As a young man I left school and home to go and work in the professional theatre. This was not quite running away to join the circus, but it felt like it. This is where I learned about sex and power.
I learned to build scenery, look after actors, hang lights, anything to get the show onstage. It’s the ‘anything’ that I had to come to terms with.
The professional theatre world I became part of was full of misfits. We were people who didn’t fit normality, people who wanted to stand out, be different.
Sex became a hot issue; dealing with it made me grow up faster than I expected, certainly faster than my parents expected.
I was young, fresh looking and clearly inexperienced. I was prey for women and men. This might seem to be an ideal situation for a young man, one that many would do anything to get into.
I thought that but found that it wasn’t quite so easy.
Sex and Power
I now see that sex is often about power and dominance rather than simple enjoyment. Sex and Power not fun. I was on the receiving end of this relationship and it didn’t feel good.
I saw this in sharp definition, a few years later, when I went to work in a strip club in London’s Soho. It was the Nell Gwynne Club at 69 Dean Street.
In Soho terms this was a sophisticated club: it had a bar so the show had an interval to enable customers to spend all their money. This was an innovation in Soho were all the strip club shows ran for a continuous two hours and were repeated 6 times a day.
Working as a stage hand in the club I found that the most important job I had was to catch clothes. This job is crucial simply because all the girls worked in all the clubs. The shows were co-ordinated across Soho so the girls could appear in as many shows in two hours as they could. This involved them running from club to club with a coat, and nothing else, on.
To do this efficiently they needed to take their costumes with them. So I had to stand at the side of the stage, catch the clothes as they were discarded and gather them together so the artist could grab them as she came offstage and keep running to her next slot.
I was unimportant to the girls because I meant neither money nor power to them. The punters they despised as being the lowest scum, they just wanted strip club sex. To pay for sex through voyeurism was OK as long as the girls earned from it, but the men who needed to pay for this meant nothing.
They meant nothing to me, they were just naked girls I spent all day with. This was a disturbing experience for a young man.
In this period I found that sex came my way because someone wanted something, either quick gratification or connection for a reason. Love or affection was sadly lacking. Sex and Power not love.
Later on that changed… But that’s a different story…