This originally appeared on VICE AU.
My cousin recently invited me to a party with his friends from Sexaholics Anonymous—a group based around a 12-step program that helps those who get hooked. Ironically we went to a nightclub called the Randy Dragon which features décor inspired by a Chinese brothel. The group hadn't really gone out together before and everyone was being overly enthusiastic, almost trying to ignore the awkward tension that comes with knowing each others darkest sexual endeavours.
The American Psychiatric Association claims that Hypersexual Disorder occurs when "over a period of at least six months, a person experiences recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, and sexual behavior while disregarding the risk for self harm." Another red flag is "engaging in these sexual fantasies in response to dysphoric mood states."
Despite this description, everyone at the club looked normal. The accountants were in the cubicles with runny noses, the tradies were in the smoker's area, while the rest were nodding to each other after running out of things to say. No one was talking to any of the girls at the bar.
I didn't know what it all meant but I sure could feel the suppressed innuendo on the dance floor. So in between rounds of wet pussy shots, I asked some of the guys at Randy Dragon about how their sexual lives had shackled them.
Dylan R, 26
VICE: Hey man, what were you getting up to that made you think "I'm a sex addict"?
Dylan: I was hanging around a pretty loose crowd. One thing led to another and I got hooked on the ice. It went from once a week to all weekend pretty quickly. And I don't know if you know much about smoking ice, but it makes you really fucking horny. So then I started stealing mum's credit card to use at cheap Asian brothels. They use weird names to charge your account to keep it all disguised so I got away with it for a bit. But I started taking advantage of the situation and going like four times a week, whenever I was off my head really. It really fucked up my parents' financial situation. They don't earn much and here I was ruining them with my addiction behind their backs.
How did it all come to an end?
Well I came clean because my parents were going to the police to assess all the expenses on their bills. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. And the only way they would forgive me was to go to rehab and get this sex addiction assessed. It's weird how something really dramatic and embarrassing has motivated me to be more open and share my story. The more I reveal in the meetings the more free I feel as a person and the easier it has been to move forward.
What has been the best thing about these meetings?
Sharing your secrets. You don't feel like a dirty junky. My main issue was that when I got off the drugs, I was still desperately blowing all my money on whores. Everyone at the meetings is really nice, they're honestly there to help you and not judge you. A lot of the circles I used to hang around they all just talked shit about each other and dragged you down, people would just laugh as if it was cool or funny that I was ripping my parents' credit cards. Only because they were benefitting from it. You lose perspective. These guys have made me see the world for what it has to offer, away from the pokies, chasing gear at 5AM and impressing hookers.
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Tony, how did you end up here?
I spent a lot of my time at the office and often let my work life take over my social life. I didn't have much time to go out on the weekends. I love to work and spend a lot of my spare time thinking about work and considering shares or analysing stocks and trading. A friend from work had a bucks party at the Langham, which involved strippers and cocaine. As the party died down a few of us wanted to kick on so someone suggested we head to Gotham City, a high-end brothel in South Melbourne. I was really into the chick there and kept seeing her every week. It quickly became a part of my routine. Started off as once a week, then twice, and soon enough it was three times.
When did you realise this was a problem?
When I started spending over $2000 a week. I would go to four or five different brothels a week, sometimes multiple girls at each brothel. I stopped working out or seeing my friends. It was just so easy. I was in a long-term relationship that went pear shaped a couple of years ago and have been struggling on the dating scene. It spiralled out of control. I couldn't stop thinking about certain girls at work, they would start texting me, not because they liked me—it was just because they could squeeze me for so much cash. I was acting like they were my girlfriends but I was paying for it. I eventually broke and told one of my mates at work about it and he recommended a few websites. It's hard because you can't stop thinking about it. You know, I really love women and always just want to be around them. But this isn't the right way to go about it. I felt like shit when I realised they were only interested in the money they didn't give a shit about what I did during the day or anything like that.
How has rehab helped you?
It's helped me a lot. It's comforting to know you're not alone. Sometimes you can feel like quite a pervert or something. It's not very civilised to be spending half your time outside of work with prostitutes. It can make you feel quite depressed and a bit sick mentally. But it has been really comforting hearing stories from the guys and knowing that it's quite common. It's like gambling or being a coke addict, you aren't looking for love or anything like that, you're just addicted to the act of having sex.
Johnny B, 39
Johnny, what were you getting up to before rehab?
I would wait fortnightly for my dole check and waste it on dirty girls around St Kilda. Sometimes I wouldn't even get to sleep the night before, the horny thinking possessed me and really took control of my life. I would do anything to try and get my rocks off and it's not a safe headspace to be in.
What if you couldn't get the money together?
Well I'd just watch porn all day. It has been really tough because I've spent a bit of time in the nick. Around eight years all up, so I don't have many mates that can introduce me to girls and stuff. I go to the local pub and give it a crack sometimes but I just feel like the dirty old guy being a sicko. I've been rejected quite harshly and it's killed my confidence. So I'm a bit of a sexual introvert. But it has really stuffed up my life. I've done things sometimes where I'm left without money for food for the week.
How has rehab helped you?
Well the counselling has really helped me express my emotions in the public. Not keep everything bottled in. It's really a sickness, like a mental sickness. I've done some things that I'm really not proud of. I've haggled with prostitutes on the street or tried to get them to give me IOUs—as if they would go for it but in your head you get desperate and you do desperate things. The boys have been really good to me. We go out and socialise and it builds your confidence up. I've been seeing someone for the last month that I met one night when we were out. I've got a few job interviews lined up. It's really helped me man, I was in a bad way when I was alone.
Jason H, 52
Jason, why do you call yourself a sex addict?
Well, I'm married with four kids mate. I was going through a bit of a cliché mid-life crisis situation. Got bored with life a bit. Same shit every day. Got hooked on the speed, started hanging around guys at the pub and spending less time at home. Would go for a "banquet" at the Chinese brothels in the outer suburbs. Before you knew it, I virtually had a girlfriend there, would visit her every couple of days. Started sending her presents and putting money in her account. Was thinking with my dick and put my family in the rear view. Became a cunt of a bloke to everyone who knew me.
How did it all come to an end?
I started using money from the business to fund trips to Thailand. Was sending money to her "family" overseas. Soon found out from a private investigator that she was full of shit and lived in Australia with her family. She was just robbing me. The missus caught on to. She knew I was being weird, and she'd go past the work site when I'd be at the brothels or in motels. It wouldn't have been hard to catch me. I came clean. We saw a marriage counsellor. It's still pretty rocky. The kids still don't talk to me but I deserve it. I still haven't fully recovered to be honest, I still go to the hookers once a fortnight but I've been trying to cut down. This has even been a significant shift for me. But sometimes I just feel like we're just animals. We have needs. It's not love. I mean I was into the last chick but not anymore. It's just physical. I love my wife.
Are you feeling better at the moment?
Rehab has brought my punting right down. From four times a week at the brothels, countless times a week to the peep shows and strippers, to now only once a fortnight at the brothels. It's made me see family values in a different light. And that's where the good bits of life are, like the sex and the partying feels good but it's not real, it's only temporary. The real love with your kids, that stuff lasts. That stuff is the gold standard.
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