It's a Sunday afternoon in a dark cellar bar in London's King's Cross. To the sounds of Shannon's " Part Time Lovers", a man wearing a leather bondage strap reclines in a large rubber paddling pool, his mouth open wide, as a succession of other guys take it in turns to piss in his mouth. While many are out enjoying the sunshine, the patrons of Streams of Pleasure (SOP) – London's premier club for watersports enthusiasts – have instead plumped for an indoor piss party.
"We've had everyone down here over the years. TV stars, singers, cabinet ministers. Want a bin bag for your clothes, mate?"
Michael has worked for the club – which, according to its website, welcomes all from novices to experienced "piss pigs" – since its inception in 1999. During that time, the party has moved from Vauxhall to East London to its current home behind the newly-redeveloped King's Cross Station. Presumably he must have seen some crazy stuff over the years?
"There are people who pay me to help clean up afterwards."
"Sure. They like to roll around in the puddles, stick used condoms up their arses, that sort of thing."
I'm keen to discover what makes a dedicated golden showers fan tick. If you Google "watersports" or "piss fetish" you'll find endless NSFW images and videos, but rather less sober analysis of just what it is that makes urolagnia hot. But with celebrity exponents ranging from the Marquis de Sade to comedian Patrice O'Neal to Ricky Martin, slashing for kicks must surely have its upsides. Indeed, the 19th century British sexologist Havelock Ellis remained impotent right up until the age of 60, before he discovered the joys of golden showers.
Pushing through a heavy swing door, I enter the club, a tiny L-shaped room divided by a banner with SOP's Twitter handle displayed on it. Men in various states of undress stand around drinking (SOP is a male-only party). Most guys are naked or in jock-straps, but everyone is wearing footwear of some kind, from flip-flops to Wellington boots, the latter probably being more practical. Others are in fetish outfits. Apart from one man in a crotchless latex playsuit who walks around sporting a chemically-enhanced hard-on, people mostly wear camouflage, military uniforms and those unevenly-bleached jeans beloved of 80s Nazi skinheads. Oddly, many are also in construction workwear – high-vis vests, jeans thick with brick dust and work boots. In fact, at times the place feels more like a workers' caff than a sleazy palace for piss-freaks – albeit one where the musty smell of urine grows ever-stronger to a soundtrack of 80s disco classics.
I ask Doug, a rheumy-eyed, heavy-set man with a Dickensian beard, corduroy jeans and lumbering gait of a drunk art teacher, if he's enjoying the party.
"A lad pissed up my arse earlier," he says.
Does he enjoy it here?
"It's OK. Actually, I'm into much heavier stuff."
Doug fixes me with a dark look that suggests I really don't want to know, before shambling off in the direction of the paddling pool.
Trying to find someone a little more forthcoming about the joys of piss, I get chatting to Fred by the bar. From Belfast, Fred is 71 and has lived in London for over 15 years. Incongruously dressed in a checked shirt and the kind of elasticated slacks you might see advertised in the back of Gardeners' World, he looks as though he would be more at home displaying his prize-winning marrows at the local village fete. I ask him why he comes here.
"I like someone to piss in my mouth," he says.
Why? Does it taste good? Is it a turn on?
"It's a bit like they're coming. Like they're losing control."
This makes some kind of sense. Presumably there's an intimacy in sharing what is normally so private an act with someone else. Although, I still don't understand why you have to swallow.
I ask Fred what else he's into. He turns and looks at me. His shiny bald head and soft, septuagenarian eyes suddenly remind me just how old he is. Presumably he's a voyeur these days. I wonder if he's really happy being here. After all, he could be someone's great-grandfather.
"I like a really good, hard fucking session," he says.
Making my excuses, I head for the toilet. There's liquid all over the floor, although I guess complaining about an overflow would probably be a non-starter in this place. Ironically, it turns out that having a conventional piss in a piss club can be quite difficult. Sitting in the urinal is a squat Robin Cook lookalike with drunk eyes and a merry red beard. He sports a biker jacket and a cock ring, and eyes up newcomers, eager to receive their jets. I'm unsure of the etiquette in this situation, but syphoning the python next to him without satisfying his clear desire to act as a receptacle feels churlish. I walk out again, wondering if I should comply with Doug's earlier request that I fill up his pint glass instead.
I stand in a corner for a while, watching the action. Groups of naked men get their piss on in the venue's two dark rooms, as well as in the pool, which can apparently turn a soupy brown by the end of the night. As gross as all this may sound, urine is apparently entirely safe, with some claiming it can have health benefits. From what's going on here, it seems that "water sports" is an umbrella term that covers everything from liking the feel or smell of the stuff, to wanting to piss on others as an act of domination, or to be pissed on and feel humiliated. Guys frequently switch between dom and sub roles, depending on how the mood takes them. I ask Adam Byrne, Streams of Pleasure's promoter, if I'm on the right track.
"It's different for everyone. There are some that are exclusively the pisser, and others that are exclusively the receiver. But most are versatile. A lot like the feeling of being wet. Some like to get wet while naked, some like to get wet fully dressed. We have city workers coming down. Within minutes they are surrounded by guys, getting soaked in their suits. I think the sub/dom thing is the main turn on for most. Having said that, the regulars have learned to become versatile. It can't all be one-way traffic – the subs need to pee too!"
I wonder how Adam got into hosting London's longest-running piss-up in the first place?
"I'd had an interest in watersports for a few years, but the fetish scene at the time was largely based around dress codes – rubber, leather and so on. I wasn't into those. Plus that gear cost a fortune. So I approached a venue and was very surprised when they accepted my idea for the club. It was originally only once a month, but it took off almost straight away. The first event, I expected around 30 or so to turn up. Three hours after opening we had over 100 in. Now we are open twice a week."
The London market for subterranean slash-enthusiasts was clearly more buoyant than he'd first expected. Tonight I've seen guys from their early twenties right up their eighties here. So what is SOP's typical customer like?
"In the early days, our crowd tended to be mostly 35-plus, but now we have a nice mix of ages. They come from all backgrounds. I don't ask what people do for a living, but you get to know. Blue-collar and white-collar workers, celebrities, even one or two politicians. I would never mention any celebs by name. In fact, I don't recognise them – I'm usually told later by one of the customers. The thing is, once inside, it really doesn't matter who you are, as long as you don't have an attitude and try to have a good time."
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According to Adam's Twitter feed, a piss party in Barcelona serves cabbage soup to ensure punters are juiced up. I wonder what the drink of choice is in King's Cross?
"Lager is popular, as is bitter. We also provide pints of water to those who need it. It's all about recycling."
Wandering over to the paddling pool area, where a group of guys are relieving themselves onto an ecstatic bear dressed in overalls, I am accosted by Jamie, an intense, hollow-eyed 25-year-old in a West Ham strip. (Oddly, he's the second West Ham fan I've met here tonight.)
"You ever been to the Adult Baby Club?" he asks.
Yes, funnily enough, I have.
"I've got nappies in the car," he tells me.
"I can wear my sister's tighty-whiteys if you like."
That won't be necessary.
"You prefer them with skidmarks or without?"
"Life's very short. Maybe it's time you took a little dip in the paddling pool."
Just then a house version of John Lennon's "Imagine" comes on. Now it's definitely time to go.
As I'm heading for the door I'm stopped by Steve, a disheveled property-developer in worn Ralph Lauren. He asks me if I've been in the pool. I tell him I haven't. He looks at me and shakes his head.
"Life's very short. Maybe it's time you took a little dip."
There's a strange poignancy to his words that I'm not keen to experience in this context. I make for the cloakroom. While I'm collecting my jacket, I ask Michael to recount the weirdest thing he's ever seen in his time working here.
"I saw a guy getting double-fisted on the bar once."
"Yeah. Right in front of the pumps. Of course I had to ask him to stop."
I'm not surprised.
"The smoking ban had just come in, you see. I had to tell him to put his fag out."
It's still light when I stumble out into the tree-lined street. The fresh air feels good. In spite of my new insights into the piss scene, I'm not a convert to public paddling pool-based urinary fun. Still, in a city where the quirky and the kinky are increasingly marginalised, driven out by bland moneymen and corporations, it's somehow kind of heartening that SOP exists for its loyal band of piss party fans.