I drunk texted Gerry “please let me know yr ok.” There are four things I’m sad about right now. 2 of them are just the constant drain that keeps us all guarded and resentful of the world. Work disagreements. Class issues. Cop brutality. Our 8th year into the oil spill that is wiping out 1000 species of aquatic wonder every day.
2 of them are corporal realness though. Gerry is my upcoming sugar daddy. He is a large man. When I first came to his hill side house I stood in the doorway panting until I could speak clear sentences into the door buzzer. He made me a drink – half cranberry juice half water. Then we made out. His mustache brought tears to my eyes, but the corn syrup made his tongue sweet to suck off. I wanted his big body to carry my little one up the stairs but that’s not what hooking is. Hooking is moving your body around theirs, unobtrusive but available.
I know a lot about Gerry. I read a story about him a year ago, similar to the one I’m telling you now. He sees every faggot ftm hooker in San Francisco, all 5 of us. I am injured it was so late that he got to me – I’ve been in the industry the longest – I am the most dedicated ho of us all. So I’d been waiting for him to book me, but for him, I’d just appeared on the radar. The stories I knew about Gerry excited me. I heard that he liked to be a daddy to little boys. I heard he was a good dick sucker and that he tried to bareback. I knew that he was poz. I knew he was gay – not bi, not heteroflexible, a straight up gay man who liked boys with vagina.
If you are a good prostitute, doing a trick involves simultaneously creating a world of thrilling intimacy while holding the subject at an arms length. I saw Gerry 4 times and that was enough for my ability to hold those two things at once to get sloppy. Perhaps I’m not a good whore.
He said to me “your mouth is made for my cock. My cock fits into your pussy so perfectly.” Held my gaze – said “you missed out on being a boy and having a daddy teach you how to do things – let me be that for you.” It made me nervous. A flashback of my first boyfriend pleading that he loved me and fucking him to shut him up.
Despite Gerry’s neediness I want his company. Our first session I stayed an hour and a half after the meter had run out, curled into his body while he told me about moving into the Castro in the 70’s. Decades of watching fags full of new bravado cruise each other turning into young men with canes and ks lesions turning into clean cut upwardly mobile gays. I’ve craved these stories. He tells me level voiced about planning in the 80’s to assassinate Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan for their war crimes against poz folks. He asks how I can want to be around his old, fat, body – saggy underwear – but he feels same to me – closer than young hipster fags whose eyes are empty when I start one of my AIDS rants.
And the sex is hot. In the shower I rub my dick against his ass, holding onto his cock while he pisses. Dried off he pushes me onto the bed and sucks me off, actually sucks me – slobber running down my thighs. Then I pull him up onto the bed with me, like I always do. We have a routine, but it’s not painful yet. Together we roll over and I slide onto his dick. There is something about bareback fucking someone who is poz, even when you have accepted the risk involved, that makes you be really fucking present in your body. Fucking him reminded me that sex was good, sex grabs you and tosses you around. The orgasms I have jerking off to frat boy hazing porn a paler beast entirely.
I’m laying in bed with a boy I’m sweet on. Telling him about this sex, well I was telling him about sex with another client that turned really nasty. This boy is really good at making boundaries, getting home before midnight, telling rude people where to stick it. I’m not. I give and I give until the moment that I shut down and roll my eyes whenever some one says your name. With work there is the money and so when they want things I don’t like, I ask myself the question “is it possible to tolerate this?” Its akin to those extreme reality tv shows. 4 hunkered down middle american, blandly personable contestants digging manicured fingers, thick stubby thumbs into maggot infested meat, sweating as they choked it down for 10,000 dollars. You can tolerate a whole lot if you put your mind into it. And I’m getting my ten grand drip by drip in envelopes full of twenties, piss drinking scene by scene.
So yes I can tolerate a lot. But tolerance is a hideous virtue – the word calls up the pandering of No on 8 ads. I tell this boy another story, this time about Gerry: On an overnight I’m lazily sitting on his dick but I’ve already fake come one time and real come one time and I’m over it. I like sucking his dick but after 2 hours of sex it’s edging into a burden. Just come on my face already! So that’s why I’m fucking him, even though I know he’s not allowed to come inside me so it’s unlikely that an end is in sight. Then his small poodle jumps on the bed and starts growling at me. “Dossie” my trick is talking to his dog “Dossie you crazy little bugger, Dossie come over give me a kiss” The dog starts trying to merge herself into his face. Half barking and half crooning. I’m not so much disturbed by this detour into dog baby talk that this scene has taken, as irritated. Granted, I’ve trafficked in my fair share of disrespectful behavior towards lovers in my day, but I think I’ve stopped short of interrupting even halfhearted sex to have a deep and meaningful moment with my pet. It’s like college boys who answer the phone while you are giving them a blow job. They think it will be sexy for you to try and make them loose control while they talk to their mothers about algebra class. But instead the function of sex as a way of focusing your attention is sucked out of the room, the cock that had moments before been slipping down your throat, a perfect rhythm of spit and hand and tongue is now a thick lump of semi hard meat in your mouth. That is what it felt like while Gerry talked to his dog and I thought “if I seroconvert, this moment is going to repeat again and again in my dreams” or just “what if I loose my standards for how I demand people treat me.”
But it’s not as simple as tolerance, if it were I wouldn’t feel scared at the idea of loosing him. Regular tricks have tapered off or just disappeared before, and although I felt some financial angst it never motivated me beyond a single follow up email months later. This is the other thing I’m thinking about while I sit on this slightly desperate “tell me you’re ok” text message – what a relationship with a trick means. Relationships with johns are novel, created and compartmentalized by the exchange of money – separated from your mundane life through a maze of names and false identities, locations you never visit except to enact this one purpose. When people ask for gossip about who you’re fucking – you never respond “well this married 48 year old from Kansas paid me for sex twice while he was in town for a cell phone conference”. Even when the sex is better than with boys of your own age with tattoos and radical politics, which it often is, trick sex is graded by the financial reimbursement. Sex work is work, but sometimes it is more than that. Or maybe just the way our jobs are conceptualized in this society is shallow.
With Gerry after I ring the bell, he brings me my juice and then I drop to my knees. Everything is sex, on on on. I can press myself into his body without worrying that he might back away. I know my role and it makes me hungry. When I’m hooking I don’t care if people think I’m hot, if I’m a boy, whether or not I give the worlds best head because I am certain of all those things. I have to be. My parents raised me to be a very responsible worker and there is no way I can take this money unless I am giving the most incredible experience that this person will ever have. I am released by the job aspect.
Whereas a gay trans man is often unpleasant. A lifetime of being a desirable femme girl ill prepared me for a future of being part of a sexual community oriented on a body part I don’t have. I’m not used to feeling diminutive, unsure if the boy who sits next to me on an empty train will still want me once he knows what I am. Sex work grants me the privilege to know that I’m wanted, that I am capable and my body has worth. That, more than the money, is it’s addiction.
I wake up in the morning hungover with two messages. Gerry is visiting his parents in Alabama. Seemingly he has forgotten the awkward time we had last met – when I’d picked up a partner pack of gonorrhea meds and 80 dollars from an overnight during which we didn’t have sex. He misses me, will see me soon. This is what is behind this interrogation of why I do sex work in the way I do – the real story. We hadn’t fucked on that overnight because I’d been waiting for HIV test results following a flu that only I got. I’d shivered and had hot flashes without any of my housemates or lovers reporting the same. ARS had seemed the most probable cause. I’m not flippant about HIV infection, I don’t take many risks and I take the ones that I do amidst calculations and spells aplenty, but sometimes your luck runs out anyway. 10 days later the test result was negative but my belief in the possibility of infection remained. I started to mourn Gerry who once my result came back had stayed silent – I assumed things had gotten too complicated – the tensions of disparate needs and boiling point of infectivity. Now he is back and there are choices to be make.