“Vaping on the Surfliner to Santa Barbara. So Won Kar Wai,” I tweet. Everything is about film with me. I’m specifically referring to the glamorous robots and their lovers vaporously posing aboard zooming, futuristic trains in Won Kar Wai’s 2046. Maybe three people I know who could possibly read that tweet will get it. A minute later I get a response from a producer friend asking what the Surfliner is. She’s a dedicated driver, a Roman motorist, who would never take the train to either Santa Barbara or San Diego, the Surfliner’s route via Los Angeles, where it picked me up. Pity: it’s one of the most pleasant travel experiences I’ve ever known.

It’s night. A matte-black, industrial night, a reality away from the smudged-neon night of 2046. Nothing to see out the windows but the monument lighting on the facades of old stations, the indifferent lighting on malls — just highlight the brand; those walls are merely concrete sides of product boxes.

The train penetrates the dark, its baritone horn like my impassioned breath… No, not that. Never. The train pierces the matte-black night, gliding. The familiar SoCal landscape is out there, I know, sultry, languid, a sterilized India… Yeah, still no. The train thrusts me forward, plunging me into the industrial night, to the uncertain, intimate experience with a stranger that awaits me… Stop, now. I need none of this. No narrative devices, no tropes, no sexual symbolism, no phallic metaphors. No literary spiderwebs. No need to tease or persuade, to bait. I don’t even need to scrape together a plot. I only need to tell it like it is. This isn’t fiction.

“We met on a fetish site, and he is teaching me how to be a proper dom,” I will tell a bartender tomorrow night while S and I pause our activities to have a beer.  “You know, by tying him up and stuff. Bondage. Knots and rope.” The bartender, a woman, will be around my age. S is half my age, angelic physically and temperamentally, one of the most caring, kinder people I’ve ever met, and one of the most perverted. The bartender knows him as a regular and will refuse to believe what she is hearing. “You’re kidding?” she will protest, drying a beer glass extra hard.

S will confirm my words, not at all embarrassed that I’m so open about what we’ve been doing. I will appreciate that about him. He’s forthright about his sexuality and what he likes to do: be restrained with rope, be on the receiving end of anal intercourse and, above all, be teased through prolonged, orgasm-denied masturbation, or ‘edging’.

I am all about radical honesty within the limits of not hurting another person. The bartender will take some convincing, as will the barback who will pivot in to join the conversation — almost everyone is drawn to tableaus of perversion, just ask the patrons of Vatican art. She will probably never be convinced that I have been under S’s tutelage to become a proper dom. But it will be clear from the way we are behaving with each other, from the casual touching, caressing, that we are in a sexual, perhaps romantic relationship, likely in the early stages. That is perversion enough: I look like a middle-aged lumberjack slash deep-sea fisherman; ‘salty’ is a muted adjective to describe my character. All-American S looks four years younger than he really is, meaning he looks twenty.

A cabin boy doesn’t teach the captain what to do. That’s ridiculous; it defies logic. But that’s the truth and that’s why I’m traveling to Santa Barbara on the Surfliner, vaping and imagining I’m in 2046.

Won Kar Wai 2046

I look down at my leather jacket on the seat next to me. Most of the compartment is empty on this leg of the journey so late at night, going to the end of the line on the last Surfliner of the day. Almost everyone is drinking, many already drunk, nobody belligerent. I see one chick on the way to the café car who is so tweaked out on meth that she’s rocking back and forth to music in her headphones as insanely rapid as a bobblehead doll set off by a cratered road. Tweakers are usually funny and harmful only to themselves, except when they’re trying to dry babies in microwaves. I make bugged-eyed faces about Bobblehead every time I pass her on my way for more beer. I make other passengers laugh. Cruel, but she’s asking for it.

The conductor is beautiful; we’re already friendly. She’s wearing earrings that are diamante mini-revolvers. Her kindness is genuine, palpable, a quality that has made her chief conductor, not just ticket collector. There was a problem purchasing a ticket online, so I boarded without one. She helped me out graciously. Yet another caring person attracted to danger — it’s in her guns. She wants people to know this side of her: passengers comment on her earrings as they leave the train in Van Nuys, in Simi Valley (pronounced “See me”), in Oxnard, in Carpenteria, “Love your earrings! Are those guns?” She wears a uniform to power over people, over their destinations. She enforces that power with her uniform, the guns in her ears.

Freud believed there is a polymorphic perversion in children. I can attest to that. Before I knew what intercourse was, what real magic my cock could conjure other than peeing, I fantasized about naked, bound men, about being on top of them, crushing them, rubbing myself against them, rubbing them against each other. As soon as I could read fluidly, I immersed myself in mythology. Achilles didn’t do it for me, too dumb jock. Hercules the same, a knucklehead musclehead brimming with rage. Prometheus was my guy: masculine, chained, vulnerable; violated daily.

Growing up in Rome, awash in the blood and agony and devotion of saints, my passion was Saint Sebastian, the pale boy-hunk bound to a tree, pierced with arrows shot by manly, older soldiers. As much as I was in love with him, I downplayed the truth of my fervor by saying he was my merely favorite saint. Dad knew what was up. We would enter a museum gallery or a church and he would point to an image of the barely clad, handsome young man with his hands tied behind his back, dying ecstatically from being repeatedly penetrated: “Look, it’s your favorite.” And my heart would somersault with a romantic lust I was deluded to think private.

Sixteen, angry and depressed that my first love had recently died in a freak accident, I stayed for a while in Paris at the home of a French movie star, a household name there, a nobody here. She had a copy of the Marquis de Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom on her bookshelves. Bored and abandoned, lured by the book’s erotic engravings, I began to read — in the original, bien sûr — and was soon masturbating to the polymorphously perverse text. When the sadomasochism really kicked in, the story became shot with too much violence and nastiness and puncturing to be sexy. The descriptions of a dozen or so people fucking at once in a conga line were as arousing as a circus act; the doms were clowns forcing Pomeranians to leap through hoops, to form pyramids. By the time the ingénue’s mother was brought in and held down to be raped by the syphilitic valet, her pussy sewn shut to make sure the disease took hold, I had long since put my dick away and was reading for the freak show of it, an ‘eww’ grimace in the place of my O face.

Won Kar Wai 2046

I’m not into the leather scene. I’m quite specific about what I’m looking for with BDSM, and that isn’t what most others are seeking; they want the nastiness, the hurt, the puncturing. For the masochists, it has something to do with pain receptors being hardwired to pleasure receptors, and something similar for the sadists, which would be my role if I were so inclined. I have yet to be convinced by masochists that sadists do it because they “care for their subs.” For the moment, I’m pretty sure they’re just common sociopaths. That’s not me.

I’m particular about the men I have sex with and it’s getting worse; I’ve blown past too many milestones of sex and romance to count. S matches enough of my criteria that I will actually travel for this experience: he’s young but reasonably masculine; handsome in a joli laid way; not blond but so fair skinned that he seems blond; tall and strong, yet submissive; knowledgeable about bondage and domination and eager to impart that knowledge; smart enough to keep up with me in conversation over a couple of days; not into inflicting or receiving pain. He has two bonus points going for him:

1) He never calls me ‘daddy’ or ‘sir’;

2) He doesn’t use ‘LOL’ or emoticons in his texts. I don’t mind it with friends; don’t even notice. It’s a total boner-killer with lovers. Yes, the strict particularities are becoming the walls of my own cloister.

During a lost weekend twelve years ago, I hooked up with a standard-issue, Eagle Bar leather guy. Big, strapping stud, a living Tom of Finland character, the leather queen from the Village People on steroids. He really was on steroids, one of those two-hundred-thirty-pound muscleheads it takes an incredible amount of exertion and strength to satisfy, the kind I use as an example with straight-male friends of why I’m more of a man than they are with those puny, breeze-like chicks they toss and tumble around the bed. Fucking steroid muscleheads reminds me of those weighted latex dummies I had to rescue from the bottom of the pool in lifesaver class: leaden, rubbery, damp.

Mr. Muscle, tanned and tall, showed up at my place with a duffle bag. He changed into his gear — the harness, the leather jockstrap, the chaps, the leather military cap, the steel cock ring — and stood at the bottom of my bed. He struck a series Tom of Finland poses. I resisted, laughing; this wasn’t sexy, it was a masquerade, Carnival in the Bedroom.

“Would you mind taking that off?”

“You aren’t into this?”

“No.”

“You will be.” That continues to echo, even now on this 2046 Surfliner. No, I won’t be into it. Ever. The only concession I made to Mr. Muscle’s wrong prophecy was the purchase of this leather jacket, which must have been around the time we played together.

2046-2

“I am a natural dom,” I have written in dating profiles like the one that lured S to me. Perfectionism is a symptom of narcissism; by extension, so is being a control freak. I don’t think there’s anything freaky about wanting to ensure the positive outcome of an action; you’re called a freak by people chafing against your demands, your authority. I am a natural dom because I’m demanding and big and have a rumbling voice harnessed by commanding phrasing. I’m not impressed nor intimidated by much. And I’ve wanted to crush myself against a bound Prometheus since I was a child; it’s safe to say my dominant streak is innate. It’s what is expected of me because that is what I am.

The lack of sadistic tendencies means I’m not a ‘rough dom’, to use the parlance of the website where I met S. I make it clear in my profile I’m not that. Once, to discourage rough-dom seekers, I coined ‘Rom Dom’, a distillation of ‘romantic dominant’, but that bit of branding flopped on the market; even the weakest Americans are raised to despise weakness. Rom Dom cancelled himself out.

The more desires are realized, the more they realize truth. Later in the weekend I will realize that the need to have some skill at bondage has taken on an urgency, lately; I was unaware of it consciously. If I believed in all of that visualization/intentionality stuff I would say that I reached out into the Force or whatever it is — we all know that Force is stronger in California than anywhere outside India — and summoned the patron saint of bound men. He responded and manifested himself as S.

We approach Santa Barbara. I shall miss the cocooning glamour of the Surfliner, but I’m also hungry for this weekend with S. I’ve been dating online since Al Gore invented the Internet. I know a likely good experience; I’ve had enough negative ones that I’ve developed a sense for what will work. Now that they added Skype to the ritual, I’ve already seen S on camera. We’ve seen each other shirtless. We’ve mutually approved. He’s better than his profile pictures, one of those who is hard to photograph, but a delight to film: a hybrid of Rupert Grint and Malcolm McDowell, with none of McDowell’s impishness. S smiles constantly, emoticon-wide eyes looking steadfastly into yours.

At the station, I say goodbye to my gun-earringed conductor, take another step into my experience. S is waiting for me by his car in a remote section of the parking lot so occluded by shadow it’s not immediately apparent it’s part of the station at all. Even twenty feet from him, all I can see are his smile and his wave.

Continued here.

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‘2046’ Trailer

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