BY JEREMY GLASS
I had gone gay-for-pay, so to speak, and got myself a job as a coat-checker at a trashy high-end club in Chinatown. It was a club with one of those doors that could very easily double as the secret hatch to an underground sexy-torture-chamber. I did it purely for the money, which flowed as steadily as my supply of free liquor, and I became the guy who hung rich people’s coats. I checked coats for five months and hung up expensive furs, expensive capes, expensive bags, and expensive scarves. I got screamed at by coked-up businessmen as their prostitutes watched in a sedated daze. I pocketed the stray cash and headphones that would end up strewn about the dingy floor of the little closet, and received dozens of business cards from men who wanted to spend a little time with me in the bathroom.
The coat check closet was roughly the size of a suburban closet, or an urban apartment. It was nestled in a neat little corner near the bathroom and succeeded in creating its own weather system by consistently being simultaneously muggy, balmy, and freezing. I became an expert in outfitting myself for the convoluted ecosystem, often layering two outfits tailored for both hot and cold weather on top of each other. My shifts started at 10:00 at night and would go until four or five in the morning. Some nights would be a success and I’d find my tip bucket overflowing with bills, and some nights would be excruciatingly slow. It was too dark in the closet to read any bit of smuggled literature, and any attempts to entertain myself with my phone would be met with frustration from the utter lack of Internet connectivity. I was in a black hole, surrounded by thousands of dollars of luxury apparel.
Slowly, I became an expert of the goings-on of the rich and wannabe famous. I was the Jane Goodall of seedy one-percenters. I became increasingly fascinated with the mating rituals of these individuals. The flirting was relentless; I’d hear sedated Europeans tell complete strangers about their carnal intentions, all while grinding their nether-regions together in a style of dance I could only describe as…unsettling. I’ve watched porn that was less graphic than the dancing that happened barely two feet in front of me. The club was adorned with plush, quilted walls and love seats all positioned within my line of sight. Women would be straddling the men they’d, undoubtedly, teased earlier with promises of abstinence. Every $20 specialty cocktail, presented by a well-dressed Mixologist, perpetuated the sweaty hurricane of sexual advances that, eventually, would find its way to the doe-eyed boy in the coat check room.
Some of my favorite moments were the ones that caught me completely off-guard. The girl who walked up to me and stuck her tongue down my throat. The guy who asked me if I did K and told me I was still cool when I told him I didn’t. The straight-laced young executive who asked me to join him the men’s room. Then, of course, there was the older Asian PR woman from England who bought me $400 worth of drinks.
“This drink is rather autumnal, isn’t it?” She asks, coyly biting her lip in an obvious attempt to flirt.
“Autumnal?” I sputtered, sipping on my fancy lavender-infused-with-bullshit cocktail.
“Autumnal. It tastes like it’s about to go trick-or-treating, then build a fire. Autumnal like Autumn.”
I nod in agreement. She’s piqued my interests, which at the moment, involve personifying alcoholic beverages and talking about Halloween. She was older, probably around 35, and dressed as if she’d spent all day yelling at unpaid interns in a SoHo loft. I could smell the success on her.
She was a well-oiled machine and was very clearly interested in having me lube her engine. Ew. Anyway, the night continued and the frequency in which she returned to my closet increased at an alarming rate. She would disappear for ten minutes and I’d catch glimpses of her grinding up against the bartenders and documenting her night with endless selfies. Every time she’d come back, a drink would magically appear in front of me.
“You know, I get these for free!” I shouted, trying to make myself heard over the five-millionth remix of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody.’ “So, I mean, you totally don’t have to buy me these.”
“I refuse to talk with you until you get fucked up.” She said, with the hint of a slur.
“Fine.” I said, giving in and flirting back, “My bosses want me to get drunk. I think they think it makes me friendlier or something.” She slipped some money into my overflowing tip bucket.
“How much you get from tips?” She asked, yelling over the music.
“Um, depends on the night!” I said. She vigorously nodded, feigning interest.
“What’s your name?” She asked.
“What do your friends call you?” She yelled.
“Scout!” I said, “Like from that book!”
“No. I’m just kidding.”
“Do you smoke cigarettes?” She asked.
“Do you want to smoke one with me?” She asked.
“Let me check.”
Smash cut to a Chinatown street corner at 2:30 A.M. She’s attacking me with a violent ferocity akin to a hungry polar bear snacking on a baby seal. I’m trying my best to defend myself, but finding it impossible to follow the intricate and puzzling actions of her inebriated tongue.
Every so often, she pushes me into a brick wall and tells me I’m a pig. I keep asking her to be more specific, but my questions are only answered with a detrimental oral Blitzkrieg. She asks me if she can come over and I tell her there’s already somebody in my bed waiting for me. I hand her my card and tell her to call me. She punches me in the arm and walks away in a heated stride, sans-coat. I shrug it off and walk back into the club.
“My man!” Says my favorite bouncer, extending his fist. I bump it and walk back into my closet.
Yes, it was truly a confusing night during an utterly nauseating time of my life. I’ll never forget the couple of months I spent in my booze-fueled eco-wasteland. Not because it was particularly inspiring or funny, mostly for the feelings of angst and disgust I felt on a nightly basis.
The British Asian woman wouldn’t be the last to approach me as I drank away my life behind the curtain of expensive fabric in my muggy closet. I would be offered a plethora of drinks, illicit substances, and outlandish invitations to dance from Russians in mesh. While the experience didn’t particularly add any positivity to my love-life, the takeaway was knowing I wasn’t even half as creepy—a fourth as creepy—as the designer hoodlums who spent countless hours and thousands of dollars on the dance floor. With every twerking ass and gyrating crotch, I would repeat to myself in a hushed whisper:
“That’s not me. That will never be me.”
“I got hit by lightning last week and I saw Frank Black.” He said, taking a long sip of his coffee.
“Who’s that?” She asked.
“Lead singer of the Pixies.”
“No, I know who Frank Black is.” She said, smirking.
“God?” He asked.
“I was just kidding.” She lost her smile.”I don’t think there was ever a ‘the’ in front of ‘Pixies.’”
“Yeah, maybe not. Anyway, I saw him for a split second. Which was kind of funny, because I was listening to Velouria at the time. I think it was him. It had to be.”
“Hmm,” she smiled, “I love that song.”
“I do too,” he said, “I really do.” He paused. “I don’t think I was really struck by lightning.”
The waitress dropped off a plate of pancakes
“Wait, I can’t remember what we were talking about before.”
She sighed and put down her fork.
“You were telling me about your brother.” She said.
“Right,” he said, “Yes, that’s right.”
“What do you miss the most?”
“Mm…I guess I always thought it was funny when he did laundry. He hated when things got wrinkled. So he’d put his clothes in the dryer over and over. Oh, he also bought dryer sheets all the time. The ones that, like, smelled really good. And then whenever the clothes would come out he would get all angry because of the static electricity. He got so mad about it. I don’t know, I always thought that was funny.”
She never saw a teardrop fall, but noticed its resting place on his napkin.
“You know…hardly anyone survives lightning strikes,” she said, “You’re lucky to be here.”
“I’m lucky to be here with you.”
They finished their pancakes.
One day in preschool, we were all assigned to write a description of what we wanted to be when we grew up. For a four-year-old, this is a question that doesn’t carry the same weight and stress as it does when you’re in your mid-twenties. Among a sea of firemen, fighter pilots, and doctors, I presented mine to the class. I still remember the puzzling expression on my teacher’s face as I held my portrait proudly above my head.
“You want to be a towel?” She asked, with an inquisitive cock of her head. I stared blankly at the rows of confused adolescent eyes.
“No.” I said, “I want to be a ghost.” My teacher and classmates laughed at my dreams and I felt my face glow red.
“Why do you want to be a ghost, Jeremy?”
I rested my head on my hand and pondered the question; my four-year-old brain desperately trying to concoct a reasonable answer to the unreasonable query.
“Well…I guess it’d be funny to see people naked and not get caught.”
It was kind of a blur after my answer and the ensuing gasps and chortles. I remember holding my ground and adding in that it would also be fun to fly and disappear on command. But I knew what I wanted back then and I know what I want now. Perhaps it was fate that little Jeremy’s four-year-old pipe dreams would come (mostly) true. I would grow up to watch naked people and I would, in fact, get paid to do so. Sure, I’d be doing it in a state of, um, un-death and the naked people would be on screen, and I’d be in a room full of sweaty adults, and I’d be sipping free beer, and it’d all be happening in a sex shop in Brooklyn…but my dream came true.
Alright let’s backtrack to a few Tuesdays ago. I had just finished an interview with pornstar Joanna Angel in a dimly lit office in Greenpoint. As we took the obligatory semi-excited looking iPhone photos for Twitter, she invited me to a screening party of her latest film, Baristas.
“Oh man, that sounds fun. What’s it about?” I asked.
“Just a bunch of baristas getting fucked, pretty much.” She replied, “I worked a lot of barista jobs when I first moved to New York, so I wanted to pay homage to the craft of coffee-making.”
“That’s perfect,” I said, zipping up my backpack. “Give me a time and place and I’ll be there.” She winked and I winked back. I had seen so many penises enter and exit her butt.
Smashcut to me, hours later, exiting the L train at dusk. I was a little buzzed from the couple “calm down” beers I’d drank earlier in the night to quell my oddly worried state of mind. I’d be watching porn for more than a decade, yet the thought of doing so with a room full of strangers gave me the heebie-fucking-jeebies.
I walked past the venue two or three time before I realized the pet shop I’d been casually looking at, was a sex shop full of sex things. I sauntered in and tried to find a person in charge to verify that I was in the correct location. I realized I didn’t have to the moment I took a look around the room. Within the confines of the little sex store were little groups of nervous looking men. Some of them had cameras with enormous lenses, some of them pretended to browse the merchandise, but the majority of them pretended to text on their phones to avoid prolonged eye contact. Soon we were all herded into a group and carted into a small room behind a hidden curtain, where we were met with a few rows of folding chairs and hundreds of beers.
The movie started after a couple of minutes and the crowd reacted appropriately. As most high-budget pornos go, there was about ten minutes of dialogue before any nudity even happened. We all laughed at the cheesy lines, sipping our free beers and taking in the scene. This wasn’t so bad, I thought, on my fourth or fifth beer. Not so bad at all. Then the penetration happened.
Watching hardcore pornography with someone by your side is a strange thing. I’ve turned down offers from girlfriends to watch porn together, because it’s just not something I’m used to and I consider it something one should practice in private. At home, I can watch porn all day. I can start and end my day with porn, sandwiching important parts of my day with porn. I can watch porn in rain or shine, under the threat of war, and during a meteor shower. Between the choice of going out for a nice dinner and watching porn, I’d probably choose porn. But with a room full of people, is what the kids call “no bueno.” The moment the score of, now, drunk and sweaty men watched a penis go inside its first mouth, you could hear the room’s collective eyes widen. Every side conversation and intermittent snicker vanished and soon all you could hear were the delicate gags and slurps from the girl on screen. I breathed deeply and looked around. I don’t know what I expected.
The film progressed and I motioned to the bartender for another drink. She bent over to grab another beer, exposing a floral tattoo on her lower back. A wave of deja vu hit me as I realized I had seen that tattoo before. It was familiar and conjured up strange feelings of arousal. It wasn’t until she turned back towards me that I realized she was, in fact, one of the girls from the video we were watching. I felt the need to say something about her performance, but 86’d the idea after: “I like how you handle penises” became the best bit of conversation I could think to muster. The tension would dissipate after every hardcore scene, prompted by the three or four men in the room who would take photos of the money shot scenes. I turned to this kid next to me…
“Isn’t that weird?” I whispered.
“What?” He whispered back.
“All these guys taking pictures.”
“Naw, I don’t think so.” He said. I noticed a tiny camera by his side. He put his hand on it. I ordered another beer.
The film ended and I pat myself on the shoulder for calling the ending: the main guy and the main girl have sex. Joanna did her spiel and thanked everyone for coming out. She urged us all to drink more beer and pick up a raffle ticket.
I started mingling with a scrappy looking kid from Chicago with a curiously southern accent.
“What’d you think of the movie?” He asked.
“Oh, it was a hoot. Yeah, I liked it. Lots of sex, you know?” I said. He laughed and extended his hand.
“Charlie.” He said.
“Jeremy.” I said, “How’d you find out about this?” Charlie said he found it online and told me he never misses a porn screening.
“Yeah dude, it’s always ridiculous.” He pulled a huge Coors out of his ragged army bag.
“Oh shit, they have Coors here?” I asked, sipping at the dregs of a warm PBR. Charlie cracked open the can.
“No.” He said.
“Oh.” I said, “Oh, I get it.”
Another guy, probably five year younger than me, walked up to us and started talking about one of the scenes.
“I saw the boom.” He said, “I definitely saw a boom. I’m positive.” He reached out and shook Charlie’s hand.
“I’m Charlie. This is Mark. Wait…Ben? Sorry, this is Ben.”
“Hey, I’m Jeremy.” I said, “Not Ben.” Charlie laughed. We walked around the front of the store, inspected each and every toy.
“This goes in your ass.” Said Laz, picking up a mean looking double-sided dildo. “Whose ass?” Asked Charlie.
“My ass, Charlie.” I said.
In the backroom, the raffle was starting and we pulled out our tickets. The items auctioned off were as follows:
1. An enormous glass butt-plug.
2. A free copy of Baristas and a jar of lube.
3. Fuzzy handcuffs.
4. A butt-plug with a raccoon-tail on the end.
5. Copious amounts of lube.
“And the last number…” Said one of girls, whose vagina I had just seen in detail, “793539!” I held up my ticket and cheered.
“That’s me! That’s my number!” She handed me an enormous bottle of lube. A severely drunken Charlie called out with his suspicious accent:
“Let’s bust open that lube and do a scene!” No one responded.
I put the bottle of lube in the back pocket of my skinnies and pulled out my phone. I had missed a few calls during the screening and quickly found plans with a friend in DUMBO. As I sat on the train, my face now cool from the blasting air inside the car, I was able to take in what I had just been through. The perspiring sex fiends, the girl who gave me a PBR as I watched two dicks penetrate her on a screen behind her, the dude with the suspicious accent, the bottle of lube in my pocket. It was a weird night, but I should’ve seen it coming.
I met up with my friends in a darkened pizza place underneath the bridge and told them about my night. I told them how, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a ghost for the sole purpose of watching naked people and how my night was a dream come true.
“What’s with the lube?”, asked my friend’s boyfriend.
“Hm?” I said, sipping at a fresh beer.
“Why do you have a glass bottle of lube?”
“Because fuck you, that’s why.” I drank the rest of my beer. It was a good night.
I’m the production assistant on the season premier of Saturday Night Live. The host is Robert Downey Jr with Kanye West as the musical guest. My job is to announce Robert Downey Jr., which I do by screeching at the top of my lungs. I’m reprimanded because I forget to announce Kanye West as well, which is hastily done by my boss. When it’s Kanye’s time to perform, he spends 40 minutes in a field blowing up balloons and letting them float up towards the sky. Eventually Lorne Michaels comes out and apologizes to the crowd, citing Kanye is going crazy. Meanwhile, I’m in the back, making miniature cheesecakes with my mom. After an hour of dead air, Lorne asks me to do some improv on stage. I sit and make weird faces. Everyone’s pretty disappointed with my performance.
I met this pretty girl in a bar. She had shoulder-length brown hair and seriously dilated pupils. I told her she resembled the actress Natalie Portman. The girl had never heard of her, so I tried bringing up a few movies she stars in, but couldn’t remember any. Before I could say anything else, she jumped me and kissed my mouth. That’s when I noticed her tongue was made out of parmesan cheese.
- Guy: "Babe, YOLO?"
- Girl: "No, fuck YOLO."
“Baby…” I started, wetting my lips with my tongue.
She stopped writhing, caught her breath and looked up at me, eyes innocent and wide.
“What?” She asked, stroking my face, “Baby tell me what’s wrong?”
My phone buzzed and lit up on the side table. She glanced towards it and bit her lip. I ignored it as I usually did.
“I can’t help but think…” I caught my breath and sighed.
“I can’t help but think you’re just doing this all because of…”
“Baby…” She moved her hand down to my chest.
“Because of my high Klout score.” I said, holding back tears.
She moved her hand back up to my face and rested her fingers on my chin, as if it belonged to a child.
“Look at me. I’d be with you even if you were a 60.” She smiled, I smiled back.
“Just don’t forget what I told you.”
“Never.” I said. We started again. She threw her head back and moaned in ecstasy.
“Hashtag pleasure.” She said. I went faster.
Things were finally back to normal.
Tuesday night around midnight, I think. My watch broke two days ago and it might be closer to 1:00. I find myself back in the Chinese video store with my laptop and most of my cigarettes missing. To my left is a little old man playing blackjack on a computer monitor duct-taped to the wall. He takes a deep inhale of his cigar and winks at me. I wink back.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the digital age and its impact on the idea of adventure. I remember being in some sort of a pre-sleep, post-Klonopin haze when I typed it, but it got a good response. Someone quoted me on Tumblr, shared it, and it got around 60,000+ views. It’s safe to say I’ve gone a little viral. I think people believe me to be some kind of poignant thinker now, rather than the oafish porn-fueled, vodka-guzzling, goliath dwarf that I truly am and aspire to be. So, by comparison, my next article is bound to be total shit. I mean, there’s no way around it. Being labeled anything aside from “struggling” is detrimental to the creative process of a twenty-six-year-old writer.
To think, before the Internet blew my ego up, I would walk the streets with all the normal people like I was a common farmer or janitor. Now I’m afraid all this attention will inflate my head so much that body will float into the air until it reaches the atmosphere. I fear a tiny explosion in my brain’s pleasure center will send my body into a frantic fit of seizures while I’m on my bike, careening me face-first into a cement truck. Then, as I bleed out, cement with cover my body and I’ll be perfectly preserved in my dying moments. The mayor of New York, so moved by my articles, will decide to keep my preserved cement body where it is as a literal monument. People will pay homage to me, entombed mid-action like Han Solo, by writing the words I wrote faux-eloquently onto my cemented face.
“We truly cannot get lost anymore…” They’ll say to themselves as they leave flowers and those Jesus Christ candles by my grave. They’ll then go home to their dormitories where they’ll make sweet love to their R.A. under a huge poster of me posing with my chin under my head with the words “We can’t get lost anymore” written in Helvetica. As grunts, moans, and heaves happen, they’ll stop every so often to reflect upon the true meaning behind my article. Heck, maybe they’ll even turn their iPhones off! Oh wait, this is the future. Heck, maybe they’ll even turn off their reality-augmenting facial retainers.
Yes, I really am better off being cemented to death rather than having to face the biting criticisms for my next article. It’s not going to be poignant, it’s probably going to another one about my sex life or another one about that time I accidentally came into my own mouth. The 60,000+ Tumblr and ThoughtCatalog fans are going to sorely disappointed when my deep thoughts evaporate into a shallow stream of literary piss. Every philosophy professor who was intent on building a curriculum around my article is going to have to start from scratch and I’ll now be known as “that kid who wrote an article about the digital age and followed it up with a rap about the clitoris.” Man I’d hate to be me right now.
I’d still like to meet the people who shared my work. I’d shake every single one of their hands for helping me achieve what I’ve dreamt about since I was a little kid with a pencil and pen. My work is out there, it’s in front of people. Maybe it has inspired some. Maybe someone saw what I wrote and decided to write something of their own. Maybe someone copied it verbatim and put it in their senior thesis. I don’t really know. I don’t really care how people use it, it’s just exciting that I have something with my name on it. I’m no longer a faceless 159 pound bag of flesh.