The glory of sex apps and sites for so many gay guys is the opportunity to score instant sex. But for some, it's often turned into a recipe for instant horror. We certainly know about the good hookups that happen--we hear about them in graphic detail and eventually go to their wedding. But what about the tricks that were less than magical and in fact were downright vomit-bag-friendly? I asked some studs on the scene to reveal their worst Grind-ings, Scruff-ings, and Manhunts (anonymously, of course), and here's what they came up with. It's not pretty.
"I once went to meet a guy who would only provide grainy photos, which should have raised a flag. His profile said he was 33 years old. When I got to meet him, he was clearly in his mid 50s. We talked for a brief moment and I asked him how old he was, and he again said 33. I asked him to confirm that he was in fact five years younger than I. He stood by his assertion, but added that I must use 'better moisturizer' than he did!!!"
"A guy sent me pictures of himself naked and wrapped in Saran Wrap from head to toe, with only his dick out, along with his boss' name and email address and his parents' contact info. He offered to pay me $50 a week to hold the keys to his chastity device (essentially this thing that kept his dick soft and covered) and to threaten to send the pics to his work and his parents if he did not do as I said and stay locked up all week. The only time he was allowed out of the cage was on the weekends, when I would wear a black leather glove and give him a 'milking'. He even sent me a contract outlining the whole situation. I never ended up meeting him and the whole scenario was something I was SOOO not into, but I was intrigued by his bizarre desires nonetheless."
"A guy from Manhunt came over and immediately said, 'Play with my girly boobs.' Eventually, I realized he thought of himself as a 12-year-old girl. I thought that was really creepy, but I like to see things through to completion, with an amiable ending. So I fucked him, and it was a chocolate mess!"
"I'd been chatting with a guy for a couple days on Scruff. He came over and we were going to hang out. He went to use the rest room. While he was in there, I got a call from what turned out to be his boyfriend. He said, 'Tell him to just stay there because he no longer has a place to live!' All the exchanges we'd had on text, the boyfriend was following. When the guy came out of the bathroom, I said, 'You need to call your boyfriend right now.' While he was standing here, the boyfriend also sent me a text to alert me to the guy's HIV status, which he'd disclosed as negative, but the boyfriend said was not true. I showed the guy the text and said, 'Is this true too?' He said, 'Oh, I'm undetectable and I'm on Truvada, so essentially I'm negative,' which is still a lie. The guy left, and four or five hours later, he called me and said, 'He's not having me back. Do you mind if I stay at your place tonight?" I said, 'I don't even know you and you didn't disclose anything. Good luck with sorting this out, but no.' And here's an interesting postscript: Two days later, on another app, I get this guy saying, 'What are you doing after work?' I said, 'I don't think I know who you are.' He said, 'Sorry, I thought it was someone I'd been with on Grindr.' It turns out it was the boyfriend! He was reaching out to someone he thought he'd met on Grindr, but by mistake he'd put my number!"
"I met this cute young guy on Grindr who wanted to come over to hook up and 'cuddle while we napped'. The guy came over and immediately laid on my bed and passed out for over two hours. I would shake him and poke him, but he was totally out of it. When he woke, he thanked me for the nap and went on his way."
"A guy wanted me to pee on him. So I did it all over his face, and he got really mad. 'Not in my eyes!' he shrieked."
"I walked in and the guy was much chunkier than anticipated. I debated bolting, but figured I'd stay and go through with it out of pure charity and because I was extremely horny. Well, as I moved towards him, the guy put up his hand and said 'No way'! I couldn't believe it. That was my rock bottom."
"Some twink popped in, asking for some 420. When I didn't have it and tried to talk to him, he suddenly said he was busy."
"I met a guy on Scruff. We got a hotel room, did GHB, and passed out. When I came to, I had a pentagon painted on my stomach in blood! There was also some blood smeared on the walls and on the sheets. It turns out he had been 'sounding'--you know, when you have an erection and take a medal rod and put it in your urethra. Well, he did this with a hypodermic needle! He started coming to and started robotically cleaning things, seeming to understand that the room needed to be cleaned, though he was obviously not sure why. He then went into the bathroom for an hour to talk to his ex boyfriend on the phone, and every word was 'God' or 'Jesus.' The ultimate self-loathing homosexual."
"There are so many bug chasers out there. They want to give you permission to take them down with you. They actually seem disappointed when you tell them you're negative!"
"I hate the slut shaming. Some twink got mad because I asked for naked pictures. He tried to read me for being a diseased, stereotypical gay slut."
"People my age (thirties) are on a weird cusp. A lot of the guys our age have either coupled up or a majority have left NYC because they can't afford it here. And most of us can't stand the twentysomethings because it reminds of us of what idiots we were when we were their age. Then again, my friends in their 50s saw their generation die. So Grindr is quite the casserole these days!"
"I have since deleted my profile. I knew better. I don't compete with the headless washboard torsos and animal classifyings or the libido-ridden hypersexual nymphos, *sigh*. Not to mention the bareback-on prep-'I-only-top' scene. Seems the days of dating and seduction that I remember are gone. I'd mention age as a factor, but a lot of the profiles that classified me as a 'No Match' were in my age group, if not older. I have definitely been steered away from hoping any gay dating app would yield meeting a good guy. Happy hunting to me!"
And here's one old-time story, from the aughts, for memory's sake:
"I had been talking to a guy for a while through a site, but my ancient laptop crashed and he hadn't heard from me. So he called me and told me he bought me a computer. I thought he was joking. Well, he came over and gave me a brand new Compaq so I could still be in touch with him. He was not my type (much older than he'd said he was), but he would have been the best sugar daddy ever. Alas, when I gave him a hug in appreciation, he completely flipped out. He had haphephobia--a fear of being touched!"
And that, my friends, is the most apt commentary of all on the weirdness of hookup mania. "You can fuck me--but don't touch me!"
50 SHADES OF MAPPLETHORPE
A provocative chronicler of fetishes, desires, and role playing, wildly influential gay photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is chronicled in Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey's documentary Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures, which premieres April 4 on HBO. Ahead of its debut, Barbato gave me some insight into what made the subversively attention seeking lensman tick. Said he, "The film is really the Mapplethorpe story by Mapplethorpe. Because he loved to be written about (not accidentally, so many of his friends were writers), he gave many interviews, and we were able to find tapes and recordings that let us tell his story in his own words. People have had so much to say about Mapplethorpe and yet the person we have heard from the least is Mapplethorpe himself. And what he has to say is shocking and amusing, but above all it is brutally honest--even at his own expense."
Photo courtesy of the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
"Mapplethorpe was a pioneering artist," adds Barbato, "because he knew it wasn't enough to produce good work. To be taken seriously as an artist, you needed to be famous." And sure enough, one of the most famous things Mapplethorpe ever produced was 'Self-Portrait With Whip', the legendary photo where he's leaning over, wearing nothing but a leather vest and chaps, and the whip is emanating out of (or maybe flowing into) his anus. It comes up a lot in the doc and Barbato explains, "Sure it's satanic--conjuring up the devil with his tail--but it's also funny. People earnestly debate whether he was an angel or devil, but to him it was a joke. All that mattered was that people debated him. The more the merrier. Mass debating."
NO PREYING AT TMPL GYM
Speaking of wanton desires, last week I interviewed David Barton, whose gyms reportedly used to feature very festive steam rooms and saunas. But not his new one, TMPL (in Hell's Kitchen). During a tour of the place--which is sleek and fabulous--Barton confirmed to me what I'd heard, which is that the steam room and sauna will be co-ed this time. I imagine that's so the gays won't be as sexually frisky and will keep it in their towels in the presence of ladies. I look forward to seeing if it actually works out that way, but I have my doubts; gays will even get it on in front of pets. (In fact, the above "sounding" story involved a dog, but I was too tasteful to mention that.)
Photo of David Barton courtesy of TMPL Gym
SPLENDOR IN THE BLUEGRASS
Country hokum gets some slick packaging with Bright Star, the new musical cowritten by the unlikely pair of Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. The show spans two time frames--the 1920s, when a frisky young North Carolina girl named Alice (Carmen Cusack) becomes a single mother and is pressured to give up the baby, and the 1940s, when she's a successful magazine editor who's gradually won over by a returning soldier who yearns to be a published author. The plot veers back and forth between the two eras, sometimes intertwining them, buoyed by the lilting country and bluegrass influenced score (which only bogs down in melodramatic moments) and fluid direction by Walter Bobbie and choreography by Josh Rhodes, which has the cast constantly moving around the set, and sometimes actually moving the set. It's nicely pulled off--and the Act Two opener, with the band having a hootenanny, is spirited--though the characters and plot sometimes come off a little mushy, as if out of a Hallmark movie called Our Hearts Were Young and Ill-Prepared. Even though it's "inspired by a real event," the show's big plot point seems like one of those wacky co-inky-dinks that only arise from dime store novels or Joanna Kerns teleflicks. When a character dramatically announced, "I knew this day would come," I wanted to mutter, "So did I!" Fortunately, that's followed by the show's funniest exchanges, poking holes in the conventions and leaving you smiling.
Photo of Carmen Cusack in Bright Star by Joan Marcus
The Donna Murphy-esque Cusack gives a terrific performance, with willing support from Paul Alexander Nolan as the father of her baby, A.J. Shively as the guy who put down a gun and picked up a typewriter, Hannah Elless as his love interest, and Jeff Blumenkrantz and Emily Padgett as Alice's offbeat coworkers. Blumenkrantz amusingly plays a closeted gay, while Alice thinks highly of rising playwright Tennessee Williams, though she warns the soldier to write like a man, not like Tinker Bell. A little bit of advice might be given to Bright Star's writers too, but what do I know? I write like a fairy.