The Houseboy Wanted to Serve Me. I Tried to Oblige.

I wanted to fulfill Houseboy’s fantasy, but he saw straight through me.

Comments: 42

  1. "He responded with an educated, nuanced take on the situation. I was surprised. I knew the Houseboy was kind, but I didn’t expect him to be so smart. After all, he lived with his father and couldn’t even afford subway fare."

    If he's in his early 40's, then we could assume his dad would be probably 60+? Intelligence doesn't seem to correlate too well with economic opportunity, only with job performance. Sounds like a case of a mental stereotype being absolutely destroyed. Great read, the details are carefully selected to be ones that the mind can really engage and mull over for a while to keep getting more and more out of the story. Makes me want to find more by this writer.

  2. I'm not a member of a fetish community, but I found the tone of this article condescending and ignorant; though, in a literary sense, the author creates a strong tension-- driving my eyes down the page-- this piece doesn't belong in a corner of the media that claims to be illuminating the world rather than casting it further into darkness.

  3. Very unique Modern Love story this week. I really liked it :)

  4. Great piece. Thanks.

  5. I really enjoyed your bizarre tale. You are such a great writer.

  6. Dominance and submission is a sophisticated subculture, not a simplistic one. There are social and linguistic codes and cues that are commonly employed, but not taken literally. And there's no 'Ironclad Rulebook' everyone follows. *It's human sexual behavior. You do what makes you feel good.* You become acquainted with a potential partner and invest the time to get to know them, just like any human being. Everyone in the world is a unique individual with different preferences and tastes, whether they favor Dominance and submission or not. Stereotypes are useless, based on ignorance.

    Would it surprise you to learn that there are brain surgeons, conductors of philharmonic orchestras, NFL football players, members of the NYPD and the FDNY, tenured Ivy League professors, who are partial to Female Domination? That's because it's too taboo to be spoken about.

    It might be interesting to investigate, question, and perhaps even challenge the cultural institutions that set the rules people are expected to live their sex lives by - the producers of network television, the religious establishment, the politicians, the bosses in the workplace. One salient example leaps immediately to mind: The movie adaptation of '50 Shades of Gray' is set for release on Valentine's Day 2015, of all days of the year. Just observe how much ballyhoo it receives in the mainstream media and in Hollywood, and then ask yourself, 'Why is the double standard still okay 15 years into the 21st century?'

  7. Great piece, very well written-- love the honesty and interesting perspective. I also want to read more by this writer.....

  8. Very nice, but I thought there were going to be whips and chains. No whips and chains?

  9. This woman has no sense whatever and is asking for trouble.

  10. Perhaps I am too qualitatively limited, but I find reading the article was a waste of my time. "Gaminess" rarely serves people well.

  11. I hope, I really hope, your cra-dar is in perfect working order.

  12. I loved this.

  13. I am so happy that Mary Poppins commented on a blog about a women failing to satisfy a man with a house-cleaning fetish.

  14. I am a strong proponent of consenting adults doing whatever they please with each other providing there is no harm caused, but it seems to me that somebody that wants to be verbally and or physically abused on a regular basis likely has some sort of disorder and needs psychiatric help. I understand play acting during sex, but if it is a regular party of your daily routine it is probably indicative of some deeper underlying problem. I am generalizing and certainly there must be exceptions, but a fondness for humiliation must have some greater meaning than a passion for baseball.

  15. You would have truly dominated him if he took the the BQE...

  16. What a ridiculous article. "I knew the Houseboy was kind, but I didn’t expect him to be so smart. After all, he lived with his father and couldn’t even afford subway fare." Right, because kindness and intelligence are limited to the wealthy. NYTimes, I am disappointed with your focus on the merits of white privilege.

  17. Check your assumptions please.

  18. This is amazing. Heartwarming.

  19. This was a really funny, poignant and well-crafted tale, with true "modern love" undercurrents slid between the seemingly jaunty lines. Reading a few of the apparently offended remarks here, i think you've missed the point: the writer hasn't disparaged a community, or sub-community, fetish or otherwise, but rather looked for and found the essential, universal humanity in us all, in both "the Houseboy" and herself - someone who, in the end, has no aptitude for "dominance" no matter how hard she tried. The Houseboy, meanwhile, also seemed drawn to how "nice" she was, even if his fetish would typically draw him towards abuse. Ultimately, though, i was more fascinated by not knowing the reasons why he, in his early 40s, not only lived with his dad but had no money even for travel.

  20. It's sad to see people acting so foolishly. This story could have had a very unhappy ending... and the many that do don't get written and published in the Times...

  21. I enjoyed the story but I have a hard time believing that it's true.

  22. I'd read a blog by the 'houseboy '. He's the unconventional one. The writer , not so much.

  23. So in the end, you're not sure if Houseboy got what he wanted. And you're not sure if you enjoyed or were comfortable giving what you thought he wanted. The encounter wasn't a total disaster. But it was just a little unsatisfying and maybe a bit unsettling. Sounds like a lot of encounters!

    Did you ask Houseboy what he wanted? For example, did you ask him if he wanted to be verbally abused? Or physically abused (olive pits)? You seem to have assumed a lot and conflated service with humiliation. It's true that for a many people these two go together. But not always. Some folks want to serve with dignity. If the encounter was a little off, maybe it's because you were guided by your assumptions and guesses rather than by actual communication.

    The amazing thing about fetish and kink is that, for the most part, people talk and negotiate. They find out what their partner wants. They let them know if they are comfortable giving it or not. They figure out the limits. It's a technique that serves "vanilla" people well, too!

    Next time you talk to Houseboy: ask him how he felt about your encounter. Ask him what else he might want. Tell him how you felt. And then, over time, as you develop trust and rapport the next time around may be a lot more satisfying. Or not. Maybe he's just not your type. That's cool, too.

    As a last thought: I do hope you got his permission to use the encounter in your work. If you didn't, then maybe you are the manipulative person you claim not to be.

  24. Hi,

    Thanks for your concern for him - I actually sent him the essay before I ever sent it into Modern Love.

  25. She got what she wanted (maybe you have to live in NYC to understand the insanity of Ikea Brooklyn) and he wanted to make her happy, so everyone got what they wanted.

  26. Houseboy seems perfect for the writer. She was not "using him" or manipulating him through his fetish. NO, he did not seek whips chains or other drama.
    He got exactly what he desired, the thrill of the domestic intimacy required to serve a confident attractive woman.
    Why not bless him and herself by allowing him to do her domestic chores? That would be very nice.

  27. Very well written, and honest. I liked it, and it sort of made me think about fetishes. I like to think. So thanks. Back to Krafft-Ebing.

  28. I've seen The Houseboy on OkCupid. Glad you went for it. Great article.

  29. Wouldn't others have preferred to read an article by the Houseboy himself? It seemed the author just wanted to superficially dabble in that subculture just to do something quirky or to have something to write about. Of course she needs to make sure she comes off as the normal one though -- not someone who would actually have a fetish of course! Sorry, that's a bit boring though and doesn't seem very genuine either.

  30. So now this strange man has your address.

    Perhaps Law And Order SVU will find this backstory useful in writing upcoming episodes. I hope not.

    Though I'd rather see your story on something closer to a comedy.

  31. 1)- Nothing that strange about him.
    2)- We can't live in a cage

  32. No. No, No, No, NO. This is part of what's wrong with society today. Many people are so afraid of everything. He was not a 'strange' man - the writer had been communicating with him for a while and obviously felt comfortable to travel alone in a car, etc. I wish we would relax more and let some trust into our lives.

  33. And this constant assumption that women are helpless is ANNOYING. They are not made of porcelain.


  34. I feel let down. I was hoping for something a little more B & D, and less PG. I hope the Houseboy is not a sociopath, although the next installment of this story might be more interesting if he is.

  35. I would happily smoke a cigarette for a man who would drive me to Ikea, as I did the Ikea Death March this past week with a Zipcar (no One Ways with Zipcar!) and the car cost me almost $100 and I needed a day off to recover from the combined trauma of going to Ikea and driving crosstown in NYC (on a Sunday evening at 8pm, that took me 45 minutes)

    Oh wait, he would have to go alone to Ikea with my wishlist to really, really please me.

    Curses, I don't smoke.

    But I have really pretty feet. Or so I discovered when innocently selling my shoes on eBay.

  36. We ve apparently come a long way baby, backed the car up too fast, got too close to brick wall, scraped all the paint off the back fender and are now stuck in a hole called voyeurism. 50 shades of whatev' in The Age of Entitlement! I couldn't take my eyes away, so that's good. Whether its real or embellished.

  37. Frankly I don't understand why you didn't just let him clean your house. Good grief. He came all that way, and went to a lot of time and trouble for you!

  38. So-called Houseboy was rather assertive for someone who claimed to only want to serve and get nothing in return. I agree with the poster who said this story sounded like fuel for an upcoming episode of Law and Order SVU. After reading the article and viewing the video, my unsolicited advice to "strong confident women" is to lower your voice a few octaves so you don't sound like a little girl, stop speaking declarative sentences as questions, and ride in the back seat of a car if you have a driver.

  39. I watched the video because of your comment; then, out of curiosity found her singing YouTube videos.

    First, she does not raise her voice at the end of her sentences. At all. I'm not sure if you are just over-sensitive to young voices, or perhaps one of those women "gifted" with strong authoritative deep voices that is secretly jealous of women who sound more feminine, but you're being overly critical of this one.

    Secondly, that high voice you disparage happens to lend its owner a very lovely soprano singing voice, although I could do without the distracting smoking breaks during her bathtub karaoke. A smoking fetishist I am not.

  40. "I just want a friendly ride to Ikea with a smart guy who can talk intelligently about Middle East politics."

    Piece of advice: Settle down for a smart (and caring) guy and a friendly ride to IKEA. Drop the "talk intelligently about Middle East politics" part.

    "Two out of three ain't bad." (- Meat Loaf)

  41. There are a couple of very strange things about this story. For starters Houseboy doesn't sound like he actually wanted to be a "houseboy" because he simply fixated on a single ad, kept backing out every time, in addition to repeatedly telling a potential lover than he had not a penny in his pocket, to the point that this was the reason he couldn't go through with keeping up his part in the fantasy.
    In general people that speak of getting to do something that is a sexual fantasy of theirs, have some experience with sexual relationships in general, not the type of people that couldn't get a date under any realistic circumstances. And a person who repeatedly tells a potential partner they would love to meet them but they don't have subway fare and their father probably wouldn't give to them (not lend it) for a date would never get a partner in the real world.
    A good guess about this extremely weird man is that given his situation, a 40 year old living with his father without a penny to his name, could never in a million years get a sexual partner to get involved with him. So his only chance at having contact with a woman in any type of sexual context was to advertise himself as both a cleaning man and also a person that they are free to abuse.
    And even at this the only one who agreed to deal with him at all was a woman who had no idea what she herself wanted from him. Its a story of a desperate loser trying his pitiful best to interact with a woman in a sexual context.

  42. unusual and thought-provoking, great writing -- thanks ML Editor for taking a chance on this out-of-the-box MK story. Love the range of comments too-- too much to comment on, but you'll see as you read through.

    There's a humanity that comes up in this piece I appreciate.