The Force that Through the Wall Drives the Penis: The Becomings and Desiring-Machines of Glory Hole Sex Don Anderson  Often found in men's bathroom stalls at truck stops and most popularly found in pornographic arcade booths at the back of adult video and bookstores, glory holes are holes made in a wall separating two individuals, allowing them to provide anonymous sexual favors to one another. Considered to be a homosexual phenomenon, glory holes to the contrary are often found in places regularly patronized by individuals of all sexualities, most ificantly individuals who define themselves as straight. It is common for heterosexual men to engage in glory hole sex with other men. Whether they harbor homosexual tendencies, are merely curious, or desire a sexual outlet outside their marriage, the fact is glory hole sex cannot be considered a purely homosexual activity. Further, it is an oversimplification to label this sexual practice under the banner of either heterosexual or homosexual when its very de and use negates issues of being, identity, and what Deleuze and Guattari would call, "organ-ized" bodies. While it may seem appropriate to think of a penis protruding from a hole in a wall as an organ without a body, it is this very act that reconstitutes the molar body behind the wall as a Body without Organs.
The Force that Through the Wall Drives the Penis: The Becomings and Desiring-Machines of Glory Hole Sex Don Anderson  Often found in men's bathroom stalls at truck stops and most popularly found in pornographic arcade booths at the back of adult video and bookstores, glory holes are holes made in gloryhooe wall separating two individuals, allowing them to provide anonymous sexual favors to one another.
Considered to be a homosexual phenomenon, glory holes to the contrary are often found in places regularly patronized by individuals of all sexualities, most ificantly individuals who define themselves as straight. It is common for heterosexual men to engage in glory hole sex with other men. Whether they harbor homosexual tendencies, are merely curious, or desire a sexual outlet outside their marriage, the fact is glory hole sex cannot be considered a purely homosexual activity.
Further, it is an oversimplification to label this sexual practice under the banner of either heterosexual or homosexual when its very de and use negates issues of being, identity, and what Deleuze and Guattari would call, "organ-ized" bodies. While it may seem appropriate to think of a penis protruding from a hole in a wall as an organ without a body, it is this very act that reconstitutes the molar body behind the wall as a Body without Organs.
Glory hole sex establishes a series of becoming-molecular, becoming-woman, and finally becoming-imperceptible. Through interviews conducted with glory hole users I will show how glory hole sex provides an opportunity where behavior does not decide a fixed identity, how radical anonymous sex challenges normative forms of desire, and the ways that despite the inherent anonymity of glory hole sex, a Deleuzoguattarian subject-group of glory hole culture and community has erupted around its practice.
As Deleuze and Guattari insist in Anti-Oedipus, desire is pre-personal and only functions when it breaks down, refuses structures, and explodes molarized sexual identities. Glory hole desire is revolutionary and freed from institutionalized definitions of sexuality and identity. Further, glory hole desire is pre-personal and non-human.
It is a desire that operates molecularly and opposes the molar aggregates that would otherwise trap desire in representation. The video arcade room in adult video and bookstores is a place where organs are deterritorialized, facialized, and where they function as little desiring-machines. Such places are queer arenas where these desiring-machines dis function and disrupt singularized and transcendent conceptions of sexuality, identity, and bodies.
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Llooking representations of them have turned up in films like Porky's and most recently The Sweetest Thing, starring Cameron Diaz. Despite these popular culture references to glory holes, their existence still remains hushed. When mentioning the term, "glory hole" most people have a look on their face, suggesting they know what it is, but quickly brush it off as some dirty thing men do in bathrooms. Today, glory holes in public facilities are increasingly rare, and a more hostile approach toward 'offenders' is generally taken.
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In my university's library alone there are four sealed glory holes, peepholes, and an overabundance of graffiti used to communicate with other patrons who wish to engage in bathroom sex. Through consulting www. The Last Booth on the Left: "To avoid a sexual identity crisis, keep repeating, it's only a mouth, it's only a mouth…"  While glory holes are at a risk of being repaired at universities, public parks, and rest stops, the one place they are easily found and condoned are adult video and bookstores.
Not all adult bookstores have glory holes, although almost all have pornographic video arcade booths. The laws regarding sexual behavior vary from state to state. My research was conducted in Portland, Oregon, which is referred to by those who cruise for sex as "glory hole central. According to Portland's local strip-club magazine Exoticthere are forty-seven strip clubs, thirty adult video and bookstores, sixteen lingerie modeling boutiques, two porn theaters, three bathhouses, numerous swing groups and clubs, and a variety of fetish stores.
Therefore it is only fair to admit that I've conducted this research in what is a very sex-positive and liberal area of the country. Chances are I could not have accomplished such research in a city located in the more conservative areas of the United States. Although, if one merely browses the state and city wide listings for cruise-worthy areas on any of the cruising search engines I list at the end of this essay, it is quite easy to locate areas in the most unlikely places and find where the glory holes are, for example, in Pocola, Oklahoma or Caryville, Tennessee.
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These booths are normally large enough for one person but may accommodate up to two. Complete with coat-hanger and paper towels. Out of the seventeen video stores I visited, twelve appeared to have installed the glory holes in their video arcades themselves. The holes allow an individual in one private booth to perform various sex acts on another individual gloryohle the booth next door, therefore keeping the participants anonymous to one another.
Some of the glory holes were perfectly cut in a circle by what I imagine to be a doorknob drill-bit. Others seemed to be crudely cut out as if a customer had spent a great deal of time carving out the hole with a knife or filing tool. A crudely patron-deed glory hole.
She said the store didn't necessarily condone glory hole sex; they simply couldn't find a way to circumvent it. Since her store is open twenty-four hours a day, it is easy for neaverton to arrive very late at night with a filer and cut out holes in their arcade walls. The holes typically begin very small and are filed away until they reach an appropriate size.
Eventually she and the owner gave up sealing them and loking to file the holes down themselves in order to make them safer for customer use.
For the most part all the establishments appeared to openly condone their glory holes. One in particular actually advertised, "glory holes coming soon" in the local newspaper!
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At three adult video stores the video arcade booths with glory holes were usually labeled outside on the door as "glory hole booth," so people "know what they were getting into," as one clerk told me. An owner of two popular adult video stores actually went so far as consulting his patrons as to what type of hole they preferred: did they want a simple circular glory hole or one that was longer from top to bottom that would accommodate different heights? Did they prefer a comfortable plastic casing around the hole?
Special and stylized glory holes. Video arcade rooms are highly known for their traffic of regular cruisers. While most stores possess an accepting attitude towards glory holes, in order to thwart loitering, clerks will often do a walk-through their backrooms and remind the patrons who appear to be cruising too much that they must choose a booth and drop some cash.
One cannot forget these establishments, while sometimes resembling a private sex club, are in fact small businesses whose interests are to make money. One clerk told me most of their video arcade income is taken from the booths with glory holes. To circumvent too much cruising, those stores still using the classic token deposit arcades will demand that their patrons purchase three dollars worth of tokens before entering the back room. I witnessed one such patron who still had tokens from a visit expressing frustration because he didn't want to pay again.
The clerk told him paying again is required because the "boss doesn't want people just hanging out and propositioning others.
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One place I visited asked for patrons to purchase three dollars worth of tokens, but as I entered the back room a encouraging people to "relax" and "enjoy their time" was clearly displayed. Likewise and perhaps more explicitly, another place actually had a video-feed of the parking lot as one of the gloryhhole on the arcade so patrons inside a booth could watch the parking lot and see people parking and entering the store.
This way a person waiting in a booth for a partner can see if anyone is coming in whom they may find attractive. A standard video box display case showing the films available on channels in each booth.
Notice "parking lot" channel advertised. Such innovations in cruising provide the experience with its panoptic quality. In light of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's zoning efforts to "clean up" New York City, Warner argues that with the removal of public sex places "men who beaverron to meet other men for sex will have to travel to small, inaccessible, little-trafficked, badly lit areas…where heterosexual porn beaveryon will also be relocated, where risk of violence will consequently be lookign and the sense of a collective world more tenuous" The Trouble with Normal, Also, the widely available access to condoms typically found in such public spaces will disappear.
Obviously, legal status varies state to state, but it seems this kind of behavior would naturally fall under the rubric of public sex because it occurs gloryole a public space. Having sex in a public restroom, while possibly doing so within a locked stall, is still having sex in a public place. The adult video and bookstore is not a completely public space because it limits access from underage individuals.
However, it is not necessarily private because there gllryhole rarely a cover charge or an orientation process for patrons both of which are typical for private swing clubsand aside from underage persons, adult video and bookstores do not discriminate otherwise. These video stores remain open to the public and anyone may freely frequent them as long as they are of age.
In fact, it is quite common to see wheelchair access parking for patrons visiting adult video and bookstores, as well as wheelchair access glory hole arcade booths. On the one hand these booths boast a private space where individuals may watch a large of channels showing the newest pornographic film releases. Lookinng, on the other hand, some of these booths themselves challenge the looing between public and private.
If we understand "public" to describe an exhibition or text directed towards an audience, beavdrton when someone is in what is called a "voyeur booth" or "buddy booth" where one wall between two booths is made of see-through plexi-glass so that two individuals may watch each other masturbate, does this act of masturbation not become a public sex act?
He told me video stores are protected under the same rule as motel businesses. Basically, if the door is locked and money is being spent, it becomes a private space. For example, if an individual rents a room for a night at a motel and engages in sex with a prostitute, the motel is not liable since that room, as paid for gu the patron, is the patron's private space.
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However, despite this rule the clerk told me that his particular video store still exercised caution when it came to admitting it had glory holes. For example, when customers call the store and ask if there are glory holes available in the store's arcade, he would reply "no. So, within the public realm of the store itself, there exist numerous private spaces where private sex acts may take place. He said he was not allowed to talk about their video arcade booths and that glory holes were illegal.
Curiously enough, I had spoken with a different clerk at that same store who only weeks earlier gave me a tour of the back room, showed me the holes, and discussed the demographic of their patrons. I wonder if he was fired and the remaining clerks discouraged from talking about their glory holes due to this one employee. Surveillance cameras are the norm in most back rooms of adult bookstores.
Maybe his boss saw the tape of our little tour. It may also be the way glory hole sex radically revises the oral sex act and establishes a very new kind of sex act. The inconsistencies outlined above may also come from this inability to understand glory hole sex as anything but oral sex. However, as I persistently argue here, glory hole sex is a different kind of sex.
Glory hole sex is not oral sex nor is it the kind of sex one has with another full body. This lack of knowing what exactly glory hole sex is and the ways it blurs public and private le to a confusion as to how such an act fits both legally and conceptually into the lexicon of human sexuality. Warner's primary example is the controversy over New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's zoning initiatives that threatened adult business all over New York in the late 90s.
Visiting a gloryhole
The removal of adult video and bookstores and other areas where glorghole queer community regularly meets for sex or relationships also effaces visual queer public spaces where, according to Warner, queers "have learned to find each another, to map a commonly accessible world, to construct the architecture of queer space in a homophobic environment, and, for the gporyhole fifteen years, to cultivate a collective ethos of safer sex" "Sex in Public," Warner routinely challenges the heteronormative idea that knowledge of sexual practices is always innate.
While adult video and bookstores that appeal to the queer community make up what Warner terms a "world-making publicness" where young queers are culturally educated, some of these same bookstores also provide the space for an intensely private sex act whose anonymity allows those who define themselves as "straight" to engage in experimentation that may negatively reinforce feelings of shame if they are not yet comfortable with their sexuality.
These feelings of shame and guilt can impede the openness required for acceptance and education that would otherwise allow such an individual to come to terms with their sexuality. Therefore, glory hole sex may not always fit with Warner's idea of a "world-making publicness" due to its anonymous and private nature. In fact, I have spoken to some gay men who look down on glory hole sex because they see those men who participate as being in denial of their sexuality.
Glory hole sex, as a part of the queer world, may not always synthesize with the positive queer image contained in Warner's "world-making publicness" because its anonymity does not construct a queer form of public sex. Glory hole sex can both educate individuals about new pleasures as well as reaffirm one's identity should they find their actions at a glory hole in conflict with their chosen sexual orientation.
It is the former that makes glory hole sex so important and special. Despite the odd fit of glory hole sex with Warner's queer world and its awkward anonymity that confers the act with its paradoxical nature does it reaffirm or educate? From a Deleuzoguattarian perspective we can see just how paradoxical glory hole sex can be in light of the question: is glory hole sex public or private?
Is it communal? While glory holes are regularly used for sex, drug dealers and users have been known to carry out their business inside booths since the privacy factor, convenience, and perhaps anonymity is attractive to people buying and selling drugs.