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Arts & Erotica

A modern guy’s guide to man-on-man cruising

The risk of being caught is the ultimate turn-on

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Perhaps surprisingly, the proud tradition of man-on-man cruising is still going strong.

Wherever you are in the world, you’re not going to be too far from a spot where you’ll easily find other men who want to hook up with men. There are plenty of apps and websites dedicated to helping you out if you want to have sex in a public place.

Tom of Finland and the gay culture

As a young gay guy, I learnt pretty much everything I knew about sex from Tom of Finland cartoons. This was a world before the internet.

Tom of Finland created a hyper-masculine world in which sex between men generally seemed to happen spontaneously — at work, in a bar, at a swimming pool, hanging out in a park, or in a public toilet somewhere. These men were constantly hot and horny, constantly on the lookout for sex, constantly cruising.

Public toilets, private affairs
Public toilets, private affairs  | Photo: Marc Martin (courtesy of Schwules Museum)

The sexual landscape drawn by Tom of Finland represented a time not only before location-based dating apps, but also a time when being gay was either illegal or socially unacceptable — a time when there wasn’t ready access to safe spaces for gay men to meet, a time when every sexual encounter had an edge of danger and the thrill of the unknown.

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The encounters celebrated by Tom of Finland are still very real for the gay men of today.

Cruising as part of UK’s gay history

In the UK (and many other countries around the world) police used to actively patrol known cruising areas, actively arresting men, even using decoy officers to entrap people. This type of arrest routinely destroyed people’s careers and their lives.

Given the technological and social changes we’ve seen in most Western countries in recent decades, you could imagine that the need for gay men to go cruising for sex has become a bit redundant. If you want a quick, anonymous sexual encounter (or something more) then you can simply put your smart-phone to work, or head to your nearest sauna or sex-on-premises venue. Right?

Contrary to the approach of a few decades ago, police in the UK will generally only turn their attention to guy-on-guy cruising if they receive some sort of formal complaint that needs to be investigated. There is specific legislation that makes it illegal to have sex in a public toilet, but any sort of sex in a public place could be an offence if it’s shown that your actions are likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress to others.

Public toilets, private affairs
Public toilets, private affairs  | Photo: Marc Martin (courtesy of Schwules Museum)

No matter how discrete you are, having sex in a public place clearly comes with some risks. You’re always pretty vulnerable mid-fuck. Homophobic thugs will often target known cruising spots. There are numerous cases of men being mugged or robbed while cruising. Also, the men who frequent cruising spots may pose a greater sexual health risk — they could be closeted, and possibly less-educated about HIV and other STDs.

But all of those risks somehow add to the thrill of it all. There’s entire websites, Tumblr feeds, and Twitter accounts dedicated to recording the exploits of guys getting it on in places where they probably shouldn’t, places where they could be caught or discovered at any moment, places where other anonymous guys might turn up and who might want to join in the action.

Public toilets, Private affairs

Berlin’s Schwules Museum has hosted an exhibition by photographer Marc Martin. His series titled Public toilets, Private affairs celebrates guy-on-guy cruising in public toilets.

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Public toilets, private affairs
Public toilets, private affairs  | Photo: Marc Martin (courtesy of Schwules Museum)

Martin’s photos, staged with models and using disused train station toilets as locations, are beautifully observed, and celebrate the anticipation, the sexual tension, and the fraternity that can be experienced in public toilets around the world.

The proud tradition of cruising lives on.

Click ‘See gallery’ to see more images.

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Arts & Erotica

No Ordinary Boy

A collection of shorts that celebrate Boys On Film.

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Between Here and Now
Between Here and Now (2018) | Image supplied

Boys on Film is a continuing collection of short films that explore the gay experience. Volume 19 in the series has now been released, and ‘No Ordinary Boy’ is the theme that connects all featured films.

This volume, featuring ten films, showcases the work of filmmakers from around the world and tackles a diverse range of subjects.

The films featured are:

Michael Joseph Jason John

Michael Joseph Jason John is a romantic thriller that explores one-night stands and the thrill and risks of our hook-up culture.

Written and directed by Scott T. Hinson, the film follows the story of a single man that imagines what life would be like with a mysterious stranger he picks up on the New York City subway.

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Eric Robledo and Scott T. Hinson in Michael Joseph Jason John
Eric Robledo and Scott T. Hinson in Michael Joseph Jason John (2018)

In an interview with Hinson, the director explains that he didn’t set out to make a cautionary tale but doesn’t see it as a bad things if people see it a such.

The director recalls seeing the end scene of Paris is Burning prior to ever having his first one night stand. In the scene, Venus Xtravaganza is found dead under a bed of a seedy motel room. The ultimate case of tricking gone wrong, as Hinson describes it.

“The thought of that has never, ever left me” explaines Hinson. “Going into every anonymous encounter I’ve ever had, a little voice has whispered – You know this dude could jack you up, right?”

Maacher Jhol – The fish curry

The animated short, directed by Abhishek Verma, follows the story of Lalit.

Lalit is a 28-year-old Indian guy who decides to come out to his father. In order to do so, he plans to cook the traditional fish curry Maacher Johl. Being is father’s favourite dish, Lalit hopes that the meal will help him win his father’s acceptance.

“It’s very difficult for someone to hide their identity, their sexuality, and their desires for such a long period of their life…” explained Verma, talking about his inspiration for the film. “Some people have to do it for their entire life.”

Maacher Jhol-The fish curry poster
Maacher Jhol-The fish curry (2017) | Source: IMDb

Blood Out Of A Stone

Written and directed by Ben Allen, the story revolves around two gay men getting back into the dating game.

After each had been single for quite some time, Michael sets Dan a challenge on their first date together. An icebreaker of sorts, that throws Dan out of his comfort zone. Not used to dates requiring such vulnerability, Dan struggles to handle the challenge. East London provides the backdrop to this intimate story of immediate connection.

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“In this film, the character of Dan is based on me and my experiences as a single gay man in my twenties…” explains Allen, talking about his inspiration for the story. “London was such a double-edged sword for me at that time – its vastness and unpredictability were both a blessing and a curse, and I was often finding myself getting my fingers burnt in short-term flings with guys who I would fall for very quickly.”

Blood out of a Stone poster
Blood Out of a Stone (2018) | Source: IMDB

No More We

Directed and written by David Färdmar, this Swedish drama follows the break-up story of Hampus and his fiancé Adrian.

One morning, Hampus tells Adrian that “There’s No More We”. He feels total relief, the weight of their destructive relationship slips off his shoulders. For his fiancé, Adrian, it’s a devastating shock. How can they now help each other navigate the beginning of the end?

A small film about a big subject, where endings can also be beginnings.

In an interview with the director, Färdmar confirmed drawing inspiration from his personal life.

“I can’t deny that one of the characters is more based on ‘me’ and the other one is a mix of my two exes…” confirmed Färdmar. “But, I’ve just tried to create two interesting characters that I want to portray and see on the big screen. It’s fiction, not a documentary. When I look at the film now, I don’t really see myself or my exes on the screen, I just see Adrian and Hampus.”

Jonathan Andersson and Björn Elgerd in No More We
Jonathan Andersson and Björn Elgerd in No More We (2018)

Between Here And Now

Visiting Copenhagen, Tony meets local boy Oscar at a bar. Initially cautious, Tony finds himself drawn to Oscar and their relationship rapidly intensifies. However, things get more complicated when they realise the loneliness forges stronger friendships.

Jannik Splisboel, writer and director of Between Here and Now, describes it as “a story about two men and what could have been a great story”.

In an interview, the director talks about how complex our need for intimacy and physical connection can be. “We’re afraid of showing feelings, and that’s a shame” explains Splisboel.

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“I think we’ve all had encounters where it could have developed into something more, but for different reasons it just didn’t. I wanted to tell a story about two men and what could have been a great love story.”

Run(a)way Arab

This short film directed by Amrou Al-Kadhi follows the story of Nazeem.

The 26-year-old Middle Eastern drag queen, known as Queen Za Dream, is preparing her latest Egyptian themed show.

She recalls memories of her childhood as an 8-year-old boy when a transgressive moment broke the seemingly close bond with her flamboyant Iraqi-Egyptian mother, Halima, who is governed by the strict expectations of gender in Arab society.

Only through his drag can the adult Nazeem keep sacred the memories of his mother before this painful moment.

Amrou Al-Kadhi in Run(a)Way Arab
Amrou Al-Kadhi in Run(a)Way Arab (2018) | Source: IMDb

MEATOO

A naive actor auditions for a film which could launch his career. The things he’s asked to do make him more and more uncomfortable.

Directed by Dean Loxton, the film draws on his personal experiences and recreates an audition that he was subjected to as an actor.

In an interview with the director, Loxton confirms that the film is a “pretty accurate” depiction of what happened to him.

I asked Loxton how true to life is the film’s depiction of what happened.

“It was only a few years later, looking back, that I saw it for what it was – a hotel, only the director, me half-naked.” he recalls. “I was twenty – I felt for the lads in their late-teens waiting to go in. Some had their mum’s with them that I doubt were allowed in the room”.

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Meatoo by Dean Loxton
Meatoo by Dean Loxton (2018)

Dusk

Written and directed by Jake Graff, Dusk portrays 1950s England and the struggles of Chris to fit into the accepted gender roles in an intolerant and uninformed world.

After a tough childhood, he meets dream woman Julie, but is haunted by the growing feeling that theirs is a life half lived.

Endlessly imagining what might have been, Chris is finally struck by the realisation that for some decisions there is no right answer.

Jermaine and Elsie

Written and produced by Ashley Campbell and directed by Leon Lopez, Jermaine and Elsie brings us the story of Elsie – a fiercely independent and opinionated pensioner with a drink problem – and Jermaine – her black and sexually ambiguous carer.

Initially, their relationship is tumultuous but Jermaine is able to win her over with his non-conventional ways.

When Jermaine mysteriously disappears, Elsie becomes determined to find out what happened to him.

Four Quartets

Directed by Marco Alessi, the story revolves around Raf. He’s young, fun and on the pull, but he is struggling to find his place among the crowd. Sometimes it’s that moment when you stop trying that magic really strikes.

Laurie Kynaston and Mary Antony in Four Quartets
Laurie Kynaston and Mary Antony in Four Quartets (2018) | Source: IMDb

Boys on Film is distributed by Peccadillo Pictures

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