Heavy Ladding: The Sexual Proclivities Of New York With Max Blagg
In New York my accent at last meant nothing. Americans were blissfully unaware of the unsubtle distinction between prince and peasant revealed by one’s accent back in Limeyland. No one knew or cared if I was from York or Yarmouth, a self-assured son of the south or a clodhopping northerner.
New Yorkers were noisy and opinionated, asking what you did and what you were going to do, nosy in a very endearing way. It was a shock to my English system, accustomed to evasion and politeness, silence and cunning.
My upstairs neighbour on Spring Street was an artist named Tim, who lived on the top two floors of the building. A fire had burned out part of one floor and, in another example of American ingenuity and the casual attitude towards real estate in this semi-abandoned district, Tim had simply cut out the burned section and run the two floors together into one vast duplex.
Tim added me to his crew doing some renovation on 53rd Street and having worked with slow-moving but skilful English carpenters, I was shocked at the crudeness of the American approach to building. Two-by-fours hammered together with 10-penny nails, no sign of dovetail joinery or careful carpentering, it was fast and brutal, sheetrock slapped right over the frame, but I quickly came to see that the end result of this simplistic method was the same sturdily built wall.
The mysteries of sex permeated every waking moment. Nailing wood or riding the subway, I was thinking about it or talking about it in raw detail with the rest of the horny crew, men together, the details frequently explicit and ugly. After work I sometimes walked a few blocks down with Tim to drink at the Garden of Earthly Delights, an unfriendly but stimulating joint on 47th Street, notable for a midget named Shorty, a Jekyll and Hyde character much loved by the strippers who frequented the bar. In his cups, Shorty would roam the bar at calf height, snarling about “full-sizers”: “You fucking full- sizers, you’re all alike!”, nipping ankles and calves like a terrier until one of the regulars picked him up and sat him back on the bar, where he would grab the nearest pitcher and swig down the contents in one massive inhalation. It was a frontier kind of bar. Small pockets of violence occasionally erupted but were quickly extinguished by well-placed bouncers… One night a very attractive transsexual passed through, handing out leaflets, advertising a sex club over on Ninth Avenue. I asked Tim if he’d ever been to a sex club and scrutinised him closely as he replied that he hadn’t but why not take a look? It was Friday night and we’d just gotten paid.
We found the place on 48th and Ninth. A thuggish fellow patted us down at the door, gave us ticket stubs and we passed into a basement space that smelled of stale beer. There was a dais in the centre of the large main room, on which people dressed in elaborate outfits were beating each other with small paddles and whips with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Radiating from the central stage were long corridors with doors opening onto small cubicles where other scenarios played out. There was a lot to see and we toured the spectacle for a while before returning to find seats at the bar. The place looked like it had been built yesterday by a carpentry team even less skilled than ours.
After a few beers I made my way to the bathroom, where in addition to the regular toilet there was an old bathtub, and in it a naked man, up to his hips in pee, begging all-comers to hose him down. He reminded me of a boy from my school who had been the object of a bully’s particular attentions – Geoffrey Biggs, harassed and hounded on a daily basis by Charlie Fensome. No one knew why, no one interfered. As the man in the tub turned his face up to receive another golden stream, I saw Biggs’s mouth opening compliantly in that corridor years before, the flemmy glob of Fensome’s spit arcing into his mouth, Biggs’s glasses askew, a nitwit gleam in his good eye, taking his punishment as if he deserved it, like this man, bathed now in the golden sewage of other bullies, ordinary people who, given the opportunity, preferred a human latrine to clean white porcelain.
Following this brief epiphany I made my way back to the bar, where Tim had set us up with more beers, three cans apiece. “I don’t trust the pitchers in this joint,” he said with a smile. I looked around at the scantily clad crowd as they strutted and fretted on this little stage. The potential for gross indecency and social upheaval seemed tremendous. A slightly chubby Venus emerged from the sidelines to bestride the velvet-covered dais. She wore thigh-high boots and a frothy peignoir over a black leather bra and matching panties perforated by brass grommets. Various slave types grovelled at her feet, licking her boots in response to the occasional flick of a cat-o’-nine-tails that looked like a discard from a craft fair. The tableau somehow lacked conviction.
Adjacent to us at the bar, an attractive blonde, rendered slightly surreal by her Wall Street business suit with the seat of the skirt removed, was deep in conversation with a man wearing nothing but a skimpy jockstrap and mousetraps attached to his nipples. But my attention was soon distracted by a very tall policewoman, quite normal in appearance from cap to belt, shockingly transformed from the waist down by the substitution of black vinyl hot pants and matching boots in place of blue serge trousers. The rest of her uniform looked completely authentic. I felt a sudden brief craving to be placed under arrest and I was moved, too, by a pang of love for these eccentrics. If these folks could find a place in the world, then surely so could I.
Tim and I continued to drink and talk languidly of many things: whether rat traps might perhaps have signalled a deeper level of commitment on the part of our neighbour, how an acquaintance of Tim’s had lost the sight of one eye in a brawl at a tavern much like this one, and he too drunk to even identify his assailant.
“Why was sight to such a tender ball as the eye confined, so obvious, so easy to be quench’d?”
“Said who?” Tim asked.
“Johnny B Milton, Samson Agonistes,” I smugly replied, flouting my pedantry, enjoying the temporary mood of faux erudition that rose around us, a protective screen raised against the scenes of decadence unfolding in this squalid basement.
Tim merely smiled, ignoring my cleverdick response. The beers traversed my innards and soon I had to pee again. I didn’t have the stomach for a second viewing of the urophagist splashing in his tub, and since we had shared a pissoir before, I persuaded Tim to accompany me to the ladies’ room. This chamber, too, was packed, the stalls busy with vice. It had the vibrant air of a souk and just as many eager buyers and sellers. We finally secured an empty stall and just as we unselfconsciously unzipped, the door crashed open and the deity from the stage rushed in.
Pushing us brusquely aside, she dropped her leather panties and ensconced herself on the toilet seat. Tim had already unshackled his equipment, but he saw her sudden appearance as an invitation.
“Worship in the true church, my daughter!” he remarked ecclesiastically, waving his lingam in her face.
“No, no, you worm,” she hissed. “I’m a dom! Get away from me. This is the ladies’ room anyway, you disgusting little slaves.”
“You’re a dom? The fuck you are, baby!” With that, Tim pulled the woman forward on the seat and began waling away at her bare behind with a powerful downstroke. I watched in admiration as the scarlet outline of his hand appeared like a stigmata on the white cheek of her buttock.
“Stop it, I am so a dom,” she said again, without much conviction, shifting around on the seat to expose more of her reddening arse. Tim applied himself to his task with renewed vigour.
“Dom, schlom, my pretty,” he remarked and laughed coarsely. The unknown dominatrix seemed to be undergoing a very rapid conversion, as, moaning faintly, she surrendered to this chastisement. Soon her entire bottom was covered with a multiplicity of delicate blushing traceries. She squirmed on the seat, offering first one cheek and then the other in rhythmic alternation. Shifting again, she raised her head and took Tim’s splendid empurpled knob into her mouth with what might have been a sigh.
It seemed indeed she was no “dom” as she laboured beneath his unrelenting hand, turning adroitly on the toilet seat until she was stretched across it, as across a bastinado, her mouth glued to Tim’s unstopped organ, her rosy nether limbs now presenting themselves to my critical gaze. Milton’s lush descriptives buzzed like flies around my beer-soaked cranium:
“Bedeckt, ornate and gay, with all her bravery on and tackle trim, sails filled and streamers waving, courted by all the winds that hold them play, an amber scent of odorous perfume her harbinger… ”
Tim looked up from his labours. The glass of his spectacles caught the overhead light and caused his eyes to blaze, the pleasant face transfigured by a leonine snarl, an image worthy of Eisenstein.
“Milton again,” he snapped, “same poem.” And went to it.
Taken from the latest issue of 10 Men, REBEL HEART, on newsstands now…
Text Max Blagg
Illustration Charles Jeffrey