Episode 7: Turkey Trouble
Jon Paul finds rough trade in gay Constantinople. Filmed on-location in Istanbul. Guest star: Tyra Banks.
A month after Tyra’s book tour concluded, my boss BusyB called with the news that I was going back out on the road with her—this time to Turkey. She was launching a new line for Swatch called ‘Skin,’ and supposedly both the affordable timepiece and the international supermodel were huge in the Euro-Asian country. The lure of an overseas trip superseded my hesitation about another guest appearance by Tyra on Alphabet City—any more screen time and she might hijack the show. The best part was that I arrived in Istanbul a few days earlier than Tyra, allowing me to explore on my own.
I shared the good news with Angela over a salad at the hole-in-the wall Café 7A around the corner from our apartment.
“Turkey? That’s far away. My passport is all ready in case I need to come get you out of prison or something,” she said.
“Prison? What do you think I’m going to do there exactly?”
“I don’t know, but I’ve read about Turkey. You never know.”
I dabbed a side of carrot-ginger dressing onto my dry salad—I was trying to lose weight quickly in case I encountered some cute men on the journey. Angela continued, sounding like she was Sally Field in a Lifetime movie-of-the-week.
“Trust me, if there’s anyone who knows how to marshal the full resources of the US Embassy to get you out of jail, it’s me.”
“You think I’m going to be arrested the minute I step off the plane? I’ll be with Tyra Banks for god sakes.”
“Just be careful and carry a condom.”
Now she was practically a modern Teddy Roosevelt.
In truth, I was looking forward to an exotic adventure and maybe some overseas sex. In the few trips abroad by myself, I had come to love the search for a little no-strings-attached vacation action. So, I loaded up on guide books, conducted mounds of online research, and discovered that despite cultural and religious persecution from a Muslim-tradition, Istanbul did have a small but teeming underground gay life—all centered around an unmarked disco, down the street from a park somewhere. A little mystery added to the sexiness. I packed a few Trojans along with my nothing-bad-will-happen-Mary-Richards attitude and set off in search of gay Constantinople.
From the moment my Swatch-provided guide picked me up at the airport, Istanbul smelled sexually exotic to me—an intoxicating blend of cumin and cardamom mixed with hard-earned sweat. While I lived in the city that didn’t sleep, this ancient metropolis straddling Europe and Asia was spinning even more furiously. I remarked to my escort about the number of people rushing about, glued to their mobile phones, going, going, texting, and going.
“Turks work three times as hard to keep up with rest of Europe. Every minute Turkish lira worth less. What are you going to do?” he replied.
The guide cranked our car into high gear making a beeline for the Blue Mosque. Only twenty-four hours before a rendezvous with Tyra, so I needed to pack in all the sightseeing possible before her plane touched down.
Later that night, I struck out on my own and wandered around the edge of a large, dark park in search of Istanbul’s gay underground. A shadowy figure appeared. I flinched and put a hand on my wallet.
“You like dance?” he asked.
I shook my head and couldn’t remember a single Turkish phrase I had studied on the plane. I was an easy target, wandering around after midnight, lost with a map in my hand, trying to make sense of the directions I had downloaded off a gay travel web site. What was I thinking? I would never walk around the streets of New York telegraphing to the world I was a tourist. But one overnight flight later and all my defensive barriers collapsed. The figure stepped into the light of a street lamp and I sighed with relief and lust. He was an impossibly good looking, blonde hair, blue-eyed Turk—think body of Brad Pitt with the eyes of Orlando Bloom.
“Is fine. Yes, yes. I take you to disco. This what you want yes?”
He stuck his hand in the waistband of his tight-fitting jeans just above his crotch. I nodded, smiling. He grinned knowingly.
“No dance now. Now café.”
In a crowded and brightly lit spot just off Taksim square, we sat drinking bitter Turkish coffee. The caffeine jolted my nerves.
“What-is-your-name?” I asked slowly, emphasizing every word.
“Aslan. That’s unusual.”
It was silly to have mistrusted a handsome guy like Aslan. I was sure he was just being friendly.
“My name is Jon Paul.”
“Just like Bible.”
I smiled nervously, wondering if I should tone down a Christian name in an overwhelmingly Muslim country.
He just shook his head, flashed a grin and jumped up.
Aslan lead me down some dark alleys and I glanced around nervously, calming when I saw his little butt shimmy in his tight jeans. He was cute, but not quite my type, really. I dreamed of coupling with a tall, dark, wavy haired Turk. He reached for my hand. Well, on second thought, maybe tonight Aslan could be my type. Yesterday I was lead through the filthy streets of Alphabet City tethered to a curly haired dog; now I was being lead through the medieval streets of Istanbul at the hands of a curly-haired lothario.
A pair of eyes peeked at us suspiciously through the slat of a steel door. One look at Aslan and the dance floor was ours. Once inside, everything melted away to the sounds of throbbing techno and the sight of hundreds of exotic homos dancing under the glitter ball. I spun around, marveling at my good luck and adventurous spirit, as Aslan thrust his pelvis up against me and slapped a too rough kiss on my mouth. Whoa. I gently pushed him away.
He motioned the international sign for cocktail. I nodded and he disappeared, and I began my disco lap around the multi-level club.
The music was loud. Lights were flashing. The boys were staring. I was busy ogling locals who were busy ogling the tourist who had found his way. In this culture, I was the other. My head was spinning like it had earlier at the Blue Mosque, where I removed my shoes and stepped into a world of worship, and chanting, and religious fervor that filled my head with chaotic melodies. My mind raced to comprehend a place unlike any I had experienced.
My loins sexed up on a hunt for a Turk who would show this interloper the passion of his exotic world, I trained my arrow on the most deliciously striking man I had seen all evening. He was tall, slim, dark, with a wavy mane of black hair—think legs of Hugh Jackman with the curls of Antonio Banderas. He caught me staring and waved me over.
“You not from here, I am guessing.”
He leaned in and I could feel his breath on my neck.
“Passing through. For work,” I shouted over the music.
“What you do?” he asked.
“I’m here with Tyra Banks. You know her?”
“I love Swatch! I die to have Skin!””
He held up his wrist with no less than four Swatches on it.
“I’d die to get under your skin!” I teased.
He stared blankly. Either he couldn’t hear or couldn’t understand my attempt at flirting.
“My name Hakan. You dance!”
My new grabbed me by the hand, leading me to the dance floor. Every time Hakan brushed against me it was like an electric shock, sending an explosion through my body. He smiled and felt my growing crotch. He moved behind me and held me in his arms, swaying to the music. I felt sexy, and lucky, and safe and closed my eyes. Hakan stopped moving. I opened my eyes and there was Aslan. Not pleased.
“Oh hi, Aslan. This is Hakan.”
I tried diffusing the situation with my Southern charm. Aslan scowled and wedged himself between my newfound love and me. He aggressively pushed the larger Hakan who rushed off the dance floor. I tried to go after him, but Aslan grabbed me and forced me up against him.
“Look Aslan, I’m not that interested,” I pleaded.
He shook his head and acted like he didn’t understand me. He shoved the cocktail he was holding to my lips.
“Drink!” he commanded.
He forced me to take a swig. I wrenched away and ran to the bathroom.
Oh boy, this was getting messy. My head was spinning. I wasn’t thinking clearly. Did I drink that much? As I turned the corner to the bathroom, there was Hakan.
“If you come with Aslan, must leave with Aslan. Bad things happen to you. To us.”
I shook my head confused, bracing myself against the wall and watched Hakan disappear down the dark hallway. Aslan appeared and forced me to take another drink, but I tried to spit most of it out. He rushed me outside into a waiting taxi. My legs and brain started to feel heavy, clouded. We pulled up at my hotel, and I couldn’t resist as Aslan escorted me through the lobby to my room. I tried not to make eye contact with the concerned desk clerk. They know me here. Know what I’m doing. Act like everything is okay and just keep going. This is almost over.
Once inside, Aslan stripped down and forced me to hold his flaccid dick.
“You make hard. You suck.”
I shook my head, barely able to stand up. He forced me down on the bed and straddled me.
“No, get off me. Leave!”
He tried to hold down my arms, but I used my upper body strength and rolled him off the bed.
“Now get out of here!”
“Must pay. Give money!”
Just wanting it to be over, I pulled out all the Turkish lira in my wallet and threw it at him. I had no idea how much it was. He shook me.
“You rich American. Where is other money?”
He threw me back to the bed and began ransacking the room.
The smartest thing I had done was lock the money in the safe. My mother taught me that on our first trip abroad. Aslan rifled through the closet as I whimpered. Not able to move, I didn’t know what else to do. I picked up the phone and dialed the operator.
“Send security, right away.”
Aslan tensed up. I held the phone in my hand like a weapon as he turned and gathered his clothes and the wad of cash I had given him. He moved close to me, but I just sat on the bed, my legs like rocks. Suspended in shock. He reared back and punched me in the stomach. I doubled over in pain, desperately trying to breath. The door slammed. I sat on the edge of the bed rocking back and forth, wondering how I let this adventure go so terribly wrong.
Slowly, that night, the embarrassment turned to deep shame. How could I have been so naïve? How had I let my sense of adventure cloud my judgment and spin so far out of control? My primal desire wanting to pursue the “other” was dangerous when unleashed. Breathing heavily, I rocked myself on the bed and cried. At some point, I passed out.
The ringing hotel room phone wakened me from the depths of shame, signaling my car was downstairs to take me to the airport. It was already time to fetch my client. How would I be able to keep all this from Tyra?
Still sluggish from what I assumed was a drug slipped into my drink, I rushed through the lobby the best I could. The night clerk was just ending his duty and smiled. I looked away nervously. The Swatch-guide looked me up and down and smiled.
“You enjoy a little too much Turkish Delight last night?”
“In a manner of speaking,” I managed.
CLICK HERE to read Second Excerpt from Episode 7: Turkey Trouble