Sex talk
Speaking of Travel Abroad

Simon Sheppard,

They say that travel broadens one. But it can harden one, too.

Going abroad can provide a tumescent ticket to sexual exploration. Travel – even a business trip – is usually stimulating anyway, and adding dick to the itinerary makes tourism even more fun. The homo who leaves home is temporarily free of the routines of his life – and perhaps his boyfriend, too. And some lust-filled locales feature sexual sights – red-light districts, male-stripper bars, SM-gear shops, and even museums of sexuality – that you can't find where you came from...especially if "back home" is in the Bible Belt. Clearly, a voyage provides sterling opportunities to take some carnal chances, and some men make the most of it. "When I go on a trip, even to another state, I feel like I can experiment with kinky shit I'd never try in the small town where I live," says one fellow. "Just give me a hotel room and some rope."

Domestic-travel diddling can be big fun, but cock-hunting in other countries can add a whole new level of lust. Be it on a boy-filled beach in Barbados or on the snowy steppes of Siberia, cross-cultural cruising is a bona fide adventure, though one with possible downsides. There can be language barriers to surmount, societal differences to deal with. Those young guys hanging around the central plaza – are they gay or not? Hmm, what's Croatian for "queer?"

And then there's the hustler angle: That yummy morsel you have your eye on may turn out to be pay-to-play. For some men, that's part of the point, and so-called "sex tourism" is widespread in certain notorious spots. One guy-hiring traveler says, "At home, I'm just middle-class, but in some parts of the world I'm seen as a rich American tourist. So if I can help out a fellow by hiring him for the night, what's wrong with that?" But if you're expecting mutual companionship, not commerce, being presented with a bill at the end of the evening can be a bit of a shock. And, as one fellow objects, "I just think that going overseas, especially to so-called "exotic" places, to hire poor young men smacks of exploitation."

Foreign fucking can get even stickier – and not in a good way. As a middle-age man who's been around the world cautions, "It's one thing to land in tolerant Amsterdam and head for the backroom sex bars, but quite another to seek out guys in countries where gay sex is illegal or, worse, where bashing is widespread." And the local American embassy is unlikely to be sympathetic to sob stories that start, "I had my cock up this guy's ass when..."

Still and all, few vacation experiences can be more exciting and rewarding than sex in another town. A big part of the appeal is the transitory, no-strings nature of the encounter, but a foreign fling can also lead to something more enduring. Recalls one American, "I met this French guy when I was in Paris. I was on vacation for a couple of weeks, but after I got home, we kept exchanging e-mails and he finally came to the States and stayed with me. And next summer, I'm planning to go back to Europe, and we'll pick up where we left off."

So go boldly, voyager, while respecting local customs. And don't forget to carry a dictionary, preferably one explicit enough to translate "dick." Odds are that you, too, may find that international relations work best when they're of the horizontal sort. As one frequent flyer says, "After a while, all those cathedrals started to look alike, but I remember every Italian man I ever had."

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

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