Men, I watch the reflection of as I look into glass-fronted pictures at art exhibitions.
Men, I am too shy to openly direct my attentions toward. Sexual tensions are only a moment in manifestation, before repression wells up inside like a marshmallow monster.
As I walked through the exhibition Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, I remembered all the times I watched someone in their bathroom behind a frosted or distorted glass window, or someone watching someone else, ignorant of himself in turn being watched, or hesitated when walking by a slightly-ajar door to capture the shapes and shadows within, or looked out of my window and seen a man sitting topless at his desk in an apartment below and opposite, and waited and watched until he stood up and demonstrated his pink, fleshy nakedness. I remembered the reflection in a puddle on the floor of a man masturbating his beautiful cock in the cubicle next to me at Birmingham New Street station. Fear and shame precluded me from action, but now I realise that post-exposure, where no glory hole can be found, a little strategically directed piss on the floor can facilitate the desire of a man, above all, to be objectified, sexualised, worshipped, fucked.
Pre- the World Wide Web, men have not been used to being objectified, perhaps since the Romans, and still aren’t, save for a minority of top-shelf magazines.
In the early days of candid photography, people were so much more innocent. In the main, they couldn’t afford a studio photographer’s portrait services, and didn’t know how to act or pose; there was less access to cinema and imagery to teach people how to make clichés of themselves. Subjects were freer, and must have found the interest of a man with a camera as a special honour rather than an intrusion.
In this democracy, in which we all possess cinematic, literary, visual, musical and voyeuristic minds, we all know how to be watched. I long to return to the era before twenty-four-hour, multi-channel TV and movies-on-demand, YouTube and Big Brother, before everyone stopped pretending and posing like their favourite star, being instead themselves, quite deserving the fifteen minutes of fame (they were denied for being ordinary and uninteresting) for being unique and expressive, and human.
I watch men on tube trains and buses, ordinary men whom no one else would afford more than a glance (or so I thought; various of my friends share the same nondescript tastes). I look, awaken him to my attention, and he looks back, but catches himself, and looks away. Yet his body language orients him towards me; he even steps nearer, and on a packed bus, stands in front and adjacent, and close to my knee, the very leg hairs within my jeans standing up to reach out to his. He opens up his body by holding onto the ceiling rails on both sides. A girl in front accidentally knocks into him with her backpack. They smile at each other politely, but for a split-second longer than necessary. The hard-on I gave him is now directed into her.
Ignoring him therein, I don’t even look up until I notice that he has alighted the bus. But now there is another man, who is yet to realise and maybe never will, that while he looks all around for women to fuck, I’m the one who’ll suck.
Less aware than the previous guy, I consider him in profile, the slightly flat back of his head suggesting an Eastern European regionality. He is thick-set and physical, and slightly dusty, a workman, maybe a builder. His beautiful nose is a perfect length and width, curving slightly outwards in the middle and ending in a curt, soft stub, implying a taut, hard cock. I tell myself to engage him in conversation, find out what makes him smile, what makes him happy; look into his eyes and see how comfortable he is, and how long it takes him to nestle into the cradle of my gaze; taste his mouth, embrace him and teach him how to drink me in. I keep it in my head. I want to know what his ass is like, open. He glances at me for the first time, and when the seat next to me becomes vacant, sits down. He smokes. I can smell it on him. I lose the idea of him.
One of the most memorable images in the Exposed show is of a female photographer cowering with one hand yet holding out her camera with the other to capture a monstrous Jack Nicholson attacking her with a golf club. I would hate to put myself at that level of risk just to take a picture, but do know what it is to be surreptitious, and have the heart race, and the palms sweat.
I was recently sent on a press trip to Hamburg, where I indulged myself in the wall-to-wall sex on offer with careless abandon (not that careless, I was safe). My holiday (how can they send a man like me on a press trip to Hamburg during Pride and expect me to be a well-behaved ambassador?) began the moment I stepped onto the Piccadilly Line, threw down my weekend bag in the luggage recess and sat down next to it, diagonally opposite a beautiful older man, again thick-set and potent-looking, with the neck of a bear and forearms like hams-on-the-bone, and massive thighs, between which sat, seemingly breathing and pulsing independently from the rest of his body, an enormous packet.
Moreover, he was asleep, or rather snoozing, in the manner we all occasionally find ourselves doing, in the middle of the day, waking up at each stop to assure ourselves that we haven’t passed irredeemably into some strange other dimension courtesy of our sketchy daydreams, before powerlessly nodding back into semi-oblivion. It afforded me the opportunity to watch him from behind my slightly tinted Cazals, without any fear of being noticed. I couldn’t help but seize upon a further opportunity.
|Man on the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Terminals 4 and 1,2,3|
A few months earlier, I was on an N29 night bus back home from Soho, sitting in the one of the four facing seats at the front, opposite a foreign man of indeterminate nationality, maybe Albanian, and an old Chinawoman. The man, dressed sloppily in regular-fit jeans and a tight T-shirt not quite long enough to cover his moderately hairy paunch, appeared terribly drunk, like a cartoon character burping intoxicated bubbles. He looked upon the vex-faced Chinawoman as if she were the object of his sexual desire, vaguely and longingly. Across in the other set of facing seats were two bare-legged chav-girls coming home from a night dancing, wearing cheap platform heels and very short, butt-skimming dresses, seemingly teasing the Albanian – who clumsily flitted his attentions between the tense old Chinawoman and the two girls – by opening and closing their legs subtly, as if to gently spray the perfume of their pussies in his direction (à la Glade plug-ins). So keen was he to see the source of this reference, up one of the girls’ skirts, that he leaned out into the aisle just as the bus turned a corner, sending him crashing out of his seat with a cushioned thud (courtesy of his meaty right shoulder) that almost sobered him up, but not quite. Like an old man holding back a heart attack, he clambered red-faced into his seat, folded his arms, nestled his ass, and fell asleep, as if nothing had happened.
Very soon the old Chinawoman got up, and got off the bus. Appearing for that moment almost completely sober, he shifted across and took her place opposite me, and fell asleep again. Immediately I noticed – why hadn’t I before? – the great lump in his trousers, an apparent semi-erection curving down between his legs, and pulsing. I appraised my current situation, sat on a bus with earphones in, listening to New Order on my iPhone (and therefore blocking out the drunken reveries that resonate like every bar and club you’d never be caught dead in, in one enclosed space), sitting opposite a man whose knee is touching mine, his legs apart, revealing a tanned slice of beer belly and a swollen cock barely restrained in the worn fabric of his jeans. My iPhone has a camera, and with my earphones in, I can pretend to be scrolling through iTunes while I capture the monster within:
|Man on the N29|
|Man on the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Terminals 4 and 1,2,3 (2)|
Having achieved this, it was still with the tension of a thief that I took out my iPhone and blatantly shot twenty-nine frames and four video clips of the man on the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Terminals 4, and 1,2,3, even in the moments he sat awake, and shifted position, his heavy cock and balls apparently the immovable pivot around which the rest of his beefy body rotated. All along I feared being whistle-blown by an outraged fellow passenger, but I was allowed to steal freely. I shot him as he slept, as he woke, as he shifted forwards, as he opened and closed his legs, as he listened out for information when we were held at Hounslow, as he scratched himself.
Like a man from times they talk about when men were really men, his heftiness implied the presence of a labourer, although polished and ready to travel. It was then that I noticed he was wearing a beautiful watch, and had a copy of The Times folded up in a side pocket of his outdoor-purpose backpack. As much as I believe in a ‘working-class intelligentsia’ (thank you, Dr. Jim), I have not spotted any builders reading quality dailies. This was a refined, cultured, silver daddy of a man, with the masculinity of a bull, i.e. the man of my dreams, and much as I had to steal from him, he’s now mine forever.