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Zip III: I Am The Trick, Concluded, or: Stripping was Easier. And Cheaper

I am in a hotel room, now, with Mike. Mike - aka 'Pec' from the previous episode - is the muscled dancer from the Gaiety Theatre, and the hotel room is one of about 8,500 within New York's Milford Plaza Hotel.

It is no accident, that hotel rooms are commonly used in films as the backdrops for murder scenes, for unlawful transactions, for shameful trysts, for anything despairing. The sameness of hotel wallpapers and bed covers, the anonymity of bolted-down lamps and blandly floral drapes made of cardboard - these things are so known to our eyes as to not be there. So, in these rooms, horrible things happen. They deserve to happen there, in settings as cold and lifeless as a black corner of the universe.

Wait a minute. This was supposed to be a hot story about sex with a hired stud.

Mike had approached me after his routine. I was receptive. The bargain had been struck in the theater; for one hundred and fifty dollars, I'd have me a hot boyfriend for half an hour. The nature of the deal did not bother me. Certainly not in the Gaiety lounge, anyway. Pride is a misplaced commodity when you're in a lounge filled with nearly naked boys and middle-aged men, and you're not one of the nearly naked boys. There are, I think, worse deals than that, some not involving cash and for far longer periods of time.

Besides, there was an affability, a breezy kind of easy-goingness, mixed in with the cockiness of my escort. I liked him. This was important; whatever horniness I had walked in with discreetly slipped out through an alley door, the moment the actual deal began to take shape. So at least I'd be getting genial company for my money.

Mike takes off for the dressing room and his pants, leaving me a solid three minutes of the cockiness my side gets to enjoy: buyer's strut. Those other men in the lounge are still haggling with their respective boys. Me? Wrap it up and charge it.

Mike returns, in pants and with a metaphorical stopwatch in his hand. We exit the Gaiety Theatre, into the sweet summer night. Mike is saluting lots of men as we go, and I sort of feel like I'm on a date with the captain of the football team. Sort of.

He tells me we'll be consummating the deal at the Milford Plaza Hotel, just around the corner. I knew the Milford. I had seen many commercials promoting, in wholesome song and dance, its shining suitability as an affordable class act of a hotel for the entire family visiting in New York. That's another grand thing about New York; there's no square footage without a seamy underbelly to it.

We walk. It is kind of nice, this part, making friendly conversation. It seems Mike is a fledgling stockbroker, based in Connecticut. He has as well a fiancé. He does not say it but the implication is clear that the stripping/prostitution is merely a way of shoring up cash, for stock fluctuations and perhaps a down payment on a Greenwich two-story for himself and his bride.

I believe him. Well, almost. What gives me doubt is the timing of it all. Maintaining just one tricep on that body has to require hours a day. Then there is the bad dancing and the hustling. Where is there time left for portfolios, and dinner with the future in-laws? But the night is comfortably warm, the theatre district is buzzing all around us, and I suspend disbelief.

We arrive at the hotel. Espionage is now demanded of me. For Mike tells me that, as I enter through the 45th Street door and make my way to the elevator bank there, he will go around to the main, Eighth Avenue entrance and do the same. We will meet up on the 24th Floor, outside of his room.

Now, I'm confused. I don't get this. Mike has already invested a good chunk of his profit-making hour in me without seeing a dime. It doesn't seem very sensible - and certainly not business-like - to leave me to my own devices just at the moment when buyer's remorse is most likely to kick in.

Secondly, there is this whole charade of the separate-then-meet-at-appointed-place strategy. Why? The hotel lobby is the size of a football field, broken up into large segments, and all of them busy with all kinds of people. That two men would ride a shared elevator hardly seems, under the bustling circumstance, unlikely to trigger the house detective into a brisk trot and a shrill whistle.

But I acquiesce. Muscular guys command obedience, I suppose. I follow instructions. I do think about simply walking out the way I came and cutting through Shubert Alley to freedom and a saved wad of cash. But I don't. Destiny is a funny thing. A sense of it is responsible for mountains conquered and fjords forded. Yet it can also push you down the cellar stairs.

Mike meets me on the appointed floor. We have successfully fooled security, it appears. We are at the threshold of the hot sex I'm buying. There's just one problem. My lust never came back. It is so gone I would swear I have never been horny in my life. In its place is this: I feel like I'm about to do something really covert and beyond the boundaries of the law, but not fun and exciting.

It gets worse.

Mike has me wait while he tries the door. I peripherally see, in the seconds in which part of the room is revealed, a young man and a very old man on a bed. It isn't pretty. This is bad. I know I'm a twenty-minute trick. I know I'm one of a few thousand such tricks, that day. All that, I'm OK with. What's less than OK is having this assembly line status thrust in my face quite this bluntly.

But the deal goes on. We lean against the hall and talk some more. Mike tells me that four adjacent rooms here are permanently rented by himself and his colleagues. The very old man is clearly not done yet, and I'm thinking: maybe y'all should just lease the whole damn floor.

Finally. We're in. And we're back to where this little story began.

I don't look at the bed because I don't want to see what's left there. Mike, though, is a pro. He actually changes it, and in a flash, too. I ask about his money, taking for granted that he wants it now. He doesn't seem to care. Maybe the Connecticut portfolio skyrocketed the day before. No matter. I set the bills neatly on a dresser, right next to the complimentary Milford Plaza stationary. An awful, straight porn movie is playing on the TV. If I had had any libido left, that alone would have shriveled it to nothingness.

The rest of the encounter, I am not happy to say, was so mechanical as to make a Swiss watch seem hot. Mike got naked and I gave him a rubdown. I do not blame him for this - occupational stupor is the largest component of the hustler's trade, and everyone knows it - but I have handled more responsive meat when fixing a roast beef sandwich. As a young boy, I had been forced to kiss my grandfather's cheek as he lay in his coffin. This was a more lifeless experience. And, as I massaged his crushing thighs, all I could think was that, the blandness of the wallpaper aside, this would be a convenient hotel to stay in, were I coming from out of town and holding tickets to several Broadway shows.

As regards actual sex: I masturbated while standing in the bathtub, as Mike held the shower curtain around himself like an exceptionally buff Roman with too much synthetic toga. That a plastic shower curtain is a sheet of plastic, and not easily mistaken for anything sexier, didn't exactly lessen the antiseptic aspect of the use to which he was putting it. I've heard of men forced to have sex at gunpoint, or under threat of loved ones being harmed. Their orgasm may have been harder won than mine was that night, but not by much.

It was over. I told Mike it was hot, and I thanked him. This was a lie. Then I dressed and left. And the one single thing I regret about the entire experience is that, more or less, I got what I paid for. Had we only talked a little more and stayed dressed, had I paid full price for nothing but an extra block or two walked, I would have felt better compensated. Because only in those moments when we had made small talk, only when all clothes were on and no one was touching anyone else's dick, was there any eroticism at all. This was my state of mind, upon leaving the Milford Plaza.

I also resolved that, if I ever pay for it again, the bastard had better at least talk dirty to me.

 Jack Mauro, All Rights Reserved.
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Jack Mauro