My Latex Client

The Hotel on Rivington used to be a sexy place to go, but it has been a few years and it has since receded into the cement, brick and blue glass Tetris shapes of the old and new Lower East Side. There was a year I worked exclusively out of that hotel, primarily because I was friendly to the front desk staff, who stopped asking me whether I was in town for a vacation after the third weekend in a row they saw me check in. Gaining access to the hotel rooms did not require a key card and this was a very important determining factor when I was seeing four or five anonymous male bodies in a day, shapes quietly moving through red carpeted hallways to find my temporary work site in the corner of the fourth floor.

I learned to always request the fourth or fifth corner room because of the bathroom. Designed to be ADA compliant, it had an egg-shaped porcelain tub inside a wall to wall glass enclosed steam room. The bathroom just outside the tub and steam room was spacious, outfitted entirely in slick black tile with cool green lighting that was a little reminiscent of a cult eighties science fiction film. Being in the room made me feel post-apocalyptic, like in a deleted scene from Café Flesh. Outside of the bathroom, the room had a slender hallway leading up to the bedroom comfortably enclosed with heavy black out shades, which created an elongated procedure when clients entered my temporary space. I learned from my new friends at the front desk that most people did not like to stay on the fourth and fifth floor because at night, the street noise was almost unbearable. For me, this didn’t matter because I worked exclusively during the day. By the time the party was getting started on the streets of the Lower East Side, I would slip out of my ritual bath and steam, zip up my nylon black Tumi suitcase, throw on a pair of yoga pants and cross the bridge and go home.

The day I met Johan, I had already been working for a several days. It would be my first-time meeting with him in person, although we had exchanged a few emails. I glanced at the initial inquiry in my in box about an hour before I was expecting him.

Hello Verity

I saw your ad on Eros.  My name is Johan.  I’m a 45 year old male latex fetishist living in Brooklyn, NY. I’d love to book a session with you. Your website says that you require a consult. When can we schedule that? Speaking of your website, I loved it–very clean design, minimal, l no nonsense, killer photos. Suffice to say, I really dig it. Based upon your photos, I also love your aesthetic, especially your choices in latex clothes–outstanding!

Please let me know how and when we can proceed. I look forward to your response. Thanks for your time. Are you cool with doing this with a latex fetish angle? I have my own latex and I know you have yours. I’m not real subby, more into kink–bondage, fetish, face sitting etc. I know you’re not a switch and that isn’t what I’m expecting, just trying to be a bit more specific about my interests. Does that make sense? I suppose we can speak with greater detail once I am there. In the meantime, please let me know if you have any more questions for me too. And thanks for being thorough and professional.

Best,
Johan

I selected a black latex catsuit to wear for our first encounter. It was the one I wore the most often and was the most worn out. I removed it from the oversized zip lock back I stored it in, shaking the excess white powder from its crevices. I took a quarter sized squeeze of lubricant and spread it over my feet and legs and stepped into the tiny rubber ankles holes of the suit, this part always being the trickiest. Once my feet were in, it was relatively easy to shimmy the skinny pant legs up the flesh of my legs and thighs, reach my arms back to find the arm holes and eventually encase myself entirely into the rubber container. Little by little I smoothed the suit out to create a layer of second skin over my human body. I left the front zipper open and cleaned any excess powder from the suit, bypassing shining it just yet as I was expecting that would be a part of our session. Finally, I threw on a black silk and wool blazer over the rubber suit to complete the whole ensemble. I was taught to always look fully clothed when answering the door, especially when first meeting a client. It as a funny formality, but one that I clung to like orthodox throughout my entire career.

My favorite and most anxiety producing part was meeting him for the first time. You can only have your first time once, and the anticipation and novelty of who would walk through the door got me every time. I gave specific instructions to text me from the corner, at which point I would provide room # and directions for the elevator and hallway. I counted down between sending the instructional text, put on my high heels and stood behind the door staring through the peephole down the hall outside my room. The peephole was a proper fisheye lens that made everybody’s head look large and body look tiny. I found this distortion fun, as if it announced immediately that my perception would never match reality.

Once Johan had let me know he was on his way up, I glued my eye ball to the peephole and waited. I heard the ding of the elevator before I saw the figure of the man coming down the hall. The fisheye lens revealed he was tall and very bald with broad shoulders. He looked to be in his mid forties and walked with the powerful, long strides of an athlete. His body consumed the frame of the hallway. I didn’t wait for him to knock before opening the door just enough so that he could enter while standing behind the door myself. The only part he could see was the outline of my fingers on the door and the way I placed my foot in its high heel just in front, luring him in with the prospect of my fragmented body. He would not be able to see my entirety until he had already entered the room and I had closed and locked the door behind him.

He was now inside the room and no longer distorted by the fish eyed lens of the peep hole. My initial perception of his size and stature was accurate. He was tall, broad and bald. He looked like a life size version of Mr. Clean and when he opened his mouth to introduce himself, his demeanor felt goofy and disarming compared to his physical stature. Small specks of dust clung to the inside of his wire framed glasses which rested on the bridge of his angular nose. He gave me a bit of a smile, revealing an imperfect but clean set of teeth. He was wearing a clean cashmere sweater under a black utility jacket and holding a black nylon gym bag in his hands. On his feet were heavy black leather boots that looked worn and expensive.

He followed me down the skinny hallway, following the staccato rhythm of my high heels. I walked methodically, forcing us both to slow down. It was only a few steps but they were important because this was where the shift began from the mundane outside world to the interior space of our scene. By walking slowly, I changed the pace and the tempo. My job was to slow down time. I invited him to sit on the faux fur covered sofa furthest away from the queen-sized bed. I had turned the sofa and glass coffee table into an anteroom, a makeshift therapist’s office, a respite from all the action we were about to have. Sitting across from each other we equalized before further shifting our power dynamic. We exchanged a few words of small talk, which I insured was short but were important, because he could hear the sound of my voice, make eye contact, and affirm I was a real person by seeing me, being with me for just a few short moments. When I could sense that had occurred, I heard myself repeat the words I had said a thousand times before.

“Let’s take care of tribute first.”

He handed me a wad of bills, hastily recounting them before handing them over. When I received them, I met his gaze, said “thank you” and then walked around the corner to the small safe in my closet, clicking the door open, and placing the bills on the stack already inside. I re-emerged from the hall again with a newly found enthusiasm “Let’s begin in the bathroom” I announced and with a smile, Johan grabbed his gym back and followed me back to the cool, spacious, tiled illuminated bathroom awaiting us.

“You like to travel? Where do you like to go? I can see you work out…” Johan asked as he began to take off his thin cashmere sweater, then his worn t-shirt, then his jeans. Within moments, he was standing naked in front of me. Normally, I wouldn’t a client’s naked body a moment’s notice because they had all started to blend for me over the years. For many years, most of the men who came to see me were older, slowly climbing down the mountains of their prime years. There wasn’t much to look at. But there was something animated about the way that Johan was moving, his large frame consuming the glossy mirror in front of him, doubling in the reflection. He seemed virile, alive in a way I hadn’t seen in a while. I avoided looking at his body, instead concentrating on keeping the bathroom organized, mentally noting where all of my supplies were for our session; lube, tissue, gloves, rubbing alcohol. I picked up a washcloth from the counter and moved it into a hidden drawer, ensuring I looked busy while I grabbed a few glances at him. He unrolled a towel with a well worn but sturdy rubber suit inside, snapping it over his ankles and thighs, the latex hitting his skin making sharp sound as he adjusted it onto himself. A chorus of a thousand rubber bands hitting the surface of his skin, one after the next.

I knew he was watching me in the mirror too, even though he was busy fussing with his own latex, adjusting, smoothing and placing the cool material onto his skin. I could always tell when a man was watching me, even if his gaze never directly met mine. I felt it through the warmth of the room, an incremental, barely perceptible temperature shift. Sometimes, that gaze would singe me, infuriating me at the assumption it was welcome. But today, I wanted more of it and his particular form of scrutiny felt sexy. I had agreed that for the time we were together, my body was available for visual consumption. He was allowed to look at me and be turned on. The last thing he removed from his gym bag was a small bottle of lubricant, ready to start saturating our rubber looks. I took a dime sized dollop of lubricant from my own glass bottle sitting on the counter. Most latex people always had their own preferred lubricants on hand because it was a personal item.

I rubbed my hands together and then began to touch my own body, spreading the thick, oozing liquid over my catsuit covered curves. I moved methodically, slowly, with deliberation, the way I had walked slowly down the hall. Johan watched me, transfixed by the hypnotic gesture, watching my body become as reflective as a mirror.

He was now suited up and stood facing me, covered in latex from wrists to ankles to neck. Only his hands, feet and head exposed. I could see the exaggeration of his rib cage expanding up and down with each breath, every muscle held in tightly and magnified under the fluorescent bathroom bulb above him. He looked like he was ready to go underwater, dropping below sea level, descending to new depths. He looked like a Marvel comic book character, his muscles contained in a way that made him look younger, more agile, as if his body had gotten a facelift. The charge between us felt electric and I was grateful for the rubber layers serving as a ground to anchor us.

“Let me help you,” I turned to him and said “I’m the expert.” I paused from rubbing myself with the lube and squeezed more liquid onto my naked palm so I could shine him up. I started with his shoulder, lightly touching him, cautiously, not yet knowing how my touch would affect him. With a few strokes, I gained confidence and moved from shoulder to his chest. My fingertips pressed into his pecs, grazing his nipples, feeling the structure of his collar bone, learning his particular anatomy through my touch, noticing the right side was slightly lower than the left as if a collar bone had been shattered. I skimmed my hand over his stomach, abs, hip bones, pinching, prodding, familiarizing. When I got to his groin, I felt his growing erection underneath the latex. He giggled and purred, making what sounded like animal noises. “You look so fucking hot,” he whispered. His laugh was infused with the tiniest bit of guilt, like he was aware it was a bit forward for him to say something like that, even though that was the very reason he was here.

Johan had articulated in advance he wasn’t “subby” and more interested in the “latex fetish angle” side of things, which was a coded way of expressing he wanted and expected a lot of mutual touching. I knew he wasn’t going to stand around deferentially waiting for me to boss him around. From the moment a man walked in the door, I assessed to what extent I wanted or could allow a person to touch me. If a client was clean and polite, being touched by him was the equivalent of an aging, blind and overly affectionate dog nuzzling up a little too closely; boring but benign, certainly un-arousing. I immediately knew that with Johan, it wasn’t that I did not want him touching me, it was that I wanted him to touch me a little too much.

Shining latex is a ritual, a means to an end and an end in and of itself. I had often times experienced the pleasure of my own touch when I massaged liquid silicone onto my latex leggings, dresses and heavy thick corsets. Silicone would make them shine and also deteriorate the material. The shine was worth it. I poured another puddle of lube from the plastic bottle labeled Eros onto my hand and touched my body with it, turning my catsuit from a matte grey to a brilliant, reflective black. I pushed my torso against Johan’s stomach, my nipples leaning onto his chest letting the lubricant slide between us like long, slick waves.

Our bodies were protected in these rubber sheaths, so we could probe, squeeze, manipulate and explore each other with more confidence then if we were naked. I reached my hand toward his crotch and grabbed his cock, which felt animatronic, machine like underneath the latex. A smooth mass. I inched closer to him, rubbing my body onto his, latex on latex as we stood swaying with each other in a slow, meticulously choreographed dance. The latex protected us. It didn’t matter that, less than an hour before, we had been strangers. We were now partnered in this fetish dreamscape.

Johan’s body was radiating more heat and lights above, previously cooling now started to flare up. The inside of my latex was soaked with sweat, because latex is impermeable, and the body doesn’t breath. While the outside of the catsuit remained smooth and impenetrable, my anatomical skin had long since become the texture of a prune. I could feel my insides shriveling, as if I was losing weight, as if I was disappearing from myself. But the externals remained cool, calm and collected and I knew they wouldn’t betray my failing flesh.

“Hold on, I’ve got something else…” Johan announced.

As he reached into his gym bag, I caught my reflection in the mirror, saw that the skin of my face had become flushed with pink. A charge was surging through my body like electricity. I was getting more turned on and feeling less in control. The hotter I became, the more I began losing my ability to drive the session, the steering wheel slipping through my sweaty palms.

Johan pulled out a blue and white Hitachi MagicWand vibrator, the AK-47 of sex toys. He plugged it into the outlet above the sink as casually as if it were an electric razor. He handed it to me, trusting I knew what to do with it. In my personal life, I avoided using vibrators because of their artificially produced intensity. With that much wattage, orgasm could be obtained almost immediately, at least the first time, and then each time after, my body would become more and more numb, unable to locate the thread of pleasure. When I finally I came, it would land like a sneeze. Like it was barely there, and anxiously I would wait for the eight more to make me feel like something had actually arrived. Eventually, I would stop feeling anything at all, the vibrator often overheating before I could come.

At work, vibrators were a good tool for those very same reasons. Time running short, the end of the session looming near, out came the big guns. The Hitachi provided efficient electric sex and a quick synthetic high. I felt the vibration of the tool against my hand as I held the pulsating end against Johan’s thigh, teasing him with the vibration, bringing it closer to his groin in swooping strokes. Then I pushed my own body against his with the toy in between us, a current running back and forth, charging us up.

The tool’s increasing buzzing anesthetized my thoughts. I forgot where and who I was, that Johan was my client and that I was supposed to be curating the scene between us. All I could feel was the pursuit of more vibration, more pleasure. As the speed of the vibrator increased, all sensation beyond the vibration of our bodies dissipated, his orgasm building like a bullet hitting hard, fast and immediate. In a series of thunderous moans Johan came underneath his rubber cat suit. His sounds were so loud, so animalistic and to me, felt exaggerated. It seemed he wanted desperately to let me know he had come. Why did I think this? Was it because it reminded me of all the times I faked my own orgasm?

I waited for him to finish making his sounds, watching his body shudder in a familiar way. After the vibrator was off, I regained control over myself and the scene. Watching him exhale, expelling all the air from his body and slump down from exhaustion was a relief. The tension had been let out and I no longer felt enslaved to my desire for pleasure. I’d noticed so many times before that the moment a man ejaculated, his focus quickly shifted away from me, often becoming repulsed by the act that had just taken place between us. After a session, I’d learned to quickly transition to a meditative, domestic act like cleaning, to lighten the possible guilt that would often permeate his acquisition of a fantasy. There was transgression in these professional orgasms. As he unpeeled his latex from his sweating skin, I cleaned up the bathroom, picking up lubed up kleenex, wiping down the Hitachi with a bottle of rubbing alcohol I had ready, and ensuring that any trace of pink arousal drained from my face by splashing cold water onto my hands and cheeks.

I turned on the shower for him to rinse his sweaty body; after he got in,
I stepped out of the room for a few moments of quiet, leaving the bathroom door open, so I could keep an eye on him. Taking a sip of water, I looked at my watch. It revealed what I already knew, that we had run over the allotted hour.

From the hallway, I watched the silhouette of Johan’s muscular frame in the steam behind the glass wall moving around, washing himself. When he was done, I listened to the sounds of his toys being repackaged. And then the echoing sound of his voice, calling at me.

“Does this affect your personal relationships?” he asked as he began to put his things back into this gym bag. He made the question sound casual, unassuming. Formally, our session was over, but until he walked out that door, every word and gesture exchanged was part of our scene, directed by his fantasy. There was never a moment when I wasn’t on the clock. And moments like these reminded me that my professionalism was most at stake in the moments we were not playing.

The pools of sweat inside my latex pants had turned into oceans by the end of the hour. I was aching to peel the second skin from my body and submerge in the white porcelain tub, close all of the doors, and drown out all sensations in a room of aromatic steam. I was tired and I had gotten carried away. Johan’s time had run over. The latex was starting to feel suffocating. I was horny and frustrated so I pretended not to hear his question.

I don’t remember what I said to bypass engaging in the casual communique he was throwing at me, but I knew he was asking for more from me than I could give. He wanted to know more about the person I was when I wasn’t performing latex, and I felt protective of her. I wanted him to leave as I watched him putting on his cashmere and wool, neatly rolling up his latex catsuit into the tattered towel he brought with him and packing it expertly into his gym bag.

“You’re really fucking hot,” he repeated as he reversed his steps, putting on the heavy boots, the coat and glasses, which were still dusty on the inside. He lingered in the vestibule between the bathroom and the door to my hotel room, awkwardly meeting my gaze to let me know he didn’t want to leave “It’s un-fucking believable” he almost growled when he said it, and the desire-soaked compliment provoked something in me, giving me a giddy rush of power. He adjusted his gym bag over the shoulder of his utility coat and took several wide strides out the door, finally having found a little resolve. I closed the door behind him and didn’t bother looking out the peep hole to ensure he made it down the hall and to the elevator. With an exhale, I snapped the ankle of my rubber pants to release a puddle of sweat onto the floor, watching the moisture pool at my tired feet.

***

I couldn’t get my regular room at the Hotel on Rivington. The manager told me they could set me up with a suite in a sister hotel, but that hotel also happened to be in Times Square, one the loudest, brightest stretch of blocks in the city. I had been working out of hotel rooms for the better part of the year, used to the cycle of anonymous dropping in, setting up my temporary stage and then leaving. It felt a little but like being on the road, except my circuit was limited to the island of Manhattan. No longer inspired by the novel luxury of hotel living, it mattered little whether the room had an extra flat screen television or sample bottles of shampoo from a brand I liked. I never spent the night, so the comfort of the bed was irrelevant. What was most important was that it was clean, spacious and I wouldn’t be bothered by nosy staff.

I finished two sessions that afternoon with strangers I would never see again. One client had a cat woman fantasy and asked me to sharpen my nails to black lacquered claws in preparation. He brought me a pair of Italian thigh high boots on a four-inch stiletto spike heel that were a half a size two large and ensured I could step exactly three inches to either direction before seizing with pain in my inner arches. When I deviated from his scripted request of strangling him with my leather-bound calves, he would break character and murmur to me “please move a little to the left” with a rather bossy tone and then immediately resume his closed eyes and feigned submissive state.

I had long since forgotten most of my client’s names, but I would forever retain their preferences, and the ones I would see regularly eventually turned into nick names reminding me of some element of their characters. In my handwritten calendar, I would usually put down the name of the session rather than the name of the person, to remind myself of the scene. Johan was Johan Latex. I couldn’t remember the cat suit guy’s name, so he was just “Catsuit Guy, 11 AM”.

Following cat suit guy, I saw a generic looking middle-aged man with a polite demeanor and thinning facial features. In our session, he would lay next to me while I wore pastel lingerie and describe to me how he would walk in on his wife having sex with a repair man in their Locust Valley home. He would gently be stroking my exposed thigh while telling me how beautiful his wife was, and in the end, he would carefully use a small purple vibrator he brought with him to make himself come. Before we started the session, he requested that I wash my hands. After we were done with the session, he requested that I wash my hands again. He made both requests in a low toned whisper, so I had to lean in inches away from his face to hear him. Both of my clients need to whisper struck me as oddly contrasting to the blasting horns outside in Times Square. With both of these men, I found no charge, no ecstasy and no repulsion. The touch and the communication, while not entirely neutral, felt benign, spaces where I could easily let my mind wander to things like my growing grocery list, next week’s schedule, or trying to remember if I had called back my mother when I said I would.

With two sessions out of the way, the day was completing and the street outside got louder. It was cold outside, heading into deep winter with temperatures threatening to drop to the single digits.

The hotel room felt so generic with its taupe, synthetic furniture, flat screen TV and the unopened bottle of red wine and fruit basket waiting for me upon arrival. The managers at the Hotel on Rivington must have passed on to treat me like VIP and it always felt like a shame that having quit drinking, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the gesture. It felt like a hundred other hotels that I had never been to, with everything in the room was the color of backwashed coffee, sucked dry of color. The heat pumping from the radiator felt dry and the pipes emanated a low-pitched din that drowned out the cacophony on 44th street. When I opened the curtain, I was greeted by the sight of the neighboring building’s brick façade. It reminded me that, unlike the tourists milling around in the street below, I was here for work. But work was done for the day and there was something inside of me aching, burning up. I possessed a mysterious energy that I couldn’t quite place, a gnawing feeling of something un resolved. It was boredom held together with a loose net of anxiety.

I scrolled through my email and found the contact for Johan Latex, saving the number he provided in my phone. Asking a client to come in showed a sign of need, interrupting the cool, removed, professionalism and independence I was supposed to have. There were various reasons I might do this, like not having met my quota of sessions for the month and trusting enough time had passed that it would feel sexy and natural to send a note to a regular client. But if it happened too frequently, it broke an unspoken cardinal rule of this work. From the moment Johan walked out of our first session, I knew that he had gotten under my skin and I had to put it away, work at forgetting about him. Clients were safest when they produced neither disdain nor desire in me. Remembering the heat, the anticipation I experienced during our session, curiosity overtook me and I sent a quick email inquiring if he was around, pressing send and then putting my phone immediately onto the bedside table, out of sight. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure there was an ineffable tone of desperation to it.

In the middle of the taupe living room, I changed into a new clean black t-shirt and jeans. I took a bite of the green, synthetic-looking apple from the fruit basket that stood staring at me from the coffee table. It tasted like nothing, a ghost of what had once been tart and juicy but had long since been dehydrated. A chunk of the waxy exterior of fruit polish stuck to the gloss still on my lips. I dug my black manicured fingernails into the apple peel, making a series of triangle shaped incisions and put it back into the basket. The TV was on a muted weather channel and a Bee Gees playlist shuffled from my phone. I stared at the screen, letting my eyes get glassy and out of focus, watching the gestures of the weather woman gesticulate towards icons of oncoming snow and wind. Hours passed, and I eventually floated off into a catnap.

I awoke to Johan sending a text.

“I’m can come late…probably close to midnight… should we reschedule?”

“It’s ok. I can wait,” I wrote back, anxious to see him because now I was committed, there was something exciting and new about this impromptu session. I also knew it meant staying in the hotel room much longer than I normally would, reminding me of the slowly eroding boundaries of what I as doing.

It was almost 11 PM, although Times Square had a miraculous way of hiding this. The fluorescent lights, billboards, and street noise created perpetual dawn, the night obliterated by glowing media. It was like being inside a casino, the cha-ching of car horns like slot machines announcing winners and losers at every corner. In that moment, I realized that not a single person knew where I was that night. I was just another car horn honking, another blinking light, there and gone. Anonymity used to give me such a thrill, such a rush of slipping under the radar. I could exist in a city of millions while being completely alone. Being unseen, feeling like I could hide made me feel invincible. I did not know that often, hidden underneath that sense of invisibility, was a bottomless pit of loneliness and exhaustion.

Johan was still an hour away when I started getting dressed. In the dungeon, we used to have a superstition around getting dressed before the client arrived. It would inevitably mean a last-minute cancelation, so we would start getting dressed only once he was already in the waiting room, forcing him to wait even longer, biding our time, positioning our leverage. The superstition proved true nine out of ten times, but I trusted Johan would show, probably because I really wanted him to, not that those two would necessarily align. I knew he wanted me as much as I wanted him. I began washing my latex with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap.

I didn’t have a full latex catsuit with me because I was not planning on doing a full latex session. I had a pair of leopard print thigh high stocking and a black latex dress. The stockings covered my feet, ankles and thighs and the dress covered the rest of me. The yellow a bright fluorescent, the black spots perfectly printed on my legs. I felt like a hybrid between human and animal wearing those pieces, the high heels on my feet looking like hooves. After I washed the pieces, I turned them inside out and hung it over the shower rod to dry while I lined by eyes with thick black liner, making long even strokes with a steady hand. I straightened my hair with a scalding flat iron to mimic the style of the weather forecaster on TV. I didn’t need to be so delicate about any of it but I was killing time, dragging out the moment before he would show. Once I was dressed, I cropped a perfect image of my thigh to send to Johan. I imagined him receiving the image in the taxi, on the subway, on the street, coming closer to me. The last touch was shining myself up in lubricant while trying not to rip my suit with my manicure. I sat up waiting for him, ready and anxious, with shallow breath running through my latex covered lungs.

The canned heat of the room was starting to give me a headache and make me pleasantly dizzy, my thoughts melting into each other. I zipped up the suit and kicked off my stiletto pumps, as if this would make him come sooner. The phone buzzed, indicating his arrival at the corner.

“Room 1104,” I texted. And waited, the kindling in my gut stoked to scalding.

I remember being excited, opening the door widely to greet him, exposing my costumed body to him and anybody else who may have been in that hallway. The door now wide open, he walked in with his old worn gym bag, his same coat, his same jeans and sweater, and made an immediate beeline for the bathroom. He unpacked all of his things, taking out an electric razor to shave his face before starting to take off his clothes to change into his latex. He was clearly rushing from somewhere.

“Long day. Didn’t get a chance to shave,” he said. It was an intimate moment, watching him complete this other kind of personal ritual, it made things between us less formal, which felt like both risk and relief. I sat in the living room with dimmed lights and waited. I stared at my massacred apple in the fruit bowl, draping my leopard printed calves over the armrest of the colorless loveseat. I waited for him to come in, completely forgetting to get money from him before we started our session. Amateur mistake.

He emerged from the bathroom in his rubber suit with his Hitachi vibrator in hand and walked over to me, standing over me as he plugged it into the wall. He growled in his familiar way and I involuntarily moaned back as I reached towards him. I gave him a look that meant he could come closer, indicating immediate permission with just a glance. I put my mouth on his latex covered thigh, tasting the caustic warm rubber, moving my tongue back and forth on his body, tasting every flavor of wrong.

Johan turned the Hitachi higher, the pitch becoming louder, the buzzing more severe. Like a power drill about to permanently change the architecture of my body. Like a dental tool invading my mouth. Like a commercial grade whisk running too close to the edge of a bowl of cream, I saw the mess that was about to happen everywhere. Johan increased the vibration to the top and rubbed the head of the tool against my animal printed body, starting with my wrists and moving towards my breasts, my stomach, in between my legs. I became consumed with the rush of being so completely turned on, of turning the task of pleasure over to somebody else, of feeling the sensation course through every vein at lightning speed. It was starting to feel too hot, that if the latex wasn’t there my skin would surely be singed, and I could almost taste the acrid smell of burning rubber. I sensed mechanical failure. I sensed equipment failure. I sensed my own, imminent, failure.

There was a space between the top of my rubber thigh highs and the bottom of the dress. It was a tiny fissure, a small split. I felt the warmth of Johan’s hand against me, feeling for the opening, by accident, on purpose, I still don’t know. Devoured by the white heat of the sexual power tool in his hand, I wanted nothing else beside the contact of skin on skin. Ecstasy blazed through me and the sound of Times Square, and his voice, the snapping of the rubber, all disappeared. All synthetic protections were gone. I threw the Hitachi into the corner, the white plastic head hitting the carpet with a thud. There was absolute quiet, total peace, an opiate induced coma. I felt his tongue graze my neck, which was exposed, uncovered by latex, and his finger push through the space between stockings and skirt, finding the skin of my ass, finding the space between. No words exchanged; no pause taken. Within moments we were toppled over each other in the bedroom fucking like animals into reckless self-abandon. No latex, no condom. This was the very thing that should not have happened, and it was the thing I wanted more than anything else.

***

After that, things were not the same between us. We had broken so many barriers of the client provider paradigm and we quickly devolved into murky, sticky, unknown territory. No longer contained to the ninety minute session we would have every couple of weeks, Johan and I began to send emails and texts to each other as casually as new found friends. He told me his real name and wanted to know mine. He shared with me about his infant son and the challenges of being a film maker in New York. Our constant back and forth bled into our respective lives, conflating personal and professional worlds while slowly deflating the fantasy that held us together. I found myself hoping to hear from him more and more each day, furtively checking my third party texting app on a Sunday afternoon after a day of holiday shopping. He was still saved in my phone as Johan Latex.

“How are you? Me? I’m on the mend. I had that flu and it damn near killed me, turned into pneumonia. Then my son caught it but almost had no effect on that resilient little bugger. Last night, I was at a party in Philly now and it was so boring I was ready to jump out a window.” I blinked a few times, processing all of the information in the brick of text. I didn’t respond but these mundane reports of every day life was all I could think about. It felt intimate to be invited into the fold of the banal and the boring. The symbols had inverted on themselves. The normalcy of day to day life replaced the charge of our latex clad bodies.

After a few weeks of this liminal banter, I was on my way to meet newish friends in South Brooklyn. Marla was a ceramic artist I had met at an art opening a few weeks before. We connected when she revealed she spent the bulk of her adolescence in the Russian Far East while her father was there on business. She was excited to practice speaking Russian with me, and so this gave us both the perception of bonding, but the thrill of speaking the same language can often be deceiving. I knew little else about Marla aside that she had recently left a loveless marriage, had quickly fallen in love, and now appeared to be very devoted to her new partner, Mitch. “We’d really love to have you over,” she had made sure to let me know several times. Eventually, we made a plan. And so, on a windy, winter Sunday, I made my way to their Brooklyn brownstone just as the sun was setting.

The new relationship energy was bright and comfortable in their South Slope kitchen as they buzzed around, gathering items to make dinner. Mitch was cooking and Marla was doting, ensuring to address her new beau as “my love” at every opportunity. I enjoyed basking in their tender space, but also felt myself judging it. I felt superior to the intoxication of falling in love, remembering how temporary and fleeting pheromones could be, even while knowing I was the most vulnerable to them. I wondered how long the perpetual adoration and tender nicknames would last when I was interrupted by my phone buzzing. My expression must have given away there was something more intriguing calling to me than watching them fawn all over each other. “Is that a special somebody trying to get a hold of you?” Marla teased me, affirming her new proud status as a part of a couple.

I did not respond to her Instead, I paused and glanced down at my screen. “Excuse me for a minute,” I said and went to the bathroom to decide how I was going to proceed. Marla and her partner didn’t know me well enough to know what I did for work. I never knew how to gauge if people were ready to hear about my double life with its complex identities and unorthodox relationships. Silence was paralyzing but I knew it well. When I came back from the bathroom, Mitch and Marla were talking about Jeffery Epstein’s arrest for charges of soliciting minors for sex.

“Prostitution is forced labor – it’s disgusting,” Marla announced as she served me a plateful of home-made meatballs. Marla’s partner caught my gaze and paused. I wondered if he had more to say than he was letting on.

“Well, my love, it’s a complex issue.” Mitch softly responded.

The bottom of my stomach dropped like a bag of rocks and I felt my face flush. Would this be the moment to engage about the politics of sex work? To thread the needle and make awkward but tough stitches between one realm and another? To speak was too run the risk of conflict, but the feel the satisfaction of my steadfast principles anchoring my core. I never knew if the words would get stuffed back down into the earth or burst out like flames. I stayed quiet, staring at my hands, opting for retreat, embracing the shallow, thin, brittle protection of fear laced with cowardice. “Thank you, this is delicious,” I said. I smiled and dug my fork into my meatballs, feeling my phone vibrate in my jeans from Johan’s continued onslaught of messages. When Marla began to clear the table, I grabbed my phone.

What are you up to? said the text.

I’m at a dinner in South Brooklyn I quickly typed back as dishes were gathered and washed.

Do you want me to give you a ride home?

Yes

I wrote back without pausing, feeling the relief of being able to see somebody who knew more about what I did, who knew the other me, who could recreate another realm that seemed so far away from this warm, quaint, confusing coffee-stained kitchen counter in Park Slope.

After dinner, Marla served peppermint tea and led me through a tour of the apartment, proudly showing me the headboard Mitch had constructed for their bed, the loving craftsmanship of the sanded teak protecting the sanctity of their dreams. Everybody had forgotten about the conversation about sex work, moving on to discuss the neighborhood’s problematic gentrification and the absence of bike lanes. I thanked my hosts and walked down the crooked staircase to wait for Johan on the corner. I wondered if he would recognize me in my jeans tucked into flat winter boots, my military green bomber jacket, my grey wool beanie hiding most of my head. I wondered if he even knew what I looked like without my latex.

But it was me who failed to recognize Johan without his latex, gym bag and sophisticated Manhattan attire. He picked me up in an old Jeep wrangler, clearing the passenger seat of plastic bottles and empty coffee cups, bags of cables and miscellaneous recording equipment. The passenger side rearview mirror had been fixed several times, held together with some combination of glue and tape. The outside of the car was sooty. Particles of decade old dust had settled into the vents of the heat, which was blasting noisily. A muffled NPR station played through the ancient speakers. Johan reached over with his long arm covered in a scratchy wool sweater and popped the door open. He looked giddy and happy to see me, and I wasn’t sure how I felt, except for relieved to be in a warm car away from my awkward dinner. “Where to, boss?” he asked in a raspy voice, which I thought sounded sexy but just meant he wasn’t still recovered from his flu.

I gave him instructions for getting back to my neighborhood. He didn’t tell me I looked fucking sexy, like he usually did when we saw each other in sessions. He barely looked at me at all, instead extolling with details about the symptoms of his fading flu. I let him talk, occasionally saying “yes” or stroking the top of his hand with my fingertips to let him know I was still listening, a force of habit I had long since made subconscious. But my mind wandered as I watched the lights inside the windows of the brownstones as we drove through Brooklyn, imagining how many other millions of people had the flu tonight, or were making dinner with their loved ones, or were tucking each other in at night under hand carved headboards. Before I knew it, we were parked on my street next to a row of gasoline stained puddles. I led the way and Johan followed me into my building, up four flights of stairs and into the former industrial warehouse that housed my apartment.

My hallway was lit with buzzing fluorescent bulbs, a different tint than the ones in the Hotel on Rivington bathroom, these lights hid nothing, every crack, smudge and particle of dirt exposed. I had never brought a client home and I suddenly became aware and self-conscious of my personal space.

I walked him over the threshold of my front door, through my kitchen, lit with a single Edison bulb to hide the decades of stains embedded into the grout. Past the single empty coffee cup and crumb-covered plate in the sink. Through my living room with gym socks and towels strewn about with unopened mail and little piles of incense smoke traces. A thousand-piece puzzle of pictures of colorful donuts sat half-finished on the kitchen table. “You’re doing this?” he asked, grazing his fingers on the tops of the cardboard pieces, trying to see if he could find a match. “Yeah,” I answered, watching him cast his eyes on every corner, drinking in mismatched furniture, the rubber trees, the nineteenth century drawing of a serene, blue Lord Shiva I had delicately balanced next to stack of wooden yoga blocks. More than anything, I didn’t want him to see the dust gathered in the corners, as if this was the fiercest antagonism to antiseptic, shiny, latex.

I quickly grabbed his hand and led him to my bedroom, lighting just enough candles to make shadows against the brick wall. He didn’t stop to take his shoes off and I didn’t bother to ask him because I didn’t want to delay his gaze in the living room. I lay down on my back on top of my covers and watched him take off his wool sweater revealing the familiar sinew of his muscles. I felt the rush of attraction creep up in my gut and as if perfectly on cue, hit play on my phone so the sound of Urge Overkill could descend on us. Girl, you’ll be a woman soon. Soon, you’ll need a man.

“This strange thing happened at dinner…” I started, desperate to tell somebody, to process, to speak about my discomfort with somebody, anybody who might understand the challenges of a double life. Certainly, Johan understood the weight of carrying secrets, I was his, afterall. Before I could finish my sentence, he leaned in to kiss me, consuming my words, a passionate gesture at once so misplaced and so erotic because it felt so misplaced. The erasure was intoxicating. I could taste the remnant of cough drops and smell the faded tobacco and detergent clinging to his cotton t-shirt. He pulled away, giggled and then became very serious again. My speaking, to my relief, was over ridden. It was easier to feel charge of being wanted than the heavy lifting of being be heard.

“You know I like you so much… and I worry about you, this job is probably making you cynical. You probably think all men are assholes…” He pulled away from me for a moment, resting his body on the dresser against my bedroom wall, leaning his palms on the top of it, his hands almost touching my makeup, my hairbrushes, my jewelry.

“I wish I could see you more, but you know, with the new baby… you know how it is. Things are complicated…” I could sense what he was about to say, this jumbled monologue of justification about his lack of availability, or that he wasn’t going to pay me anymore. Or maybe he would tell me he wanted to be friends? Whatever he was going to say, it was going to annoy me, it was a script, textbook, and more than anything I wanted him not to talk anymore, grasping at what little remained of our fantasy world.

“The other thing is, it’s hard, you know, with money, because I think of that money for my son’s future music lessons…it feels indulgent to spend it on myself. You understand, right?” He grazed my chin with his thumb. “I really like you.” His frame was so much larger than mine and his warmth radiated like a heater next to me. Inside the inner sanctum of my bedroom, I was not immune to the weakest form of flattery.

I nodded and leaned toward him so he could kiss me again, letting my mind go blank while my gut screamed bloody betrayal. He pulled off my pants and threw his mouth in between my legs. I moaned, shedding layers of loneliness I’d been harboring as if he could eat them away. My legs felt like sandpaper as I rubbed their naked skin onto his face. I left my socks on. I felt him enter into me, pumping and muttering both “I love you” and “I fucking hate you” quietly. It was a strange thing to hear, but it made sense to me. It summed up the conflict he felt around his desire for me, as if he betrayed himself in being there. In the murky den of desire we were creating, I was enamored with this demonic power. When I heard the word “hate”, I wanted to break him, but mostly I wanted to disappear. This strange mantra, of knotted emotions was barely audible and yet so clear. We would fuck our way out of it, tearing through the binding complexity of words and feelings into preverbal, animalistic abandon. No condom. No costume. And then, one pump at a time, he began to grow soft.

To distract me from what was rigid becoming amorphous, he turned me around and started fucking me from behind. I pretended not to notice his lack of erection, just like I had been conditioned to do. I had been taught that nothing is as frail as a male ego, and in sex, this fragility was only amplified. His eyes closed, his sweat pouring out of him more than it ever had in his rubber pants. My concentration focused on each thrust, trying to get excited by his determination, his force to keep going in spite of his equipment failure. I waited to numb out, just like I did with the Hitachi. I waited to feel nothing; that nothing never came.

My mind flashed to the barrier of our latex catsuits, the container of the fantasy, to wondering if he was distracted or desensitized, if the real thing was either too much or not enough. His body collapsed in exhaustion onto mine, his full weight crushing me. In that moment, I knew it was done, all of it. I gently pushed his body until it released me and then I stood up.

“I think you should go,” I whispered, suddenly sobering up. “It’s late”

He put on his clothes in the candlelight while I wrapped myself in a thin cotton robe and leaned against my doorway, watching him pull up his underwear, listening to the click of the heavy metal buckle of his belt as he closed his jeans. I walked him back through my living room, all the way to the door, closing it behind him as I pressed my ear to the wall, listening to the sound of his footsteps going down the stairs. When I knew he was gone, I stumbled back to my bed, watching the flickering flame of the candle hypnotically dance until I passed out. When I woke up the next morning, I deleted Johan Latex number from my phone.

***

Latex is not only a protective barrier against disease. It is a container for desire. Latex is synthetic sex, with its sweaty, slick, second skin sticking to your body, forgiving no bumps, fat rolls, bones, inconsistencies, protecting against the harsh realities of screaming newborns, complex marriages and pending mortgages, of the failing body, of time, of age. It embodies a kind of perfection, smoothness, a clean quality unavailable to naked flesh with all of its inconsistencies and blemishes. While it is alive, shiny, at the height of its glory, it shines and protects. It is impenetrable, containing its contents like a dutiful watch guard. As a casing for desire and against infection, it is an important tool. And then one day, it gives way, wrinkles, turns yellow, rips. After a point of no return, there is little salvation. Instead, the used, sad heap sits on the floor like a mound of memory.

Verity

ACTIVELY CREATING

Verity is a sensual priestess and lifelong spiritual student. Her practice integrates yogic studies, meditation, hands on touch, sexual energy and psychodynamic re-enactment. She is currently on sabbatical.

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