PUNK: Lonesome American Memoirs

14. Rough Trade

There’s something particularly tragic about a boy that no one wants. Standing out on the curb at Polk and Sutter in my tight t-shirt and stovepipe jeans. From across the street I might have looked like every closet queer’s wet dream, but as you got closer I was disgusting. I had crusted eyes from conjunctivitis; my arms were shot full of holes and bruised. My clothes were filthy; a load of shit usually waiting to surprise my customer in my Levis, and the smell of piss was sharp and almost unbearable if you stood near me long enough. My lips were cracked and bleeding, and I was so skinny that I wasn’t sexy anymore.

I had been very hot. I was skinny, angry, and willing. Jeering at the cars and doing my little disco dance. Old men really liked me. Once in a while there would be a couple. A man, bi-curious, and his miserable wife high on blow, just along to make him happy usually. They’d drive up and I’d pay attention to them. We’d talk about punk rock, and the weather. I’d ask if they wanted to party. These kind of couples were funny because the wife had no idea how it worked, but the husband was an old pro. He’d been by here before, but the wife thought this was the first time for both of them.

She would say things like “How much will this cost?” And I’d put my index finger on her lips and say “Shhh…” she would pull her face away from the window, and I’d ask, “You aren’t a cop are you?” From there on out hubby would do all the talking.

Why gay men get married and have kids I’ll never understand. It seems like a cruel thing to do to a woman. It’s actually kind of nice to bury your face in a lonely woman’s vulva and bring her to the best orgasm she’s had in a decade while her husband is inside of you. She calls out her husband’s name, and he calls out hers. They come together, with you in the middle. It’s a punk rock sandwich.

The typical fantasy is that the husband wants either you to be inside of him and then him to be inside of his wife, or the other way around. Basically, they want to pull a train. But it’s pathetic. The wife is usually totally freaked out, not turned on at all. They have to talk about it again. They usually go into the bathroom and fight. He yells, she cries, and when they come out, she’s got some lubricant. So you enter the wife, and try to make her as comfortable as you can. She doesn’t look at you. Then the guy mounts you. He has some trouble, but eventually he’s in. then you make it with his wife while he kinda goes for a useless piggyback ride. I mean, either I hold still while Mr. Husband does me, and the wife starts crying, or I really try to give it to Mrs. Wife, and the husband feels ok about going along for the ride. Either way someone loses. Really, maybe everyone does. But they’re good for at least a hundred bucks and a bag of dope. It was fun at first. Something about the wives made it kind of special in a way.

One woman decided that I would be her lover. She took me to dinner and didn’t say anything. She was very pretty. After dinner we took a walk in Alta Plaza Park and she finally said that her husband, who I knew, wanted an open relationship. She said that if her was going to take a lover, then so was she. She didn’t ask me, she told me that I was going to be her lover. But she wanted me all to herself. I tried. I did. I wanted her to take care of me. And for a little while, showering in her house, making love to her once a week, and listening to her talk about her husband all the time was nice. She didn’t pay me very well. And I got bored.

I remember the look on her face when she drove by and caught me getting into a car with a man. She was actually checking on me. Her eyes weren’t full of tears, they were full of rage. I waved at her and laughed as we drove off. I saw her husband a few times after that, but I never saw her again.

Men are pretty sad really. Neckless attorneys who haven’t got time for relationships drive you up to twin peaks, or take you to their Jones street apartment and are done almost before they even get inside of you. Sometimes they want you to do them. They always have to pay in advance, and take you to the mission. You go score a nice bag on their money, and bring a little something for them too. They pull their pants down and let you take them. Not too much foreplay, and no hugging or kissing. Just a nose full of speed and you hammer their asses until they start crying and screaming. But when that’s all over it’s really pretty sad. Men who aren’t being true to themselves are the saddest people I have ever met.

There was a guy named Vegas. I think that was really his name because people in restaurants called him that, and he seemed to know a lot of people. He looked like an angry Robert Goulet. He wore black polyester everything, and dyed his mustache and eyebrows jet black. He looked pretty lame. If you stared at him for a long time you could see, beneath the lotions and hair dye, that he was an old man. He kept himself in pretty good shape, always very gentle. Always very polite. He would pick me up and we’d drive around all night. First we’d get loaded, and then he would take me to some nice restaurants. We’d drink in the bar where he would introduce me to his friends as his “ward.” I told him my name was Lance. Everyone loved my name. “Hiiiii Lance. But that world was entirely superficial. If you wore the clothes he bought, and laughed it up with his ugly and lonesome friends then everything was fine. You had to watch what you said. No swearing allowed. The idea, essentially, was to make his friends jealous of him. They were all old and lonely. One night his friend Rich started trying to get me to give him head in the bathroom of a pretty fancy restaurant we were all in. I wouldn’t do it, and he was a mean drunk.

“I’m with Vegas” I said.

At first he laughed it off and kept groping me and smiling like that was going to change my mind. Vegas and I didn’t have sex. I was his ward. I was his escort for the evening.

When I said “Look Mary.” And I meant business “There’s no fucking way I am gonna suck your cock.” He got the message.

Vegas never asked me out again after that. Someone told me that he’d heard about me and Rich and the scene in the bathroom. They told me I should have just done it. That’s what I was there for. I just said “Fuck You!” As if there were some integrity in the relationship I had been trying to maintain.

There was another guy named Johan who was a hairdresser, he had a lover named Mitch he liked to talk about. Johan would come by in the early mornings and take me to breakfast. We would eat together, and he would tell me about all the fat old ladies he worked for. How nasty they were and how they never tipped. Johan didn’t ask me any questions. I liked that. After we ate, he would give me a hug and twenty bucks. That was the best kind of date.

I don’t think that men really want love. I don’t think that for one minute they are confused about what they want. They’ll sit there next to you with their vodka and cranberry and giggle at all your jokes, unable to keep their hands off your leg, gushing with boring arousal. Their hard on practically standing up out of their pleated trousers. I don’t think that men are actually capable of love. Because all that coy bullshit is over in about three minutes. It’s over. Completely gone. Nothing but business and shame after that.

There were other guys working too. Hustlers were everywhere in the early eighties. It was pretty standard. Tony was a kid from Puerto Rico. He’d been a gymnast. His thing was so big, but he was so short that it was really funny to watch him. He’s wear these little shorts, and a wife beater and stand out on the curb holding his dick. It looked like he had a sporeata salami in his little cotton shorts. The lawyers loved Tony. Some old queen adopted him and they moved to France together. I didn’t like men enough to let someone “take me under their wing.” I could go through with it, I could even hang around. But I hated those nellie bastards. Smoking menthol 100’s and going on and on about their jobs, and fashion designers. I was sitting there in practically disintegrated dungarees and a filthy t-shirt with a target on the front of it. My hair was matted, and stuck straight up. What the hell did I care about fashion? Dude. Get real.

There were girls too. Christie was a buxom red head. She had the saddest eyes. She called the guys “Johns.” We called them dates or tricks. She would work a couple nights a week, and only go with men who looked “nice.” We talked about music, and we talked about how much we hated men. She once told me that she gave hand jobs for fifty dollars a trick, and she had yet to meet a customer who could last more than a minute. That sounded about right, and we liked that. Quicker the better. I stayed with her for a few weeks. Her apartment was pretty nice. She just kind of never came back on day. Here today, gone tomorrow. There is no alliance, no camaraderie on the street. That’s only in the movies. Bad things happen all the time. And you just forget about it. You just keep moving.

People had begun to get the gay cancer about the time I found that I had several infections, and was finding it hard to walk. Only the obese, and really disgusting people were interested in me. They weren’t quick work. They wouldn’t want to pay. They didn’t want to have sex. They wanted to talk. Lonely people. Very, very lonely people. There are some really fucking sick weirdoes in this world, take it from me.

In the end I was a pretty tragic sight. Heroin had ravaged me. I was dope sick all the time, nothing could get me straight. I was incontinent, impotent, and my arms were covered in bruises and sores. I was not cute anymore. I was emaciated and infected. You could smell me. I stood out on the curb for a few more weeks, hoping that I could hide in the dark, or someone would want me. But when you’re the last one out there, and everyone’s cruising by slowly, wincing and then peeling out, there’s really no point.

I took it personally. I felt rejected. Weird as that sounds. I’d broken every last promise I’d made to myself. All the things I said I would never do. Like when I swore to myself that I would stop chipping when I felt like I was getting strung out. Gone. Out the fucking window the first time I got strung out. After that I wore it like a badge. Like it made me more hardcore than you. You wanted it, but I needed it. It was different for me. Next I said I would do a guy, but I would never take it. Gone with an offer of a hundred bucks and dinner. After that I really didn’t give a shit anymore.

Motorhead ‘Love Me Like A Reptile’


Table of contents
Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23, Chapter 24
Musicology, Errata