“Girls would make comments, constant comments about how ugly I was. At the back of my mind I still think people must think I’m ugly. I’m over 60 now but, you know, these things stick with you.”


An interview with Cornelius.


Artwork by Slava Nakovska & Nedko Solakov

Photo credit Zara Alexandrova

Cornelius | Age: 62 | Location: London, UK | Born: UK | Occupation: Writer | No. of sexual partners: 12

Why did you take part?

I like to help.

What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?

When I was young I felt bad about how I looked. I wanted to be someone called Jean Paul Bel Mondo. French actor. He had everything I didn’t. Good looking, suave, funny. All I aspired to be.

I used to play doctors and nurses with a girl; she’d lay in my house’s doorway. I’d cover cover her with the doormat and put my hands under there. One day my mum caught me and she was mad. I think she thought she should be. It probably added to the guilt, the “shouldn’t be doing it”. I was 7 then. That’s how we did it, in the old days.

When I was really young we used to play this game called “postman’s knock”. You get boys and girls getting together, in a circle. Somehow you would have a girl choose a boy and they’d go down an alleyway, and they’d have a snog. At that point it wasn't a sexual thing for me because I was young. The game made things happen down the line. With alleyways. It kind of became a thing. I was a teenager then. A lot of fondling under the skirts etc. Where I lived - from a working class area, it was like a back to back, big terraced houses an alleyway in the middle. You could just shuffle into a doorway and fumble around. Just plenty of touching. No sex. But still fun!

I didn’t think of sex as naughty but as I was growing up sex was something inappropriate for sure. A Christian thing maybe. There was a woman on TV who ran a big campaign who wanted to stop sexual innuendos on TV. Sex was considered naughty; something to do behind closed doors. I always liked the naughtiness of it. Even today, it’s quite fun to do things that make me feel like I'm being naughty.

When I first had sex, I felt “yeah, I’ve done it!” I was thrilled since all through my life women never fancied me physically since I’m not a physically attractive bloke. It was a relief and an achievement that someone fancied me. All my life I suffered from low self esteem because of the way I look.

At university I had a few partners and it dawned on me that even if you’re not attractive, your personality can help people be attracted to you. I still suffer with it. I had partners and people tell me it doesn’t make a difference but it has bugged me all along really.

I’d have drugs and have sex at parties at uni. I went to uni in Newcastle, and Under Thatcher, Newcastle was dead. So I came to London. During that time I got a job where I met my current wife. I was a hospital porter and she was a receptionist. We used to have sex all over the hospital. Went to toilets. Where nobody would know but there was a chance of someone walking in. We were at the club one night at the bar. We both fell off our stools and I realised this is the girl for me. After a while we became serious. We moved into a house together, then moved away and had kids. 32 years together now. Had quite some terrible times together. But where most people would have split up we didn’t. We adore our kids and I’ve never had a lot of money - had I got kicked out, where would I go? So we decided to stay together, slept in the same bed but hardly talked. Friends would tell me to leave. I’m half loyal to her, loyal to kids, and have nowhere to go. Thinking there must be plenty of people in relationships they can’t get out of them, can’t start up anything else. Now we got through it all and we’re good friends. Not lovers, but friendly, like flatmates.

My wife is firey. She’s a redhead and really is firey. She’ll burst into anger over little things. She gets annoyed with me being too passive. Not sure why we got together. After 30 years what appealed once, gets a bit too much. She always said she wouldn’t change. Which you should, if you live with another person. A fantastic start, sex all the time, wherever we could. And then it just died down. Now even if we wanted to have sex, I’m 62, she’s 61. Menopause means the sex appetite isn’t there any more. She doesn’t show interest anymore though I still do have a sex drive.

When we went through our bad periods, I would be with other women. In the back of my mind I felt bad. 2 or 3 women in succession. They were lovers and friends as well. I’d tell them we were living together, but not together. I was pleased with myself that they were younger than me and dynamic; I was proud somehow. It was a nice break for me and felt good to have those women be attracted to me. I have a good personality. I‘d rather they’d been attracted to my looks but hey. I had a really great time. I would stay in their houses. When my wife and I started to get back on civil terms, I felt like I should stop doing it. She also did it. Our doctor told me! I went in for something once. Slip of the tongue. I mentioned having sex by mistake. And she said ‘oh you’re not the only one’. We both did it and we both kept quiet about it and settled for not bringing it up. That doctor is not a doctor anymore! Either retired or got the boot. I changed doctors after that. It was kind of a relief to find out about her strangely, it made me feel less guilt. Also I’m not that possessive.

What were the aha moments in your sexual journey?

That women could be attracted to me. One day it just dawned on me, at university. Even though the sex was drug fuelled, they must have seen something in my personality. Certainly it wasn’t my sexual performance. I don’t think I’m that brilliant at it - I think it’s because I don’t take it too seriously. Once me wife and I were having sex and I was laughing and she got offended. She asked me why. I said because I’m enjoying it. She wanted to be more passionate, and uh-ah. To me it’s just great fun. It gets me all excited and happy. I imagine it’d put a lot of people off if you laughed in the middle. 

Once I was having sex with my wife and she fell asleep; we had drank a lot. Maybe that’s when I thought I was no good at it. Sex with me wasn’t very energetic, especially as I got older. My wife found my lack of passion annoying in general and I’m sure it showed up for her in sex. One woman said it could have been more aggressive, but when I asked if she wanted to get spanked she didn’t want to! I had a couple of spanking sessions with one of the women. That was fun but I didn’t want to hurt her so even though she asked for more, I held back. I don’t like people getting hurt. Find it hard to inflict emotional or physical pain on others. 

What does sex mean to you?

Fun! Pleasure!

What’s difficult about sex?

As you get older...it’s less physical. I wasn’t deliberately bad at sex. With age you have less energy. I didn’t enjoy losing energy.


What do you most enjoy about sex?

Fun and naughtiness. I like to give more than receive. I enjoy pleasing women. I would concentrate on the woman through touch, oral sex. Sensuality. Penetration is funny. In some ways I don’t like it because that’s when things start to end. Just physical contact is wonderful. 


How often do you have sex?

Last time I had sex was probably about 5 years ago with a lover.


Do you masturbate?

Sometimes I watch porn, sometimes I don’t. Varies. A few times a week, sometimes every day. Evenings. When I used to have a lot of sex, I really enjoyed it in the morning. Unfortunately my wife didn’t. She just wanted to sleep and preferred evenings. If I was to have a full sex life now a lot of it would be in the morning.


What specific things (e.g. techniques) have you found, alone and with partners, that have led to more pleasure in your sex life? 

Giving oral sex. I get more pleasure from giving it than receiving it. I like the look on women’s faces when they enjoy themselves. Makes me feel good. There’s no rush. Give the pleasure, get mine somewhere along the line maybe.

This naughty thing I keep coming back to. The more furtive it is, the more exciting it is. I had sex in a church once. Or if the woman is dressed, rather than undressed. If it’s not how you’re supposed to do it. You can pull the clothes off. It all appeals to me.


How do you see sexuality portrayed in the society and how does it make you feel?

I always found it wrong that people get upset about sex. I think gradually I just thought ‘such hypocrites’. When I was growing up I got bullied. Lots of things at school and outside of school. Girls would make comments, constant comments about how ugly I was. That didn’t make me feel good. I’m thinking of launching a campaign to help ugly people. It’s not nice when people look down on you because of the way you look. That had a big impact on my life. If I have to speak in front of the group, I feel terrible. At the back of my mind I still think people must think I’m ugly. I’m over 60 now, but you know, these things stick with you. My strategy was to use my character instead of my looks to attract people. It used to get me down when I was young. These days it doesn’t matter so much but back then it used to bother me. It’d get down. Not a miserable person but I’d get fed up with life. My wife always says I’m feeling sorry for myself so maybe I blow it up, not sure.


What advice would you give to others?

Have fun! Have a good laugh. Particularly in sex. A lot of people take it too seriously. They attach too much importance to it. The world revolves around money and sex and religion.


Is there anything you want to explore?

Not boasting but I’ve done a lot of things. Had a little thing a while ago for transsexual. I was looking at a website and they were so attractive. I was wondering what that would be like. Maybe it’s to do with them being two genders, or it being naughty.

What I would like now is to have more partners, or even fall in love again. There’s nothing stopping me apart from our relationship now, but I wouldn't want to upset my wife. Quite loyal to her now. It’d be a bit tricky. We never talk about things like that anymore. When I was younger I never wanted to end up like this. I wanted to be free and open and honest. Unfortunately things don’t always work out the way you want, or you can’t always get what you want.