"JAMES" - a recently recovered meth addict who lives in Sydney - cuts through the illusion and hype that surrounds sex on crystal, and comes clean about the dehumanising, twisted reality of bingeing and tweaking...
• Graphic language
"IS SEX ON CRYSTAL all it's cracked up to be?" muses James, a ruggedly handsome, chunkily built Australian in his late thirties. "Well..." He considers his response thoughtfully. "...it is, and it ain't. Certainly it feels amazing, at least in the beginning. You become so uninhibited that you venture into places you would never otherwise consider, usually some quite depraved places that make you feel disgusted at yourself when you sober up. The danger is you want more and more - crystal and sex - and, as your craving increases, you fail to realise it is all an illusion, by which time it is too late to turn back and Tina has you in her claws."
What does James mean by illusion? "Well, crystal twists you psychologically into thinking that enough is never enough; never enough men, never enough dick... Even after three or four days like a rabbit with over 20 guys you are left with an emptiness in the pit of your stomach, like a thirst that can't be quenched." He pauses to reflect. "I mean, I would be online, literally, in 12-hour stretches - with only an hour in between to rest and get what food I could down me - and I'd be lining up my next trick, and even the one after that, while the current one was still in the shower. I have a friend who had a reputation for breaking off in mid-flow to instant message his next partner! It was a feeling of never, ultimately, feeling fulfilled, no matter who walked through that door."
What is it psychologically, does James feel, that drives this craving for numerous, anonymous sexual encounters? "On crystal, basically, you end up dancing with the devil. Your soul is totally obliterated while you are tweaking. Life just loses all meaning because it no longer offers any ultimate sense of reward, no matter how much sex you get through. I guess that's why people go down and down, until they hit rock bottom. You need your highs as well as your lows, but the high associated with crystal is not real. Not to mention the fact that your dick ends up ruby raw and full of scabs, because you can't ejaculate! You've been fucking for days on end, horny as hell, yet no matter how long you beat it you never get that end pleasure, the release. How crazy is that?!"
James has attended more than his fair share of sex parties. "Looking back," he considers, "crystal orgies are plain nasty; the hungry, debased energy, the stench...urrgghh, that foul stink that starts to come out of your skin about 10-12 hours after doing too much crystal. Eventually you smell like a rotting corpse - or how you would imagine a corpse to smell. Disgusting! The thing is, when you are a part of that environment you aren't aware of it. You become desensitised, dehumanised. Yet the number of times my roommate told me how foul I stunk whenever I arrived home from a party and he came within a few feet of me...it was that bad. Even after a shower. I mean, you are absorbing industrial poisons, and that is what your body is eliminating through your sweat. Pure toxins."
Did James's roommate tolerate his crystal abuse? "Well, we had a history so he was genuinely concerned for my wellbeing. That's what made him stay, despite all the abuse I would throw his way whilst tweaking. I remember once, we were watching TV. He would be picking the anchovies off his pizza, and just to get attention I would start picking at the crystal welts on my skin. That's how fucked up Tina makes you."
What was the incidence of barebacking like at the orgies James attended? "Condoms are, basically, not an option. The last one I attended was during the 2002 Sydney Gay Games. This cute young guy made a point of letting everyone know that he only used condoms. There was this hushed silence, and these two huge American bodybuilders kind of cornered him. One said, 'I'm gonna give you the gift of HIV, man.' I think this young guy thought he was kidding, then he kinda looked this enormous fella in the eye and he saw something that made him panic and fled!
"I mean, in that sort of meth-drenched environment there is no consideration given to anyone else," James explains. "It's all about the drugs and the sex and what you can get out of it. Everyone is hungrily feasting off everyone else, literally, like a pack of wild animals. It is sex devoid of value and meaning; all take, take, take and no give. It was that one incident that made me wake up, thank God, and realise what I was becoming. I decided, there and then, that I had to get my life back.
"I would strongly advise anyone," cautions James, "anyone who does not do crystal: do not put yourself in that kind of an environment where, perhaps, you are online and someone invites you to "PNP", be it at an orgy, or even with just one guy. You will end up feeling totally - physically and emotionally - drained. These people are not looking for a meaningful, passionate, sensual or erotic encounter. They don't really know what they want, and are not even present because their minds are speeding ahead of themselves. I mean, would you want to have sex with someone who looks like a zombie and smells like they are about to decompose?"
In a moment of reflection a look of sadness, even grief, crosses James's weathered face. "After three or four days of non-stop Tina and depraved sex," he concludes, "to say that these guys resemble dead men walking is not far off the truth." •
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