As a teenager, I became accustomed to grown men gaining pleasure by giving me oral sex. I didn’t realize at that time my sex addiction was slowly developing. Ditching class and catching a bus to West Hollywood to cruise in XXX-rated video stores increased my chances to meet men. The inherent dangers in cruising, though, never crossed my mind. That one day, I could perhaps meet the wrong man and not make it back home did not occur to me. Maybe it was my teenage sense of immortality, but I always felt safe.
A few years later, when I was a young adult on a late night, I crept through a West Hollywood alley into the rear of The Tomcat—a sleazy, XXX-rated gay porn multiplex two-floor historical theater that seated about 250 people and played movies featuring both cisgender and straight sex workers. It usually reeked of liquor, cigarettes, shitty breath, piss, farts, and cum—and I loved it. It bustled with desperate men who lacked the communication skills, patience, looks, or confidence to frequent gay bars. But there was always a handful of the young, sexy and kinky around. On weekends, I would wait for the backdoors to swing open, inviting me into pure ecstasy. I stayed at The Tomcat until I busted several nuts, got bored, or the sun rose. Nights spent at the Tomcat eased the trauma, rage, and chronic depression that fueled my insomnia.
One night, I passed the backdoor’s threshold and scurried in to take a seat before security could escort me out—I often snuck in, snuffing the admissions fee. While inside near one of the well-lit rear exit doors, I noticed a man loitering outside in the dark alley. I quickly cracked the door open so he could sneak in, too. He sauntered by me with his pants pulled down to his ankles. The underwear he wore had a giant hole ripped in the middle. “Pig” was scrawled above it in blue marker.
He was six-foot-four, had dark skin, and a nerdy aesthetic. The man was thick, tight, and toned with large tattoos. “Let me fuck you,” I commanded. He leaned against the wall and bent over. I fingered, spat on and slid into his greasy hole, while his hung dick bounced in the air. After pleasure, we exchanged numbers and names. It wasn’t until weeks later, when Timothy called me, that I realized he was a hustler—the very person whose ads I read over in Frontiers magazine.
On Sundays, I loved to frequent Venice beach so I could prance around in my thongs and show off my ass. It was there that I met a dark skin man who hanged outside his apartment in holey biker shorts. His name was Jerry, aka Jay. He was in his mid 50s and hustled by giving massages in his apartment. As our friendship developed, he bragged about the sexy young guys he massaged, and the cash he earned. As a struggling actor and someone determined to be an entrepreneur, I decided to hustle, too. Like Jay, I bought a massage table. Like Timothy, I advertised in Frontiers. In the beginning, I averaged a client a week. My meager earnings paid for future advertisements, and skin care.
My marketing campaign evolved. I began to advertise my massage services in AOL chat rooms, the LA Xpress newspaper and, years later, on Black Planet, Craigslist, Eros, and Backpage. I described myself as slim, bronze, and beautiful. I also wore wigs and went by the names Natasha, Kina, Lillian, Joy, and Ms. Fanny. I obsessed over my new business. Got a thrill each time a new client, especially a married man, called. I wanted to attract closeted men who desired a safe, discreet, and erotic massage. As my piggy bank filled up, my wig collection grew, and earnings allowed me to reinvest in my business by paying for larger advertisements.
A few years later, while out running errands, I ran into Timothy on the 217 Metro bus. He told me that he was attending Santa Monica City College, that he was originally from Florida but relocated to California in 1982. Unlike the night we met, he was a quiet gentleman. There wasn’t even the slightest indication of how raunchy he was or how kinky we had been together. I was turned on and his new demeanor. It added mystique.
I invited Timothy over to my place, but when he arrived I still needed time to freshen up. I asked him wait downstairs for a while before I could let him in. He grew very impatient and threatened to leave. I tried to seduce him into compliance. I promised to French kiss his asshole so good he would beg me to fuck him. Moments later, he entered my apartment and stripped down, revealing a harness on his back. I had never met another man like him. He was my dream come true. I loved how erotic and nasty Timothy was. So much so, I hoped we would have more times together. But other sexual partners, traveling, and time caused us to lose contact.
Around my mid-twenties, I learned that drug use and abuse was prevalent and common amongst gay men. ‘Slamming’ is a slang term used among gay men for injecting drugs such as mephedrone, GHB, or crystal meth. By my thirty’s I learned that drug use was also widespread among the Transgender community. On one occasion when I lived in West Hollywood, I attended a Crystal Meth Anonymous meeting with a friend, and the room was full of white gay men. As a sex worker who was often preyed upon by white men, I had been offered just about every drug that exists. But after an incident in 1997 when smoking weed with a stranger led to a shootout in my car, me semi handcuffed, and both of us shot with his gun, I never did drugs with anyone I didn’t know.
In July of 2017, while roving about the country, I heard the tragic news regarding Gemmel Moore, a 27-year old African American gay sex worker. He was found dead and naked at Ed Bucks’ Laurel Avenue apartment, near my former home in West Hollywood. Despite pleas for criminal charges to be filed against Buck, and daily protests at his doorsteps, he was not arrested. I was not surprised. An affluent 64-year-old known for his donations to various Democratic Party candidates, his animal rights activism, his whiteness, and his wealth protected him.
In his diary, Gemmel wrote that Buck had once injected him with crystal meth and had paid him to let him do so. “I honestly don’t know what to do,” Gemmel wrote. “I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that. Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth. It was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.” [sic] Gemmel continued, “My life is at an all time high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck house again and got manipulated into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2 day period. This man is crazy and it’s sad. Will I ever get help?”[sic]
Paramedics found Gemmel flatlined and naked on Buck’s living room mattress with “A male pornography movie playing on the television.” Police found 24 syringes with brown residue, five glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, a plastic straw with possible white residue, clear plastic bags with white powdery residue, and a clear plastic bag with a “piece of crystal-like substance” in Buck’s apartment. Once Gemmel’s journal was published, other young Black gay men came forward with photos, emails, and text messages recounting similar experiences with Ed Buck. With all kinds of evidence in hand, they accused him of kidnapping, forcing drug use on them, injecting unconscious Black gay men with crystal meth, filing false police reports to cover his crimes, coercion, pimping, and pandering. On July 26, 2018, though, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to charge Ed Buck with Gemmel’s death, citing insufficient evidence.
A couple of years after Gemmel’s death, when I lived in a New York City homeless shelter, I saw firsthand the desperation and destruction meth caused including seizures. Many of the men I lived with identified as gay and bisexual. Most of the men were addicted to crystal meth. It was around this same time when a second body was discovered at Ed Buck’s West Hollywood home. Even though I had engaged in sex work for over a decade, was a West Hollywood resident and even homeless on several different occasions, I was relieved that I wasn’t one of Buck’s victims. But once the name Timothy Dean was announced, my neck stiffened and back spasmed. The Los Angeles County coroner’s report said Timothy Dean died of methamphetamine and alcohol toxicity. The drugs appeared to have been injected. Ed Buck waited for at least 15 minutes before calling 911.
Three years before his death, I had reached out to Timothy on Facebook, “Thanks for the add, Timothy. I wish you all the best – always admired and loved you. It is nice to see that you are still doing well. A decade ago you visited my place in Hollywood and West Hollywood. I always thought you were very SEXY. I’m happy to have gotten to know you. I wrote a short story about you and one day I will share it with you.”
After he replied, “I know exactly who you are. Many thanks and all my very best of blessings to you. How are you?” I sent him the draft. He never responded.
I recently scrolled through my Facebook communication with Timothy. I was shocked to see I had confessed to him that I loved him. As a former sex worker for over a decade, I was addicted to seducing and luring men to my locations and having them provide me with cash. I experienced first-hand the obsession that white men have with our Black bodies, especially our penises. When I started advertising erotic massages, my phone would ring at least a dozen times throughout the day. My primary clients were white married men who wanted affection and a big black cock. After I picked up my phone, I could always expect to hear the question, how big are you? Although in the beginning, when I started off as a sex worker, being fetishized was annoying. Over the years, I became numb to it. I also became numb to love. But, seeing my confession now, I’m grateful I was able to express myself to Timothy back then. And still, I love you and miss you, Timothy Michael Dean.