Dominic Vine

Interview by
Marcelo Musters
Photography by
Dominic Vine


I don’t know Dominic that well, but I know he’s been travelling around the world over the last eight years, meeting lots of people, getting involved in art things, giving massages (pretty good, I must say), making beautiful self-portraits, having lots of sex, especially with men twice his age and twice his size. As a sexual vagabond, he’s been hopping from one bear to another, living everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Two years ago I met Dominic, then 23, in Amsterdam. Just like then, he still looks like a bum, with a long beard, shaggy hair and his clothes all rumpled like he’s worn them for about four weeks straight, and he probably really has.

Marcel: Where are you from?
Dominic: I’m from a small town in Indiana called Zionsville.
So you grew up in the American Midwest?
Yes, surrounded by cornfields. It’s a very conservative environment. I remember that I was totally excited about being gay when I was around 14, back when I’d still never actually met a faggot. I had only read Wilde and Ginsberg and Whitman, and was listening to Morrissey all the time… I was convinced that faggots were just better than everyone else on the planet. Not that they just acted like it. But as soon as I first met other gay men, I totally retreated and stopped admitting I was gay. They were all married men from Indiana or just strange outcast guys with absolutely no style.
When did you get into older men and bears?
I first learned about blowjobs from a 26-year-old guy during the night job I was working at, backing up computer files. He sucked me off in my dad’s office and I gagged on his cock in the file room downstairs. But I really got turned on to men when I was a wrestler in my first year of high school. This guy was 31 and a born-again Baptist. He’d work out with weights while we practiced, and then he’d wrestle with the big guys after training, just for fun. It didn’t take too long before I got down with him on the mat.
Did he seduce you?
No, he simply shoved his chest into my face insisting that I bite his nipples. I mean, I was about 125 pounds and he was about 160. He was huge, two inches shorter than me, all muscles, lots of body hair… And he insisted that we both have our shirts off, already sweaty from the weights and training. We’d spend another hour together after everybody left, generally until he came, just from pinning me down. About six months later, I convinced him to wrestle me naked, “like the Greeks.” He’d come up behind me in the locker-room showers at the gym and take me to the ground. In all those years of “wrestling” with him, I only came once and I only sucked his dick once. He never admitted it was sex. He never admitted he was gay. But when the whole thing was over, I realized I had loved him. Stupid me.
So, that first older guy you had sex with kept you hooked on older men ever since?
Yeah. I think it also had a lot to do with my dad.
I was always pretending this wrestling guy was my dad. It was really intense, him slamming me down on the ground and holding me in place. Kind of brutal and violent. But it really hammered it into me: I needed something intense to get my emotions going. At that age I hadn’t actually felt anything for so long. Sex for me had nothing at all to do with…sex. It was all about getting love from someone and knowing what it felt like to be loved and to be able to love someone. When I first came to New York when I was 19, I lived with a man for a few months. We had sex every day. Sometimes I would persuade him to lay back and just let me give him a massage for hours and hours. It was simply to feel love, to feel that the world is a good place to be in.
So? Is it a good place to be in?
No, I sometimes feel that the world really likes to abuse and destroy itself, that people are abusing and destroying themselves. Gays can treat each other really badly. That’s the feeling I often get in bars and clubs; they just dump a load in you. Like it’s shit. I’d like to think that sex is about love. I mean, I used to think love was bullshit and that ‘making love’ was a euphemism for fucking. Last year I was in Italy, and the Italians don’t call it anything else, there aren’t simply any other words, it’s just “making love”.
How did you start meeting bears?
I found out about bears through the Internet, I think when I was about 18. Initially I thought bears were just fat guys, and I didn’t like fat. My whole family was fat, and at that age I hated fat people. I mean the whole Midwest of America is full of fat people. I grew to like bears and big guys. When I started going out to bars, men always thought I was in my thirties. And the bears were all really cuddly, touching each other and being very friendly. I found out that I liked having sex with them. Sex with bears is so nice because of the way they get their pleasure. Obviously they liked pleasing their bodies. That’s why they are fat in the first place, from feeding themselves with all that succulent food. And all those hairs are like little antennas in order to feel more. And they are always trying to act so butch, but in fact they are so soft and round. They’re butch but also like a good mama. In a way, they are mother and father all wrapped up in one. Sex with bears is good. It’s loving and playful. They don’t have that gay attitude. They don’t need to feel better by bitching other people out.
Can’t bears be bitchy?
The bear scene used to be very friendly, but that’s not really the case anymore. When bears started becoming popular over the last couple of years, it became just another fashion. If I go out I often get people telling me that I’m not a bear. Last year in Paris I wasnt even allowed into “The Bear’s Den” because the asshole owner said I was a twink. But my beard was bigger than anyone’s in that bar. He was just upset that I wasn’t fat, or that I was wearing a nice red suede vest with a workman’s jacket with army pants and boots. Like I wasn’t following the bear fashion code.
But what exactly is a bear then? I hear so many people saying so many different things, it’s confusing. There are also things like “cubs” and “chubs” and “otters”…
A bear, in America, is generally a big guy, usually furry, with a beard. What Europeans sometimes call a “bear” is what we call an “otter” in America: a thin guy with a beard. Then you get into things like “wolves” and “cubs”, and it all gets a bit confusing with the cubs. A guy who’s 40 might call himself a “cub” just because he likes daddy-bears, but generally the term refers to younger chubby guys, bearded or not. And then you got “chasers” or “trappers” or “hunters”; guys who like bears…
And daddy-bears are older bears?
Yeah, kinda, they could be real dads with actual sons…or just older gay men who have grey hair. Or they could be big older bears who like playing dad roles.
You mean it’s like a game?
More or less. The game I used to play with my travelling was that I would keep travelling until I met a man who would stop me. But most of the men I met were already married, either to a man or a woman. It was simply never the right time or place. I always had to keep moving. So, over the years I’ve refined a lot of what I want from a man and have come to the conclusion that the men I’m attracted to sexually are limited when it comes to satisfying other parts of my life. Like, I just melt in front of these big bear daddies, but I can’t go on hikes with them very often: they’re older, their legs hurt, their backs hurt, they’re tired… And I can’t talk to them about contemporary art and pop music that often. They’re past all that shit. I think I need to have more younger people in my life, but I can’t have sex with them. I just can’t. I’ve tried. I’ll get naked and lie down with them, but I just don’t get hard. I just kiss them and rub them and whatever… But it feels retarded.
That must be frustrating.
Yeah, it drives me crazy. I don’t know how to change it...
Why did you start making those photo booth pictures of yourself?
Well, you know, I love photography but
I haven’t had a camera in years. They are memories, travel pictures. I love photo booths because they’re like mirrors. They give me a good excuse to be really narcissistic and play with how I present myself. There are loads of these pictures, hundreds.
Do you like the way you look?
I like having long hair and a big beard, like I’ve just come down from the mountains, wild and untamed. But for some people I might just look like a bum, homeless. People are projecting all these fantasies on me: Jesus, Taliban, fairy-tale-prince, rock star, Charles Manson, druggie, Cat Stevens, hippie…
Who is the most desirable man for you?
For sex? Well, I met a guy who was living in Arizona when I was around 19. He was a private airplane pilot and I would often spend a night or two with him in Phoenix.I would come over and drink with him, smoke pot and sometimes eat mushrooms, and we’d have great sex. He had really big hands and a really big body: taller than me, strong arms and legs, a muscular butt, a big belly, really thick fur and a long, full beard. For years afterwards I used him in most of my masturbatory fantasies. In the past year, I realized that the only type of sex I haven’t really done yet is monogamous sex. I mean, after working in a gay bathhouse in Portland, Oregon, I’ve learned it’s fine to fuck several men a day as long as you love them. So I’ve been loving a million people a year, but never one guy for a longer period of time.
Are you going to try that now?
I guess so. I’ll be moving to the mountains north of San Francisco soon to live with Leo, a friend of mine, at a Franciscan hermitage that we’ll be turning into a bed and breakfast type of thing, entertaining and hosting travellers and tourists. Leo grew up here in New York and helped get the Pride parades going, the whole gay liberation movement. He’s a total slut. I don’t really imagine that we’ll be monogamous over there.

Originally published in BUTT 11