The erotic allure of a glory hole
Fox Emerson has written a novel about glory holes, and the role that they play in the cruising culture of gay men.
I caught up with Fox for a behind-the-scenes look at his novel, The Hole in the Door.
Your initial inspiration for this story was a news report of a glory hole being donated to a museum. Why did that story catch your eye?
I grew up in Perth, West Australia, and the attitudes there have been nowhere near as progressive as London, where I live now.
So, seeing the Western Australian Museum accept a door with glory hole that was used for sex to me is just jaw-dropping progress. Of course, getting that door to an actual exhibit might have to happen over a few proverbial dead bodies, but the point is, they accepted it. They have it in their archives. Guys fucked and blew each other through this door and one day it might be on a wall for Joe public to see it. Men and women might see it.
I find this so fascinating! I had to write a story about it.
Have you had much personal experience with glory holes?
I’d love to say yes, because apparently, I write really good sex. I’ve had people ask me if the stuff I write is from personal experience and I can tell the disappointment when I tell them that I’ve never been to a glory hole – certainly not in a public toilet. But I do think the idea of it is hot.
I think I just have a really good imagination. You have to, in order to write fiction and enter the dirty, competitive gay erotica or MM arena.
We’re fortunate that we live in times where apps, bars and clubs have made things easier to get sex but there have been countless people before us who couldn’t.
What was the creative process you followed to write this story?
For this book it was quite different. Usually, I have an idea; an outline, but with The Hole in the Door, I had a vague willingness to sit down to write a short – hot, story about a glory hole door.
But, months later, I reared my head after having written a gratifying account of a man’s journey through time, witnessing homophobia, abuse, suicide and romance, to realise I had more to say about this than just a tale about a dick being sucked through a hole in a toilet door.
It made me really angry to think that governments expected you to pay the same amount of tax, but you weren’t allowed to live life how you wanted and part of what happened in this book was the desire to avenge the rights of all past gay, bi, curious and straight men who used glory holes like this, which was their only way to get sex.
Given that so much has changed in recent decades, why do you think that men-seeking-men are still enthusiastic about glory holes?
The thrill, I guess. I’ve been cruising, and it’s fun; it’s a hunt. You want your food brought to you on a plate or you want to go and hunt for it?
Cruising in a park, or in places outdoors, can feel like hunting.
I think there’s a sense of the anonymous that turns people on in the glory hole appreciation. If you go online, there are people offering glory hole services in their apartments. Having questioned these people, glory holes are high in demand, so it’s clear that people still love using them.
Some guys who don’t want anyone to know they’re using glory holes will do so because it is anon.
With the current social distancing requirements created by Covid-19, a number of health authorities have recommended glory holes as a safer way for guys to hook-up. Do you think we could be seeing a resurgence in glory holes?
This surprises me, and I’d be cautious about any such claim. If the virus lives on surfaces, like our hands, then why are our dicks safe? Covid-19 is highly transmissible if you’re contagious, through hands, mouths, and I am going to guess, with your dick. I mean, at some point you’re going to touch your dick, right?
Though if true, it will create an even bigger demand for glory holes! If the only way we could have sex with people was through a wall or partition, then so be it. Glory holes could be popping up all over the world and be
even more popular than pubs!
What do you hope that people will feel when reading The Hole in the Door?
About 30 or so beta readers have read The Hole in the Door, so I can tell you what they felt and what their thoughts were. They got hot and horny in many parts of the book, as intended. They cried a couple of times when they were supposed to. They were angry when I wanted them to be and they felt the joy the characters did, which I intended.
I’m a bit surprised actually. The response to this book has been phenomenal. Straight men read this book and commented on how it made them feel, straight women, bi women, and gay guys provided feedback and it seems I’ve managed to take them on the journey I intended.
I want the reader to feel something similar to what they did when they read or watched Call me by your Name. In this book, you should be turned on, amused, entertained, upset, emotionally charged, angry, happy, relieved and to have a glimpse into what it must have been like living through the 60s/70s in Perth, and Australia in general.
Read an extract from The Hole in the Door
He slowly unzipped his fly with trembling hands.
Glancing at the door, keenly listening for anyone coming inside the toilet block, he inched forward
half a centimetre.
He undid the button at the top of his jeans.
At eye level, there was more graffiti. ‘Feeeeeels Gooooood.’ Written in black marker pen. He stared at the lettering. It was written by someone with neat handwriting. Brad’s writing was so similar in fact that he could have written it himself.
Nobody was beyond the main door. Outside, all was quiet but nevertheless, he strained harder than ever to hear anything at all.
He pulled his hand into his underpants and pulled his rock-hard dick out.
It was throbbing and happy to be released.
Brad didn’t think he’d ever felt his dick so hard. Nor had he ever been so terrified and thrilled.
As though excited by what Brad exposed, the finger beckoned again.
He moved an inch closer and still considered leaving. Thoughts of his dad. Sally Preston ignoring him. He thought about Josh. The way he walked in those tight jeans. His handsome face that everyone wanted to kiss.
His dick throbbed and the finger grew impatient.
There was a wrongness in the quiet toilet that somehow made the experience more dangerous. And exciting.
He could get caught.
But the hole waited, and his dick was so close to it. He saw the mouth waiting just beyond that hole. The tongue protruded. No longer patient and wanting him to know that the time was now.
There was no way he could undiscover this hole and walk away. It would taunt him, and he knew it.
He moved that tiny bit so much so that somehow he leaned an extra centimetre forward – just enough, for the tongue to protrude and make contact with the tip of his cock.
It licked the end and in that lick, there was a promise; enter now and the reward will be great.
Slowly, as though entering a warm bath, he slipped it into the hole.
‘Feeeeeels Gooooood.’ He read that again as he slipped his throbbing dick into the hot mouth.
The mouth swallowed it immediately, and his entire body shuddered. A thrill that he’d never experienced and could probably never describe, overtook him.
Tremors of pleasure became shakes.
His dick, deep inside the anonymous man’s mouth, was impossible to describe. It was a lot like not realising you needed to pee desperately and being able to relieve yourself, except the pleasure was much more intense and ecstatic.
He pushed his pelvis into the door, much like he’d seen the man do earlier and angled his face so he could listen out for anyone coming, but he also did it so he could get every bit of him into that wonderful mouth that knew exactly how to suck a dick.
The mouth sucked beautifully. His dick was immersed so deep into the man’s throat that he nearly came in that first few seconds. The urge was already there. But he couldn’t nut so quickly. There was no way he would ejaculate as quick as that. Still, he suppressed the desire to right away.
The mouth was experienced in such matters however, and it sucked well, and it was also careful. The warm mouth wrapped itself tightly around his dick. It knew what it was doing. Sucking, pausing to lick the tip and tongue around the foreskin and the mouth was on the tip and then it sucked from the head and went as far as it could go. It went from swallowing the whole lot to licking the tip, with a light stroke and a warm, soft hand, hot breath and another deep suck. Each time the mouth swallowed his cock, he nearly came, and each time he nearly came, the mouth stopped and left him on the edge.
The graffiti. By now, he’d read it over a dozen times. It was an odd thing to read, given he experienced what the writer had written. ‘Feeeeeels Gooooood.’
He wanted to write something right next to it. But what would he write? And with what?
Brad listened out for anyone who might disturb them but also knew then he couldn’t hold it any longer. The vibrations in his body, coupled with the fear; the urgency, the wrongness of it all, the hotness of not knowing who the man on the other side was, doing things to him that had never been done before like that.
He felt the ejaculation begin. There was no stopping it now.
The man must have sensed it, because the mouth tightened, and that made Brad explode.
It was nothing like peeing when you were busting to go. It was nothing like a thousand desserts. It was nothing like the wank he’d had when he’d found those hot magazines that time in his dad’s hidden cupboard. Nothing was quite like ejaculating into someone’s mouth, anonymously through a hole in a door. ‘Feeeeeels Gooooood.’