–they revel in the idea that someone accessible is doing something so taboo. They enjoy the fact that Jacki appears to be someone they could bump into at a bar, someone they work with or someone they could date.

At this point during the interview, she looks me in the eye and bestows upon me a choice piece of wisdom:

“All farts are not created equal. Some men like farting girls in underwear, some men only like white underwear farts, some like thongs, some hate thongs, some like farts through jeans, some like bare-bottom farts, some like women farting on furniture, like chairs, or couches or mattresses.” 

I get it, like any other business, it’s about knowing your customer.

Of course when talking to an expert on farting, I have to ask the question, what foods induce the best farts? You’d think it would lots of bean burritos, but no, the key is sugar-free candy. According to my farts-pert friend, any candy that comes in a sugar-free form such as Worthers or Twizzlers, or sugar-free cough drops are the secret to monster whopper farts. These candies contain sugar substitutes such as isomalt, malitol and sorbitol which, if eaten in excess, can even go so far as to induce “wet”  farts. Dieting candy-guzzlers, be very afraid.

I ask if she has other fart-inducing dietary tips.

“Kashi cereal. I had some this morning, and now I’ve got so much gas!”  she groans. “Raw cabbage will do it too, but who wants to eat raw cabbage?” 

I have to say, I agree.

Sipping drinks at a financial district bar with Jacki, I’ll admit that visualizing guys beating off to my 5’2″ friend farting away on the internet can be disconcerting. I quite easily profiled these men as creepy and  odd, the scrum of society. Not so much. According to Jacki, her clientele in this niche society of about 3,000 consumers worldwide are quite “normal.”

“They could be any guy in this bar. My customers represent the whole broad spectrum of society–there are weirdos, normal people, dads, boyfriends, white, black, Asian”¦it’s a bell curve, a cross-section of society really.” 

By San Francisco’s social norms, for the most part we’ve come to accept more “mainstream”  fetishes like spanking or bondage. But farting? I ask Jacki how she thinks an obscure fetish like farting gets developed. She doesn’t know. According to her empirical research, (i.e. conversations with her clients) she says the fetish  develops through some sort of childhood memory. “One client told me of a particular moment when he was at a birthday party and some girl farted. For some reason that imprinted in his memory and as an adult, he has always been turned on by farting women.” 

The appeal of female farting also may have a lot to do with the taboo aspect of farting and women. Let’s face it, with farting, it’s a man’s world. Women aren’t allowed to excrete bodily fluids or fart; it’s unladylike for a woman to actually have bodily functions while men can create a veritable orchestra of multi-octave farts in the next room. As Jacki says very eloquently,

“Female farting is the final frontier of morality. People react so strongly to the admittance that women fart, while men can fart as much as they want.” 

Unsurprisingly, as with many social taboos, the secrecy of female farting has created an allure that fuels the fetish, and in turn, Jacki’s business.

The demand for fart videos is hot and recession-proof partly due to the limited numbers of producers who do what Jacki does. 3,000 global consumers have to share the combined content of ten to 15 active video producers who post new videos on a weekly basis. While constant demand is always good for business, Jacki tells me it is a very isolating profession. Obviously, it is not something she can bring up in casual conversation. And unlike other types of work or art, it isn’t easy to find collaborators or people to swap ideas with it.

“It’s weird – you would think it’s so easy. People get together to do all sorts of collaborations like record songs and write emo shit, you’d think farting together wouldn’t be a big deal. But people find what I do distasteful,”  she tells me, sounding a bit testy.

I tell her I’d fart on camera with her, except that I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face for the camera and would fail miserably.

“Oh no problem, there’s a fetish for farts and giggles.” 

I love it. There’s a sub-category for every fart fetish.

As we get ready to turn off the tape recorder, I ask her what motto she lives by and she flashes me her winning smile.

“If you have a sense of humor about farting, you’ll stay young.” 

Get in touch with the author @mmmagpie.