Photo by the author taken directly after one of the encounters below
Vice: So, Mary. You have an interesting hobby. Would you mind telling people what it is?
Mary: Well, I don’t even tell my closest friends about how I like to spend my free time but basically I like to meet strangers on the internet for abuse. They beat me, hit me, spit on me and punch me. I like them to use me as a rubbish bin.
But doesn’t that make you feel bad?
No. When I walk away I sort of feel like a prisoner of war released. The bruises and the bleeding are badges I wear. They reassure me. The only person I told this theory to started to cry, so I’m assuming that this isn’t the way everyone thinks.
Err, probably not. Are you into leather masks and stuff?
I don’t pursue S&M guys or the scene there, it’s not at all what I’m looking for. I’m just sort of pursuing normal, average guys who are fucked up, maybe secretly, and have no problem using me and throwing me away, and just forgetting about me. It’s a guarantee that I’ll never get my feelings hurt. You’d be surprised just how easy it is to do.
Wow. So can you give us some examples of when it’s happened?
The first time I did it, I found an ad online in some anonymous sex adverts in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. There was a guy looking for “rough sex” so I decided to contact him through the site. Then he gave me his MSN name and we got to talking and arranged to meet at a city centre café.
From the moment I met him I didn't really like him that much. He was a tall businessman, wearing an old suit. He was cocky and irritating, but I was desperate, and also hyper about the idea of a sexual encounter with a stranger.
But I won’t lie, I had kind of considered chickening out.
Even though his clothes looked old or out of fashion or something, he was really clean and I imagine his skin would have squeaked. He smelled like cheap hotel room soap. It was fitting because five minutes after sitting down in the café I’d gone back with him to the cheap hotel he’d booked for the weekend.
The bed in the room was made with white linens. It was very small and kind of dark. I noticed the Dry Clean bag hanging by the bathroom in the closet. None of his belongings were out on display, whether by accident or coincidence. There was one weird sofa-like chair propped up in front of the television and I remember that he left the TV on for the duration of what went down.
The next day I couldn’t move. The pinches he’d given me had grown into hard, swollen clumps of skin that were unbearable to touch, and my nipples were completely black and blue. I spent most of the day laying in bed because moving hurt too much.
But I felt good too, it seemed perfectly logical and right playing with danger and risk-taking. It filled a void, briefly, but the pain was both a reminder and a reassurance. By submitting, I gained control, weirdly enough.
THE HELL’S ANGELS
Some months later, it happened again in the city.
It was some kind of motorcycle convention for North Norway Hell’s Angels and it was swarming with big leather dudes. I remember drinking loads of vodka and Cokes, one after the other, when three of them put their arms around me and sort of hoisted me up and clawed at me, pulling my shirt down, grabbing my chest and asking if I’ve ever been with two guys at once. Shortly thereafter they dragged me into the bathroom where they more or less took turns, slicing my skin with their rings. The utter disgust of the situation was a turn on and I let them carry me down the road.
Suddenly I felt weird and remember needing to sit down in the middle of a road, laying down on a divider and passing out in my vomit. The police picked me up. I found out I had been drugged. I wasn’t charged with anything. But I was sick for almost five days. Shaking uncontrollably, vomiting.
Photos by the author
THE OIL RIG WORKER
The next guy I met was a huge oil rig worker with charmingly crooked teeth. When I came to his house I was surprised that it was pretty neat and orderly. He had a bunch of dress shirts hanging from a rod out in the open, but they were all pressed. It was a little apartment at the very top of the building, big Union Jack on the wall, a sad-looking treadmill. His dinner table had a big box of assorted tea bags which kind of made me want to laugh. He had a lot of records. I glanced through them, and he was impressed that I knew who A Certain Ratio was. We kind of got on right away, he was talkative. I asked him about his job, he told me about what he did, his family, showed me a picture of him with a mohawk as a 14-year-old.
He chain smoked and drank vodka straight from the bottle.
And then 10 minutes later we were in the bathroom where he took my whole body and threw me into the shower corner, then pulled me up by my hair, but in a terribly awkward way so that I was neither standing nor kneeling. He had really big hands and they came up the side of my face and slapped me, over and over.
He had a pretty good speed going and got a bit out of control, splitting my lip. He took the end of my hair, yanking and forcing my head back and forth and then pushed me back, lifted my chin, and brought me in closely and spat on my face. He thrust his hand to my neck and chin and slammed me into the wall, I slipped a little, and he just slammed my head into the wall, again and again. He picked up a wooden slat, broke it over his knee and came closer and started whacking blows that propelled me forward. Those left marks and I didn’t sit down for quite a few days.
THE YOUNG GUY
I was in London when I was dragged to a horrible bar by a friend where some guy actually stuck his hand up my dress and felt my ass. I was drunk, and it felt kind of good, and he was cute. Sort of. He was working the London street kid look hard. He was like, “Do you want to go to my place?” but had to repeat it about five times because his English accent was so heavy I could not understand anything he said. I went with him not really knowing why. We waited for a taxi. I felt worse and worse. I figured I was probably going to throw up now or on the way. When we got to his apartment, it was the most abandoned, industrial-looking complex I’d ever seen and I seriously thought he might kill me. It was a strange feeling. When I came in the door, he slammed it behind him and tore my dress off and started ripping away his own clothes. Then he literally screamed at me in this heavy accent. I was drunk and I think both of us were passing out, because I recall being roused by the sound of him screaming and pulling me around. Then suddenly he started to put it in my ass. It hurt and I yelled at him, but he ignored me. I was kind of feeling like I was getting raped or something, because he wouldn’t let me move and wouldn’t stop pounding me. It was like this really sharp pain and whenever I tried creeping away he’d start screaming in his accent at me. When he finally stopped, after a couple hours of this, he pushed me away, and the bed was covered in blood. I wasn’t right for about five days, physically or mentally. He told me to go, and I missed the last train home and had to take a taxi and it cost a fortune.
I don’t know why I don’t want what other girls want, the stability, the boyfriend. I have no need or sensation of wanting to own anyone in that way, or want anyone in my way. It’s a lot more intense to meet strangers, it’s stupid, it’s naïve, it’s dangerous, yeah, it’s all of these things. But only when I’m in the presence of this intensity, only then can I get a release. It’s not about the orgasm.
It’s a licence to be whatever you want, do whatever you want, cancel your past and your future.
You just walk away.