What’s it like turning a trick at a luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan? 

How are hay bales made on a small family farm? Why isn’t there a porn stars’ union? Have you ever been busted for drugs in Oklahoma? How do you make a Negroni cocktail? What is the technical name for candy corn? And how much will a tin of SPAM set you back when you’re visiting the Caribbean?

And what could these things possibly have in common?

They’re just some of the subjects covered by Tom Judson in this collection of essays. Fans of Gus Mattox (Tom’s screen persona while working in gay porn) were the first to encounter the surprisingly tender tone of Tom’s writing through posts on his blog, “Gus’s Soapbox.” Soon he began writing under his own name for magazines and newspapers around the globe, bringing the unique perspective and insight of someone who has seen life up close from perspectives most of us can only imagine.

To visit my blog, please click HERE.

Please scroll down for two selections from Laid Bare as well of a video of me reading one of the essays.
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Two excerpts from Laid Bare.


The phone rang twice before I could answer it. Could I do an overnight? In Pennsylvania? 

I’m not fond of overnight jobs. They’re inherently risky, for one thing. If you and the client don’t click and decide to call it off, you’re forced into an uncomfortable renegotiation for the time you’ve spent together. If the client doesn’t appeal to you, you’ve got to put on the act for hours longer than normal. But, the real reason I try to avoid overnight gigs is that I don’t like morning sex. I jump out of bed upon waking. I want my coffee and I want to read the paper. I don’t want to kiss anybody before I’ve brushed my teeth.

But, there’s this arts-and-crafts sideboard I’ve had my eye on and a quick thousand bucks would somewhat alleviate my guilt if I were to buy it.

Oh, okay. Sure, I’ll do it.

The client wanted to chat a bit before our date. I hate feeling like I’m giving it away over the phone, but for a thousand dollars you get a little extra. We arranged to meet two days later and he told me about where he lived; he was a college professor in Pennsylvania, just a little older then me, and lived near the university in a house he had just had built. He lived there with his brother.

And did his brother know why I would be coming? “He thinks we met through a personal ad and this is our first date.” What does your brother do? He’s a professor, too? Computer science, both of you? Interesting. 

That Friday was gray and rainy. As I drove from Manhattan into the wilds of Pennsylvania I tried to put a positive light on things. I had never been to this part of the state before, and the guy had to be intelligent, at least, if he was a professor at the university there.

After leaving the Turnpike I drove across the state towards, and then through town. The directions my client had provided soon found me in an area that was strangely barren; the wooded suburbs of the picturesque college town seemed to end abruptly and left me driving through a flat, treeless district. The rain had let up and the late-afternoon sun sent frail rays through the greasy gray clouds, coating the oil-slicked road with a weak film of autumnal light. In the distance I saw four houses--two on either side of the road--lined up perfectly flat with the street on which they sat. The street sign told me this was my destination.

As I drew closer I saw these weren’t just houses; these were mansions. Brand new, immaculately finished behemoths that sat close enough to one another to expose the underlying plans for each house as identical. Only the exterior details provided enough distinction to keep the occupants from entering the wrong domicile on a foggy evening. There were spindly young trees with twin upright supports planted here and there in the yards. Seams still showed between the strips of new sod.

I turned into the arcing blacktopped driveway and pulled up to the front door under the twin-columned portico. My two-door vintage convertible suddenly felt Lilliputian in front of this monumental edifice. I turned off the ignition, got out and walked around the front of the car and up the two broad front steps. Within moments of ringing the bell, one half of the wide, double door silently swung open.

There stood my date. He wore brown loafers, khaki pants and a pink button-down collar shirt as well as a very obvious blond toupee. That’ll be a challenge I thought, as I planned my strategy of never touching his head. But it was his skin that made the strongest impression. It was translucent as alabaster. I couldn’t quite call him an albino, but his white skin and blue eyes, pale as dead hydrangea, gave him an eerie, ethereal quality that reminded me of the evil children in the movie Village of the Damned. I tried desperately to remember how that film ended as I reached out my hand and introduced myself. 

“Hi, Scott. I’m Gus.”

“You found it okay, I see.”

I looked at the floor to keep my gaze from drifting upward to his hair and saw a shadow flicker behind the door. Scott must have noticed my glance.

“Oh. This is my brother, Mark.”

From behind the other half of the front door stepped a carbon copy of my client. Everything was identical except that he wore a blue Oxford cloth shirt, not the same pink as his brother.

“I… guess you guys are twins,” I offered with a chuckle to cover my surprise, as I confirmed with a quick look that even the toupees were the same. “Nice to meet you, Mark. Are you joining us for dinner?”

I’ve always had a fantasy of having sex with twin brothers, but, now that the pieces were falling into place for that possibility, I was having doubts that this was the pair. It was going to be a job keeping interest in just one of these guys; two would tax my abilities beyond endurance.

“No, I’m staying in tonight,” answered Mark as he took a handkerchief from his pocket and sneezed into it.

“Well, Scott, should we get going,” I asked as Mark hovered in the vestibule.

“I thought I’d show you around the house before we go, if that’s okay.”

Scott and Mark then proceeded to give me a guided tour of their house. There was a billiard room downstairs complete with a double green glass-shaded lamp hanging above the felt surface of the table and cues lined up perfectly in their holder on the wall. 

“Do you guys play?” 

They answered “no” in unison.

There was a music room upstairs. The ivory-colored Wurlitzer sat peacefully in a corner, snug on the white carpet. I noticed there were no indentations in the broadloom where the feet of the bench would have rested were a player sitting on it. There was also no piano music to be seen anywhere.

“Do you guys play?”

They looked at one another and then at me.

“No,” answered Scott. “No, neither of us play,” echoed Mark.

My eye traveled to a marble chess set atop a reproduction Chippendale mahogany game table placed artfully in front of the picture window. Two identical kings stared at each other across the board. The chairs were set at an inviting angle, as if to say, “Come, spend an afternoon contemplating the intrigues of this ancient game.”

“Do you guys…” I looked in Scott’s eyes and, seeing nothing, continued, “…want to show me the upstairs?”

Returning from dinner the windshield wipers of the sedan maintained a steady thup-thup… thup-thup. We pulled into the driveway of the house and around to the side, where I had re-parked my car at Scott’s request before leaving for the restaurant.

During dinner the talk had flowed effortlessly. The double martini had inspired me and the conversational ball never dropped. Perhaps I was trying to postpone the inevitable by keeping up an endless banter. The pale blond man across the table looked directly at me for most of the meal, and never seemed to blink. Scott was perfectly pleasant, but I was not looking forward to climbing into bed with him. As the tires of the car hummed along the damp pavement my hand felt for the comforting outline of the diamond-shaped blue pill in my pocket.

The automatic garage door closed behind us. After stepping out of the car onto the immaculate cement floor we met in front of the three-pronged medallion on the hood and stood facing each other. I smiled uncomfortably as Scott leaned toward me and placed a tentative kiss on my closed mouth. As he pulled away I felt the cool snap of wetness where his lips had left a trace of saliva.

The dishwasher was running as we entered the house through the dark kitchen. The flickering blue light of a television and the soft murmur of a laugh track emanated from the “media room” across the hall. Scott took my hand and led me in that direction. His palm felt moist and his grasp timid. We stopped in the doorway and Mark looked up from his program. Holding up an index finger he drew in several quick short breaths and then sneezed into his handkerchief.

“Sorry. How was dinner?”

“Terrific. Your brother’s a fun date.”

“We’ll see you in the morning, Mark,” said Scott. He nodded to his brother and once again took my hand and led me to the wide, carpeted stairs.

In the bathroom I swallowed the Viagra before showering. With my head bowed under the hot spray I reminded myself of the sideboard this night would allow me to buy. I wrapped a towel around my waist and opened the door. Scott was waiting just on the other side, still fully dressed, and, averting his gaze, slid by me into the bathroom as I passed him and headed down the hall.

The sheets were cool and fresh and I looked around the room as I waited for Scott to come back from the bathroom. The chintz wallpaper matched the fabric that covered the round table in the corner of the room. Several gilt picture frames sat on the table, and I noticed the pictures they held were the stock images of happy families and couples used to display the frames in the store. Nothing in the room gave any clue to either the sex or age of its occupant. I imagined Scott walking in to a furniture store and saying I’ll take the whole room, thanks.

I heard the bathroom door close and footsteps padding softly toward the bedroom. “Are you ready,” asked Scott from the other side of the door. “I’m in bed,” I answered. A pale, delicate hand reached in the door and turned off the light from the switch on the wall. 

The room was now totally dark.

I felt the covers being drawn back and the whisper of a body sliding into bed. Scott reached over and began stroking my stomach, his hand traveling up to my chest. Then I felt breath on my face as Scott brought his mouth to mine and placed a dull kiss on my lips. He slipped his tongue in my mouth and left it there, waiting for me to take control.

Just then I felt the first flush of the Viagra. I’ll get through this, I thought.

Scott climbed onto my dick and began to fuck himself. I tried to focus on the physical sensation. Neither of us made a sound; the entire experience was silent.

By the time he returned from the bathroom with a wet towel to wipe the cum from my stomach I had started to fall asleep. He thanked me and turned on his side, facing away from me. Sliding closer I positioned myself behind him and draped my arm over his soft, toneless body. I reached my hand up to tug his ear but overshot my mark and felt a coarse, straw-like substance that I realized was his hair. I quickly lowered my hand and tried not to shudder as sleep finally overtook me.

Sometime later I was awakened by the sound of the bedroom door opening. The darkness of the room told me it was still the middle of the night. A crescent of light crept in from the hall through the open door as Scott’s silhouette returned from the bathroom. “Sorry I woke you,” he said as he slid into bed.

I mumbled something in response and closed my eyes again. In a moment I felt a hand on my thigh. Oh, no. The only thing worse than morning sex is middle-of-the-night sex. I sighed to myself and realized that for a thousand dollars the guy was entitled to more than just one quick fuck.

There was still enough Viagra in my system to give me a quick erection when Scott began to stroke my penis. I put my hands behind my head and attempted to conjure up something sexy enough to make my hardon last through the blowjob. Scott lay on his side, masturbating as he sucked my dick, and soon I indicated with my breathing that I was close to orgasm. He pulled his mouth away and I shot on my stomach as he reached a climax.

After cleaning up I handed the towel to Scott and turned on my side away from him. He pulled the covers up and settled in for sleep.

And then he sneezed.

My eyes snapped open in the darkness. Was Scott coming down with Mark’s cold, or had they switched places in the night?



“You okay?”


“Okay. G’night.”

I lay there wondering if I had just had sex with the other twin. Not exactly how I had hoped to fulfill that fantasy of mine, but interesting, nonetheless. Of course, there was the issue of whether they were getting something for nothing. I’m not a multiplex, after all; you can’t buy one ticket and then sneak into the movie next door. I tried—and failed—to imagine how I might raise the subject, and then let the notion slip out of my head into the black night.

A gentle pressure on my shoulder awakened me as Scott (Mark?) stood over me to say that breakfast was waiting down in the kitchen. He was already showered and fully dressed. I rubbed my eyes and mumbled that I’d be down in a few minutes as I watched him close the bedroom door and leave the room.

The twins were whispering to each other as I entered the kitchen. They were not dressed identically this morning. One of them put his cup down on the granite countertop and walked to the coffee pot.

“Coffee, Gus?”

I nodded yes and watched as his delicate hands lifted the pot from its holder and tipped it to pour the steaming liquid into a fresh cup, which he then handed to me.

“Half and half and sugar on the table…”

I sat at the table and selected a muffin from the woven straw basket full of baked goods. The towel lining the basket was of the same blue-striped cotton as the tablecloth. The twins then joined me at the table, one sitting on either side of me. Mark (Scott?) poured orange juice into three glasses before distributing them.

I lifted the glass, the parallel rings etched into the surface creating an alternating smooth/rough sensation in my hand. I looked from one identical face to the other and raised my glass in front of me. After a moment’s pause I toasted them; “Vive la difference,” I uttered, and swallowed the tangy liquid in one gulp. Mark and Scott looked at me and then at each other and then they drank their orange juice.

The men stood in the entryway as I pulled away from their enormous house. The double door was fully open to allow them to stand side by side and they waved to me before turning back inside. I watched in the rear-view mirror as the two halves of the door swung closed and met to become one complete unit.

My mind mulled over the previous evening’s events as I approached the Holland Tunnel in the light Saturday morning traffic. Sailing through the tollbooth as the sensor read my pre-paid tag I looked up and caught a glimpse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center just as my car entered the tile-lined tunnel that would take me to Manhattan and home.


Since the dawn of man, homo sapiens have derived comfort from seasonal milestones. These events help maintain a cyclical sense of continuity that tells us no matter what cataclysmic turns may befall us, the world as we know it will carry on. 

Autumn has a particularly abundant selection of such occurrences. Rural folk look to the first frost to delineate one season from the last. Thick, hardy vines, which the day before trailed sturdily among the pumpkins and squash, lie watery and withered on the soil, itself now redolent of seasonal decay. City people watch for fur coats to sprout among the shoppers and business people hurrying along the broad avenues, their shadows growing longer daily as the sun struggles vainly to reach its proud heights of June and July.

For me, fall is heralded by the arrival on store shelves of the first bags of candy corn. These bite-sized confections—known technically as melocremes—state, by their very presence, “There’s no turning back: ready or not, here comes fall.” 

Each year I consume vast quantities of the stuff. But, perhaps, never as much as on a 10-day driving trip my husband Bruce and I took through Montana in the early 1990s. I need snacks on a long drive. Especially ones that will satisfy my insatiable sweet tooth. And, since this was The Year of Losing Weight, those snacks had to be fat-free, a characteristic that, happily, candy corn possesses.

The previous December, after bidding our final Christmas party guest farewell, Bruce leaned over me as I slouched in the big comfy chair, chin on my chest, covered in cookie crumbs. “Honey, you’re really gaining a lot of weight,” he said, clearly fearing the argument that was to come. I just laughed. He was right, after all. True love (and pints of Häagen Dasz every night) will do that. So under the tree that Christmas Bruce found a gift certificate for “One Thinner Husband”. I was very clear that it didn’t have to be me. Six months and 50 pounds later, Bruce, deciding a tune-up was better than a trade-in, redeemed the certificate for little(r) old me.

Sitting in the passenger seat, my feet up on the dashboard, I could shove fistfuls of candy corn into my mouth with impunity as we drove across Montana. Bruce and I would sing along to the oldies station on the radio and when we stopped to pee by the side of the road, we got a kick of a sign that read, “Rattlesnakes Have Been Observed”. The passive voice gave the warning a half-hearted feel that made the serpentine menaces seem almost benign. I pictured the maraca-playing animated snake from the credits of “The Lady Eve” waiting patiently by the side of the road to welcome visitors to The Treasure State.

We were thrilled the first time we crossed the Continental Divide and, by the twentieth time we crossed that demarcation, we’d scream out the window, “Who cares?!” We went on hikes, praying we’d see a bear, only to run like girls when we rounded a corner and found a buffalo sleeping in the sun. We rented a cabin on a lake and dined al fresco as the sun fell lazily behind a snow-capped mountain across the water. And we hiked into Glacier Park, where winter had leap-frogged fall and made us glad we had brought our heavy coats and warm hats.

But, most of all we laughed. And laughed and laughed. These were ten days in our marriage after I was fat and before Bruce was sick and it was a time I will forever use as the standard by which I judge “happy”.

We returned to New York to find summer was still very much in evidence; that relatively-temperate island has a way of holding on until the last possible moment. But I had half a bag of candy corn left from the trip, which proved the season really was about to change.

Bruce had to work the day after we flew home and blew me a kiss from the bedroom door on his way out. As I dragged my sleepy, unemployed butt into the kitchen to start the coffee, I saw that on the kitchen table, spelled out in letters of orange, yellow and white candy corn were eight letters: I L-O-V-E- Y-O-U.

And, so, every year towards the end of September, as my teeth sink into the crystallized outer shell of the season’s first striated melocreme, I hop into my confectionary Time Machine and find myself whisked back to ten happy days in Montana. There the sky is always big, the candy corn crop is plentiful and, from time to time, rattlesnakes have been observed.

©Tom Judson
Here I am reading "My Huckleberry Friends" from Laid Bare.

Just for fun I enlisted some celebrities to endorse my  book. Here is the entire collection of famous people reading Laid Bare.