Nicki Minaj opens the track Only with the lines: “Yo, I never fucked Wayne I never fucked Drake. All my life man, fuck’s sake. If I did I’d menage with ‘em and let ‘em eat my ass like a cupcake.” When I first heard this I thought, “Man, Nicki Minaj really knows how to save time so she can get back to the studio.” This has become a fairly typical attitude of mine in the past year. I’d been calling it the ‘Beyonce Freelancing Method’.
This frame of mind has been percolating unconsciously for a while. It’s mainly about valuing men monetarily. I weigh up how much money I lose as a freelancer by spending time on pelvic sorcery rather than writing, and I calculate whether it is worth losing that money. It goes like this: if Beyonce was a freelancer, when would she spend time with Jay-Z, and when would she rather be in the studio? If Jay-Z wanted to hang out at a ball game and make out all afternoon would that be a good pleasure return for her? Or, would she need something better to take her away from her work? I assume that Bey would rather be wined and dined and go dancing and then fuck up a Warhol, rather than waste time with anything less extraordinary and planned than that.
It’s all about the pleasure return and the impact on my work. Does the sex, the hanging out, the effort to keep my attention leave me energised? Or does it make me really exhausted and sad and angry so that I can’t work? The first type is worth more monetarily. The second type is not worth it and I’ve been learning to refuse to invest in it. I’ve been sad at times in my life and I’d rather sit down to write something trivial about computer games on a liquid high from some brief touch from a good human being than from an excellent lay from someone who never wants to give me the time of day. I sit next to dudes who I know are interested in taking me home and I think to myself: if I go home with you I won’t finish that article and it will make me unhappy later. And I think about whether he’s good enough to measure up to £150 worth of happiness. I squint at them in bars. Are you worth a VICE article, I think? Are you worth a Guardian article? Are you top-level meat, worthy of a Rock Paper Shotgun rate? Are you the Rock Paper Shotgun of men?
I guess if you think about it in a very skewed way, I now consider every guy I am romantically interested in or sexually interested in as charging me for the service. And they do: they just have no idea that they are. Nicki’s right: it’d better be both Wayne and Drake eating her ass in one session or careerwomen like her just don’t have the time – no matter how much Drake thinks he’s ‘first in line’ and how much Lil’ Wayne thinks she needs him to fuck her. If she ever got around to it, she’d be clicking her fingers and pointing them both at her ass because that appointment with the vocal coach is in an hour. What’s the pleasure return to money lost graph look like? How much does she want it compared to how much cash is on the line? Not tonight, Drake, I imagine her saying. When there’s champagne and Paris, maybe.
Primarily I wonder why I have started to do this, and on one hand it’s because I have to, but on the other hand I think it’s because I used to spend too much time worrying about when things would happen, and when someone would call, or whether I was spending too much time thinking about someone. The solution is to think about pleasure as if you’re paying for it. It’s horrible to think this way, not because I’d never pay for sex, but because it makes you very aware that this is how capitalist structure forces this state of mind, makes bodies into machines. And the thing is, heterosexual men have probably been thinking like this since the industrial revolution. It’s not that they have a monopoly on meaningless sex, but there’s always this feeling like they can compartmentalise this stuff better, required of them by society so that they can kick the shit out of all that capitalist bullshit, and I only just got the memo. I used to blame them for this mechanistic attitude of quantity over quality, notches on bedposts thing, but perhaps my personal answer is to start playing the game with the parameters that I value – intimacy – rather than according to how much sex I have. It’s the best solution I have in a pretty fucked up world.
People often tell me that you can do this for any number of things in your life, you can measure bus vs taxi at the most basic level, but I never had trouble calculating whether something was more ‘efficient’ than something else other than within my personal interactions. I decline to use the method on spending time with friends because the stakes are much lower – I have hundreds and hundreds of friends I love but very few people I’d tell personal truths to. I guess at least this way, any dudes I spend time with can be certain I’m throwing away all my stupid articles away just to be with them.
Occasionally it feels pleasant to lose money. Pleasant to watch the pennies trickle down the plughole. Sometimes you waste time doing nothing with a person for hours, watching all those articles you wanted to write just disappear. Feelings are very expensive. You may as well try to conserve them. It’s what Beyonce would do.