Op-Ed: The After-Meth of Sex

Meth

Illustration by Marcos Chin.

I did Tina, gay slang for crystal meth, for eight years. Not every day, though every day I wanted it so badly that I did other drugs to hold off the cravings. And when I did do it, once or twice a month, I’d be lost to the drug for usually three days at a time. Why? What’s so great about doing meth? Why are so many people — especially urban gay men — still risking their lives as I did?

Imagine a magic powder that transforms every potential lover into the person of your dreams. Now suppose every touch of that person feels like full-body orgasms for hours, and your hunger for them never ceases as long as you are under the spell. This powder also gives you the supernatural ability to block out every interfering thought about your job, or taking Billy to soccer practice, or paying rent. No more obsessing about your mortality or your lover’s, or about how your actions could possibly kill you. Nope. It’s just you, your hot partner, and sex for eternity. It’s not only the best sex you’ve ever had, it’s better than the best. It’s dark and kinky, and reveals your deepest, most secret fantasies. Fantasies you didn’t even know you had. It’s huge. It’s wet. It’s voracious. It’s Godzilla-fucks-Gamera sex! Now imagine all that and then multiply it by 100 and stretch it over three days.

That’s meth sex. 

OK, sure, meth sex had a few drawbacks. Like when a sex partner (also on meth) hid under the bed because of the FBI camera he hallucinated was hiding in the TV set. Or the frequent instances where neither I nor my hyper-horny partner could get hard. (Thanks, Tina!) Or when the drug started to wind down, and, for the 100th time, I was surprised to discover I was no longer attracted to the aforementioned god-like partner whom I swore I was in love with five minutes before. And then, as I prayed that this now lizard-human-Antichrist would leave, he instead kept pulling incessantly on his flaccid little buddy, stammering, “Just five more minutes and I can come! Just give me five more minutes!” for five hours

But still, meth sex, at least when I first started having it, was the best sex ever.

So, despite the suicidal depression that always followed, despite the job losses, the inability to maintain any kind of relationship, the questions by dentists about my teeth-grinding, and the fact that, to be honest, it never was quite as good as that first time, I kept chasing that initial experience of the most-amazing-sex-I-ever-had. But then, toward the end of my using, the space between the first bump of the night and the suicidal depression grew dramatically shorter. Even when I was high I was low. Something had to change. The best-sex-I-ever-had thing became just a label on the packaging — its promise as truthful as a Sea-Monkeys advertisement in the back of a comic book.

So in 2002, with the help of a lot of friends out in Los Angeles, I got sober and things definitely got better. I was finally able to form real friendships. My boss loved me at work. I was engaged with real life. One day during my first months of sobriety I had an epiphany while hiking up in Runyon Canyon. I realized that what was supposed to be my tragic life story suddenly had an additional, potentially happy chapter stapled onto the ending. My old ending was supposed to be death or insanity. But now there was this hopeful uncertainty. As long as I stayed sober there was the possibility my life would turn out OK.

There was only one not-so-little problem: Sex without crystal meth just wasn’t working.

In my first year sober I went about six months without sex. Not a big deal for some, but for a hyper-sexed gay man like me such a long dry spell just didn’t happen. When I did manage to hang out with someone it not only lacked the herculean aspect of meth sex; without the drug I could barely feel anything. The wiring between my genitals and my brain was wrong. It was as though when I pressed play on the TV remote I was getting ice cubes from the freezer. Also, I started to look at people as complete human beings rather than flesh tools. Casual sex became so awkward. It was as though everyone I went home with became this non-sexual buddy with whom I needed to have a heartfelt talk. My libido had been replaced with an obsessive sense of humanity. 

It was a nightmare. 

I would invent excuses for the jamming of my equipment: “Sorry, I just broke up with someone.” Or, “Sorry, I already came three times today.” Or, closer to the truth (but still a lie): “I just got sober and I’m not supposed to have sex.” 

So I spent a lot of time masturbating. A lot. But in my masturbatory fantasies I was still getting high. That’s right, even though I was sober, I needed to imagine doing meth so I could stop my mind from spinning and get off. I knew this could be dangerous to my sobriety, but it was the only way I could climax. I kept it a secret for a long time.

Then one night, just shy of a year sober, I stumbled across two insanely hot, breathtakingly bearish Long Beach lumberjacks. Before I could shift into my sexless social worker mode, the younger member of the couple invited me to have a three-way with them. Considering this might be a sign from the Great Horndog in the sky, I felt I would be remiss not to give this polyamorous playdate a try. Besides, in my drug-using days an intimacy-free three-way could inspire me to feats of sexual acrobatics that could humble a Cirque du Soleil contortionist. 

“Sure. What the hell,” I said, trying to approximate what I vaguely remembered was a dirty smile.

Suddenly their flannel dropped to the floor in a small mountain range of plaid. And there they stood, stark naked — 450 pounds of muscle, hairy chests, and dicks to infinity. There were only two things missing: meth and me. As the sex began I felt like I was floating three feet above the scene, observing it. Every attempt at something sexual seemed just a little bit silly. I was an alien visiting the Planet of Gay for the first time: “Penises? What does one do with these things called penises?” 

The awkward three-way came to a close, and when it came time for the money shot I was unable to make change. Womp womp. Bears: 2 Me: 0.

I had resigned myself to the belief that my dirty sex life was over, and that someday I’d meet another sexually dysfunctional person and we’d settle down on some gay Amish farm and have a pleasant, passionless relationship while enjoying the benefits of two Social Security checks. 

Hmm, I thought. Hurray for sobriety?

But I stayed sober, hoping time would heal things. And it did. Periodically sex would happen, and while it hadn’t returned to its meth-y (and messy) glory days, it also wasn’t getting worse. Month by month the sense memory of meth sex became diluted in the stream of sober life. I no longer needed to think about meth to masturbate. Then about two years after I got clean something shifted. I met a guy on a dating Web site on a trip back East. He was covered in tattoos, a sex god personified. I knew it was only going to be a weekend fling, but after our sexual encounter I suddenly realized I had just fully enjoyed sexy, dirty, casual sex again. Cue the choir of raunchy angels. Of course, this human-sized sex only lasted a fraction as long as my old meth sex. But, go figure, humans aren’t supposed to have sex for three days non-stop. 

I was finally OK with that. 

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