Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Spinning out of Control

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Spinning out of Control

Article excerpt

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. …

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