People nowadays think that scientists exist to instruct them; poets, musicians, etc. to give them pleasure. The idea that these have something to teach them – that does not occur to them.
̶ Ludwig Wittgenstein
I stayed in Frankfurt waiting for my connection to Tokyo. I needed this layover. I wasn’t quite ready for Japan. I was adrift. I had no home to go back to. Were people wired for this relentless churning? Aimlessness, rootlessness. I was eager to settle. Once I arrived, I planned to spend the night at the airport Hilton, and then transfer in the morning to Kumamoto. I’d not been to Kyushu and was eager to see it. I had not even been to Fukuoka. Hiroshima was as far south as I had been in Japan. I’d have breakfast and then head over to Haneda. My new boss promised to pick me up at the airport and then, in classic Japanese fashion, I would be conducted on a quick tour of the sensational volcanoes that towered over the valley where the city of Kumamoto nestled. I was up for it.
I’d be on probation for three months and, then, Mr. Yoo would make me some kind of an offer, probably a one-year contract, or cut me loose. I liked that. Everything was up in the air. Of course, in Japan that was always true because everyone hoped you would leave. Sooner or later. When you told them you intended to stay, they grew nervous.
The Hilton was exactly how I found it the last time I was in Tokyo. I went directly to my room, hung out, kicked back, and then when I got bored, I wandered over to the gym. I hoped to meet someone, however briefly. I went on the treadmill for about twenty minutes and soon after was joined by a Filipino kid who had to have been ten years my junior. We tried jobbing and talking at the same time, but it wasn’t working, so I turned off my machine. I’d already given him the once-over and liked what I saw. There wasn’t much to say. I asked him if he was ready. I meant ready for something other than working out; he thought I meant ready to quit. Then he asked if I wanted to meet him and his sister in the cake shop. I thanked him but went up to my room. I wasn’t looking to talk.
I loved Japan. Sometimes. What I loved most was male nonchalance. Western men didn’t sneer at women the same way Asian men did. Westerners wanted to argue, I thought, while in Japan, men had nothing at all to say. Not even thanks. I noticed it in abundance at the airports, first in Tokyo, then again in Kumamoto. I found it sexy. You saw this with the Italian- Americans in New York subways, the young men who leaned against the subway doors pretending not to care. I guessed they thought of it as being cool. Indifferent would be more accurate, uncaring. In porn, Japanese men smirked or snarled. American men used profanity. Women were called names. Not in Japan. Men were often shown pulling down a girl’s panties with a look of contempt. They never smiled. Chinese porn was similar. I assumed the look conveyed indifference, not anything more sinister. On the streets, Japanese men rarely returned a smile. It was all Kabuki, Japanese street theatre. They were masterful at creating mystery, great at shrugging their shoulders.
I loved it, but I didn’t go for Japanese men. I was not into their girlish bodies. Too short, too petite, not well-hung, without body hair. Evidently, neither were Japanese women. A lot of Japanese chick lit depicted desperate Japanese women in search of black American men with big phalluses. Novelists showed them shacked up near American military bases, usually somewhere in Okinawa or near Yokohama where there were plenty of horny GIs. There was prestige in bedding Americans, especially blacks, although something told me this was less and less true.
I reacted badly to the fact that many foreigners approached the country as others might embrace a cult. There was a level of acceptance unnatural to my instinctive skepticism. But this did not fit the cartoonish minds of my young colleagues whose idea of a classic movie was Star Wars. I found myself working with a bunch of kids from Montana and a couple of Brits from wherever; it wasn’t Downton Abbey, that’s for sure. They were not, as my dad loved to say, “not the kind of people who go to the theatre.” The Americans were recent grads from Helena. They were just tourists. The Brits were older and almost certain to have been life-time teachers. They made an effort. What shocked me was being told they had to learn T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in secondary school, while their American counterparts had never heard of it. In the US, Eliot was long gone, dropped for his supposed anti-Semitism and his race, and replaced by Maya Angelou, or the diaries of some nineteenth-century factory worker, preferably female.
I liked to say in all seriousness, “I’m so into Japan, I eat my cornflakes with chopsticks.” But instead of a laugh, I often got nasty looks. Expats’ loyalty was humorless as in any new cult. I had the sense I might be turned in. The Hello Kitty gestapo were everywhere. Incongruities multiplied. Straight foreigners embraced girly trends such as pancake lunches eaten with mounds of whip cream that back home would be snubbed, or the popularity of $20 banana splits shared by tables of five.
For Japan’s annual Teachers’ Day, the staff placed a wrapped treat on each of our desks. The caramelized rice ball tasted to me like something a writer such as Evelyn Waugh might have called Yumcrunch, or some such thing. Potato chips were definitely the preeminent snack for Japanese urbanites, with bizarre flavors ranging from volcanic ash to pig’s feet. I listened with amazement as my colleagues tried to guess Japan’s #1 snack. They came up with a green tea delicacy eaten in the 14th century by aristocrats. Clearly mistaking “popular” for something rare and exotic, they were as far off as someone mistaking French cassoulet for Foie Gras. My colleagues simply refused to admit that Japanese craved anything as common as salty crisps. Of course, it happened to the best of us. My Japanese boss took me out for ice cream. While I was trying decide on a shade of molten matcha, available from “white jade” to “dark pine,” he ordered up two cones of softie-serve vanilla.
I wanted to fit in, but I didn’t always know how. Japanese prided themselves on their ability to read the air, something Americans of my generation once called “vibes,” but working in close quarters with my brethren made me question the value of that skill. They seemed to have been brought up where the air was still and flat. A great poet once stated he was “alone but not lonely.” For me, it was very much a case of being lonely but not alone. It certainly was at that time. I wondered how long I could take it. The other foreigners and I spoke at cross purposes. My jokes fell flat. I said, “I’m so into this place, I feel like wearing a fake top-knot on my head,” but, as usual, this only elicited stern looks. Among the true believers, who approached the place as a kind of Lourdes, my lame jokes were interpreted as insults.
Japan, I told people, was everything I imagined it would be. “They still hate us; it gives one last chance to re-experience WWII.” This didn’t work because most of my colleagues had barely heard of WWII. They assumed it came several years after Vietnam. All they knew was that it was something horrible we Americans had done. If we had been nicer, they would have been nice to us. I told one colleague that we were responsible for rewriting their constitution and introduced voting rights to women. He didn’t believe me. He asked how that could be true since we didn’t have women’s rights in America.
Foreigners loved it. They’d eat rice cakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They bowed as they talked on the phone. They had all their body hair removed (well, I did that, too, but not in Japan). They wore bright tattoos of men raping carp. They even learned to regret not having slept with their mothers during college, as many local boys did. I spoke of this Asian custom, popular too in Korea to an Irish colleague who nearly exploded in rage. He obviously had never heard of this and insisted it was not possible. He acted as though I had insulted him. As was so often the case, the self-righteous felt quite comfortable in Japan. Puritans found Zen attractive. They believed they were among kindred spirits. My Irish colleague had taken up the Japanese attitude that the truth should not be spoken. I suggested he ask his students.
I loved the soiled underwear sold in vending machines. Mentioning this didn’t get me far. I appreciated the home delivery of fresh eggs. I craved the beer-fed beef sold by the gram, at over $400 per kilo. I became addicted to the parmesan cheese made of sawdust and powdered soy. (“It is not!”) What I loved most were the young housewives who wore Minnie Mouse bras and Donald Duck panties. Quack, quack.
Best of all, though, and I am not kidding, was that utility companies made appointments to within the half hour. When they said they’d be there at eight-thirty, they meant it. They were never late. My ardor, however, did not match that of my colleagues. They loved it so much they’d come to hate their own countries; America, England, Ireland, and Canada were all nothing in comparison. Even McDonald’s, they declared, quite seriously, was better in Kumamoto! They called it Japanese food and ate there every day. They didn’t miss home at all. What they loved best was that those on death row were executed in secret. Families were not notified. They liked the denials of war guilt, the cult of the Emperor, and the open hostility to “inferior” nations.
They liked best of all looking down on people who didn’t understand the Japanese as well as they did. They’d adopted a kind of swagger, possibly of the sort found among connoisseurs of fine wines, an effete, lip-pursing smugness which often was way off. What attracted them immediately and what they embraced was the Japanese love of peace. “It’s their delicacy,” they argued, “their manners, and their politeness that stand out.” “When they chop a prisoner’s head off, executioners shout, ‘Excuse me.’” But this was not what I loved most. I fell for the citrus, a variety that tasted familiar but completely different. It was something like a tangerine but yellow, not the color of a lemon. It was darker like a grapefruit. It was small but not as big as an orange. It could be called a Japanese orange. Its name was yuzu. You haven’t lived until you have tried yuzu ice cream or sorbet.
After about a month, citrus fruits aside, I was beginning to go stir crazy. I started going to a basement porn theatre, a pretty sleazy place, of course, secretly…as my employer wouldn’t have approved…in a big way. It was located just off the road leading to my local barber shop. I noticed a set of pink neon stockinged legs hung above the entrance. At first, I thought it was a go-go club which, had it been, would have been too high for me and, of course, of little interest. I paid one thousand yen to enter. The lights were off and I took a seat in what in fact was a sofa, and hoped for a mate. I watched the dreadful shorts for about forty-five minutes. A guy came by alone and invited me to the back room. I mean, he just leaned over and said something like “have you had a tour?” I thought he was management.
I went back there…the lights were off and before I knew it, someone had taken my picture. Suddenly, the lights came up and there were several guys standing around. One threatened to put me on the internet unless I agreed to pose for him. He said they needed a white guy. It crossed my mind these guys were mafia. They wore strangely ill-fitting suits and skinny ties. They asked me to take my shirt off and pose at the urinal with my mouth open. “That’s it?” I thought why not? I wondered what else was on offer but after a minute I drifted back into the auditorium.
I was planning to sit back down, but after standing for a minute, I split. They whole thing had made me jumpy. Several days later, I received an email. I had given my particulars to the office in order to join the cinema club, which required an ID and contact details. As a foreigner, I was required to produce my residence card. It was officially a club…to avoid anti-prostitution laws. In the email, I was invited to attend a photo session. They gave me a date and time, and an address in a rather colorful part of town.
It seemed that I was dealing with one guy. He turned out to be some kind of race sadist. He liked to be serviced by white guys, liked having his picture taken in macho uniforms while appearing to beat up blondes. He asked if I knew Steve McQueen. He was a Japanese nationalist with a thing for seeing whites humiliated, or so I gathered. There was an entire magazine devoted to this, Imperial Fuck, I had discovered, which featured Caucasian men, naked and on their knees, blowing Japanese soldiers or officers, dressed up in wartime regalia, or in antique samurai costumes. The Japanese were always shown in positions of domination, lording it over the whites who, in some cases, were Japanese boys with yellow/blonde dyed hair.
This guy, named Takanaka-sensei, already had a couple of photos of me from the toilet at the cinema. In both, I was doing nothing at all, but he’d had one photoshopped into some sort of porn shot with a Japanese man’s uncut cock dangling in front of my mouth. The guy was in a WWII military uniform with his fly open. Takanaka wanted me to buy the photos back from him or agree to do some shots.
I should have gone straight to the police, but I was curious about the whole thing and then later when we actually met, I observed that he was missing part of his finger, a well-known sign of membership in Japanese organized crime, a symbol of the country’s dark underbelly. Who knew, but all he had to do was contact my employer and I’d have been escorted to the airport by customs officers. They could make my presence look like a breach of my teachers’ contract. Instead, we made an appointment for the following Monday at 4:30pm. I’d either pay him or agree to what he asked.
He laid it all out that afternoon in less than an hour and the time flew by because of his riveting presentation. First, he showed me a short film in a room that reminded me a lot of where my high school band used to meet for practice. There were lots of little private booths off the main hall, which our band director assigned to the various musicians: the flutist, my friend Tanner who played the tuba, our three trumpeters, and several others. Here, each room seemed to have been assigned based on the customer’s sexual proclivity. Takanaka was operating a sort of lewd, little theatre group made up of amateur sex workers playing dress-up.
Somehow, Takanaka had determined that I was well-suited to his company’s services; all I had to do was submit to rigorous, monitored weekly sessions with my assigned dominator or dominatrix. He guaranteed extreme pleasure. After a number of free sessions, like his other clients, I would find it difficult to walk away. Once addicted, I would be more than willing to pay his staff to deliver blows to my backside, along with other “proprietary” masochistic delights, which he declined to describe. Sensei explained how he drew the line between pleasure and pain: “We never surrender our moral values in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. It is good to give pleasure.” I was appalled and aroused in equal measure.
As we spoke, I saw a couple of his dominatrix mistresses accompanying clients into their highly decorated booths. One was dressed as Little Bo Peep, in a frilly pink get-up with a tall white staff. Sensei learned forward and explained that most clients became long-term customers. One of the male masters was dressed as a surgeon and offered his services as a “gynecologist”. He resembled Groucho Marx playing the wacky Dr. Hackenbush in Day at the Races. The place embodied an odd combination of play-acting and role-playing, a doll house for perverts, that’s how I saw it. I kept trying to picture myself while feeling very uncomfortable. Once under contract, customers paid a fee that increased week by week as the number and force of each stroke increased. The tormentors, I gathered, were masters of the hard-sell. All Takanaka wanted was the chance to test his theory on my posterior. There would be a discount if I introduced new clients to his firm. I said nothing, but I was enjoying the scene and couldn’t get enough of the playacting.
During the first week I would pay as little as one hundred yen ($1) per stroke delivered with moderate force. He was prepared to offer five sample strokes if I signed up. As my addiction progressed, sensei was certain I would be willing to pay practically anything to experience the thrill of being thrashed to within an inch of my life. Initially, ten might do the trick, but six months on, I might require as many as forty to bring me to the same level of excitation. Some clients paid as much as fifty-thousand yen ($500) per session on a weekly basis. In other words, each stroke went from about a dollar to as much as twenty, with some clients demanding as many as forty strokes at one go. The idea, I gathered, was that it would take a larger and larger number of strokes to deliver the same thrill.
I told the guy I’d think about it. I must say, however, I loved the ambiance. The costumed masters were too much. Each cubical was manned by a specialist. There were all sorts of people there, male and female. Old men, evidently, wanted their nipples twisted as they were beaten. I guess most of the clients preferred a dominatrix, but there were men available, too. One sported a magnificent samurai helmet with full medieval regalia. Chills ran through my body as I heard piercing martial shrieks from his tiny chamber, not, I concluded, from the recipient of his ministrations but from the dominator himself as he swung his bamboo cane.
I ended up taking Takanaka-san up on his proposal. A contract was out of the question, but I told him I wanted to give it a try. We worked out a deal and I ended up in the cubicle with the young samurai. I chose restraints and agreed to be photographed. Fees were waived. I would receive five strokes, blindfolded. I stripped. I felt weak-kneed and a slight quivering throughout my body.
The samurai was masked but spoke English. He tied me to a pommel horse set down in the middle of the room, which was very heavy and or possibly bolted down. He recommended that I take the strokes after obtaining an erection, pointing out that the pain would be diffused. He put on a rubber glove and commenced to assist me. Suddenly, he jumped away, let out a cry, and gave me a whack. Next thing I knew, he pressed my buttocks with one hand, while the other grasped my cock. He was crouched down right in in front of me. “Good.” He said my cock had become engorged. “Ready?” He stepped away again, stood behind me and shrieked as he struck me once more, fast as lightning. He reached quickly for my bouncing cock and pressed my buttocks firmly. Pressure eased the pain. I heard myself release a disturbingly unfamiliar sound, something like the air being let out of a tire.
“Yes, yes, go ahead.” I felt myself breathing heavily.
Suddenly, he gave it to me with all his might, or so I thought, but before I could register the pain, he threw himself on the floor before me and took my cock, all of it, into his mouth. If he stood up too quickly, I figured he would hit his head on the bottom of the pommel horse. He simply engulfed my cock in one swift gulp, swallowing it all at once, and then withdrew, all the while covering my throbbing buttocks with his hands.
“Ready?” He spoke now directly into my ear. He poked me with his whip.
“For what? What are you ready for? Say it.”
“For you. I’m ready for you. One more.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, yes, go ahead.”
“I love it, man. Do it! Go for it.”
And, with that, he reared back and gave it to me again, only this time, he screamed something in Japanese. It was extraordinary. It was terrifying. And then, almost upon impact, I felt his mouth once again on my cock, only this time he lingered, he tongued me quite fully, and stayed for what seemed like a very long time. The sensation was indescribable. My entire body shuddered.
“Now, Mr. Dennis. I will complete my assignment. Are you ready?”
“I think so.” I had my doubts.
“I want you to beg for it. Plead. You have to want it more than anything in your life.”
He was kneading my empty scrotum.
“Tell me what I can do for you. I could untie you.”
“No, no. My God, do what you like.”
“How about five more?”
He sounded like he was walking away.
Now he was back. He took my cock back into his mouth.
It felt to be as big as a baseball bat.
“Yes, yes, you decide. You decide.”
“I’m ready to take your instructions. One more? Or are you man enough?”
“I don’t want to decide. You decide. You tell me how many.”
“I think your cock needs more time to complete its mission, but it is getting close.”
“You’re the man.”
“This will be your last stroke. Number five.”
“How many do you recommend?”
“You are a very brave man. Our soldier’s count is ten.”
“So be it. Ten.”
“Six more, then?”
“Six. Are you deaf? Six.”
Now he lowered himself onto my cock, completely absorbing it in a single swallow, and placed both hands around me to squeeze my hot, quivering ass. It was an extraordinary sensation. Then, without notice, he stood, cried out and struck me once and then again twice in quick succession. There were no words. Three breathtaking strokes, separated by a gasp and, then, once again, he licked me, this time from my knee to my navel. My cock was positively dancing. He slapped at and it bobbed and bounced. It must have looked like a buoy tossing in the surf. His tongue traced my body, down and between my legs, and up between my buttocks. He licked the scar on my ass but said nothing. He stepped away.
“You have three more strokes. Can you take it?”
He kicked my cock with his bare foot. It jumped wildly and began to throb.
“I don’t believe you.”
He was standing right beside me. I could feel his breath. He must have reached over with his foot, because suddenly he seized my cock between his toes and squeezed. He pinched the living hell out of it.
“No, no. Believe me.”
Now, he put his foot between my legs and lifted.
I had the sensation of riding on his foot, of almost levitating.
Only my toes kept me balanced. I was riding on his foot, off the floor.
“Call me master and beg me. Beg me for three strokes. Tell me what you want.”
His foot pulled up at an angle hard between my legs.
“Master, believe me. Believe me, master, sir, whatever. I want it more than I can tell you. Come on.”
He continued this pressure.
“Weak, unmanly, begging like this.”
He had buried his foot between my legs. Had I not been strapped to the pommel I might have tipped over. I fell against the horse.
“Yes, yes, I am.”
He suddenly pulled away and slapped my crotch.
“Pathetic.” His breath filled my ear as he hissed his insults.
“I know. Just do your job. I want you to. Let’s go. Three, baby. I can take it.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Do it. Do what you came here to do, will you? For fuck’s sake. Shut up and hit me.”
He answered in Japanese.
This time he must have swung his whip from the ceiling. I felt a rush of air before each stroke broke against me. My whole face closed with my eyes and dared not reopen. It was blinding.
The sound that escaped from my mouth was unworldly.
“Did you hear that? That was me.”
I didn’t know where he was.
“Did you hear me?”
His voice was so faint.
“I cannot believe the pain.”
“Mine, or yours?”
He stood beside me for a second and then dropped down. I felt his breath on my dick. He pried my stiffened cock from my body where it clung like a barnacle. It was stiff. He pulled it down and then let go. He was wearing a fur mitten on one hand and, I thought, the rubber glove on the other. He commenced to give me… he was squeezing me down there so tight and… the most magnificent… and stroking me from my ankle all the way up, up my leg and then…hand job…no one on this earth had ever experienced… I was melting. Defying the laws of physics, he forced out of my nearly comatose cock and empty scrotum a death-defying ejaculation that was so great I shrieked.
Following the orgasmic tremor, the pain from the thrashing simply vanished. I felt nothing; nothing but bliss. I was thrilled.
“You did it.”
I was transported.
First, he removed the blindfold. The light made it impossible to see. When he finally untied my hands, I almost collapsed. My legs had liquified. He held me. He had his knee in my back. I was falling.
It took some time to bring myself back to reality. The whole thing, although short-lived, took me so far away, I had trouble returning. I started out, but forgot my underwear. I didn’t want to dress. I felt renewed. I was a new man. I wanted to jump out the window. My samurai master left the room. He turned and bowed at the door. I put on my robe.
Had I been able to afford what appeared to be a rich man’s indulgence, I would have requested a male trainer for life, applied for Japanese citizenship, and signed over my salary every month, but there was no question of my getting involved beyond that day’s ecstasy.
Sensei had me sit again in his office. One of the girls, dressed in a bright kimono served hot tea. I was tempted to say something like, “Oh, my friend, I can do better than this back in Saudi Arabia,” as a way of blowing him off.
“It was magnificent.” I was beside myself.
He smiled and nodded.
“It was unbelievable.” I must have been glowing.
The first five strokes were free, as promised, and he charged me $200 for the “little bonus”.
“Dennis-san, some are born to this. You are such a man.”
Sensei advised that on my next visit, I could expect eleven master strokes, as he anticipated seeing me weekly.
“Today was but a taste, a taste of your future. Our motto, ‘Never stand still’”.
He saw me as needing one additional stroke per session until I maxed out.
“You will be proud of yourself. As you see, it is not pain but love. Thirty is the breaking point for many. Not yours.”
He had been advised that I was sure to be a forty-stroke man by the end of the year. Perhaps I would be their first client to take fifty.
“We will make it a ceremony. Something to commemorate on film.”
When I left, the receptionist gave me a few goodies, including a gift certificate for a 25 gram can of illy Classico espresso coffee, a pleasant surprise. She also gave me a brochure announcing the opening of a new spa near Tokyo on Enoshima, the island resort with a marina that featured sailboats, yachting, and Hawaiian hamburgers.
That night, I dreamed I was chased from the building by Takanaka-sensei himself, dressed as Humpty Dumpty with a bull whip. He called after me, but cried, “Alice.” “Alice, come back.”
I don’t think a day went by during my stay in Japan that I didn’t think of this encounter. I’d remember little bits in isolation, not the entire episode as I’ve recorded. Almost every time, it brought about an instant hard-on. Takanaka-sensei had me pegged, no doubt about it. Fortunately, my contract at the school was not renewed. Mr. Yoo did not have enough students to justify my salary. I would be leaving. I’m certain had I stayed, Takanaka would have taken me for every cent I was worth, first my salary and then crippling credit-card debt. I was lucky to get out alive. Talk about becoming a sex slave!
May 12, 2020: “No Wonder”
May 5, 2020: “Kabuki Rites”
September 8, 2019: “Spam in a Can”
April 16, 2019: “By the Bay, By the Bay, By the Beautiful Bay”
July 4, 2018: “Consumption”
February 26, 2018: “Spam in a Can”
September 18, 2017: “Das Capital”
Lohrey, David, Machiavelli’s Backyard, Sudden Denouement
Publishers, Houston, Texas.
Lohrey, David, “The Other Is Oneself: Postcolonial Identity in a Century of War”
Lohrey, David T., “The Other Is Oneself. An Expansive
Definition of Postcolonial Identity,” in Experiments in Literature: The City Between Demise and Revival. Caesura – Journal of Philological and Humanistic Studies 2.1 (2015), Ed. Ramona Simut, Oradea: Emanuel University of Oradea Press, 2015.
Lohrey, David T., “Postmodernism: Surviving the
Apocalypse,” in The Literature of the Apocalypse: From Prophecy to Disaster, Caesura – Journal of Philological and Humanistic Studies 1.1 (2014), Ed. Ramona Simut, Oradea: Emanuel University of Oradea Press, 2014.
Lohrey, David T., Gonzo Republic: Hunter S. Thompson’s America by
William Stephenson. David T. Lohrey (Wenzhou-Kean University). Transnational Literature Vol. 5 no. 1, November 2012, Flinders University.
Lohrey, David T., Writing Tangier in the Postcolonial Transition: Space
and Power in Expatriate and North African Literature by Michael K. Walonen. David T. Lohrey (Wenzhou-Kean University). Transnational Literature Vol. 5 no. 1, November 2012, Flinders University. http://flinders.edu.au/transnational/home.html
Lohrey, David T., The Los Angeles Times Book Review, “Tom: The Unknown
Tennessee Williams,” Lyle Leverich, (Crown).
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