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Sex: The Multiplicity of Desire


“Writer?” he asks.

I tell him I am.

“Me too,” he says.

The girl returns quickly. He asks her if she’s going home. She says yes, gesturing to the girl she’s come here with on the other side of the bar, and then asks him why. He laughs. She laughs. They make a similar face. The girl says she’ll be right back, navigating around a guy wearing a Santa hat screaming at a girl wearing something resembling a burlap sack, cinched at the waist: “OhmyGod, you’re so fucking hot!”

She’s back. “Well?” the guy asks. “Well?” she answers. She pulls his head down, knocking off his cap, sticking her tongue back in his mouth. As the guy’s hands sweep furiously across her backside, angrily, almost violently, a voice calls out: “Pool’s closed! Everybody out!” The lights cut on, music cuts off. The girl takes the guy’s hand, leading him into a throng of people clutching tote bags. “She’s taking a cab,” she says, referring to her friend. “Let’s go.”

Among the Podophiliacs, One More Time, With Feeling
Back in Hell’s Kitchen at the gay foot-fetish party.

The man on the floor with the feet on his face increases his jerking. The party’s host suggests I check things out in the bedroom.

There is one covered lamp; it is very dark. On the bed are two men, each moaning and rubbing his penis against and between two other men’s respective feet. There are a few others of us standing there, watching, including a very large man near me in the doorway, who follows me back to the living room a minute later, sitting down on the piano bench beside my chair, as the two other men—both African-American—kneel before me, untying my shoes.

The fat man, in his mid-forties, with disheveled graying hair and aviator glasses, a plum dress shirt tucked into khaki pants pulled high across his globular stomach, keeps rocking forward, clearly wanting to touch me. I clearly do not want him to. Nor, for that matter, am I comfortable with the men now massaging and furiously sniffing. As my argyle socks stick on their way off, I chuckle awkwardly and apologize for my sweating feet, to which they respond with incredulity, since sweat seems part of the appeal. Several others have come in now, including a thin, white-haired man with open sores on his legs who identifies himself as a gym teacher and a young, fit Asian man wearing glasses and jeans, who is, I overhear him telling the man massaging his feet, a physician.

The fat man cannot resist any longer.

He bends at his large waist from the piano bench and begins furtively tapping my feet, stealing rubs in between the other men still massaging and smelling and licking and sucking them. I acknowledge none of this, focusing instead on a guy around my age who’s sitting on the couch next to my chair, a man kneeling before him as well. We are talking. He has never been here before either; he thought up until the very last minute he would bail; he is jet-lagged, having just returned from Brazil for business. I tell him I have been to Brazil. We talk about São Paulo, how strange a city it is, about Brazil’s growth in general. He is friendly, and I do my best to ignore what’s going on with my feet, focusing instead on our conversation and the guy’s eyes, seeing in them—or, reading into them?—some agreement about our ironic distance from this situation. It’s then that he looks down, looks back up, and asks if he can touch, too.


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