Wednesday, March 04, 2009
1:31 AM |
Archived Fiction: Cruising, Part 1
Note: I got the idea from Dean who has recently posted one of his stories from
The Kite of Stars in his blog, to "archive" it online. I thought I could do the same, using an old story -- the last from what I would call my gay fiction phase -- which was also the last one that the late Nick Joaquin accepted for publication in his tenure as literary editor of
Philippine Graphic. The following story is a tad graphic, so be warned. One critic had also questioned the authenticity of a Shakespeare-spouting call boy, to which I countered with this thought: Why can't a guy prostitute himself and love Shakespeare at the same time? I'm going through Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog these days, and I'm pleased to note we don't really have to pigeonhole our characters with stereotypical wants and desires and ticks, just because some unfortunate readers can't stretch their imagination far enough.
You are everywhere, waiting in corners, eager for eye contact; or driving discreet cars, to slow down only by shadowed bends and uninnocent lanes; or chatting online, and hiding behind indiscreet handles—BiBoy4U, GwapoKo, hotmale. You and I live for the intricacies of games. Our nights in this city afford this. But this is perfectly fine with me: my living thrives on your secrets and indiscretions.
My college ass is for sale. If you pay well, I’ll be your own private, first-class Shakespeare-spouting Jeff Stryker for the night. That’s something you don’t get normally from hook-ups on ordinary streets and corners. A call boy with high IQ. Literate.
In my job, that’s called an “angle.” A specialty, like a menu's special for the day.
Call it a bonus, an added feature—something to titillate the common trick, the way some straight boys like to sexify middle-aged librarians with glasses—but as far back as I can remember, the ultimate fantasy has always been to hustle. “If I had a nicer body, I’d be in porn,” I told Rita once, some time before, half in jest. She raised in eyebrow. “Or dancing ‘round a beanpole,” I continued. “Scott O’Hara, the porn star, was also a bestselling fictionist and playwright, you know. He was such an unexpectedly good writer.” And once again: “If I had a nicer body, I’d be in porn.” Rita nodded without ever trying to understand. That is what I like most about her.
But instead, I went to college for a philosophy degree.
Only later did I discover GymUltra tucked in the bowels of Uymatiao Building; for 650 pesos a month working out sweat and muscles, I considered it a bargain. Of course, their cardio machine doesn’t work, and the instructor is inept and narcissistic, always given to showing off by pumping iron or preening in front of the mirror-covered walls, but I decided then that this gym would do well for me: this was where I planned to endure months to look like Lukas Ridgeston. Or any one of those video faces that burned regularly the head of my VCR. This was it.
Chances bloomed to deconstruct perverse wishes, Derrida meeting Nin. Or, if I have to be Jungian and mythological: the ugly duckling turned swan. Six hundred fifty pesos a month—steep sometimes, given my lot—is an investment worthy of any of the hustles to follow. A primed body is worth material comfort.
Even at 19, you must see by now, I already wear the world on my shoulders.
This is the deal: two hours in a single night for not less than a thousand, or maybe more, depending really on the take, and on my time. I’m a busy person, and I delude myself in thinking I have a reputation to maintain. I do this for capitalist fun really—to test Althusser and Marx, I tell myself: commodification as practical exercise, setting a price for an object of desire—John Berger’s thesis on “gaze” fleshed out. Thinking in the abstract makes me feel good, reduces the guilt to a mental exercise. But basically, there is only the memory of needing money most, especially when final exams come and there are tuition fees to bear, like rough hands clawing at my flesh, enough to eat me alive.
My mother has no clue, of course. She sells Avon when she is not playing mahjong, and cannot be bothered. She thinks I have a scholarship. I nod and tell her lies; I lost my scholarship when I got a 1.5 for Algebra, for not sucking Prof. Manalastas’s dick. I had principles then.
Most days, I tell myself, I don’t mind. What’s a dick for a cellphone card?[to be continued...]
 This is Where You Bite the Sandwich
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