Two years ago, Christina, a thirty-one-year-old married administrative assistant, was about to have sex with Claudio, a man who wasn’t her husband. She pulled out a ruler from underneath her bed so she could measure his penis. “Ten inches with a seven-inch girth,” she said to Claudio. Then she turned to her husband, who was standing next to her and Claudio, videotaping, and emphasized to him, “He’s huge.”
It all began in 1997, when Christina met her husband Kurt online. After they married, they spilled their guts to each other while high on ecstasy: they both had sexual fantasies about sleeping with other people. At that point, “we knew we couldn’t eat the same meal everyday,” says Kurt. They agreed to have an open marriage, and Christina began having sex with a coworker. When she told Kurt about it, he felt “outwardly jealous, inwardly curious,” he says. “A part of me wished that I could’ve seen it.” Kurt also worried for his wife’s safety when she slept with male strangers. “At first, it was about making sure she wasn’t in danger. Now, it’s about me being there, seeing it and getting off.”
Kurt is a cuckolder — or “cuck” — a man who derives sexual pleasure from watching his wife or girlfriend have sex with other men. He assumes a disempowered, beta-male role as part of the fantasy. His wife, or any woman who cuckolds her male partner, is called a hotwife. When I ask Christina how she feels about the arguably degrading epithets, she shrugs and throws her hands up. “I’m a slut,” she says. Kurt cracks a smile.
Christina and Kurt (not their real names) post ads online seeking extramarital male partners for her. These men are called “bulls” or “studs.” After spending hours searching Craigslist for bulls, I found Claudio (not his real name), Christina and Kurt’s current bull. He responded to my request for an interview, and then put me in touch with them.
On my way to their Manhattan apartment, I am walking a path that countless bulls have walked before. Kurt, a forty-one-year-old former Army man is still cut like a soldier — lean and muscular, with a shaved head, and pecs bulging underneath a baby-blue basketball jersey. He looks like the antithesis of a beta male, though anyone would peg Christina as a hotwife. Her curly, black hair is pulled back by a headband, and her eyes reflect the intensity of her persona; everything, from her short, snappy statements to how she takes a drag from her smoke, is executed with an unapologetic frankness.
It is the same matter-of-fact tone that she uses to describe Claudio’s generous package: “[Claudio] is hitting spots in me that Kurt isn’t.” Kurt nods in somber agreement, adding, “He fills her up. I love watching her react to his bigger dick because I can’t provide her that. I get off on the truth, on what’s real.” The couple’s ads specify that their bulls have to boast a penis of eight inches plus, given that Kurt’s is seven. The bull needs to exemplify masculinity in ways that Kurt cannot. He needs to be not only better endowed, but also alpha enough to make Kurt feel small, both physically and psychologically.
The idea of any husband wanting to watch his wife have sex with another man goes against the grain of marriage, masculinity, even patriarchy, in a radical way. Before meeting Kurt, I’d never known a man who liked the idea of another man messing around with his wife. But Kurt, who enjoys submitting to the bull’s larger penis and his wife’s high sex drive, says his sexual passivity is more a role than the reality. He can personify the beta male role, even eroticize it, because he knows he’s not inherently inferior to other men.
As an alpha male in life, Kurt’s bedside compliance also serves as a refuge from his competitive, high-strung personality. “This is the one area in life where I can choose to be submissive,” he explains. “I always have to win and be the best at everything. No one can do better than I can. If another guy eats her out better than I do, well, he’s just raised the bar, but I can do better. But a bigger dick I can’t complete with. Something about that turns me on.”
Kurt watches his wife have sex with bulls through a video camera, sometimes inches away from the action. He makes it a point to videotape the bull’s penis, then turns the camera on his own smaller one to emphasize the size disparity. Afterwards, the couple will watch the tape with the bull, and then again together after the bull leaves. They’ve accumulated an extensive library of homemade porn. “I can’t stand fading memories,” says Kurt.
“I’m not threatened by these guys,” he says. “Though I do envy them — I give em props, those lucky bastards. Nothing turns me on more than seeing her react to someone else’s bigger dick.” Motioning toward his wife, he adds, “It’s unrealistic to think that I can be the best at everything. There’s always going to be something another guy can give her that I can’t.”
For those unfamiliar with cuckolding as sexual fetish, try to recall high-school English, and more specifically, Geoffrey Chaucer’s reference to cuckolds in The Canterbury Tales. The traditional Middle English meaning of the word — a man with an adulterous wife — echoes the modern-day fetish: “One cannot be a cuckold if not wed. But I do not therefore asperse your bed; few are the wives who make their husbands sad, a thousand good for every one that’s bad.”
The glaring difference? Dozens of cuckold websites affirm that today’s cucks aren’t just standing helplessly by. They’re begging well-endowed men to have sex with their insatiable wives.
The cuckold community remains largely online, though in San Francisco, the private club Cuckold Dreams hosts parties for its members. On Haway.org, run by Seattle-based cuckolder Rusty Haway, members can browse ads, post forums and share stories, video and photos. CuckoldPlace.com (a more advanced site where “96,186 registered users can’t be wrong!”), has different categories for members to explore: interracial, intergenerational, basic, ultimate. Here, ads are posted by couples and bulls from all over the world, and range from detailed accounts (accompanied with dick pics and email addresses) to traditional social networking (“Any bulls in Indianapolis?”) Advice is solicited and shared: “Should Wife spend Her vacation along with Her lover(s)?” And, “Should the cuck be chastised?” On the utilitarian Craigslist, dozens of cuckolding-related ads can be found on any given day, though the majority are bulls looking for hotwives.
Other sites feature images ranging from semen dripping over wedding bands to ethereal caucasian goddesses standing next to black men in mirrored shades. The race thing is one of cuckolding’s more uncomfortable aspects. On most cuckolding sites, such as blacksonwives.com and myslutwife.com, there is an overwhelming preoccupation with “Mandingos,” or well-endowed black men. Similar racial parameters exist in the swinging community, called “Mandingo parties” — interracial orgies arranged for single black men to have sex with white wives in front of their white husbands. The popularity of the orgies is buttressed by a two-prong fantasy: the white couple’s fetish for a “BBC” (big, black cock), and the Mandingo’s fetish for having sex with rich, white wives. All participants get something out of it, and a Mandingo even argues that interracial orgies are a by-product of multiculturalism and tolerance. But bigotry — and a dose of white guilt — lie at the heart of any racialized fetish: black men, despite their “superior” sexual prowess, are debased and eroticized, and believed to pose less of a threat because the wives would supposedly never date them.
The cucks I interviewed denied having a preference for Mandingos, but would eventually admit some sort of racialized, if not racist, baggage. Bob, a forty-seven-year-old caucasian male, says he found a relationship through an online ad posted by a woman pursuing black bulls. “I emailed her because I was hoping to fall in love with a sexual white woman who does black guys,” he says. “We hooked up and it was really wild.”
“In American cuckold culture,” he adds, “it’s the white couple that has black bulls. There’s a notion that black men are better-endowed, and the whole idea of white men getting off on feeling sexually inferior to black men.”
A Black-Puerto Rican bull I interviewed does not answer white couples’ ads because “they tend to be more rigid in terms of what they look for in a bull,” he says. “If you’re a black bull, you’d better fit the mold of what the stereotypical black guy is. To them, he’s a cornrow-wearing thug or basketball player. They’re more into the fantasy — the big, black Mandingo.”
“Most black men are not offended by the stereotype that they’re well-hung,” he continues. “But what gets on my nerves is when the ad says, ‘We want a gold-toothed, baggy-pants type,’ or, ‘We want you to look like Allen Iverson or Usher.’ You know what? The typical bull on Craigslist is not going to look like Usher, so get over your stereotype and deal with it.”
The identity politics don’t stop there. While watching another man have sex with his female partner, a cuck also negotiates a homoerotic encounter in a way that feels less threatening to his heterosexual identity. A cuck with latent bisexual or gay tendencies may be unwilling to have sex with a man, but can concede to watching his woman in the act and vicariously experience it through her. If he decides to perform oral sex on a bull, it’s spun as an act meant to please his female partner. The presence of a conduit — the wife or girlfriend — helps to contain his desires within a safer scope of bi-curious sexuality. Bob, for example, would consider being forced into oral sex with a bull, “but I would never go out to a gay club and blow guys. For men, it’s taboo to have bisexual relationships. Cuckolding allows us to express these desires without having to actually have sex with a man.”
In his erotic nineteenth-century novel Venus in Furs, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch writes of a character who tells his lover, “Suffering has a peculiar attraction for me. Nothing can intensify my passion more than tyranny, cruelty and especially the faithlessness of a beautiful woman.” These predilections were later detailed in The Confessions of Wanda von Sacher-Masoch, written by his wife, also known as Aurora Rümelin. According to the memoir, von Sacher-Masoch forced her to take on additional lovers so that he could experience the pain and humiliation of “infidelity,” and was so obsessed with being cuckolded that he personally set up liaisons with other men for his wife, and threatened her if she didn’t cooperate.
And this is how cuckolding, or any fetish, complicates the notion of who is actually in control. For a fantasy that requires the roles of submissive males and dominant females, is the “forceful and lust-driven wife” really the controlling party when coerced into making her husband’s wet dream a reality?
Bob believes cuckolding relationships should be based on mutual consent, and would never twist a woman’s arm into cuckoldry. But similar to von Sacher-Masoch, he often has to coax his girlfriends into participating in his fetish. If they refuse, the relationship ends. If they agree, Bob becomes both the submissive cuck and the voice of authority. “I’ve trained girlfriends to be more dominant, and how to properly tease and humiliate me,” he says. “Women are usually not born as cuckoldresses.”
When Bob was thirty-three, he found a girlfriend who voluntarily had sex with several other men, but expected him to remain monogamous. When Bob revealed his fetish, she agreed to cuckold him, and he stopped having sex with her altogether. “If I kept her satisfied sexually, she wouldn’t have a reason to go out and sleep with other guys,” Bob explains over the phone. “I had to convince her to concentrate on extramartial affairs as her only avenue for sex to ensure that she would keep searching for and finding men.”
Unlike Kurt and Christina, Bob and his girlfriend would dupe their unwitting bull; Bob would hide in the closet or under the bed while his girlfriend had sex above him. Bob helped her groom and prepare for dates. Several days before her date with the bull, Bob would take her shopping for the plunging neckline of her choice. At the mall, they played out their sexual roles: he acted meek and pathetic, protesting that the new clothes were too provocative, and she would order him to buy them for her anyway. The day before the date, she would make him pay for her manicure and pedicure, or order him to shave her legs in the shower. “Helping her get ready for her date was a huge mind-fuck that I enjoyed immensely,” he says.
But the biggest mind-fuck of all was clean-up duty — Bob liked to perform oral sex on his girlfriend immediately after she had sex with another man. “What makes it erotic is that my woman is really enjoying herself” with the bull, he says. “Then she comes back to me, and humiliates me by saying, ‘Now it’s your turn to have me. You can taste what the other guy left behind.'”
Bob could spend days kicking around theories explaining his behavior. (Low self-esteem? Oedipus complex?) But rather than putting a psychological stamp on his behavior, he’s content with the explanation that he’s submissive in the sack. “I’m not a docile person and I don’t let anyone push me around,” he says. “I’m not intimidated by younger, virile men with larger penises. But my fetish sexualizes it in a way that I feel inferior to them and enjoy those thoughts for the moment. You grow up in a society that always tells you, ‘No one is better than you. Don’t let anybody push you around. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not good enough.’ That’s all good in the real world, but why don’t we tweak it in the sexual world?”
On a recent Saturday afternoon, it is Kurt and Christina’s eight-year wedding anniversary. I ask them what their plans are for the night. “[Claudio] might come over,” Christina tells me. “We might drop some E. If you want to join us, the invitation is always open.”
Instead, I meet Claudio alone at a coffee shop in Manhattan. He’s lanky, and flecks of salt-and-pepper hair are tucked under a black cap. He has intelligent eyes and slightly elfin ears. Claudio, thirty-five, met Kurt and Christina, his first cuckolding couple, in 2005. He answered their ad for a bull because it was hard for him to find single women online to have sex with. He noticed a pattern in straight women seeking sex online — the majority of attractive and sane females were always one-half of a couple. “I saw a lot of ads seeking bulls. So I thought, why don’t I try this cuckolding thing?”
The first time Claudio walked from the train station to the couple’s apartment, his heart was racing. He played out different scenarios in his head: if he got too nervous, he thought, he would back out altogether. As he walked into the doorman building with marble floors, he had “the complete jitters.” Christina was waiting for him in the lobby.
They greeted each other. Within five seconds of seeing him, she said, “So, did you bring your dick?”
“Uh, yeah,” Claudio stammered. “I did.”
“Good. Just checking.”
Once they went inside, Claudio met Kurt, and while the men talked in the bedroom, Claudio got his first real look at Christina’s taut figure. A few minutes later, Christina was measuring his penis, and making sure Kurt was getting it on videotape. “I like the attention I get from being a bull,” Claudio admits. “I’m the one that keeps the action moving. If I can’t perform, nothing happens. I like being in that role.”
He feels that bull-dom has made him a new person. “It’s not every man that can just take off his clothes in front of another man and not feel threatened or uncomfortable,” he says. “Being a bull is my way of being someone I’m not in regular life. It’s helped me break out of my shell because I have more confidence now. I found myself through cuckolding.”
Even as he plays the alpha-male role during sex with Christina, Claudio doesn’t feel like he’s better than Kurt. If anything, he envies him. “He has this great-looking wife, and has all this great sex without any of the worries or troubles that I have to go through as a single male,” Claudio says. “I’m still struggling to attain what he has. To me, he has it made.”
Kurt and Christina couldn’t agree more. A bull simply plays a marginal role in their sex life, and only reinforces the sex they have with each other. “Sexually, I know I’m the one,” Kurt says. “No one is better for each other than we are. The things we get from additional partners are just different body parts, smells, actions, styles. In the end, I’m the one tearing her up.”
Kai Ma is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Jane, New York, Newsday, and the San Francisco Chronicle. She is co-author of “The Awful Truth,” a relationship column published in Audrey.