Which Boys to Pick On?
The Art of Conversation
Boy Seducers or Male Exploiters?
Sex Between Men and Boys
Which Boys to Pick On?
To Osborne any young male was a potential sexual partner. His confidence in his own abilities were such that he boasted several times about his capability of getting involved with any boy or adolescent he met. Osborne’s working philosophy was brutally frank but clearly effective: according to this strange middle-aged man, ‘Any lad has only cock on his mind and if you remember that you’ll be able to get their pants down.’
However, the boys whose pants he tried to ‘get down’ were not just randomly chosen. He looked for particular signs in particular boys before he approached them and was well aware of the best settings and situations in which to find appropriate boys. At its simplest but most basic level Osborne generally searched for young males who were alone, either hitch-hiking, standing by themselves near a park or outside a bus shelter or in a similar location. To be alone was not enough though. In Osborne’s own words, the boys had ‘to look as though they might be willing’. There were some obvious signs that indicated to Osborne that they might be potential partners for him. The signs were in their dress and also in their stance. For example, Osborne was attracted to boys who wore tight-fitting jeans or tight-fitting shorts because as he told me, ‘They’re trying to show off their cocks and if they’re trying to show off their cocks it means they want someone to play with them.’ He also looked very hard at boys at a close range and if they returned the glance without shifting their eyes too much he knew they were willing and interested in being picked up.
In fact Osborne was adamant that many boys were alone because they wanted to be picked up, and the success that he had with many of the boys, together with many of the comments the boys made themselves, would indicate that his assessment of the situation was correct. Osborne claimed that he could also tell the boys wanted to be with older men by the way they stood — if they had what Osborne called a ‘come on’ stance then ‘they really wanted to make it with him’. If Osborne stopped and offered a lift to a boy who was hitch-hiking he could tell immediately whether there was any chance of a relationship with him. According to Osborne boys were discriminating about the sort of adult partners they picked up and a boy would look very carefully into the car and at the driver before deciding to accept a ride. Osborne stated that if there was any hesitation on the part of the boy in accepting a lift then he (Osborne) would not consider making a sexual overture to the boy. And, just to ensure himself against taking a ride that might be ‘useless’, Osborne always used to ask the boy first where he was going rather than let the boy ask him how far he (Osborne) was going. In this way Osborne could avoid committing himself to a ride that might not work out in the way that he wanted it to.
During the ride Osborne was further able to gauge both by the physical actions of the boy and by the conversation whether a physical relationship between the two was possible. He looked very carefully at how far the boy distanced himself from the driver; if, for example, the boy wedged himself closely to the passenger door then Osborne knew that the boy was wary of any physical overtures. If, on the other hand, the boy sat in the middle of the seat, then Osborne would assume that this was a positive sign indicating that the youth was capable of being cajoled or talked into a relationship. Osborne was also very suspicious of boys who kept referring to ‘bloody poofters’ during the conversation and who showed an obvious antagonism towards homosexuals. His experience had taught him that many men who plied a paedophile trade were often the victims of physical assaults by their youthful partners. It was not uncommon for boys to reassert their masculine identity by beating up an older man after sexual relations. Similarly, Osborne was very wary of boys who didn’t say anything and wouldn’t talk no matter which tack he tried in order to initiate conversation.
But few boys appeared to fall into this category as Osborne was remarkably successful in initiating a conversation with even the most reluctant adolescent. Osborne, knowing as he did the fascination that all adolescents have with their own bodies, was capable of turning any conversation into a sexual one.
And who were the boys to whom he related? A precise answer to this question cannot be given as the records of all the 2500 young men he kept files on are firmly locked away in police headquarters. Besides, Osborne’s files, though precise in recording details of sexual encounters and physical characteristics, were often hazy or in-complete when it came to social and family information.
However, a 250-case appendix Osborne attached to his manuscript described in fairly exact terms the characteristics of the boys he related to. From this, the best general deduction that can be made is that about a third of the youths came from working-class homes, another third from the middle-class and the remaining third could not be classified.
The boys listed in his manuscript were clearly a cross-section of Brisbane society. Although Osborne referred to them by their first name he often mentioned the first initial of their surname and occasionally, towards the end of his career, gave the complete surname. He did not go to much trouble in protecting the identities of the youths he related to and indeed, the tape-recordings are full of explicit references to streets and areas, father’s occupation and other identifying characteristics that made, for many of the boys, anonymity impossible. Some of Brisbane’s most respected citizens, in the legal, medical and teaching professions were not unnaturally concerned when they read in the papers about a man with whom they had, many years ago, shared their bodies and minds. [*1]
The Art of Conversation
Finding boys was one thing but getting close to them sexually is another. Osborne excelled in carrying out the second objective by a combination of knowing just how to relate meaningfully to youths and by steering the conversation around to sex. His ability to relate in a meaningful way to young males was attested to by some of his former partners. One told me:
Yet another said:
But the following comment aptly sums up the way in which Osborne’s youthful partners reacted to his verbal overtures:
Osborne related to his boys on several levels. He was clearly aware of the fact that many adults, particularly parents, have no under-standing of the topics and issues that really concern boys. Consequently Osborne would initiate conversation about football and fighting, about arrogant teachers and boring school lessons — about anything which really interested the boys. But Osborne also had, in the eyes of the boys, a redeeming characteristic that they found singularly lacking in most other adults. Osborne listened; he listened with attentiveness, with patience and approval to all the things that preoccupied a youthful mind.
His attempt to titillate the boys’ sexual interest usually occurred after he had established some general rapport with them. Each time, how-ever, he personalized the conversation so that the boy he was with could feel as though someone was taking a real interest in his physical well being. From out of the many hundreds of transcribed conversations, the following one illustrates the way in which Osborne used the art of sexual conversation to obtain sex itself. [*2] The youth in question is fifteen-years-old.
This conversation demonstrates many facts of the interaction Osborne had with his young men. To begin with, he constantly reassured the youths that they were not homosexual thus allowing them to rationalise out their sexual adventure as just being ‘play’. So we have Osborne giving the boy in this example a chance to explicitly deny he was homosexual. He also allows him to talk about his hetero-sexual conquests so that the image he has of himself as a man is maintained.
Secondly, Osborne was a master at arousing the boy’s sexual interest without touching him and then, without threatening the boy, smoothly and quietly making physical contact. So, we see in the above example that Osborne first excites the youth by incessantly talking about his penis, ejaculation and girls and then gently places his hand on the boy’s penis while continuing the conversation. In this way Osborne is able to personalise what began as a general conversation about sex and to move from a purely intellectual discussion about sex to the act itself.
Thirdly, Osborne was clearly well versed in the jargon of young males. His language was simple and direct, full of the colloquialisms of boys and adolescents. Thus we have words like ‘splurry’, ‘shoot’, ‘prick’, ‘bum’ and so forth, which, while they might not be commonly used in adult society, are part of the everyday parlance of male adolescent society.
Finally, Osborne could end an interaction with his partners in the same way that he began it — with overtures of friendship, support, and, perhaps most of all, an acceptance of the youth on the youth’s terms. In other words, he made young males feel important and implied that all he (Osborne) wanted to do was to help them with their physical problems. Consequently, as with the example given before, it was not uncommon for the young male to profusely thank Osborne for his help after physical contact had ceased.
These elements can be illustrated in another example, typical of hundreds that Osborne transcribed from a tape-recording taken in his house. The youth in question was a thirteen-year-old and throughout the conversation he demonstrates an intense but natural interest in his own body.
Boy Seducers or Male Exploiters?
So far the impression that has been given from the conversation presented is that of an older man using his skill and expertise in communicating with young males in order to obtain sexual favours from them. But this is only half the story: it is quite clear that many of the boys deliberately sought Osborne’s attention for the purpose of engaging in sexual relations with him. Osborne often boasted of his ability to attract boys and recorded many cases of where the boy, rather than Osborne himself, initiated contact.
Some of the adolescents who approached Osborne were clearly homosexual in orientation and were searching for sexual adventures with older, more experienced men. One such youth whom we will call Bill knew Osborne for a number of years and regularly came around to his house when he felt like sex. During one of these occasions, Osborne pressed Bill for information about his homosexual experiences and Bill, when asked ‘Who was the first bloke who rooted you?’, replied:
Osborne told me that even though he had a long-standing relationship with Bill, he eventually became ‘sick of him’ and decided to end their meetings. When I asked him how he did it he said he used the most effective way possible to break off relationships and that was ‘to give the boys no more sex!’ And according to Osborne he used this excuse on many occasions either because he became tired of the youth himself or because the young male became in Osborne’s words ‘troublesome’ and ‘interfering when I had others to think about’.
Many of the boys who approached Osborne, or alternately whom Osborne approached, fell easily into a sexual relationship in an attempt to discover their own sexual inclinations. One former lover of Osborne illustrates this pattern well:
Other boys and adolescents who approached Osborne were hetero-sexually orientated but enjoyed the stimulation and physical excitement that Osborne provide them with. And Osborne’s notes record the intimate details of such associations. The following comments by Osborne about a seventeen-year-old youth demonstrates the amount of detail he was able to extract from partners about their former sexual relationships. Osborne tells us that the youth in question is a seventeen-year-old ‘very good public school type but rather naive’.
Sometimes wears two pairs of underpants to hold in bulge of prick. Has had one root at sixteen, calls it a fuck. Often gets lovers’ balls. Thinks flogging immature. ‘I thought I had wrecked myself.’ ‘Even now I’m afraid I will have a spastic child if I pull too much.’ When eleven or twelve a girl rubbed his hand up and down her cunt and wrapped her legs around his body. ‘I didn’t finger her, just undid my fly, pulled my pants down and just fucked her. I got it right in. Spunk in a tissue takes five minutes.’. . . ‘Here’s my prick’ (guides my hand, gets a horn) . . . after three minutes gets desire and thinks of girls and conjures up mental pictures. ‘I’ve shot in my pants a few times. I really loved this girl. I give her all the tenderness I can. Should I root her? I’m not extra pure. I reckon there’s a time when everyone gets a chance.’ (Osborne then asks ‘a chance to what’ and the boy replies ‘to fuck girls’.)
Those youths who were heterosexually orientated and who initiated contact with Osborne were not necessarily looking for sexual titillation from middle-aged men. A distinct impression gained from talking to some of the youths who had relations with Osborne was that they would have preferred to have received sexual stimulation from another adolescent girl or boy, or for that matter a woman, but none was available. It was easier and less threatening to approach Osborne than it would have been to make physical overtures to a person their own age or an older woman.
In short, these male adolescents were simply looking for sexual excitement; they, in common with most people, had a desire for sexual contact and wished to see that desire satisfied. And they found that in this society it is often easier to have this need satisfied by ‘illegal’ and what is popularly known as ‘deviant’ sex than by legal and socially approved contacts. Consider, for example, the following reason given by an adolescent who, when fifteen, had physical relationships with Osborne.
I met him in the shopping centre on a Saturday morning. I guess the night before had been pretty bad. I took this chick out and took her for a drive down the road but nothing happened. I tried and got my hand up her leg but then she stopped me and I got very excited but nothing happened. I was pretty horny and had been for a while. I suppose I hadn’t really had many girls, although I did have one steady one before we broke off. I saw this guy standing by his car outside the centre and he was looking at me and I told him he had a nice car and he said something to me that I can’t remember. Anyway he asked me if I’d like a ride in it and I said yes sure, so we went up to the back of the hills outside Mt Gravatt and he talked to me about lots of things but I guess he talked mostly about sex.
He seemed a nice guy and he could talk about anything and I knew that he wanted to do something with me even though he wasn’t being heavy about it. And when he was talking he put his hand on my cock and just gently rubbed it and it really seemed nice. I can’t honestly remember whether he told me to take off my pants or whether I just took them off so he could get his hand around my cock more easily, but it didn’t really matter because I wanted to do it.
I didn’t feel a poofter or anything as he was talking about girls, but he was asking me how excited I was getting and I was telling him the truth — I was getting really excited! He seemed to know exactly how to do it to me and he kept asking me whether I liked being rubbed this way or in some other way and I told him how I liked it the best. He was trying to ask me when I was going to come and I was telling him that I’d come all right and I sure did — all over the car. He wanted to measure my cock with a tape measure he had but I didn’t want to because I couldn’t see any point in that. He wasn’t heavy about this and when I said no he just shrugged and began talking about something else. He took me back to the shopping centre and was as pleasant as pie.
I enjoyed talking to him and I enjoyed the sex as well. He’s the only man I’ve ever had a relationship with before or since. As you know I am married now with two kids, but at times I still think back to when he did those things to me and get excited by the thought of it. All I know is that I wanted some sex then and I got it, even though before I could never have imagined myself having it off with another guy, let alone a man who was about thirty years older than myself. But there was nothing heavy about him and it seemed so easy to do it with him and there was no way I felt guilty about a thing. I guess I would have preferred a girl but sometimes it’s hard to get one and some of the ones you get anyway won’t let you do anything with them. When I read in the paper about this guy who killed himself and was called a monster I was amazed. He was not heavy at all and what they said about him in the paper was untrue.
Sex Between Men and Boys
The stereotypical picture of man-boy relations is that of an older man exploiting and seducing a naive, innocent boy. This stereotype is, as we have seen, clearly a simplification of the dynamics involved in relationships between the two. Similarly the stereotype about the actual sexual practices that occur between men and boys is also a misleading picture of what actually happens. For if the public mythology is to be believed, we are presented with a picture of a boy passively lying or sitting down, being physically exploited by a man who is either manipulating the boy’s genitals or alternatively committing sodomy with him. These images help to reinforce a common stereotype of paedophile relationships which assumes that an active, dominant older man oppresses an inactive, passive young boy.
Such was not the case with Osborne and his partners and an examination of the sexual activities that took place assists us unravelling the complex dynamics involved in such liaisons. Charles Osborne in his own writing often simplifies the physical dimension of the relationships that he had with younger males. In reading his manuscripts we are often presented with the picture of a boy beguiled into showing his penis in order for Osborne to measure and to masturbate it. And one of Osborne’s prime, almost compulsive objectives, was to measure the size of a boy’s erection and to take details of his physical features that would add to his monolithic collection of records. Consequently, in reading Osborne’ manuscripts we often obtain the impression that very little activity occurred between Osborne and his boys other than these rather bland and monotonous occurrences. This was, however, only part of story and in the conversations I had with Osborne, as well as in so of the tape-recordings and dossiers that he gave to me, it is quite cle that the sexual practices between Osborne and his boys were often varied and diverse as the sexual practices between heterosexual man and women. And saliently perhaps, Osborne was not the only active participant in such relationships as in some cases the boys themselves played an active role in the sex that occurred.
The terms ‘active’ and ‘passive’ in this context are probably inappropriate ones because they imply one person dominating the other. In adult-boy relationships as in adult-homosexual relationships this is not the situation at all: both people take turns in playing an active or passive role, The public conception of sexual techniques between boys and men rests on the assumption that all the man wishes is to obtain anal intercourse, forcibly if necessary, with a helpless, agonised and struggling boy — a boy who is merely a substitute for a girl.
The sterility of this view can be seen in the physical activities that occurred between Clarence Osborne and his partners. For a start, Osborne was reluctant to engage in anal intercourse. He did, however, admit to having intercourse with a boy when the boy asked for penetration to occur— and this did occur on a few occasions.
Osborne also records in his manuscript that he was asked by a particular boy to lie down so that the boy could play the part of the active partner. These were, however, rare experiences and are in no way typical of the sexual activity that occurred between Osborne and his youths.
Obsessed as he was with the penile characteristics of his partners, a Osborne would often spend hours stimulating a boy’s genitalia either to bring him to orgasm or, alternately, to bring the boy’s penis to the longest possible length. This would occur while sitting or lying side by side with the youth. Generally Osborne would use a lubricant such as petroleum jelly or soap in order to increase the sensitivity of the act. In a sizeable number of these cases mutual masturbation would occur with the boy actively stimulating Osborne to the point of ejaculation. Osborne was also an exponent of what is popularly called ‘French kissing’, otherwise known as ‘deep’ or ‘tongue kissing’, where the it tongue explores the partner’s mucus membranes to the stage where the partner reaches a high state of arousal. Osborne would concentrate on kissing or tonguing the genitals and nipples which he considered erogenous zones of high sensitivity. He also engaged in what has been called a ‘tongue bath’ where most parts of the boy’s body are systematically explored by one’s tongue. There is no indication that boys would reciprocate this type of behaviour, although it is clear from Osborne’s writings that some of them would engage in mutual kissing with the older man.
Often Osborne would attempt to teach the boy what to expect in heterosexual contacts by initiating oral intercourse. As heterosexuals who have engaged in oral intercourse will know, the sensations experienced by the person inserting his penis into the partner’s mouth are approximately the same as those experienced by the same person performing vaginal intercourse minus of course, the face contact. Osborne firmly believed that he was furthering a boy’s education in anticipating heterosexual experiences and would often talk about what the boy should be doing when he was having intercourse with a girl or a woman.
Osborne went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that his boys attained the maximum amount of sexual enjoyment and would stimulate his partners for hours in order to make them satisfied. He did not insist on a boy fellating because, as he put it, ‘My greater penis size would create a gag reflex in the boy.’
One of the most common ways he used to relate physically to his partners was by engaging them in whole body contact techniques. This would take a variety of different forms. At its simplest it would involve wrestling or romping with a boy and embracing him in the process. In these situations he would rub his genitals against the other’s body or alternatively make sure that the boy’s genitals were rubbed against his own body. A quieter version of this full body technique was simply to lie with the boy and caress him and to have, in many cases, these caresses reciprocated. During these embraces mutual masturbation and ‘tonguing’ would often occur increasing the sexual excitement that both persons felt.
Although Osborne rarely engaged in anal intercourse, he often initiated a variation of this technique. Commonly referred to as the ‘English method’ this variation obtained its name from its occurrence among boys in British public boarding schools. In this method the social and physical taboos attached to anal intercourse are avoided as full penetration of the anus does not take place. Instead copulation between a partner’s thighs, either belly to back, face to face, or back to back occurs, generally to the point of ejaculation.
Osborne would often use this method with his partners. Typically, he would suggest to the boy that the boy lie on his back and hold his thighs tightly together. Then Osborne would lie on top of the youth and with a lubricated penis, would insert it between the boy’s legs just below his crotch. He would thrust his penis in and out of the boy’s legs emulating sexual intercourse. Often too, Osborne would suggest that the boy lie on his stomach and would thrust between the boy’s buttocks without entering his anus. He records that boys would often ask to be stimulated by this form of interfemoral intercourse and would obtain great delight from it.
Osborne’s techniques of sexual stimulation were not particularly different from those of other men who practised Greek love. His preferences were idiosyncratic, to some extent, in that he obsessively measured and recorded penis sizes and was stimulated by doing just that. The fact, however, that many of the boys whom he partner played an active part in the sexual activity is again not very different from what the literature suggests occurs in relationships between adult males and adolescent boys.
In Osborne’s case, as I suspect in the case of other boy-men relations, the degree of reciprocity heightened according to the degree of intimacy in the relationship. In other words, it is clear from Osborne’s own notes that the longer the period of contact with a boy and the more fondly Osborne felt about him, the more the boy was likely to be an initiator in any particular sexual act. Of course, as with heterosexual relationships, it is very difficult to ascertain from Osborne’s writings whether the intimacy led to more reciprocal sex or whether reciprocal sex led to greater intimacy.
The longer the relationships between a particular boy and Osborne lasted however, the more responsibility Osborne felt toward teaching the boy new sexual techniques and guiding him on matters relating to the opposite sex. In his dossiers there are many cases where Osborne deliberately acted as sex counsellor in allaying any fears that the boy might have about his sexual performance with actual or potential female partners. In many of these cases it is apparent that Osborne was not discussing the relationships between the boy and his girlfriend just to get physically or emotionally closer to the boy. These discussions would often take place some years after Osborne had first established contact with a boy and had established firm sexual relationship with him.
Osborne expressed to me a genuine concern and interest in particular boys’ future sexual development and a desire to ensure that they would be compatible in heterosexual relationships. One former partner of Osborne illustrated this point well when he told me:
In his files Osborne records the case of a sixteen-year-old youth who was Osborne’s close neighbour and who confided to the older man the fact that he could not have intercourse with a girl once he had already engaged in intercourse with her.
All the thrill is in winning on. It’s only the winning on that interests me. I’d feel guilty if I rooted a girl more than the first time. I drop every girl as soon as I’ve rooted her, even if I’ve had to spend months working up to it.
Osborne’s reply recorded in his files simply says:
In other parts of his dossiers Osborne records conversations between himself and an adolescent where they worked out in detail how the sexual excitement of the adolescent could be increased by delaying ejaculation, getting the girl to stimulate the youth in a certain manner and in other subtleties of heterosexual intercourse.
There is no doubt that Osborne was amazingly successful in obtaining from his partners all the intricate details of their past and present sexual lives. One adolescent, typical of many others, made the following comment which Osborne dutifully recorded in his notes:
And that of course is one of the secrets of Osborne’s ‘success’. For the first time many of the boys had found an adult with whom they could talk about their sexual fears and conquests, fantasies anti desires, without fear of moralistic recriminations. Some of these boys also felt that they could act out their sexual desires with Osborne in a non-punitive atmosphere. It should not be assumed, however, that the boys related to Osborne only because of their hedonistic desires. A substantial number of the relationships, particularly those which lasted over a period of months and indeed in some cases years, were fulfilling needs in the boys that were not being met by their parents, teachers or other adults. It is to these needs and the myriad number of questions that arise from studying them that we turn to in the next chapter.