A Rentboy Rant

One week ago yesterday, I was in the laundromat a few blocks from my apartment. Dropping a load in…like ya do. The news was playing on the TV, as it often does in laundromats, when I heard the newscaster utter the words “male prostitution”.

My first thought was “Ooh! Fun”! so of course I  turned to see what it was all about. I saw the word “Rentboy” and my brain immediately switched from intrigue to dread. I tried to tell myself that the images of intimidating-looking men removing boxes from a familiar office building were not as scary as they looked. But after only several seconds of listening I knew that this news was not good.

In case you haven’t been following this piece of news, Homeland Security and the Brooklyn Police raided the offices of Rentboy.com, a well-known global database for male escorts, armed with accusations of money laundering and, yeah, facilitating prostitution. I’m not the best with the legal lingo, so you might be better off reading this or this.

I’ve had a fond, but not-too-intimate relationship with Rentboy’s headquarters for the last year or so. I have several friends who work in the office. I’ve attended a couple meet’n’greets with them. I went to the Hookies this year. Yes, I even attended one of their workshops on marketing (where I was mistaken for an experienced escort, which I am obviously not, but I was immensely flattered). Not being an escort, I don’t have many reasons to hang around with these folks often, but when I do, it’s always been a welcoming environment.

Because of my level of attachment to the story, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to write about it at all…not for fear of outing myself or anything, but worried I wouldn’t do the story justice… but after sitting on my feelings for a week and some change, I wanted to vocalize my support at the very least. Because simply put, it’s bullshit. Even if selling sex is against the law, (which it is, but technically they weren’t) we have bigger problems in our country…in our city even… than a little bit o’ completely consensual companionship (that could involve cocks.)

I’ve been dealing with conflicting issues over the last week. I’m horrified and infuriated by what is going down, and deeply sympathetic to my friends who are affected by this crackdown. But I stopped and asked myself…if I didn’t have friends who were affected by it…would I feel the same way?

I know plenty of sex workers. I’ve considered sex work myself. Hell, some might even say I’ve already performed various forms of sex work. But I also have a lot of apprehensions about sex work as a whole that I hadn’t really noticed until I started following this story. I am fascinated by those who partake in it, both as a worker and as a client, but for every two steps closer I get the industry, I take another step back.

I think I would go so far as to say…it scares me.

I hadn’t really thought about it before this past week, but something about the sex work industry scares me. Why? Because I haven’t seen what happens behind closed doors? Because all of the prostitutes I’ve seen in film and TV have been hopeless drug addicts? Because I just did a three-month tour with a one-man show about STDs so I’m horrified about the thought of fucking anyone right now? (That last one is definitely true.)

Because from our youth, we’re all taught that sex work is ‘bad’. That it’s something you do when you have no other option. No valuable skills. This is far from the truth. Some of the smartest people I know are sex workers, and needed that income to make to where they are now. And thank the gods, they did. But how often do you hear their side of things? Who wants to tell the story of a ‘Happy Whore.’?

Fear is quite obviously  the main culprit in this crackdown. Either because the people involved are scared of sex work, or because they think (or in some cases, know) that they can muster up support from others who are. They claim to be protecting the workers in question, yet they are making their lives more dangerous, and they don’t take the steps they ought to to actually protect them because they’re afraid of what they might learn in the process.

I’m not so naive that I don’t think most of the officials involved have met plenty of sex workers in their time…maybe even a few from Rentboy.com…but that fear of understanding will still be very present. It you come too close to something, it becomes too real.

We need to see more stories of sex work. More tales of happy whores. More declarations from clients about how the sex workers they’ve hired have changed their lives. There is a need for sex workers in our society. And the more we embrace them, the more we can protect them, and the more they can help others with their very valuable skills, bodies, and brains.

Nom nom nom.

Summertime Madness: Edmonton Fringe, The Final Frontier

4 months. 8 cities. 5 flights. 3 bus rides. 12 beds. 4 festivals. 28 performances. 7 reviews. Hell knows how many tickets sold. 80 other shows seen.

It’s over.

Nom nom nom.
Nom nom nom.

I felt like I waited forever for it to come. And at certain points it felt like it would never end. But now that my Crazy “Cootie Catcher” Continental Crusade has come to a close, it all feels like a blur.

My final stop on my epic (for me) tour was the Edmonton Fringe Festival in Alberta. The largest fringe in North America. Over 200 different shows. 30-something different venues. Dozens of street performers, food carts, and vendors.

Madness. Beautiful, artsy madness.

There aren’t many things that fill me with more job than seeing an entire city get excited about theatre. I’ve been to a lot of great festivals, but they don’t always get the amount of love and respect from their citizens as they should. Cuz…ya know…theatre. But Edmonton gives it’s Fringe Festival all the hype it deserves and much, much more.

I’ve been reprimanded for describing Edmonton as a “cute little town” because apparently it’s a BIG CITY. But really, it’s a cute little town. I say this because, despite it’s size, it feels very intimate. Most people seem to know each other, especially in the theatre scene. Urban environments are inconsistently, and seem to be chunked out amongst lots of homey neighborhoods.

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Carrying my show on my back.

I liked it. I think I would like it even more if I went back. “Cootie Catcher” wasn’t exactly the hot ticket I hoped it would be, as was the case with every single other festival I went to this year, but those who came clearly enjoyed what I brought them, and I gave at least two of the best damn performances I’ve ever done with this show.

I did find myself in a bit of a rut at times… “Cootie Catcher” is a hard show to sell. Sometimes I forget that, because I live in a weird sex -positive bubble and most people I hang out with are fine talking about sexual health. Edmonton is not the most liberal city in these circumstances. And it doesn’t help that my social anxiety restrains me from approaching theatre-goers and trying invite their butts to fill my seats. And even if I could get past that, who knows how many people would not be afraid to even shake my hand because I obviously have actual cooties. Duh. But I think I learned more in Edmonton than in any other festival about marketing my shows, and while it is frustrating and being a Leo I want to succeed at everything right away, this knowledge is extremely valuable, and I will force myself to cherish it if it kills me.

I'm an ARTIST, god dammit.
I’m an ARTIST, god dammit.

While I did not rake in all the loonies at the box office at this festival, Edmonton was the most rich in good company. Most of my favorite fringe friends from this year, and from previous years, were there as well, and even some of my favorite artists from non-fringe environments joined the fun. New York storyteller (and fellow burlesquer) Cyndi Freeman was there, performing her solo show “I Was a 6th Grade Big Foot.” My beautiful burlesque buddies from Toronto Boylesque TO were there, performing their cabaret of Canadian cock, “Oh MANada!” (For which they sold out most of their run. In their first fringe festival. No, I’m not jealous. What the hell are you talking about?) And of course, there were some new faces that also contributed to the magic of the fringe who I am very eager to reconnect with in the not too distant future.

But while my time in Edmonton was grand indeed, I am very, very happy to be back in Brooklyn. Not only because I’m exhausted, but because I have a lot of ideas for future projects, and I’m super psyched to get back to writing. If you’re in New York, you can look forward to a new show from me, hopefully later in the fall. If you’re just following the blog, you can look forward to my writing more about blow jobs and shit in the following weeks.

Epilogue: Wait…have I ever actually written anything on blow jobs? I don’t think I have. I should do that, shouldn’t I…

Who’s Your Daddy?

Tomorrow is my 29th birthday.

Despite the fact that I’m terrified of death, I’ve never really been concerned about getting older. Sure, as a kid, becoming another year older was the hottest gig one could think of. But when I reached adulthood and continued to still look more or less like a kid, I had a hard time complaining about aging. I’m quite proud to say that I look remarkably well preserved for entering the final year of my 20s. My perception of other people’s age is vastly distorted, because I look in the mirror every day and see that 28 looks a lot more like …24?

At least, it did.

When did I become "daddy" material?
When did I become “daddy” material?

No, I’m not noticing any wrinkles. I don’t have any gray hairs (I might have had one once a few years ago. My ex-boyfriend said he found one. I told him he caused it. All I know is I haven’t had any since.) To tell you the truth, I don’t notice any change at all. But something is…different. For starters, people are actually starting to guess my age correctly, which is really fucking weird for me.

Even more fucking weird for me: Younger guys are suddenly really into me. I’ve avoided them, for the most part, for quite some time now, just because I tend to relate to older guys much more, but since my return to New York I’ve noticed that the younger fellows (18-22) were suddenly looking really good, and many of them seem to think I look real good too. And yes, some of the boys I’ve talked to online have even gone so far as to call me “daddy”. And to be completely honest with you…I liked it. And I don’t exactly feel good about this. While it’s all legal as hell, I still feel…predatorial. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve slept with guys almost twice my age and not batted an eyelash, but being on the other side of things feels a bit…dirty. Which also kinda makes it even more fun. And then the taboo elements and the guilt trip collide and spiral out of control and I’m sitting here like “Ummmm what now?”.

The timing is impeccable, too, because I seem to be going through a dominant phase. Yes, I’ve always been the “VGL 5’4″ Top”, but I typically prefer to be more passive in the bedroom, and submissive for kinkier activities. But lately I just feel like telling a cute boy what to do, and I’m finding a lot of fellows who want an “older” guy (yes, that label has been pinned on me as well) to do just that. Who am I to complain?

But enough about the boys. Back to me and my age-related insecurities.

In the midst of all of this, I keep asking myself: Did my tour exhaust me that much? Or maybe…did I acquire that much wisdom while I was on the road? (Probably not, because when I wasn’t onstage I mostly just drank a lot. Hmmm… that might be the problem right there.) I still see the same guy when I look in the mirror, and it’s a little disconcerting to feel like others are seeing someone else. But I’m feeling confident for the first time in a while, and I plan to continue to rock it as long as I can.

Happy birthday to me.

Summertime Madness: Toronto Fringe

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Toronto greets me in the morning with a massive erection.

Well, friends…the main leg of my Crazy Cross-Continental “Cootie Catcher” Tour has come to an end. Yes, already. I mean…I don’t know about you, but it felt incredibly quick to me. Like, wasn’t I just in Orlando last week? I could have sworn I slept in Montreal a couple nights ago…

I was really glad that I my final stop for this trip was Toronto. Because I really, really like Toronto. I had forgotten how much I liked it.

I rolled in on an overnight Megabus from Baltimore on Tuesday, June 30. It was not the most desirable form of transportation, but it saved me several hundred dollars, so it was most definitely worth it. I arrived at my billet, and immediately felt warm welcome wash over me. The house was adorable, with a gorgeous garden in the back, and my hosts were two lovely gentlemen who made me feel right at home. I grabbed a lengthy nap (lengthier than I planned) and got myself fully recharged because that night I was to perform once again with Boylesque TO in their naked declaration of Canadian pride, “Oh MANada!” It was the best possible first night in town, being surrounded by beautiful, familiar faces (and bodies) and putting on an epic burlesque show.

James and the Giant Pasty fulfills my filthiest airport security fantasies.
James and the Giant Pasty fulfills my filthiest airport security fantasies.

The next day was Canada Day. Everything was closed. Except the Fringe. The Fringe actually opened that day. Because theatre is what true patriotism is all about, if you ask me. I may be biased.

Although crowds weren’t as massive as I’d like (are they ever?), Toronto was very refreshing after Montreal. The audiences enjoyed the show with prominent enthusiasm, and the press was positive.  Mooney on Theatre listed me as one of their top recommended shows for the Fringe, and NOW Magazine named me one of their best bets. Canadian comedian Gavin Crawford (whom I was sadly not familiar with beforehand but I’ve been informed he’s a very big deal (read: “Canada-famous”), and is an absolutely delightful fellow) proudly endorsed my show to his followers, which I daresay impressed many of my peers.

I managed to squeeze in a few other burlesque gigs while in town. I also took a few moment to talk about the show with Jon Pressick on “Sex City Radio”, which you should totally take a listen to. Oh, and I finally made it out Hanlan’s Point, the clothing optional beach I’d heard so much about. Yes, of course I got naked. I can’t believe so many people are even asking me.

How can you not love these streets?
How can you not love these streets?

Two weeks in Toronto was not long enough. I could have done another week, easily. Not necessarily of Fringe, because partying at the beer tent every night for 10 days straight takes it’s toll on you. But I wanted more time to see more of the city…and to meet more of it’s super cute boys. I can’t go a whole two years without going back.

But now…I rest. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to say this, but I actually missed New York a lot. We needed some time apart, but for now we’ve reconciled. For the next two weeks, I’ll be collecting myself…decompressing…reassembling my life to the best of my ability in the short time that I have. On August 10th, I’ll be off to Edmonton for my final Fringe of 2015. I’m excited for it, but I’m also excited to live like a normal person again. At least…as normal as I get.

 

I think I found pup-space...

Summertime Madness: Dark Odyssey – Fusion

You know my life is hectic when it takes me 11 days to post about my most recent adventures with Dark Odyssey

In the beginning, I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it to Fusion this year. I already had so much on my plate for this summer. And I was going to be in Canada before that. And going back to Canada after that. And UGH crossing the Canadian border. But the timing was just too perfect to ignore…smack dab between my closing date in Montreal and my opening in Toronto. And a lot of people who wanted to fuck me kept asking me if I was going, and I couldn’t let them down, could I?

In the end, I went. And it may or may not end up being the best decision I made all summer.

At the very least, I thought it might be a fine opportunity to recuperate from the insanity that preceded it…seeing some friendly faces, getting some cuddles, sleeping in an actual bed (not a thing one usually looks forward to while camping, I know)…but it turned out to be the best event I’ve had to date. By a long shot.

I’ve done more than my fair share of whining about the lack of men available to men at these events. And yes, this is still something that needs development, not just at Dark Odyssey, but all across the Kinkdom. But this time, something clicked. This time, I wasn’t left wandering for hours, wishing I was doing something else. This time, people didn’t wait until the very last minute to ask me to play. I ended up with more prospective playdates than I was able to fulfill. No, I wasn’t fucking constantly or anything like that, but let’s just say, my free time was minimal.

Bambi live-tweets my tryst.
Bambi live-tweets my tryst.

And my dance card was very well-rounded, too. I fucked. I cuddled. I got beaten. I got tied up. I got wrestled to the ground, pummeled, and pissed on by a super hot (mostly) straight guy (that I’ve been dying to play with since Winter Fire). I performed live guy-on-guy porn for half of my cabin in the middle of a flash flood (with a guy I’ve been wanting to bang since Catalyst Con last year.) I had a spontaneous three-way with a lady friend and her male partner in the middle of the camp café (Yup. You read that right. I may not get pants feelings from women in general, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun with them when the time is right. *sticks tongue out*)

Which brings me to an interesting interaction I had with another playmate I had during this event. Within the last couple of events, I’ve become more open to non-sexual play with female-identified folks, and I’ve tried to advertise this to the best of my ability. Since I started attending DO, I’ve heard whispers that a lot of women were interested in me. But of course, since I identified as gay, none of them said anything to me. This playmate, a woman, said to one of her cabin mates that she wanted to play with me. Her cabin mate responded, “Yeah? Get in line.” She accepted this challenge, walked right up to me, and asked if she could tie me up. And I said yes. And it was an awesome time.

I think I found pup-space...
I think I found pup-space…

The awesomest time, though, may not have been something that happened between the sheets. You may recall from a couple years ago a little thing called the Dirty Pig contest? Where I was a judge? And it was pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me? Well, the quick and dirty version: it’s a mock leather pageant of sorts in which contestants are encouraged to bribe the judges and have to commit a slew of impromptu debaucherous acts on stage. And Bambi Galore and I entered as a duo, under the title of “The Center of Attention”. For our “Surprise Fantasy” category, in which we were given a song out of a bucket, a bag of props, and 15 minutes to pull our shit together…well…I actually don’t feel comfortable telling you exactly what happened on here. Because my mom or my boss could find it very easily. But think of the filthiest thing you could possibly do with “Let It Go” from Frozen and…yeah, you might be on the right track. We did not win, sadly. We were the runners-up. By 2 points. But I can confidently say we killed it. And my only regret is that I don’t get to create perverted fucked up art shit like this more regularly.

I wish I could give you a play-by-play of the entire week, but that might be a lot more fun for me to write than it would be for you to read. But so much more happened during this camp and I don’t want to forget any of it. Remind me to bring a journal next time I go. And remind me to use it.