Things are much different now. I remember how it was when you needed hook-up for some fun. Your options were much more limited: bars, cruising areas and telephone chat-lines. But we are now in the era of chat-rooms and hook-up apps. It is an instant gratification culture where ‘now’ still isn’t soon enough. Times have changed but are they for the better?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not passing judgement upon anyone. We all get our “rocks off” in whichever way we choose but lets just investigate, you know, just for fun!
Cruising for Sex
It’s funny, when hetros in the UK talk about cruising for sex they use the word “dogging” which based on the notion that they have just gone out to a park or large grassy area to walk the dog. How lovely. Of course, this is a far more permissible term than “cruising for cock” or “manhunting” which us gays often use.
Going cruising or cottaging was the main way that many gay men (both out and closeted men) found sexual gratification. Most large cities still have areas that are known haunts for men to visit and meet for furtive liasons. Berlin has the Tiergarten; London has the sprawling Hamstead Heath and even the bushes surrounding the Caroussel of Musée du Louvre in the centre of Paris offer a small labyrinth where fun can be found when dusk approaches. There also used to be a plethora of public toilets that men used to frequent to relieve themselves 😉 The “no chat, no strings” approach was great for those who had boyfriends, wives or were just married to the clergy. But it wasn’t always fun and games. Police raids and gay bashings were hazards that you had be on the look out for. Your personal safety wasn’t guaranteed.
Unfortunately, here in Europe, the weather isn’t always warm and sunny. In fact, the winter months can be extremely cold and wet thus making outdoor fun clearly not the answer for year round action. The 80’s & 90’s ushered in a new way of getting man on man action without getting frost bite or being thrown into a police cell: telephone chat-lines.
These chat-lines connect callers in private anonymous conversations via a premium rate telephone number. How does it work? You call the number, record a personal greeting to tell the other men on line about yourself and what you’re looking for. Then you’ll get to hear the greetings from all the other horny guys on line. You can send messages or connect live and chat one-on-one with whoever turns you on. All connections are private and unmonitored, so you can talk about whatever gets you off!
Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? Well, there is a major downside to all this fun. The chat-lines are highly addictive and guys soon find that they are calling them every day, and with the cost of these calls costing from 50 cents for each minute, you will quickly rack up huge phone bills. In fact, in 2013 a UK man ran up over a €100,000 telephone bill in 3 months by calling telephone sex lines.
The Good Old Fashioned Way
The traditional method for a long time has been to meet men in a gay bar. You have a varied choice here in Berlin: all night bars, cocktail bars, bear bars, leather bars, drag bars. Do you love guys in sportswear? Then go to Berlin Sneakers! Some bars even have a dark room or dungeon area where you can take a break from your beer and… look around… Bars and clubs tend to be loud and smoky environments here in Berlin and for those who do not smoke, (or even drink alcohol) it isn’t a pleasant experience for sure.
Apps Are Good, Right?
Grindr is the app that everyone knows, the app that uses your mobile device’s location-based services to show you the guys closest to you who are also on Grindr. First launched in 2009 it claims to be the largest and most popular all-male location-based social network out there. Grindr helped to create hook-up app boom that we see today and, like the bars, there are apps that target your particular needs. Growlr is for big bears; Recon is for guys into kink and fetish and Mister is for those who admire the older man. Well, that is the idea but have you tried downloading a few of these apps? You quickly realise that the same faces appear on most of them and, unless you are able to meet at that very moment, don’t expect to meet at all! Also, get used to the offensive phrases that you will find on many a profile text: “no fats or fems”, “sorry no Blacks and Asians” and of course “disease free and clean guys only”!
But here is the irony. Whether you are out cruising or in a bar you will always see men staring at their smart phones, the light from the display reflecting back onto their faces. And if you look closer and peek at their screen you will see Scruff, Grindr or any one of the huge number of hook-up apps that are available from the App Store!
Let’s bring back the art of conversation.