Scared Curious: My First Weekend in Prison
Note: The descriptions and accounts in this story are fictional and do not portray any actual people or events.
Like many of my misadventures, this one started with well intentioned scholarly research, was exacerbated by garden variety greed, fed by unbridled lust, and resulted in both exciting memories and deep regrets. I am still not sure if the former outweighed the latter.
As a then very newly hired assistant professor at a very prestigious eastern business school, I was the lowest of the low, politically and socially speaking and I got all of the tasks that were the academic equivalent of 'KP', or 'Kitchen Patrol' as it is known in the military. Grading essay questions was like peeling potatoes, and writing workbooks and exam questions for undergraduate courses was like cooking gallons of smelly cabbage, and proofreading upcoming articles and textbooks written by more senior professors (meaning any and all of my department) was like cleaning latrines. Toiling in obscurity was about as glamorous as my life ever got.
One fine day, I was tasked by my supervisory full professor to develop a workbook exercise in highly targeted niche marketing for graduate students in his seminar class. This required a level of effort far above the normal grunt work, but was also a bit more interesting than most such assignments. The class was about applying traditional methods of market segmentation, validation, and contribution margin assessment but by using new and non-traditional online marketing tools and databases. The usual stale historical teaching exercises often centered on prosaic products like laundry detergents, and trying to demographically divide the market into singles, couples without children, couples with children, with lots of children, etc. and deciding whether to offer different formulations, container sizes and pricing, what stores to sell in and what in store pricing and marketing techniques to use, and what advertising messaging and media to use to reach the various consumer segments most efficiently to maximize sales and profit. My condescending colleague had challenged me to find something truly offbeat and unusual to both get the student's attention and to force them to think systematically and outside the box about something that was not part of their everyday experience.
Perhaps it was my prickly reaction to his smugly superior attitude, or I was just more than normally irritable that day, but I decided to pick a subject that would meet his requirements perfectly, but might make him more than a little uncomfortable. Newly arrived on campus, I was just starting to get really plugged into the departmental and school wide gossip network, and the jungle drums were saying that this distinguished and buttoned down professor, though middle aged and married, had begun to seek the occasional liaison with a man or two, especially when his wife was out of town, or when he himself traveled to academic conferences. One such incident, related and perhaps partially embellished by the graduate student that had been brought along to carry the professor's briefcase and set up his presentation materials, had resulted in the great man coming back from a late night romp in the park near his four star hotel with mud stains on both knees, a bright red face, and a very unkempt look!
Thus motivated by mild animus, I began to explore the world of online marketing and servicing of covert desire, to discover the more successful product offerings and learn the methods they used. I found such enterprises as escort service web sites, straight and gay hookup sites, flash mob orgy sites, cougar dating websites, furry dating sites, dominant and submissive matchmaking services, some unconventional picture sharing sites, and some very special subscriber only sites offering via video a live view of some activities that were way, way out on the bell curve in terms of low popularity but very high kinkiness. I found some of this stuff disturbingly stimulating and not just to my academic curiosity.
Somehow I set a goal to find the largest and most underserved niche market, the one that could be most easily penetrated, so to speak, and that could yield the greatest profits if properly addressed. Once I had found this market and assessed its potential, I would craft an exercise that led the students through the same process of discovery. I originally thought that I might take a little academic license by choosing whatever made my supervising professor the most uncomfortable, but it turned out that no such skewing of my results was required. What I ended up discovering made me more than a little uncomfortable too.
After lots of laborious searching of many relatively obscure journals and databases that the university luckily had 'all you can eat pricing model' subscriptions to, plus vigorously arm-twisting a grad school buddy that now worked for a giant search engine company and had special access to their data mineable treasure trove of data; and after weeks of hosting temporary survey sites that offered 'sociology surveys' about the user's sexual practices and fantasies, which then referred them to free porn advertising sites promoting other paid sites catering to their preferences, and writing several programs to crunch and collate the data and then use Bayesian inference to rank the various markets, I discovered what some marketers would call, perhaps preternaturally, the 'low hanging fruit' or 'juicy plums' of this sexual marketing underworld: men who were so far totally straight in their behavior, but avidly curious about the prospect of having sex with other men.
This group had no desire for a 'modern' and 'out' gay relationship that involved social interaction, dating, night clubbing, or cohabitation at all; they just wanted to try some new sex without any entanglements. In fact, ideally they wanted to just add this potentially thrilling sexual diversion secretly on top of their 'normal' lives, without disturbing their present situations at all. This surprisingly large cohort divided naturally into two main sub-segments: about 80% being men who were fascinated with the idea of performing fellatio as their only 'new' sex act, and the remaining 20% who wanted that and also wanted anal penetration by another man. Surprisingly few wanted to actively penetrate another man themselves, or to have another man fellate them.
Reflecting on my results made me consider my own history. I knew lots of gay men in undergrad and graduate school, and several of them had hit on me, but I was never really tempted. The baggage and 'overhead' of such a relationship seemed to totally outweigh any potential thrill in the act itself, not that there was anything wrong with that, of course. I built a decision model of the pros and cons of having male on male sex, based on both my feelings and the data I had compiled, and then re-surveyed many of the original respondents and lots of new ones to try to refine my model of the target demographic. Their preferences were clear in the data, even though the subjects themselves did not always describe their own preferences accurately.
I had experienced this before. I did a big project in graduate school for an international hamburger chain, and discovered that urban cusomters said they were choosing this chain's burgers over the competition for taste, quality, or fast and accurate service via the drive through window. In reality they were choosing them because they were the least likely to have the ingredients fall out into the customer's lap while eating in the car, and thus spoiling their appearance for afternoon meetings at work.
I quickly developed a model for 'the real job the customer wanted done' so to speak. My select target group wanted to have the opportunity to perform fellatio on a man, or several men, with little or no chance of discovery by their family or normal social circle, little or no chance of contracting a disease, and little or no prospect of meeting the men in question again unless they specifically chose to. I validated this model through further questioning, and was able to determine the distribution function for what the members of the target market group would be willing to pay for such an experience, and the amounts were staggering: much greater than I would have guessed. The number of individuals in the target group was many times what I initially estimated, too. I had used the old marketing rule of thumb, likely perpetuated from old and suspect Kinsey data, of 3% to 5% gay males, but my survey work clearly found that more like 40% of all males who had not already experimented would like to try it, if and only if they could 'avoid the negatives' like discovery, disease, and awkward future social contact.
I brainstormed some possible ways to deliver the experiences they desired, and estimated the costs involved, and discovered that there was the potential for massive profits. A little more thinking caused me to go back and learn more about the smaller group of men that would be willing to be fellated by another man or penetrate another man anally, as their participation could greatly increase profits. I then did an analysis of how best to reach both target groups via advertising in direct and social media, and what images were positive associations for them that I could use to develop an effective brand image for my service.
By this time I realized this idea could be worth a lot more to me as a business venture than as an assignment for my supervising professor, so I developed another, tamer scenario for that in school exercise. But I also decided to make my professor one of the targets of my initial market testing for my new venture, figuring that he would be a good test case for a potential customer that I could observe first hand. I spent several weeks analyzing the target customer group's preferences in entertainment, food, wine, beer, and many other consumer products. This was a much more detailed and specific version of the old 'guys who buy pickups drink beer' but 'the guy who buys a Cadillac drinks scotch' and "the guy who buys a Porsche drinks expensive wine' kind of market analysis and planning.
Soon I had three different promising experimental marketing campaigns to try by doing surveys in the vein of 'would you buy this if' variety, with teaser ads in the indicated promotional media. I tested all three, and the clear winner was promotion via search engine, given that the user was trying to be anonymous (sometimes successfully), a specific target list of websites and pages within those sites that the user frequented, and some geo-location inferred demographic data on age and disposable income. The clear branding image winner had to do with being sent to an unfamiliar and very different environment: a prison. There was an interesting trend in the data, in that a very small subset of the customers truly did want to be dominated and gang raped like a typical shocking nightmare prison picture, but there were not nearly enough of them to make a profit on. So the image that won out was a low security, 'club fed' kind of white collar prison that connoted not brutality but separateness and isolation from the normal environment, and was thus seen as a fertile ground for secret experimentation. Some customers wanted a little more or less domination than others, but that was easily delivered as a variation on the basic scenario.
I was not sure I would be able to get to the test market stage without revealing myself and my plan to someone else, and that almost caused me to drop the whole idea. But I decided this was the era of the virtual corporation, the 'everything as a service' business model, distributed freelancing, and auction web sites for everything from hot shot shipping to art work to software coding, so I set out to deliver a high quality service with no traceability to me, in an efficient and profitable manner.
The first step was a weekend vacation trip to find a lawyer who specialized in Caribbean corporation formation and tax avoidance vehicles. Although there was a potential traceable link to me there, it was a needle buried in haystacks of interleaving dummy corporations and shells, and it would require a massive effort just to track down and identify the one obscure lawyer at the end of the daisy chain, and then gaining that lawyer's explicit complicity to reveal my information and potentially lose most of his other clients and future practice as a result.
Once that covert beachhead was established, it was not difficult to find the resources required and vendors that would deliver them transparently in return for wire transfer payments from shell corporations. The major hang-up was finding some folks with experience in the prison environment to make things realistic and keep things under control, and how to communicate with them effectively without revealing myself to them. I used to have a professor in graduate school that was fond of pithy and profound sayings as mnemonics for important principles, like for Occam's Razor, wherein the simplest explanation is often the most likely, saying 'when you hear hoof beats, think horses, first, then zebras last'. He had one saying that I think he called Samuel's Serendipity Suggestion or something like that, that said if you need to examine a wide range of solutions to a particular problem, start by examining the ones that are easiest for you to implement.
So, I went back to my database of potential customers, and cross referenced my set of prospects with lists of corrections officers, prison psychiatrists, correctional social workers, and former administrators, wardens, and inmates of minimum security prisons. I found some overlap and some almost ideal workers, and by doling out consulting contracts and using Skype and voice masking and address spoofing technology to conduct interviews with dummy addresses and names, I began to put together a group that I thought would work. They got widely varying stories from me, none of them completely true. Some thought they were doing pre-production work for a reality television show, others though that they were setting up a deception psychology experiment, still others got hints that they were aiding in double blind testing of anti-psychotic drugs. None of them had even 40% of the whole picture, and only a few key personnel knew that they were involved primarily in delivering a sexual thrill for the customers, and none of them had any idea who I was or where I was. In fact, except for the real prison guards who supervised everything, most of the 'pitchers' and all of the 'catchers' were there because they were paying for the privilege, and they never wanted anyone to discover who they were, much less who I was.
I found several private prison facilities not far from centrally located DFW airport near Dallas that were suffering from the budget crunch that many state and municipal governments were in, and they were more than willing to rent sections of units or whole units for a weekend, a month, or a year, often for just covering their variable costs during the time period. These were built during the 'private prison boom' in the eighties and nineties and were now very underutilized. One of my consultants helped to develop the 'legend' for the customers that they had to report to the prison on Friday afternoon for a 'parole violation', and then would be held there until Sunday at noon. This allowed them to feel separate from their normal routine and free to 'be a little wild' inside the walls, and DFW was only one or two flights away from virtually any commercial airport in the US, making flights easy to find and relatively inexpensive.
I sold the customers on the idea that there was very limited availability of 'positions' in each 'class' and required a 50% deposit to hold their place in line, setting the expectation that it might be months before they actually were selected for a 'session'. There were so many men willing to send a deposit that I was able to finance all the upfront costs easily from the deposit money I received. The costs of the weekends were low, and I was able to pay myself a big fee for my official role, as a paid consultant to a vendor of a vendor of an vendor evaluate 'customer satisfaction' and provide 'strategic direction'. There were profits left in the various shell corporations, to pay the various government fees and to pay the local island 'vendors' (usually relatives of those in the banking and other regulatory agencies of the island governments) for services that guaranteed discretion and silence.
A retired police detective set up a process to screen all the applicants for criminal convictions and arrests, outstanding warrants, mental health warrants, peace bonds, restraining orders, and lawsuits; an underemployed clinical psychologist was happy to take a paying project to design a questionnaire to screen out folks who might be too unstable to make good playmates; and a couple of former physicians who had lost their licenses due to drug habits and fraudulent accounting rather than medical malpractice were happy to get paid to develop the protocol for remotely testing prospective customers and employees to screen out those with communicable diseases, and another protocol for further testing and examination when they arrived at the facility. This eliminated 99.9% percent of the risk of disease or medical incident while at the facility. A set of ironclad disclaimers and legal releases protected the shell companies and any employees or consultants (like me) from any actions and liability for injuries, and things were set up such that that any attempt at legal action by the customers would immediately result in the public disclosure of what kind of weekend they had wanted. And the only way a customer was ever likely to meet any of the people involved again was by signing up for another weekend adventure. My early business model assumed that less than 10% would be repeat customers.
Suddenly it was time for the first test session. I limited it to five target customers, ten paying 'trusties' and two real prison guards. I found that three levels of 'domination' covered 99% of the wants of the target customers: most wanted to be mildly dominated, and some preferred something a little stronger but not outright physical abuse. For this first group, the five target customers that I selected all wanted the 'oral only' experience. Although I was tempted to observe through video cameras, I decided to maintain all the separation I possibly could, in case something unforeseen went wrong. My role was limited to only the official one, as a paid consultant to evaluate 'customer satisfaction" via event logs turned in by the 'guards and trusties' each evening and surveys of the 'prisoners' administered right after the event.
The chief guard that I selected flew in from Mississippi for each weekend session, and had the uncommon name of Montpelier LeRoy, and he was to do the initial indoctrination on each incoming prisoner. LeRoy and his assistant had no information on the prisoners at all other than their 'inmate number' which was assigned by me before they arrived. Imbedded in their number were some codes on exactly what kind of experience they had signed up for. After the standardized interaction set by the first script, LeRoy and his staff of paid trusties would play it by ear and try to deliver what the customer wanted. The first afternoon and evening were spent on medical testing including a blood draw, urine sample, and a physical exam. The results were to be rushed by a pathology lab overnight, and no prisoner was allowed to come in contact with anyone until those results were in.
That first Friday, everyone arrived as expected and checked in. They followed standard procedure and went through the medical exams then each met with LeRoy and got their initial 'talking to' then had a simple meal in their individual cells and were then allowed to go to sleep. The initial lecture that each prisoner got came right from a Hollywood B movie prison picture script: 'I am the chief guard, I am in charge, keep me happy and you won't have any trouble, break the rules and you will have lots of trouble and pain.' That was all I knew and all I really wanted to know. The reports I received of the first Friday afternoon interactions were normal, and all the overnight medical reports were fine, except a couple of the 'inmates' had borderline high blood pressure, perhaps from anticipatory excitement. The noon Saturday reports were normal, no problems, no injuries, as were the Saturday night and Sunday morning updates.