Welcome to Tel Aviv, habibi

He's unconscious as we pull him up from the floor, too much G apparently; his body is cold and limp. I'm not sure how long he was passed out on the balcony; I passed by a few times and figured that someone else would take care of him, but no one did. His boyfriend is downstairs getting fucked; apparently this sort of thing happens all the time, one of them was always overdosing. Today it didn't matter because, well, it is Pride. There are no consequences, no mornings after, no doctor's visits, no what-ifs, because everything you desire is readily available for the taking; one didn't even need to ask, just indulge, and never look back.


Someone helped me carry him over to a bench where we laid him on his back; his eyelids fluttered open as he slurred something unintelligible. I cannot help but laugh as the boy raises his legs into the air and spreads his ass open. His eyes roll back into his head, but his legs stay up. An insatiable urge, an unrelenting desire that he could not comprehend, which he did not even understand; yet his body, his mind, his mutated soul commanded that it should be done. Some splashes of cold water, a few soothing words, within fifteen minutes he's back on his feet, stumbling from room to room in search of cock. He isn't seeking love or acceptance; rather he lusts, thirsts for something that is so deeply rooted in male desire that it is nearly impossible to explain to someone who is unfamiliar with the urges that it brings. Of course the drugs always help.

Dawn breaks over Tel Aviv as I gaze across the skyline from the balcony of an apartment on Avenue Rothschild. The clouds burn orange against a backdrop of red and purple; the streets are desolate, the only sound is of the crows inhabiting the tree-lined boulevard. Next to me, a Canadian flight attendant, whose degree of beauty is so near perfection it is painful, is being spit-roasted between a porn star from San Francisco and a hairy Israeli. His cries of pleasure mingle with those coming from the bedroom, just beyond the glass doors behind me. Half a dozen guys are intertwined with one another on the red latex covered bed, a jar of Crisco off to the side, surrounded by discarded bottles of poppers.

Downstairs, the kitchen counter is strewn with vials containing GHB, cocaine, and meth--which it is assumed that New York boys always carry--the cornucopia of drugs builds with the arrival of each new guest. An endless loop of porn plays on the television in the living room; two air mattresses are thrown on the floor, but the old leather sofa proves to be more popular. The mood is jovial, carefree, and without pretense. If I were in New York, the guys would have attitude, and there would be a lingering tension of self-involved judgment. Here however, conversation (though far from stimulating) is free flowing with smiles, combined with bouts of laughter, giving the appearance that all is well, everyone is clean, and there are no consequences to the actions of thirty young men swapping loads with one another and eating out cum-filled asses. No one asks for status, no one cares about your past, and there is not a condom in sight.

This is new norm of international gay sex, where the ghosts of thirty-years ago have long-since been forgotten: everyone is on PrEP, everyone is undetectable, and STIs are a mere nuisance that will be dealt at a later time. Welcome to the circuit party axis of evil: Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, Mykonos, and Tel Aviv, cheap airfare seamlessly allowing transfers among these getaways in less than two of hours. An intermingling of nationalities blossoms under the radiant sun and azure waters as men scamper along the sand in swim briefs; gym honed bodies that are such fine specimens of masculinity they would make Hadrian proud. International duos, quartets, and sextuplets scamper across the Mediterranean in an endless blitzkrieg of Instagram posts of smiling tanned faces and washboard abs. These are not merely entertaining weekends, but meticulously planned events that occur every year, without fail. To be called a circuit queen is reductive and curt; rather, the men who participate in these endless festivities of music, drugs, and, above all, sex, are no different than their heathen heterosexual counterparts who happily skip across nearly the same axis of EDM parties from Rotterdam to Ibiza. They gather to dream, to dance, and to love without judgment, but to what end?

Pride in Tel Aviv is among the largest in the world, and the only of its kind in the region. During the weeklong celebration the windows of City Hall light up at night with the colors of the rainbow flag; the streets are lined with the fluttering international symbol of Western sexual liberation, hardly an Israeli flag in sight. The weeklong celebration of parties--which flow in such endless succession that drugs become nourishment--culminates with a parade along the beach boulevard, attracting nearly 200,000 youths; finally ending late in the afternoon with a massive concert where all are welcomed.

The atmosphere is festive from the moment you leave Ben Gurion Airport; the endless succession of flights from across Europe, and non-stops from New York, continually excrete exquisitely buff tank top-clad thirty-something men whose fresh faces will soon be a sun-kissed pink. If you haven't had sex within the first twelve hours something is horribly wrong, regardless of your hierarchy in the pyramid of masculine beauty, which is so freakishly skewed here that everyone is intimidated, fearful even, that they are not-quite-hot-enough.


Opening Grindr here I think it must be an ad as the screen fills with perfectly sculpted torsos, but never mind using an app, there is no need. Simply cruise along the streets, or, better yet, head to the gay beach behind the Hilton where, by four o'clock, it has become so crowded that latecomers are relegated to the adjacent, inhospitable dog-friendly section. I hope you have tirelessly worked out every day for the past six months, ingested your body weight in protein grams daily, and manscaped your body hair into a soft tuft. If so, welcome to gay summer camp, where there are no rules, just an abundance of activities tailored to your liking: Dead Sea, Petra, Haifa; simple day trips in air-conditioned comfort with a buffet lunch and back in time for a power nap before heading out into the night. Just ignore that five-story concrete wall you drive out of Jerusalem.

Night is where everything truly begins. Allow yourself to be led along an uncertain path. The line outside Lima Lima might be nearly an hour long, but the group of four guys who all follow you back to your apartment at dawn is worth the wait. A late night snack and latte with a porn star leads you to an orgy. Finally, come Thursday, there is Tel-A-Beef, an event worthy of Black Party (before its post-Roseland incarnation) debauchery and fame. The free for all buffet of cock, drugs, and ready to be filled holes is as liberating as it is disturbing.

As Tel-A-Beef carries on into late morning, the second floor, an entire darkroom, is still going strong, with lubricated bodies tumbling over one another. I wander up to the third floor and out on to the roof, encountering the sad remains of those who can no longer keep their eyes open. Couches of comatose shirtless bodies are surrounded by mounds of garbage, empty vials, and discarded bags of white powder. I realize it is time to move on, to the sex party that is happening down the street; the one that will last for 14 hours, with dudes slamming, smoking, and above all, fucking. All strangers, dozens of them throughout the day, swapping loads, tasting each other, using each other, spreading traces of each other with free abandoned. Come what may. It does not matter, only the here and now, thanks to a little blue pill that is destined to save all of us from extinction.

What is it all for? From where does this insatiable thirst for pleasure come? What compels us to search for it half way around the world? It is a form of beauty that we are chasing, forever seeking those who are younger, more handsome, more muscular, more ideal: a human incarnation of Odysseus, straight from the pages of Mary Renault, with chiseled features clad only in a Speedo, the modern day loincloth, ready to be photographed and posted to Instagram with a laden of hashtags. These fleeting moments of pleasure are forgotten the moment they are over because there are more drugs to do, better parties to attend, and more boys to fuck. Why should I worry about the consequences of today when no one else does?