ALTHOUGH THE PROMISE of orgasm was available in every direction, my dick was as soft as an old banana.
Visiting a sex party in the Meatpacking District called Oktoberfist was not my debut appearance in the illicit gay underworld, but it was the first time Ive ever attended such a party without feeling an ounce of sexual desire. It was also the first time Id brought along my friend and unrequited love Jean-Paul, putting at serious risk the fantasy of convincing him to sleep with me. As a travel writer, my first big break after college was writing a vacation guide to Paris, one that focused on the citys queer scene.The research required visits to all the nightlife hotspots, which included an alarming number of saunas and sex clubs. The proverbial dream job, it was quite an eyeopener for a short, geeky, half-Jewish kid still figuring out how to chat up guys without spilling a drink.
While working in France, I befriended Jean-Paul, a friendly, intelligent and disarmingly handsome homo of French-Catholic and Tunisian-Jewish descent. My NYC credentials impressed him while I instantly swooned over his dark features and Gallic accent. But along the way I fell into the friend zone: He never responded to my flirting and even after I revealed my true feelings, he wanted to remain platonic. Not giving up, I tried out simple friendship.
Two years of correspondence and every-so-often visits later, I found it impossible not thinking of Jean-Paul romantically. I wanted to fuck his brains out. It was never much more than whimsy; Jean-Paul lived in Paris and besides, he was some kind of manic-depressive. However, this past September he moved to New York for a five-month internship, and I was one of his few acquaintances in the city.
Oktoberfist was held in a loft space called The Woodshop. A pal called me late one Friday with an invitation for free entry to the party. I was sitting in a diner with Jean-Paul after we had gone to see some stage performance, trying not to pretend to be on date with my boyfriend. He clapped his hands together excitedly at the news.
Not my first trip to The Woodshop, the optional garbage bag coat check was no surprise, nor were the naked, pot-bellied older men that crowded the edges of the room. Some womenreal, genetic oneswere even present along with the 6-foot-tall blonde bombshell of a drag queen named Epiphany.
The attractive, mostly naked guys that peppered the crowd were almost always go-go boys. Some wore telltale lederhosen, but a go-go boys identity could also be confirmed by the waving of his semi-hard cock in an onlookers face from the elevated platform.
All I could think about, though, was Jean-Paul, who had wandered off into the crowd all glassy eyed. Once entering the party, he reverted to his usual bar demeanor: joyless and silent.
Whats wrong with him? the friends I met there asked. Is he having fun? Why wont he have a drink? Jean-Paul rarely drank, another reason to believe that with some effort I could one day get him in bed. Few things are more frustrating than watching someone you care about act depressed at a wild party.
Feeling powerless to elevate his mood, I observed as Jean-Paul silently wandered; he watched one guy fuck another guy in the ass while a third sat cross-legged on the floor giving the fuckee a blowjob.
The real highlight of the evening, of course, was the fisting. Who else can attest to witnessing a drag queen in 6-inch heels don a latex glove and stick her hand up somebodys ass? Only about 40 other menthey crowded around a table cheering as the she-male butt-punished a leather-clad guy in a yoga position.
I caught Jean-Paul staring at the scene like a zombie and pushed my way toward him. Suddenly, I was crushed up against that delightful French ass by the gravitational force that public fisting has on a room full of faggots.
Like clockwork, being shoved into the object of my desire gave me an instant rush that went right from my beating heart down to my throbbing member. It was the first burst of sexual energy I had felt the entire evening. But a few seconds later the feelings of romance and desire ended as Epiphany removed her hand from the poor bottoms ass and Jean-Paul quickly pushed me away. As the crowd dissipated, the reality and unfairness of being trapped in the friend zone at a sex party came into full effect. It took the force of 40 horny idiots to get me as close as I wanted to be to Jean-Paul. What a strange place to realize that I was the asshole who put up with his misery, going through the motions of friendship because of a hopeless, albeit potent, fantasy.
It took me a few weeks to build up the courage, but one Sunday morning after a late night out, I explained to Jean-Paul that my feelings for him hadnt changed. Listening to complaints about him feeling timid around men hit too close to home and seemed so ridiculous, considering the cute boys that he always ignored.
When asked, unhappily, if we could no longer be amis, all I could say was Je ne sais pas. His eyes welled up with tears, but I felt stony and numb. When he left, he simply waved goodbye and disappeared into the streets of Brooklyn.
When I shut the front door, it felt like closure on chapter of my life where lacking confidence and being a fucking idiot intersected.
In my case, it wasnt a fist or an arm, but my own head that had been lodged too far up my ass. ------ Joseph Alexiou is a travel writer and guidebook author. He contributes to the Out Traveler blog at [gps.outtraveler.com] EMAIL SUBMISSIONS TO [EDITORIAL@NYPRESS.COM](mailto:EDITORIAL@NYPRESS.COM)