I can’t sleep. It’s too hot in Johannesburg. So while my son sleeps, I have found some time to write after all…
Actually I have many addictions: Coffee, chocolates, pizza, burgers, ice cream and all kinds of other substances, but the last one that’s really harmful, even in moderation, is cigarette smoking. I only ever really had two harmful addictions: crystal meth of course, from which I have now abstained for two years, one month and a couple of days; and cigarettes. I’ve never even seriously tried to quit the cigarettes, but as I get older, the effects of cigarette smoking accumulate and it becomes increasingly important, as well as increasingly difficult, to stop.
Methamphetamine took over my life completely for a long time, but the psychological addiction of cigarettes is even more invasive. It’s more than just a lifestyle. It’s what I do when I wake up, after every meal, before going out, at every opportunity while I am out, when I get home, and of course it’s what I do when I take a break and think about my work, many times every day. Finally it’s what I do before I go to bed. The meth I could quit and then have a normal life after, a life as it was before my meth addiction, but without the comfort of cigarettes, I’ll be lost.
Society is, in general, anti-smoking. And apart from all the information regarding the harms of smoking, there is also much amusing misinformation… I just read this nonsensical article that states that smokers are more likely to have female babies… Apparently Megan and I, and my parents, didn’t get the memo. Recently while writing a horror movie review, I commented on the way smoking is portrayed in movies. It gets to me sometimes, although in that review my complaint was that the director portrayed smoking outside of the usual stereotypes. Also, I recall a popular smartphone app about a year ago, that predicted how you would look in 20 or 30 years of smoking (by modifying an image that you supplied), and it was complete bullshit, but accepted at face value by idiots everywhere. But smoking really is bad; it causes all sorts of cancers and other diseases, and reduces our life expectancy. It is the number one cause of preventable death worldwide. It really would be good for me to stop.
And yet, for me quitting is even more difficult. I hate writing about this, but since I try to be open about everything, here goes… I grew up hating smoking. Hating it, hating the smoke itself which got up my nose and in my eyes and made me sneeze, hating the smell, as a mouth breather I hated the taste of it in the air, hated the filthy cigarette butts and the stink of dirty ashtrays, but with an awful and strange twist… ever since I was a child, I found myself sexually attracted to women who smoked cigarettes. The sight of a beautiful girl lighting up would give me an instant erection before I was old enough to know what an erection was. The sight of a pretty girl holding a cigarette would drive me crazy. The sight of a pretty girl and the curious thoughts of whether or not she might be a smoker, and then the wonder if she took out a packet of cigarettes, left me staring in wide-eyed adoration. I have been cursed with what is called a smoking fetish.
I only started smoking years ago in Cape Town, because it was what I did while fantasizing about pretty girls I’d seen smoking cigarettes. It also allowed me to travel on the smoker’s compartment of the train (they don’t have those anymore) so that I could get close to those girls. Then later I learned to talk to them and befriend them, sometimes date them and so on. But in the process, I became addicted to smoking myself.
It’s a goofy fetish, but I’m not alone. Although I learned what a fetish was at the age of fourteen (while listening to DJ’s Tony Sanderson and David Blood talking to a sex therapist on the radio one evening), it wasn’t until my twenties that I found others with the same fetish online. I’d searched about something to do with quitting smoking, and then stumbled onto smoking fetish communities, pockets of people from all over the world who shared my peculiar fetish.
Porn companies found us too, and a market of porn was born for those with this silly fetish. Fetish videos are not isolated to pornography – you can also find thousands of them featuring fully clothed “models” smoking on YouTube (that have been ripped off from adult entertainment companies), as well as many exhibitionists who upload videos of themselves smoking, and perverts who take creepy “candid” videos of girls smoking in public, using hidden cameras or smartphones. There are also sites like eurosmoke.net, featuring uploaded photos and videos of women smoking somewhere in Germany. And there are forums containing millions of posts of all kinds of smoking fetish related material, even badly written smoking fetish fantasy stories. After I became addicted to meth, it was something to tweak on, whether with a girlfriend who could indulge my fetish during sex, or with smoking fetish porn, or simply with obsessively building a collection of fetish related pictures and videos.
By the way, something that amuses me online is articles about celebrities smoking. There are a lot of those articles, always featuring snarky, derisive comments, always about women who smoke, and always featuring plenty of photos. In other words, they’re written by men who also have a smoking fetish, and many of the comments, especially the hateful ones, are also written by men with this fetish. It’s all stupidly funny and ironic, because what they say and what they actually mean are quite different.
A short digression on the subject of smoking fetish porn, and porn in general… As someone who is no longer into drugs, I’ve found that I can’t even watch porn anymore. Perhaps it is in part because, my tweaking took me to a site smokingerotica.com and others. There, I saw videos made by one guy, with either a hand-held camera or cameras fixed into position. His videos feature many known, successful porn stars and one or two Playboy Playmates, who clearly are also prostitutes. (In other words, he paid them for sex with him in his house, with no camera crews and nobody else around. The fact that he has cameras and sells the videos is irrelevant. He paid them for their service as prostitutes, not actors.) This is what led me to understand that (almost) all porn stars are addicts, who sell themselves to support their addictions. So I can’t watch porn anymore. If I do, all I see are victims – women being exploited because of their addictions. I can’t look at them and be aroused because I understand what they are going through and empathise with them. They’re not happy and giggly because of sexual stimulation. They’re high – they’re always high in the videos. You don’t see them when they come down. You don’t see the miserable, meaningless lives they lead in pursuit of their drugs. You don’t feel their shame. (But I do. I imagine it. I imagine their shame and see them as living, thinking human beings caught in a life of misery and debauchery, whose lives will end badly.) They’re no different to any other female addicts, but have been sucked into an industry that gives them even more drugs, and may very well kill them. I can not be part of a society that exploits women like that. If I was involved with porn stars in any way, it would have to be in a capacity to help them somehow. (Oh, if you research what “Adult entertainment” companies say, they deny involvement with drugs. But they would. Those women are all victims, they all have pimps and maybe even connections to organised crime. I’m certain the porn companies are involved, and denial is what we should expect from them, as we would expect denial from any criminals.)
Still on that subject, I hate reading writing by sceptics who condone a life of drugs and a lifestyle in the porn industry. They make it about the right to choose that lifestyle and oppose the pious morality of the conservative Christians who picket “adult” events. But they don’t get it. That’s not what that industry is about. It’s about making money. It’s about exploiting women, selling them as purely sexual objects, specifically it’s about exploiting female addicts who happen to be attractive. While they might be portrayed as jet-setting party-goers who enjoy their life, you have to be really ignorant to accept that as the way it really is. (This is the one time I half-agree with the conservative Christians. The porn industry should not be supported by anyone. Not because it is sinful or amoral though… because it is demeaning and degrading to women. But those women should not be judged as those hypocritical conservatives do. Women in porn are just objects to be fucked, while stripped literally they are also metaphorically stripped of their humanity. And when old porn stars fade away, nobody cares.)
Returning to my main topic, I still have the fetish, although I wish I didn’t. It’s not a huge part of my life, but it does mean that my psychological attachment to smoking is stronger than it would have been without the fetish.
And yet, I would like to quit. Maybe I should just set a date – or stop cold turkey as I did with meth? You would think that quitting smoking is as easy as quitting drugs, but somehow it isn’t, even without having a ridiculous fetish that got you into it in the first place. When quitting drugs, I had strong motivation and immediate results; as soon as I stopped, my life improved. The motivation to quit cigarettes is more subtle. While I would benefit in the long term, it doesn’t destroy my relationships, and the effects of not smoking would be constant. I don’t know how I’d deal with that.
I’d like to think that I can find a way to overcome this final stumbling block of addiction, because I’d like to be healthy again. (And save the money I spend on cigarettes.) Maybe writing about it is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t feel as such – it just feels like a way of expressing some frustration. As for my fetish, I’ve struggled for years to come to terms with it. It’s me, it’s a part of who I am, and I am fortunate that my variation of this fetish seems less severe than that of many others. (No really… I’ve read some strange comments written by other people with the same fetish. Creeps who comment on random videos, flickr photos and so on that happen to feature smoking. Imagine being told by some random stranger named “Smoker Dave” that your are “such a sexy smoker”.) It’s mostly visual and relates generally to strangers (except in rare circumstances in my past where fetishes were mutually explored during sex) – when I get to know somebody, I don’t notice their smoking any more than I notice anything else… and like a typical male, I could not tell you what my ex wore the last time I saw her, or what colour her nails or hair were…
Also, I hope that by writing about it, I don’t come across too strange… we all have our little eccentricities, do we not? Of course according to my research, fetishes are normal, but I think mine is a little strange. And my own nature fights against me on this… Rather than quit smoking, a part of me tells me the answer is just to find a really hot girlfriend who happens to be a smoker… then enjoy the fetish. But these days I am asexual. I last had sex in 2011. My days of chasing pleasure are over, aren’t they? (I have consciously avoided any interest in dating anyone new for a long time now, because my addiction, like so many other meth addictions, became something closely associated with sex. Meth is one hell of an aphrodisiac.)
Update: I see that the “proper name” for a smoking fetish is “capnolagnia”, and it is a type of paraphilia. This information serves no real purpose, except that the “fetishists” who think themselves clever tend to tag the videos and name their YouTube channels such that they include the term. So searching on the term leads to some interesting results… One would expect only to find links to psychologists and others interested in documenting/studying it, but no, it’s just another key phrase for those with the fetish to use when collecting shit.