Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Typo of the Day

This profile showed up near me on Scruff recently:

“stalky” — Best.  Typo.  Ever.  (Technically a malapropism; he presumably meant “stocky”.)

If you’re looking for guys to stalk you, online cruise sites would be the place.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Online Ass d'Jour: Why Thank You

As a follow-up to my recent item on unsolicited photo spamming on cruise sites, this LOLCat pic showed up this week.  Sums things up pretty well, I’d say:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is up with misspelled words?  TrouBBle, SSkin, ParTy, FFun,…?

If you hit gay cruise sites enough, you will end up tripping over seemingly misspelled words a lot.  And not just simple typos, nor the shorthand txtspeak/lolspeak terms which infect so much online communication these days (U, ur, lol, ROTFL, etc.), but stuff unique to the gay cruise world, stuff with extra letters and internal capitals “errors” which show up often enough that there must be meaning behind them.

Indeed there is: like with so much else in the gay world, these are code words, spellings intended to alert those in the know to the proclivities and preferences of the person they are reading about, without them having to come out ans say it.  Sometimes, as with hanky codes, this is to advertise for sex; sometimes, as with the term “420” referring to marijuana, it advertises drug use or other illegal activities; and sometimes it serves to hide controversial philosophies or political leanings.

Didn’t you learn to capitalize the pronoun “I” in school?

This one is a common affectation for men who are playing the “slave” (extreme submissive) role in a relationship (or who want to).  To express subservience or to take away the importance of the self from the slave, the slave becomes “i” or “this one”, always lowercase (even at the start of a sentence).  This mirrors the capitalization of “He” when referring to God, and since the master in the relationship is sometimes deemed to take the role of a “god”, he may become “He” or “Sir” or whatever.

Girls just wanna have fun, why do guys want FFun?

“FF” is shorthand for Fist Fucking, usually referred to just as fisting these days.  Any time you see the double-F capitalized, either by itself or embedded in another word — unless you are reading about Marvel Comics — that is what is being referred to.  (Exception: if the entire word is in caps — “RUFF & TUFF”, for example — it probably isn’t about fisting, even when the word is misspelled like this.)

You’ll also see references to “handball”, but that isn’t a sports alternative to tennis.  “Handball” is a euphemism for fisting — “hand in a ball”, get it?  (And in case you didn’t know, “watersports” doesn’t usually involve an Olympic-sized swimming pool.)

Hiding things behind euphemisms can backfire, though.  Several years ago, our local leather club reserved a church-owned camp location for a weekend event, and we listed “handball” as one of the activities that would be available in the playspace (aka “dungeon”, but we didn’t use that word).  One of the directors of the camp read our website and said “We don’t have a handball court, I wonder what they mean?”, so he looked it up online.  We quickly had our contract cancelled.  But karma comes around: they went into bankruptcy and had to sell the camp within the next year.  Don’t fuck with leathermen, because we use our fists!

Won’t you get in trouBBle for spelling it that way?

When I first came out, “BB” would show up in newspaper personal ads meaning “Butch Bottom”, more or less what we now call “leatherboy”.

By the mid-90s, “BB” had come to mean “Body Builder”, back when “working out” wasn’t the primary hobby of every non-bear gay man in the world, when having a six-pack was rare — as opposed to today when it is almost required if you go out thump-thump dancing and dare to remove your shirt.

For the last decade, though, “BB” has meant “Bare Back”, as in fucking without a condom, usually including cumming inside the guy.  See also seeding, breeding, and bug chasing.

Confusion over the term was the focus of a subplot in Queer As Folk, too, although that was very odd since the characters assumed it meant “butch bottom” (they went to a “BB” party, guess what the activity was), but I hadn’t seen it in use that way for maybe 15 years before that episode aired.  (And then just this morning I saw it used in the abbreviation guide in an issue of Bound & Gagged from 2003.)

Do you hiSS much when you SSpeak?

Every now and then, you’ll hit a profile where every “s” is capitalized and doubled into “SS”.  Completely orthogonal to “FF” = fisting, “SS” references skinheads with white power/white supremacy/neo-Nazi leanings.  (Or SSometimeSS juSSt guySS into Nazi uniform play, I gueSS.  Not going there, thankSS.)

(I’m not trying to be judgmental here.  There are skins who aren’t neo-Nazis and there are skins who are not white supremacist or “white power”.  I only know enough that when I tripped across such an “SS”-filled profile, I just turned around, didn’t ask any questions.)

Just for completeness, if these profiles reference “88”, that doesn’t mean they play the piano.  “H” is the 8th letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler.

It’s my parTy, I’ll do drugs if I want to!

And finally we come to drug use.  The standard euphemism for drug use during sex is “partying” or “party and play”.  So when asked if you want to “party”, or when someone says they are looking to or for a “party”, they don’t want streamers and noisemakers.  A number of different drugs can be involved in this, typically meth (methamphetamine, crystal), but also cocaine, MDMA, and GHB.  In particular, though, while alcohol and pot and poppers are technically drugs which can be played with in connection with sex, few if any people ever mean them when referring to “partying”; those drugs are too “soft” for the intent.

A common nickname for meth is “Tina”.  Abbreviated to “T”, the letter gets inserted in the middle of any number of words, but especially in the word “parTy” to qualify the intent.

How do I tell codewords from typos?

While I usually recommend “Assume ignorance before malice” when evaluating things when someone does a stupid or offensive action, the reverse is my recommendation when it comes to cruise site profile text and ads: “Assume what they wrote is intentional.”

People have ample opportunity to craft, review, and edit their text.  While many men do write poorly and typos do creep in — and many write quickly and never review what they wrote or correct errors — these codeword typos are common enough that they can be identified easily and most don’t fall into common causes of typos.  Incorrect capitalization will usually only occur at the start of the word — “COmpany” is a common one for me, caps on the letter after the initial one as well — but not in the middle of the word.  And while an occasional accidental doubled letter can creep in, consistently doing it with the same letters throughout an ad or profile transcends accident and becomes intent.

Which then leads to the other rule of thumb: “If you suspect there is an extra layer of meaning, trust your instincts.”  That doesn’t have to mean “run like hell” (although I’ve done that); like any coded communication, these things are both an invitation to conversation and are prone to misinterpretation, so if you are curious, ask.  And then read between the lines of their response: fisters and slaves will likely be very upfront with you, but druggies probably won’t.

Updated on September 19
Naturally, as soon as I posted this, a new example cropped up.  I got hit up by a guy looking for “pig pplay”.  I asked and he promptly confirmed it the double-p a reference to ”party”.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Online Ass d'Jour: 5000 Words and Counting

Date: August 14, 2011 / Place: Las Vegas / Service: Grindr

I noticed that there was a message badge on the pic of a guy I had not been conversing with yet.. So I tapped the pic to view the message.

Him: (sends picture)
Him: (sends picture)
Him: (sends picture)
Me: (start to look at the first one)
Him: (sends another picture)

(Jesus Christ, at least say “Hello” first.  Or maybe “Hello, want to see naughty pics of me?”  And wait for me to say yes.)

Him: (sends another picture)
Me: (block)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Online Ass d'Jour: Rubbers? What rubbers?

Date: August 13, 2011 / Place: Las Vegas / Service: Scruff

Me: What kind of of hot man sex?
Him: Hot pig sex.  More top but love to fuck raw
Me: Got to use a rubber for fucking
Him: Y a rubber for fucking?  Don’t u like to feel a raw cock in ur ass
Me: I’m done here
Him: Done with what?

(Come on, guy.  When someone says they don’t bareback, you don’t push them to.  Period.)

(I refrained from blocking him so I could get a reply. Got one that was semi-apologetic — “OK I will respect that” — but I’m still not going to have sex with him.  No least because I wouldn’t expect him to “respect that”.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Online Ass d'Jour: Smile When You Say That!

Date: July 10, 2011 / Place: Palm Springs / Service: Adam4Adam

Him: (sent a smile)
Me: (looked at his profile, nothing I was interested in)
Him (a few minutes later): When someone sends a smile, you're supposed to reply.

(Thank you Emily Post.  Here’s my take on smiles, winks, tugs, and pokes.  Short answer: no, you’re supposed to check out the person and then reply only if you have anything to reply about.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Online Ass d'Jour: Clothe Thy Naked Self!

Date: July 9, 2011 / Place: Palm Springs / Service: Adam4Adam

Him: Wow
Me: Thanks
Him: Wasn’t a compliment.  You should put a shirt on.

(That’s the pic he saw on my profile.  If he has issues with that pic, how much time does he spend telling guys online to cover up?  Wow indeed.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Save me from “discreet” encounters

Twice in the past couple weeks, I’ve had people approach me via online connections for “discreet” encounters.  (I covered what the term means in a previous post.  Basically, it means the guy is either closeted, cheating, or uncomfortable with his kinks.)  After this, I’m done with agreeing to such encounters.

With the first one, who approached me via a Craigslist ad, he asked during our negotiation exchanges if I was “discreet”, and I made him tell me what he meant by it.  To me, it means the simple stuff — don’t go telling details of what we did, and look/act like a normal person when you come to my place or we see each other out.  To this guy, though, it was “Never connected; never met if asked or not asked” (that is: “You don’t know me, you never saw me, you’ll never contact me.”)  Sorry, I don’t work that way: if I see you in a social setting (be it the gay bar, the supermarket, or a business lunch), I’m not going to ignore you or feign ignorance.  I’m going to say “Hi, how are you doing?” as I would to any casual acquaintance.  If someone asks how we know each other, then I will properly feign ignorance/memory loss: “Heck, I don’t remember, I meet so many people.  It was a few months ago, maybe?”

At the end of our negotiations, he pulled back from meeting (when I was actually on the way there, in fact; lesson: never head their way without a full address and room number), saying he was “too uncomfortable to have any fun”.  My hope is that he realized that he can’t really have his kink cake and eat it too for very long; that the more people he plays with, the less “discreet” he can actually manage to be, and that he’ll eventually overcome his fears (or have a good talk with his partner).  I accepted his apology (at least he didn’t totally flake out), and gave him a mild reprimand/encouragement to realize that his “discreet” requirements really don’t mean anything to most guys: we just want a hot scene and aren’t going to care to give him anything other than a vague acknowledgment in other social settings.

The second guy hit me up on a formal cruise site.  Looking at his profile, I saw that he was from Chicago, but because he keeps his sex life “private”, he only wants to play with guys in Minneapolis.  And further, he only wants to play with guys who are visiting Minneapolis.  In other words, he wants to keep the chance of meeting you in any other context vanishingly small, and also wants to minimize the chance for a repeat encounter.  That’s not keeping your sex life private, that is being embarrassed about the sex you choose to pursue.

I’ve dealt with another guy here in Seattle who expressed a similar but different version of this: he wants to go to play parties, but only in other cities.  He bartends at a local bar and he doesn’t want there to be a chance that someone at the party might be one of his customers.  I can’t say what the concern is beyond that, though — they might expect free/stronger drinks, they might puncture a “tough top” image he tries to project as a bartender, something else?  I find it hard to picture a scenario where the fact that actual sex was involved in how they knew him would make things any different.  (Maybe if they felt he gave bad service, they would have additional dirt to bad mouth him with?  Please, girl, this is the gay community: they can make up plenty of dirt without having seen you in action.)

Going forward, if a guy ask if I am “discreet”, I’m going to say “No, I’m not.  If you have to ask, then I’m not discreet enough for you.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bear, Legs Akimbo

This picture was one of the available pieces of wallpaper photography from National Geographic Magazine for May 2011. I know that pose.  I've seen many a bear in it.

You can get the photo here.  Photograph by Meta Penca.  (A pity: the photo caption identifies the particular bear as female.)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Most useless CraigsList photo ever?

This ad showed up on CraigsList the other day:
Masc casual fun - 35 (Seattle)

Nice & normal, good-looking white masucline and horny looking for some no-strings, safe, casual fun with like-minded fit bro around my age or younger.

I'me five-ten, one sixty, packing a thick 8 inches. Nice bod, hairy chest and legs.

I cannot host but can travel to you in and around Seattle. Real here ... in Seattle ... wet day
All perfectly fine, nothing out of the ordinary there.

And then it had this pic attached:
Now, I know you’ve probably seen pics in CraigsList ads which are bait-and-switch pics: knowing that some people won’t click through to read an ad if there’s no pic, some guys will add a sunset or a drawing or some other image.  Those offend a little (since you’re either looking for porn shots or some hint of what the guy on the end looks like other than his dick/ass), but they are part of “doing business”.

This one, though, what is the point of this pic?  You aren’t showing your “thick 8 inches” (heck, you aren’t even showing a bulge from it!).  You aren’t showing your “nice bod, hairy chest and legs”.  Hell, you aren’t even showing that you’re male!  But at the same time, neither does this seem to be in the same class as a bait-and-switch pic; there is a different level of intentionality attached to using this.

So, yeah, “Most useless CraigsList photo ever.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What does “Woof!” mean?

“Woof!” is a greeting, especially in the bear community, generally meaning “Hi, I think you’re hot!”  It is the verbal (or in online chat, textual) version of a wink/smile/tug.

(Why do bears say “woof”?  The most likely answer is that the snurfling sound a real bear makes can be written as “whurf” — half growl and half snort — which easily transcribe into “woof”.  Alternately, start from the greeting “Yo, dawg!” and follow that path to get to the same destination.)

Of course, one person’s “Hi, I think you’re hot” can be another person’s “Hi, I think you’re hot, let’s have sex now.”  Take this exchange from Adam4Adam this past weekend for example.  (Of not: the guy’s only profile picture is a side shot of his dick, and his profile text is equally sparse: “Not looking for love or anything other than getting my cock off.  Blowing a load”.  Occasionally you can check out the profile and respond to a tersely worded potential sex request.  But not with this one, and especially not when I tend to be looking for kinky fetishy sex partners and the profile indicates nothing of the sort.)
him: Woof!

me: Thanks

him: which translates as "no thanks?"

me: "Woof" doesn't usually translate as a specific offer. I'm not available until later tonight anyway.

him: yeah, good luck with that
And he blocked me.  Whatever.

If you want “Woof!” to mean more than “Hi!”, that’s great.  But you’d better be ready to follow it up with an offer and specifics.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stuff I Read: “Imaginary Encounters” by Mysh

I despise most poetry.

Spending much of my time as a kid and a teen with books, I embraced novels and comic books, works which spread a broad tableau of clear imagery and abundant words, not just telling a story but building a world.  Poetry, on the other hand, comes off as tight, small, and absorbed, twisting on individual words and phrases to depict a single idea or evoke an emotion.  When you’re used to lots of words building a story, consumed at a fast pace, having to mull over each word and syllable, backtracking over and over to get at the true “meaning” of the poem… it’s slooooooooow.

(Those who “get” poetry are hopefully saying to themselves “Yeah, that’s the point.”  Those who don’t get poetry are probably saying “Yeah, I know what you mean.”)

That said, some specific forms of structured poetry, I have great respect and even love for.  Taking an idea or emotion and capturing it in a limited number of lines, or forcing it into a rhyming couplet (or a limerick!), that awes me.  (So I guess it’s really unstructured, longer form poetry that I can’t stand.  How does that phrase go, “I don’t know what it is, I guess it’s poetry”?)  I’m especially fond of haiku (when done right, at least in the modern Western sense; some people think just three short lines of whatever is all it takes, sigh).

I recently got an e-mail from Israeli artist and filmmaker Mysh, pointing me to his site of queer haiku comics, “Imaginary Encounters”.  Wow!  Could stuff get any better than that?  Combining the elegance of haiku with shortform cartooning, usually illuminating rather than illustrating.

Highly recommended.  Not safe for work, though; some of the cartoons contain sexual imagery.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Grindr Censors User Text, Blames Apple

A week ago, I signed into Grindr and got an alert saying that my photo or profile text had been forcibly deleted because it didn’t conform to their Terms of Service.  According to the page they linked to, my crime was apparently in having (sexually) suggestive text.

This e-mail was sent to
I recently had my Grindr profile’s text zapped.  So far as I can tell, this was because something in the text was deemed “suggestive”.  Not explicit or offensive or in violation of copyright.  (Of course, since I don’t have a copy of the text that was there before, I can only go by my memory of how “suggestive” it may have been.)

We’ve become used to restrictions on imagery with social networking sites (gay and otherwise) — many won’t allow any naughty images in the publicly available pics (and especially not pics which depict actual sex), and some even require an identifiable face — so the similar restrictions you have had in place there do not bother me.

But now you’re limiting text?  Really?  And not even explicit text, but “suggestive” text?  Double really?

I never like to tie things to malice or stupidity where there may be a rational reason.  Is this something that was dictated by Apple or RIM in order to get in/stay in their app stores?  Did you get purchased by Disney?  Are you trying to back away from the market that made you popular for some reason?  (Because let’s be honest: Grindr’s #1 use is chatting up prior to hooking up.  Please don’t try to deny it.)

Limiting what people can say (or write) edges into the realm of censorship.  And even though it may technically be your right to limit what we can do through your system, if this over-the-top limitation of content is your own choice and not something forced on you (er, “insisted upon”) by external partners, I can’t help but think it’s going to bite you.  (Actually, it’s apt to bite you even if this is capitulation to external requirements.)

Here’s hoping you’ll be willing to reply to this in some understandable form, whether that’s a personal reply or a press release or a web page which addresses the issue in a generalized manner (and hopefully has guidelines for what is and is not “suggestive”).

(A URL to your existing Terms of Service isn’t going to do it, especially since it doesn’t have the same text as the app put out notifying me of the zapped text.)

Looking forward to hearing from you.

— Jim
Seattle, WA

I was finally able to dig around in their website Terms and Forums to find this:
Apple places limits on what can be displayed in a public profile.  This includes not only your picture, but also text.  Even masked text is not allowed.  This means all public profiles have to be G rated.  (link)
“Masked text” would refer to things like “f*ck” and “po**ers”.

So they are trying to pass the buck to Apple.  But when Apple did their booting of boobie apps a year ago, here what they said:
We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store (link)
Here are the full Grindr profile guidelines, which specify:
• No sexually explicit or overly suggestive text.
In others words, no, Apple doesn’t say it has to be G rated, just that it cannot be “overtly sexual”.  Notice what has happened in part: they dropped the “T”, turning “overtly” (openly) into “overly” (excessively); by definition, suggestive text cannot be “overtly” sexual.

More to the point, though, they don’t (presumably won’t) define how much becomes “excessive”.  But by use of the term “G rated” (which Apple apparently does not require), potentially anything (sexually) suggestive becomes “overly” suggestive.

We shall see, though.  I’ve entered new profile text, referencing hanky colors instead of any spelled-out activity (previously, I said something about “put me on my knees”), so the suggestiveness should be more vague; you need specialized external knowledge to decipher things.

Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants, if gay social networking apps running scared caused a resurgence of the hanky code, only in textual form rather than actual cloth-in-a-pocket?

(Hmm, “kick in the pants”.  That would be dark blue with white boot print pattern, right?  Teal blue with boot print for “kick in the balls”?)

(And yes, I know there are Apple haters out there who are going to try to lay the blame right back at Apple’s feet.  Your belief is already noted; only comments with some substance beyond that tired tirade will be retained.)