An explanatory note to any correctional officials who may read this as it’s sent from the facility: My story is pure fantasy. I have never touched my genitals while incarcerated, not even to wash them. I realize that masturbation is an obstacle to legitimate penological objectives. This essay is cautionary and speculative, a rumination of what might go through the sick mind of someone who practices sexual self-abuse in the slammer.
O lucky you, able to masturbate in the full privacy accorded you by the United States Constitution. I, however, have been stripped of such rights. I am currently serving a 36-month prison sentence for beating the fuck out of my ex-girlfriend. And yes, she deserved it. Pretty much everyone who knows her agrees. Yet, the absence of her mouth and vagina has created a void in my life…a void filled by my left hand. I spend much of my time—too much, perhaps—beating off behind bars. Pullin’ my pud in the penitentiary.
This is a minimum-security facility with no cells. I inhabit a giant stuffy dormitory, sleeping on one of 110 army-barracks-styled bunks. The other 109 guys are semi-retarded reactionaries who, when they aren’t rhapsodizing about slamming crank and robbing convenience stores, read the Bible and show me pictures of their kids.
Everyone is doing short time and therefore doesn’t wish to jeopardize their release date with trifles such as knife fights or anal rape. And they couldn’t get away with it if they tried, for the open environment means there’s an absolute lack of privacy. A huge window even runs along the shower room, making it possible for cons to see your sudsy freckled body from the recreation yard. There isn’t much pleasure here—sometimes you’ll get a nice sunset, other times a slice of dinner cake with delightful coconut frosting. Masturbation picks up most of the slack. Yet the Department of Corrections frowns upon self-pleasure. I’ve been told that if a guard catches you wanking, you could forfeit part of your time off for good behavior. You might also be transferred to a bunk closer to the guard’s office and kept under 24-hour surveillance to prevent unauthorized blanket motions. One inmate informed me that masturbation can result in a disciplinary infraction for “Sexual Indecency in the First Degree.” I didn’t want to ask a guard to confirm this, lest his suspicion be aroused that I’ve been getting suspiciously aroused.
In this PC Reichstag known as Oregon, the “Beaver State,” pornography is forbidden in correctional facilities. Under the rules of what constitutes prohibited mail is a subheading titled “Sexually Explicit Material,” defined as printed matter “which by its nature or content poses a threat or is detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the facility, inmate rehabilitation, or facilitates criminal activity, including…portrayal of actual or simulated acts or behaviors between human beings including, but not limited to, intercourse, sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus or masturbation…bestiality…excretory functions…personal photographs…in which the subject is nude, displays male or female genitalia, pubic areas, buttocks, female breasts or any portion thereof below the top of the areola.”
Nary an areola. That’s sad. Yet porn is so scarce here, I can almost get hard reading what’s verboten. I’ve been down for ten months without pussy. I have only dim memories of what a vagina looks like. Counting my good-time credits, it’s only, oh, somewhere in the general vicinity of another 577 days, 12 hours, six minutes, and 17 seconds until I’m released and can prowl for bona fide coochie again.
About three weeks after my arrest—long enough ago now for an adult couple to have conceived and given birth to a child—I was in a module of the county jail on the same floor as the dorm that held all the female detainees. At one point, deputies corralled about eight or ten of the ladies into a holding room directly outside our tank and clearly visible through the glass. What waste cases these girls were, far more dissolute than any of the guys. The black chicks on crack, fat and wobbly. The white chicks on meth, bouncing and pirouetting and running fingers through greasy, gravity-defying skank hair. The weighty African dumplin’ who smiled and blew me a kiss. The pimply white girl with a big, dirty grin. Another mannish honky broad with sunken eyes who nodded at me and turned away shyly. None of them was remotely attractive even by the most generous standards, and yet I remember thinking that I’d fuck every one of them—or all ten of them in a massive, stinking, pigflesh orgy. All of them, that is, except the five-foot-tall, 300-pound Mexican lass with a bird nose, spiky-dykey hair, and her arm in a cast. Now I’m so desperate, I’d even ball her, too.
Spend enough time in the clink, and just about anything with a pair of bumps on its chest and a slit between its legs starts to look good.
Like the naked art-model hag on pages 141 and 146 in The Big Book of Watercolor, a volume which so far contains the only photographic representation of the raw female form I’ve been able to snag in the pokey. I mean, this girl has a face that looks like sheep intestines, but…yes, those are nipples, and…yeah, that’s a bush—and yep, I get so throbbing and vein-laden over her, it’s embarrassing.
I presume some inmates flog the dolphin while on the toilet, but that’s a smidge too unsanitary for my tastes. I don’t need being reminded of tuberculosis, hepatitis, and HIV while struggling to construct a workable fantasy. So my wondrous self-love sessions take place on my bunk while everyone’s asleep, during the quiet darkness between “Lights Out!” at 11 p.m.and when they throw the lights on again at 5:30 a.m. Thank Christ for my sleep disorder, or I’d never get to wack off. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting in line for breakfast with a relentless morning hard-on and the knowledge that you have to wait another day to pop your load. So almost nightly, as if by unconscious design, I’ll awake from a dead sleep and some sordid nightmare to the realization that now is the time to take matters into my own hand. This is when I digitally treat myself to a cornucopia of sex-positive delights. I’ll remove my earplugs to better hear the warning sounds: the ghostly whine of an old coffee machine and a constant symphony of snores punctuated by lone bursts of flatulence in the night.
I’ll then look to the left…and to the right…to ensure that the felons who occupy bunks within arm’s reach on either side of me are asleep. An optimum situation is when both of them have their backs turned, but it isn’t necessary. At times I don’t even care if they see—I’ll just close my eyes and get my nut. I hold up the blanket slightly with my right hand, creating an artificial plateau, a masturbatory mesa that probably appears as if a shoebox is resting on my crotch. But as ridiculous as that probably looks, at least interlopers are unable to observe the frantic tugging motions performed by my nimble, dextrous left hand.
OK, the Mexican to this side is snoring. To the right, the blond country bumpkin has his back to me. Looks like it’s safe. Yank, yank, yank—oh, fuck, the Mexican is stirring. Such interruptions mean I can go from hard to limp five or six times before I finally blow my stack. And I frequently have to keep switching fantasies.
My jerkoff imagery is treasonously Un-American: no movie stars, no California beaches with coconut lotion, nothing typically Baywatch—there has to be something dirty and flawed about the girl(s).
All right…I’m eating pepperoni pizza and talking on the phone with my mother while a bucktoothed Domino’s delivery chick blows me.
Three extremely fat broads laze about on beanbag chairs as I impregnate them one by one. After they fall asleep, I go through their purses and leave town with their money.
It ain’t workin’.
I am a Mayan priest poised atop a terraced pyramid as jungle maidens stand in line to ceremonially worship my prong.
I playfully hide an amputee girl’s prosthetic legs from her. No, I’ve used that one too many times.
I am a State Trooper working a desolate stretch of Montana highway, and I chance upon an unconscious female car-crash victim pinned to the driver’s seat.
I can’t believe that one leaves me soft.
Well, the hillbilly triplets usually do the trick…
I dream of a shack in eastern Kentucky with a dirt floor and a wood-burning stove. And in that shack live triplet gals—Tammy Jo, Dolly Jo, and Reba Mae Dixie Jo—who are of legal age, of course, but not so old that you wouldn’t ask them for I.D. at the liquor store. Each girl is missing the same front tooth, and they are only distinguishable from one another by the fact that each of them has dyed their bouffants a different color. Otherwise, even they would be unable to tell themselves apart. And since their parents were recently blown to bits in a tragic coal-mining accident, the girls need a man to chop wood and hunt possum. And I’m that man, arriving mysteriously by train one day at the little station over the hill and through the holler.
Great, my reverie’s interrupted by the rubbery clacking of flip-flops on the cold linoleum as an overweight child molester shuffles to the bathroom for a middle-of-the-night piss.
Fine. All right, a slim redhead sits on a ratty sofa in a single-wide trailer, wearing nothing but panties and bunny-rabbit slippers. She’s watching soap operas on a small black-and-white TV. She has braces on her teeth and is eating corn on the cob, stray pieces of which can’t help but get stuck in those braces.
Oh, yeah—I love chicks with dental problems—eat that corn, baby—let that butter drip down onto your chin, you dysgenic mobile-home slut…
My toes curl in tension. I’m breathing rapidly, hoping not to shake the bunk too much. And then comes the release, the milky splatter. I shoot it all over my belly and let it dry there, a million criminally inclined tadpoles perishing on my stomach like microscopic beached whales.
The whole experience is often workmanlike and mundane, like taking a shit—just squeezing out the toxins. It’s rarely what I’d call transcendent. But at least I forget about the razor wire for a while. I forget about all the ugly bodies I see in the shower. I forget about having to scrub and mop latrines. I forget about the IRS and the Victims’ Restitution Fund. I forget about all the chances I had to leave this state before I got into trouble. I forget about the way men smell. Specifically, I forget about the smell of the fat farm boy’s farts. More than anything, I temporarily forget that I’m in prison jerking off. If I truly pondered the fact that I’m a convicted felon with his dick in his hand, I’d probably never be able to achieve an erection again. What could be more pathetic than beating my meat in the Big House?
Reading about it.
This article was written in 1999 at Santiam Correctional Institution in Salem, OR. It was originally published in PANIK magazine from Los Angeles.