Starry Skies, Chapter 3: Dinner With Harry

While all this was going on, I continued to exchange messages with Harry, who little realised that while I was conscientiously and respectfully staying out of his room, I was attending church in the room of his Russian competitor and business rival, and being educated in the life and psychology of the camwhore. Consequently, I was not very surprised when he expressed an interest in having dinner with me, with a view to dating each other, yet found himself too terrified to talk to me beforehand by picking up the phone. 

Despite my new knowledge, it nonetheless struck me as slightly remarkable when he confessed, a couple of hours before our date, that he was very afraid to see me in case there was a repulsive and horrifying discrepancy between his ‘carefully curated photos’, as he put it, and his real, three-dimensional self. I was kind and gentle. I explained to him that I was talking to him despite his good looks and not because of them. I explained that he was holding my attention because of his obvious intelligence, academic ability, courtesy and self-effacing manner. He was very touched by this and said “thank you for your kind words”. I did not mention that the reason I was not attaching a lot of value to his physical appearance was because I had been blinded by his Russian counterpart, and everything that was not this holy Russian saint was cut from the same, everyday cloth.

Thus reassured, the shy, retiring little British porn star came out to meet me at a very nice Swiss restaurant in Soho. I was already seated when he arrived, five minutes late and full of apologies. He was a polite, sensitive little sweetheart, just as he was in his text messages. I quickly complimented him on his appearance, told him “you are much more attractive in real life than in your photos”, which was true, and he visibly heaved a sigh of relief. This, from a boy who has been taking his clothes off, for hundreds of gay men, almost daily, for two or three years.

We ate dinner and talked. We talked about my work and about his, using coded language so as not to upset the other diners. He was clever, sweet, funny, engaging. At one point he broke eye contact and turned his face away, looking at the ground. “You saw my photos”, he said, small pink roses of shame blooming in his cheeks. I did see his photos, because he gave me the link to his Tumblr, and what’s more, I Google Image searched him. Doing this caused me to see certain things that I wish I could unsee, because no nice, precious, valuable young boy or girl should be on the internet doing the things I saw in those pictures. His poor mother would have died. I don’t think he can have Google Image searched himself, otherwise those pink roses of shame would have been scarlet.

Anyway, despite all this anxiety and blushing, he managed to have a lovely time in my company, as one would hope. He very much enjoyed himself and we struck up quite a rapport. By the end of the evening he was almost jubilant and we had made plans to go to the opera and even go on holiday together in due course. We kissed at the tube station – as a 24-year-old sex worker who sells himself to his most loyal fans in a range of ways that I am not going to ask about, he proved quite capable of being kissed – and it seemed that a Dating Relationship had been formed. And so it came to pass that I found myself on my favourite dating app, suspending my account. In that small window of time, in a space of perhaps two minutes, between coming online and disappearing from public view, I received a message. A message from a French man who was about to say shocking things to me, henceforth known as Maxime.

**To Be Continued**

Starry Skies, Chapter 2: Fyodor

It is hard for me to express in words the breathtaking, supernatural beauty of Fyodor. As I beheld his impossibly flawless body, golden hair that flowed like honey and innocent, unspoiled face, a face sculpted by God himself, a face that could make a garden of spring flowers look cynical and haggard, time stopped. He was by far the most beautiful human I have ever seen, in all my life. He was naked, sitting on a white kitchen chair, in an empty, white kitchen. He was singing quietly to himself, reading incoming messages from his live audience and saying “thank you”, rather solemnly when he received a tip. I wept. His beauty was painful to observe, it actually burned my eyes, like looking into the sun. Sitting at my desk in London, I put my head in my hands and sobbed for a long time. It was the nearest thing I have ever had to a religious experience.

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When I eventually recovered my sight and the ability to read and think, I was able to see from the comments of his audience that quite a large number of gay men were having a religious experience along with me. Considering it is a brothel, I had expected the remarks of the audience to be crude or even abusive (and I later discovered that this is what happens in the rooms of many other performers). In this room, however, we were having church. The men said “you are an angel” and “we are in awe of you” and “we all love you” and threw money at him. Fyodor said “thank you”, in a Russian accent, and when the tips had reached certain, pre-set levels, he did sexual things. Things that I strongly wanted him not to do, because of his innocent face, his gentleness, his fragility. It was too awful, watching him perform these sexual acts. I wanted to pay him enough to stop working, at least for that day, wrap him in a blanket, make him hot chocolate, ask him what he thought he was doing with his career.

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I sent a love letter to his email address, telling him everything, especially the part about the blanket, and I sent him an Amazon gift card because I couldn’t not send him a gift after the sight of him made me cry. He replied with an absolutely charming and impeccably graceful thank-you letter and we struck up a correspondence that continues to this day. He has a degree in sociology but there are not many jobs for sociologists in Russia, so he is a whore instead.

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From this correspondence, and from watching him at work over the next several days, I learned many surprising things. One might have thought that anyone who broadcasts themselves doing sexual things for money must be quite brazen and, indeed, if one were to observe these boys and girls abusing themselves in a well-practised and professional way, that view would be confirmed. The willingness of the Russian boy to do crude things, along with his spectacular beauty and the undisguised religious worship offered by his audience made me think that he must be a very secure, confident individual despite his unexpectedly demure manner. Apparently not so. One night, he explained that he suffers from social anxiety. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When has an amateur entertainer been so cherished and adored? He performs for 1,000 people a day and their love for him is unanimous. But apparently internet life is different from real life. Safe in some obscure corner of Russia, he believes, with some justification, that he will never meet any of the people who watch him do terrible things. In real life, he is afraid of people. He is afraid to talk on the phone and to meet new people. You see, if anyone on the internet is mean to you, you can block them or switch your camera off. In real life, you can’t switch people off and social interactions are out of your control. In this way, the new technology and industry of cam-whoring has created a new generation of little porn stars who will happily defile themselves on camera for hundreds or even thousands of people but who are intimidated by real life and afraid to pick up the phone. This simply could not have happened before the digital age. It was very interesting to me and it turned out to be useful preparation for establishing a relationship with Harry, to whom we shall now return.

**To Be Continued**

Starry Skies: A Serial Novella

Hello, dear readers

My life is so full of romance lately that it is impossible to contain it in one post. I started to hand-write a version for later publication when I boarded my plane in Gran Canaria. When it landed in London, 4.5 hours later, I was still scribbling. 

For this reason, I offer you Starry Skies, a serial novella. Let us begin at once with Chapter 1, and you will see how dramatic everything is and what a large cast of characters it involves.

To begin this story, we must travel back in time to about 3 or even 4 weeks ago.

CHAPTER 1: HARRY

I received a message on my favourite dating app from a very polite and intelligent-sounding British boy with a degree in maths and a blurry photo. Let’s call him Harry, because he is quite posh. Usually I simply block-and-delete anyone with unclear photos because they are invariably hiding something, but in this case I indulged him because of the maths degree and because, at 24, he seemed too young to be married, which is usually what the hiding is about. I asked him to explain himself and he revealed that he is a full-time camwhore, he tries to keep it somewhat secret and this is why his face did not appear clearly on the dating website, because it appears very clearly indeed on some other, less salubrious, websites, along with the entire rest of his body.

I wasn’t sure what a camwhore was, and perhaps you, gentle reader, may be unsure as well, so I shall explain. A camwhore, or cam model, as they like to be called, rents a space on a commercial website owned by a third party. It is exactly equivalent to renting a room in a brothel, except it is digital so they can work from home. In this virtual room, they strip naked in front of a camera and broadcast themselves doing unspeakable things for a live audience. The audience is mostly male, as you can imagine. These men text comments and requests to the model and pay tips, which are real money, using a payment system that is set up by the website operator. The most successful cam boys and girls do it as a full time job and can make a wage that significantly exceeds what they could have earned pouring coffee in Starbucks. There is more I could say about this vile business, but that will do. I hope I haven’t upset you too much.

So, Harry revealed this intriguing and disturbing news, and said that I could look at his Tumblr, which I accepted because I wanted to see his face. He gave me the link. I went to the Tumblr where I was able to see his face (nice, intelligent, like his messages) and also viewed the rest of his body, in a state of arousal, which was considerably more than I asked for or was expecting. On the Tumblr was a link to his room at the brothel. I did not go there, due to already having seen too much. It was quite enough, I already felt like I’d sexually assaulted him by looking at his Tumblr, I certainly had no desire to see him giving a live performance. However, I now had a great deal of curiosity about the brothel itself, so while I was waiting for Harry to be finished with some important Maths and become available to meet me, I went to visit another room, randomly selected, where another boy was hard at work, debasing himself, and this is where I met Fyodor, Harry’s Russian counterpart and direct competitor.

**To Be Continued**

Gran Canaria, London, Paris

I am sorry to keep you waiting for news. There is very much news to share with you. 

I was in Spain:


Then I was in London:


Then Paris:


I am there now, in a tiny French apartment. I will tell you all the news but you will have to be patient and I will tell you in little pieces because I am busy making the news as we speak. I may be drinking coffee and talking to you right now but I will have to stop in a minute and tidy up because a French boy is coming over to make love to me.

Soap

I don’t usually blog about beauty products, but it is a category that I am involved with at work this week, which makes a nice change from last week, which was banking. I am at my desk, studying brands of shower gel, bath cream, bar soap and liquid hand wash. As anyone in an advanced state of consumerism knows, the most desirable of these is bar soap, which should ideally be hand-crafted and have visible inclusions, such as pieces of flowers.

Here are my favourites of the British brands.

Bronnley

https://www.bronnley.co.uk

These citrus soaps are shaped like fruit. The gentle, modernist designs on the outer packaging are soothing and tasteful (looks like they’ve redesigned the packaging, it used to have bright and rather overbearing photography). As for the inner packaging, each soap is lovingly wrapped in its own paper. Each soap is 100g and they retail at £3.35 individually or £9.38 for a box of three.

bron lem box 2

Gentle Cosmetics

http://www.gentlecosmetics.co.uk

These spectacular soaps are a feast for the eyes. I couldn’t stop staring. I can’t find the weight of these soaps (why not?) but they individually retail at £4.20 (flowers) and £4.95 (apricots) so I’m guessing at least 100g. These are almost too lovely to use.

Fortnum & Mason

https://www.fortnumandmason.com/

The world’s most luxurious department store, est. 1707. Fortnum & Mason does everything very elegantly; soap is no exception. Pictured: a medium-size box of bath soaps. Specially made for Fortnum’s, the soaps contain oils, herbs and spices and are decorated with dried miniature roses. Weight and packaging dimensions are not given but this box retails at £30 for ten bars. I find the packaging, with the roses and the tissue paper, almost irresistible.

fort bath box

A special mention also for this UK-based Etsy supplier. I hardly ever buy things from Etsy but these beautiful soaps slipped into my basket. The photography is stunning. This seems to be a new Etsy retailer so I’m happy to help a small business along. Cannot wait for these to arrive. Shown here: Orange & Cinnamon; Lemon Poppyseed; Strong-brewed Coffee; Turkish Mint Tea. The soaps are 113g and are priced at £4 each. Please make more flavours!

Ottoman Bliss

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/OttomanBliss

The American Lawyer

Longtime readers may recall that among my admirers is a fairly rich American lawyer. He flew in to London from the US five years ago just to take me to dinner at the Savoy. He was very enlivening company. That was our first date. He was 85 years old.

We stayed in touch by email and he later figured on the scene when I was having my economic crisis of 2015. There was some talk, if you remember, of my moving out to the midwest to live in his house and drive his car and run my business from there. A very kind offer but my business needs to be where it is, in London. NY would have been okay or somewhere else that has its own major international airport.

It’s now 2017 and he is 90. He’s starting to feel as though he wouldn’t mind a few days of holiday from work (LOL, this guy, I admire his strength and reserves of energy). So he is going to his house in the South of France for a week in August, to sunbathe and swim in the pool and go to the beach. Do I want to come along? Yes, I do. Thanks very much for inviting me.

So that’s my second holiday lined up and all I have to pay for is the flights. Awesome. It will be our second date.

Future Sex: a book review.

Witt, Emily. (2017) Future Sex: A new kind of free love. Faber & Faber.

While I was stuck on the hospital ward, I at least had time to do some reading. I read a new book by Emily Witt, about sex. Not just any sex, but specifically sex post-2010, in the developed, affluent world, mainly North America (although several Europeans make an appearance). It is a very specific time and place. I’m British and I was young in the 1990s but that was a long time ago. Young people in the 1990s took risky, unmeasured doses of dirtily-manufactured MDMA, danced in raves in warehouses, smoked cigarettes and were substantially unemployed. We weren’t hippies. We didn’t have values, either conformist or anti-conformist. We didn’t think of ourselves as pioneers,  no-one was vegan, the internet had barely penetrated people’s homes, cellphones were like house bricks and all you could do with the brick was place calls. It wouldn’t manage your diary, photograph your soy latte or broadcast every passing thought or experience to your social network, which was okay, because you didn’t have a social network. People still wore stonewashed jeans and those who had bricks used them to ring each other up on their ‘land lines’. A land line is like a cellphone that is structurally built into your house. If they didn’t pick up the phone, they were ‘out’ and you couldn’t talk to them.

Sex in the 1990s was okay. It was not bad. Of course there was the spectre of HIV which showed up in the 1980s to put a stop to the parties that our moms and dads were having in the 60s and 70s. You hardly saw any porn because there was hardly any internet. I kind of think that might have been a good thing. People had sex without reference to what it would have looked like on camera. Also, there was time to have sex because people were unemployed. I passed many a happy afternoon, having sex with one (or two or even three) of my friends in a tiny, rented house or untidy bedsit, and as for relationships, if you wanted a boyfriend or girlfriend, you just had sex with one of your friends regularly until you moved in together. We were quite anti-marriage, which we inherited from our rule-defying parents, until, two by two, we got married, with a slight sense of having caved in.

Emily Witt’s book is not about this era. It is about a much later cohort of people who are in their 20s now. I take care to describe the sex and dating culture of the 1990s to you so that you can appreciate how very different things are for the young people she describes today. For a start, they are not unemployed. They work at Google and Facebook. They put in working weeks of 60 and 70 hours and they have those jobs because they put in long hours before that, when they were at school and college. They are clean, healthy and well-groomed. They don’t smoke. Their employers provide clean, well-lit organic juice bars and 20 varieties of water. Lots of people are vegans. They occasionally take drugs but only very clean, carefully-measured drugs on carefully-planned occasions, such as the Burning Man festival, where corporate lawyers go to feel wholesome and holistic. They eat a careful, clean diet. They are obedient rule-followers and very conservative compared to previous generations. They look at the behaviour of those who went before and they see that extreme and risky actions are sometimes liberating but sometimes exact heavy costs. Drug casualties. Unwanted pregnancies. Single parenthood. Abandonment of each other. Poverty. Violence. They regard these costs and they make prudent decisions to have careful fun.

And, of course, they have smartphones and the internet and that has changed everything, including sex and relationships. In this respect, they are pioneers and they are well aware of it. So what are they doing? If they’re not having small, untheatrical and unplanned episodes of sex in the middle of the afternoon in a scruffy bedsit, what are they doing?

  • Internet dating. Tinder. OKCupid. We need to be clear about what ‘dating’ means, which is to say, we need to acknowledge its ambiguity and huge scope. You can have sex delivered to your house within the hour, after a short interaction with the apps on your smartphone; it is like a bolt-on for Uber. You could do that every night of the week and have relatively clean, disease-free sex with one earnest, fresh-faced Millennial after another, and that would be ‘dating’. At the other end of the scale, you could be living with someone for years in a monogamous relationship and that would also be ‘dating’. Dating means any kind of sexual or romantic aspect of your life that involves a live human and isn’t marriage. Because ‘dating’ has no precise meaning any more, it’s incredibly difficult to tell whether you are ‘dating’ someone or whether you just haven’t quite finished fucking each other yet. This describes basically every relationship I’ve had since 2010, just because I live in London, a city that plays by the same rules as San Francisco and has a disproportionately young and affluent population.
  • Orgasmic meditation. Yeah, this is a thing, we have this in London too. If you are a woman, and that is mainly who it is for, it means earnestly going to an established venue and being gently masturbated for precisely 15 minutes by a man who doesn’t expect you to touch him or suck his cock in return. You might do this in private or in a room full of people who are doing the same thing. You might have an orgasm and you might not. What matters is the meditation aspect. Afterwards, you will feel ‘grounded’. It is a visibly feminist project, but no-one will use the word feminist.
  • Internet porn. Okay, back in the 90s, before the internet was really a thing, if  you wanted to look at porn, you had to go to a ‘sex shop’, which was a bricks-and-mortar store, sneak inside, hoping that no-one was looking, and purchase an item from a range of about 10 magazines or possibly VHS video tapes. The female performers were often being coerced in one way or another and the action usually revolved around blow jobs and pretend lesbianism. Not surprisingly, feminists didn’t like it. They saw it as economic and bodily oppression of women, which it was. Now, porn is something different. You obviously don’t go to a shop, you go to a website. You will select a handful of hashtags, from a range of a few hundred, to specify exactly what kind of porn you want to see. If you want to see a woman being gangbanged by a posse of pandas (yes, really), it is there. It will most likely be delivered to you as a short video clip of 2-10 minutes for you to watch on your iPad. If it was professionally shot, it might have been a female director. It is no longer safe to assume that the female performers are being forced to do whatever it is, no matter how violent. If it is professional, the actors probably have clean HIV certificates and contracts of employment. If it is amateur, you’re looking at most porn. Speaking of which …
  • Camming. To cam. To affix a high-definition camera to your laptop. To open the laptop and turn on the camera in some convenient location such as your bedroom. To broadcast the view of you in your bedroom into a web-based chat room. To perform the sexual acts of your choice for an audience of up to several thousand people while they use the chat software to type in special requests, which you may or may not grant, and to give you money. Tips. Internet currency, which converts into real money. It’s possible to earn a living this way and for most performers it pays about the same as working in Starbucks, with less effort and fewer hours. I met someone just the other day who does this as his full time job. He is 24 and has a degree in maths. He has been camming full time for three years, ever since leaving university. Where did I meet him, you ask. I met him on OKCupid where we talked about whether we should date, see Dating, above. Camming is his job. I have my job and he has his. I have not viewed the professional performances of this particular boy, out of some misguided, old-person respect for his privacy, but I viewed the performance of another boy, in the name of research. He was about the same age and he took the underwear off his gym-sculpted body very, very slowly for an hour while people threw money at him. He had 32,000 followers just on that one social media platform, which was not his only one. I’m a highly skilled marketing executive and I do not have 32,000 followers across all social media platforms combined.

These are the times we live in and the cities we live in. When I started internet dating it came as a surprise to me that all these 24 and 25 year olds, with muscular, waxed, tanned and polished bodies that 15 years ago could only have been viewed in the pages of men’s fitness magazines, were even interested in me. Why would they be interested in me? I’m middle-aged and yes I am attractive, but still. I’m old. Then gradually I learned what is going down. If you are attractive, they don’t care how old you are. More to the point, my attractiveness is far less important than whether my attention makes them feel attractive. If you eat a vegan, carb-free, organic, locally-sourced diet and you are in the gym 7 days a week, without even once failing to show up to lift weights and fine-tune your abs, you want praise. And praise is something I am happy to deliver, it seems like a good deal.

Because of the ambiguity of ‘dating’, where few people can tell whether or not they are ‘in a relationship’ with each other, I occasionally think that I should attempt to date people my own age. The rules of the game might be a bit clearer. So I keep an account on another dating site that is mainly populated by London’s middle-aged intelligentsia. Left-leaning, opera-liking, middle-aged, middle-class men who are the same age as me. And what I see there is a generation of men that has been left behind. These men, they were not raised to think that they should be in the gym 7 days/week, they think they are doing well if they’ve had a haircut. They are strangers to Botox. Unlike women my age who have kept up with every hot yoga and soy latte health trend, they look exactly as old as they are. Indeed, now that everyone else is carefully and artificially young and beautiful, they look much older than they are. A man of 50 is effectively indistinguishable from a man of 70. They are afraid of ‘dating’ and do not understand it. One of them messaged me today, asking if I would like to go out. His profile lacked a photo, which in 2017 is like failing to exist. I only responded because I sometimes like to poke the crazy.

Him: Oh hello. Would you like to go out? I enjoy pubs and going to concerts, blah blah. Now that I’ve clicked ‘like’ on your profile, you will be able to see my photo. (I looked. He was 49 and looked 70. That’s what you get for going to the pub.)

Me: For what reason is your photo behind a wall?

Him: Well, you could have said hello first. I kept my photo hidden because I am new to this internet dating thing and I am shy about putting it all out there.

And that’s when the small amount of fun to be had from goading him ran out and I went back to sending Whatsapp messages to the 23-year-old, gym-sculpted model that I’ve been vaguely ‘dating’ for the last couple of months.

So that’s Future Sex. If you live in a city and you are having sex or wish you were having sex,  you should read it. You are welcome.

witt

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