Tour de Masturbate-a-Thon, part One

August 10, 2006

We came, we saw, we conquered.

No, that’s not right. We came, they all came. One lady came 49 times! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

What follows is my travelogue of the days leading up to the first London Masturbate-a-Thon: Robert’s and my Tour de ‘Thon. Consider it the behind-the-scenes dish to accompany the forthcoming documentary which will air on UK Channel 4’s Wank Week.

And to think that the point of the whole thing (well, one of a number of points) was to compare how edgy we are in wank-friendly San Francisco with the shock of the Brits and their stiff upper lips. Hey, *they* have a Wank Week on TV, and we don’t! Who’s ahead of the game? And as you noted if you saw my Saturday (5. August) entry briefly noting the Masturbate-a-Thon’s success, more than upper lips got stiff.

CSC’s Masturbate-a-thon

I’ll be addressing the role of TV, actually press in general, in a future entry, so if this interests you, stay tuned. Apparently a fair amount of the UK press attention to this event had to do with Channel 4’s involvement, which was a good deal more controversial there than I think it would be here. And I want to get right on with telling you about our trip, so I’m going to address that topic later.

DAY 1:
That would be Monday, although, since we traveled from San Francisco to London, it telescoped into two days. It was a long and half-arduous flight; travel is hard for Robert, with his pain-related disability, and walking and queueing in airports is pretty awful too. The first step of the journey had us up way before dawn and then standing in a Delta line at the airport for 90 minutes; they literally had to hold the plane for us. But in New York we switched to MaxJet and traveled as comfortably as we ever have; good thing, because (as we’d told the documentary producers, who got us there in the first place) if R. were wrecked by traveling, there’d be no real point in bringing us over in the first place.

DAY 2:
Liz and her doc crew met us at Stansted airport, the better to document our jet lag. We met Liz in the spring when she came over to film our San Francisco Masturbate-a-Thon, and this time she had Rob with her doing sound, as she had in SF, and they walked backwards with their equipment, immortalizing our unsteady trip down a ramp with all our luggage packed onto a cart with a bum wheel. A London cabbie had brought them out to get us, in one of those taxis with jump seats, so while England’s green and pleasant land whizzed by outside, the camera looked up our noses as we foggily speculated at Liz’s insistance how the London ‘Thon would come off. They taped the cabbie giving his opinion too (he, like every cabbie we had, thought it was a dandy idea. “Why not, then?” seemed to be the united cabdriver response.)

I should note that Robert and I have been in London together only once before, a very brief visit that commenced at about 11 pm on a summer evening in 1994. We had just come over on a jetfoil from Belgium, through which we had trained while eating bread and chocolate. We’d been in Amsterdam at the AIDS conference, the one moved quickly from Harvard when the US refused to relax its policy of barring HIV-positive people even long enough to let the international delegates get in. In London we’d stayed in a not-very-charming neighborhood in a horrific bug-infested hotel which was our cabbie’s recommendation. It turned out to have upper floors populatd by dole cases, which meant that we ate baked beans and flabby bacon next to other bewildered tourists and a lot of resident junkies.

That having been our prior London experience, we were quite pleased to be delivered to the fabulous Rookery, a new-ish hotel meant to look very, very old (and occupying a seventeenth-century building). Our olde London experience, complete with a room named Clarice of Cokke’s Lane (for a whore who had once plied her trade on the alley just outside the city’s gates), promised to be a perfect cure for our heroin-and-limp-bacon memories, and indeed it was, complete with a basket of hot croissants every morning. But before we would be allowed to eat any of London’s newly fabulous food, we had a dragon to slay: Liz had booked us to debate a Christian homophobe.

Around the block, in a vacant bar with good daytime lighting, Liz sat us on a sofa and aimed her camera at us while we argued with Stephen Green, a Brit holy-roller who, in a much different accent than we’re used to, assured us that we are going to hell. It seemed to us that he was in hell already, since he insisted that the Masturbate-a-Thon was a homosexual event and lost no opportunity to talk very graphically about gay men’s sexual practices. Now, there’s a word for this, and Robert and I coined it: absexuality, an orientation in which a person gets erotic pleasure or focus through a highly sexualized kind of opprobrium regarding other people’s sexual practices. (I write about it in Real Live Nude Girl, if you’re interested.) This guy could *not* stop talking about rimming, etc., and he could not handle it when we told him that people of all genders and orientations did all the things about which he was fulminating.

“The whole point of this,” I said, as he explained how the homosexual agenda (with a little help from the secular humanists) had coarsened England beyond compare, “is that people of every orientation and gender masturbate. This is not a gay event at all — this is for everyone.” It didn’t parse in Mr. Green’s anilinguistically-inclined brain. And maybe it was just the jet lag, but I felt myself in a time warp, as if it was the 1970s again and people actually talked about secular humanists and seemed to have just discovered that gay men had sex.

Poor guy. Liz had us talk to US anti-masturbators, too, back in May: a couple of adorable churchy white rappers from Sacramento, who hadn’t picked up the true gift of fulmination but had the best logo on their stuff: “Satan’s a pimp, don’t be his ‘ho!”. They even agreed with us, ultimately, that it was OK for you to masturbate on the phone with your wife when you were out on tour. Stephen Green couldn’t wrap his brain around this… not that he probably indulges in lustful thoughts about his wife at all. Those synapses don’t leave the topic of sodomy for long: only long enough to work in a Bible verse, or, proving that he isn’t really an American after all, a snippet of a John Donne poem.

I told Liz, who hadn’t actually gotten very much masturbation-related footage out of him, that she had succeeded in creating the most surral morning of my life. (Of course, this is partly because in Jet-Lag World, it wasn’t morning at all: it was 3 am at best.) She grinned the grin of a perverse media svengali. Hey, I’d have been proud of myself, too, for getting something like that odd hour to transpire. TV, playing god!

That afternoon we had to go back to the bar for another documentary responsibility, this one *far* nicer: meeting Tony Kerridge from Marie Stopes International, our beneficiary organization. (The Terrence Higgins Trust had also said a very reluctant yes to involvement, but they sent literally not a single volunteer, did not help with the press, and were clearly very nervous about any undue attention they might receive). Tony, a very savvy guy who had no problem working the Marie Stopes mission of international sexual health and family planning into the attention being given the Masturbate-a-Thon, came to the meeting with Helene, a MSI nurse who planned to be onsite at the ‘Thon to help ensure the health of all.

We had to stay up late enough to do a phone interview at 8 pm; then the jet lag was over, at least for the night.

DAY 3:
Karin Tobiason, Good Vibes press specialist extraordinaire, arrived. She’d been sent to help wrangle the whole thing, which had already promised to go out of control, media-wise. We had *far* more press attention for the London ‘Thon than we’ve ever had for a US event, and given that the Masturbate-a-Thon arose from a Good Vibrations think tank early in the history of National Masturbation Month (which also arose from GV’s brain trust, just after Joycelyn Elders was fired), it seemed wise to have someone on hand who could keep track of everything. We stumbled out to synchronize our watches at the closest awesome restaurant (The Fence on Cowcross: check out its sophisticated take on bangers and mash) while Robert slept. The neighborhood, once home to Clarice of Cokke’s Lane and other whores and cutpurses, is now crawling with young businesswomen in sexy shoes.

DAY 4:
Thursday; two more days til the Masturbate-a-Thon! And today the press attention starts in earnest. We went to Marie Stopes International’s HQ in Fitzrovia for the official press conference, though most media, Tony told us when we arrived, were holding out to attend the ‘Thon itself. On the way down the street we saw a curious sign on a door: right above the bell a little plaque read, “This is not a brothel!”

MSI, founded in 1923 by suffragist Marie Stopes (who is sort of the Margaret Sanger of the UK, if you will, and MSI something like our Planned Parenthood), has been providing family planning information and health services for lo these many years. One of our UK friends, on hearing that MSI was to be our beneficiary, said, “Oh, I went there as a kid with my dad. It turned out he’d gone in to get a vasectomy!” Posters about condoms and safer sex adorn the walls of the media offices, where Tony works. Since MSI has offices and clinics around the world, some were aimed at very different audiences, culturally.

We gave our pitch: the Masturbate-a-Thon’s history, our expectations of the event (we had no clue, in fact, but said we hoped for at least as much participation as we had in SF, and of course there was a world record to perhaps break). Questions, while pretty sophisticated, still focused closely on the “Shock the Brits” trope. Have these people forgotten they gave us punk rock? Goodness me. And they had a kind of brothel for everything under the sun back when the Americans hadn’t figured out how to make wooden fences yet. Brits *invented* kink! But perhaps the press is not being invited to sex parties these days.

We learned something new and useful: that the angle of erection considered inappropriate to show is derived from the shape of a peninsula in Scotland, the Mull of Kintyre. Of course! This from a nation that gave us our arcane system of weights and measures based on the length of kings’ thumbs and such; it made perfect sense. This tidbit for your (and my) next cocktail party came courtesy of the journalist from Razzle magazine, a fine old porno which, our friend Clive later told us, had not changed a bit since the 70s when he used to find discarded ones in trash bins. Razzle actually donated a case of mags to the ‘Thon. ID Lube had offered itself as a corporate sponsor: with porn and lube taken care of it seemed the only variable to a successful ‘Thon would be the lengths of peoples’ arms.

(I had pointed this out to Stephen Green, actually: “God made peoples’ arms just the right length.” He seemed unmoved by this ecclesiastical proof of the rightness of self-love. Come to think of it, he didn’t like the phrase “self-love,” either.)

At a lovely lunch post-press conference with Tony’s boss, an elegant lady named Patricia, we learned historical information that explained the “This is not a brothel!” sign. That is, everything in Fitzrovia had pretty much once been a brothel. It was the neighborhood where Oscar Wilde had made the fateful acquaintance of Bosie.

Howard Stern has better things to do than talk to us about masturbation, it seems, but that wasn’t true of Tim Shaw, award-winning maniac star of Kerrang radio’s night program. (Also way smarter and cooler than my average US shock-jock guy, so many of whom have been middle-aged and bitter.) We trained up to Birmingham to be on his show with sidekicks Juicy Lucy and Four Fat Blokes (whose surname appeared to be On A Shopping Trolley). The TV crew, whose car had been impounded, got there late, by which time we had already gotten into trouble with the W word: Wank. We use it without thinking in the US, but then, it’s borrowed from the Brits… and who knew it was considered obscene? And to confuse us further, that’s just on radio… but not TV, as Channel 4 is already demonstrating by preparing Wank Week for the masses! What? TV can use the term after 9 pm, but Tim will get fined.

Porn stars had been promised, masturbating — no rule against that, apparently. But they were no-shows, and so strippers, phoned in at the last minute, arraived instead. A Dutch businesswoman on a busman’s holiday, where she strips and lives like a maniac for one month each summer: living her dream, surrounded by cute-as-bugs Brit birds (that’s what Tim called them) and one Latvian with a perfect ass. They couldn’t focus on masturbation, though. We were actually lucky to get out of there with our pants.

Heading south in the documentary crew’s new Prius we had a minor car accident on way home, which delayed us by at least an hour and ensured that Robert’s jet lag would never resolve. Finally I lived out the Tom Robinson Band song “2-4-6-8 Motorway”: “Another motorway sun coming up in the morning light.” And we got back into London at dawn.

DAY 5:
We slept all day. No food really since Thursday lunch with the Marie Stopes people, at that charming fish restaurant Pescatoria whose motto is “In Cod We Trust.”

But the Brits had decorated a car, want us to flyer Piccadilly Circus and announce the ‘Thon through a bullhorn — oh yeah, they’re LOTS more conservative than us, these Brits. (The cute car can be seen pictured on Saturday’s blog entry.)

Most passers-by seemed to try not to react; plenty of smirks, some double-takes, but the upper lip was stiff, if only because they saw Liz hanging out of the car pointing her camera at them. This, I suppose, may have disappointe Liz a little; she was looking for action, after all. But we saw a suppressed smile on the lips of a nun on Trafalgar Square, which caused me to cry, “You people don’t need me! Your *nuns* are smiling! I should go home and see to our own nuns!”

Of course, this is the country that gave us Sister Wendy, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

Carnaby Street was the ticket. At just about 5 on a Friday night they were spilling out of pubs and wanted to be on TV. We handed out flyers and, who knows, made some recruits. A swing around Piccadilly Circus revealed it and the theatre district to be far too populated with families for my taste.
I am NOT bullhorning in a neighborhood with kids, sorry, a sex freak has to have a limit.

Well. OK, I’ll bullhorn for a Guardian pic, but not on a street with kids on it. (There’s a word for this = media whore — but still, I’m a trained professional and I need to act like it.)

Finally we got to see Drop Studio, where the ‘Thon will be held. The decorators, hard at work to make it look like a Moroccan seraglio, pounded nails and hung drapes while we tried to stay out of the way. The space is a photo studio; seems small, given all the pr fuss! Will we all fit? I wondered.

I had a date to do a big TV news show. They call August the “silly season” when parliament is off on break, with little serious news to focus on; of course, this year most serious news is from the Middle East. But there was time to focus on a Scots MP’s messy divorce, and then I went on to give the show a little fillip of sexological discourse. (I said “This event is about the discourse” so many times that if I had a pound each time, I could have paid for another night at the lovely Rookery.)

I managed not to say “wank”; good thing, it was before 9 pm. While I was there, R. did Colourful Radio. Raced off for dinner with our friend Clive at Sake, a gorgeous Japanese restaurant on the other side of Smithfield Market, then hied back to the hotel for BBC Radio call-in (with Liz in our hotel room documenting — done from bed, in homage to John and Yoko).

More wine and chat in the Rookery’s charming conservatory. The perfectly ordinary-looking Brit foursome already drinking there were breaking into song. A Rod Stewart tune? Goodness. And then Roy Orbison.

We put Clive to bed on our floor, swiping the sofa cushions from the conservatory. Who will miss them?

Oops, an early morning call from the nervous front desk man proved what a together hotel this really is: “Did you take those cushions?” I confessed and stumbled out to put them back. So much for unbroken sleep on the eve of the First Ever London Masturbate-a-Thon!


11 Responses to “Tour de Masturbate-a-Thon, part One”

  1. RapidlyApproachingApathy Says:

    The 9 p.m. cut-off in Britain is weird to grasp; in the states there’s sort of a gradual increase in “adult” content as the night progresses, but in the UK there’s a sharp drop-off like a switch. You can have programs aimed at families going from 8-9, then at 9 it switches to full nudity and hardcore violence; well not necessarily on the same channel 🙂 but you know what I mean.

    I cannot believe this was televised I also cannot believe that I didn’t A) rush across the pond spur of the moment to get a tv that actually *Carries* channel 4 and B) Possibly participate (who knows 🙂

    Was this just a one time thing? I kind of doubt GV is going to try to set up “regional” versions of this…come on please help out the east coast! We need something to take our minds off of the hurricanes!

  2. tallie Says:

    oh man, i so want to know the end of this story!

    it completely trips me out that masturbation is even remotely talked about in the UK, because here it’s rarely even maybe alluded to. except that one seinfeld episode.

    ps. you are a fucking rockstar.

  3. Paul Mills Says:

    Greetings from the UK, sex goddess.
    I wondered whether you might be interested in my own account of events as a participant:

    Paul Mills

    “Masturbation or degradation?” screams the lone placard at the entrance, while for variety, to labour a point or maybe just for something else to decorate it with, the other side of the placard enquires boldly “People of Islington, do you want this on your doorstep?” Well, nobody’s said that we’re supposed to ejaculate over their welcome mats, but I daresay there are people here happy to oblige.

    It’s 2.45pm on a typical summer Saturday afternoon. The polluted air of a busy city has increased the humidity considerably, and the stifling heat has yet to drop significantly enough to make standing outside in the sunshine a pleasant experience. A few miles to the west in Regent’s Park, Fruitstock is taking place with thousands of revellers, but closer to home along the Clerkenwell Road, there are relatively few signs that Britain’s first sponsored wank is taking place. No hugely expensive mobile film crew with ‘Channel 4’ on the side of the van, no swarms of people, in fact, not a lot of anything. Placard man looks a little silly protesting on his own, but he must have spent at least half an hour making his sign so the least he can do is wave it about a bit. A wag suggests that if he went inside and had a bit of a bash himself he might be less uptight, but the bullnecked doorman in a ‘Come Ask Me!’ t-shirt with ‘Masturbate-a-thon 2006’ on the back zealously guards the door to prevent entrance by even the eager, let alone the outraged.

    What I suspected to be a shrewd move in avoiding the early rush by arriving an hour after the advertised start time has proved to be a little premature. A kind announcement by the man who started it all in San Francisco, sexologist Dr Robert Lawrence, confirms that unforeseen delays have occurred in the set up and participants must wait outside, while more cynical observers may have felt that an absence of people might have had something to do with it. There is indeed a conspicuous lack of eager wankers; all told – about a dozen fellas, myself included, standing around wondering whether the young lady taking shorthand interviews will get round to us, while a small collection of curious passengers get off a double-decker bus and point inquisitively at the assembly, which seems to be increasing by a small trickle as the minutes tick by.

    Perhaps it’s their proximity to the outskirts of society, that there is a strangely high quantity of punk rockers here. Among them, a curiously eager German punk, bedecked with studs, rivets, the obligatory mohican and badly sewn patches bearing the legends of The Exploited, Sham 69 and Discharge, speaks eagerly to the rather cute journalism student of how much it means to him to wank for a cause, but before he can finish, we’re called to line up and get ready to go in. Placard man looks downhearted, but I give him a cheery smile as I take my place in the queue and file past the door, past the television camera (that we are promised will pixellate faces) and up the stairs, where we line up in a terribly British way for another ten minutes or so and wait to be attended to.

    It’s peculiar being in a queue like this. Everyone knows why they’re here, and yet nobody speaks of it. Conversation is muted, restricted to moaning about the hot weather, as the queue grows slowly but steadily down the stairs, filled with wankers of all ages. There are squat balding middle-aged men, old geezers, gay guys, twentysomething dudes, curious sniggering lads in their late teens, even a transvestite seems to have joined the queue. The only absences seemingly are ethnic minorities and women, and it’s the latter which seems the biggest cause for concern. You see, this event is designed to bring masturbation to the masses on the understanding that both sexes masturbate, yet looking at this section of society on the stairs, one could get the impression, if one was an alien with no concept of this earthling habit, that hand relief is an activity exclusive to Caucasian males. No doubt as the day progresses it will become clear that masturbation can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life, regardless of age, creed, race or sexual orientation, but maybe Caucasian males under 40 are the section of society most eager to gamble with their dignity.

    This event is of course designed to celebrate the joys of solo sex, with separate areas for men only, women only, exhibitionists and the most popular of the lot – mixed. I won’t deny that the idea of tossing off in a room full of people is made altogether more agreeable by virtue of mixed company. It is a highly erotic experience for a couple to masturbate in front of each other, watching how their bodies respond and react, and the idea of being given licence to share such an ordinarily private activity does seem thrilling to a degree. The fantasy of watching a naked female stranger flick the bean and perhaps use some toys while I pleasured myself next to her had kept me entertained on the tube and I daresay that many of the men in the queue are of a similar mindset (you may scoff, but any man who says different is a liar. That’s what we’re like). So far, the only women seem to be the busy monitors in their special event t-shirts, all terribly polite and friendly, but desperate to find volunteers to be filmed as a resounding ‘no’ seems to be the case for most of the queue’s occupants.

    A quick pee is required and as I exit the lavatory, suddenly the prospect of getting my nob out in front of a load of other blokes (who didn’t occupy my fantasies on the journey here) seems a lot less thrilling, but I can’t back out, as to do so would mean walking back down a stairwell full of people who’d know that I was chickening out. “Come on” I tell myself “You’ve wa*ked off the top of a department store roof and had sex in front of a platform full of people at Clapham Junction and you can’t have a jostle in front of people who are expecting you to do it? Get a grip…”. Though before I ponder the pun and smirk inwardly, I find myself at the front of the queue.

    Inside the doorway at the top of these red-painted stairs is a rather friendly reception area. Here, smiling attractive women in “Come ask me!” t-shirts ask me to sign in and looking around, it looks rather like one of the ‘rest areas’ they set up in village halls at blood donor sessions. There are complimentary sachets of Capri-sun, crisps, muesli bars, bottles of water, and though my local donor group doesn’t have a large assorted collection of Razzle magazines on the table, one could be forgiven for wanting to sit down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit, idly wondering whether a decadent second cup of tea could be snaffled afterwards. Oh, how fine it is to be English sometimes.

    As I sign in and hand over my sponsorship form, I’m asked whether I wish to compete in the record attempts for either duration or number of orgasms. As anyone who has printed off their sponsorship form knows, there are attempts today at official world records. Although nobody is quite sure what the maximum number of orgasms is for the male record, I personally managed a cock-shreddingly painful 10 in the space of about 18 hours at the age of 14, some 21 years ago, and have generally been unable to achieve orgasm more than 4 or 5 times in a day ever since. Well, we all have our limits, and now as a married dad in my mid thirties I’m quietly grateful that I can manage any at all, so I decline to compete as the likelihood is that I would be beaten by someone with more energy, more hormones and a higher pain threshold anyway.

    This of course leaves the ‘duration’ record. As the veteran of many a bored afternoon spent tugging myself into blindness, I feel that this is an area in which I may be able to set a respectable time. I briefly consider the current record holder (American, naturally) who managed to pleasure himself continually for 8 hours 32 minutes, and feel that this is perhaps within my grasp, so to speak. I have, after all, been guilty in the past of spending entire days doing little more than playing with myself, but there is of course a marked difference between idly stoking one’s semi-on while watching Countdown, and the full-blown heroics of pumping away frantically under the scrutiny of a woman with a clipboard and stopwatch. Working out that an attempt at this record would mean staying for the entire duration of the day’s events, I ponder certain facts:

    1. I have arranged to go to Fruitstock and meet friends.
    2. I have a bagful of booze in the cloakroom.
    3. I can’t smoke in the building, so if I want a fag, which I usually do after blowing my wad, it means getting dressed and going outside, then coming back in again. A lot of hassle.

    With these factors in mind, I reluctantly decline a record attempt and as I have been sponsored on an ‘all-in’ basis rather than ‘per orgasm’ or ‘per minute’ it is decided that I do not need a personal monitor assigned to me specifically and breathing a sigh of relief, I take a look at the ‘activity’ area. The studio has created several ‘rooms’, all constructed from enormous bolts of cloth draped over a metal framework, inside which are cushions and mats, hygienic paper to sit on (you can’t be too careful), huge bottles of lube, pornographic magazines (Razzle again and one hardcore gay publication), tissues (naturally) and through the curtain, the lower halves of several naked men lying on the cushions, sporting proud erections and masturbating frantically.

    As I queue up to pass my bag and jacket to the lovely cloakroom lady, it seems to be the required etiquette to strip naked. Nobody tells us to, but the appearance of two naked guys (one of whom has perhaps the most enormous flaccid penis I’ve ever seen) passing a bundle of clothing to her while she marks corresponding numbers on their wristbands, prompts the rest of us to do the same. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a real love-hate relationship with my penis. In the main, it’s pretty serviceable and doesn’t let me down often. I’m also fairly comfy with it’s size; it ain’t enormous, but I’ve had enough compliments and idle moments with a tape measure to be content with what nature has given me. It’s problem is stagefright.

    Any doctor will tell you that give or take an inch or two, most men are more or less the same size when erect, but the fact is, most of the time it isn’t and the last thing I want to see in a male changing room or a urinal is an erection to compare my own willy with. When flaccid, the male member can be anywhere from 10% to 80% of it’s erect size and though some guys are lucky enough to have a dick like a salami when on the slack (so that they look terribly impressive when naked, rather like the fellow in the cloakroom), I’m not one of them. According to The Sun’s agony aunt Deirdre Sanders, who answered a query about this recently, I have a penis that is very well designed and efficient in that it pops up when needed, but when not required, it shrinks out of harm’s way. This is all very well, but it does mean that when ‘unengaged’, my member shrivels up to a stumpy walnut of wrinkled foreskin and gristle nestling in the pubes, and the aesthetic effect is, well, less than pleasing to say the least.

    But Deirdre talks utter bollocks. Does she have a dick? No. So she hasn’t a feckin’ clue what she’s talking about. Most guys are actually pretty comfortable about the size of their willies when with the opposite sex, as if they get it out for the first time with someone, it’s either erect already or will probably get there shortly, so women aren’t the problem when it comes to size worries as they’ll see it in it’s optimum state. The problem, strangely, is other men.

    It is a little known fact that if you take pornography out of the equation, the average heterosexual male sees more naked men in his lifetime than naked women, yet seldom sees an erect penis other than his own. Most men, myself included, admit to having a crafty peek at other men in the changing rooms, and this is not a sexual interest at all, it’s more of an instinctive matter of self-assurance. Men are notoriously paranoid about the size of their tools, and the changing room or urinal is an arena whereby masculinity can be assessed discretely. We look so that we can reassure ourselves that our equipment is not substandard in some way, but because we know we’re looking at other men, we also know that other men are checking us out too, and there’s where it gets complex.

    There is unwritten etiquette amongst men regarding locker-room behaviour and one of the most important is that you do not, under any circumstances, look directly at another guy’s naked privates. Such observation has to be undertaken so discretely as to be almost incidental, and as such, the thought of having another guy catch you checking him out is mortifying. The only thing worse than that is to develop an erection in the locker-room situation, as we believe that this could be interpreted as predatory homosexual behaviour, but the fact remains that we want our willies to appear as large as possible in this scenario because somewhere in our psyches is the belief that having a big cock makes us more masculine. Therefore our preferred state when naked is a flaccid member that is a stage below ‘semi-on’ status. A semi, or worse still a full hard-on, cannot be waved about even momentarily as we know that we’re being checked out and we don’t want observers to think that we might be gay, yet if it’s in ‘maggot’ form we also don’t want other men to think that we’re less than well-endowed, so striking a happy medium is a tricky thing to master.

    The prospect of displaying my naked and erect penis to other men and masturbating in front of them is a daunting one, yet strangely, the matter of size isn’t much of an issue compared to the paranoia of thinking that they suspect I’m wanking over them rather than the porno on offer. But these fears are quickly dispelled as I strip off in front of the fully clothed monitor, because despite the stifling heat, my nob is somewhere near the ‘arctic conditions’ end of the shrinkage scale and I desperately (and futilely) try to give it a discrete poke in the hope that I might coax it into life, but without batting an eyelid she takes my bundle, scribbles “11” (my cloakroom number) and 15.16 (my start time) on my wristband and I walk into the ‘mixed’ room.

    As another monitor places a paper mat on the floor for me to sit on, I’m put in mind of a waitress smiling at customers while showing them which table to sit at, and I begin to wonder how on earth these ladies (and yes, they are mainly ladies) obtained this enviable job. According to the Masturbate-a-thon website, a background in sexual study is needed, but credit where credit’s due, I marvel at their professionalism. There are naked men wanking themselves silly and yet they remain friendly and unfazed, ready to answer questions, pass extra bottles of lube or tissues and generally keep things remarkably orderly. What the advert must have said at the local job centre, I shudder to think.

    I sit and lean back on the cushions, surveying the scene around me. I am the sixth person in the ‘mixed’ room alone, and the other occupants are in various stages of pleasure. My eyes rest momentarily on a gay gay (I assume he was gay as he was reading and tugging over the sole gay jazzmag) with shaved pubes, a Prince Albert piercing and a cockring encircling the base of his shaft and going under his scrotum. Next to him is a reclining man in his mid forties preferring to yank his crank without visual aids, while next to him, to my immediate right, are two gentlemen roughly my age, both of whom appear to be fastidiously slow in their movements but admirably vocal in their pleasures, while to my front left, a bespectacled pot-bellied guy in his early fifties seems to be taking great pleasure in grasping and squeezing his balls while beating his meat so roughly that it must have been extraordinarily painful, but each to his own.

    One of the more unexpected factors of watching someone masturbate, is how like or unlike you they might actually do it. Wanking technique is generally not taught in Biology at school, and although pubescent boys may snigger and swap wanking stories, few people have the opportunity to witness a practical demonstration, so therefore an individual’s preferred method is perfected over time through trial and error. As such, it can be quite intriguing to note how differently each man uses his tool. There are of course similarities in all techniques, but being in a room full of men tugging away, I witness penises being slapped, twisted, pounded furiously, lovingly caressed, the full range of sensations really, and it suddenly occurs to me that this answers a mystery that’s been plaguing me for the last couple of decades:

    Women, it has been my bitter experience, are rarely any good at masturbating a penis. Sure, they can suck, lick, tease and f*ck beautifully, but put it in their hands and it’s rather like Russian roulette as to whether they can do it satisfactorily. Why is that? I’ve even seen it with professional porn stars and am left wondering why she’s wanking the guy so badly when she seems so adept at everything else. Either the grip’s wrong, or the speed, or the rhythm, or she stops and starts at the wrong moments. It’s still very nice to have a lady undertake such an activity and I’m always grateful for it, but so often they treat it as if it were not a sensitive instrument but a ketchup bottle with an obstinate bit of sauce stuck at the bottom. If it’s not that, then it’s too light and gentle, resulting eventually in a frustrated fella often clamping his hand around hers with a “No, like THIS!” which is hardly the behaviour of a sensitive ‘new man’. I realise now that women have a tough old time of it as each guy has his own preferred method of masturbation that can vary enormously from man to man, and though the lady might try to avail herself to her man’s personal tastes, it’s a sad fact that nobody can treat a penis as well as it’s owner.

    I pick one of the selection of Razzles, pump out a handful of lube, rub it into my bits and am briefly secretly grateful that I arrived early in the day, because it was clear that it would not be long before the magazines would be rendered unpleasant to handle, through smears of lubricant and semen. It has to be said that although it is initially bizarre to be doing this in a room full of people, there is something strangely liberating about the experience. Wanking in public is after all something that isn’t generally undertaken every day, and seldom is it encouraged so openly, but never being one to stand on ceremony, once I get into my stride and tease myself into a half-respectable lob-on (the sensation of the lube helps enormously), I begin to cast casually welcoming glances to the others entering the room, as if to say “come in, relax and make yourself at home, this is nowhere near as daunting as you think”.

    Around 10 minutes and 40 pages of Razzle later, I’m distracted by the gay guy opposite who with a heavy sigh coughs his mess over his belly. Now, I think I should point out that although I might have witnessed a man come in numerous porno flicks, watching it up close and personal like, is grimly fascinating. I’ve already mentioned how much variety there is in techniques, but there are also strange similarities. For example, have you noticed how close the facial expressions are on a guy when he’s coming to one that’s seething in pain? It’s a grimace, with half-closed eyes and gritted teeth, as if what he’s experiencing is not the height of pleasure but agony. It has been mentioned to me before by a number of women that when men come, they look as if they’re in pain, and having watched myself in a mirror to assess this, I’m inclined to agree. Porno films usually have the guy overacting with his “oooh yeah…that’s right…ooh yeah baybeh…” dialogue and expressions of ecstasy, but it’s strangely comforting to note that in real life other people do exactly the same thing as you. Similarly, they seem to do the ‘leg tensing’ exercise too, which involves (for those who don’t know) tensing the thigh muscles; the action of which seems to speed up the orgasmic process, although I haven’t a clue why.

    The rather satisfied wanker (and I mean that kindly) wipes off his semen with a tissue, stands and disposes of it in the bin, but is quickly replaced in his ‘seat’ by another participant. It becomes clear that the queue of people wanting to come in and, er, come, is growing considerably and it’s a case of one-out-one-in. I actually begin to feel a little selfish as I’ve not cared about the people outside up until now, but sod ‘em, they should have got here earlier and I’m not rushing my wank for anyone.

    This observation sadly puts me off my stroke somewhat, but with a fresh Razzle and a new handful of lube, I finger my dwindling member back into arousal and within a few minutes, am twanging away on a proud and upstanding stiffie. The monitor shows yet another chap into the room, a long-haired shy looking dude in his late teens who sports a thin stubby erection before he’s even started, and I’m beginning to feel like a bit of an old hand at this game by now, even though I’ve barely been there for half an hour. An absence of pornography (it’s all being used) could have been an issue for him, but in my role of experienced masturbator extraordinaire, I offer him my Razzle which he accepts with a sheepish grin, while I lie back on the cushions and allow the erotic cinema of my mind’s eye to take over, recalling certain experiences and people, allowing myself to think about how much I’d like to bonk the Mrs of one of my mates, even my own wife come to think of it, and settle down to a most pleasurable pull, staving off the moment of climax as I feel that this is one wank worth stretching out a bit.

    “Miss! Excuse me, miss!”
    It’s the pot bellied fifty-something guy with the rough technique. He catches the attention of the monitor, who approaches him smiling, despite the fact that he’s still wanking passionately and gasping to get the words out.
    “I thought this was the mixed section? It’s all men in here!”. Well, he struck a chord there, and for a brief moment, all eyes in the room are diverted from their prior objects of desire and towards the lovely young smiling lady, who turns to her colleague and they mutter to each other for a minute or two. She announces that sadly, no women have yet arrived to participate. The women’s ‘room’ is empty and they agree that rather than making people wait for a vacancy in the main mixed room, the people waiting to wank can use the women’s room, to which there is an audible sigh of relief coming from the reception area, which appears to be getting rather full. Pot-bellied man looks disappointed, but not disappointed enough to stop what he’s doing.

    I, on the other hand, am a little let down. I won’t get to wa*k in front of a naked masturbating woman by the looks of things, so I may as well just finish the job off. I return to my little erotic fantasy, a little puzzled as to why an ex-girlfriend that I didn’t even really fancy pops into it briefly, but I coax a chubby that I could hang a bathrobe on and after another 10 minutes, with the aid of a bit of leg-tensing, I feel the familiar bubbling of rising fluid and cough a sackful of baby gravy onto my chest, wiping it off with several tissues before rising, approaching the monitor and chucking the sodden tissues into the bin.
    “Hello! Finished?” she smiles, like your mum trying to clear the plates from the dinner table. “Can I have your wrist?”
    I momentarily do an ‘excuse me?’ double-take, but then I realise that she wants to write my ‘finish time’ on my wristband. I’ve been in there for just 46 minutes, but it feels like forever.

    Still naked, leaking a dribble of juice and a congealing joy plug developing in my tubes, my clothes and bags are returned, and I dress in front of the queue of people that still fill the stairs. As I move forward, I notice not one, not two, not three, not four but (count ‘em) FIVE attractive young women of various shapes and sizes queuing to go in. The disappointment must register in my face as the one at the front, already stripping down to lacy underwear, gives me a very saucy smile. If only I could have held on for another ten, even five minutes, and I’d have been able to finish myself off like a good little pervo, but such is life. My loss is the other blokes’ gain, I suppose.

    As I walk out of the front door into the streaming sunlight, the lower half of my body still sticky with lube under my clothes, I think to myself that I’m actually quite glad that I didn’t have the opportunity to turn my participation in this event into something sexual, as that would cheapen it and also make me feel as I was being unfaithful to my wife. I’m glad I experienced it in it’s true intention as an opportunity to help break down the taboos surrounding masturbation, and help promote the safest form of sex that there is, as one of the most enjoyable too. Regardless of how a person might feel about tossing themselves off in front of strangers, to use an old cliché, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it.

    Paul Mills

  4. Christina Says:

    I sure do wish I could have been there… especially to ride around in the masturbate-mobile!

  5. RapidlyApproachingApathy Says:

    “Mastubation mobile?”

    Yikes, will there ever by anything like this in the northeast? 🙂

  6. eric Says:

    do you know where you may see by webcam the
    masturbate-a-thon 2006 or another.

    Tks for infos on the site..
    Quebec Canada

  7. Krista Says:

    How about part 2?

  8. RapidlyAproachingApathy Says:

    Yikes; after the SF and UK ones, now they’re doing one in D.C. (i’d never heard of this until now)

    Are any other regional ones planned?

    Yikes; I’m stuck in the puritanical heartland of Boston; (hint hint) a local ‘thon in “enemy territory” might set up a beachead…

  9. Dave Says:

    Hey, Carol, let’s have another one soon!

  10. Buyers of guns must take gun-safety courses

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