I just finished watching Gay Sex in the 70s, the 2005 documentary about the period between Stonewall and AIDS, roughly 1969 through 1981. It was a rich experience of nostalgia, humor, sadness and history. It left me feeling grateful to be alive, to have survived, and to have benefitted from the experience of those who were much deeper into the scene than I ever was…

I watched the film for source material, to find photos and clips to use in my kickstarter video, but also to get a better sense of the culture out of which the New York Jacks and the entire JO club movement sprang. I’m amazed that an enduring fetish culture centered on safer sex came out of the same cauldron where the most reckless sex was being celebrated 24/7, and yet it makes a lot of sense to me too.

A big part of my experience of the 70s and 80s was drugs, and I began my recovery in Aspen, Colorado in the summer of 1989. That was a community and a time that was saturated with cocaine. Almost everyone I knew snorted coke. It was a deeply addicted community but within it, there also existed an intensely effective recovery community. I think whenever you have an extreme cultural phenomenon in place, some will reject it and forge their own path, and a sort of complementary phenomenon will flourish.

In the 70s, fucking and sucking were, as they have been in straight culture as well, considered “real sex” and masturbation considered either practice sex or foreplay, but certainly not deserving of main course status. It was assumed to be an appetizer only.

The men who would become the NY Jacks were simply men who really preferred manual over oral or anal sex. They preferred a more equal footing than the designations of top and bottom gave them. Their taste for egalitarian and non-penetrative intimacy and sexual sharing is, to a great extent, why so many of them lived through the first great outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. They didn’t originally seek out JO clubs because they sought refuge in safe sex, but many survived the devastation of the 80s because of that preference and the opportunity to experience and enjoy it.

I had my share of anonymous and definitely risky sex in the 70s and 80s… and drugs. I was high on something every day for 14 years and had already fucked, sucked and stroked with well over 1000 men by the time I met Eric. I explored the dangerous places and met my own dark side and it got very different when I A) stopped using drugs and B) started exploring JO clubs. Partnering with Eric was nothing short of transformative, but I still look back and am amazed at my survival… 

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