THE HOUSE THAT PAUL BUILT
The following interviews were conducted in three households composed of boys living with their lovers, men to whom the state gave not only guardianship of the boys, fully aware of the sexual basis of the relationships in question, but subsidies for their maintenance. They were published in the fourth, February 1980, issue of Pan magazine. The illustrations are from the article.
It should be noted that here and elsewhere, Pan was bizarrely insistent on referring to men involved in love affairs with pubescent boys as "paedophiles", even after former Yale Professor Parker Rossman pointed out their error (issue 3, p. 19), and going so far as to resort to such illiterate absurdities as a "homophile paedophilia" rather than use an accurate term. In the following cases, the boys interviewed had all been aged between 11 and 15 when sexually involved with their guardian-lovers, and the man in the main interview made it clear that he was not interested in girls, so "pederast" or "boy-lover" would have summed him up perfectly.
PAN visits a Dutch paedophile Household
with the cooperation of Wm. Barns
Paul's flat is in a older district of Amsterdam, just outside the canal-girdled, Golden Age Centrum. At the street entrance we ring the bell and a moment later the door opens mysteriously, the latch having been tripped by a rope running up the stair well through an ingenious network of steel eyes. We climb beside it to the third floor and come into a small, tidy living room. The usual TV and stereo, but also books, pictures, plants. It is cosy here. Soft carpets on the floor which invite sprawling. In fact two boys are stretched out there when Paul greets us at the door. Paul is 37, dark brown hair, quiet, serious, gentle. He offers us coffee and we greet his young friends.
PAN Paul, you are homophile, paedophile?
PAN Are you interested in girls as well as boys?
PAUL No, not at all.
PAN When did you realise you were a boy-lover?
PAUL Well, I was in kindergarten when I had my first sex experience. But I don't remember saying to myself then "Hey, boys are nicer than girls." I was 16 or 17 before I was aware of that. I ran around with younger boys. I liked that better.
PAN Did you ever go with girls?
PAUL Sometimes, when I was younger, because I was supposed to.
PAN What was the reaction of your parents to your paedophilia?
PAUL My father never knew, although he may have suspected something. He has since passed away. My mother knows now and she accepts it, but it still troubles her.
At this point one of the boys interrupts. Daan is a strikingly handsome youth of 18 now serving his year of military service in the Dutch army. He has been living in Paul's flat for some years and now has his own room in the attic just above.
DAAN Since I had a talk with Paul's mother she has changed her attitude somewhat. She has a little beach house and we visited her there once and she was always mumbling to herself, "Here comes that difficult boy again. Why does Paul have to look after someone else's child?" So I had a talk with her. Now I can come to dinner, stay over night . . .
PAUL That's because she has known you longer.
PAN You have brothers and sisters?
PAUL Two sisters, and a brother who is paedophile.
PAN That must have been a help.
PAUL Well, when we were boys we never talked about it, although we both knew after we discovered we were going to bed with the same boy. And then my brother got into trouble with the police over a kid - this was fifteen years ago -- and we had a family conference. My two sisters said, "Now what is really going on?" And then it all came out. After that things were a lot easier in my family. My brother didn't go to jail, incidentally.
PAN Have you ever had trouble with the police?
PAUL One time. I was with a boy and I got three months in prison. That was in August, 1973.
PAN If it happened now do you think you would get three months?
PAUL No. Well, it depends. If I attacked a kid or something I would certainly be punished, but here in Amsterdam if the boy himself wanted the sex nothing would happen. Absolutely nothing. And then, too, the parents would have to make a complaint.
PAN What do you like about boys? What do you find in boys you don't find in girls? Aside from the pleasure of sex, of course. What kind of additional fulfilment is there? Is it a father role?
PAUL (Paul searches his mind, obviously at a loss to find an easy answer to this.) Boys are just very attractive to me. But there is much, much more than sex. There is mental contact. In all our years together I think Daan only went down on me three times. He knows I like that most of all, but I never pushed it. We made love, we held each other, we caressed each other. And, of course, masturbated each other. I suppose it's the whole business of bringing up a child. But there are a lot of problems.
PAN What sort of problems?
PAUL You have to come to terms with their age, put yourself in their place. They are 13, 14, 15. Their world is completely different from my world. They have their own music and they love it, but I like another kind of music.
PAN And their games. . . .
PAUL Yes, flipper machines, and driving. There aren't many fathers that allow their sons to drive in their cars; maybe they let them steer a little, but that's all.
PAN We know someone who likes to drive. . . .
That someone is Peter, who is sprawled in an easy chair, now, one lanky blue-jeaned leg flung over the arm. Peter has just turned fourteen; he is blond, blue-eyed, good looking. When he talks his voice cracks unpredictably between treble and the deeper tones of adolescence. He has that combined air of defiance and shyness one often sees in children who have lived for a long time in institutions.
PETER When I was thirteen I was already driving Paul's car.
PAUL I probably carry it too far. Sometimes I let them do too much. But Peter loves to drive. Some boys just aren't interested -- they would rather go to the library and read, or see five films in a week.
PAN What kind of boys do you like the most?
PAUL Home-loving boys.
PAN All with problems?
PAUL Well, if they come from an ideal home they don't need you, do they? Oh, yes, such kids might come by just for the sex, but you won't have long-term relationships with them because they find their love at home. But boys who don't find the love they need at home may be looking for sex, sure, but for something else, too. So when they come into my house and see how different things are they say to themselves, "I'd like to be part of this." And they come back.
PAN Many people will say that this talk about love is all very fine, but the adult always has the upper hand -- he is more clever than the child and can manipulate him, make him feel guilty if he refuses intimacies, and the adult can do this a lot easier if the child comes from a bad home. Really the child is just being used to satisfy the lusts of the boy-lover.
PAUL Well, that is nonsense. The paedophile has a lot more trouble than the child ever does. Take Peter. I've had many problems with him, and I know I will have more. But you still want to go ahead. And not just for the sex. That's part of the whole relationship, an important part, of course. But you can't have sex with a boy all day long.
PAN Daan, how long have you been Paul's friend?
DAAN Five years or so.
PAN And this is your home?
DAAN Of course. I've been permanently living here two and a half years.
PAN And you didn't become homophile?
DAAN No. I'm one hundred percent heterosexual. I'm only interested in girls.
PAN But, before, you did make love with Paul. You got pleasure out of that, didn't you? You never did it against your will.
DAAN Well, I did everything, but . . . it wasn't a big thrill for me. I was only fifteen, fourteen. . . .
PAN All kids that age fool around. It has nothing to do with adult homosexuality. You didn't find it dirty or anything?
DAAN No, I never felt that way. I guess I didn't find it objectionable because I felt that Paul loved me.
PAN You would rather have been doing the sex with a girl, though.
DAAN I don't really remember how I thought about it then. I once left Paul for a while because I had a girl and I didn't want to have sex with him any more. Now the idea of me having homosexual relations really turns me off. Paul likes my girl Elli but he doesn't want to go to bed with her. I'm fantastically close to Paul, but I don't want to go to bed with him. Everyone has his own tastes and I'm not against them.
PAN Most boys who have contacts like this are, or become, heterosexual.
DAAN Or have always been.
PAN Well, better than most people in this world, Daan, you have some idea of how paedophiles behave with boys. If you had a little son, 12 or 13, say, and Paul took a fancy to him, would you want to punch Paul in the face or would you permit the relationship?
DAAN I've thought about that a lot and it's a very difficult question. There are circumstances where I would definitely forbid it.
PAN But we're talking about Paul. A relationship with Paul.
DAAN There I would have absolutely no objections, because Paul is always good
to people. That's how I feel now. Of course, I don't know how I'll feel in fifteen, twenty years.
PAN You're not afraid this kind of sexual gratification is bad for a boy?
DAAN Of course not.
PAN And you don't think that paedophiles should be shot or castrated?
DAAN Absolutely not. Boy-lovers do more for you than a normal father does. I know typical family situations where the father regularly beats his children. That would never happen here. Peter and I would have to be really terrible before Paul ever thought of hitting one of us.
PAN What difference is there between a normal father and a paedophile? What does a boy find here that he doesn't find at home?
DAAN I suppose you could say that the paedophile is both father and mother. You can talk about everything with him. And he does so much more for you -- he shops for you, washes up, cooks. Now, I have a father and mother, but they are divorced. I didn't get much love at home. That's why I came to Paul. Here I can go to the fridge whenever I want. I can play my records. A paedophile has more to give than a father. He has time to talk with you. If you feel someone loves you, you automatically start talking. I have no secrets at all from Paul now. I could talk a little to my father and mother, but my father was the sort of person that if you came home five minutes late at night you would have to go early to bed without supper for four weeks.
PAN If you are one hundred percent heterophile, don't you find it difficult living in this house?
DAAN You can be around boy-lovers without wanting to go to bed with them.
PAN The idea of sex with a man like Paul doesn't appeal to you at all, does it?
DAAN Well, it just seems boring to me. (To Paul) I'm sorry to be saying this. But all my things are here, I've been here, really, five years, I know every nook and cranny of the house, so why should I let this one small sex aspect spoil the rest of it? This is my home, too. And I've gotten to know a great many people, homophiles, transvestites, who are different from me. I understand them. They didn't make themselves. I mean, one person loves this kind of a person and another loves that kind of a person. I have no trouble respecting them. On the whole I think you're better off with a homophile boy-lover than with the average father. The boy-lover can understand better how you feel, he can identify better with you. A father always has to be the boss.
PAN Peter, you're now a member of the family, too. When did you meet Paul?
PETER It was around September of last year.
PAN How did it happen?
PETER I had a friend, Freek, and on Saturday he dropped by and he said, "Come on and let's go to the shopping centre," so I said I'd go along.
PAN Did you know what was maybe going to happen?
PETER I felt it. I, had already been with men.
PAN You have a mother and father?
PETER Yes, but I'd been living in boy's homes since I was two years old.
PAN When was your first contact with a boy-lover?
PETER I was eight or nine. It was vacation and I went with my brother to a cafe and there was a man at the bar and he started buying me stuff, biscuits and candy and drinks and chips, and the man said, "Could you come to my house Sunday afternoon?" He didn't live too far away and I went there and it happened.
PAN He liked you, didn't he?
PETER (He smiles, a little embarrassed.) He thought I was a nice boy.
PAN Didn't you think it was strange that he liked a little boy of eight or nine so much? Or did you think it was nice?
PETER Yes, I liked it.
PAN Was that a long-term relationship? Did you go to live with the man?
PETER No. I was in a boy's home. There was always a lot of trouble at my father's home. We had fights. I had a step mother. This man tried to talk with my parents.
PAN He was nice to you?
PAN How long did that go on? Was he the only man you went with?
PETER At first. And after him I got to know Jan and Harry. I met all of them in Cafes.
PAN And you got pleasure out of the sex?
PETER Yes, I did. Yes.
PAN You've had a lot of experience, haven't you? Did you do it for money or for pleasure, or a combination?
PETER Money. (He isn't being entirely serious.)
PAN Didn't it matter that the man was kind to you?
PETER No, it was just for money (Laughs.) Or maybe he'd let me drive his car.
PAN You never did it when you didn't want to do it?
PETER No. Never.
PAN And that went on until you were almost fourteen years old?
PETER Until I came here. That day with Freek it was all over.
PAN You can no longer go with other men?
PETER I had to choose, to live here with Paul and not go with other guys, or go with other guys and not stay with Paul.
PAN Was it a hard choice to make?
PETER No. (A sly smile.) I'm over it now.
(We all laugh.)
PAN And no other man offered to take you in?
PAN What do you like, sexually -- boys, girls, men, women?
PETER I don't know.
PAN What do you think about, when you're alone in bed, say, and enjoying your sexuality?
PETER Well, if I've just seen a nice boy walking around I think of him.
PAN Girls, women?
PETER Never women. Boys the most.
PAUL A few times he has said to me, on the street, "There goes a nice girl," but it's always a boyish-looking girl. Or an indonesian girl, with darker skin. She has to be young.
PAN When you began to masturbate, how old were you?
PAN What did you think about then?
PETER A nice looking boy in the children's home.
PAN Did you have friends you made sex with there?
PAN But you didn't like the children's homes, did you? How many homes have you been in?
PETER I've lost track. I only remember the last four.
PAUL He's been in homes all over The Netherlands. They couldn't handle him anywhere. He kept running away.
PETER They were always hitting me.
PAN Really hitting you?
PETER Well, they knocked me around. And I was always making a mess.
PAN Were you really that bad?
PETER I was awful. Like everyone is sometimes.
PAUL He can be very annoying.
PAN Did you get on well with the other boys there?
PETER No, not well. I didn't have many friends.
PAN But it's better here? What do you like about Paul and this home? There are other boy-lovers in Amsterdam. What does Paul have that you haven't found with the others?
PETER Paul is more tolerant. He understands me.
PAN And you didn't find that in the children's homes?
PAN You can talk with Paul better?
PAN What do you talk about?
PAUL Everything. Everything in the whole world.
PAN What is Peter's position here now? He has permission to live in this house?
PAUL I am in the process of becoming his legal guardian.
PAN The Child Protection Authority knows you are paedophile and that you served time in prison?
PAUL Of course. They checked everything about me.
PAN You think you will still get your guardianship?
PAUL Yes. His present guardian in the Child Protection Authority called me last week. He wants to have a meeting with me and the children's judge. He told me the judge has his back to the wall -- there is nothing else he can do. He said not to worry about Peter being taken away from me.
PAN And Peter's parents?
PAUL His father is co-guardian together with the one appointed by the Ministry of Justice, but since his father doesn't want Peter at home he hasn't much say in these matters any more. His mother has no say at all -- she doesn't even see him. Nobody knows what to do with him.
PAN Is Peter really the most difficult boy in the whole history of Child Protection?
PAUL Yes, he is difficult.
PAN Does the father know you are a boy-lover?
PAUL Yes, and he doesn't like it. He thinks Peter would be better off in the children's home, but the guardian says no, they won't do that, they'll let him stay here -- because they know if they put Peter back in the home he will just run away again.
PAN So both the guardian and the children's judge know you are paedophile and they both think it is better that Peter stays with you. That wouldn't happen in most countries of the Christian world.
PAUL It has just started happening here in the last few years. They are taking into account how the child himself feels. In former times his wishes were ignored. What he wanted didn't count. But that is all changing.
PAN Do they ask if the boy is homophile, bisexual?
PAUL I think they give that some consideration. (To Peter.) Did the guardian ask you that, too?
PAN Is the attitude at school just as enlightened? You were going to an outside school, weren't you, even though you were living in a children's home?
PAUL He had a lot of problems at the old school. When he ran away from the home I brought him back to the school a couple of days later. That was a month and a half ago, when he started living here. And the school found out, through the guardian, that I am a paedophile. The school wasn't sympathetic. They thought it was terrible. It was a school for difficult children, so perhaps they were tougher in these matters than a normal school would be. They started making trouble for Peter.
PAN Who did?
PAUL The teachers. They had meetings to discuss him. They told the other boys not to associate with Peter because he was homophile.
PAN (To Peter.) Did they have any reason to think that you were homophile?
PETER No, but the teachers gave me a bad name. The kids started calling me queer.
PAUL He wasn't allowed to make friends.
PETER I couldn't even sit next to another boy.
PAUL If he started to talk with a boy a little later one of the teachers would call the boy over and warn him not to let Peter get his filthy hands on him. Of course, when I talked with the teachers on the telephone they were always very nice to me. But our case was weak, wasn't it? What they were saying about me was true. I am a boy-lover. I'm not going to act humble about it. I have never acted humble. Not even in court. When I got into trouble six years ago the judge asked me if I still loved that boy and I answered, "Yes, of course." Anyhow, that old school is no good for Peter. After vacation we will look for another one. He has to go to school, of course.
PAN You will have all the responsibility for Peter. Don't you find that difficult, to take the role of a parent?
PAUL No, because I succeeded with Daan.
PAN But you were not Daan’s legal guardian, were you?
DAAN That doesn’t make any difference. I lived here with my mother’s permission.
PAUL I will be legally responsible when Peter gets in trouble, but that’s so for all parents. Well, of course he’ll get in trouble. Every boy does some time in his life. I’m not afraid of that.
PAN What kind of support money do you get?
PAUL The government will pay me for Peter. I get nothing for Daan.
PAN That would certainly never be understood in the child protection circles of England and the United States. In the US the Kinsey Institute is supposed to have done research, but they haven't published it. Obviously you don't feel that someone who goes to bed with a little boy is a criminal.
PAUL No, of course not.
PAN But in America you can get life in prison for making love to minors. You are far better off to beat a little boy within an inch of his life.
PAUL I know, Daan knows, Peter knows that sex with a child doesn't do him any harm.
PAN Even if the child is only five or six?
PAUL I don't condemn that, if the boy wants it, too.
PAN People will say you can't really talk about a six-year-old wanting sex: a man can sort of talk him into it.
PAUL Perhaps. But so what, if there is nothing wrong with sex? My experience is that if a child doesn't want to do it . . .
PAN Really doesn't want to.
PAUL Really doesn't want to, he just won't do anything. You can try, but he'll do nothing. And if he does want sex he will do it, bribe or no bribe. What I do think is true in a paedophile relationship, if I look at Peter and Daan, is that the boy grows up faster. He becomes more independent than the usual child, and that's good, and it's all because he is intimate with an adult. He has a whole different kind of conversation with you than he does with his agemates, or even with his father. I think that is to his advantage.
Since this interview, which took place last August Paul has been granted legal guardianship of Peter and is receiving a government subsidy for his maintenance. A new school was not found for Peter; he returned to the old one, and the old difficulties. When one of his friends came to visit and the teachers found out, Peter was expelled. Daan is out of the service and has his first full-time job as a truck driver. He still lives in his attic room above Paul's flat.
TWO OTHER PAEDOPHILE ARRANGEMENTS
One which worked . . .
Cees lives in a small walk-up flat on the 6th floor of a working class apartment building just outside the centre of an industrial Rhine river town. With him lives Nico (15), Gijs (14), Wim (14) and Toon (12). Thierry (13), who lives next door, is also in the flat most of his free time. Cees is in his young thirties and has had a spotty career, including a few months in prison for sexual contact with a boy. Despite this episode he has been appointed guardian of both Nico and Gijs by the children's judges in the boys' home towns. The government is giving him a monthly allowance for the youngsters' maintenance. At present he is fighting to become guardian of Wim and Toon, too.
"The judge asked me where I wanted to live," Nico says, "and I told him, 'With Cees.' He asked me whether I had sex with Cees and I said, 'Of course. I love him.'"
Cees considers himself head of a family. It's a rather unusual one. The flat is filled with the things boys love: an old (inoperative) telephone exchange, electric gaming machines, two aquaria, a dart board, posters and drawings everywhere - and three cats, a Guinea pig and one blissfully spoiled dog. There are no beds; at night mattresses come out of hiding and are placed about in the three rooms, roughly in pairs. "We desparately need a bigger place to live," Cees says. "I've already applied for one with the municipality."
It is a matter of pride with Cees that he lives openly as a paedophile. He and Nico often walk about town holding hands, much to the surprise of passers-by. Community reaction seems to be rather benign, however: he was recently provided, on attractive terms, photographic equipment with which to pursue one of his avocations.
At one point when Cees was struggling to become Nico's guardian he told the judge, "if you take Nico away from me, I'll kill you!" The judge laughed and said, "I wish half the fathers I have to deal with here felt as strongly about their boys."
High-strung and energetic, Cees is the antithesis of the fatherly, wise boy-lover; he is very much a factor in every phase of his younger's lives, from their general health to their sexuality. Each member of his family is expected to do the chores, keep on top of his school work -- and stay away from other paedophiles, for Cees is jealous of his boys and often becomes upset even when they start something among themselves.
The arrangement works. Cees may be demanding, but he loves his boys deeply and he fights hard for them with all the judges and policemen and bureaucrats who usually control the destinies of homeless kids in Holland.
And one that didn't.
Last August Dutch radio carried a half-hour interview with 14-year-old Robbie, member of a large East-Netherlands family. Robbie described his paedophile relationship with 40-year-old Piet:
"To me love means being held closely and protected. When Piet is making love with me I feel so safe.
"I was eleven the first time I had sex with him. To be honest it was me who seduced him much more than he who seduced me. I forget how I did it: I sort of looked at him the way you do, and rubbed against him, that kind of thing. . . .
"I guess I love my parents. Of course I get mad at them sometimes, but later it's all right again. So my feelings go up and down. . . . At home I can't talk about Piet. My mother teases me with being a queer if I do -- I hate that, even though I know she isn't serious. . . . After Piet spoke with my parents about our relationship my mother said to my father, 'This is the way things are so you'd better not interfere. If you do your son might run away.' And I would, too. . . . My mother accepts all of this fairly well but my father has problems with it. He doesn't object but I can see that he doesn't like it. . . . I'm certain of one thing: I love Piet more than either of them.
"Sex isn't the most important part of my relationship with Piet. We spend more hours just talking and fooling around than we do making love. . . . I suppose Piet is finding with me the same things I'm finding with him -- a feeling of being safe and free to talk about whatever comes into your mind. . . . Every Saturday night my parents let me stay with Piet, and in his bed I sleep so soundly, so peacefully. Sunday night at home I sleep well, too, but Monday through Friday I'm restless and fidgety and in the morning all the blankets have landed on the floor --just because I miss having Piet beside me. . . . In the future I'll certainly fall in love with a girl, and that will be the end of my sex with Piet, but I'll remain close friends with him. Piet and I have agreed to very gradually cut down on our sex. I've promised to stay with him until I'm twenty. . . .
That promise has been broken, but not through any fault of Robbie's. Shortly after the radio broadcast the relationship between Robbie and his father began to deteriorate, until the point was reached where almost every day there was physical violence between the two. At last the child protection authorities intervened. Two psychologists, one an advisor to the childrens' court, recommended that Bobbie live with Piet, but unfortunately the woman from Child Protection assigned to the case would not agree to this. Instead she prevailed upon the father to send Robbie away to a childrens' home. There he is permitted no contact whatever with Piet, the one person in his life ideally suited to care for him.
There are still backward parts of The Netherlands where traditional concepts of "child protection" can snatch tragedy from ready-made solutions.