[NSFW/TMI warnings etc]
I feel almost guilty that I’m starting yet another post by writing about how much I love London, but it’s my blog, so I’ll do it anyway.
Today I saw a woman wearing green lipstick. She wasn’t dressed up as a witch or anything. She was just popping out to the shops in her bright green lippy. It’s just the best.
And don’t get me started on Foyle’s bookshop on Charing Cross Road. Mother of the Divine. It’s so big. So big. And so well laid-out. And so, so many books. My litmus test for bookshops is always the same. Do they have any books by Christopher Isherwood besides the Berlin novels and A Single Man? Foyle’s has loads. They even have two copies of All The Conspirators. Nowhere stocks All The Conspirators. But Foyle’s does. I could literally live there. They have everything. Everything. Sometimes in multiple editions.
When people heard that I had no hours at work in my last week in London, they had all kinds of advice. I met three different friends last week and they told me about museums I should see and shops I should go to. I’ve been in London, the city with the world’s greatest museums, for almost two months and I still haven’t been to one of them. Well, I lie. One day I needed somewhere to sit down and I couldn’t afford to go to a cafe, so I went into the British Museum and had a nice sit down on a bench inside the entrance.
I will go to the museums eventually. I really will. It’s just I’m happy to spend my free time on the internet. Maybe I shouldn’t be, but I am. That said, I had made one promise to myself. I couldn’t continue the ridiculousness of being a London resident who had never seen Big Ben (other than from a bus). And it’s going to be under scaffolding from January, so there’s added urgency to this quest.
I made another promise to myself too. I was going to give myself a man for Christmas. I needed some man-time before I disappeared to sexless Cork for the holidays and after my initial three weeks of sleeping around when I arrived in London, things have been far too quiet on the man front.
I got an ad to my Growlr app on Friday for a club night on Saturday that I’d never heard of before, called Paunchy Club. The ad said it was “for chunkier guys and admirers who want a raunchy night out without hassle or attitude.” The ad also said “Big bellies welcome. Builder’s bum encouraged.”
London is already home of Europe’s biggest bears’ club (XXL) twice a week anyway. XXL costs £18 though. I haven’t had a Saturday night yet where I had both the money and the inclination to go there. Paunchy was only £8. I could do that. And a fat gay men’s club night would be another string I could add to my bow of London experiences before I went home. (Before I move on, can we pause and marvel at the fact that there are two different clubs on the same night aimed primarily at fat gay men in this city. It truly is amazing.)
I didn’t particularly like the sound of it. Nowhere should encourage builder’s bums. That’s not sexy. And “paunchy” isn’t a label I’d embrace either. The club is called Ted’s Place and it hosts a number of “niche” nights, including naked parties. It was all very illicit and grubby and exciting and terrifying.
I used to try going to gay pubs and clubs alone before. When I lived in Poland, I would sometimes show up at local gay bars alone, drink a solitary pint, play snake on my phone and leave while all the skinny men kissed each other. When I first moved to Dublin, I used to occasionally go to the Dragon alone too. And though there was definitely a wider variety of men there, I would rarely talk to anyone.
The club night started at 9:00. But I didn’t want to be one of those nerds who arrives early. I waited till 10:30 and got the Tube. I should have had a few drinks first. I felt like a teenager on their way to the birthday party of a new friend whose group I didn’t know well.
I was cursing my body. I am living in two minds these days. Having spent my whole life being taught to hate being fat and to find fat deeply unsexy, I naturally incline towards being repulsed by myself. And while I still desperately want to be thin, I have been trying hard to live in the moment since I came to London and lean into the whole fat-is-sexy thing.
But I hate the cultural side of the fat gay scene. I’d seen pictures of the club on their site. It’s all beards and leather and checked shirts. The best thing about being gay is that you get to be a fairy princess, but the fat gay scene doesn’t hold with that at all. One of the profiles on many of the sites I’m on for meeting men happens to mention Taylor Swift and so every single guy’s first comment is that they don’t like Taylor Swift. I was dreading facing into a night of Rammstein and sweat and all I want is glitter and cupcakes and S Club 7. If there’s one thing you know for sure from looking at Paunchy Club’s website, it’s that they don’t play S Club 7.
I got out of the train at the station. It’s not an area I’d been in before. It felt a bit grubbier and a bit more stabby than anywhere I’d been in London before. I walked to the address for the club. It’s a black door tucked between two closed shops, with no sign and a bell with a note saying “Ring here”. It screamed “seedy” so hard.
I chickened out. Of course I did. I walked back to the Tube and went for a kebab instead.
I’ll go again. Except maybe I’ll have a drink or two first. And maybe I’ll find a man on one of my apps to go with me. The “seedy” element is both unattractive and attractive simultaneously.
Anyway, I wasn’t going to break my Christmas promise to myself. I was determined to get my Christmas man.
I was back online and chatting to men on Sunday. I was still just waiting for men to contact me and replying to them. I haven’t taken the lead with a single guy since I got to London. They’ve been doing all the chasing. Seriously, Bethlehem can go blow one. This is the city of miracles.
I was talking to one particularly cute guy who asked if we could meet up. He’d been in touch with me before and I liked him because he was forward and didn’t beat around the bush. And also because he was muscly and hot and beautiful. One thing that was odd was that he always wanted to talk on the phone. Now, phonecalls are the worst type of interactions in the world, so I made my excuses every time, but we managed to arrange a meet-up for Monday night.
One thing that worried me about this guy was that he primarily identified as an “encourager”. An encourager is someone who primarily gains sexual gratification from helping/encouraging/forcing another man to gain weight. Most of the men I’ve been with have been “chasers” i.e. men who chase chubbies, rather than “encouragers”, but I’ve had lots of fun conversations online with encouragers and in London I say yes, so I only had a few misgivings. I think food in the bedroom can be hot, so how bad could it be?
The thing about encouragers is, though, that they don’t ask the same questions as the other boys. It’s not a matter of “is it OK if I bring some chocolate to feed you?” which I’m fine with. It’s much more technical than that. They want to know your exact weight and your exact waist measurements. They want to know how fast you’ve gained weight in the past, and what exactly you eat, and what foods make you gain faster. I think they’re masturbating while asking me these questions. I’m not sure. This guy wanted to know my goal weight and to help me get fatter and reach it. Human sexuality is a vast wonderland. I’ve heard stories of fat guys arriving at a meet-up, thinking they’re going to sleep with someone, and in fact just getting stripped and measured and weighed before being given a new goal weight and sent away, maybe after a fatty dinner. It’s like inverse WeightWatchers.
It’s not what I want. I think this nice young muscly man wanted to talk to me on the phone to get himself off on talking about how I could gain weight. I didn’t close off the options of meeting him, but I did wait to see what else came in.
Yesterday (Monday) morning, a man contacted me. It was his third time trying to get in touch with me, but he’d got lost in the flood of messages previously and I hadn’t replied. This time I answered. He was Spanish (nationality number 5 since arriving here!), and a bit older than me, but he was very friendly and nice and seemed to want to actually do sex things to me and not just fatten me up. We chatted and he asked if we could meet up almost immediately. OK. This was on, and this was better than the muscly encourager. I agreed, telling him we’d need to meet at his, as I’m living in a hostel. He lives too far away and he suggested we meet at a gay sauna.
Wow! A gay sauna. There’s one in Dublin that I’ve never been to. I’ve always been too afraid. They’re just such overtly sexual places and not for the likes of a Connor. But this is Brand New London Connor and nothing’s going to stop me now.
He lived too far away to meet in the evening and asked if we could meet at 4:30 pm. This was going to make everything a rush. I agreed and left the cafe where I’d been working on my online courses. I had two hours and he texted me about every thirty minutes with an excited countdown to when we’d meet. It’s nice to be the prize.
I got the Tube to Westminster and fulfilled my first Christmas promise to myself. I came out of the station, took a selfie in front of scaffolding-free Big Ben, made it my Facebook profile picture and got back on the Tube to my hostel so I could have a proper wash before meeting my new man. I’m such a bad tourist. I will see London properly soon, honest.
I was five minutes late to meet my new man outside the sauna. He greeted me with a lovely big hug, and I realised almost immediately that he was deaf. So many new experiences in one day! As we walked into the sauna, I thought about the indie movie I was basically starring in – a deaf man and an obese man from two different countries come together in a sauna in the metropolis. It’s got Sundance written all over it.
The sauna is just there on the side of the street, right in the open, right next to the Tube station, with giant rainbow flags and big confident signage, nothing like the secretive club I hadn’t gone to on Saturday night.
We each paid our money and were handed two white towels and we walked through to the locker room. We were completely naked within three minutes of meeting. Straight people don’t do this. Or at least I don’t think they do. And definitely not at 4:30 on a Monday afternoon in December. We put our clothes in a locker. He wrapped his towel around his waist. The towels they’d given us didn’t fit around me, so I shrugged and just slung it on my shoulder and proceeded naked. The place wasn’t particularly crowded, but it was clear that nudity was no big deal here. We had a quick shower and went to find a private cubicle. He grabbed an intimidating number of condoms and lube packs from the baskets in the corridor.
There are no words for the cubicle. OMG just isn’t a big enough expression. The whole cubicle was about the size of a small double bed. There was a thin foam pad on the ground with a (fake?) leather coating. There was a tissue dispenser fixed to the wall and a bin in the corner. It was lit with a red light, and there were mirrors on three out of four walls and on the ceiling. It’s far from Ballincollig I’ve come. This was a room designed solely for the purposes of sex, and no pretence about it at all at all.
I recommend doing sex stuff surrounded by mirrors. It helps you to be realistic about your body, from all angles, and isn’t anything as scary as you might think. I would say it’s outside my comfort zone, but it’s not. My comfort zone has gotten a hell of a lot bigger since I arrived here.
I’ll say nothing else about our lovely time in the cubicle, other than the fact that we spent over two hours in there (!) and that he managed to achieve finality twice in that time. I’m telling you, I’m quite the prize! I’ll have to stop showing off about this soon. But not just yet. It’s still too exciting.
After we’d done, we went for a shower. On the way, my man took me for a tour of the rest of the facilities. I’m happy to report that there are actual saunas in the gay sauna. There’s also a very tempting large hot tub. And lots of naked men, of a variety of ages, shapes and sizes. There were open areas too. We passed one area where there was porn playing on a big screen and five men on big bench-type things doing sex together. Five of them! Group sex on a Monday afternoon! Mother of God! I only looked for a minute though. I didn’t want to be crass, especially to the nice Spanish man I’d just spent two hours with.
We went for a shower. There were two other men in the shower room and they watched while my new man friend gently washed my back and below. I literally have no words to express how new all this is for me. And I kept on thinking, “it’s a Monday!” as if that made any difference, but it somehow made it all the more miraculous to me.
We got dressed again. We were getting the same Tube as far as Oxford Circus. We chatted in the Tube. When there’s a language barrier, as well as a hearing disability, you just can’t make your post-coital conversation as quiet as you might like in a crowded Tube. It’s lucky my comfort zone has got so much bigger.
When it was time for me to get off the train, I kissed him on the cheek, like it was normal, and left. He blew me a kiss out the window.
I got my Christmas present. It’s all good.
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