AIDAN, 19 SO FAR
By Aidan Cahill
Reviewed by Graeme Aitken
Australian gay men typically have a sense of New Zealand gay life as a placid backwater, but this candid and sexually explicit new memoir is likely to rock those preconceptions like an earthquake in Christchurch! Aidan Cahill is only nineteen-years-old but in this slim book he outlines in graphic detail some of his experiences as a sex worker – from drug-fuelled group sessions to being smeared with marmalade that was then licked off by a submissive foot worshipper!
The prose is sparse and often the reader is left wanting more detail, especially as Aidan has gone through some very major and often devastating life experiences. He’s been homeless on the streets of Auckland, been arrested and gone to court, and also had to face a devastating health development. These experiences are scantily narrated but the reality is that Aidan was poorly educated. His schooling was interrupted by a haphazard home life, then the Christchurch earthquakes, and being sexually abused by a married man who ended up being jailed for his offences. So given all of this, it is remarkable that Aidan can write and express himself as well as he does. This also explains any deficiencies that some readers may find, although no one could accuse Aidan of skimping on the details of his life as a sex worker, his various sexual encounters, and his use of drugs.
Aidan has been making money as a sex worker since age sixteen, meeting men usually through Grindr or Craigslist with eye-catching headlines such as 18-Year-Old Top for Rewards or Hung Son for Rewards. Shortly after moving to Auckland he worked for a period at a massage parlour off Queen Street that boasted a roster of international escorts. It provided somewhere for the then homeless Aidan to stay and was also where he met his one real friend Kenji, though it ended badly with the Chinese business owner fleeing the country. There is one rather poignant encounter narrated towards the end of the book when Aidan hooks up with a very hunky visiting Canadian and is so attracted to him, he actually gives the guy a freebie. The sex is fuelled by drugs but as soon as it’s over, the Canadian kicks him out. Aidan feels rejected, but the consolation is that he has the leftover drugs they bought together, and immediately hits up.
The road to recovery from addiction is fraught with numerous setbacks, temptations, and triggers to use again, however the writing and publication of this memoir is a major step in young Aidan Cahill’s recovery. Major credit for this important book must go to writer and publisher Peter Macky who has stepped up to bring Aidan’s story to light and support him, when many people would simply choose to look the other way.