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3:41 PM Friday, November 19, 1999

Two emails at once. Try to deal. Read this one later if it's too much.

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So, my man Eben, all high on Henry Miller, is goading me to use this opportunity as a launching point and strike deep into your unconscious, or what you thought were your own private thoughts. I already promised you that I'd keep things fairly light here so I'll not change course too much. So how do you feel about paying for sex? Is masturbation really enough for you? What do you think about when you look in the eyes of a sex worker who's on the clock? I mean, is a prostitute that is beat to hell a turn on? That last one's what Ami was asking Brian and I as we drove through the red light district of Bombay. She left out the "beat to hell" part that's what I was thinking. It's certainly not a turn on for me and I wonder if it is for all the guys hanging around them. Maybe they can't see it. I mean, the things that I'm picking up on aren't subtle in the least but maybe they just don't see the bruises on their legs, the smeared lipstick or the vacant look in their eyes. Maybe it doesn't matter to them. Can they be that different than me? And what about the rules I have to follow? What about them makes it OK for them to pay for sex and then have sex with someone who's paid for sex?

I think Phil Donahue was in favor of legalizing prostitution. I remember watching Donahue when I was in middle school. That was back when I actually thought publicly discussing social problems was worthwhile. That guy Donahue was the closest thing to a father I ever had. (Is that fuckin weak or what!) I watched him every day after I got home from school for years. I know I learned more from him than my real father. In fact, that was the first place I'd ever seen a real prostitute (they don't have whores on the street in Renton, Washington) and I'd get an earful of how hard it is, sucking smelly cock all night, having Venereal Diseases, getting knifed by your pimp, getting harassed by the cops, on an on an on. Being a whore was the most degrading thing on the planet. Where do they send you when you're too ugly or evil to be a whore? There's no such thing.

I don't know why I thought this place would be any different than Capp Street in San Francisco. I live 2 blocks away and in my mid 20's I worked in a place on Capp Street for 2 years. I got to know the whores pretty well. They're all dead or gone now. These days I just look down when I skate by the new crop of ho-bags. If I don't, they treat me like I'm their number one customer. It's hard to look away though, I'm fascinated by any train-wreck of a human being that's propped up on stiletto heels, practically naked when it's 45 degrees out. So we're trying to drive through this area of town that's got all the whores. The taxi's are 2 deep on each side of the road and there's multiple-block traffic jams at midnight. I haven't felt so unwelcome since coming to this country. I was in the process of falling terribly sick and the experience wasn't helping. Every pothole we hit jarred my intestines and if I decided to look out the window I either saw an ugly woman sitting on top of a cab or mean looking guy. I kept thinking to myself, though, that I wanted to come back. When I'm healthier. For research. I have this sick bottom-feeder journalistic bent that I've got to follow.

As fucked up as sex is in the US, it must be ten times more demented here. Volumes could be written about it. You won't find much in the local bookstore however. India makes you think about sex a lot. At least as an outsider you do. You really wonder. Religion and morality have people twisted up a lot tighter here. These arranged marriages, stroke mags for sale on every corner, guys holding hands, everybody always pressing up against one another, eunuchs and the way their "bath houses" are tolerated, the way Indian guys will just reach and grab a western woman's breast like a total fucking chump. You kinda wish they had something like a prom here, where parents dress their kids up in adult clothes, book them a hotel room and send them off for what for many of them is their first sexual experience. At least you could choose to opt-out of it if you wanted to. You can choose can't you? Well, can't you?

I'll tell you one thing, Indian men are hard up. I mean they are racked with frustration. Indian boys and girls are given almost NO choice. You can feel the vibrations of desperation coming off them. They make me feel like a goddamn Casanova but I'm hella conservative by US standards. Do you buy that "theory" that prostitution is strange societal vaccination against rape? That men are beasts that must be "relieved" sexually the same way they're fed or washed or shit? How can sex with a sex worker be any sort of relief?

Back in the US, it seems I'm trying to be nicer than your average male. More sensitive and all that and what do I get for it? Bullshit. Swimming back up the stream of the secret codes and expectations that has been flowin from misogynists and rapists and ordinary stupid guys forever. Women keep the current going. It's how they get sex also. Up until 5 years ago, I'd only had long term girlfriends who were my friends I'd basically fallen in love with. Two of the main things you need in those situations are honesty and implicit trust. Do you realize all the supposedly good qualities I had to unlearn in the last 5 years in order to date women? I'm telling you I had no choice. Learn how to lie, learn how to avoid talking about what you really want, lean how to only seem vulnerable when the light is hitting you just right. We all say we want honesty and all that crap but why is the sex industry still going strong? The truth is that the honest sexual relationships are bought and paid for and the other ones are full of half-truths and white lies, uncertainties and deceptions.

peace out, yo