It is the coveted right of passage for every young adult: the moment we lose our virginity, by having sex with someone. For some of us, we are fortunate enough to lose it to someone we care about, while for others, we lose it to someone who in the longer term is completely inconsequential to us. For some of us, we manage to retain our virginity into early adulthood, while for most of us, we lose it when we are still in high school and are the least equipped to deal with the emotional ramifications.
My moment would come shortly after I turned 14, a week after arriving in Hong Kong. I had been building up the urge to experience live sex for some time: the past year at least. I was a very horny young teen and shortly after discovering masturbation, became really quite hooked on the high that I got out of an orgasm. Of course, popular culture in the form of Penthouse Forum stories and movies portrayed sex as being the ultimate in pleasure that one could experience and the media’s portrayal was very, very convincing to someone on the spectrum. We aspies are generally much more impressionable than most people are, especially when the information coming at us is coming from a source that we think is reputable. I was no different in this regard. I completely internalized most of the messages that I had absorbed like a sponge about sex and its importance, that I had been exposed to from the age of 8 onwards. My older brother was also very influential, constantly bragging to me about his exploits (all of which were pure fiction, unbeknownst to me at the time). This only served to fan the flames of my curiosity and desire. Towards the end of our time in Australia, around early 1985, my brother offered to take me to see a prostitute if I would save up the required amount from my weekly allowance - $35. I was tempted more than once, especially when he described how amazing it would feel. I, being impressionable of course, would immediately begin to imagine women, like those that I had fantasized about delivering the ultimate to me in pleasure, and because I was so young, doing it in a very caring manner. I had so much to learn about reality – and learn it I would as my other stories will illustrate.
At one point early in 1985 I told my brother that I wanted him to take me. For the next two weeks every time I touched myself I would fantasize about the upcoming visit to the ultimate prostitute. However, I was conflicted with what I perceived as the immorality of the act. While I absorbed and internalized the messages that the media portrayed about sex, I also absorbed and internalized all the messages about morality that I saw on the news every so often. At that time prostitution was actually illegal and it was referred to as the profession of ill-repute by the media. One of my strongest motivators throughout most of my life, except for a period where I just lost myself during my second marriage, was to “do the right thing” – to “be a good person”. So as much as I wanted to experience this release, I was concerned that it wasn’t the right thing to do, and that I might not be able to live with myself if I did. So during that two-week period between me telling my brother that I would take him up on his offer, and the arranged date of the visit, I would oscillate between excitement and dread. Finally, the day before the event I chickened out and told my brother that I just couldn’t do it. He seemed to be very understanding about it, which came as a surprise to me. That would have been about 4-5 months before my 14th birthday.
Shortly after this, my dad announced that he had gotten a new lecturing job – in HONG KONG. We would be moving there shortly after my 14th birthday, at the end of August. My mom would not be coming with us, staying behind in her job until December of that year. Why would remain mystery to me until I was old enough to understand the true state of my parent’s marriage at that time. We arrived in Hong Kong at or around August 30, or August 31, 1985. I can still remember vividly the view as the airplane descended to the long-defunct Kai Tak Airport in Kowloon, as well as the blast of warm, humid air that hit us as we stepped out of the plane onto the metal stairwell that led to the tarmac below. Yes, even in 1985, we actually walked onto the tarmac. The long-mobile corridors that connect jumbo jets with the gates, that passengers take for granted now were not yet in widespread use and it was still customary to exit directly onto the tarmac and make our way into the terminal buildings.
Those first few days in Hong Kong were overwhelming in terms of the different stimuli that greeted my senses: sights, sounds and smells that I was not used to. We stayed in a hotel called the Empress, which was located in a popular tourist area in Kowloon called Tsim Tsa Tsui. The Empress was not a luxury hotel by any stretch of the imagination, and certainly by Hong Kong standards. However, looking back it was not bad. We stayed there for a solid month before our apartment would be ready for us and living in any hotel for a month is hard. One of the things that was really difficult for me as an aspie were the constant noises. There was a crew of road workers who literally jackhammered at the pavement what seemed like 24 hours a day and were right outside the hotel. There were many nights that I couldn’t get to sleep until very late.
One other thing that really struck me and got my juices going was the widespread availability of pornography. Everywhere you walked in Kowloon, there would be several street vendors with newsstands. These newsstands would feature an entire wall of newspapers and magazines, many of which were pornographic. There were no hard core magazines of course, and these didn’t appeal to me anyway. But there were large numbers of soft core ones. Some were the usual well known Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, while there was also a generous selection of locally produced Cantonese magazines, which piqued my curiosity. Coupled with the fact that there were topless bars in nearly every block near our hotel, meant that I was almost constantly bombarded by sexual stimuli several times a day: in the morning on my way to school; on my way back and every night at dinner, as dad made us roam Kowloon every night looking for a suitably affordable restaurant at which to eat. I can still remember his cut-off price for dinner: $30 HK per person. That is about $5 CDN for dinner, which sounds impossibly cheap, but surprisingly there were lots of places that you could eat at that time for that price, and sometimes even cheaper than that. Of course, that probably has a lot to do with the very lax regulations that likely existed back then as any walk down an alley past the open back doors to many kitchens would reveal.
This constant stimulation proved to be almost too much for me. Within the first couple of days, I began to seek permission from my dad to go out on my own with some of my savings in search of appropriate wank fodder to try and relieve some of the sexual tension that had been building up. My brother must have noticed that this was happening because about 4 days into our stay in the hotel, he said he could arrange to have a girl come right to the hotel. We actually had a unique opportunity in this regard: dad had for some reason arranged for my brother and I to have adjoining rooms, but his room, that he stayed in with my sister, was located at the end of the hall in the corner. There was at least one room between my room and his. Thus he would never be able to hear what went on in our rooms. Again, I begin to get excited at the prospect - all the more so now because I was curious at the thought of losing my virginity to a Chinese woman. I had grown to regard them all as beautiful, with their high cheekbones, straight black hair and delicate eyes, although this perception would give way to a less romanticized perception of their beauty the longer I lived there. So my brother arranged that on a Friday night, which was September 6, 1985, I would call an escort to come to the hotel. I know that my first day of school was the Wednesday of that week, so this happened on my third day of school.
In the evening after our usual dinner routine, dad, my brother and sister headed back to the hotel. My tension started to build. My brother had told me earlier that week that if I backed out this time that he would never help me get laid again, but I do not believe that he ever intended me to actually go through with it. I took this to heart, so that this evening I was determined to go through with our plan. We got to my room and flicked on the TV. There was a large easy chair in the corner of the room where my brother sat, while I picked up the Yellow Pages and looked up “escorts”. I found a number and picked up the phone to dial it. I dialed the number and a voice answered: “Whey?” (hello in Cantonese). I asked “How much is a massage?”. The voice changed to English and told me $200 HK ($40 CDN). I had $1,500 HK in savings that dad had given back to me earlier that day. I said that I would be interested in having them send a girl over and proceeded to give my hotel details. I hung up the phone and began to wait for the inevitable knock on my room door. On the TV was some obscure made-for-TV movie that escapes me now. My brother and I settled in to watch.
After about half an hour my brother sat upwards in the chair and said “Chris, it’s OK. You don’t have to go through with this. You have proven yourself. I can call them up and cancel.” I was long past the point of no-return now. “No, I’m doing this.” I said. We argued for a few minutes, and at the end my brother accepted that this was happening and said “Well OK Chris, but don’t spend more than $500 HK ($100). A few minutes later, came a loud knock on the door. I went to go answer it. My brother scrambled to get to the door between our rooms, but I opened the door before he could get there. So instinctively, he ran back into the open closet that faced my bed. It was full of clothes, so he wasn’t easily visible, but he would have had a completely unobstructed view of what was about to happen.
The woman at the door was indeed Chinese and probably was about 5’6, with short, jet back hair. She must have been in her 40’s or maybe her late 30’s but was not young at any rate. She came inside and asked me “You with someone?”. I said that I was alone. Then she asked me “You 14?” I said “N, No, I’m older.”. I asked her how much it would be for “everything”. I really didn’t know what else to say. My brother had told me that if I asked for everything, I would get laid. She responded that it would cost me $800! I told her that I couldn’t afford that and the most I could give her was $500. She insisted that it would be $800 and that it was normally $1,000, but since she could see that it was clearly my first time that she would make it $800. I reluctantly agreed and heard a small “thump” in the closet, which must have been my brother hitting the ground and thinking “Damn it!”. The woman got up and went to her purse. She pulled out a red paper envelope and handed it to me. She explained that what was inside was “lucky money”, and it was tradition to give it to a man at the moment he loses his virginity. I opened it, and inside was a crisp $10 HK note. So the whole thing would only really cost me $790.
I went over to the bedside table and took out a box of condoms that I had bought a day before. Even at 14 I was well aware of the risk of AIDS. The famous actor Rock Hudson was in the news then as the first celebrity to be suffering from the disease and would die just a few months later. I quickly stripped down to nothing but my socks and sat on the edge of the bed. The woman helped me put on the condom and then lay back and prepared for me to enter her. I did so and immediately I felt almost nothing. I was so incredibly disappointed. This was nothing like what I had been led to believe this was going to feel like. “It must get better”, I thought. So I began thrusting inside her. While the sensations got a bit better, it became very quickly apparent that I was not going to reach orgasm this way, so the woman directed me to get up and lie down beside her. She removed the condom and in a very caring manner stroked me until I came. Then she got up to shower.
Almost immediately a wave of regret hit me like a ton of bricks. The feeling of guilt and shame that overcame me over the next few hours was almost indescribable. I just felt numb. After a while I knocked on the bathroom door. She answered, revealing her soap covered body. I asked her if she needed a cab and she said that no, she would make her own way out. I went back to the bed slowly and just sat there. Eventually the woman left and then my brother emerged from the closet asking me “why did you spend the $800 bear? I told you to spend no more than $500!”. He must have seen the despair on my face, because he sat down beside me and put his arm around my shoulder and said. “What you did isn’t wrong Chrissy. But you must never tell anyone about this. Not even mom or dad.”. For the rest of the night we watched movies on the Hotelevision system which ran movies like Wrath of Khan and Trading Places back to back in a continuous, never ending loop. I did anything I could to keep my mind off it. The guilt and shame would haunt me for the next four months until mom came to Hong Kong and I unloaded my burden on her. Turns out my dad knew about it all along, as the hotel manager had approached him the next day to tell him that an escort had gone up to my room. I guess either he wasn’t comfortable confronting me about it, or he decided to let me sit with what I had done, which in a sense, was the worst possible punishment.
Mom’s reaction was not what I expected. I had thought she would be disappointed, but she seemed to be more in wonder of how I could undress in front of an older woman and have sex with her. She told me that if I ever wanted to do this again, I should talk to my father who would make sure that I didn’t get ripped off again. While this was a relief initially, for some reason it didn’t sit well with me. I felt some awkwardness for a few days after, but gradually, the guilt and shame began to recede until eventually I felt completely normal.
This would turn out to be probably the most pivotal event in my life, for reasons that would not become apparent for many, many years. One of the things that guides us morally is the concept that we will be unable to live with ourselves if we do certain things. That notion prevents us from taking many unkind, ill-thought-out and selfish actions. However, I learned with this experience that while it was very difficult and uncomfortable for me to live with myself for a time, it was indeed possible. As a matter of fact, it got easier when I did the same thing all over again, this time on my own. It forever changed the way I would view intimacy and sexuality and turned the whole process on its head. While most teens progress from holding hands and kissing to sex, my development was completely ass-backwards. My first kiss wouldn't come until late in 1987 at a pool party in Hong Lok Yuen.