Anonymous Wheelchair Pretender

Interview and photography by
Cesar Padilla


When I was nine years old, I was hit by a truck and spent years in and out of wheelchairs and on and off crutches. The doctors told my mother that my leg should be amputated and that I would never walk again, but she said: ‘No, you are not cutting off my son’s leg.’ I was walking again soon after. The person I’m interviewing here I’ve known since I was a kid. Much to my surprise, a few years ago, on a drunken night, he confessed to me that he pretends to be handicapped. It’s his kick. There is a whole fetish community who refer to themselves as ‘pretenders’. My friend and I arranged to meet at Union Station in LA. He arrived in a wheelchair and we rolled over to Olvera Street for mango margaritas, tacos, and a chat.

Cesar: Tell me about your first time.
Anonymous: The first time I rolled around in a wheelchair was when I met another person like me and we went to the Eagle Rock Mall, here in LA.
You met with another guy who does what you do?
Yes, he was not handicapped either. And so I pulled my chair out of my trunk. He wanted to see my chair so I showed it to him and he was already in his.
Where did you find this person?
We found each other online. And so he said, ‘Sit down in your chair for a second, let’s see how you look in it.’ So I sat down in the wheelchair in the parking lot and he said, ‘C’mon. Let’s roll over to the other side of the parking lot.’ We rolled towards the mall and he said, ‘You’re already in the chair. Let’s go into the mall.’ I said, ‘Fuck it. Let’s go.’
What was it like rolling through the mall?
I was so worried about not looking authentic that I don’t even think I had a good time. There was something…I don’t know if ‘liberating’ is the right word. It just seemed right.
How did you start looking into this?
I’ve always had a very strong attraction to disabled people. And once I got a computer and had access to the Internet some years ago, that’s when it really started.
What did you type in?
The first word I searched for was ‘amputee’. I immediately found out that there were other people out there like me.
Have you ever been caught doing this?
Yes! (laughs) There have been a few times. One time I was at Disneyland. Every single member of my family has a Disney pass; they all have little kids. So I am going on Thunder Mountain in my manual chair I hear  from the crowded line across the track my name being yelled and I had this inside feeling, like, ‘Oh shit!’ It was my cousin, but I didn’t want to respond. After he rode the ride he came over acrossthe tracks and said, ‘What are you doing? What’s up, man?’ He was with some girl and he was really cool about it, didn’t say a word, but about 30 minutes later he texted me: ‘What the fuck!?’ I got out of it by saying that a bunch of friends and I had borrowed wheelchairs to see how many rides we could get on. I got out of that one pretty good.
Is part of the thrill the possibility of getting busted?
You might think that’s the case with me, especially because I’ve been so daring lately, but honestly it’s not.
You don’t want to get busted by your dad.
Especially not my dad! It is unexplainable and to your typical conservative it’s even immoral. I’ve seen some shrinks about it and they always tell me, ‘Hey, you’re not hurting anybody.’ I guess if I were to get busted that would hurt some people. So, no, getting busted is not a part of the thrill. Several nights a week I will cruise down to the bar or the local supermarket, usually around 9 p.m. or later and the people there know me as that guy who comes in a wheelchair. It sucks because sometimes I’ll be partying with friends and it’s late and they’re the only store open and I have to say, ‘I can’t go inside. I don’t want to go in there.’ I don’t want to be seen walking. It is very strange because now, going into those stores and bars in my neighborhood, it is not so much about getting busted rolling but rather getting busted walking by those who know me as a chair user. That has really been messing with me lately, because on a few occasions I have had to turn my head and start walking in the other direction so I wouldn’t be seen. But I think I have found a way to fix it. I went to Savon and bought a cane. So now once in a while I’ll walk into a bar with my cane and no one really thinks twice. They now know me as that guy who’s sometimes in a wheelchair and sometimes walks.
So now you go on dates in the wheelchair and you’ve managed to turn this into a sexual thing.
I haven’t turned it into a sexual thing. It’s always been that. For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be in a wheelchair. Since my first memory, anytime I saw anybody in a cast, on crutches, minus a limb or in a wheelchair, I automatically got a boner. It’s an adrenaline thrill as much as it is a sexual thrill.  Can you tell me about when you started going to other cities with your wheelchair?
I drove up to San Francisco. Wow! What a great town in a wheelchair! I did a lot of fun stuff. On that trip I met up with a guy who is an amputee by choice. He had his own leg amputated from below the knee. He screwed it up on his own; he froze it or something and ended up having to amputate it. That for me is a dream. Then I flew for the first time in my chair to Colorado. I was going out there for business. It was just me by myself and the trip was paid for. I rented a car with hand controls. I spent the entire week in my chair, and I had a wheelchair-accessible room. And this year for Halloween I am going to Chicago on a date and I’m taking both my power chair and my manual chair. I’ve already worked it out with American Airlines.
Have you had sex with anyone in your wheelchair?
Yeah, but that isn’t the highlight because it is pretty uncomfortable. But on one of my San Francisco trips I was at a wine bar underneath the Fitzgerald Hotel. I was sitting there by myself for a while, when a group
of really hot guys walk in. Really hot! Like, the type I typically wouldn’t even attempt to make contact with. After about a half hour the hottest one walks over to my nook. We start talking and he asks, ‘What
are you doing tonight?’ I explain that I was probably just going to go back to my room. He says, ‘Where are you staying? Just around the corner,’ I tell him. He says, ‘Oh, we’re going to a party,’ and his friends start leaving when he says, ‘Wait just minute.’ He walks over to his friends and exchanges a few words. Then he comes right back and sits down. I say, ‘I thought you had to leave?’ He says, ‘I want to go back with you.’ He started asking what my condition was and I told him that I had a low level spinal injury. We went up to the room and he was naked before I even got through the door. He was totally turned on by the fact that I was in a wheelchair. Which is funny because he is probably someone like me, or at least with similar interests. Also, pretty frequently I get blowjobs in the chair; that’s always fun.
Do you find people are eager to help you when you’re in the wheelchair?
Everybody’s eager to help me. There are some that know my true condition; they shun me when it comes to helping. They say, ‘Fuck you, get it yourself.’ A friend I hang out with frequently always drags his feet when I go to grab the chair. It really annoys him. But this girl I hang out with really gets off on helping me. I told her the truth and she’s still, like, ‘Let me get that for you.’ When I am getting out of the carand I go to stand up and get my chair out of the back of the truck, she says, ‘Are you okay? Do you need help?’ And she means
it. I give her this look like, no, I’m fine. Let’s go into some of the lingo, for those people who aren’t in the know about this particular subculture. Pretender’ is one of the words. There are also ‘devotees’. Those are the ones who are attracted to disabled people. They can get kind of creepy and start stalking people, but they’re pretty harmless. Like me, I’m harmless. I don’t stalk people. When I was young I used to do that more. There are ‘admirers’. There is the ‘wannabe’. It can mean missing a limb. It gets specific as to how much of a limb you want to be missing. Two inches below the left elbow is one thing. An inch longer and it can ruin someone’s day. If they spent money on surgery to cut their arm and it’s an inch too long — from what I understand, that’s devastating to them. I’m not so specific. Then there is what is known as ‘BIID’: Body Integrity Identity Disorder. It’s a condition that scientists have started looking into. There is also something called ‘transabilism’. You can compare it to being transgender. For me, I think I was born wrong. I think I was supposed to have been born without legs, but here they are.
How many pretenders have you met so far and how long have you been doing this?
I have been simulating amputation and paralysis in the privacy of my own home since I was very young. But as far as going out in public I would say it’s been about five or six years now. Since that one day at the mall I have been hooked. This year I went to something called the Abilities Expo, a trade show for the disabled and for wheelchair manufacturers. I went with a friend of mine from up north and he said, ‘This place is crawling with pretenders; I know a few here,’ and he pointed one out. First of all, going through that expo — I don’t know if it’s a sin or what — but I’m probably the only person in there rolling around with a hard-on the whole time. It’s terrible. I’m sure I’m going to hell for that… So this other pretender comes up to us and he says, ‘Are you so and so from such and such?’ I say, ‘Yeah’ and he says, ‘I read some of your posts. That’s a great chair.’ Then all of the sudden we’re surrounded by a bunch of disabled guys all in chairs. I’d figured these guys were all for real, but no! They’re all gay pretenders. One of the guys was a quadriplegic and his hands
were all weird. It was really bizarre. Then they started pointing out other people, saying, ‘See that guy over there in the full-leg braces to his hips? He’s a pretender, too, but he doesn’t like hanging out with us.’ It was this whole little crew at the expo. It was amazing. I’ve also met many guys online, but they are usually on the other side of the country or in other countries. There seem to be a lot in the UK.
You know, I’ve spent a number of years in and out of wheelchairs and surgery rooms. I don’t quite understand the pleasure.
There are many facets. I like being perceived as disabled. I like being stared at. I guess it’s an attention thing on a totally fucked-up level. Also, I like the way it looks. It’s like this forbidden bicycle that I was never allowed to have.
Did you ever ask for a wheelchair?
No, I never asked for one. I remember playing with one when I was young and getting yelled at for doing that. It seemed like something I could never have, but I wanted one. I’m happy to have more than one now.
Can you elaborate a little on how, when you were young, you got busted in a chair?
It was at somebody’s house; the wheelchair was in the garage. I think it was yours. I remember playing around with it with my brother and my uncle. We would always get yelled at and they would put it away and
we would go do something else. Little did they know, later on that evening, in my bed, lying down, all I wanted to do was go outside, sit in it and play in it.
So, since that first wheelchair, which you think was mine, where do you think this all comes from?
It comes from you!
That’s awesome…

Originally published in BUTT 25