Thursday, 31 May 2012

Times Square

New York City.  A city full of opportunity, heartbreak, hope and debauchery.  I lived there for three years in the late 90’s, and when I arrived, I was a naive, eager 24 year old set to attend a performing arts conservatory.  That 24 year old suffered from the “Best-Little-Boy-in-the-World” syndrome.  I had been a rabidly religious boy, a Sunday School teacher, and looking back, that had been my way of doing battle with my fear of being gay.  By the time I hit Manhattan, I had happily dealt with being gay, but there was a whole other hurdle to face – the admission of being a sexual being.  I had internalized the idea that it was one thing to be gay, but god forbid I should look for sex and feel good about it.  I still had notions that sex was dirty.  It didn’t fit with my self-image – a self-image I only later realized was borne out of fear.  I feared judgement by others, judgement by God (yes, still!  And I’d thought I was over that), and I feared the power of sex.

There was a gay weekly in New York that had ads in the back pages, and some of those ads advertised sex parties.  The first time I read them, I didn’t even consider them as an option.  Somehow, orgies seemed verboten, while getting drunk at a bar and picking up a stranger seemed acceptable.  When my hypocrisy had me laughing in my own face, I looked at those ads for orgies once more.

Nervously, I phoned a number on an ad.  This is what I was told: The orgy would take place at such and such hotel in Times Square.  Don’t be late, admission will not be granted after 10pm.  Do not ask anything of the front desk – this was on the down low.  When I knock, the person who answers the door will decide then and there whether I will be allowed entry.  There will be a small fee.

That rainy Friday night, I was an excited as if it were my wedding night.  I stopped at the bar I worked at for some liquid courage and downed an Orgasm, of all drinks.  A short subway ride to Times Square, and I found myself running in a downpour, fearful that I’d be late.  I was terrified about being late because I wasn’t sure I’d ever have the courage to try this again.  I was also terrified that I wouldn’t pass muster and would be turned away at the door.  I entered the hotel lobby and felt like a criminal.  I got into the elevator with regular civilians who had no idea that I was on my way to a bacchanalian fest.  My heart pounding in my chest, I kept thinking that I could turn back at any time, but my feet took me to the door, on which my hand, by its own volition, knocked.  Against all hope, I was allowed in.

I entered a large, dark suite and was led to a small table where I paid the small fee and then was given a garbage bag to put my clothes in, save for my boots and underwear.  I sensed men wandering about and so I turned away, and then spun back on my heels and said “  I’m sorry, I’ve never been to anything like this.  What do I do?”  The host at the table smiled at the obvious neophyte in front of him and said, “Wander about.  If a guy reaches out and touches you, you have the choice to play with him, or decline and keep walking.  No pressure.”

I thanked the host and wandered down to the main bedroom, only to find it full, with two men making out on the bare mattress and encircled by eight to ten other men watching and jerking off.  I walked past them and it was like going down a receiving line.  And go down I did.  One of the men in the line was absolutely hot, and hard, and smiling at me.  I had been there all of two minutes and I took to it like a duck to water.  On my knees, I had found nirvana.  It was a one night stand magnified by a thousand.  Something in me was born that night, wherein my sexuality went from being a nebulous thing to an outright passion.  I had found God.

I was comforted to know that other men were as unabashedly as horny as I.  I felt less like a freak in this tribe.  I needed a space where I could be unapologetically sexual and, strangely, I found that a public sex venue gave me the sense of permission that I didn’t always feel in a one-on-one hook-up.  Our dicks were doing the thinking, and yet, there was an air of respect for all.  I realized that being horny wasn’t a crime, it wasn’t only a punch line to a joke.  It was also the driving force that makes us reach out to others.  Was the orgy devoid of personality?  Were we being real with each other?  I wasn’t sharing my hopes and dreams with these men, but I’ll be damned if I wasn’t being real with them – much more real than most of my human interactions that day.  I don’t know about you, but I spend most of my day making politically correct small talk at work for eight hours a day.  But that night, we skipped all that and said “touch me”.

What bothers me is that after having had such an intense experience, I had nobody to talk to about it,  to analyze it with.  I may be underestimating my gay male friends of the time, but I didn’t think I could discuss this with them.  When orgies are talked about, it’s couched in jokes, or false bravado, with details left out, details taken to the grave.  It’s admitted to with embarrassment, never with pride, and never with a spiritual or emotional examination.    Rereading this column, I am bothered by the fact that I felt like a freak for being so horny, that I speak of feeling like a criminal for going to this party.   Had I really done something that took away my essential goodness?  Or was I a victim of our judeo-christian up-bringing, lacerating myself for enjoying my sexuality, even in a safe, sane and consensual way?   Why are our saints sexless?  Could I merge my spiritual desires with my physical desires?  I was gay, but not a castrated, non-threatening gay guy.  I too was a sexual being.  Could others handle that?  And more to the point, could I?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Nick the Trick

It’s Sunday night, I have to work tomorrow and it’s already 10pm, but I’m hunting men online.  There is one guy, Nick*, who has been trying to arrange a hook up with me for three weeks.  “You’re fuckin’ hot – I like your look man,” he tells me.  He gives me his phone number and I text him my address.  He responds by saying he entered me on his phone contacts list as “Stud”.

I moved to the big city from a small town to search for a connection, and I’d be lying if I said that the connection I sought wasn’t sexual.  Whether that connection was to be found with one man, or the whole crowd at the Eagle on a Saturday night, it didn’t matter.  I’m a self-professed sexual adventurer - a nice way of saying I’m a slut.  I never bought into the word “slut” as having a negative connotation.  Was I ever thrilled when those Slut Walks were happening in 2011 all over the world.  Should I condemn myself for seeking connection with others through sexual means?  The world at large would say yes.  But of course that world is all too often hypocritical.  Try looking at it this way: Sex often brings disparate people together in an intimate way, people who might otherwise never have met.

But any realist will tell you that sex, and the hunting for it, doesn’t always bring joy – that’s why this column is subtitled “Cautionary Tales from the Quest”.  First off, hunting for sex is time consuming.  For all the time I spend on line, I could easily do a part-time evening job,  and I sure could use that job to pay for the drinks I consume at the bars.  Whether online, at a bar, at a sauna or at the grocery store, hunting for sex is fun...and tiring...and exciting...and disappointing.  It’s hot.  It’s desperate.  It’s an affirmation of one’s sexuality, but the ego can be bruised faster than it takes to click “send”.  Hunting for sex is a game that has no end.  And would you want it to end?  It can be an addiction.  How far you spiral into that addiction depends on so many factors.  But my question, as I walk down the street and wonder about the sex lives of the non-descript people who pass by, is:  Aren’t we all touched by this addiction in some way, gay or straight?

Back to Nick the Trick.  He’d been eating away his time by cyber-chasing me for 3 weeks, as I mentioned. He suggested that we get to know each other – naked.  My pics are recent and are body and face, me in all my naked glory save for the black underwear (he didn`t request the naked ones).  But I waffled with Nick – was I really attracted to his pics?  But it was time to shit or get off the pot and not be an internet player.  Then he writes:  “Are you masc?”  It should be a rhetorical question, because how else can I answer but with “ Yeah man, masc here”.  I’m pretty built, have facial hair, and like to fuck to heavy metal.  And I think Liza Minnelli is grand.  This can go either way here, folks.  He says he’s on his way.

He buzzes, I let him up, open the door and see it right away.  It’s a look I’ve seen before, and a look I’ve no doubt given before when meeting a trick – disappointment.  Something right away isn’t living up to his expectations.  So before I can decide if I even like him, I am challenged to change the look on his face.  He comes in and I offer him a beer.  I grab one for myself – it’ll be my fourth drink that night (on a work night).  He steers towards my couch which is covered with clothes and newspapers, and says “So, you live in the gay Village”.  Strike one – he is one of those gay men who abhors the Village and what it represents to them.  Undaunted, I suggest that the bed might be more comfortable to chat on.  He doesn’t look convinced but follows me in, where my computer is playing some good ‘ol rock n’ roll.

And we talk.  Or he talks.  Once he gets going, I find it hard to get a word in edgewise.  More to the point, when I do speak he has a tendency to cut me off.  But I’m a pleaser, and so let him have the floor, showing a keen interest, hoping this makes him like me – sad, but true.  But an hour passes and finally – he yawns.  He says that he should probably get going.  In five minutes he is out the door and we both know that that is the end of that. 

The door closes and there is a deathly silence in my head, even as the metal continues to play.  I hold my head in my hands and think these thoughts:  What did I do to disappoint him?  Was I not masculine enough?  I wanted him to want me, but am acutely aware that that is my ego talking.  I was in truth only mildly attracted, but his distance made me want to pounce on him.

At this point, you have two options.  You can turn out the lights, go to bed, curl up like a fetus and feel sorry for yourself, but I chose something different.  After holding my head in my hands for 30 seconds, I decided to reclaim my bruised ego and my sexuality.  I poured myself another drink, opened up a porn site, and proceeded to jack off.  Pathetic you say?  Oh no, dear reader, it’s called reclaiming your sexuality.  If Nick didn’t want me and my sexuality, I would satisfy myself.  My self- worth and vision of my sexuality wouldn’t be extinguished by one guy saying no.  The lesson here was that my sexuality, my sense of pleasure, was in my hands, not Nick’s.  In my late thirties, I was no longer willing to hand over my sexual self-esteem to anybody.  And yet...I run into Nick on the streets of the Village from time to time (he, who apparently condescends about the Village, sure seems to be spending a lot of time in it).  And usually we ignore each other, or quickly nod.  Invariably, a feeling of shame, of being “less than”, creeps up the back of my neck. I valiantly try to resurrect my self-esteem.   Then, an act of God:  The next guy that passes by smiles flirtatiously at me.  I say a little prayer of thanks for this boost from an angel and continue down the street, on a chilly Fall day in the Village.

 *I don`t really remember his name.  How the hell am I supposed to keep track of names?e`sHehHHHHHHjjj