Must love classical music
In the 1960s, finding flings through the 'Share Accomodation' section of newspapers was commonplace, recalls Barry Lowe. As long as you knew how to read code.
A few weeks back I wrote about how I used The Sydney Morning Herald 'Casual Work Wanted' classifieds in the 1960s to advertise my sexual availability for the right amount of coinage. A couple of people wrote to remind me of another Herald classifieds 'scam' that was prevalent at the time. It also had to do with procuring sex partners, but this time those who bestowed their favours gratis.
Before the advent of gay anything – we were still camp back in those days – if you wanted like-minded chaps as flatmates then you asked around and, if that failed, you advertised. The quality newspaper in question, which was not averse to naming gay people while including their employment and a major part of their address if arrested at equality demos, was certainly not going to run a share accommodation advert that specified 'only poofters and screaming queens should apply'.
Beginning with the pivotal information: 'Young man seeks others to share flat', the idea was to list the house or apartment's real attributes, although in my adventures of seeking share accommodation, 'young man' seemed to be defined as anyone between the ages of 20 and 75. But the absolutely pivotal qualification you needed to add to the 'young man' was the parenthetical 'likes classical music'.
Don't ask me how classical music came to be associated with poofs but maybe 'likes Judy Garland' was just too obvious. Anyway, that's what we did.
Naturally enough, human nature being what it is, a certain number of charlatans used the ruse to ensnare young and unwary trade for themselves. That would be me. The fly, not the spider.
That's how I felt the first time I applied for share accommodation in order to leave the family nest. Home life had become a little tense since I'd revealed my sexual proclivities didn't include women. My first port of call was an old terrace in Chippendale. I'd have my own room and the run of the house, plus the undivided attention of the two Greek men in their forties who owned the place, it seemed. They hadn't run the ad to entice young gay men, I just happened to stumble in. They just happened to stumble right up my arse. It was a very pleasurable experience but we all realised we'd be spending more time in bed than at our various jobs, so we looked elsewhere.
By the time I was familiar with 'code' I had been out and proud for a number of years. That had not prepared me for the cynical gay man who advertised his apartment, invited you over for an interview, rooted you stupid, then told you there was no room available, his ad was just to get a steady supply of sex and 'look, could you go now, I have someone else coming in half an hour'. I had to admire his stamina, if not his morals.
I was told this was a common ruse. Fortunately, I was always horny in those years and provided the guy was half-way decent – standards have slipped these days and I'll settle for ten per cent decent...no, wait, make that five per cent – I'd be flat on my back, legs in the air at the click of his fingers. There were other positions on offer, but you get my drift.
In time, I moved up the ladder and it was me advertising for flatmates, genuine flatmates, although it wasn't always the genuine article that turned up. I attracted a number of men who 'like classical music' and who let it be known they also liked me but had no intention of moving from their current abodes. They admitted they trawled the Saturday paper to find ads such as mine and then went from suburb to suburb. On a good weekend, you could bag three or four tricks.
The worst was an attractive businessman in his thirties who I would have gladly given up my arse for, but that was not his bag. He preferred force. He didn't need it; he was a singularly attractive man with a very dominant personality. I felt sorry for anyone who wasn't into him. I was, but even so, the consent was dubious. He took what he wanted. Roughly. It was about power. Then he left. I was sore, but he'd fulfilled a fantasy of mine.
I stopped advertising after that.