6 min read

It's always fun to look

Apartment viewing = voyeurism.

how your email finds me, btw (still from bad timing 1980)

I’ve had sex in in cars, bars, adult arcades. Lots of public and semi public places. I’ve fucked in the shadowy mazes of bathhouses, in mall bathrooms, in the entry way of an abandoned house or two, in the living room when someone’s roommates aren’t home. I’ve gotten on my knees in home offices and children playrooms (children were not present). In hotels and motels, the liminal places designed for fucking. But rarely am I invited into someone’s bedroom.

If I think about it too long, I feel a pang in my heart, a tinge of jealousy towards other libertines who get to see the inside of their paramores’ bedrooms. In movies and stuff two sex-havers catch each other in a tornado of making out and undressing, maybe they start in the doorway of an apartment, but they always ultimately end up falling backwards into a bedroom, the special little interior space of someone’s home. That doesn’t happen for me.

For the last couple of weeks I have subjected everyone in a 10-foot radius to incessant complaining about my apartment search. My current landlord is soft evicting my queer family from our current spot, capitalism kills, etcetera, etcetera.

There’s this thing that happens in a big city, apparently, where tenants are meant to open up our precious little hovels for perfect strangers—potential new tenants— to walk through and defile with their outside shoes. They look at how you’ve set up your space and erase it with their mind, imagining how much better it will look with their stuff in it. I’ve done this a couple of times, too. Knock knock, hey cool apartment, wonder how much cuter it will look without your sporty white people paraphernalia all over the place. By the way, how much do you pay in utilities?

It feels voyeuristic. Gazing at someone's home with all their stuff in it and feeling this stir in the bottom of your belly. There's not really a word for that feeling, but "erotic" is the closest one I can think of.

frankly pornographic levels of money on display here 

The first time we viewed someone's apartment, I noticed the tenants posed up casually in their living room all conspicuously doing work on their  laptops. Although, I noticed no one could focus enough to type and how awkward it was for them to all bunch up in one corner of a huge, Perfect Apartment. They just sort of sat there, staring at their computer, poised to work, being as invisible as possible while I admired their furniture and planned to steal their Perfect Apartment from them.

The first time we had people walk through our apartment all four of us roommates were home + one of our roommate’s boyfriends. Almost instinctively we gathered in the living room just like the people in Perfect Apartment did. We sat around, quietly, unnaturally, trying to look as casual as possible. Emma and Tyler eating post-gym breakfast at two mismatching chairs by our makeshift dining table. My boyfriend Leon sat upright on our purple fuzzy couch and Audrey, fresh out of the shower, sitting diagonal from him on our blue fabric couch torn to shreds by two cats—clearly not doing anything except waiting for this apartment tour to be over. Then, me standing half in the living room, half in the hallway to the rest of the bedrooms so that I could be out of the way and also of-service to our guests. Compulsively, I felt the need to make guests in my apartment feel as welcome as possible. We had constructed this tableaux of tenancy for them, a fantasy they could project themselves upon - you too can break fast in this living room with your closest loved ones!

It totally makes sense that landlords would show your apartment to other people before you even leave, I guess. Maybe someone’s lease ends the same day yours does and you have to do this 48 hour dance of U-Hauls and boxes so no one’s homeless for any amount of time. But mostly it feels like landlords want to maximize their profit. Even one week of prorated rent will NOT stand! The byproduct of this, like with all of capitalism, is alienation. It makes you feel like you’re in a museum of your own life and people are judging you, drawing deductions of how the ancient cave tranny lived before civilized people got here.

grey gardens but make it fashion

Don’t get me wrong I’m no stranger to voyeurism.  It’s just that generally I'm not a looker but rather, a lookee. Exhibitionist teas, you feel me? I mean, you kinda have to be okay with people gawking at you to enjoy getting Eiffel Towered in a gay bathhouse. And yes, I do get a kick out of wearing a short skirt on a cold day and watching drivers slow down, rubber neck to stare at me with confusion/disgust/intrigue. There’s a bit of a thrill in it. But this weird estate voyeurism is creepy. Like being in a fish bowl, under a magnifying glass, like you’re being X-rayed and your organs are being priced for the black market. It reminds me of a different flavor of voyeurism—the kind that turns trans people into perverts and monsters and makes me feel more surveiled then just looked at.

Maybe its because in this situation, as the looked-at we don't get anything out of it. Instead of the thrill of feeling like a star on stage, it feels like a reminder that we don't own this apartment we tried to make a home, a reminder that we're being pushed out against our will, a reminder that we're at the bottom of society's little hierarchical ladder. We're bottom feeders and not even in a hot BDSM way.

There's an undeniable erotic thrill to seeing someone’s bedroom. We love to see the polished-up veneer of the domestic lives of celebrities in AD house tours. I personally love the redecorating vlogs of influencers on YouTube. It’s sort of pleasing to see a beautiful person beautifully arrange some beautiful items, then show them to us. We get to feel like we’re a part of something richer than us, more comfy. More beautiful. I feel a quiet glow when I get to walk into the home of a rich person. Wow, a rich person’s house and I’m in it. I’ve made a home in the slums, the bottom barrel apartments that poor people with bad credit get to have. But still, it’s thrilling to walk among the stars, no?

If a home is an extension of the body, the bedroom is the inner psyche. It’s the place where you can’t help but show yourself - do you make your bed everyday? Does your phone charge by your head? Are their stacks of books and half-full water cups scattered around? Do you have a bowl full of limes? Are you Emma Chamberlain with 5 living rooms in your house to suit every possible flavor of sitting and a copper potfiller you've never used?

That’s why I feel a bit of a sting, knowing that I’ve not had sex in a lot of other people’s bedrooms. Fucking takes place either in my own bedroom or in the shadowy liminal spaces where people fuck trans women. In the dark rooms of a sex party, in the car of an abandoned parking lot, the muted walls of a plush hotel room, the impersonal half-in half-out of a home’s foyer. My slutty cis friends, even my trans friends, always seem to see the insides of bedrooms more than me. Why can’t I come look, too?

BTW I'm immigrating newsletter platforms and I'm unsure about the best way to do it. Don't worry, it's the same humble old me, begging you to forward this newsletter to anyone it might interest <3