Spinning out of control – sex addicts using drugs – Cover Story

Doug Sadownick

For some sex addicts, sex alone isn’t enough of a high. They turn to crystal meth, a form of speed that doubles as an aphrodisiac. Here is a snapshot of what that experience can be like

This blond, blue-eyed pinball wizard tweaking on crystal methamphetamine says his name is Tommy. He’s been scoring jackpots (among other things) for the last two hours and singing songs from the Who at the top of his lungs. Ding! Ding! wails the pinball machine, and no doubt bells are ringing in Tommy’s head too.

Men–some in leather chaps, others in Gap khaki–come by and stick a hand in some guy’s pocket while jamming a few bills in the other. Everyone’s bumping and grinding hard-to-hear come-ons. The bar is packed with anxious, fast-moving, mostly handsome muscle men who are between 25 and 45. Their noses are dripping, and their eyes are bloodshot, pupils dilated.

Welcome to the crystal den extraordinaire: an ugly, poorly lit, rather large box of a place with a pool table, a bar (although the tweakers are all drinking water), a stinky bathroom, and a throbbing techno sound track. It happens to be in Hollywood, Calif., but other big cities–particularly on the West Coast–have bars like this too. These bars attract equal parts street urchins (one just out of the hospital for an overdose) and “A-list” gays planning their circuit-party extravaganzas (and one his soap opera deal). There’s a handful of lesbians and a few stray straights looking to pocket some tweak. But what connects most of them is the speed, which has combined with parts of their minds to make them obsess on hard-core, fast-moving, very nasty sex that makes most “voracious bottoms.”

It can be Wednesday night or Saturday night–that is irrelevant. Only the time and urgency matter. Nobody’s slept for hours, days even, yet everyone acts as if he just woke up. Few walk into this place without having done a couple of bumps of “hydro “or” glass, “different versions of this cheap, long-lasting form of speed. As Tommy puts it: “This is the only, um, public place where it’s OK, man, to be a pig about getting what you want–in other words, as my therapist says, needing and being needed, you know, the only place where it’s OK that men want parts of each other–fists, breasts, feces, cocks, you know what I mean?–rather than wholes, and that’s the basic, um, truth–and crystal just lets you need and need and need and need, and that’s OK, you know?”

There is a basic truth going on tonight, and it has to do with something one man–Greg–in a Raiders cap secretly calls “going primitive.” The more conservative and assimilated gay life has become in the `90s–and the more stunned gay men remain from stigma and AIDS–the more hungry gay men are, in Greg’s words, to “pig out without feeling bad about it.”

But he wants more than just nasty sex. He wants something his mundane life doesn’t give him. The drugs, he says, take away his inhibitions, extract guilt, and make him feel sexy and desirable in a way nothing else does. “It’s a chemistry thing, ” Greg says, spotting another man whom he will soon take home. “Just seeing someone under the influence creates a sexual experience for me. “He is attracted only to other men on crystal now because of that mutually heightened state of awareness where every pore feels as if it’s coming–the click is so intense with these men that it’s easy to forgo the negotiations around “condom this” or “boyfriend that.”

Unlike many stereotypes that say crystal users are soulless, mean, avaricious, and uninterested in the other person, the crowd tonight is quite friendly, if a little on the edgy side. There is no hint of attitude. There may be attention deficit disorder but not the vicious hierarchy you can see in Boys Town between the whites and the blacks, the HIV-negatives and the HIV-positives, the young and the old. Here, the nastier you are about your sexual perversions, the more you’re accepted.

The intensity of the sex that crystal offers along with its relative cheapness is what the men here talk about: getting tied up, fucking someone with a dildo, or pissing on someone if that’s what you feel at the moment.

Tommy lavishes praise on “pig sex.” Bottoming out in the fastest way possible becomes the modus operandi of crystal users. One man says he cries in despair when his lover comes; he can’t get enough. A massively built lumberjack with a broken arm says he broke it while getting fisted when the man he was fisting moved in the wrong direction.

The drug equalizes, speeds up, and boosts morale tonight. A Latino man from El Monte, Calif., had been very withdrawn, but after a visit to the bathroom he walks up to a wholesome-looking gym rat wearing a button-down shirt, and the two become buds at once; both are snorters, or “tooters.” A self-professed slammer (someone who injects crystal) approaches a man who has done a “booty bump” by dissolving crystal in water and squirting it up his anus. What they have in common is the deliciously aching hunger for the initial high–and then the instant penetration–to which they’ve become attached. A bunch of guys congregate outside to smoke cigarettes, and, through euphemisms, you can tell that what they like is smoking crystal: It goes directly into the bloodstream via the lungs without the problem of sore noses.

A former hustler who has been at this bar every night this week says “crystal dick” isn’t a problem for him, but he has seen others rub their dicks so raw that they bleed. One man who ultimately lost his home after his life sped out of control from being a crystal addict talks about intensified orgasms-that feel like seizures. When he’s not having sex, he sleeps in his car. Another waxes eloquently about the lubricant that stays wet the longest. Tommy says that at a crystal orgy the most popular men are the ones who can get fucked even after they come.

It’s 4 a.m. Needing attachment and fearing it, equating sex with death, and using crystal to take their minds off that equation, these men are on the make either with each other or the drug itself. The drug has become personified in the room as an invisible phallus, just like the pounding music. There are those who are apparently worshiping that.

Like Tommy. He is back at his pinball machine, licking his dry lips at just about no one but in an apparent reverie. The guy hasn’t eaten or slept for four days. He knows his life is spinning out of control. He’ll probably lose his job, And when the depression comes he’ll turn back to the drug. It’s his life: lessening pain, amplifying sensory perceptions, reducing boredom. See me. Feel me. Touch me.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Liberation Publications, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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