What Price Glory?

According to urban legend, one of San Francisco’s preeminent authors was visiting a sex club when he discovered that fame can be a mood killer.  He was approaching the spot I like to call the milking station—a double-decker construction where the men on the top level are serviced by the ones below.  As he sidled up to the glory hole, the man on the other side looked up and said, “I loved your last book.”

“Thanks,” said the novelist, smiling patiently, “but that’s not what I just stuck through the hole.”

 You never know what you’re going to find in a glory hole.  My friend Jack learned that lesson the hard way the other night.

Jack has no patience for bars.  “It’s not as if I’m going to meet Mr. Right under the go-go platform swilling a Miller Lite,” he once told me.  “And if it’s just sex I’m after, then why bother wasting twenty bucks on booze only to run the risk of going home alone?”

Jack would make a great executive for GM or Chrysler.  With him, it’s all about efficiency.  “Even the most gorgeous guy will admit that the success rate at bars is pretty pathetic,” he says.  Jack should know; he may not be Brad Pitt, but he’s no Dennis Kucinich, either.

In fact, if Jack were the CEO of Gay Bars, Inc., I’d be right behind him as he implemented a Six Sigma project aimed at increasing their efficiency.  Just how much time and money—not to mention liver damage—should you risk for the sake of a roll in the hay? 

That, Jack says, is why God invented sex clubs.  If you’re going to spend money anyway, spend it on a sure thing.  No one, he says, ever strikes out at a sex club. And while technically, I’m sure that’s not true (I’ve seen with my own eyes a number of unfortunate souls wandering aimlessly around those darkened corridors, furtively reaching out toward some sweet young thing only to have their hand slapped away) even those guys—older, fatter, or just socially hopeless—get the pleasure of watching.  For some people, that’s enough.

But I digress.  Sex can do that to you.  Sex can do a lot of things to you.  Hence, this blog.

So anyway, Jack has become a regular at Blow Buddies.  For those of you who don’t know, Blow Buddies is a club in the South of Market section of San Francisco—home of leather bars, dance clubs, and incongruous yuppie lofts—that caters to men who enjoy … well, the name says it all. 

The first thing you need to understand is that there’s a whole ritual to sex clubs.  You have to be in the right mood—horny but not desperate, and absolutely, under no circumstances can you afford to be lonely, depressed, or bored.  You don’t go to sex clubs for a pick-me-up.  You don’t even go to sex clubs to get picked up.  You go to sex clubs to have fun for a couple of hours, exchange no phone numbers and as few words as possible (“thank you” is nice), and leave alone at a respectably disreputable hour. 

Sex clubs are like twelve-step groups, or Las Vegas, or the confessional.  What happens there stays there.  That’s why they’re so dark—to keep you from recognizing anyone.  Of course, there are those horrifying moments when you see some hot guy on the subway, and you know you know him from somewhere.  You want to smile or make conversation, ask if you met at your Aunt Gertrude’s birthday party or a fundraiser for Hillary, but you’re afraid that he’s just someone you’ve fantasized about and never even exchanged a word with.  And then you get the visual—him with his legs in the air, eyes practically crossed as you hovered above him on a slippery rubber mattress with dozens of other guys staring.  Oops.  And you turn away, convincing yourself he won’t recognize you in the glaring light of day.

Jack has the etiquette of sex clubs down pat.  Or he did until last Saturday night, when everything went topsy-turvy on him.

He was just minding his own business—or, more precisely, everyone else’s business, but the two get kind of confused in a place like this—scoping out the activity throughout the club.  It was early, and he hadn’t yet seen anyone who struck his fancy, so he was casually strolling around, peeking into cubicles.  The cubes at Blow Buddies come in various sizes, all with strategically placed holes—and often, for extra support, little handles bolted to the top of the wall for people to hang onto while they’re being serviced.

But that night there wasn’t much going on, at least nothing Jack was particularly inclined to watch.  So he decided to take a little break and wait for things to pick up.  He ducked into an empty cube and leaned against the wall, keeping an eye out for anything interesting that might stroll by. 

And then, out the corner of his eye, he spotted something moving on the other side of the glory hole.  Just a little flicker of movement, but enough to catch his attention.  He looked down and finally was able to make out a pair of jeans, and a fly being slowly unzipped. 

Jack has a rule about glory holes.  “No matter how beautiful the dick,” he says, “you have to know what it’s attached to.” 

And so he crouched down and, before the guy was fully unzipped, peered through the hole—up, beyond he crotch. 

The belly was pretty flat—that was good.  And the chest was lovely—nicely sculpted, just a fine coating of hair.  And the face—

Jack jerked back to his feet and stood tight against the wall—the way he’d seen cops pose in the movies when they’re trying not to be seen.  The guy wasn’t ugly.  He wasn’t old or scary. 

He was Jack’s boss.

And that was when Jack wished he’d just stayed home with a good book.