The fallout following Milo Yiannopoulos’ comments endorsing sexual intimacy between teenage boys and men has been swift.
While all good people across the globe bask in some serious schadenfreude at the demise of famed provocateur and alt-right human centipede bookend, many of us are still coming to terms with the revelation that free-speech—hallowed pulpit of so much Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism and everything else flowing through the bowels of the alt-right camp—has a crossable line: pederasty.
Although quick to clarify his misgivings: “I wasn’t talking about anything illegal [or] referring to prepubescent boys,” he added that “every gay man knows” it to be true that a sexual relationship between older men and younger boys can help them “escape from a lack of support or understanding at home.”
Still, most cried pedophilia.
It’s ironic that it was a comment welcoming the positive benefits of a relationship between two consenting intergenerational males that ‘crossed a line’ and razed a career built on militarised bigotry, and sustained by ‘free-speech’. It could be that Milo is finally getting a taste of his own medicine – that facile knee-jerk derision to a complex and delicate non-cis topic.
Whether or not you agree with the notion that age of consent laws are ‘oppressive and arbitrary,’ or that Milo's comments were in fact endorsing pedophilia, we’ve asked some friends to share their real teenage experiences with older men.
I was 18 when I met this guy outside a gay club in Auckland, Family Bar. He said he was 53. He was attractive aesthetically but kind of not as well, but as a person he was really nice. He was an artist – I was studying art at the time – he took me back to his apartment and we hung out and chatted and he showed me his work. We didn’t have sex, even though I wanted to, but we did kiss. He was super respectful and took me out for breakfast in the morning.
We hung out again a few days later and I took some of my art work for him to see. We had sex.
There was a maturity thing that was really nice about it. There was support and trust – I knew I could tell him important and difficult things and he wasn’t going to go and gossip to all my friends, you know, he was out of that friendship circle.
He had lots of information and could understand me, and we had really great sex, which was cool. I wasn’t super vulnerable or being used, I was in a good place during that time. I think I gained a lot of trust in men by being with him. He made me realise that the gay scene I was in at the time wasn’t all sleaze; it was just a really nice connection.
The hardest thing about that situation was the judgement from outside. People would think it’s paedophilic because they see it as an older guy preying on a younger guy. It wasn’t. You know, if we’re talking about ‘Homeland package’ society looking at it they just think it’s about money. But ours wasn’t a candy situation, although I’ve been in a situation like that before and it was cool!
Online dating like Scruff and stuff have categories for it, you can put it in your preferences, “Daddys”, you know, or Older for Younger, it’s a thing and everyone has their own personal reasons for desiring it.
I wasn’t even out at this point – it was 4 years before I came out. I talked to him about that and he gave me guidance and told me I should just do what I feel comfortable with doing. And he taught me about what it was like to be in the closet ‘back in those days’; that historical knowledge was really beneficial for me.
That diversity in generations is important to have, in knowledge and to grow as a human, you know?
To be honest it's really satisfying to watch Milo be destroyed by the very bigots he was willing to jump into bed with in order to achieve a bit of notoriety. It's harsh but it's a natural kind of justice that he finds out that his supposed allies think he's disgusting. It's not what you asked but I think the real issue here is that middle class white faggots should learn that they'll be accepted by the bourgeois racist, sexist status quo, but only up to a point.
True queer liberation can only be achieved through solidarity with trans people, POC, women, the working class and others who are oppressed. If you try and fuck others over to get some scraps from the master's table, you deserve every inch of that inevitable fall from grace.
Now to the question: I was date raped by two older men the first time I went out alone. Then fell into a weird coercive friend/relationship with someone 7 years older than me almost immediately after. This was in some ways supportive but he was in love with me and constantly pushing my boundaries.
Older men often acted in a predatory way towards me until I was around 23 and knew how to fend them off. I'm now able to hook up with older guys and enjoy it, but I can't say I was ever nurtured by one.
So yeah I think it's possible to have a supportive intergenerational relationship but I think it's murky territory and the younger partner can only say for sure how OKAY it was when they're older. I mean, if you're an older guy and feeling altruistic and nurturing, you could also just not fuck the person you're helping out you know?
Touchy subject. There is a lot of stigma around non-conventional relationships and sharing stories that are both positive and negative could be helpful to young queers and enlightening to uptight conservatives.
I have had both a positive and negative experience with an older man. The first was really positive when I was 17 and was shown the sexual 'ropes' by an older male of early thirties. This older man was extremely respectful and open but also confident. He showed me that penetrative sex between males could be an easy and enjoyable experience and could be outside of a typical submissive/dominant or top/bottom sexual interaction. He also pushed my boundaries about my own body with complete respect and consent. This in turn gave me my own sexual confidence that I was then able to bring into future sexual relationships.
He was extremely respectful, open and caring.
The second experience was with my ex. I met him when I was 19, he was about 35. I was under the impression the dynamic was much like the first but through the course of the first 6 months we were together I discovered he was emotionally manipulative/abusive, with me ending up being addicted to drugs and in all sorts of financial strife. None the less he was not physically abusive and my sexual self-flourished for the most part (until we started to hate each other).
But I don't regret a bar of it. I feel that as a queer you have already broken through typical sexual norms which opens you up to not only more sexual freedom but to being more accepting and understanding of other minorities who experience marginalisation and discrimination. I learned so much about 'the human condition' through these experiences as a young man.
And I also learnt about my own strength and resilience. Both negative and positive experiences occur interpersonally but to my understanding the outcomes rely mostly upon your own self-worth and dignity. Though it took me a year of daily drug use and stealing money and all sorts so me and my partner could use until I could finally draw the line and go, 'I am better than this.' And walk away.
(Abridged version published in The Conversation 03/07/2019) The Immigration Museum’s new exhibit, Our Bodies, Our Voices, Our Marks, explores the contemporary form of Polynesia’s ancient and embedded tatau alongside the equally potent tattoo tradition of Japanese irezumi. Complimenting the two photography exhibits are four installations – curated by Stanislava Pinchuk – that offer a view of tattoo beyond the limitations of tradition.
(Published in VICE 12/06/2019) With the brutal chaos of blackwork tattooist, 3Kreuze, and meticulous manipulation of pioneering body modifier, Yann Brenyak, Feris Tergo sessions are designed to explore the murky and macabre space between what unites tattoo, body modification, and BDSM.
Body modification is more visible and ubiquitous than ever before. Many have traced the Western inception of this phenomenon to the iconoclastic spirit of one individual—Fakir Musafar, and the contributions he made to pioneering extreme body modification in the 1989 publication, The Modern Primitives: An Investigation of Contemporary Adornment and ritual. This article takes a critical look at the problematic elements permeating Musafar's legacy of prescribing "primitiveness" for Western malaise.
(First Published in Skin Deep UK) Why do the media insist on repeatedly asking if tattoos have become uncool or too mainstream? I take a look at two moments in tattoo history that help to shed light on this question: the artification and commodification of tattoo.
(First published in Forever More: The New Tattoo) Whether you are a traditionalist or progressivist, Miriam represents the quintessential nature of tattooing today, where a growing number of artists from a huge variety of disciplines are learning the trade to augment their personal oeuvre, while contributing to the field of tattooing in any which way they desire.
(First published in Forever More: The New Tattoo) Upon starting, they work independently, a technique reminiscent of surrealist André Breton’s ‘exquisite corpse’, where artists collaborate while completely in the dark of their partner’s progress. They then come together, consult over the fragmented parts, and proceed to evolve the concept and aesthetic of the final fluid mosaic.
(First published in Forever More: The New Tattoo) Preceding the Tattoo Renaissance of the 70s and 80s, the political and social climate of activism throughout the 60s in the west facilitated the birth of a new, unabashed client base for tattoos. The skins of counter-culture groups like the black resistance, gay liberationists, and women’s rights advocates were adorned with tattoos embodying their identities of dissent. It is this steadfast spirit of rebelliousness—a vocal discontent with the status quo—that courses through the veins, and ink, of Indomito.
(First published in Forever More: The New Tattoo) 'Tattooing is my best friend and my worst enemy. I used to pride myself on my short and long term memory but now I literally can't remember anything about the film I avidly watched last night, but, I can tell you James' appointment in January 2019 needs extending because he wants to add a tiny dismembered leprechaun to his right arm, just below the elbow… That's fucked up.' Although, she’s quick to add, an incredibly evolutionary state of being when it comes to her tattooing.
(Published in VICE 14/11/2018) With a history purportedly stretching back into the late 1800s, The Number is one of the world's oldest gangs, maintained with an intricately complex hierarchy that spans across three factions—the 26s, 27s, and 28s. Photojournalist Luke Daniels used his friendship with one high-ranking insider to photograph members and their tattoos.
London based tattooist Eli and Polish-born tattooist Adam Curly share their respective heavy blackwork journeys: “I’ll never be same again after this—tattooing solid black is a very spiritual thing, for me anyway. It rips apart from emotions. The pain in some parts is unbelievable and leaves you speechless for days sometimes. You can feel sick, faint, or you can feel happy and blissful. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
(abridged version published in VICE, 19/03/18) JILF, a self-described nihilist and practicing dominatrix, orchestrates painful and subversive acts with her partners with the aim of eliciting trauma and embracing disgust; her partners regularly refrain, “today, I will suffer for your art.”
“One of the things I love the most is I’ll play with my partner and do things to her that evoke disgust. She’ll be covered in filth, her mouth full of tampons and blood, she’s covered in shit and her heads all wrapped up; she’s crying, and she’s distraught, and everything’s so disgusting—everything’s just out. That blows my brain.”
(Published in DAZED & CONFUSED, 13/12/17) MoMA's recent exhibition, Items: Is Fashion Modern? declared tattoo an influential item among 111 garments and accessories shaping culture and society. I speak to the L.A artist chosen to illustrate tattoo, Roxx, on the paradoxical and multifaceted nature of contemporary tattoo.
Although tattoos in the West are becoming increasingly mainstream, the pain accompanying a session usually remains something to be tolerated at best, or completely mollified through the consumption of analgesics at worst. So when people began actively seeking out the painful ritual of a Brutal Black tattoo session, I contacted them to find out more about why they chose to engage with amplified tattoo pain.
"Modern-day passion, tangible tradition, and striking creativity: trace how tattooing continues to evolve in the follow up to Forever." Read extracts from my articles featured in FOREVER MORE: The New Tattoo, including interviews with Kelly Violet, Miriam Frank, Indomito, the Brutal Black Project and Expanded Eye. Purchase discounted copies of Forever More here.
(First published in VICE 06/07/17) Respectively raised in the suburbs of the Gold Coast and Perth, the couple longed for something with more danger and glamour, so, naturally, after meeting one another they combined their hearts and skills to saturate the world with their idiosyncratic aesthetic of "demented sparkling" performance art.
(First published in INKED, issue 45) When forensic inquiry is applied to tattoos, it can assist in the identification or capture of criminals or missing persons. The Forensic Analysis of Tattoos and Ink is a pioneering work detailing the methodology of this process. This is an interview with the book's author, Dr Michelle Miranda.
Love Shakthi Om, to be launched in the first week of May, will produce limited works of art to be sold with profits donated to charity. "We strongly believe this life is about karma, sharing love, traditions, and cultures. For us, this is largely based in art."
(VICE online 25/04/17) This is one of the most brutal experiences one can imagine in the field of tattooing, where wills are either broken or solidified. This is the Brutal Black Project, and they’ll “ruin your life”.
In this second installment of the 'Interview with the Editor' series, where editors of some of the most influential tattoo publications share their two-cents, Alice Snape, editor of Things&Ink, talks about her journey as an independent publisher of a female friendly tattoo culture publication.
"I bought a load of tattoo magazines for inspiration. Needless to say none of them appealed to me, they were very much aimed at men and none of them featured tattoos that I like or would suit me and my tastes. They were also all very much geared towards men, with half naked women legs apart with barely any tattoos on the cover."
(Abridged version first published in DAZED & CONFUSED magazine, 03/03/17) Touka Voodoo has actively used body art and modification to transcend the notion of binaries.
In this first installment of the Interview with an Editor series, head honcho of Skin Deep, Sion Smith, offers advice for writers, photographers, and tattooists looking get published, while discussing life at the helm of the UK's best selling tattoo magazine.
"For writers, be original, spell things correctly (I have better things to do than watch your back), be on time, be nice to work with and don’t be a dick."
Milo's comments embracing the positives of a legal, consenting relationship between a teenage boy and older man were labelled pedophilia. So I ask three male friends to share their teenage sexual encounters with older men.
(First published in Skin Deep, issue 275. Republished in INKED, issue 45) Ahead of VICELAND’s 2017 series, Needles and Pins, Grace talks about her experiences in front of the lens, riding around LA on quad bikes with Venice Bad Boys, and what it’s like to be an ambassador for contemporary tattoo culture.
(First published in INKED, issue 45) Currently in her third permutation of a body suit, New Zealand based artist Jak Nola talks about her psychedelic erotic art, tattoos, and what an orgasm can do for the mind.
(Abridged version first Published in The Guardian, 23/11/16) Lying in a satin-lined coffin or wearing a bondage hood may help you face up to your inevitable demise. I attend the inaugural Sydney Death and Dying Festival to get a taste of what's to come.
(Published in INKED issue 42) “That was Ricky’s right above Pinky’s. That’s because Pinky’s had a hepatitis scare and the American navy had banned them from going there, so he just opened upstairs and called it Ricky’s. It was two shops but it was the same. They just liked names that had that “icky” sound and I just happened to be there at the right time.”
(VICE online, 27/09/16) "Isaac Comer was heavily tattooed including on his cock. Henry Findlay was tattooed on his chest, arms, hands, fingers, calves and from his knees to his groin 'after the Burmese manner’. Henry was a soldier, court-martialled in Burma, so presumably he got some pretty wild tatts during service." Discover a rich history of colonial stick & poke tattoos and wild convict stories with Simon Barnard, author of the new book Convict Tattoos: Marked Men and Women of Australia.
(INKED magazine, issue 39) On February 26th, I presented an exhibition of tattooed silicone hands and sheets at Melbourne's Neon Parlour. All profits from the sale of these works went to SafeSteps and WIRE, two Melbourne based organisations dedicated to providing support to women and children experiencing domestic violence.
(INKED magazine, issue 35) 'Tattooing in the Islamic Republic (dictatorship) of Iran' is the culmination of furtive correspondence with four brave Iranian tattooists who risk imprisonment and torture on a daily basis all for the sake of their art.