Art & Science

Handball History

Historical Review of Taking a Fist

Publication Details

Author: Finn Vortex

Published: 09/17/2016

Updated: 09/30/2017

Duration: 25 Minutes

Quick Links / Topics in this Article

Fisting Throughout the Ages | Birth of Modern Fisting | Vintage Pornographic Fisting Films | Hanky Code

Executive Summary

Historical details and compiled data from the internet and other sources regarding the development of modern fisting. Includes bar and club registry.

Fisting Throughout the Ages

There's just something about a hole. Men are aroused by them, whether it's the vagina, mouth, hand, or ass, they are tempted to insert their cock. It's biological. Men are also tempted to simulate penetration consciously and subconsciously in our cultures. In foreplay, this happens via fingers. Fisting arises from this desire and has been discovered and rediscovered by gay men throughout the ages.

Fisting Requirements

There are only three items needed for fisting. Since all of these items have been available from the dawn of recorded history, even across socio-economic classes, it is safe to assume that fisting occurred throughout the ages. These three items are:

  • Sexual Partners
  • A Fist
  • Lube - (Lard / Oil)

It is noteworthy that the general practice of fisting has always had a limiting factor: shit. Fecal material can be so limiting that interfemoral sex fucking between the upper thighs, without any penetration of the anus or vagina was a common homosexual practice prior to the sexual revolution. Without a way to overcome this barrier, anal sex and fisting remained uncommon activities in the realm of human sexuality, and were generally practiced in secrecy or extreme privacy.

Enter anal cleansing. Documented use of enemas (anal douching) appears as early as ancient Egypt; however, the equipment to perform shallow or deeper enemas didn't become ubiquitous until the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. After the equipment became available and was perfected, fisting and deep fisting increased to today's levels. Regardless of the development of the enema, there are references to fisting throughout history appearing in common cultural mediums.

Historical References and Innuendos

Caligula (40 AD)

The 1979 cult classic Caligula has a fisting screen off camera (the rape of Proculus). This scene originally had Caligula sodomizing Proculus; however, Malcolm McDowell refused to fuck (or simulate fucking) a guy in the movie. In actuality, there is no historical record of Caligula fisting anybody.

Caligula - Wedding Presents[1]

Freyr (1000 AD)

In some ancient Norse societies and cultures, the ithyphallic deity Ithyphallic Deity (n)

a god that was typically represented artistically with an erect penis
and God of Fuck was named Freyr. Three animals were sacred to him: the stag, the stallion, and the boar (a male pig).

It is rumored that Freyr's priesthood was made up of men who had sex with men, under the cultural norms of practicing gay sex in ancient times. As a member of this priesthood, your magical powers originated from being penetrated or fucked by Freyr. Since another man's cock was not an adequate stand-in for the God of Fuck, a dildo fashioned from a stuffed horse penis or a fist was used in sexual rituals. It is unclear how often fisting was used in comparison to dildo penetration in these ceremonies.

It's an interesting coincidence that over a thousand years ago, the god, whose symbol was a pig, had priests who fisted each other in sacred communion. Certainly, the very first Nasty Pigs.

Chaucer (1400 AD)

Queer theorists have argued that the Summoner's Tale from the work Canterbury Tales (~1386 - 1400 A.D.) contains a 'scene of eroticized male-male groping, of a male hand entering a male anus:'[3].

"Now wel," quod he, "and somwhat shall I yive
Unto youre hooly covent while I lyve;
And in thyn hand thou shalt have it anon, 
On this condicion, and oother noon,
That thou departe it so, my deere brother, 
That every frere have also muche as oother.
This shaltou swere on thy professioun, 
Withouten fraude or cavillacioun."

"I swere it," quod this frere, "by my feith"
And therewithal his hand in his he leith, 
"lo, heer my feith; in me shal be no lak."

"Now thane, put in thyn hand doun by my bak,"
Seyde this man, "and grope wel bihynde.
Bynethe my buttok there shaltow fynde
A thyng that I have hyd in pryvetee."

"A!" thoghte this frere, "That shal go with me!"
And doun his hand he launcheth to the clifte
In hope for to fynde there a yifte.
And whan this sike man felt this frere 
Aboute his tuwel grope there and here,
Amydde his hand he leet the frere a fart."

Michelangelo (1540 AD)

The lower right-hand quadrant of Michelangelo's The Last Judgement inside the Sistine Chapel supposedly portrays a sodomite being fisted. At least that's what some individuals have anachronized. Technically, it's some heavy-duty ball yanking; but I'll let you decide.

Birth of Modern Fisting

Fisting and the Sexual Revolution

Rictor Norton proclaimed in his essay, History of Homoerotica, the following:

Some marked changes in gay sexuality have occurred especially since the 1950s and 1960s. Fisting, for example, has no historical precedent—although impalement features in some early gay fantasies. ... Surveys of diaries, news reports, and the gay media have established that fisting was invented in the summer of 1971, in the 'backroom' of a gay bar in New York City. The practice quickly spread to the backroom bars of San Francisco, and was exported thence to Japan and Europe.[2]

Many reviewers of his essay rebutted this claim, noting that documentation may first appear on the record during the sexual revolution, but suggesting that fisting didn't occur until then is like saying:

...that everyone in the world was too stupid to make nachos until 1943.

My presumption is that two things have spurred growth in anal fisting as sexual activity: ubiquity of enemas/douches and fisting porn (both professional and amatuer).

Incidentally, my first post elbow experience was with a guy who had been fisting for almost fifty years. His first fisting experience was prior to my birth. He was introduced to the practice by individuals who had been fisting for decades. Sadly, many of his contemporaries and mentors were lost in the epidemic.

Fisting Literature (Academic/Non-pornographical)

Additional content for this section is currently in development. Want to contribute?

Several members of academia have attempted to dissect and define fisting from a psychological or anthropological viewpoint.

  • Gayle Rubin - Cultural Anthropologist. In literature, she is often attributed to the fallacy that fisting was invented in the 20th century. Other than that incorrect assumption, which probably occurred early in her career, her material is thoughtful and positive.
  • Michel Foucault - Philosopher and Historian. Michel focuses highly on power relationships and BDSM. He participated heavily in the emergent BDSM culture and his perception of fisting is seen strictly through that window.

Fisting Clubs and Events

Additional content for this section is in development. Want to contribute?


  • Fist Fest
  • More to come


  • M.A.F.I.A.
  • N.E. Handball Society


  • Mineshaft (NYC)
  • More to come

Additional details about current events, active organizations, and operating bars/baths are included in Art & Science: Trust and Relationships.

Vintage Fisting Pornographic Films

Original fisting films are difficult to locate. The following films demonstrate the early development of advanced fisting in the modern age.

Title Unknown (Christopher Rage Films) Circa 1980

Hanky Codes

Flagging Red

Flagging red or dark red on the left or right pocket is rarely seen—except at kink-related activities and festivals. In order to preserve the full hanky code, I've included it below.

Full Code

Black Heavy S&M
Black Velvet Videos (Films | Performs)
Grey Flannel Suit & Tie
Grey Bondage
Charcoal Latex
Blue (Light) Oral Sex
Aqua Pool/Water Sex
Blue (Robin Egg) Sixty-nine
Blue (Medium) Policeman | Seeker
Teal Cock & Ball Torture
Blue, Airforce Flyboy (Pilot/Attendant) | Seeker
Blue (Light) & White Stripe Sailor | Seeker
Blue (Navy) Anal Sex
Blue (Navy) Velvet Masturbation (Vouyer | Exhibitionist)
Paisley Boxer Shorts/Underwear
Red Fisting
Red w/White Stripe(s) Shaving
Red & White Gingham Park Sex
Red w/Black Stripe(s) Bear | Seeker
Red (Dark) Double Handed Fisting
Maroon Blood (Cut | Bleed)
Pink (Light) Toys
Pink (Dark) Tits/Nipples
Magenta Arm Pits
Fuchsia Spanking
Mauve Belly Button
Lavender Seeker | Drag Queen
Purple Piercing (Give | Receive)
Yellow Watersports
Yellow (Pale) Spit
Mustard Cock (Hung (8"+) | Size Queen)
Gold Threesome w/DP (2 for 1 | 1 for 2)
Orange Anything Anytime | Not Now
Apricot Chub | Chaser
Coral Feet
Rust Cowboy | Seeker
Green (Kelly) Hooker | Jon
Green (Lime) Food
Olive (Drab) Military | Seeker
Green (Hunter) Daddy | Boy
Terrycloth Bathhouse
White Velvet Voyeur | Exhibitionist
White w/Multi-color Dots Orgy (Host | Seeker)
White Hand Jobs
Cream Cum
Beige Rim Jobs
Tan Cigars
Brown Scat/Shit
Brown Lace Uncut | Seeker
Brown Satin Cut | Seeker
Brown Corduroy Head Master | Student
Fur Zoo
Black & White Check Safer Sex
Holstein Ejaculation
Doily Public Restroom (Tearoom)
Mosquito Netting Outdoor
Houndstooth Biting

Updates/Modifications to the Code

Unfortunately, there is no official governing board of the Hanky Code. Updates can be introduced by anyone, but don't seem to be codified universally. With that in mind, here are the changes I would make:

  • Drop codes that signify what you are and keep only those with what you do. Items to cut included Bear, Headmaster, Cowboy, Sailor, Flyboy, Tattoo, Piercings, Celebrity, Muscle).
  • Drop the striped or dotted codes associated with race/ethnicty (yellow|asian, brown|latino, black|black, white|caucasian).
  • Utilize strips for combining codes, such as blue w/lavender stripe for Fucks Drag Performers.
  • Utilize dots for pattern standard code for any fetish that doesn't have assertive / passive roles, such as sixtynine, piercing, orgy, underwear, etc.
  • Change purple to drag performer and lavender to cross dresser.
  • Add colors/materials for newer fetishes: cosplay, furries, underwear, whippings/floggings, discipline, needle play.
  • Replace cut/uncut with docking.
  • Drop or replace anything that can be misread or easily, such as calico.
  • Drop or replace non-hanky related items such as teddy bear, toothbrush, keys, ziplock, etc.
  • Implement a chevron pattern hanky for Host/Travels.

There are a few codes that I haven't included in the above list. The most common hanky codes on Google all originate from the same source and may be more comprehensive.