You’re after my breasts, you devil!

After a time I began to long for the afternoons when my mother’s friends would come and take my head between their warm, soft hands and tell me what dark eyes I had: it was a dizzying joy to have them touch me or to touch them. I tried to imitate the martyrs’ courage by jumping up to them when they arrived and greeting them with a kiss or a hug. Most of them looked surprised or bewildered on such occasions. “Heavens, Erzsi, you have a nervous jumpy boy!” they would say to my mother. A few of them suspected me, especially when I managed to have my hands fall on their breasts – for some reason this was more exciting than just touching their arms. However, these incidents always ended in laughter: I don’t remember them being very intent on anything for very long. I loved them all, but I used to wait most eagerly for Aunt Alice. She was a slightly plump, big-breasted blonde, with an absolutely fantastic perfume and a round, beautiful face. She used to pick me up and look into my eyes with mock anger and some coquettishness, I believe, admonishing me in a stern-soft voice: “You’re after my breasts, you devil!”

Aunt Alice was the only one who gave me my due as a personage of grave importance. Having become the first Hungarian Pope and suffered a martyr’s death in my imagination, I already viewed myself as a great saint, temporarily stranded in childhood. And though Aunt Alice attributed to me a different kind of greatness when she called me a devil, I felt that deep down we meant the same thing.

To free my mother from my company now and then, her friends used to take me for long walks or to the occasional movie. It was only Aunt Alice, however, who broke the news of our going by asking me for a date. “My handsome beau,” she would say with happy anticipation, “will you take me to the theatre?” I remember particularly one day when I was going out with her in my first pair of long trousers. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in the late spring or early fall – sometime before the United States entered the war, for we were going to see The Wizard of Oz . I had got my adult suit a few days before and was anxious to show it off to Aunt Alice, who was sure to appreciate it. When she finally arrived, in the midst of her perfume and powder, she got so involved in explaining to my mother why she was late, that she didn’t notice my new trousers. However, as we were about to leave, she gave forth a throaty “Aaaaahh!” and stepped back to gobble me up with her eyes. I held out my arm for her and as she took it she said: “ I’ve got the handsomest escort today.” We were walking toward the door, arm in arm, a happy couple, when suddenly I heard my mother’s voice:

“András, did you remember to pee?”

I left the apartment with Aunt Alice, swearing to myself never to return. Even my blonde companion’s soothing remarks sounded outrageously condescending, and as we walked down the stairs I wondered how I could re-establish the old equilibrium of our relationship. Just before we stepped out into the street, I pinched her bottom. She pretended not to notice, but blushed deeply. I decided then to marry Aunt Alice when I grew up, for she understood me.

However, I don’t want to dramatize my boyhood by turning it into the story of my passion for that glorious lady. I was happiest with the Francisan fathers and at my mother’s weekly gatherings, when I saw all her friends together and could watch and listen to them chatting about fashion, the war, relatives, marriages and things I didn’t understand. The vast and silent cathedral and our living-room filled with all these cheerful, loud women, with the smell of their perfumes, with the light of their eyes – these are the strongest and most vivid images of my childhood.

I wonder, what kind of life would I have had if it hadn’t been for my mother’s tea-and-cookie parties? Perhaps it’s because of them that I’ve never thought of women as my enemies, as territories I have to conquer, but always as allies and friends – which I believe is the reason why they were friendly to me in turn. I’ve never met those she-devils modern fiction is so full of: they must be too busy with those men who look upon women as fortresses they have to attack and trample underfoot.

Still on the subject of friendliness toward all – and toward women in particular – I can’t help concluding that my utterly complete happiness at my mother’s weekly tea-and-cookie parties indicated an early and marked enthusiasm for the opposite sex. It’s obvious that this enthusiasm had a great deal to do with my later luck with women. And although I hope this memoir will be instructive, I have to confess that it won’t help you to make women more attracted to you than you are to them. If deep down you hate them, if you dream of humiliating them, if you enjoy ordering them around, then you are likely to be paid back in kind. They will want and love you just as much as you want and love them – and praise be to their generosity.

Stephen Vizinczey, In Praise of Older Women

Internet sexual: Edith from Chaturbate

Edith first appeared in a worrisome context: rolled over naked, facedown in bed after a session with her Hitachi vibrator, possibly weeping. Several of her 2,072 viewers exchanged concern: “Do you want to stop Edith?”or “What up? I clicked away and I come back and she’s crying?”or “She’s fucking joking”and “What happened??? She’s really upset”and “I can’t stand to see her sad.”Then she cut off her video feed.

From watching her Chaturbate show, I learned that Edith was a nineteen-year-old college student in the Midwest who seduced her audience by dressing like an American Apparel model, revealing the depth of her existential despair, and making every one of her viewers feel as if he and only he were the person who might understand and rescue her from both her tortured soul and her vow of celibacy. This dreamy formula attracted men by the thousands, men who clamored to suggest that Edith read Infinite Jest, Stranger in a Strange Land, the research of Masters and Johnson, or the poetry of Walt Whitman, to beg her for a personal message, and to tip her when she showed them her flawless milky-white breasts, bruised knees, and untamed bush. (She had been inspired in her celebration of body hair by YouTube videos of Siouxsie and the Banshees.) She would read out loud, everything from R. D. Laing to Sam Pink. She would name-drop Michel Foucault and David Bohm. She flattered the men who watched her for their intellectual gifts and for bringing to her attention the obscure cultural artifacts they proffered in the chat bar like hipster magi. Her user name quoted a J. D. Salinger story and the first item on her Amazon Wish List was William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience. The second item was a long, ornately printed dress and the third item was a nun’s habit. Men would discover and claim her the way that men discover and claim early electronic music from Poland or a difficult-to-reach Goan restaurant in Queens.

The second time she showed up while I was online was early one Tuesday morning. She wore a white cable-knit sweater and a 1950s-style skater skirt and stood bare-legged in a cold-looking room with white walls and tile floors. Pale winter sun filtered through one window. The room had a coffeemaker in one corner, a guitar in another, and a fabric chair of the sort made for tailgating, with built-in beer coozies in the back. Behind her, a man dressed in a coat and scarf made coffee, ignoring Edith as she stripped down to a pale pink leotard and began fancifully dancing around, occasionally pulling down the leotard’s straps to reveal the rest of her body. In another corner, visible in glimpses when Edith carried her computer around the room, a woman slept under covers on an air mattress. Several sneakers and boots lay scattered around. Someone remarked that the scene looked like a flophouse out of Breaking Bad.

Edith had the sound off, although she would respond to compliments with a tersely typed “thank you.”She breakfasted on a pint of ice cream, gazing flirtatiously at the camera. She sat down on the edge of the air mattress and lifted her skirt. Behind her, the slumbering form drew the covers in around her, and the man making coffee, or perhaps a different man (people wandered in and out—“there are three other people under the bed,”joked one viewer), had now sat down in the beer-coozie chair and was reading a book. Their disinterest was such that it was as if Edith were not in the room at all, as if she were a ghost. This only raised the frenzy of the chatters, who couldn’t fathom how anyone could ignore such an angelic creature in their midst.

One day, Edith did a twenty-four-hour marathon on Chaturbate, which people occasionally did. She began in early afternoon, fully dressed in a blue baby-doll dress patterned with roses, smoking cigarettes in her bedroom and holding forth to an audience of more than two thousand people content just to listen to her talk. “I will be getting naked, absolutely, when the time comes,”she said. “But if you’re trying to bust a nut in ten minutes you might want to go to another room and come back.”She talked about her early forays into webcamming. She had begun some six months before on the site My Free Cams, under another literary name. She was banned when she mimed hanging herself with a Hitachi Magic Wand one day when the people chatting with her started demanding illegal requests, and she switched to Chaturbate. She talked about her favorite pornos, including Sasha Grey Takes Many Dicks. She liked Stoya’s writing but thought she was overrated—too “generic porn girl.”Someone asked her if she liked James Deen. “I’m not really into male porn stars,”she said.

Edith was herself contacted by a porn agent once. Initially the idea appealed to her: living in a house with other porn performers, with their own driver, hairstylists, and a swimming pool. She talked to the other girls in the house. “They all had names like Tiffany and Mercedes and they were, like, ‘I get paid to bone.’”Edith mimed shooting herself in the head in exasperation. The porn agent had talked down to her, like she was a child or naive, and after some evasion of the question eventually told her the job would involve boy-girl sex. (In porn industry parlance men are boys and women are girls.) Edith was a virgin and not interested, so she did not sign up. She said she told the guy he was an “arrogant, condescending asshole”and that she “hoped his dick would fall off.”

The minutes ticked by. Edith’s thousands of viewers settled into their computer desk chairs and she told us more about her life. She talked about how she had graduated a year early from her high school. She took a year off after graduation, with the intention of seeking out “weird adventures.”She “experimented with being homeless,”living in a van for a couple of months with her two cats and integrating herself into the local homeless community. She recounted a near-death experience with elements of psychedelic mysticism. I started to wonder if Edith was some sort of Internet prophetess.

“You know, Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question in life is whether or not to kill yourself,”said Edith with a solemn air of recitation. “Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question in life is whether time has a beginning and an end. Albert Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, and Tom Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm. The real question in life is who knows how to make love stay. Answer me that, and I will tell you not to kill yourself. Answer me that, and I will ease your mind from the beginning to the end of time.

”What the fuck was I watching? I closed my laptop and went out to dinner.

I looked in at midnight and the camera was trained on an empty bed. Even empty, her room held the number-three spot on the website. Twelve hours later, I looked again. For more than 1,700 viewers she sat on the floor naked next to a pair of ballet slippers with an unlit cigarette in her hand. Some of her chatters wanted more sex. Most of them didn’t care. “She can do whatever she wants,”wrote one. “I’m lucky to be here and having fun with the best lady in the universe.”

During the final minutes of her marathon, some of the chatters indicated they had stayed up all night with her, but she did not end with an extravagant sexual act. Instead she had put on another of her endless collection of cute floral dresses and sat against the wall next to a pile of books. She was pale, with circles under her eyes. In the last five minutes she honored her highest tippers by listing them by name. Who were these men? Earlier, I had clicked over to the webcam of one high tipper, who had also served as her moderator. He had posted his location as Germany and hidden his face. All that was visible, in standard desk-light illumination, was the bottom of an unshaven chin, the ends of his long curly hair, his shirtless torso, and a black denim jacket with “Trans-Siberian Orchestra”embroidered in white over the breast pocket.

When the final seconds of her marathon expired, Edith sat up. “Did I make it?”she asked. “It happened?”A chorus of chatters affirmed she had made it. She threw her hands into the air and shrieked. Then she leaned forward, as if to embrace her laptop, and severed the video feed. The time was 2:30 p.m.

I called Edith, but she didn’t want her parents to find out about her activities. She declined to be interviewed after the first phone call and said she was going to quit Chaturbate. On the phone, she had affirmed that she was not sexually active in real life, although she had gone out with boyfriends in the past and had once performed with her female roommate on Chaturbate. She said she was otherwise celibate, and had considered that she might be “Internet sexual.”

Emily Witt, Future Sex, 2016.

Sex in darkness

Donna checked into No. 4 this couple who were here on a cattle-buying trip. They were from Roundup, Montana, and the wife was a lovely and slender blonde of about twenty-five, while the husband was a little older, ruggedly handsome, and about 6 feet and 185 lbs. They checked in at approximately 5:30 p.m. and it was getting dark as I ascended to my observation laboratory to watch.

They had picked up hamburgers at McDonald’s and began eating as soon as they entered. I immediately noticed that she was very beautiful, and had a fantastic figure. She was wearing boots, jeans, and a tight Western shirt, and it was well established that she was in the D-cup category.

But as I watch this young couple eat, it is obvious they had no manners. They just eat as fast as possible, dropping bits and pieces in their laps, and then brush it off onto the floor. Young people don’t use napkins, at least the majority—just wipe their hands on their blue jeans or the bed sheets.

Oh, well, maybe I’ll get to see some sex anyway.

They were both very non-communicative and he laid on the bed fully dressed and watched TV for the majority of the evening. She wrote a letter and departed to the bathroom and closed the door and remained for the better part of an hour.

When she came out, he crudely replied: “You stayed in there so long I’ll bet you have a ring around your butt.” This is the first thing he said all evening, typical cowboy talk. She was definitely embarrassed by this statement from this vulgar primitive idiot.

He continued watching a re-run of Gunsmoke and she went to the bathroom again. When she returned, she was wearing a nightgown with a robe over the top.

God, I’m never going to get to observe those magnificent breasts! These are the times it is difficult being a Voyeur, when your desire to observe is not being fulfilled. She sits on the chair and he smokes and watches TV, and not any word of communication results between them. What I am observing here is exactly what occurs in the relationship of about 90 percent of all couples.

Much later, he undressed and they go to bed. He is now feeling like sex, but she isn’t, especially since he had insulted her earlier. When he removed his boots, I detected a smell that approached the vent that wasn’t pleasant. He should have taken a shower if he wanted to approach her, but he didn’t. After fondling her through the nightgown and robe, he was making headway toward getting her aroused.

By this time, I think maybe I’ll get to observe those breasts yet, but no, he immediately gets out of bed and turns off the lights and the television!

Now I’m thoroughly mad and disgusted with the S.O.B. I feel like killing him. He now returns to the bed and begins his lovemaking in an atmosphere he is comfortable with: namely, darkness.

I won’t stand for this at all. I return to the ground level and get in my car, and then drive it and park it directly in front of the #4 unit, parking it and leaving it there with the bright lights beaming on their window.

Returning to the observation platform, he is standing up peeking through the curtains, complaining that “some son-of-a-bitch has left his lights on.”

In order to accomplish the remainder of his lovemaking procedure, he placates his position by getting under the covers to eliminate the light. He finally gets her undressed because I see her hands appear on the side of the bed dropping her robe and nightgown out. The room is lit up real well, and he begins his animal-like thrusting under the covers. He is finished in three minutes, and immediately withdraws and departs for the bathroom.

I finally get to see her body when she uncovers to wipe the semen away on my bedspread. She is very beautifully proportioned, but probably equally stupid and dumb.

He comes back from the bathroom and notes that the lights outside are still on. He says, “I wonder what the situation is with this car with the lights on.”

Stupid bastard, he’ll never know what my situation is, but I am well informed as to his unfortunate position in life.

Conclusion: I am still unable to determine what function I serve … Apparently, I’m delegated the responsibility of this heavy burden to be placed upon myself—never being able to tell anyone! If vanity or fate appoints this position for me in life, then I will be appreciably diminished by this unfair compromise. The depression builds, but I will continue onward with my research. I’ve pondered on occasion that perhaps I don’t exist, only represent a product of the subjects’ dreams. No one would believe my accomplishments as a Voyeur anyway, and therefore the dreamlike manifestation would explain my reality.

There is definitely a correlation between subjects who want the lights off during sexual activity and their profile. Normally, subjects from rural areas; non-educated types; minority groups; older generation subjects; southern-influenced subjects—are inclined to indulge in sex in darkness. After observing so many of these subjects, I can tell almost immediately the subjects who will turn the lights out. It is difficult to explain, but I accurately recorded an entire year of subjects who turned off the lights and those who left it on during sexual activity. Ninety percent of those who turned off the light fell within the category described above.

Gay Talese, The Voyeur’s Motel, 2016.

But I always found Bianca

But I always found Bianca.

We bought our product from the same clan of fashionable bald fags on Sixteenth Street. They kept the drag queens supplied. Bianca served the lesbians. She also played guitar and sang like Kristin Hersh. She walked into the room and my leg bounced nonstop. I got love spasms. I’d dated women, but this was deeper than sex. This was fucking speed sex.

In our dealer’s apartment, she swaggered all cool breezes with a copy of J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories in her back pocket. I sat in a zebra print chair with the Angry Women anthology and two hairless cats. They wiggled their tails in my face like eels. I was having a love affair with ideas about women and power and sex, ideas Bianca and our dealer had introduced me to. We talked about it like something that was borrowed from a phallic legacy. Woman was a set of symptoms, an “other” to man. The woman in front of me was making me tingle.

I bedded Cixous and her affirmation of hysteria: an inherently revolutionary hiccup in the binary logic of conformity and Christian law. I got behind her agenda to break up continuities and responded to intolerable emergencies with hysteria. I fell for a feminism that encompassed biotechnics and platform Mary Janes, all facets of technology, with a keen interest in exploring the things so many of us in San Francisco wanted to explore at that time: artifice, Baudrillard’s simulacra, Donna Haraway’s cyborgs, and vintage lingerie. I wanted to tear the woman inside me down and rebuild. I wanted to fuck Bianca.

Antonia Crane, Spent: A Memoir, Rare Bird Books, A Barnacle Book (March 18, 2014)