Here's my problem: I got fired from my job at the beginning of the summer and, long story short, ended up escorting to pay the bills. Being a callboy in New York turned out to be not nearly as bad as I expected. In fact, it was fun. I was safe (condoms, worked through a Web listing, always let someone know where I was), the work was easy, I met fascinating people and I made a lot of money. I had a great summer.
Now I'm back at college in Rhode Island. I maintained contacts with a few of my clients, and I visit New York a few times a month to keep up an income. At school I met this cute boy. I've been seeing him for about a month now, and I'm thinking I want to date him more seriously. Trouble is, Dan, he doesn't know what I do for a living.
He's a freshman, he's sane, he's the sweetest kid and I'm afraid telling him will ruin everything.
So what is your advice to working boys who would also like to have a love life? I could hide it, but is that the smartest option? And if I do tell the kid, what should I say?
— Prostitutes Need Love Too
Telling him might ruin everything, PNLT, but not telling him will definitely ruin everything.
That his boyfriend is putting himself through school by having sex for money is just the sort of thing that any sweet, sane boy (SSB) would feel he has a right to know before things get serious. Hell, he has a right to know before things get sexual. Even if he doesn't have a problem with sex work morally — even if he thinks what you're doing is alluringly sex-radical — he'll resent the fact that you kept it from him on principle, i.e. the cover-up might be worse than the crime.
Don't get me wrong, PNLT: I don't think there's anything immoral about prostitution. I have friends who are prostitutes, and I think it should be legalized. But there are certain risks that sex workers assume — increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), primarily. As the lover or potential lover of someone who does sex work, SSB also faces a higher risk of STIs.
If you're not honest with SSB about what you're doing, you're imposing that risk on him without his consent. That makes you a very naughty hooker, PNLT, as SSB has a right to make up his own mind about this risk. So you need to tell him. How should you tell him? "I have sex with a handful of men — regulars all — to pay the bills" should cover it.
Thought last week's column regarding sex with disabilities was awesome. But something KSO only touched on needs to be expanded on: They mentioned that some straight women are looking for guys in wheelchairs. The disabled community calls these people "devos," short for devotees. If someone in a wheelchair (or with another disability) meets one of these people, they could think they are in heaven — they'll have someone who is overly happy to help them with all their needs. But it isn't heaven.
Any relationship built on a fetish with the pretense of full emotional commitment will eventually be crippling for all parties involved (pun absolutely intended). A friend of mine got involved with a devo, and she went so far as to hide his car keys so he would have to ask her for rides and put things on higher shelves that he couldn't reach without her help.
Just wanted to send a warning to all the gimps out there. Being in a wheelchair, I know what it feels like when someone seems to be attracted to you, like the chair is not an issue. That's heaven. But watch out for some of the people out there.
— Better Watch Out
I wanted to address this issue in last week's column but ran out of space — so thanks, BWO, for writing in.
Some people are into extreme degrees of physical helplessness — morbid obesity, physical disabilities, 24/7 bondage scenes — and people should be cautious when they get involved with one of these people. If you find yourself dating someone who's into your permanent or temporary helplessness, there are two questions you need to ask yourself: Are they honest about it? And can they successfully compartmentalize their fetish?
Take your friend's example, BWO: Most people in wheelchairs don't want to feel helpless, and why should they? Most people in wheelchairs aren't helpless. But this woman — a woman who hid his car keys and moved stuff up to higher shelves — was obviously into what she perceived as his helplessness. But she wasn't honest about it, and she wasn't able to limit her enjoyment of your friend's helplessness to times when they were having sex.
I wonder, though, what would have happened if your friend's ex had been able to say, "I'm a devo, and I'm into helpless guys, and, yes, I know you're not really helpless. But a man in a wheelchair turns me on because he seems helpless." She could only be honest, though, if she had some assurance that your friend wouldn't instantly dump her for being truthful about why she was a devo. If she could have been upfront about what attracts her to a guy in a wheelchair in the first place, perhaps then she would have been able to indulge her thing for helplessness in more appropriate ways, e.g. during mutually agreed upon role-playing sessions with a defined beginning, middle and end.
And, yes, I realize it can be discomforting to be fetishized for something that may be the source of trauma, but it can also be liberating to be found attractive for everything you have to offer — including your disability.
STRAIGHT RIGHTS UPDATE: After secret meetings with the right-wing American Family Association (AFA), Ford Motor Co. agreed to pull its advertising from gay publications and cease sponsoring gay events in order to avoid a threatened boycott. What does this have to do with straight rights? The AFA fucks intimidating Ford on the gay issue are the same fucks intimidating retailers like Target into denying women access to morning-after pills. They're the same assholes trying to stop the Feds from approving a vaccine for two strains of HPV. (The HPV vaccine, already tested and 100 percent effective, could save thousands of women's lives every year.) When the AFA successfully attacks gay rights, it only emboldens their attacks on straight rights. So gay or straight, the AFA is your enemy.
What can you do? Call Ford dealers in your area and let them know that you won't be buying a Ford after this. (A list of Ford dealers broken down by state can be found on Americablog: http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/12/contact-your-local-ford-dealership.html.)
And while you've got 'em on the phone, ask them what Ford was so afraid of. The AFA's boycott of Disney was called off after nine years because it wasn't working. When the AFA threatened Kraft, the execs at Kraft told the haters from the AFA to go fuck themselves. But what did Ford do when the AFA threatened them? The "Built Ford Tough" boys collapsed into a puddle.
"Ford Puff" needs to hear from people who won't buy cars from companies that cave in to right-wing hate mongers. And when your local Ford dealer tells you that he didn't make this decision, tell him they had better yell at Ford HQ and get this decision reversed. Microsoft caved to right-wing Christian bullies and then reversed itself. Ford can too.