HOUDINI CONNECTIONS

CHAPTER

LETTERS FROM THE FETTERS FILES
MISSING LINK

     


STORY OF A LIFE

Real life is never like the movies - and the following text, although it started out five years ago as a very woolly intimate correspondence - came together when the man we shall call DON, having found a lot of his own solutions, sent me a well-thought through compilation. I would love to publish more of the original correspondence which includes letters from and to some of his contacts ... but for the moment this is his story told in his own words.

To Jim Stewart
FETTERS In NEW YORK Feb'94
Hey Jim - me at last. Well, here it is for better or for worse as promised and agreed. Not everything I'd like it to be but that's life (well, my life!).

Your call last November did the trick and started me going. I won't bore you with details of current carryings-on although I know you like to hear all the sordid details. Truth is life's more settled than it's ever been - and here I am practicing on this new Word Processor. You were right about me getting to grips with one instead of the typewriter ... and you pretend you're not a Sadist. Well, I've mastered the bitch. I can rattle away like I was talking - and it's easier than talking - and I've stopped going back on myself and changing what I've written because that just gets confusing and what I've written stops sounding like me talking. I just think of it now like talking to you - and that's got much easier since we first started exchanging letters - and because we've never met and there's not much likelihood of that because I don't see you getting to ??????? and sure as hell I won't be visiting New York (or London for God's sake!).

It's been interesting thinking it all through and trying to get it into shape so that other people might read it and learn something from my experiences. Not much hope of that - but, you know me, I'm willing to take a shot at anything - and fuck the risk ... or get fucked - whichever.

So, I won't "prattle on" as you call it. I'd appreciate it if you'd tidy up the spelling (though this machine has got a speller checker - when I can work the damn thing!). Do what the hell you want with it - that is if you want to do anything with it except wipe your ass on it.
Your 'complicated' long-distance buddy - Don.


THE MISSING LINK

I'm a man who has always played rough games. That includes rough sex - and I mean really rough. Got me into a lot of trouble in the early days. Word soon got around the neighbourhood. Most girls never went out with me twice. Now, 25 years later I am typical middle American working man except that I get to play rough games with other men ... including some sex. Don't switch off because you disapprove or can't relate to that. We're talking sexual stereotypes and the damage done when you can't identify yourself comfortably with any of them. My 'MISSING LINK' title comes from lack of role models I could relate to when I was growing up. I spent too many fucked-up years trying to fit in.
So-called 'normal' men who get a kick out of rough-housing with other men are, generally speaking, a recognisable breed. The fact that such horseplay sometimes produces complicated semi-erotic reactions is something that not often gets talked about - but for me it's always been an uncomfortable fact of life. I think an awful lot of players of violent body contact-sports and those real life 'Action Men' who get their kicks from competing or suffering hardship secretly get-off on it. Discomfort, pain or danger at either work or play seems to attract a breed of man and these are (in fiction at least) hero archetypes (If that's the term I'm looking for). For many of them the role also demands regular demonstration of their sexual power over women. All too often, ultra rough sex and offhand treatment of female partners is a necessary part of their self-image.

Since developments in the Women's Movement brought popular admired ideas about the macho male chauvinist super-stud into question, perhaps it's time for me to push my 'MISSING LINK' theory - that there's this gap in the gallery of American sexual role models.

In the Sixties when I was 15 my favourite jack-off literature was the REAL MEN type adventure fiction where macho types risked everything for buddies in mountains and jungles and behind 'enemy lines'. If there were women in the stories they were usually the cause of the trouble in the first place or the prize when the challenges had all been overcome. My life at that time was just starting out on the college jock, army grunt, red-neck work and play route which any red-blooded Colorado boy was expected to follow in my neck-of-the-woods. The good-old bad-old boy of middle America.

Early sexplay experiments with backwoods buddies was plain old manly horseplay because the girls too often wouldn't put out - and if they did, we weren't sure enough of the finer points of the game - so we needed to practice (You know that old excuse!). In ordinary locker room grab-ass horseplay ... humiliation, pain and sexual harassment was the penalty for losing out - usually against unequal odds. My well-developed macho ego didn't allow me to go down without a struggle - but memories of times I got jumped and roundly 'degraded' disturbed me enough to stay with me as something to beat off on later. Same applied to those fraternity party nights which ended in hot rough-and-tumble crude sexual horseplay. The 'Oh God, I was so drunk I don't remember what happened' morning-after excuses were a necessary defence on a lot of occasions.

Bondage and S/M weren't part of my everyday vocabulary then (not like now - I've got an electronic one) - but from way back before my teens, Cowboys and Indians and Jungle Warfare games for me had always included tying up, capture and torture scenarios. Through High School wrestling team days the grab and restrain (and tease) impulse was strong - and sometimes embarrassing because they made me very horny. Even in the military, on training exercises, I think I unconsciously looked to get myself into some physical disadvantage situation as early as possible. But, however stiff my dick got in the heat of the inevitable grappling, no way did I think of myself as being in any way Queer. I screwed around with girls just like all the would-be studs. Good buddies compared notes, swapped 'good lays' and kept score. Many's the gal I left aching and sore - sometimes it worried me more than it did them - but other times there were complaints - and word soon gets around in a small community. 'Neanderthal Man' ; 'The Hulk'; 'The Missing Link' ...!

Along with my reputation for being too rough, I certainly developed my sexual kinks. Being thought of as being kinky was kind of acceptable among the people I hung out with. Both rope and handcuffs turned me on - and for some gals it was a safety defence. A couple of early relationships lasted only because those ladies learned to tie me down real well. When I could struggle and swear and get angry without actually hurting them and being forced to make-nice before I could get loose. I really got off on it in a big way. Problem was ending a session like that - this vicious streak in me always drove me to take some sort of revenge - even if it hid behind good humour.

Transfer to the Military Police soon after being drafted in the late Sixties was like getting into heaven early. I found it easy to become a regular sadistic bastard - and I screwed myself into psychological knots for a year denying the inevitable. Admitting to myself that I was definitely weird (= sadistic) was a start - and being openly 'Kind of kinky' was almost natural in the circumstances. Among army buddies my perverted sense of humour was much appreciated - and the opportunities were all there to indulge it. Faggot-baiting was a common sport - and the easiest way to degrade any man was to accuse him of being a homosexual and treat him accordingly. The idea that I enjoyed fucking men ... no way. I guess we've arrived at the main point ... At that time no homosexual role model existed to even allow that possibility in my mind.

When some 'faggot-bitch' came on to me I would play with them like a cat with a mouse. Then usually screw them rigid before working off my disgust with them and myself through some kind of unfocused violence. No way could I admit my enjoyment. It was only later when I realised something strange: all through my life I'd liked to have a woman to go down on my cock and give me a good blow-job, but I would force a man to go down on me as a sign of my contempt for him. Was I also unconsciously degrading every woman I ever went with? Life at that time was full of uncomfortable questions that I rigorously refused to face up to.

An early marriage solved nothing except to give me a smoke-screen to hide behind. I was like any regular guy wasn't I - with two kids to prove it. She and they paid the price for my lack of self-image - and I'm still paying the price in hard cash and conscience. In the run-up to our divorce even a shrink could not offer any solutions. Seems like he knew as little as I did at that point in time. People were beginning to talk about closet doors - but even in the late Seventies the nearest role model I could relate to was a stereotype fucked-up rough-neck with a drink problem and an almost irresistible tendency to beat up on women.

OK, I admit I bought a few copies of DRUMMER early on. The men in it were at least masculine and well muscled - but all that leather and shit. The stories sometimes took hold of me for a while - but sucking and kissing and masters and slaves - forget it - but I couldn't and bought more although there was too little in them for me to relate to - and a lot that honestly turned my stomach - and I admit it still does. SOLDIER OF FORTUNE magazine now - the art of survival after World War Three - me and a few buddies - but no sex with them of course - that is, unless we got desperate and if there were no women available .... is that different?

I won't bore you with my 'Coming Out'. It took more than one man to teach me that even without role models you can override a life-long conditioning; that too many natural instinctive gut feelings are systematically ground out of us by parents, teachers and The Church . Family expectations and peer group pressures frogmarch us along paths that our instincts tell us are not the way for us. But I guess most people are born to conform, fit in. Even after I'd admitted to myself that I wasn't 'normal' - no way was I able to identify myself with images of SM/leather lifestyles I saw in magazines in the early-Seventies ... although they were still useful jack-off material ... because I used to dream up what I'd do to some of those San Francisco butch faggots.

In spite of all the denial, eventually, I slowly began making contact with other men with similar needs, drives and insecurities. The process was agonisingly gradual - and dangerous - but somehow inevitable. You may not accept inevitable - but I do. In looking back I can clearly see all the signs - and have compared my experiences with other men who independently found their own way out. My first real advance was to accept that rather than keep on resisting inclinations - I should explore them deliberately.
Allowing myself to go along with these instincts took me through some painful times. Painful for some of the men I met, too. When they brought out things in me that I'd been struggling to deny for so long, my anger at me I took out on them. It was easy to convince myself that punishment was what they enjoyed and was asking for. Slapping men around had always come naturally to me - getting slapped in return had always followed like day after night since I was a boy. Looking back, I realised that for years I'd been picking fights with men capable of beating the shit out of me. But most of all I enjoyed a good even contest. Now it's obvious to me that I've wasted a hell of a lot of wonderful opportunities. Fights I've had with guys who were probably on exactly the same wavelength as me. With me I just wouldn't recognise what was driving me - or didn't know how to communicate. Until quite recent I've missed out on living my life more fully in good company - but at last I am getting somewhere. Getting this all down on paper is proof of that. 'Thinking' onto the old typewriter was how I first started sorting out my tangled mind. I have you to thank for that - and I hope I'm not boring the shit out of you!

To put it politely, I'm still fucking isolated in a world where the people I can relate to are not only few and far between; they're dangerously difficult to spot. From what I'm setting down here - I may seem comfortably out of the closet. But, unlike a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, I haven't reached the point where I can stand up in public and announce with pride that I AM GAY. That's because not many people would know exactly what I mean by that, because ... what I am, does not fit with any of the sexual male images known to the general public at large ..... not in Denver anyway. If the world suddenly learned that Indiana Jones and Crocodile Dundee occasionally liked to fuck and get fucked by another guy: If Clint Eastwood, Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis in their younger days screwed with other men of equal machismo - we might be getting close to the missing 'socio-erotic archetype' (how's that for jargon!). I live in a small suburban community that could not accept me for what I am - and I don't want to move out. This man wants to retain a footing in the world he grew up in rather than move over permanently into foreign territory - but I sure as hell enjoy some of the lifestyle available in that foreign land (remember my letter about the trip to San Francisco!). To some degree I manage to enjoy the best of both worlds - but only by splitting myself in half. Of course a lot of people lead double lives so they can hide their sexual preferences, but, having found my own level for living, I find that I can no longer fit comfortably into either world I inhabit. Again - lack of acceptable social identity (is that the phrase?).

Seems most so-called Gay men are unwilling to accept being anything less than a full time, card carrying homosexual. Somebody who won't declare himself to the world and to hell with the consequences seems to get dismissed as a Closet Case or something worse. For a time I reassured myself by thinking of myself as bisexual - but this dumb new-found honestly I've developed has forced me to face it that I no longer get pleasure from having sex with women. I still find that hard to write ... I even said it to a buddy a couple of months ago ... but I think it's been true for longer than I like to admit.

So, I choose to live a lie. The private person I have succeeded in hammering out of myself allows me to fulfil all my needs. My own self image of myself is better now than it's been all my life - but no way am I ever going to disrupt my life by standing up and being counted as a homosexual. In a GAY PRIDE parade there is too much I can't relate to, to associate myself comfortably. I'm not being critical of other people. Every man and woman should be more free to grow and develop in their own direction according to their own needs - but are they? - even the more sexually liberated publications (straight or gay) still keep building barriers.

For example, DRUMMER magazine often says it's policy is based on Thoreau's words "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away". But too much of what I've read in the Gay Press has convinced me that what I must do to be truly liberated would totally separate me from my familiar lifestyle. In social terms the cost of coming out would be too high. As a mature man who has lived in the same neighbourhood for 35 years, I'm used to playing poker with guys I've know since grade school. I want to be able to take my newly married son and his wife to a ball game without them being embarrassed. I prefer to hold my own in the construction site office where I work - not face the inevitable battles that coming out publicly would invite. OK - so I'm still a closet case. That's not because I'm ashamed of what I do or what turns me on - but being realistic, why do something that would separate me from people and places I enjoy being welcome at. To tell the world-and-his-wife that I'm 'Gay' would not mean the same to them as it means to me. Even I still have trouble with 'Gay' when I look at the men I fuck with ... so people around here would have no pigeonhole to put me in: ... I get horny when wrestling into submission a man who can give as good as I can ... I like to tie and get tied ... sweat my balls of struggling to get free when wrapped head to foot in rubber or canvas, caked in mud or lashed to a tree in pouring rain ...? That isn't 'Gay', even 'Queer' doesn't cover it. I lost too much time trying to find a slot suitable for me - and I welcomed the suggestion this might get published so other people could read it, because I know for certain now that I'm not alone in my likes and dislikes.

So, you may ask (that is if you're still reading) ... exactly how do I manage to stay in the closet and yet still fulfil my needs? I live alone. Oh, incidentally Jim, a great question for you ... Why is it that a divorced man is an acceptable neighbour but a man who never married is immediately suspect?) For a divorced man living alone to have guys round to the house on a regular basis to play poker or drink or watch sport on TV is natural enough. Whether the guys who gather at my house play poker or more physical games till four in the morning gives no problem to my neighbours. They don't think twice about the cop in uniform, fresh off duty who may stay at my place till three a.m. or through till morning (if I decide not to let him loose). A guy from the local Fire House keeps an extra rubber Turnout coat and hip boots along with mine in my cellar/playroom. I'm discrete. My visitors respect my 'cover'.

How I make contact with new people and details of the games I like to play would double the length of this article - and are not the focus of my 'lack of role model' argument ... but, briefly, a lot of my initial contacts were made through Contact Ads in both straight and gay publications. Learning what to say and what not to say has been a matter of trial and error. It also started me putting in more toil improving my word-power and ability to express my thoughts on paper. Fantasising, even at my old typewriter, has helped me to sort out my mind - writing to potential playmates and preparing the ground for 'scenes'. Having brainstormed by correspondence with somebody - when you meet you can often pitch right in with the action without too much eyeball to eyeball discussion.

I've also learned a lot about reading the signs in public. By trial and error I've learned how to give out signs without taking too many risks - steering conversations and leaving openings for a man to show a little more of his hand. It's often a gamble - some you lose some you win - some you get part-way into a game and decide it's not the right game for you. There are risks - there are failures - for me there have been more than enough successes to make it all worth while.

You asked me to describe in more detail the types of games I like to play. Well, here goes:
... mainly competitive, physical challenge situations ... specially endurance, survival ... perhaps military-type scenarios either out doors or in my basement which is a practical workshop cum rumpus-room (rather than some phoney dungeon). I like the term 'Restraint' rather than 'Bondage'.
... my equipment comes from local hardware and surplus stores rather than sex toy catalogues (I admitted that when I first wrote to FETTERS).

... Master/slave-type SM action isn't for me but the macho stereotypes from DRUMMER turn me on if they act right as well as look right.
... fighting for control ... once gained, exercising control of another man imaginatively ... and risking suddenly becoming the one being controlled.
... wrapping, strapping, sweating, struggling, roping, teasing, testing, goading.
... inventing surprises and being able to deal with surprises dreamed up by men perhaps with special training like police, loggers, paramedics
... guys more ingenious or with a sense of humour more diabolical than mine.

Experimental joint enterprises like two men of equal strength and physical ability agreeing to a strenuous wrestling bout each with a fat dildo strapped up the ass, plus padded athletic crotch protectors imprisoning heavily taped up cock and balls. First man to achieve a submission gets to do whatever he decides to do for an agreed period or whatever time is available.

Being forced to work up a sweat encased head to foot in a heavy rubber divers suit with the heating turned full up may be the price paid for losing a hand at cards or at the toss of a coin.

Taking a camping trip with two or more good buddies each prepared to test their hunting skills, physical endurance and determination to come out on top. This may not sound to you the stuff your erotic dreams are made of. Maybe you should let me know, Jim!

Back to my list of games
:

... Dildos, vibrators, electro-massagers imaginatively applied
... Tit-clamps, clothes pins by the dozen all over then made to squirm
... improvised chastity devises locked on under jogging clothes or work clothes in public places; on the back of a motor cycle in leather and boots (You were right ... nobody can see the plugged butt and the gag under the crash hat, but on a bumpy country lane it's quite a trip. Thanks for the suggestion.)

So now, can you describe the men who can invent and survive such games queers or faggots? They may be masochistic, kinky perverted bastards or just plain nutcases but ... I guess you're right I'm just a pathetic Closet Case. OK, so the fact that they will fuck given adequate protection, will suck (perhaps only when forced), does technically make them (me) homosexual. And the tactile sensuality and the erotic appeal of some of our wham-bang games may be off-the-wall ... but believe me some of the most violent orgasms I've ever had have been when I've been powerless to resist, avoid or control the action. Most of the guys who've achieved these results admit they're turned on by the erotic side of these violent games we work out together. Would you describe them as Gay ? Am I splitting hairs to call them homo-sensual rather than homosexual.

My main point is - is there any established category in either straight or gay culture where such men comfortably fit? Believe me, after seven years of correspondence and game-playing I can tell you there are a lot of us out there. Unfortunately, too many good men will hesitate for ever - never allow themselves to be what they naturally are ... never finding soul-mates or playmates ... maybe trapped into unfulfilled conventional relationships. Luck for me - I found my own way - and stick to my own path.

You asked about the risks of leading a double life. Of course there are risks - and one day the shit may hit the fan. Somebody, out of spite or because they've been tempted and chickened out, may blow the whistle on me to neighbours, workmates or family. I'll deal with that when it happens. Until then, a very private grapevine quite regularly brings me new playmates, often with new and way-out games they like to play. By phone, modem and good old US mail we exchange ideas. You'd be surprised how far some guys will travel - and I cover a lot of territory to indulge in games which we invent for ourselves (and sometimes lift from the pages of fiction .... specially the stuff you've sent me).

Today I still read the strictly macho male homosexual magazines where, although the Editorials state that they try to cater for all tastes ... I still wonder how strongly they influence the tastes of people who fail to find their ideal role models there. Recently a few stories by writers such as Victor Terry and in BOUND & GAGED ring bells for me. Now I know where I'm at - I can disregard the inevitable master/slave role playing and the interminable slurp and suck action in most fiction and Gay male videos. What I used to think of as my limitations, I now recognise as preferences. Most importantly, I am no longer intimidated by the implied message that unless you're willing to publicly commit yourself to a DRUMMER lifestyle you fail to qualify for full membership. A lot of very private people know that being Gay need not be an all or nothing deal. There must be thousands of men like me who have too much to loose to Come Out publicly. The gay Media fails to recognise that - so a lot of potentially available hot men who enjoy Mansex steer clear of the whole Gay Scene.

Maybe as a matter of Gay Politics I should let it all hang out - but maybe the gay political activists have, in their public relations exercises, failed men like me. The image of the homosexual male is still too narrow - or maybe too extreme. I disagree with much written by Marshall Kirk & Hunter Madson in their book 'AFTER THE BALL' but there is some logic behind the argument that low profile homosexuality is, for a lot of people, easier to live with. I almost titled this article 'COMING OUT or STAYING HOME?'. A tough choice. I prefer not to declare myself at the expense of so much that I'm used to and happy with. I don't want to freak-out my neighbours by stomping in and out of my house in Bar Leathers, rubber or sequins. OK, that's my problem but also my prerogative. I certainly don't want to subject my kids or my friends to the trauma of what to them would be so difficult to get their minds around. I guess they could handle it - but why should I hit them with it unnecessarily? Many Gay Men would condemn me for making this choice of keeping one foot firmly in the closet. Maybe they have more commitment to The Cause than me, but perhaps they also have less broadly based social lives. I am the missing link in the gallery of sexual iconography (as you put it) - but I'm not as rare a breed as I at first thought. I've already met lots more of my own kind - and I suspect that there are many, many more waiting until a few more barriers are lowered. How can this happen?

Maybe in the fetish oriented hetero magazines, more personal case histories of a men with suppressed homosexual fantasies could be explored. Maybe some bi-men would be exclusively gay if they could handle better the social and psychological problems involved. That takes us back to appropriate Role Models or even a descriptive name, for God's sake! I know from experience that suppressed sexual drives can take you over in socially unacceptable ways - ask my ex-wife. It took me a lot of unhappy years to get to where I'm at - and a source of relevant information and suitable buddy-fucking role models would have helped me make some of the connections it took me too long to discover for myself. Women reading what I've written here may react with resentment, or sense a challenge that they could deal with me in a way I'd respond to sexually. Maybe so. I still have women friends, but I make no concessions when it comes to the sort of sexual horseplay I most enjoy.

Maybe there are also a lot of women who after social expectations have funnelled them into the narrow passage of inevitable marriage, mortgage and kids to chore for ... decide that they don't even like men as permanent live-in liabilities. Maybe, like me, they may someday wake up to the fact that they've been conned by Middle America and that, in spite of all the sexual indoctrination they absorbed unconsciously, they don't even particularly like what they've been told is 'normal' sex. In recent years I've socialised with several divorced or separated women who are not only NOT looking for a new man, they're no longer looking for sex. Sometimes that's sad because they can't face considering the possible alternative - sex with their own kind. That they could find more sexual fulfilment with a woman rather than a man is sometimes an idea blocked only by social conditioning. On the other hand ... some basically hetero magazines (even quite raunchy ones) find lesbian scenarios more acceptable than ones about men with erotic fantasies about other men. Why is that, I wonder?

END

 

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LETTERS FROM THE FETTERS FILES


 

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