On the streets of London, 19, homeless, desperate, naive and somewhat vulnerable, I sold my scrawny body.
I have a confession, one for each day of my six day stint.
There?s a hundred more tucked under the bed, hidden somewhere in my pants drawer and likely, even stashed away in my tiny shed. They all relate to other shady periods of my life and for now, that?s where they?re staying!
I?ll try and be subtle with the facts, in mind of not offending.
I was hardly a rent boy. I did it on a whim, a needs must basis because of my situation. Lest you get ahead of the story, it lasted for six days, during a three week period of sleeping rough.
Should I now be dragging this skeleton out my cupboard?
Yes. It?s about time.
Should I now be so bloody honest about it?
No, I shouldn?t.
I do so only to share a story, a lesson in life that might make others think, before they make a decision that leads to consequences they can?t control.
Not many would stoop to do what I did, homeless, gay, or not. But the lessons I learnt can apply to anything, not just to the demons and elements of morality or sex.
Amongst all the ancient clutter that represents the darkest alleys of my past, this skeleton?s been hanging in the cupboard for decades.
A dusty mothball dangles from one eye socket and my old school tie is wrapped around its neck. Even without opening the cupboard door, sometimes I?ll hear it, laughing at that conscience of mine.
You might say some secrets should never be aired. I agree with that, for we all have them. They?re personal, some really embarrassing and a few, we dare not even share with closest friends.
My fellow writers and readers on Medium are not my closest friends, but a story is a story and we?re here to share experiences and lessons in life.
Okay, maybe not this one! But if I don?t, that torso of old bones will just sit there.
You might indeed ask, who in their right mind would want to pay good money for my thin and feeble body? I asked the same question, before I embarked on such a crazy idea. The idea of money appealed to my circumstances, but the thought of a warm bed was more of a motivation.
Amazingly, I had takers and take it they did. No one needs the details and to say I enjoyed it would be a lie. I enjoyed a warm bed at night but not what I had to give to pay for it. Weren?t they supposed to pay me?
Some did, a few measly quid. Most also fed me when perhaps I wouldn?t have eaten and I got to shower, rather than wash in public toilets. I had no idea of the going rate and to be honest, I reckon they got more than a bargain.
Regardless of the timescale, some will, of course, judge me, as humans do to one another. Make one ghastly mistake and wham, you get labelled, like in this case, for being nothing short of frigging stupid, a male whore, an easy lay or worse still, a street prostitute.
Every day of those 6 days, I judged myself. Yet I never gave myself such a label and as labels go, maybe there are worse. I have known many amazing people, male and female, who sell their body, for money and as a career, as short lived as their youth and beauty might be.
Others might do it only as a means to an end, to feel wanted, to get fed and to get a bed for the night. It?s the oldest profession in the world yet;
I strongly advise to never sell your body or your soul. It could destroy you!
However, that?s how I felt, at the time. That briefest window of my life when my only perceived asset was my youth and certain aspects of my skinny body. That six day experience brought me a new insight to human needs and fetish perversions and really, I had no intention of going there.
I found out the hard way that I could not be bought, beyond the limits of what I was reluctantly selling. With such realisation came new wisdom, common sense and the importance of self value.
Luck, chance and fate brought me through it, unscathed, disease free and with a renewed sense of liberty. In London, people said don?t knock it till you?ve tried it. I tried it and I didn?t like it. 6 days and nights and as many punters were more than enough.
Fleetingly, I thought there might be glamour in it. You know, the same as modelling and stardom. Such are the crazy notions of desolate youth when in reality, there?s nothing glamorous beyond the rent boy advert and a posh hotel room, except perhaps for a lucky few.
I never got to that stage, advertising the goods, so to speak. It was all word of mouth, eye contact, a knowing look and a dodgy verbal contract! Even though I learnt to negotiate a deal, a posh hotel room never came my way. From the stories I heard, rich people wanted more than their moneys worth, so perhaps it?s just as well.
After the first encounter I got scared. Very scared. I couldn?t bear the thought, let alone the potential reality, of some dinosaur of a dirty old man getting his leg over and leaving me vilified with myself for being so fucking reckless.
I came pretty close to that, but I knew I had choices and after day one, I soon made them. By day three I was known as Miss Picky, a name that stuck well after I grew out of just being submissive.
Thankfully, as I?ve said, it lasted a weekend and ended the next Thursday. Ten days later I climbed out of living rough, with most of my dignity intact, but with this skeleton taking residence in my cupboard.
Having finally dragged it out, maybe its time to just dump it. It signifies just a lesson in life when I wandered off the straight and narrow.
(No pun intended. I?ve never been straight!)
It could have been far worse, had I not been brought up proper like. I was taught values to live by and born with a conscience that still pricks my ribs.
If I?d fallen in with the wrong crowd, or been intimidated by some control freak, maybe I would have been forced into doing stuff against my will. Getting out of that scenario might have led to dangerous consequences.
I knew real rent boys. The one?s that had been doing it for much longer. Some were looking ragged and old, despite their young years and fading beauty. My own vanity would never allow that to happen to me, except by the forces of age and gravity that are now creeping closer.
From this sad and pitiful window in my life, I learned to trust the values and principles I stand for. Never again would I sell myself down the river just because life got tough.
I blame no one. It was my choice, an unwise one but in hindsight, not one I regret. I could have suffered an extra week of being part of the great unwashed, scruffy and sleeping in cold shop doorways, eating scraps from bins and relying on night charity stalls at Waterloo station.
I learnt from that too, that life on the streets is no picnic and those not on it don?t give a toss. I had left my parent?s home to seek the bright lights of London. Like the rent boy advert, behind the lights it can be pretty seedy.
Since then, if I ever find myself in the mire, my credibility, integrity and principles come first, before finding a solution. I might have sold what was once one of my greatest physical assets, but now they are all related to my soul, my being and everything of value about me that cannot be bought.
None of them are for sale, at whatever price.