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Sex: The Multiplicity of Desire


Vanilla, Hunts Point.  

“My philosophy is that you’re a human being still,” Rebecca says, comparing her dungeon to others in the city, where, she explains, the women never come out of character, savagely beating the men, so that it is not unusual for the clients to end up with horrible bruising and even broken bones. She and her husband, a psychologist practicing on Long Island, frequented all sorts of dungeons before deciding to open this “polite dungeon” of their own, the Hidden Chamber, in 1996.

“We treat our clients as we would want to be treated,” she says. There is no sexual contact whatsoever; the girls do not typically undress. It is a cerebral thing,” she says, and they all agree vigorously. “It’s not about sex. It’s more like a form of therapy.” Rebecca says she’s hired them as much for their intelligence—their ability to carry on an extended, highly creative conversation—as their looks.

This, they say, is what the men are like: Almost always they are married. Sometimes their wives know. They are typically white (sometimes Asian), many are Jewish, most are middle-aged. They are doctors, attorneys, executives, businessmen. They come on work breaks or after work; Natalia likens it to women and pedicures. They spend the vast majority of the time talking. Many want to wear women’s clothes, often not sexy but matronly ones, and be humiliated. Humiliation includes spanking and systematic insults, sometimes proffered by the girls, occasionally received by them. As we’re talking, a client of Rebecca’s arrives. She says it is not a problem, we can keep talking; making him wait can be part of his session.

An hourlong session usually consists of the man sitting beside them on the couch, dialoguing a scenario, primarily “tease and denial,” which ends with him masturbating himself. Mother-son is common. So is sister-brother. There is, as well, father-daughter. Adult-child. Human-dog. Hospital (particularly common with physicians or the sickly). Robot-human. Alien-human (a spaceship has crashed on Earth: “I hear you aliens are big sluts … ”). For eighteen years, one man indulged the same fantasy: His girlfriend was forcing him to suck another man’s penis, to swallow his semen; the mistress would squirt soy milk in his mouth to simulate ejaculation. Another arrived with five pages of typed dialogue, which Natalia memorized and repeats verbatim each time. Natalia’s most difficult session involved a black professional who wanted to be racially humiliated in a slave-master scenario. This is what he wanted her to say: “Don’t you want this hot white pussy? Too bad you’ll never get it, you dirty nigger.” “It was not,” she realizes now, “about me. My only purpose is to help them through what they enjoy.”

Rebecca leaves, then returns a few minutes later. Her thick brown hair has been let loose, her lips are bright red, her attire a mixture of sex and business suit. She says it is rare she sees clients anymore (she is, she acknowledges, “no spring chicken”), but some, including this one, are longtime regulars. She advises me not to worry about what I’m about to hear, it will not hurt as badly as it seems, she can enjoy it. The girls return to their couches in the living room with the Rottweiler, waiting for the bell to sound or phone to ring, half-watching Bob’s Burgers on an iPad or surfing the Internet, a copy of the Steve Jobs biography on the couch. As I tour a few of the empty rooms, lingering over a recent issue of Newcummers, there is a sound from behind the doors far down the hallway: paddle smacking skin. Rebecca’s voice shouts, quivering, “One … two … three—Oh, no, I’m a bad girl—four … five … six … seven … eight … nine … ten … ”

Straight, Gay, Bi, and Curious
Plotting a seduction at a dinner party, Red Hook.

Nutty, 38, self-described “curvy,” with short, brown hair, a project manager for a design-build firm, is, though she does not want to admit it, thinking about a girl we’ll call Kelly. She’d texted her earlier and invited her to late-night karaoke, though she knew Kelly’s parents are visiting; Kelly had texted back that she’d try to make it. Nutty is hosting a dinner party, her loft lit dimly, her iPod shuffling—New Order is playing—her friends at her kitchen table laughing and talking, in the distance the fog horns of Red Hook occasionally sounding.

Kelly, she knows, is nothing approximating the love of her life. That woman was older, bombastic, brilliant, Jewish, “glorious,” with long legs, big boobs, big hair, and a Ph.D., whom she’d met in New York years ago—their first date a screening of North by Northwest at bam. Nutty had followed her to New Mexico when a too-good-to-pass-up university position opened, and they’d lived together in a small desert town with two dogs; it had been their little oasis, until it wasn’t. Nutty still holds out hope they’ll end up together, happily ever after, one day. Which leaves this meantime.


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