Actually, booty sex isn't just the dirtiest, it's the only dirty thing left to do in bed--the final frontier of filth in an age when sex is as compulsory and compulsive as jogging and flossing. Yet it's also somehow supposed to be transcendent--the ultimate test of intimacy, trust, love, and--ouch, hang on, hang on, whoa, I'm not ready yet, where did you put the poppers?--tenderness. Full Gay Sex, as it's ominously termed, is meant to be the defining act of a gay man's identity--Christmas, the Fourth of July, and the Macy's parade all rolled into one... orifice. Even lesbians, the BBC tells me, are majorly into it these days. Clearly, anyone who spurns the dark pleasures of the winking old brown eye is just half a gay, and worthy of pity.
However, the (sore) ring of experience can change your point of view, as well as the way you walk. Sorry to rain on everyone's anal parade, but Full Gay Sex isn't all it's "cracked" up to be. Sodom ain't the luxury five-star resort the brochures would have us believe. It's more like camping by an open sewer--something I wish I'd told my friend Hans.
I recently took a late-night call from this Dutch friend of mine, who looks and sounds exactly like John Lithgow in Third Rock From the Sun. Only more Dutch. Hans is straight(ish), middle-aged, with several kids and almost as many ex-wives. Recently he decided (against my advice) to experiment with homosexuality. The visibility of gays in Holland has made him feel he's missing out on something, and he regularly calls to report on his latest discoveries in the world of what he calls "mansex."
"Mark!" he exclaimed in his delightfully strong accent, made stronger by his evident agitation. "There is shomething I have you to tell. I have shomething very important dishcovered!"
"What is that, Hans?"
"Anal shex work does not!!"
It turned out that he had finally had Full Gay Sex, and it wasn't quite what he was expecting.
"Mark!" he exclaimed like a boy who'd asked Santa for an Xbox and got socks. "What a dishappointment!! It was awful! It wasn't at all like in the booksh! They were correct about the firsht bit--there was pain. But eventually the pain went, as they shaid it would, and I waited for the ecshtashy they talked about, the pleashure-like-you've-never-experienced-it-before moment. And waited. And waited--grinding my teeth. But, you know... it never came! I felt like a turkey which is for Chrishtmas being shtuffed! Shage, parshley, and onion, and cheshtnut--everything, all at once. I don't think I can turkey ever again eat. You need the world to tell, Mark. Anal shex works does not!"
Of course, as I tried to explain to Hans, the whole point of anal sex is that it isn't meant to work. "One up the bum, no harm done"--and no good either, for that matter. But today it seems you're not allowed to say that. Everybody, gays and straights, homophobes and homophiles, have far too much invested in the idea that anal sex is the most fun/sin you can have with something pointy. But reality doesn't always live up to fantasy--how could it? The poor male prostate gland, which some have cited as evidence that men were made to get fucked, just can't carry the full burden of the modern male's yen for passivity and pleasuring.
"I'm sorry I didn't warn you," I confessed to Hans. "But I couldn't. Like everyone else these days, you would have thought me a killjoy. I think everyone has to find out for themselves. Or rather, I want everyone to find out the way I did."
"So you did have the shame experience?"
"Yes, Hans. Many, many moons ago, when I was young and stupid enough to try things simply because I hadn't done them before, I had the same romantic expectations as you, of love pitching his tent in the place of excrement--and also had them cruelly deflowered. And it wasn't just because back then lubricant was still subject to rationing in the U.K.
"Mind you, there are some men who really do seem to love being fucked," I continued, "but I can't tell whether it's mind over matter--'This is such a GREAT idea that I'm going to MAKE it work, even if it actually FEELS like I'm Mel Gibson in that final scene in Braveheart'--or whether they just have extremely large and unfeasibly itchy prostate glands. And besides, they're usually straight. Maybe that's my problem. Maybe I'm just not man enough to take it like a man."
"But I'm straight and I didn't enjoy it, Mark!" wailed Hans. "Shomebody has to tell the world, Mark! The books...," Hans' voice cracked with emotion, "they told me that being fucked would give me the most intenshe orgashm I've ever experienced... I was so forward to it looking...!"
"Hans, the books are written by tops."
"Must be," he sighed, sounding like the last gasp of air from a deflating, bouncy castle at the end of a rained-out summer fair.
"Anyway, I have decided that I'm definitely not gay, but my new boyfriend giving up I shan't be. I think he is very beautiful. He likes me to fuck him, and who am I to turn him down if he wants like a turkey to be shtuffed? Even if I find it hurts my kidneys."
"How are you doing it, Hans?"
"He on me shits, towardsh me, and his ash is very bony."
"It is a very nice thing to offer shomeone, no? Even if not actually that nice to shomeone shtuff."
"It's the nicest thing anyone could do for anyone else, Hans. It's real love."
"You are probably right, though," he mused. "The appeal of anal shex is precishely that it doeshn't work. My boy may not be the besht fuck in the world, but at least I know he has no vagina dentata, no plans for a breakfasht bar, nurshery, and mortgage hell. We are not anywhere going--and when you've had three marriages, and children from all of them, that is nice to know, you know? Pusshies are nicer to your cock, but they can deshtroy you, Mark. The homoshexual univershe is completely empty and uncomfortable--but I think I prefer it that way.
"'Beshides," added Hans, brightening a little, "I have dishcovered shomething about anal shex I do enjoy."
"Poppersh. Are they unhealthy, by the way?"
"Only if you sniff them."
"I shee. Well, contrary to what I was told, they don't help with being fucked at all, but when I'm fucking him they do my mind take off the pain in my kidneysh."
Adapted from Mark Simpson's new book, Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture, Harrington Park Press ($17.95); www.marksimpson.com.