Saturday 16 May 2015

CASTRATION by Richard Perkins

This story is not 100% dedicated to Grindr, but the intent is there. I suppose Grindr just isn't a part of my life. I've long since ditched the app, as I was nostalgic on the "old days" when one used to be able to saddle up next to a hottie at the bar, feel him up and take him home. Grindr is part of the reason the gay scene has become so dark, so unfulfilling, so devoid of spark and substance. Sure, other factors come into play... Drugs, loneliness, disenfranchisement, boredom... But Grindr is the solvent diluting the entire mess into a rank puddle of bile. We are no longer sexy, swanky, sentient beings; no, we are now mere commodities of dick and ass and torso, reduced to selling our wares in an empty market, exposing our talents to an empty theatre, and fucking into a void.

And, Ernesto, while this story only marginally touches on the torturous tool called Grindr, the symptoms of my story are only made worse by its cause. So here it is, a story called "Castration":

There are two men dressed in full Planet of the Apes costume, shoving bananas up their asses and drinking piss out of Evian bottles.

My friend is on stage, licking beer off of Hannah's tits, as it cascades down to Hannah's Budweiser-stained knickers.

And I'm in the back room, sampling the charcuterie of hard masculinity, a smorgasbord of cock, in a presentation so blatant and so coke-fuelled it would make Nigella blush.

And that's why the name of this place - The Cock - was nothing short of apropos. The little hovel on the corner of Avenue A and 12th, now sadly converted into a panini bar, was once my foster home. A home in which I fostered hundreds upon hundreds of swelling cocks (now I know where that station on the Piccadilly line got its name). The cocks which were proud, the cocks which were gushing, the cocks which were fleeting at best.

But cock wasn't the only thing that made The Cock so appealing to a then fledgling, 22 year-old me. 15 years ago, New York City was singing its debaucherous swan song, as Giuliani's dream of creating a vapid, boring "anywhere USA" on the island that once inspired visionaries was coming to fruition. It was an era in which young gay New York migrants like me were desperate to lay claim to the perilous, magical, sexy, and grimey city of my dreams. I'd always dreamed of this place, a place where I could live a double-life: a studious, respectable young man with aspirations of becoming a world-renowned interior designer, and conversely a seedy, sleazy slutty club-kid who made it his life's mission to make every man cum.

And The Cock was the microcosm of this world. It embodied everything I loved about New York. It was my darkest side coming to play with the myriad of other desperate, ebullient revellers in a bacchanal of self-expression, experimentation and sex.

But it wasn't just sex at The Cock. At The Cock, I saw performers, artists, drug dealers, soon-to-be Scissor Sisters, college girls with jaws agape, certain celebrities standing next to the entrance of the back room, deciding whether or not to give into their carnal desires.... The sex was amazing, but it was incidental. The Cock wasn't a sex club, but rather a salacious salon of sin, where one could choose to drink, sniff, suck, sit or simply dance (although technically, due to the infamous Cabaret laws, it was technically illegal to dance in the small space). And the sex was everywhere, but it wasn't the raison d'ĂȘtre. It was the promise of sex, the presence of cum and sweat and piss and booze, that merely added steam to this engine of life. We were all there to party, to rock out, and if one chose to do it with one's cock out, or if one merely wanted to watch the show, all were welcome. Straight or gay, male or female, or even the occasional middle-aged couple from Cleveland.... It was a circus of ridiculousness and music and drag queens and cum.

But only a few short years passed before the scourge of "luxury apartments" and yogurt shops killed our buzz, and the Cock was relocated to a less-magical space, where sex became the sole reason for attending, turning what was once a glorious space for a varied buffet of hedonism into a dark, desperate room full of Tina-queens trying only to suck limp dicks and get overused asses filled. Granted, I did a lot of dick sucking and hole filling at the Old Cock, but it was only a side-effect of the place. But now, the new Cock was built solely on pillars of flaccid flesh, and gone was the camp, the performance, and the joy.

The last time I went to the new Cock, about three years ago, I stayed for about 10 minutes. I couldn't bare the impersonal vibe of the place. It was borderline empty, save a few old meth-heads wanking in the corner, and whoever else was there was on Grindr, trying to plot their escape from this wretched place. I don't know if it was Giuliani or drugs or the Internet or Grindr that sucked the life out of The Cock, but this cock was drained and limp and covered in shit.

So I left, and took a right turn down memory lane, to Avenue A and 12th, to the Old Cock. And I went inside, sat down on what used to be the cock-sucking bench, and ordered a panini. Where once was the stage upon which Hannah doused her tits in lager, was now a menu board of bland "Italian" specialties. Where once was the darkroom, a room in which I lost my virginity hundreds of times, was now a kitchen. So, as I pondered exactly what was in the special sauce of my panini, I shed a tear for the castration of my youth, but comforted myself with the realisation that, hell, at least the sandwich tasted good.

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