• Mathura Hawley


Updated: Aug 2, 2021

This is the first time I have done this, followed a man I do not know back to his hotel. "

I meet him in the Gaiety Theatre, a famous male strip club off Times Square. I have been here a few times, having read about it in the Village Voice. I sit in the back and watch the dancers, most of them Russian with huge muscles, hair slicked back and bodies shiny. I watch them walk down the short runway as they lip synch and dance awkwardly to music from the raspy speakers. I have never seen anything like this growing up in a small town, and it is exhilarating and scary for me to be in public where other men will know that I am gay, or even sexual. Years of my desires buried under an outer shell of heavy weight, then lost in near anorexia, has left a version of me that does not reflect who I am, and I seek out dark corners where I can feel something, anything, to practice. A handsome older man in his late 30’s slides down a few seats and then next to me. He reaches over and touches my leg and I feel paralyzed. I do not know what to say to a man. Since childhood, I have only known one way to connect with men and I give in, every time, for their acceptance and now to answer to my own hormones. He stands up and I follow him through the dark, out the door and across the street to the largest hotel in Times Square. We enter the lobby in silence, and the lights are bright and I am embarrassed because I think everyone knows why I am there. We get into the elevator, which is glass and we go at least twenty floors up into the New York sky. It feels like an amusement ride and my heart is racing. This is the first time I have done this, followed a man I do not know back to his hotel. We get to his room and he guides me into his bed, undresses me and opens champagne. He holds the bottle to my lips over and over, and I feel the sting flow through me quickly. He kneels over me and points to the clock by the bed. “What’s your name?“ I ask him. He looks at the clock again and back down at me. “Happy new year,” he says, lifting my legs.

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