Pigs in Hellfire
"Brendan’s head has been living inside the world of Tim Luscombe’s PIG for many months and more. What follows are some of his personal reactions to the process and a collection of thoughts and memories that have occurred to him in the week since the show opened on September 19.
This is the first instalment in what will hopefully be an ongoing series of posts in which Brendan reflects on the goings on at Buddies as an artist and as a person.
"When I was a baby gay back in the early 2000’s, I moved to New York City ostensibly to “find myself”. This basically consisted of seeing as much art as I could and fucking as many people as I could. I was a bit of a late bloomer and had never really hit a rebellious streak until my early 20’s. So, for my NYC days, I had decided that I was going to look like rough trade: I had a red Mohawk, I would wear a tight jean jacket without a shirt and jeans ripped at the crotch – no underwear, obviously. My body was tight. Not as muscular as I am now but very tight. Sure, the costuming was a lie but it was a lie that I was working really hard to make real. And I felt hot.
One Sunday afternoon, I found myself at the infamous club The Manhole over on 14th Street in the Meatpacking District. The Manhole had long been a nexus for BDSM culture in New York. It’s now closed. Of course. I was desperate to check the place out and, when I discovered that there was a monthly a group jerk off party organized by the New York City Jacks occuring there, I jumped on the opportunity to go. A jerk off party seemed less intimidating than their other events.
The club was located in the basement of a turn-of-the-century building. I checked my clothes at the door and walked in. The space was bigger and had a more intense vibe than the few other sex clubs that I had visited but it was not totally unfamiliar. There seems to be a specific dark, industrial and labyrinthine quality to all sex clubs and this club certainly fit the standard.Although this was supposed to be a jack off party, the first thing I saw was a guy getting fisted in a sling right next to the entrance. He was making sounds like I had never heard before and I can still remember a skinny old queen in sunglasses shouting in a thick Bronx accent: “Girl is having a baby! She’s having a baby!” over his moans.
I found my way over to the bar to get my bearings and the bartender took a liking to me. He was a big guy – much bigger than me– and he had a kind over-the-top hyper-masculine swagger about him. He was in his mid-30s. Rugged. He was missing a front tooth. He embodied what the French call the “joli-laid”: beautifully ugly. I thought he was perfect.
He bought me my beer and offered to take me on a private tour of the club. I followed him through the maze, weaving our way through bodies and cocks, occasionally stopping to be groped or sucked or kissed. As we proceeded on his tour, I could feel that he was leading me to somewhere specific. I could tell that there was a plan afoot, but I was okay with it. I thought: “this will be the story of the time I fucked a bartender at The Manhole.
At times, it felt like we were going downstairs but I really couldn’t tell. These clubs are so good at screwing with your sense of space; quite quickly you feel like you are nowhere. And you are grateful for that feeling. Somehow, the confusion around where you are in space makes the sex feel more special. We eventually ended up in an empty dim room. He closed the metal door. The floor was made up of dirt, the walls were bare brick. There was nothing else besides the two of us and a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The bartender looked at me in the eye. He said: “this is our fight club”. And, in one of those glorious moments of hyperreality, the room that felt so confusing and strange suddenly looked exactly like something out ofFight Club. The movie reference made me feel a little safer. Something that looked like a blood stain emerged from the dirty floor. The bartender removed his jock – his cock was appropriately magnificent – and he asked me to punch him in the face.
When I share my Manhole story, this is usually where it ends. I laugh and smile in that “isn’t New York just CRAZY” kind of way, implying that I came to my senses and returned to the normal world, relieved to have found myself back in the light after such a dark encounter. The story that I rarely tell people is that I did, in fact, hit him. A few times actually. The story that I rarely tell myself is that I let him hit me.”
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