The e-mail simply read: I’ll pay you $350.
I lay down and thought about this. I thought about a three, a five and a zero. How pretty they looked altogether, no periods to dash out the mass. How nice they would look in my empty piggy bank. I thought about what was being asked of me for the $350. The man wanted me to, shall we say, pleasure myself in front of him. As a straight 21-year-old, newbie journalist, this wasn’t really what I had expected when signing on to do an article about sex parties for a hipster-porn-rag mag.
But this is where my “literary” endeavors had led me — to possible prostitution. The want and need for our readers to hear what it’s like for me, a young Jewish man, living in NYC, to attend, watch and maybe, maybe participate in a sex party, had gotten me into this predicament.
I did what anyone in my shoes would do when researching for a sex article: I entered the long, darkly lit hallway of Craigslist classifieds, inspecting the “Misc Romance” and “Casual Encounters” sections, looking for group events. This wasn’t my first research session, and by that point I knew that you wouldn’t get a response without a description and a picture of yourself. A girl that worked at the magazine said she’d be my date to the parties, so we did an amateur photo shoot in anticipation of our hedonistic excursions and thus my quest for sex parties began.
I didn’t know which ad the email, offering me $350 for a masturbation session, was a response to, but apparently, I had replied. He wasn’t having a sex party, wasn’t part of an organization, a group, or even a couple. It was just him and apparently he wanted another him with him. A he. A guy. A boy. A man. A me. He asked on and on, this and that. Asking me what I’d be willing to do, the answer to which was nothing. He offered gifts, all of which I turned down, until the E-mail where he offered me $350.
Why did I keep responding to him? To be honest I’m not totally sure, except to say a girl likes to be sought after every once in a while. I considered it.
In reality what was he asking me to do? Something that I’d most probably do with or without him present. And he was asking me to do this something with the added bonus of $350. The magazine was only covering the cost of the parties, the only benefit was getting published.
This could be a great addition to the story, I thought.
And that money could be a great addition to my pathetic bank account. In case you didn’t know, newbie journalists don’t receive but a pittance to explore the sex party sub-culture. Could I do it? It could be dangerous, but hey, walking down the street can be dangerous.
A new e-mail came in, simply saying: Please.
And suddenly my perception of him shifted. He wasn’t a pervert. No. He was just a very sad, lonely old man. Maybe a repressed politician. Or a silver headed news anchor. I started creating the story line of his life. Married with two perfect kids. Girl wearing pink. Boy wearing blue, football after school, meat loaf at night, “Charlie Rose” at nine. A novel whose chapter kept repeating itself. The middle over and over, and I’d simply be the end. A momentary end. A $350 end. His whorish savior. I was 21 years old. I had never fooled around with another guy. Did I want to? Wasn’t this the time to experiment?
Another e-mail: If it makes you more comfortable, I’ll come to your place.
That would definitely not make me more comfortable. But would it make me feel more comfortable going to his house? I was actually considering this.
I remember having read a warning post. Someone had been posting on the “Women Seeking Men” wall to beware of the person posting as a “tight torsoed Asian woman.” Apparently the writer responded to the ad and was encouraged to come over to the lovely Asian woman’s home. He knocked on the door, but it was unlocked and slightly ajar. A voice from within told him to enter. The lights in the apartment were off except for an eerie glow down the hallway. He walked into the candlelit room, where he found a half-naked man, wrapped from head to belly, looking at the writer through two holes cut out of the white sheet. The writer punched him in the face and ran out.
Could the man offering me $350 be the “tight torsoed Asian woman” tuned ghost? I was scared. A common quandary of the male escort. Would I be a gigolo if I agreed? The idea of being one for a night was kind of exciting, but how would this decision fit in with the rest of my life?
I’m really sorry, I responded. But I don’t feel comfortable with this.
A few minutes later he replied, I understand…
There was ACTUALLY an ellipses! The sonofabitch was guilt tripping me. And for a moment I genuinely did feel bad for the “Charlie Rose” watching, meat loaf eating man.
But then another e-mail came in saying: How about four hundred?
And I blocked him.
Every now and then, when I’m under my covers getting nice and cozy, physically speaking, financially speaking, I’m still completely screwed. I think about Leland. That’s the name I gave him. Leland. I think about Leland and wonder how he’s doing. Wonder what he’d say if I contacted him tonight. Wonder how much it’d be.
And I wonder at what point I’d say yes.