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Diary of a Sex Worker: Why Do Some American Soldiers Like Pegging?

Diary of a Sex Worker: Why Do Some American Soldiers Like Pegging?: © Leslie Murray / Alamy

© Leslie Murray / Alamy

My summer of Marines in Los Angeles was the hottest on record since 1877. It was also one of the most challenging for my bank account, fresh out of grad school and dealing with the abrupt shut down of the Pasadena strip club that had helped paid my expenses during school. As my email inbox filled up with rejection letters from book agents and publishers, my phone overflowed with responses to my ads on Eros and Backpage, which promised an “intimate, connected, deeply unforgettable body rub.” To my surprise, many of my sensual massage clients were military men passing through L.A. from San Diego, 29 Palms and Fort Bragg and North Carolina. And it wasn’t just their profession that they had in common, it was what they were requesting: They wanted me to “peg” them, i.e., fuck them with a strap-on.

My regular, Curtis was a Blonde Marine with a farmer’s tan, silver blue eyes and a distant stare. The first time I saw him, he booked a two-hour session and wanted me to fuck him in the butt. A month later, he contacted me again. When I knocked on the door of room 512 at the hotel near LAX where he was staying, Curtis ushered me inside. He wore a standard bro uniform of jeans, a Quicksilver t-shirt and a NY Mets cap. I sat on top of the stiff bedspread as he recounted his deployments in Afghanistan. I had heard these stories before and knew it was part of the ritual. Curtis sipped a Coors beer and told me about learning to speak Farsi and about his wife, Glenda, his high school sweetheart back in North Carolina with his two kids. “Are you a Dodgers fan?” he asked intently. I told him that I was, even though I had only been to one game. “Do you mind if I put on a game?” he asked. He found ESPN, settled on NASCAR and muted the sound.

About fifteen minutes of chitchat later, Curtis was comfortable enough to be touched naked in a quiet room where bombs would not explode and both of us were sure to make it out alive. Curtis flopped on the bed naked, belly down, arms rested by his sides. I took off everything except my g-string, dripped scented almond oil across his shoulders and massaged his back and neck tenderly. I knew this cozy rub down would end the way it had before: I would penetrate him with a dildo and he would get off. Unlike other clients who wanted more stern domination, I wouldn’t yell at him or make him suck my dick. Afterwards, he would simply shower in peace and I would take his money and leave as politely as I had arrived: a so-called Dodger fan and a New York Mets fan passing time on a sticky Wednesday night with my big black cock.

Curtis may have left it at that, but I’d dwell on the experience because he was one of several military guys that summer who wanted a tall, big-breasted blonde with racetrack thighs and tattooed arms to peg them. I began to wonder if there was common sexual ground among the troops? Was it common for military men to want violent sex in a controlled setting because of their experiences with combat or PTSD? More importantly, was I helping them or hurting them? My military clientele boggled my mind because they shared the same occupation and all wanted the same thing. I began to ask around.

“Experts would say that people with PTSD often need higher levels of stimulus, yes,” says Mac McClelland, an investigate journalist who wrote about PTSD and sexual healing after witnessing a brutal rape while she was on assignment in Haiti. “If your system continues to idle at the heightened state that was necessary for your survival during the trauma—hyper-arousal, hyperawareness, ‘super-amped-up’— you might be calmer and more comfortable in scenarios where that state is appropriate: war zones. Bar fights. Dangerous neighborhoods or sexual encounters.”

Still, I wondered about the direct connection to trauma and getting pegged. If McClelland was right, that a heightened state of arousal surged through the veins of some with PTSD, was getting pegged a route for a marine to surrender control when everything about his role requires that he be in control at all times? “Maybe some of these military men want to be ‘forced’ to relax and receive so they can exhale. Or cry,” said Dylan Berkey, a Los Angeles therapist specializing in trauma. “It’s like the CEO who is in charge all the time except when he’s paying a dom to “force” him to surrender.

It made sense that if, in the military culture, being remotely submissive could mean death or punishment, being dominated could be a persistent fantasy. After all, if your life depends on how well you listened to an order, that order-giver is one sexy motherfucker. Perhaps by paying me to peg them, I served these men exactly what they needed more than anything: they could have their adrenaline rush in a controlled environment, surrender and remain safe. Berkey calls it an attempt at “mastery, in which an individual moves to assume agency in a situation in which he may have been stripped of control historically.”

To learn more, I set up more sensual massage sessions, and tried to see what I could find out from the dudes themselves. But when I asked a different military guy what turned him on about me, he simply replied, “You’re hot,” and drifted off to sleep face-down in his pillow. It was a reminder not to over-psychologize from the little I data I had gleaned about my clients’ lives. Maybe, like most of us, they just wanted to get off and take a nap. Maybe my marines loved getting pegged before they went to war. (Plenty of straight dudes who have never seen a warzone enjoy pegging, so there’s that.) Perhaps military men were simply more desperate for release.

In any case, I stopped asking my military men if they wanted me to bring toys and packed my whole bag just in case they were too shy to ask. I listened to them talk about their lives like any friend would do, just like I do for my strip-club regulars who wish desperately to unwind with a slutty-looking-almost-stranger in a safe place with no emotional risk or expectation of them to protect or serve me—only to pay me. I became that warm stranger who was part lover, part therapist, part dom, part daughter, part nurse. And I realized that if there is a bottom line, it’s this: unresolved trauma affects sexuality in a huge way and it’s not easy to diagnose, calculate or anticipate.

More military guys showed up for pegging sessions and body rubs and then reported for duty abroad or at Camp Pendleton where they would take orders and fight for their lives and ours. Then they would return to their boredom, adrenaline and horror, but I hoped they would remember our calm hours together as fondly as I did: a quiet safe room where they could be safe, calm and soothed, where, like Kurt Vonnegut said, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

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