Sex talk
Speaking of Peeping

Simon Sheppard,

Let's have a lusty look, shall we?

The gazillion-dollar gay porn industry gives witness to the fact that guys like to look at other guys: men undressing, men beating off, men having sex with other men. And who hasn't at least wanted to say to a sex partner, "Stand over there, bend over, and spread your cheeks so I can see?" But visual vice may not always be so consensual´┐Żor commercial.

Many of us do at least a bit of unauthorized looking. As one fellow asks, "Is there any gay man on earth who hasn't snuck a look at the dick of the guy at the next urinal?" But scopophilia – the eroticized joy of looking – can turn from pleasure to pathology if the urge to gaze obsessively impairs a looker's life. And if the object of the eyeball is unwilling (or unknowing), peering at pee-pees can even be a crime.

Some ambitious Peeping Toms – the name derives from the tale of Lady Godiva's ride – have been known to drill holes in ceilings or install hidden cameras to satisfy their lusts. But most times, nonconsensual voyeurism is less contrived: sneaking a look through a window, or a door that's been left ajar. "I remember a few years ago, a roommate of mine brought home a trick," says one fellow. "He left his window shade up, so I was able to watch them fuck from across the airshaft. Kinda sleazy, huh? But I came."

The thrill of such a scene isn't just voyeuristic; it's about transgression. The peeper is secretly taking something that doesn't belong to him - even if it's just a glimpse of groin. It's really sexual assault with an eyeball, but there are ways to peep without all the peril.

Virtual voyeurs haunt the Internet, where a number of sites feature cameras in guys' bedrooms and baths. And for those into 3-D flesh, there are adult theaters and strip clubs. They usually lack the sheen of secrecy; it's hard to pretend you're peeping when surrounded by other horny men stroking off. Still, some make provisions for Peeping Toms. "My favorite place at the local adult theater is the shower room," says one randy San Francisco voyeur. "There are one-way windows, and I can jack off while I sneak a peek at the boys washing up."

Sex clubs are safe, too. The peeper can watch from a corner, and some clubs have stage-like set-ups where exhibitionists can show off for horned-up audiences. And the theatrically inclined can set up private role-play sessions with friends, scenes like the ever-popular "I'll be asleep naked in my bed with the door unlocked."

The edgier among us go for "window scenes," which are pretty much what they sound like. A show-off advertises a place and time, then exposes himself in his window for the enjoyment of horny passersby. (And, hopefully, not for prowling police.) "I answered an online ad placed by a man who wanted me to come by his house one night, stand at his front window, and watch him strip and masturbate," recalls on erotic adventurer. "Fortunately, his house was set back from the street and surrounded by trees. Even better, he was gorgeous."

As long as there are obliging exhibitionists out there, the impulse to view can be indulged in sexed-up safety. So why not open your eyes to the possibilities when peering meets prick?

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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