Gay Atlanta guy reveals phone-sex worker past

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Long before Grindr, Scruff and the like, gay men would turn to the back of LGBT mags to find ads promising to deliver their fantasies over the phone. Atlanta’s own Mark King was on the other end of the line.

To honor National Masturbation Month – “Hurry, folks! Only a few days left to celebrate!” – King writes about his long lost past as a struggling actor in Los Angeles. Years before he was creating dust-ups over HIV issues, King was doing Popeye’s commercials by day and helping guys get themselves off by night. 

The logistics of dialing and waiting is interesting, anthropologically speaking. But like any gay sex, getting to the ultimate payoff also kind of hot.

My job was to sound credible in roles ranging from cocky Venice Beach bodybuilder to volunteer firefighter to leather daddy, and manipulate the customer toward the prime objective within the typical call duration of thirteen minutes. It helped if I could convince him that our connection was mutually mind-blowing to help ensure he would call again.

But more than a view of hookups past, King’s recollections are a wide-open window onto a whole other gay era in the “Old West” of the early '80s. And not so surprisingly, lessons in his past can apply to some of our stubborn obstacles today. He learned a lot about the nature of gay male fantasies and the roots of loneliness.

Their desires were not so bizarre that they had to resort to phone sex to speak of them. Their requests were simple and almost touchingly mundane. “Touch me there. Let me tell you what I think about. Watch me do this.”

I learned a lot about what makes gay men tick. Yes, we have a size fixation. My clients wanted everything supersized, from muscles to dick to sexual prowess. But I soon realized that these were surface interests. They asked for what they saw in porn flicks, but it wasn’t what ultimately satisfied them.

They wanted something bigger, more masculine, and better hung than themselves because it was their way of asking to be taken care of, to be released of their own worries and responsibilities and turn over the driving to someone else. Any of us can recognize that need, and the loving act we perform when we provide it to our partner.

After thousands of calls, King gave it up because, as he puts it, he was “being taken into the confidence of all of these men and giving them bullshit in return.”

Today, what I remember most is the sound of men chasing a glancing, counterfeit intimacy because it was all life would afford them, and hearing their desire for something lasting in life and their doubts about finding it. And I am haunted, deeply and forever, by the sound of profound longing in their voices.

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