When was your first heartbreak?
Was it your father?
Was it death?
Was it a pet?
When you first saw violence?
When you stayed in silence?
Was it being in the closet?
Was it society?
How do I set the tone?
I feel so
I want a home.
Where there is no fighting.
What happened to family?
Falls for broken kid.
Life works like that.
Shared trauma isn’t love.
But in this story…
in this story.
We run from signs
Sent from above.
We run from reality.
What is love?
What is sex?
Is it just a fleeting emotion to make you feel blessed?
How do kids comprehend stress?
What does it mean to be queer and a teen…
No guidance, no saving from what will be seen.
We see it everyday.
Do we escape?
How do we stop the cycle?
My name is John.
You can call me Jack.
Like my moms dad.
I was fifteen.
He was forty-two.
Fucked for the first time.
Didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.
There goes my innocence.
Can’t turn back again.
Emotions I’d never felt before.
Didn’t know I was wrong.
Now I struggle to be pure.
I swore that he cared.
I wanted it, I loved it, never scared.
Didn’t know it was wrong but the secrets ate me alive.
Just like they do.
Emotions turn to stress.
I was in lust but they say It was molest.
What they say is true.
Now I’m just depressed.
I was fifteen.
He was forty-two.
meeting for the first time.
remember inhaling that big fat line.
inside my mind.
I feel infinity.
just a teen.
what does this mean?
always told drugs are bad…
Why do I feel alive?
dick makes me feel something.
coke makes me feel something.
when I’m regular, I feel nothing.
must be dead inside.
where is it going?
why is it leaving so soon?
don’t wanna feel worse than before.
but when I’m high, I can be pure.
We met in history class.
I wish I could go back.
I would have passed.
James became my best friend.
He sat behind me.
Tried to sell drugs to him.
We became inseparable.
I was infatuated with him.
He was in the closet.
Still dating girls.
But I knew what would happen.
I could see it in his curls.
His hair was soft with a perfect s pattern.
Skin like coffee and eyes that made me dream.
If only you could hear him sing.
I fell in love.
He was an artist.
Every day in class I remember how I wished that time could last.
Just wanted to be with him.
Just wanted to be with him.
Just wanted to be with him.
Our love is undercover
you are dating my friend.
She had hopes for you when.
Our love is undercover.
We fuck on my couch for the very first time.
I never had sex with someone I was in love with before.
This is crazy
I need more.
Our love is undercover.
You tell me keep it secret.
Protected, you’re my lover.
How deep can we go?
I feel you in my soul.
Our love is undercover.
You tell me about the pain you’re in.
We’ve seen the same things since we were kids.
Dads on drugs, family isn’t the same.
Our love was rooted in that name.
We lost our innocence the same exact way.
You tell me about how you do it for pay.
I'll keep your secret safe where we lay.
Our love is undercover.
To the world you are my best friend.
Inside the walls of the bed room you are my mine.
Undercover, underage, under stress, underpaid.
Your love was the start.
I prayed, “Please don’t break my heart.”
I brought James to his house.
I don’t know why.
But I did.
I showed him the man I first had sex with.
It had been a few years.
He had gotten older.
It was a moment of understanding.
A moment of clarity.
Why I am who I am.
The love of my life sitting next to my abuser.
I stared at them both.
Are they both abusers?
The following night James did the same.
The guy he used to fuck.
His man was white.
Mine was black.
Are these men us years into the future?
Alone, drunk, buying love, having sex with young?
I hope not.
He talked about his kids.
His ex wife and the military.
Mine was in the navy.
The parallels kept seeming to draw.
He bought us beer.
We took it back to our friends.
If only they knew who we really were.
What would they think?
But now I know why James is James and he knows why I am me.
We shared our scars.
Bonded our hearts.
And we still loved just the same.
We loved each other.
More than we loved cocaine.
What does it mean to be seventeen?
There was a night back when we first got together, I don’t remember the date but it was cold. Maybe fall or winter? In Jersey, the sky would be so gray during the cold months relating my sadness to the color of the air. James and I had posted an ad on Craigslist offering ourselves for a lot less than we should have. But we were seventeen so didn’t exactly have full clarity of our surroundings. He told me he was used to this and had been doing it for a while so I listened. I was so in love, so infatuated with each other he probably could have convinced me to walk off a cliff... in hindsight he kind of did. So we posted our ad a two for one deal one top and one bottom we knew it would sell. We got a lot of responses our phones blew up quick. All kinds of ugly old men sending us pictures of their dicks promising us money and whatever we wanted. One was ready for us right away so we showered got dressed and jumped in the car. I was nervous, literally scared shitless. What the fuck is happening? But I would just keep looking over to his eyes and he promised me that everything was going to be fine. He promised that everything was going to be okay because he loved me and knew that I would stay. Because my self worth was dependent on his validation. This guys house wasn’t far from where we lived and when he opened the door he quickly made us rush in. Introduced himself i forget his name but damn was he ugly I couldn’t believe I was about to do this. The three of us got in bed together he started sucking my boyfriends dick and I started sucking his and I remember looking up into James’s eyes and he could tell exactly how I felt. He knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do but we kept going. Collected the cash and we left. We got in the car and he told me “I can’t believe how sad you looked” .... I’ll never forget him saying that. Like I was supposed to be happy? This wasn’t love but it was the only thing I had that was close enough. I didn’t wanna cry, I pushed it down and kept my tears inside.
I’ll never forget that night because it was the first time. When I look back that image just plays in my mind I wish I could forget. I think after that alcohol became my best friend. Anything to make me forget did.
detached from what I used to be.
now this is a thing.
we are sex workers.
My boyfriend calls it “booked”,
when we find a client,
a man we can fuck.
He makes it seem fun.
We spend the morning online.
There’s usually arguing.
“Why can’t we live regular lives?”
Slamming the door.
Wishing death upon each other.
Then we get the “book”
The email comes in.
We get the address and go.
In the car we always rehearse different stories.
Make up lives of where we are from and who we are.
Never use our real names.
He holds my hand while I drive.
Tells me he loves me.
His puppy dog eyes are deep like the night, he’s so handsome so perfect, his smile keeps me alive.
Some clients want to watch us fuck.
Some want to fuck me.
Some wanted to be fucked by him.
Do all these men know we are just kids?
We get to a house in a very nice place.
Town homes that Eagles players live in, the lawns are perfect and the cars are new.
He made us watch movies.
Ones from his own childhood.
I think it was Chevy Chase, the Christmas one.
Upstairs we go in the bed.
A full threesome.
We do everything and more.
We take our cash.
He locks the door.
There was something strange.
So we promise not to see him again.
We never go solo.
That’s the rule.
Then one night a few days later, James comes home after being with “friends”.
We fuck for a while then he tells me the truth.
“I just fucked that book for some cash and a bottle”
We drank the whiskey.
He broke the rule.
And then fucked me right after.
This was my happy ever after?
I drank the booze that was earned by deception.
When I swallowed the shot I also swallowed my self esteem.
I wanted to scream.
I wanted to leave.
But I just wanted James to love me.
the solo rule had been broken.
Now all I can ask for is honesty and to be informed at least.
James has a book in Center City.
We both wanted Doc Martens.
This man would get them for us.
I park my car.
I sneak into a bar.
I drink for hours,
by myself while he does what he has to do.
Finally he comes back.
He gets served too.
We get very drunk.
I hold him tight and kiss his face.
Showing off my man to everyone in the room.
I’m proud to be his.
I’m proud of the looks that they give.
We look like the perfect all American gay couple.
But we’re only teens.
We’ve seen more than half the people in this bar have seen.
We open up the shoes.
The smell is so brand new.
Then we leave.
We promised my younger sister we would sneak her to the dance.
She was grounded.
We got her there.
Drunk and sad as I was, my family is number one.
She looks at us like we’re the sun.
My family has no idea who we are at this point.
Our secretes still safe.
In public we look great.
Thought he was gonna hit me that night cuz I wanted to stay in.
He screamed and threw a fit.
Left me to sleep alone.
God knows where he would go.
But we got the shoes.
my first solo:
Picked up down the street.
I walked in the cold, the trees were bare.
I had never been in a Range Rover before.
Lights pass me again and again I’m waiting for one to pull over.
Finally it’s him.
I get in.
His name is Andy.
“How are you, here warm up I’ll turn the seat heaters on,” he tells me.
The heat gets warm and I put my belt on.
“Everything is custom in here I just got this model.” He turns on the touch screen for me to play music.
I found Rihanna thank goodness.
We drive and we talk about the rules.
We were going to a nice restaurant in town and had a hotel booked down the street for after.
This was so much more legit than sucking dick for shoes with my boyfriend.
“If anyone sees us eating and says hello to me just go along with me when I say you are my nephew okay?”
“No problem” I say.
“I’m good at playing this game” I smile and grab his leg.
My skills are just as good as the adults that do it. I feel sexy, powerful, and wanted.
The interior of the rover was a custom Orange.
I keep my hand on his thigh feeling him get hard makes me feel in control.
We eat fancy steaks.
My parents can’t afford this place.
He was right.
People did approach the table.
He is well known.
I smile and introduce myself as his nephew.
“We were just getting ready to leave” he says to his friends.
Heading back to the hotel, he tells me he owns over 50 places nicer than that.
Has a jet for his Miami home that his wife and kids love.
Checking in to the room I start to get looks from the employees.
They have to know.
I feel like my cover is blown.
Key card swipes, we’re in.
His cock was fat just like his gut.
He was maybe in his fifties but still looked good.
It felt good to get fucked.
Just closed my eyes pretend it was James.
We played in the shower where he demanded his nipples to be sucked on.
Two hours later in the in the mess of the bed he finally cums all over my chest.
We take a shot together, I think it was crown?
Hands me a fat stack of cash.
Had never seen a thousand dollars like that.
Drives me back.
Back down the street, after all I can’t be seen.
I walk back home.
The next morning I wake up my friends.
We all head to Manhattan for the day.
I buy a bunch of cocaine.
James and I lock ourselves away in the bathroom of a place ironically named “Jacks Place”
We ravish in love, we indulge in drugs.
I see the smiles on my friends faces under the neon lights of a city that always stays alive.
Kids that thought we were grown.
Just kids wandering home.
We had fun.
We already know how that goes.
But health class
That felt cold.
They make it seem like only gay men get HIV…
We watch films about it.
I think it might be me.
They don’t tell us where to get tested.
So I just convince myself that because I’m gay, I have it.
I really think I’m dying.
Afraid to get tested.
So I just hope for the best.
What can end it?
How did I end up here?
Home of the rival school football teams coach?
He’s on the couch.
I’m on the ground.
He’s low key hot.
Wants me to call him Dad.
These men have issues.
We start to fuck.
Then he instantly nuts.
That was easy
Now I can go home.
Made enough to get bottles for a party in Township.
Maybe some drugs, maybe I’ll have fun.
Coach hands me cash and slaps my ass.
I have to laugh just a lil.
Cuz I grew up playing football and this guy is a sicko.
Wonder if the kids know?
They’re coach just bought my ass?
What does he tell them when the drill on the grass?
I have to laugh.
my friend like a boy.
boy was obviously gay.
we’re driving home from the beach.
“Can you pull over I have to pee?” He says.
She stops near a park, it’s kind of dark so I tell him I’ll go with.
We’re alone by a bridge in the woods.
He pulls his dick out and tells me to get down.
After ten minutes of sucking softness he tells me he’s addicted to heroin.
“This always happens.” He says.
What a waste of giving head.
Now my friends gonna be mad.
And it wasn’t even worth it.
At least I have J.
His works just fine.
Even when he’s high on lines.
Heroin is just nasty.
Don’t @ me.
There was an athlete in the apartment complex.
Creative director of a fashion label picks me up in his car.
In Lindenwold he lives alone.
In your brand new G Wagon.
Tied up in Manhattan.
My best friends boyfriend.
Outside of pep boys.
The doctor running from his wife.
The tattoo artist with the shop closed.
In the woods by the park.
Bent over top your car.
At your shore house while your family was at Disney.
At the borgata and you forget to pay me.
… body count?
I’m counting down
In the small town of Collingswood New Jersey, lived a single, muscular man in his 40s.
He wasn’t ugly, wasn’t exactly beautiful.
He had a big old dick that made him feel youthful.
In the corner he would sit.
James and I up on his bed.
Jacking off to me getting fucked.
I even gave him head.
I don’t feel dirty here.
He was respectful.
Walked us out to the car.
Always had the cash ready to depart.
Maybe he was wrong tho?
Is it illegal to watch to teens fuck in your bed?
What about paying them?
Kids gotta make their bread?
Wasn’t so wrong, it still had to end.
High on E
leave the party.
Walk down the road.
Ain’t got no clothes.
says she knows a place
where you can get dick
stay open late
down the road
the road we go
it says on the sign
she takes me inside
on a table someone is getting fucked
men stand around and jack off.
they are sucking dick.
Everyone is ugly
and not getting paid?
This is lame
Who fucks this people?
I don’t see anyone for me.
I guess one.
He will do.
We fuck in another room
back to the party.
She got gang fucked
looked a lil fun
play a game.
I get in the car.
Ironically parked near where I went to elementary.
This book has a request.
I am to pretend I’m Justin Bieber.
I go down on him.
He screams out “Fuck Yeah Justin you like daddy’s cock”
He’s getting his life.
I’m trying not to laugh.
Then I go to touch his body.
His arm is made of plastic.
Never felt that.
He bangs his prosthetic arm against my head.
Screaming, Justin over and over again.
I take my cash and I leave.
Never again do I wanna hear that song “Baby”.
But pretending to be someone else is fun?
Who else could I be?
Who else could I become?
He’s screaming in my ear and I don’t know why.
I wish I could but I’ve forgotten how to cry.
I want to die.
I start driving on the other side of the road.
I tell him we both can die.
My thoughts of suicide come to the front.
He calms down.
Tells me he doesn’t mean it.
That he can’t control it.
He wants me to take him to a book.
He needs the attention more than the cash.
He needs to feel worth it.
Those men make him feel something.
He won’t quit.
All I want is for us to quit.
We aren’t ourselves anymore.
He says he loves me.
He is just like his father.
I’m scared for what’s next.
Am I already this depressed?
I have no goals.
My life is this.
I want happiness.
James leaves with a kiss.
Am I in love?
I’m just a kid.
Am I in love?
Why would I let a man do this?
I’ve dropped out of school.
I can’t focus.
I feel awful all the time.
He’s not there for me the way he should be.
But we are in love.
Maybe I just didn’t get enough.
The glue of my family dissolved
either dead or just gone.
There is a war going on both inside and out
my brain has started to create a fantasy as it’s only way out.
What do I want from life?
How do I get it?
How do I make what I see in my visions?
The Girl In The Woods:
Downed a bottle of vodka.
We drive down to the shore, our friend is staying with this girl down there.
She has her own place.
Alone in the woods of a small beach town.
They’ve been living together for a little bit of time now.
Seems like a den of drugs and sex.
We throw a party there.
People get undressed.
In her room, It's just us and my boyfriend.
She starts to do heroin.
I pass up on that one.
She starts to break down a little and tears fill her eyes.
Her and my friend have been living a lie.
She tells me about the clients they fuck.
I think to myself, they’re just like us.
Down here alone, they host all their men.
She fucks them and he bottoms for them too.
She had a pretty big dick and a collection of unwashed wigs scatter the room.
They’re operating to get high.
James and I just to survive.
We bond here.
We share our stories together and for the first time the secret is out.
I can be myself, they know what we’re about.
We do some lines of coke she offers more of her dope.
I think humans are all so much more connected than we think.
We share our stories, we grow and we learn.
No one has the answers.
The world just breathes and turns.
Why am I here?
What is my biggest fear?
I’m losing myself.
But I’m finding myself?
I could be something great.
What if I changed my name.
What if I could hide the truth?
No suffering just youth.
A living art piece.
I could articulate every word that I say.
I could hide from the pain that James gives and takes.
I could hide from the pain of my family.
I could hide from all the sadness.
I could hide from the reality.
I want to express myself with my body.
I want to create art that shares my story.
He’s stronger than me.
For I feel weak.
He’s not insecure like me.
He’s tough and he doesn’t give a fuck.
I can turn my obsession with fashion into life.
I can escape this.
I know I can.
I don’t have to be what they want me to be.
I’m not a teenage whore.
I know I was made for more.
I want my life to be the fantasy.
Fuck this reality.
I want to be model thin.
I want people to think that I’m sick.
I want everything I’ve never had.
Please god, I’m so over being sad.
Today we give birth.
Jakk Maddox is who I am now.
I hope I can make him proud.
How does a man who loves you look you in the eye and tell you everything is going to be fine?
How does he do this when all he does is lie?
Built my existence around the idea of you.
I have dreams of us being like every other great couple.
You want to be a musician and I want to be a model.
You are my inspiration but you treat me like I should be wasted.
I’ve never been so confused.
I’m hurt by everything you do.
My first love.
My true love.
Ripped my heart out my chest and turned me into someone else.
I didn’t deserve to be treated this way.
Manipulation and control.
My entire soul you own.
Sex and it’s wrong.
Why does this still go on?
James just tell me you hate me.
It would make more sense than what this is.
Why do you do this?
doses and mimosas:
It’s 6 am.
Staying at a hotel in center city.
The boys just got back from Camden with more blow.
New Year’s Eve.
I take acid in the bathroom.
We drink the free orange juice.
All of the sudden I’m in bed all day.
I’m wondering where is my boyfriend.
Where is James.
Our lives are still a secret.
But it’s NYE, I want the kiss, to believe it.
He finally shows up right before we head out.
The room empty’s.
We kiss and walk out.
No one saw.
Secret is safe.
says he loves me.
But that’s not what he shows me.
The drugs blocked my vision.
We got to the venue so I did some molly.
I'm trying to regulate my body.
Our favorite band.
It almost feels right.
I almost feel safe.
James told me he’s no longer attracted to me.
In the middle of the night.
I never want to think of him again.
I can focus
I can be me.
I was upset.
Now I regret...
What happened next?
I called his ex.
My old friend too.
I told her everything.
She said she knew.
She said that he was manipulative too.
I gave away.
She outed him the very next day.
I can’t forgive myself for something like that.
What happened, it happened.
But James didn’t deserve what she did.
He wouldn’t have been chased down the school hallway by her screaming “YOU’RE GAY” if I never gave our secret away.
I know we’ll never speak again.
Maybe I could start new again?
Let me introduce myself again.
I feel empty without him.
Not a soul on earth knows what has happened.
I lie to my family.
I lie to my friends.
I’m embarrassed and I’m ashamed.
I let someone take my name.
I feel robbed of my youth.
Drugs and old men.
Does it get better? When?
I wanted the great love story.
I wanted to be with James for the rest of my life.
High school romance that turned into something right.
Forever and ever right by my side.
I wanted to defy the odds.
My parents split young.
Moms on husband number three.
Dad is nowhere to be seen.
I didn’t want to be like them.
But turns out I’m exactly like them.
Into the same trap.
I guess it’s just family history.
Can’t run from you who you were born to be.
back to back:
Got fucked by two different guys back to back.
I don’t know what to do.
I’m trying my best to focus on what I want and what I need.
I want James.
I want a happy life.
I want a cool summer breeze.
Instead I’ll call another fuck.
I don’t know what else to do.
Near the abandoned movie theater.
there’s a motel.
He leaves the door open for me.
This place is disgusting.
The bed, you can see the springs.
I just want the money.
Fattest man I’ve ever been with.
On top of me, I feel my organs start to crush.
The opposite of that feel good rush.
Trying to get the image out of my mind.
Something is burning and it just ain’t right.
Finally I go the the clinic for my very first test.
I’ve been worried I’ve been positive since high school.
They tell me I’m not.
A few days later.
My mind over reacts.
But it’s just a shot in the back.
Don’t wanna go through that again.
I’m not afraid now to get tested.
Every 3 months I’ll be there.
I lied on the form that said if I get paid for sex.
That’s my business.
That’s what’s best.
How do I explain this to the next?
How do I keep this secret in?
Is there life after this?
I know it as a business.
I need it for my self esteem.
I’m burned out.
About to turn 19.
A lil orange pill.
I feel my best.
Feel it in my heart.
I don’t need to eat.
Just have a shake.
But now I start to shake?
It’s me and you.
Against the world.
I think I met someone new.
He’s not like James.
He is kind, soft spoken and listens.
I’m assisting to be a hairstylist.
I started taking Adderall every day.
I feel thin.
I feel beautiful and in control.
I’m not addicted.
Getting my shit together.
This boy shows me his heart.
We fuck on the beach for the first time.
He’s so gentle in every sense.
I wonder if I could stay with someone like him.
He doesn’t know about the life that I’ve lived.
He doesn’t know about James, the drugs, the control, the sex.
He sees me for my actual soul.
I don’t think I need to give away all the details.
We have fun together.
It’s simple and it’s joyful.
All the darkness just seems to fade.
Could it be?
A happy ending for me?
take him with me:
he takes me out to dinner in the city.
a romantic truly, truly.
we have drinks and we laugh hold hands.
my phone rings, it’s a client again.
he’s gonna have to know.
I haven’t quit tricking.
it’s like a drug and it keeps winning.
This time I answer the call.
“Who was that?” He asks.
“I’m going to be honest with you, I have sex for cash.”
“But this guy just wants me to beat him, it’s 2,000 just to whip. You in?”
“Excuse me?” He looks at me in shock.
“Listen I can explain more on the way but you should just come with me, we can split the money”
We got up and left.
He decided to come with.
Hand in hand.
Was having flashbacks of being with James again.
The antagonist is now me.
we make out on top of him.
he’s so hot and has such a big dick.
our client beneath us.
he’s fitting right in.
We beat the shit out of him.
What have I done?
It was hot.
I’m turned on.
Got my first Versace jacket with that pay.
We even went to six flags the next day.
I’m glad he doesn’t hate me.
I hope this road doesn’t turn dark.
I really hope I don’t break his heart.
In a high rise up on Locust Street.
I have my new regular Saturday adventure.
I just have to lay there and get my ass ate for an hour.
Not the hardest way to make 500?
Paying for my Adderall trying to stay thin.
Trying to save up for a new place.
I’d love to live in LA.
I go to his building now once a week.
But ass, he can eat.
I had spent the afternoon trying to pick up clients in the park.
Wasn’t having much luck as it soon would would be dark.
I go to the bar alone.
I’m just 19, but getting served is nothing new.
A stranger next to me is buying me drinks.
One after another until I couldn’t really see.
Then I woke up.
In a house I had never seen, with a man laying next to me that I don’t remember meeting.
“Don’t worry” he says, “we didn’t have sex.”
“You were blacked out I don’t know what happened to you but you took all your clothes off and they kicked you out. I didn’t wanna see something bad happen to you so I took you home and got you in bed. You are very beautiful, by the way, but I didn’t wanna have sex with you in that state- that’s just wrong. So let me introduce myself again, since you probably don’t remember. I’m Mario.”
He was so handsome, probably like ten years older than me but his smile was electric and I felt safe cuddled next to him.
I leaned in to kiss him and we made out all morning and played in bed till I told him I had to go. I desperately needed a shower and a change of clothes.
“Come back over tonight I’ll take you out again. I promise this time nothing bad will happen.”
“I’ll be back, I promise.”
I take the train home and get myself together.
This may have been my first hangover, ever.
I was really in shock about the man I had just met, he had saved me from what could have been a mess and he kept me protected, he’s the one that I should be with.
He knows what the meaning of respect .
We go out again, he gets me into all the bars.
Another night at his house expect this time I remember.
Now we can share all of our scars.
Nothing is ever what it seems.
“Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see”
That’s what my mother told me.
Mario shows me the world of fun.
Being out with him I felt like number one.
Laid up in his bed while my hand stays on his chest, he tells me “I’m an escort professionally.” “The real reason I don’t want to fuck you is because I like you and I am HIV positive.”
I couldn’t pretend to even be shocked about him being an escort.
He had a nice car and didn’t seem to have a job. I thought to myself- is this what you want? How can I not escape this life? Do I tell him I do the same? Why does this thing chase me? What does sex really want from me?
“How long have you been positive?” I ask.
“A few years now, I’m healthy and all that but I just want to breed the shit out of you and I can’t do that because of this. You are beautiful and all I want is to fuck you”
“We could use protection, I understand the risks and I’m grateful you are being honest.”
I really did have my heart set on him.
He was the typical south Philly Italian, so handsome and had a toughness that made me feel safe.
We talked about it all that night I told him my whole story. Still we didn’t fuck.
He drove me home.
While I was asleep he invited another guy over to suck his dick because he still didn’t wanna touch me like that.
But he was okay doing it to strangers?
He had respect for me, but not for them.
I was falling for this man.
But that’s just God’s plan.
Hidden in the town of Medford lakes
A glass house, a man that bakes
I go over and he makes us drinks.
We walk around the giant house.
Windows so high, fine art on every shelf.
This isn’t like a normal book.
This man wants to date me.
“You could have all this, if you stay with me.” He says.
His house is huge tucked away behind a forest of trees down a winding road and he lives there alone.
A tv screen so big you can see from the open kitchen that could provide for an army.
Upstairs there is so many bedrooms.
He lays me down in the one to fuck soon.
I spend all night with him.
He’s maybe 40 and half attractive.
Has a thick dick and a receding hairline.
Holds me all night promising that life will be fine.
In the morning he makes breakfast, I have work soon and I have to go.
“Please come back tonight, I want to treat you right.”
After work I come back just as planned.
We drink, we eat, we cuddle again.
Then my phone rings.
I don’t answer.
But I leave.
Hyperventilating I drive to my sisters and she makes me me a drink.
Somehow he manages to ruin everything.
Just ran out his house like a crazy person.
No explanation just “I have to go”
Now I lose out on the view of the snow, the windows, the kitchen, I don’t get cuz I had memories of him.
I want to erase.
I just want to feel safe….
June 27, 2015:
An ordinary day.
Just like the rest.
Woke up for myself together.
Made my way to the salon where I had my job.
I take my pills on the way.
I like when they kick in as the music plays.
We are flowing and working having a great time.
News breaks from a client, gay marriage is legalized.
I want to cry, it feels so good to be recognized.
My boss who I assist is like a role model to me.
An older gay man who has seen everything.
Leaving work I call my friends I know they’ll wanna go out.
We gotta celebrate, history has been made.
The lines are all long to get in the clubs.
Streets covered in people just start flood.
I see Mario and his friends so we go follow them.
I meet a girl named Tina for the first time.
If you don’t know her, good for you.
A line of meth hurts the nose more than coke.
But fuck it makes you alive.
Mario ends up leaving me with his friends.
He went to go make money again.
My mind is scattered from the drug.
Shots on shots.
His friends start to feel me up.
I get a ride home from them I was too drunk to function.
I felt like one of them even gave me something.
This was more than speed?
I don’t remember getting to my house.
But I remember waking up with a dick in me.
While I was sound asleep.
This grown man triple my size, I thought I was safe.
Everything was a lie.
He didn’t take me home to be nice.
He took me home to take what he wanted.
In the haze I was in I couldn’t even stop it.
What the fuck was happening.
Why is this man on top of me.
In my house.
In my room.
What am I supposed to?
I get out from under and lock myself in the other room.
I stay there till the sun comes up.
I still don’t know what to do.
I finally hear him walk himself out.
No longer could I move.
Spent the next three days getting high and writing poetry.
Locked myself away and wrote and wrote away.
Only left the room to get pizza or cigarettes.
More months go past and I finally realize what had happened.
My brain protected me, hid it in the back of my mind.
I had been assaulted in my own home.
Men can’t be raped?
That’s what they say.
This doesn’t happen to men, we can stick up for ourselves right?
Men enjoy sex?
I get paid for sex?
I lost my virginity by being molested.
How the fuck does this even happen?
June 27 is James’s birthday.
June 27 is the day I felt robbed of my pride.
Over and over again my head screams at me.
You deserved this just look at your life.
I’ve lost it.
What do I even write?
I have nothing.
I can’t cry anymore.
I want to be something.
I know I can be something more.
It’s all I’ve ever known….
The nice boy told me he met someone else.
My feelings are hurt but I’ve moved on too?
It’s different when it’s you.
Didn’t even realize how much I liked him till he said that.
Now he’s out there tricking on his own I hear.
I feel bad.
I did that.
Now I’m full of fear.
I’ve written two versions of this poem.
One I wrote exactly when it happened.
The other a few years after.
It goes, cruising down 95 so fast I think I might be sick.
One of my friends needed a ride home from the airport
I look myself in the review over and over.
Do I look okay?
Am I over done?
I’ve lost a lot weight, my hair platinum blonde.
I haven’t seen you in months.
You broke up with me.
Said you wanted nothing to do with me.
I pull up the the arrivals at PHL.
Hearts racing, forehead sweat, hands shaking.
I’m really about to see you.
How am I still in love with you?
After everything you put me through?
Maybe we are soul mates.
Sometimes I believe that true love only happens once.
I hear my car doors open.
Sitting in the back of my car.
I turn around and smile and your face breaks my heart.
I know that I am in love with you still, and I will never be with you again.
Making sure I drop you off first and you still asked if I wanted to come in..
I go home.
I write this down in my bed.
Walking down another dead end street, still searching for your face in everyone I meet. Got everything I thought I was looking for, but it’s never enough. I still want more.
I don’t think that I’ll be fine.
I can’t be alone if your alive.
And do you ever think of me?
Late at night when you can not sleep?
I know I have.
I know I have.
About 100 times…
I got a job go-going.
if I’m gonna be presented like they talk about me, I’m gonna be the one in control.
I think about June 27.
Now I can escape that pain, cuz here I have security.
That kind of thing can’t happen to me.
I’m in control of who can touch me.
Taking control of who can fuck me.
You wanna see the things that I’ve seen?
Just keep on reading.
Keep on dreaming.
To the clients and johns I am Justin.
That’s the name of the man who took my dignity.
That’s the man who assaulted me.
I take that name and I turn it for trade.
Justin Riley is my saving grace.
Another alter ego in this personality phase.
they all want to fuck me and no one wants to love me.
giving myself away, they promise to me they’ll stay.
my heart continues to break without James
I don’t think that I’ll make it. I can’t even fake it.
My heart is in pain and shit it needs saving.
I give myself away.
Sex can be so great.
Self esteem to me?
How many guys want to fuck me?
Don’t know what self love is.
I take pills all day.
Drink a bottle of vodka on my way to work.
Know one knows.
How can no one know?
I keep it down.
Too beautiful to for that to be found
I keep it down.
I miss my boyfriend.
He was my best friend.
Other guys run when I tell them about my life.
They all leave eventually.
Just like my dad.
Just like my boyfriend.
Just like my self esteem.
Gone with the wind.
I’m fucking gone.
I think about dying and I’ve lost the ability to cry.
I want to cry.
Please, I want to cry.
I have dreams that go beyond where I am.
I wanna be a model one day.
I wanna live in LA.
Want James by my side, wanna be the rockstar wife.
I see a vision of us together in the end.
It will happen.
My dreams always come to fruition.
Speak into existence exactly what you want.
And get it.
It was in May? I don’t remember the day.
Life had seemed calm.
I didn’t have any men.
I wasn’t tricking, was busy working at the salon.
Working my weekend job.
For once I felt, in control?
Maybe I have a shot at something normal here.
Came home from getting take out at my favorite Mexican food place down the way.
Turned the TV on, I was ready to relax.
Suddenly a fight starts to happen between my mom's husband and I.
This isn’t the first time he has never been the nicest guy.
It escalated quickly.
Suddenly I’m in the kitchen and he tells me “Faggot your going to die of AIDS sucking all that ni**er dick”
I cried, I screamed back, I don’t know what to do.
This man has done this to me before, last time was actually on Christmas Eve.
Mortified, I can’t contain my crying.
Why can I only cry when people make me mad?
I wish that I could cry when I was sad.
I run upstairs and hide in my bedroom.
I make a decision and I pack up my shit.
I had no money.
But I wasn’t gonna stay.
Terrified of what could happen to Mom, they had their own history of abuse.
Guess that’s how I fell into my trap?
You do what you know, live what you’ve seen.
I don’t know how she does it.
She survives and does what she has to do.
Human, flawed, nothing new.
Left in the middle of the night.
Moved in with some guys at a house down the road, the nicest straight guys I had ever known.
Stayed there for the month while I processed and planned my life.
Had to figure out my next move.
I’m gonna make it, I told myself.
I needed to focus on my styling career, dreams of modeling take a back seat.
Got a place in Chinatown at 9th and Arch.
Moved in with a boy I worked at the club with.
He was a friend, he understood, he got it.
For that first month of June, I felt at home.
I felt brand new.
A happier day was on the horizon I could feel it in my bones.
In the city where I belonged.
Sleeping With The Enemy:
We started texting a few days back, James sworn enemy, he sold crack.
I flirt and decided to play the game.
If he wouldn’t love me I’d give this one brain.
Picked up outside in his BMW, skin dark and eyes big, always had a line ready for me.
Dangerous and toxic was all I ever heard.
But so was James, what did that even mean?
In the club I start rolling on E, drink after drink, I want him all over me.
Sleeping with the enemy.
All I want is for James to see.
This is my bat signal to get his attention.
We fuck all night at my new apartment.
In the shower, in the kitchen, in the bedroom we stay awake till noon.
Something this bad never felt so good.
Want to keep him inside me just to prove I could.
I always said if you hit it raw it’s cuz I loved you.
This was the first time that wasn’t true.
Is this my assent to the darkness?
The light blew out long ago.
Maybe I am the one who lost control.
Another pawn played in the game.
He’ll end up hating me once he knows I used his name.
Whatever it takes to get back to James.
That movie was a lie, I’m not some distressed hooker waiting for a client to save me.
That’s real right? The fantasy of a man getting the damsel in distress. Bullshit. I call bullshit.
This man finds my ad online and I get the usual email with a description and some pics.
Says he is here visiting from LA and would love to spend the night with me.
The night? Does he know how much an overnight costs? I haven’t done it before but I respond as fast as I possibly can because the rent is due, fuck, the rent is due.
He’s staying at The Rittenhouse, I’m gonna meet him there at 7pm. He wants to have sex first then dinner and drinks. Still not even twenty-one, but bars just serve me like I’m older than one. I get ready to empty out and shower; making myself smell good to be fucked like s flower. I dress in a way I usually don’t, something cleaner and classier. What if I choke? I start my walk it isn’t far from me and I just hope and pray everything goes smoothly.
The lobby is beautiful and I make my way to the top floor where I know this man is waiting to fuck me like a whore… well I am a whore technically. He opens the door and I’m shocked how hot he really is. Undressing right away pins me up, in the shower and he kisses me like he loves me. I’m feeling this, I’ve never enjoyed sex with a client. In bed he keeps fucking me and just as I’m about to cum somehow I’m getting fucked and my dick sucked… power move sir, power move.
Holding hands in the park he tells me all about his life as a producer and how boys that look like me should stay away from the city. He says we end up washed up and used by every false promise in town. “Don’t lose that sparkle you have, they’ll tear you down” he says. I’m completely infatuated with this man, drinking and dancing still hand in hand.
“Show me the way out of here, I want to eat at a real Philly diner.” He says in my ear of a jazz club on Sansom. I wave down a cab, we go to Oregon Ave, the best diner still open this late.
He’s in culture shock by our attitude on the east, keeps saying how real and honest I make him feel.
I tell him my dreams in life that I want so bad.
That’s when he grabs my hand again and tells me not to follow them. “Use your head instead, show the world the side of you that you show me. You’re more than beauty. You have everything.” He says while looking deep in my eyes, “I don’t ever want to see you strung out like all of these guys. Passing through my house parties just pretending to be something. You are something”
My eyes start to water and we had back to the hotel.
Cuddled in bed I fall asleep with love in my heart.
There is no way I love him?
In the morning, we wake up with breakfast and juice.
Shower, teeth brushed, dressed and groomed.
He walks to the safe and pulls out the cash. Kisses me on the lips for a few minutes before I make my way to the door.
“If I’m ever back in town,8 I hope to see you again” He says. I just smile and lean in for one more kiss as I say goodbye. The door shuts. My wallet is full but my heart is numb. Maybe Pretty Woman could be something to someone.
Maybe I could be somebody's someone.
Out past Germantown:
I’m getting pretty booked.
Another client right in a row.
He lives alone in a large house.
I see a pattern.
Rich ass dudes with depressing lives spending money on youth trying to feel something inside.
I get it.
Money is usually all they have to offer because their personalities suck, they spent so much time being focused, they never had a chance.
It’s just how it is.
This job is easy.
Just wanted a massage and for me to talk to him about myself.
Okay easy enough.
He has the table all set up.
D: “Where you from?”
Me: “I grew up in Berlin, it’s a fairly small town in Jersey.”
D: “You an only child?”
Me: “No I have three sisters, two older and one younger.”
D: “And your parents?”
Me: “Separated when I was three, my Dad and I recently started to speak again…. why do you want to know all this?”
D: “Justin, you are a person. You have feelings that’s why I brought you here. Just keep rubbing the oil in and let’s just keep talking. I want to know more… I care about people. I don’t think you are just this, you are the most beautiful person on that site. Too beautiful to be doing what you are doing.”
Me: “Listen, there’s really no need to go there right now. Let me just finish and I’m going to go.”
D: “What are you afraid of? People knowing who you are?”
Me: “Okay I think we are done here.”
D: “You still want to be paid?”
D: “Then just tell me one more thing… do you have a boyfriend Justin.”
My mind does the thing where I zone out and can only focus on the pain that love has brought me. It starts wandering and slipping thinking about James. My mind starts reliving every detail of our relationship over and over again.
Trying to bring myself back to the ground but now I feel a tightness in my body.
I need to come back down.
I tell myself to focus on reality…
What does this mean?
Me: “I’ve never had a boyfriend. Guess I just have bad luck at love.” *laughing nervously*
“Can I have my money now. I really think I should go.”
D: “Go wait in the other room, I’ll be there in a few minutes”
What the fuck?
Why is this guy playing games?
I’m waiting, I’m anxious, thinking maybe he’s a serial killer.
There is nothing to protect sex work, what can I tell the cops?
My body really hurts.
I don’t understand.
Understand my worth.
D: “Here you go. I really expected more, but I guess you aren’t what I thought. Get home safe.”
I stare back in silence.
What the fuck.
At least we didn’t have to fuck.
I don’t even say goodbye.
The night is still young.
I’m gonna go get high.
Why do people talk shit on Jersey when a place like Delco exists?
Gotta client over there.
Wants to jack off to me in my underwear.
The apartment is run down.
He looks like George from Seinfeld but creepier and fatter.
I lay on his couch.
He has screens all over.
Teens play on a loop.
I just stay in my underwear.
He plays with his fat old man cock.
Staring at me like a dog stares at food.
“I love you nephew.”
Jesus Christ, what the fuck
Please finish soon.
Is the money worth it anymore?
Some sick people
And I’m their whore?
When I get paid, I run.
Do you understand why I like drugs?
I love love.
I love the idea of being in love.
I love men.
I love their bodies.
I love being held.
I love sex, because for a moment my insecurities fade.
If I’m wanted, I can’t be as worthless I tell myself I am?
To be fucked is to be valued.
I love love.
I love hard and I love forever.
I love my first boyfriend.
I love every man that makes me feel worth something.
I love leading men on and shutting them out because I’m afraid of what they’ll find out.
I love love.
And I love you.
The ashtray stays next to my feet while I smoke Marlboro lights and take speed.
I write on the floor.
I write on the table.
I lay in bed in silence.
I wish I was able.
In my journal it reads…
“Tell me how I got this way? Tell me how I’m in tHis place. Boy what did you mean? When you said, “it ain’t you it’s me?” I thought that I’d been hurt before, lord knows I’m trying but it ain’t like before.
I wanted a life where we could grow. All you wanted was a life on the road. I’ve tried my hardest to be everything, keep on driving. They wanna hear you sing.
I walk around wearing all your favorite button downs.
Remembering old times about our hometown.
Was it love? Or was it the lines? Was it love or was it the lines?
I wanted a life on the road, and you were out there like some kind of rolling stone. I’ve tried my hardest to be everything, keep on driving. They wanna hear you sing.”
my mouth is like a desert.
Adderall and cigarettes is what makes me feel best.
what the fuck am I even writing about?
it’s music I hear in my head.
I write songs because in my brain James sings them for me.
I stay on the floor.
Searching Grindr for money.
I need to feel fucking something.
I’m outside the salon I work at, smoking a cigarette with one of my favorite people in the world, Gianna. A tiny Selena Gomez twin that has the attitude of someone you wouldn’t fuck with and a heart made of solid gold. We were outside when I got the call…it was James.
Drunk he was, but happy. He said I needed to get to his party and come be with him; kept going on about how he wanted to see me. My heart fell into my asshole, I run inside the shop and get a shot out of the freezer from the break room.
What the fuck?
What do I do?
Gianna tells me I should go, she knows how much I love him. But I’m terrified, even though it is exactly what I wanted.
I pace around and think of what to say.
Is it time to put the last behind us?
The abusive turbulent past? Did we grow up? Is there room for us to last? Everyone deserves a second chance, I wasn’t a saint either.
Life is so different now, I’m not the same person anymore.
Everything I’ve done in recent months was just a way to get his attention.
It worked and now I’m scared.
Gianna convinces me to go and tells me it’s gonna be alright.
What happens now?
Are we still gonna fight?
I’ve never been this nervous in my ENTIRE LIFE.
Flash forward to the next morning.
We are in bed together.
Where I was born to be.