Eudaimonia & the Eudaemons Or: How to fuck with strangers and win – Nicholas Little

On my first visit to Chatroulette (www.chatroulette.com), the new fad website that pairs random strangers around the globe in anonymous chats via webcam, a teenage girl in Wyoming held up her pet hamster for me to admire and we watched together as it spontaneously shit on her keyboard. I was hooked.

A couple days later, with work piling up around me as I power-procrastinated through another sunny London afternoon, a Russian man stopped mid-sentence while telling me about his metal band to ask if he could watch me piss. I laughed but couldn’t think of any good reason why not – the very “sans consequence” thrill upon which the entire website hinges. So I took my laptop into the bathroom, propped it up on a chair and watched a total stranger watch me pee in the privacy of my home. When I was done, he hit NEXT and we were both instantly paired with somebody new. “R u in yr bathroom???” a middle-aged Turkish man asked.

Inspired, the next morning I took a long, lazy shower as a stream of strangers looked on:

Later, a 17 year old Korean girl and I were mutually delighted to discover a shared love of silly glasses and cute animals. We had an online dance party while her brother napped beside her.

Then, after a crew of Niçois boys informed me that my bonnet fluro made me look like a pédé, I chatted with a hot guy in Barcelona:

> Connected, feel free to talk now
Stranger: hello
You: hi
Stranger: what’s up?
You: just hanging out in my room. you?
Stranger: trying to have fun
You: is it working?
Stranger: not yet
You: maybe you need a costume. that usually results in me having fun.
Stranger: hahahaha, ok
(Stranger goes offscreen and returns with a funny hat)
Stranger: like this?
You: yes! are you having fun now?
Stranger: a bit more
You: just wait till you put on a pair of heels and a fur cape
Stranger: where are u from?
You: london, you?
Stranger: I’m from spain
You: where in spain?
Stranger: barcelona
You: I’ve been to barcelona, it’s nice there. the men are hot.
Stranger: I’m moving to london in july
You: nice. what for?
Stranger: to work for 6 months. I can’t wait
You: i meet a lot of spanish people here
Stranger: really?
You: yeah, they come here to work and practice their english
(Stranger removes funny hat)
You: hey, why did you take your costume off??
Stranger: it’s so hot here. i prefer no costumes
You: is it because you were having too much fun?
Stranger: hahahaha, no
You: is it because i told you i like men and you felt silly dressing up with a gay guy?
Stranger: hahahaha, no
Stranger: I like men also
You: nice
Stranger: u are hot
You: thanks, so are you
You: when you come to london we can meet up and have sex, hooray!
Stranger: hahahaha, okay
You: i can do it with or without a costume, whatever you like
Stranger: hahahaha
You: listen, i have to write an article for a magazine in montreal and the theme is ANONYMOUS
You: since we’re both gay and talking about meeting each other for anonymous sex, how about i ask you some questions
You: yes?
Stranger: hahahaha. yes
You: ok good
You: first i will take a picture of you to include with the article
You: yes?
Stranger: no way
You: no photo?
Stranger: NO
You: oh. Ok, no problem, we’ll do it without a photo then
You: alright, let’s see here…
You: do you have anonymous sex?
Stranger: do u mean, sex with strangers or do you mean masturbation?
You: hmmm, strangers or masturbation… well, tell me about either. do you do both?
You: what kinds of sex do you have that you consider to be ‘anonymous’?
Stranger: I feel a bit uncomfortable because maybe u catched the screen with my picture
You: i’d only include photos you approved. If you say no photos then that’s fine with me. i understand that you’ll only chat with me if it’s anonymous
Stranger: ok.
Stranger: well, i masturbate myself of course
Stranger: and I also have had sex with some “anonymous” people
You: in what sorts of situations?
Stranger: listen, are u sure u don’t have to put my picture with the article?
You: i’m sure
Stranger: ok i hope so. otherwise we will have a problem
Stranger: anyway…
Stranger: I had sex so many nights when i was a teenager
Stranger: and sometimes I didn’t even know the name
Stranger: Once I had sex on a beach near my hometown of Málaga
Stranger: I was 15
You: who were you having sex with when you were 15?
Stranger: I had sex with a girl on the beach
Stranger: I didnt know her name
You: how did you meet her?
Stranger: in a disco
Stranger: i offered her a shot of tequila and everything happened so fast
Stranger: sorry because my english is not perfect
You: tu ingles es muy bueno, gracais por hablar con mi en ingles!
Stranger: hahahahah
You: was the sex good?
Stranger: well in the beginning we were a bit stoned
Stranger: and the salt can be pretty uncomfortable
You: the salt? or the sand?
Stranger: the sand, yes, sorry
Stranger: but then it was really good
You: and you had lots of anonymous sex like that as a teenager?
Stranger: yes. when you are younger you are crazier
Stranger: but now it is different
You: is it? i don’t think only teenagers like anonymous sex, do you?
Stranger: Hmmmmm…
You: were you straight then, or were you bi? and now, are you bi or are you gay?
Stranger: I think I’m bi
Stranger: well actually, I still don’t know
Stranger: but I think I’m bi
You: have you been with guys?
Stranger: just oral sex
You: anonymously? or not anonymously?
Stranger: not anonymous at all
You: guys you know very well?
Stranger: actually I have only been with 2 guys
Stranger: i knew one a bit more than the other
You: how old are you now?
Stranger: 23
You: it sounds like when you were a teenager you thought anonymous sex was pretty fun, but now it’s not something you want to do anymore. is that true?
Stranger: yes
You: why? what changed?
Stranger: because i prefer to be with a person who worths
You: i am not sure if i understood that last sentence
You: you want to be with someone you value? or that is worth something meaningful to you?
Stranger: yeah, that’s it
You: and is that true for both men and women?
Stranger: yeah
You: and was that change connected to you deciding you might be bi? or was it because you just got older and changed?
Stranger: hmmmmmmmm, maybe a mix of both. I dunno
You: So what does a guy in your situation do then? You must be having a lot less sex thank you did as a teenager.
Stranger: yes, that’s true.
You: ok. hey you look tired, do you want to keep chatting? are you bored?
Stranger: I’m not bored. I’m a bit uncomfortable because of the interview, but it’s ok
Stranger: dont put the name of my hometown, ok? can you change the name and say I am from somewhere else?
You: yes, I can do that.
You: if you are uncomfortable, we can trade places for a while. you can interview me and i will answer your questions. the theme just has to be “ANONYMOUS”
Stranger: i can interview the interviewer?
Stranger: is it possible? for the magazine?
You: yes it is possible. they won’t mind if the interviewee interviews the interviewer.
Stranger: hahaha ok. so now it is my turn to ask
Stranger: how old are u?
You: I’m 30
Stranger: can i see ur shirt?
You: ok

Stranger: hahahaha
You: it’s a gay indie festival in San Francisco called HOMO A GO GO
You: my friend Jerry Lee from Tennessee mailed this shirt to me, he programs some of the music
Stranger: cool
Stranger: how long have u been living in london?
You: I’ve only been living here for 6 months
Stranger: really…. mmm so europe is kind of new for u ?
You: yes & no. my parents are from england and i spent time here growing up. i’ve traveled a lot around Europe. i have uncles in galicia and menorca and I’ve visited barcelona a few times
Stranger: but u were born in canada right?
You: yes
Stranger: hmmmm ok
You: one time i went to sevilla for semana santa and that was crazy
Stranger: can u believe that i never have been in sevilla??
You: no? you should! i went with my friend and we were 19 and i had never seen anything like that
You: people whipping themselves in the streets and the grand chariots carried by men with hundred of candles
You: women dressed all in black with veils as if they are in mourning
You: i found it beautiful and frightening
Stranger: hahahahah, yes
Stranger: well that festival happens in all spanish communities so is not new for me
Stranger: but in Seville it is kind of special
You: i had never seen something like that before
Stranger: yes, i completly understand
Stranger: how old were u when u had sex for the first time with a guy?
You: the first time for real was when i was 16
Stranger: so u never have been with women?
You: not really, no. i tried, but not in a very serious way because it didn’t interest me
Stranger: and as a teenager, did u have anonymous sex?
You: i did, and i still do.
Stranger: can u tell me the most bizarre situation when u have had anonymous sex?
You: well, i’ve had lots of public sex but not all of it is anonymous
You: i guess i’d say bizarre for me was in bathhouses in montreal, when there might be 20 men in the same big room and everyone is having all kinds of sex everywhere
You: that’s the sort of moment where i’ve thought “woah, this really is kind of crazy”
Stranger: oh my god
You: you’re not having sex with everyone there obviously — some people are just watching and jerking off, not having sex with anyone — but it’s wild just to be in a room where there is that much sexual energy between so many strangers
Stranger: i can imagine. crazy.
Stranger: are u dating someone right now?
You: i have a boyfriend at home in canada
Stranger: do u consider yourself a promiscuous boy?
You: yes, i guess i would. i doubt i’d use that word myself, but yes.
Stranger: have u had sex with another man while u are dating ur boyfriend?
You: we have an open relationship so yes. we can have sex with other people
Stranger: okay
You: i dated an amazing man for 6 years. he’s a great guy. but in the end we broke up because he wanted to be monogamous and, over time, i realized that i did not
You: and i decided i didn’t want to be the kind of guy who lies to his partner
Stranger: yes
Stranger: u did the correct thing
Stranger: but it’s a pity
You: i understand what you mean. i thought it was a pity too when we broke up and then for a long time afterward as well. but now i guess i just think that’s life. it’s all we can do, really: try to be honest with ourselves and with other people and then see what happens. sometimes people stay and sometimes people leave.
You: you can’t control it. that used to make me angry but i’m ok with it now.
Stranger: yes, i agree completely
Stranger: the most important thing is to be happy doing what u want, what u feel…
Stranger: no hurting
You: have you found that tricky, then? deciding whether or not you are bisexual or straight or gay or what? and worried that it might hurt other people?
Stranger: yes
Stranger: it’s pretty difficult
Stranger: it’s a shit
You: i am not very sure what to say to that. i find it really sad that who we are on the most basic level has the potential to hurt others.
You: that simply being ourselves can do damage.
You: do you see it that way? maybe there is another way to imagine it.
Stranger: well for me it is like…
Stranger: when u are not very clear, people get upset, you know?
Stranger: and they don’t show respect
Stranger: i’ve rejected lots of guys and… well they don’t see me as a free minded guy
Stranger: they think that I’m repressed, but it’s not true
Stranger: it’s just that I’m so selective choosing my partner
Stranger: i only want to be with men or women that i really like… who are special
Stranger: i don’t want to have anonymous sex for just one night and that’s it
Stranger: i’m very sensitive
You: i understand. the man i dated for 6 years was the same way
You: and it’s not because he was naive or small minded or unwilling to try living another way
You: he actually *did* try, for my sake, and it hurt him quite a lot
You: and because of those experiences he felt even more certain that being promiscuous wasn’t for him
You: he would also describe himself as sensitive, i think
You: whereas i am just a big old insensitive slut
Stranger: hahahaha
Stranger: it’s good that at least u recognize that! it’s honest from you
Stranger: maybe u will think that i’m boring then. or repressed. blah blah blah
Stranger: maybe u just wanted to have fun here and talk about dirty things
Stranger: but this is me
Stranger: that’s it
You: well, from the outside, i think my promiscuity could appear quite mindless. like i am just a party boy who has no standards except for always! more! fun! but actually, i gave up a very good relationship with a man i really loved so that i could live this way. it was a difficult decision in order to live a life that is more true to my own values.
You: and i don’t think you are boring. i think in the past i would have been more likely to judge you, as you say other people have. but it was a very good experience for me to watch how my boyfriend of 6 years struggled with my desires and with his own desires and how they didn’t always fit together
You: i have a lot of respect for the effort he made in trying to meet me halfway and i realize now that he was being true to himself in the same way i kept telling him that i needed to be
Stranger: that’s a good reflection. i agree.
Stranger: u are talking clearly and honestly and i really appreciate it
You: you too, it’s nice
You: so anyway… wanna fuck when you come to london???
Stranger: hahaha, maybe!
You: correct answer.
You: i don’t have any more questions now. do you?
Stranger: no i think i’m done
You: okay. Well thanks for chatting with me
Stranger: you too. it was nice meeting you
You: it was nice meeting u too
> Your partner has disconnected. You are now being connected with a new partner…

Nicholas Little is an Anglo-Albertan who decamped to Montreal sometime in the late nineties “to learn French and be gay”. He then moved to Ottawa, Ontario, where he was an HIV outreach worker in bathhouses, bars and online chat rooms for several years. In 2008 Nicholas helped found POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work Educate and Resist), an organization of current and former sex workers advocating for recognition of their labour, Charter and human rights. Nicholas currently lives in the UK.