Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jason Armstrong: Interview with a Masturbator


I don’t remember the first time I heard about Jason Armstrong.  Looking through Amazon for books about sex, as I am wont to do, I kept stumbling across a title that piqued my attention every time:

Solosexual:  Portrait of a Masturbator

As it happens, I have followed the website BateWorld since its beginnings, and even wrote about solosexuality years ago during one frightful Masturbatory May.  So when I saw Solosexual being advertised on BateWorld’s website I knew I had to have it.

Solosexual is the memoir of one gay man’s journey into self-discovery, though it touches on a much larger, cultural nerve.  Body image, religion, gender, and mental illness are only a few of the themes that resonate throughout the book.  I began taking notes. 

About this time, I read about Armstrong’s various stints on XTube.  The screen name looked familiar, and not just because I’m a porn junkie.  I recognized it from BateWorld!  As it turns out Jason Armstrong and I happen to be friends on this particular medium, so I reached out to him with my hat in my hand to ask if this lowly blogger might interview him and, to my pleasant surprise, he said yes!

So without further ado…       

Jason Armstrong is a writer and blogger whose book Solosexual:Portrait of a Masturbator has been sold worldwide.  His blog Hunting for Sex: Cautionary Tales from the Quest  was voted one of Kinkly’s best sex blogs of 2013.  His essay titled “Disability and Sex” was included in Cleis Press’s Best Sex Writing of the Year Vol. 1.  And to kick off Masturbation Month, he is here to talk about self-sex.     

What is solosexuality to you?  Can you define it for my readers?

A solosexual, in its simplest definition, is one for whom masturbation is his or her favorite form of sexual outlet rather than partnered, penetrative sex.

Do you date, or are you yourself your own lover?  Not that staying single is a negative thing.  Many folks are choosing to stay single longer, and I've often said people could benefit from a little more self-love.

Nobody quite gets me off like I do!  That said, from time to time, I love to share the experience of masturbation with others – the communal energy found with another bator (masturbator) or a roomful of bators can be explosive.  However, I don’t date per se:  I’m not looking for a partner.  Rather, every day, I partner with myself for a sexual trip to the moon and back with my best buddy, my cock.  All that said, I love men, I love sharing this exploration of self-love with others, in order for us to connect in a brotherhood and mirror each others’ passion.

I enjoy the inclusive vibe of your book, especially how we don't see on Bateworld, as you write, the haughty "no fats or fems" culture often seen on other hook up sites. You say that a straight identified man can engage in masturbation with a gay or bi guy. Yet I have heard straight men talk about their reluctance to go to jack off clubs like New York Jacks because of a fear their identity and boundaries won't be respected. Can you speak to that?

I think that regardless of sexual orientation, we all worry to a point that our boundaries and identities will be infringed upon in group situations.  But with jack off clubs, there is an unspoken rule that masturbation is as far as it goes.  Because a masturbator isn’t trying to get into your pants, but rather encouraging you to get into your own pants, I have found that in a group bate situation that a camaraderie develops that is not competitive but supportive, and yes, inclusive.

Let’s talk about gooning - or more to the point "mutual gooning."  In your book you write about the sociality of masturbation but seem to struggle with the same concept when it comes to gooning. Could this be because gooning - so often a solo act in which the bater delves into the batehole of his own mind - is pulled back to reality so to speak when with another person?

Gooning is that point in the bate sesh (masturbation session – as you can see, bators have their own lingo!) when you lose nearly all control and give in to the intense, overwhelming sensations of your body, of your penis, until you reach a point that is ecstatic. When I reach this state I feel like I am one big sexual organ.  It’s like falling into a state of worship – worship of my maleness, my body, my sexuality.  As I share in the book, “mutual gooning is something of a paradox.  Gooning is achieved through hours of porn and masturbation, an act that is almost by definition solitary.  It is the domain of the solosexual.  To share that experience with another seems almost a contradiction in terms.  Almost a contradiction in terms, but not quite. The heightened masturbatory experiences that men have achieved as solosexuals are largely possible because of the strange combination of privacy and sociality that the Internet permits.  It is hard to imagine men masturbating daily for three, four or five hours at a stretch without online porn, cam and chat to fuel their descent into the batehole.  Solosexuals rely on online sociality to enrich their self-pleasure, which is to say that in some way, the solosexual’s act of solitary self-pleasure is always already sociable.  And because solosexuality is sociable even as it is solitary, it is possible to achieve and to share something like mutual gooning: a fully self-absorbed uninhibited bate state in the presence of another in the same state.” 

Masturbation these days is not quite the lonely, solitary experience that it might have been pre-Internet.

I like your concept of wearing masks because so much of our lives are performative. Whether it be in our relationships to each other, our work-self, or sex, we perform a role that we often struggle to fit into these socially acceptable binaries.  I've written a lot about fetishes, and how often they sit to collect dust in some corner of our minds.  And often, people don't have the tools and/or language to verbalize their desires, which can make navigating them difficult. Do you think there is a way to slip off these masks, whether publically or privately?  And if so what benefits or hurdles might that entail?

I love how you mention that we often don’t have the tools or the language to verbalize our desires.  Without language for our desires, we cannot know ourselves.  As smart a person as I like to think I am, I did not truly understand that masturbation could be celebrated as the best sex of my life until I discovered the website BateWorld.com.  This site is an emporium of all things to do with male masturbation.  Before stumbling upon the site, while I knew I loved to masturbate, I searched for partnered, penetrative sex constantly and then fretted over why it didn’t seem to fulfill me like masturbation did.  When I learned that a solosexual was simply one for whom masturbation was their favoured form of sexual outlet, a light bulb turned on and I could name my sexual nature.  When I’m bating, I’m not performing:  It’s my authentic self coming out.  I think millennials are really taking it further – I see them getting very specific in how they define their sexuality.  Terms like sapiosexual (one for whom attraction to another is based more on the other’s mind and less their physical characteristics), or autosexual (one who is attracted to him or herself) are just two that come to mind.

The trouble is that we live in a world that is so hypocritical about sex:  It’s everywhere, in our marketing, our movies, our music videos, but we aren’t supposed to be too obsessed with it.  Sexuality elicits such apprehension that it is a brave soul who takes his or her sexuality by the horns and is willing to really investigate it and talk openly about it.  Jason Armstrong is a pseudonym – I myself am still struggling to be brave in speaking truth to sexuality in a world that is too often quick to condemn that.

One of my favorite chapters in the book is when you discuss mental illness. In our culture health is often equated to sexiness, but as you so poignantly point out this idea of health can stop at the surface level.  I've known too many people who are struggling to regain their sexuality from a mental or physical illness.  And to them all I say bravo!  But it is a struggle and there are often few resources at our disposal to help us reconnect to our sexual selves. Mental health professionals and medical doctors are ill equipped and come packed with their own biases.  Medications, as you point out in your book, steal our libidos. One woman is actually blogging about her sexuality while taking antidepressants.  Cathartic, you might agree, seeing how you write about your own journey of self-discovery. What advice would you give other people seeking their sexual selves while dealing with physical and/or mental illness?

Thank you so much for asking this question.  Writing the chapter about having OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) was the hardest chapter to write and at the 11th hour I almost yanked it from the book until my editor settled me down and made me see the importance of leaving it in.  OCD nearly crippled my sexuality.  Sexual bliss is often hard won for so many of us and I truly envy those who have never experienced their sexuality nearly slip through their fingers.  Would you mind if I inserted a plug here?  An essay of mine was included in the anthology entitled Best Sex Writing of the Year Vol. 1 by Cleis Press http://bestsexwritingoftheyear.com/ .  My piece, “Disability and Sex” documented a friend’s recovery from a stroke. While in physical therapy, he was taught to walk again, and talk again, but he was left to his own devices when it came to reclaiming his sexuality.  His courage to do so despite his physical limitations made him my hero.

If battling an illness, masturbation is the first stop on the path to sexual vitality – you control the show and can broach your sexuality at your own speed.  Take your time but don’t give up.  Treat yourself with love.  If you do, your parts will love you right back!

Your book is more than just a manifesto or homage to masturbation.  It is about masculinity.  As a culture, especially in the sex positive world, we hear so much about the patriarchy that has dictated female sexuality.  Would you say the same systemic sexual oppression affects men as well?  You write about things like your emotions, cock size, body dysmorphia - all issues men deal with and are told to quit being a "cry baby" about. Can we roll around in that a little?

I’m no authority on straight male and female sexual dynamics, but it seems clear to me that when men try to suppress female sexuality, they are in fact shooting themselves in their own foot.  Men seem to want women to be sexual objects but god forbid if those objects choose to take ownership of it.  Perhaps it’s the Madonna/Whore syndrome in that men want their wives virginal and their mistresses easy and like any sexual binary, it only creates friction between the sexes.  If men allowed women the freedom to sexually be safe and to explore, men themselves would be the lucky beneficiaries of that.

Within the gay community, the pressure to be sexually viable is an enormous burden.  Women are fighting back against this, but men are expected to simply deal with it.  It’s really no wonder that masturbation can be so freeing, without any worry of judgement from an outside source to impede one’s bliss.  The problem, however, is when the world’s judgement penetrates our psyche so that self-love seems out of reach.  That’s when things get dicey, even for the tried-and- true solosexual.  As a gay man, my claim to masculinity feels constantly threatened, yet when I’m masturbating, I get to create the rules, I get to stake my claim to manhood.  It’s a joy that no wave can wash away, that no fire can burn away.  Bringing this back to the idea of gooning, one might say that gooning is the fruition of self-love, the exact opposite to those times when the world’s judgements make us feel disconnected from our bodies.

You say in your book “as opposed to…partnered sex where a hard cock is a must…” that you are grateful for the periods of flaccidity.  Yet you discuss this male fear around the flaccid penis, specifically about Viagra and your reluctance to take it.  Do you think there is a culture that demands a hard cock on a guy?  That anything less is emasculating?  When you were with Steve on your batecation why was Viagra your first choice instead of letting the buildup in your dicks happen naturally?

Oh!  I must correct you here (smile)!  When I bated with Steve, the man who opened my eyes to how two men could reach the stars bating together, we didn’t use Viagra until AFTER a period of bating on and off for a good 24 hours!  By that time, we had earned the Viagra!  After bating for so long over a two day period, with naps in between, as we approached the denouement of the batecation, we each felt we had one more round in us and each downed just a half a tab of the lovely little blue pill.  Steve taught me that flaccidity can be a good thing in an hours-long bate (what we bators refer to as “edging”, that is, getting close to orgasm and before hitting the moment of no return, pulling back, and repeating that cycle as many times as you want).  Erections can wax and wane during long bate sessions, but what doesn’t stop is the pure enjoyment you are feeling, whether soft or hard at that particular moment.

A recurring theme throughout your book is the idea of sex vs. religion. You were a catholic whose staunch conservative values took a toll not just on your sexual development but on your mental health as well. Yet, you equate the concept of God to your cock, as if it is a religion unto itself, going so far as to call your sexuality blasphemous at times.  You also refer to other baters you know and the struggle they have with masturbation addiction - an addiction I might add I feel is often steeped in this puritanical concept of sexuality shoved down our throats...if it even exists at all. I tend to agree with Dr. David Ley that if you feel addicted to porn or jerking off it is probably just a symptom of something else (like religiosity).  Why do you think the church harbors so much resentment toward masturbation (or any sex that doesn't involve putting a baby in it)?  Do you think there is a way for the church to bridge this sexual divide?  Or, at the very least, what advice would you give somebody to get out of this "magical thinking" that is so often accompanied by the shame of guilt and the worry of damnation?

I’m going to have to look up this Dr. David Ley, he’s sounds like my kind of guy!  I grew up Lutheran in fact, but same difference.  What I have discovered is that Judeo-Christian culture never did completely blot out paganism in the Western world – sexuality flourishes, despite often being twisted and misconstrued.  Again, I point to how sex is used to sell us on next to everything, yet we are slapped on the wrist for liking it “too much”.  Something I learned from deep masturbation sessions was that my sexuality was THE most exciting gift ever given to me by God, or the cosmos, or whatever word you choose to use to describe the Almighty.  When I’m bating, the pleasure that emanates from my cock connects me to the moon and stars and all that is good on this Earth.  I do away with binaries of good and evil, because this connection to the universe is unexpectedly being produced by the grit and grime of my horniness!  I used to compartmentalize my sexual desires and my spiritual desires until I saw that they were two sides of the same coin.  When gooning, I am sort of in a trance, babbling crazy stuff about how I love my cock, my own version of speaking in tongues.  At the end of the day, my masturbations sessions are akin to worship.  Is that blasphemous?  Perhaps to some, it would seem to be.  But to me, it is a gift.  I don’t fully understand it.  Mankind has been trying to comprehend love and sexuality since the beginning of time.  That’s why talking about sexuality, writing about it, never gets old.

Solosexual has sold on every continent except Antarctica.  What kind of feedback have you gotten?  Do you have any other projects in the mix? 

The biggest feeling that I carry in my heart these days is gratitude.  I’ve received emails from men from all corners of the globe who have read the book and wanted to reach out and share their stories, to tell me how the book affected and sometimes even inspired them.  Some of my hornier readers have orgasmed on the book’s cover and sent me a picture of it – how many authors get that type of approbation from their readers?!

I am working on my second book, a larger look at gay male sexuality.  The book also contains a narrative of my own sexual journey, hopefully in a way that is universal.  This second book is only in its first draft, still untitled, and in many ways writing it is torturous.  I had such great feedback from the first book that it’s daunting to try to hit the ball out of the park a second time.  Wish me luck!



Thank you so much to Jason Armstrong for taking the time to stop by Sex and a Cup of Coffee with some bator wisdom.  You can get your own copy of Solosexual: Portrait of a Masturbator at http://solosexbook.com/.  If you want to swing by his blog you can find it at http://huntingforsex.blogspot.ca/.

Until next time dear bators…

Cheers!  



1 comment:

  1. This man ('Jason Armstrong ') is a legend. We have bated on BW (bateworld.com) for a number of years. He has, without question been not only an inspiration but has helped me after several relationships, discover my real self.
    I was greatly honoured to be able to give a little advice on his first book, and wish him continued success in his next.
    This guy is not only totally genuine, he is the rock that we all look for in life, and that many of our likes / fetishises are similar is, to say the least awesome.
    He is my 'brother ' and I love him because of who he is

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