Opinion
3 min

Eating out on Yonge Street (Part 2)

Anonymity at the XXX cinemas

Columnist Mike Miksche explores the world of public sex. Credit: N Maxwell Lander

I can hear the ringing of the turnstile outside; another person has entered. A few minutes later it rings again, so I return to Cinema 1 to see what progress has been made. I find an attractive daddy with his shirt up around his neck, exposing his hairless torso. He looks Italian and has a naturally broad chest that isn’t muscular or defined. An Asian man is on his knees servicing him, but I can’t see his face clearly in the darkness. It doesn’t matter, though: one becomes anonymous in the cinema, stripped of the identity one creates in the ordinary world. Race is irrelevant, too; you become the sum of your lust and desires, nothing more. The daddy looks over at me and tries to smile but is too sedated by the pleasure he’s receiving. The two men become an extension of the pornography onscreen.

There is no dialogue between them, or among any of the patrons in the cinema. Play is negotiated through body language alone. As a result, senses are heightened. To an observer, things would appear to just happen, but the eyes read everything. It’s necessary to observe people’s behaviours, to watch their every move in case someone makes a sign. It’s an instinctive domain built on impulse, where you must believe in what you perceive in order to obtain its rewards. An error might cost you harsh rejection — or worse, a black eye. When you do connect, it can feel like a wonderful telepathy. It’s a connection I haven’t experienced before: so primal and intuitive. In a world where we’re discouraged from trusting our basic instincts in the name of “civility,” such an environment, where one can let go of who one’s supposed to be, can be intoxicating.

XXX cinemas are a hangover from the 1970s and ’80s, when they were just as sexually ambiguous as the Loft is today. Many of them were closed down because of the AIDS epidemic because they were deemed unsanitary, even though it was proven that you could get HIV only through unsafe sex. Some would say these closures were an attempt to gentrify a run-down sexual culture, both gay and straight, but with today’s effective HIV medications — and more recently, PrEP — perhaps this kind of public space will help us continue on where we left off in the sexual revolution, pre-HIV.

It is interesting to watch the daddy play. He has one rule: no kissing. He makes a point of it by turning his head, time and time again, whenever someone tries. Is he bisexual then, or does he think he is straight? I find it perplexing, which is part of the allure. At times I feel as though some guys here would just as easily eat pussy as suck cock, that it is a matter of opportunity and timing more than anything else. I don’t see them as bisexual per se. I like to think that it is a sexuality based on unexplored impulses, period. Did the daddy ever mean to get sucked off? Was he just really drunk? Will he even remember, and if so, will he admit to it? Will he do it again? It’s easy to think that straight men come to the Loft because it’s a cover for them to get gay sex, that it’s an excuse to explore their curiosities, but what about when they have sex with women there? Would we say that they’re poly? Who knows? There are no drinks being served or conversations taking place, so we’ll never know.

I enjoy that gay sex can be had in the presence of women, that women can have sex in the presence of gay men, that some gay men are likely acting straight (I’m guilty of that) and some straight guys are acting gay. I enjoy wondering who these people might be, why they’re there and how I fit into it all. And if someone figures it out, please don’t tell me! 

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