Chad Slut

The traders call him Chad Slut. He’s and effeminate fourteen-year-old boy with an impish grin and encouraging eyes. His wardrobe consists of graphic tees, fitted hoodies, and skinny jeans. His nails are painted black. He looks like the kind of kid who’d spend his seventeenth birthday at a tattoo parlor getting his tongue pierced.

In one picture (there were about twenty of them), he poses shirtless in a bathroom mirror with a camera phone poised above his head. His small, adolescent body tapers to a swollen V, the point of which lies hidden beneath a limp pair of boxers that hand precariously from his narrow waist. They may fall, but he doesn’t seem worried. He wears and expression of sleepy-surprise that reminds me of Copperton’s beach-faring mascot.

In another picture, the one most coveted among Traders, he’s written the words “FUCK ME” across the white of his belly with red marker.

I was fourteen, the same age as Chad, when I began stripping for men online. Before Skype, there was NetMeeting, a video conferencing program that cam bundled with early versions of Microsoft Windows. In addition to video chat, its other features included audio and text chat, file sharing, and a virtual whiteboard. But despite its commercial and business leanings, NetMeeting’s feature set proved popular among pedophiles, and the program’s servers were a hornet’s nest of illicit and illegal activity. It was the first child pornography community I had ever come across, and participating was a snap: Just choose a username and click Connect. It was so easy a child could do it. And I did.

Once connected, a list of available users–thousands of them–would appear in a window:Daddy4Son, BoiLuv, PedoMan42 . . . the username set the expectation. But on the off-chance of any ambiguity, users could leave more specific desires in their bios: “Daddy looking for boys 14 and under.” And more specific still: “Smooth white boys only, 9 to 12. No teens. Long hair a plus. Have camera turned on.” (In my own profile, I wrote that I was a fourteen-year-old male who “plays well with others.”)

Double-clicking a username would send a chat request to that user which they could either ignore, accept or decline. The success rate was marginal. Often the men didn’t respond, and the connection would time out. Sometimes the connection would simply fail for no reason (this was back in the days of dial-up). Other times, the request would be granted and a connection established, but only long enough for the party on the other end to see me and decide I wasn’t young enough or pretty enough or that I had too much pubic hair for their taste.

But I was patient. I methodically traversed the list trying each user one-by-one-Boyhole, *BoyTrader, LilBoyzNeedLuv2. click, wait, fail. Click, wait, fail. I had the persistence and singlemindedness, even then, of a addict. I was addicted as much to the anticipation as I was to getting off. I could feel the high physically build in my system–and increasing heat that would eventually give way to tremors and occasionally, faintness. click, wait, fail. Click, wait–And then: a small chime, a success as fragile as the telephone wire in which it all depended. A window would appear, a patch of overexposed white that would darken slowly, incrementally, before finally revealing the room on the other side: always a dim home office or living room, the same faux-Aeron chair, a mouse and keyboard just within reach. Most men kept their cameras turned off (some didn’t even own cameras), and the ones who did rarely revealed more than their slouching lower halves, one hand stroking, the other rest heavily atop home row. An older reflection of myself. The future reflection of myself.

I never sought out boys my own age; I preferred older men. They were so hard-up for young flesh that their attentions and praise were easier to come by, and I liked their assertiveness. I enjoyed being told what to do and how to do it: Turn this way; turn that way; show me this; show me that; harder, faster, slower, deeper. I still enjoy this sort of sexual Simon Says.

Coincidentally, a man asked me during one of the sessions if I had a marker on hand. I rummaged through my closet, eager to please, and came back holding a green marker up to the camera. He wrote me back (microphones were rarely used) and asked that I write a message across my chest, which I did. I wrote the words above my belly button in thick, sloppy lettering. And then, naked and smiling, I stepped back from the camera to let him admire my handiwork. “FUCK ME,” the message read. He responded a few minutes later to tell me he had cum.

I found this all immensely fulfilling. It was a game, and I played the part I new was expected of me–the stupid-little-bitch-boy–in a mean yet merciful way. I’d taunt the men with filthy messages and ask questions like “Where are you gonna stick it?” and “Will it hurt bad?” I’d get them worked up, and then reward them dutifully.

It would be difficult for an observer to tell who was using who, to distinguish the manipulator from the manipulated, the perpetrator from the victim. It was a symbiotic relationship: I fulfilled their most taboo fantasies; they fulfilled my need for attention, validation, and sexual identity. And I wonder if maybe what Chad was looking for–what all young, closeted gay boys are looking for–is an outlet.

I sometimes think that the Internet saved me as much as it hurt me. At the time, I knew of nowhere else to go. We lived in the Bible Belt. My high school preached abstinence-before-marriage, and the local church advertised such upcoming sermons as “Why Gay is Not OK” on its roadside marquee. An my parents, like most, were just as ill-equipped at handling my sexuality as I was. So I did the only thing I knew to do and sought refuge in the anonymity of a 56k modem.

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