Issue 6, Fall 1997
"It's not love. It's not sex. It's work, you know. It's money."
3 Nights, 3 Men, 3 StoriesTwo figures move past an empty parking lot on a dimly lit backstreet. They stop at the opening of an alleyway and peer into the darkness. They move to the other side of the street and stop. One of the men leans back against a brick building. His companion remains beside him, lights a cigarette, the flame casting a red glow on his face. In an instant the warm light is gone. The cigarette stays in his mouth, the tip a pin point of orange in the distance. A car approaches, slows down. One of the men strains his eyes to look at the driver. He reaches his hands down to his crotch and gives himself a long squeeze. He doesn't look sexy or hungry. In fact he barely looks old enough to have pubic hair. The two figures approach the car and speak to the driver for a few moments before getting in. The car drives off.
I go to a bar around the corner and have a beer, hoping they'll soon return. Half an hour later the familiar figures throw open the front doors of this rather gloomy watering hole. One of them stops at the bar and orders a beer. The other approaches, nods discreetly, walks past me into the more open space further back in the bar.
He calls himself Sebastian. His real name is Steven. He's 24 years old. He came from Penticton when he was sixteen. "My mom, she was..." His voice trails off. He doesn't sound upset -- he just can't seem to find the right words. "It was fuckin' crazy, man. I had to leave." His parents don't know where he is. He doesn't care. And he doesn't want to talk about it. As for his profession, "It was just easier this way," he says.
"What do you call your job?"
"Your job. What do you call your job?"
Sebastian laughs at me, shakes his head. "What kind of question is that?"
I can't really give him an answer. I wanted to know how he refers to his job: hustler, hooker, prostitute, male prostitute.
"You wanna buy me a beer?" he asks me, spinning around on his chair and looking to see how many names are on the list to play pool. A trannie with alarmingly long finger nails jams her cue stick suddenly, sending a blur of coloured balls into motion. The din in the room rises, everyone suddenly buzzing about the trannie's ferocious shot. "Shit," Sebastian mutters. Turning back to me, he says "An Ex."
"Buy me an Export, please sir." His voice is urgent. "I'll do anything you wnat." He stares at me and laughs. "Just don't ask me if I'm happy, okay? I think I'd fucking scream."
At this point I don't rally know what to make of Sebastian. He seems evasive, looks tired, sounds frustrated. His socks don't match. I don't know if he'll have anything to say, or whether I'll just have to read between the silences.
Sebastian shakes his head, looks at the floor. "So what do you wanna know?"
"Everything you don't want to tell me," I answer. "What do you do, who you do, where you do it, how much do you get paid, do like doing it,do you always get hard, do you brush your teeth after, Lots. Everything."
"Why don't you take me home and write about that instead? Better story, eh?"
"Yeah, but is it a big story?"
Sebastian laughs. "You wanna know, you gotta pay." He rubs his crotch. "I ain't had no complaints."
Queen's "We Are The Champions" blares out of the bar's speakers and some of the patrons are singing along with Freddy Mercury.
"It's kind of noisy in here. Do you mind if we go somewhere else," I ask.
"Like your place?"
By the time the chorus comes around, the bar reverberates with the harsh voices of men and women singing.
"Well, like a coffee shop or something. You hungry? I can get you something to eat if you want."
"McDonalds?" he laughs. The look on his face tells me Sebastian is not amused by this prospect. "Hold on a minute." He gets up from the table and disappears. In a minute he comes back. I see faces in the front of the bar looking at me. We move through the back of the bar and leave through the back door.
Once we're outside, Sebastian relaxes a little, then asks me for money.
"How much do you want?"
"How long is this gonna take"
"Well that depends on how cooperative you are," I tell him.
"Oh, I get it," he laughs "So give me thirty bucks for ten minutes. You need more than that, we can talk."
"So what do you do with guys you go with?"
"All kinds of things."
"Anyone ever hurt you?"
"Yeah, couple of times. Nothing serious, though. I can look after myself."
"What about women?"
"What about 'em?"
"Do you go with women as well as men?"
"I like women, but I can have sex with guys. At first I thought it would be fuckin' awful, man, but, you know, it's not so bad."
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Used to. She moved."
"Do you think much about what you do?"
"Does it mean anything to you, the way you make money?"
Sebastian laughs at me. I guess that's a good enough answer to my question. "Do you think your life would be any different now if..."
"What do you think?" His voice is only slightly angry.
We walk for a few moments in silence. Then Sebastian says in an even tone, What difference does it make, parents and shit, yo know? Here I am." He makes a gesture with his arms, as if presenting himself. "You wanna go with me? How much money do you got? You want me to say I did it 'cause I was a runaway? Okay. Two hundred bucks. Or because I'm an addict? Two hundred and fifty bucks. Whatever you wanna hear, man. but I'll suck you off for a hundred. Best fuckin' blow job you'll ever get."
"Don't be so sure," I tell him.
"Practice makes perfect."
"So how many guys a week?" I ask, continuing on the subject of practice.
"What do you wanna know that for?"
"You don't have to answer it if you don't want to."
"I know that. But you wanna write all this down, eh? I have to say something."
"Thirty dollars worth, anyway," I say, but I don't think Sebastian gets the joke. He might have given me a hand job more willingly for that amount. Which would be less telling?
Don"Most hustlers are supporting a habit," Don M. tells me. "They do it to pay for drugs."
He tells me a story of having brought a hustler home one night ohnly to find the guy was more interested in smoking crack than sucking cock. But surely this is just a stereotype; the drug-addicted hustler, victim of some sort of abuse when they were younger, blotting out the world and sliding deeper and deeper into a void. Isn't that cliché a little tired?
"Come on," Don laughs. "Take a look at some of these guys! Do they look like they're waiting to break into the movies? Most of the guys you pick up on the street won't even do anything. The cheaper ones, the kids. They talk about what they'll do, but you're lucky if you can get them to do anything more than jerk off for you."
Don is 38 and no longer "in the business." His neatly trimmed black hair highlights his clear hazel eyes. He still draws looks, and from what he tells me, offers of money in exchange for sex from older men. It isn't surprising. He is handsome, and looks and acts 10 years his junior.
"I got into it," he says, lighting a cigarette, "to put myself through school. I worked in London and New York. Some of the stories I could tell you... LIke this one guy, Mr. 20 Minutes, I called him. He would come over and I'd have to put on a pair of jeans, and chaps and spay myself with Stetson cologne. I didn't have to do anything. He'd just sit there and masturbate and in twenty minutes he was gone. He paid me $80.00. You're lucky when you can get a regular customer like that. Especially just before going out drinking."
"So your friends know what you were doing?"
"Well, my roommate knew at the time. Whenever I was broke she'd say, Why not call up Mr. 20 Minutes?" Don laughs and stirs his drink.
"Did you ever get hurt?"
"Well, not really. But you run that risk. It can be a dangerous job. But I was pretty lucky. I worked through an escort service when I was in London. Went out with a lot of Arabs to expensive restaurants. Some of them didn't even want to have sex."
"Did you get paid anyway?"
"A couple of times men tried not to pay me. People get this attitude that they own you and can treat you however they like. One guy made me take a bath in all this Parisian bubble bath for women, then spray myself with this God-awful perfume. Then he burst into the bathroom, jerked off, came on the floor and then spat on his cum. And I said to him, What's that? What the fuck is that?"
"So do you look back on what you did and feel strange about it?"
You mean, do I think I gave up anything because I worked as a hooker? No. I needed the money to put myself through school and it was an easy way to get it. I used and I left. But I'm probably a stronger person than some of these guys.
BrentBlond, brown-eyed and looking barely 16, Brent is every Daddy's fantasy. He is, in fact, 22, the youngest of the hustlers I met and perhaps the most candid. When I ask why he tricks , he smiles and gives a quiet laugh. His eyes dart about the room. He shifts his weight. "I don't know," he tells me. "It's freedom, man. I'm totally free." But what about the sex? "It's okay. I mean I love sex, but this is ... uh, this is work okay? It's different. It's not love. It's not sex. It's work, you know? It's money."
Brent goes to the baths occasionally to look for tricks, he tells me. It's risky because sometimes people complain and he gets thrown out. And sometimes he comes here "...to not work." But that doesn't always work out.
"I'll be at home or whatever and watching TV and I'll get restless, you know? So sometimes I just go and hang out. There's this big muscle guy that comes in a lot and it's like, he puts on these kinda shows in the steam room. Guys just go nuts over him, man! And he never hardly says a word to anyone. Guys just kneel down in front of him and go at him. The steam room is always packed when he's in there. And he always gets it up. Five, six times a night. He's just wild, man. He makes people go nuts. But I watch him, you know? I think he's really cool. I'd like to give him a massage or something, you know? Look after him real good. I'd do that for free. For myself. I could go for that. But I can't figure ou;t why he goes there. I mean the guy's fuckin' phenomenal, you know? I wonder what he does for a living...?"
Brent's career as a hustler began accidentally five years ago when he found himself way from home ("I didn't run away, I just left. Don't think my mom ever noticed.") and without a place to stay. with no more than twenty dollars in his pocket he paced up and down sections of Yonge Street and wound up inside an arcade.
"This man cam over and watched me playing a game, right?" Brent says. "Then he's giving me quarters for the machine. Then he's talking to me and being real friendly and everything, right? And he says I can come stay with him if I want. So I thought, "Shit! What am I gonna do?' I got really horny. So I said to myself, you know, okay. But I waited a bit, right? Then the guy says he'll give me money. Then he says won't hurt me and I can sleep the night and he'll give me breakfast in the morning ... plus fifty bucks. That's when I told him okay."
Since then Brent learned he could make enough money from these kinds of men and similar kinds of evenings to live on. He has his own apartment now, a bit of money in the bank and says he doesn't have much to complain about.
"I hang out in bars, I hang out in clubs. That's how I meet people. I have a couple of regular customers who are really good to me, so I'm lucky that way. some guys have to really work it, you know? Like, going with really disgusting people because they have to because they're broke or whatever. That's happened to me a couple of times, but never again. Not if I can help it."
"What's the worst part of doing this for a living?"
"Mmm. It sure isn't glamorous. I think most prostitutes do if for two reasons. One is that they have to, and that's the hard part, being deperate and having no other, you know, resources or whatever. The other reason is they like it."
"Well, I like it."
"Is that why you do it?"
Brent shrugs and smiles and asks me for a cigarette. "I do it because I do it."
"Fair enough. Have you ever been hurt?"
"No. But I know people who have been. I think women get pushed around more than men do. At least that's what I've heard. I've been lucky. I know a guy that was beat up. And I know a guy who almost got strangled."
"Do you have safe sex?"
"I don't suck with condoms. Most guys wouldn't go for that, anyway. And I never fuck without them. Sometimes a guy won't wanna put one on."
"What do you do?"
"Usually we've talked about it before, but sometimes you know... You couldn't pay me enough to run that risk. But not everybody's careful."
"Why do you think people go to prostitutes for sex?"
"What's wrong with it?"
"I didn't mean to imply there was anything wrong with it. But what goes on that a client couldn't get from a relationship or a one night stand or the baths?"
"Well, a guarantee for one. You go to a prostitute for sex, because that's what they're there for."
"Do you think that some people go because they want to pay for it, because that's part of the allure?"
"Maybe. And the taboo thing, too. Some people just get off on the fact that they're with a prostitute and because it's supposed to be such a bad thing. It's so stupid. I mean, who do we hurt?"
"Some people would say you're hurting yourselves..."
"Please. Can I run my own life, thank you very much?"
"Other people would point at the married men who go to hookers and say you destroy marriages."
"Is this you? I mean do you believe that?"
"No. but we've all heard the argument."
"Yeah, and the argument is stupid, man. Married guys go to hustlers because there's something they're missing that their wives or whatever can't give them. Prostitutes don't wreck marriages. The people in marriages do that. That's bullshit. Most guys I've been with that are married are pretty happy. They just want something else, you know? Something diffent to make them happy. Anyway, it's all just sex, you know? It's not the end of the world. You go with a guy, you cum, you get dressed or whatever, you pay and you leave."
"Hopefully you leave feeling better than before." I add.
"Yeah. Oh, do you mean me?"
"No the guys that pay you."
"Yeah. Usually they do. Don't know why they wouldn't. I'm pretty happy, you know? I'm not bad a looking guy, so I can make good money this way. I don't plan on doing it forever, though."
"Any idea when you think you'll have had enough, or when you'll just want to quit?"
"No. I'll just know it when it happens. When something better comes along."
-- Robert Thomson is the managing editor of this magazine.
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Created: September 18, 1997|
Last modified: April 12, 1998
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