I never make demands, I don’t want to be seen as a dirty old man. There are no people in my own age range but it doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest.
An interview with Bob.
Bob | Age: 69 | Location: London, UK | Born: UK | Occupation: Social welfare | No. of sexual partners: 60
Why did you take part?
Curiosity. Always happy to talk about issues around sociology and sexuality since I used to be a lecturer in social and historical studies. We should challenge all taboos. If you can justify a taboo, then continue with it. So long as everyone is in consent it’s ok.
What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?
Looking back on my earliest recollections I can tell you that I was interested in sex from early on. I’m a happy pervert. When I was pubescent I was always interested in bottoms. It might be because I’m a short person! I used to play games with my sister’s friends and her friends, always smacking their bottoms. As I went through pre-pubescence I realised there was some sexual content to the games I’d been playing as a child. They involved dominance. I’m not a socially dominant person so maybe my dominant fantasies gave and give me balance because my lifestyle is anything but. I’m sexually dominant and have been going to fetish clubs ever since I knew they existed. When I first moved to london at 17 I didn’t even know this existed. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 17. I used to live in a village with probably about 10 people of my age in the village. I didn’t have much sexual opportunity, but plenty of desire! I suppose one of my earliest recollections was in a public lavatory when a dirty old man tried to pick me up and touch me when I was 12. I was surprised but not horrified. I refused. It didn’t greatly disturb me. These things happen.
I’d had a difficult childhood. My parents weren’t allowed to marry so they had to get a permission from the local court. My mother wasn’t 21 yet. Because she was catholic and his were protestant, their parents wouldn’t agree. We, the kids, didn’t have any access to the extended family. We were a totally nuclear family. There was no openness in conversations about sexuality. My father is a sexist racist homophobe. Politically, he was marginally to the right of Attila the Hun. He was a bully. He died when he was 90. He was still a bully then, just a frail one. I ran away from home when I was a teenager. I’m still rebelling against them in that I’m a caring person. I run a welfare organisation for crying out loud.
At first my interests were entirely heterosexual because that’s all that seemed to be available. I had no friends because we lived 2 buses away from school and it was a boys only school all the way until 16. There was a girls-only school next door to us but they scheduled the classes and even the buses such that we never mixed. We never interacted with girls. There was no porn or literature other than softcore literature. No under-the-counter stuff. Only my imagination. I discovered masturbation when I was about 12. No guilt or shame. I still don’t. All of my development started very late. I had this childhood where I had no friends at all. I was a little, skinny, ginger, not sporty and worst of all, clever boy. I had no chance. I was bullied all the way through. It was hell all the way until I was 16. I did learn to be funny though!
I met my first sexual partner at this college after failing my 0 levels (what A levels are these days), a girl who was on her way to an ecclesiastical college. She was studying to become a priest! She was one year older than me. After one term at this college I chose drama as one of my subjects. My teacher was gay. My father, being the homophobe he is, forced me out of the college. To protect me from being a homosexual, or a puff, as he’d say. He was a total bully. This is where it gets absurd: he arranged for me to join the navy. The naive man he was! I’d never seen more homosexuals than in the year I spent in the navy. That’s how I went to my first brothel, met my first prostitute. It was at Bilbao. They closed that brothel at night as it was Christmas Eve so that the prostitutes could go to mass! The gay men sure liked me - I was small, ginger. Suddenly I was very attractive! I had some encounters, mostly heterosexual. The first homosexual encounter happened when I was on leave. I was in a cinema lavatory and I met a man who was attracted to me and I gave him a blowjob. I then bought myself out of navy, hitchhiked to London and lived in a squat in Walthamstow.
I got a job at this holiday agency and met a girl at work. She became a girlfriend, and then my wife. She told me that her father was in a hospital. What I didn’t realise at first was it was actually a secure mental home. He came out one weekend for a visit and she felt like she needed to tell me why he was there. She’d been raped by her father for about 4 years from the age of 12. He was a fire officer, ex military, a huge man. She managed to tell somebody. He had an excellent barrister and instead of being in prison he was in a mental home for 4 years. She needed to escape when he came out. I needed to escape from my family so we were both providing safety for each other. We were creating our own family distinct from the ones we were running from. We got engaged at 18 and married at 20. We were very naive. We knew what we didn’t want but had no clue about what we wanted. Her father hated me. I can get why she chose me, I was totally opposite to him.
We lived in a very special time in history. Late 1960s to early 1980s. The pill had only just came out but it was only for married women. AIDS wasn’t around yet. There was so much more freedom around. We both had many partners but it wasn’t considered an open marriage. I had two thirds of my sexual partners in that time. It was fairly common. Then AIDS came and sex got closed down after that. Suddenly we had to worry about condoms. Sex was never unsafe before then! These days you can live with it but back then you’d die of AIDS in 6 weeks. That’s when all the publicity about safe sex started. We weren’t aware of widespread STDs. The press never discussed anything like that. I was fortunate to be in that period. It’s when feminism came alive. Suddenly women wanted control over their bodies. Suddenly they weren’t anyone’s possession. After my wife and I got married we took our rings off and put them on a hook in the kitchen. We wanted to reject this symbol of shackles.
That wonderful little window of time gave us so much. The first time I had a threesome was at a Cambridge folk festival. Tt was with my wife and a friend. Again no guilt or shame. Alcohol made it easier. I didn’t feel jealous. Sexual jealousy wasn’t part of the culture. I knew that whoever she was with she’d come back to me at the end of the day. There was no possessiveness about it. Then with the conservative government all these walls went up.
We separated after 11 years. We still liked each other but we started to grow apart. I spoke to her 2 days ago, we are still friends. When we met we just needed to escape the nightmare families we came from. We stayed together for too long. The last 2 years we knew it was over.
I then became richer and suddenly I was much more attractive. I don’t agree or approve of it but it was real. I no longer had a family. (We had a daughter.) Once we separated we could spend our money as we wished. I was running a pub and it was the the first real ale pub in Kent. It was very successful. An awful lot of attractive young women and men wanted to work in my bar. I paid them more than in any other pub so they wouldn’t steal from me. I lived on a boat. I had unlimited sexual opportunity.
I then moved to Peterborough to go back to school. Studied and then taught at university. In 1987 I discovered ecstasy. It changed the way I related to people. We all loved one another and it was wonderful. I also discovered dance music and became attractive as a rave DJ. I DJed in the woods, derelict buildings. MDMA in forest clearings in the summer provided plenty of wonderful encounters! I was teaching sociology and I became aware of sexual politics. My sexual activity reduced dramatically but my awareness and understanding of sexual politics were increasing. I became actively involved in the LGB movement (back then without the T). I was never an alpha male. I might be a gamma male. I always had long hair. I was often assumed to be gay. One of my role models was Tom Robinson. He was gay and had two kids. In an interview he had said ‘I never said I was homosexual. I never said I was heterosexual. I’m just sexual.’ I don’t like labels, not sure what you gain by adding a niche label. I feel that very strongly. Back then ‘The naked civil servant’ came out by Quentin Crisp. I went to an interview after his book was published. He was this delightful charming person who had come out in the 1940s when it was still a criminal offence. Definitely a role model. He was a taboo person who was publicly accepted.
What were the aha moments in your sexual journey?
Becoming desirable. I never had any confidence in my desirability until I became rich. Which is a terrible admission. It gave me the self-confidence. Which made me more desirable. Which gave me confidence. That was my aha moment.
What does sex mean to you?
Fun. Freedom. Humour. I don’t get deeply, passionately, intense sex. It’s too absurd for that. We have these bodies and we focus on a tiny area. Bounce up and down on top of one another for a while. Our faces go into ridiculous grimaces and we make funny noises. It lasts such a short time.
What’s difficult about sex?
My age. And therefore my desirability. Therefore the availability of potential partners. I don’t know any people in my age group who have the same social interests as I do. The majority of my social contacts are at least 20 years younger than me so I’m not a sexually desired person. The older ones just aren’t there.
What do you most enjoy about sex?
Laughter. Being with someone who takes things seriously is a nightmare. Sex is a beautifully absurd activity.
Do you orgasm?
How often do you have sex?
When I can! I never make demands, especially at my age. My age means it’s not a part of my social interaction. I don’t want to be seen as a dirty old man and there are no people in my own age range who would be interested in being a sexual partner with me. It doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest.
Do you masturbate?
Yes. About 6 times a week - I don’t count! I can watch porn but not always. I come from a literary background so I’m more likely to do it while reading. Fantasies are far richer. They tend to be far more extreme than reality. My fantasies will usually include male dominance of some sort, probably BDSM.
I don’t like staged pornography. It’s the dishonesty of modern porn movies involving women with huge breasts and men with gigantic penises. Huge quantities of sperm. I don’t find it exciting I find it annoying and depressing because it’s giving a false impression. It makes young men feel inadequate and look for women with huge breasts which just aren’t there when they meet their girlfriends.
What specific things (e.g. techniques) have you found, alone and with partners, that have led to more pleasure in your sex life?
Sexual activities have changed. Now there is an acceptance of oral sex while it was a taboo when I was a teenager. Nowadays it’s as popular as penetrative sex. I enjoy giving oral sex as well as receiving it probably even more than penetrative sex.
How do you see sexuality and gender portrayed in the society and how does it make you feel?
It’s become a lot more restricted because of the dangers and the compartmentalisation. Labels give people personal power and control and they should be free to express themselves but I’m not sure these extra labels benefit anyone. Without labels we would have far less discrimination.
What’s your advice to men?
Pornography should not define your sexuality any more than mainstream media should dictate your politics. Don’t take advice from commercial fantasy. They are unkind and unfair these pictures of what men should in theory be trying to achieve. Also, stop using gender as a pejorative term. Don’t insult people.
What’s your advice to women?
Same as for men. Dividing society into gender doesn’t improve our culture at all. How we respond to men women and all the other genders should be equal. We should respond to everyone as people.
Is there anything you want to explore?
I’m a sucker for a new experience whatever it is.