How Time Magizine may have changed my life

The chair is bolted to the floor near the back of a 12-ft. by 18-ft. room. You sit on a seat of cracked rubber secured by rows of copper tacks. Your ankles are strapped into half-moon-shaped foot cuffs lined with canvas. A 2-in.-wide greasy leather belt with 28 buckle holes and worn grooves where it has been pulled very tight many times is secured around your waist just above the hips. A cool metal cone encircles your head. You are now only moments away from death. But you still have a few seconds left


I still remember reading those words in high school. They are from the cover story from the January 24, 1983 Time Magazine. In some ways that article changed my life, but not in a way some would have expected.

As long as I can remember, I have been interested in capital punishment. In my early years it consisted largely of pretending that I was being executed while lying in bed before going to sleep. I suspect that there was some pre-sexual aspects to it too, since I remember often being executed by a “poison pad” which was my blanket wadded up under my groin as I lay on my stomach. As I grew, I didn’t play quite the same way, but the subject still fascinated me, and as I matured it tended to cause arousal.

But when I read that article, or more correctly the first paragraph, most of which is quoted above, it started me thinking about the experience of being executed in a more realistic manner.

About the time I read that article, there were a couple of TV shows that also depicted executions in a way that, at the time, seemed somewhat realistic. There was an episode of Hill Street Blues where a murder from an earlier season was electrocuted. There was also a short that was part of the Night Flight program on the USA Network that depicted an electrocution.

But it is still the imagery in the article from Time that continues to intrigue me. It is because of this article, I’m sure, that I have found the Electric Chair the most interesting. Of course its iconic status in America also helps.

I began to study more and more about capital punishment, focusing on books and articles that would tell me the details. Anything related to throes details would intrigue me.

After a while, my interest began to broaden from just the electric chair. Movies and TV shows, including Midnight Caller and LA Law, that depicted gas chamber executions led me to think about it as well. Hanging caught my interest when I caught the last few minutes of the TV mini-series Dadah Is Death. I began to become interested in lethal injection as it became more popular in the US, and in fictional depictions of the executions.

Over time, I began to find other ways to explore parts of this interest. I purchased a set of handcuffs and a pair of manacles from a dealer at an SF convention. I also purchased adult diapers, having learned that they are often used in executions. These were to experience the physical sensations that the condemned feels. I also have written a number of computer programs that, in various ways, provide me with prompting to think about being executed. I have written stories, and recently created digital art, depicting executions. The stories are often first hand. In nearly every case, these experiments have led to at least some arousal and satisfied feelings, if not more.

A couple of years ago, I discovered some yahoo groups that dealt with the death penalty in a way similar to how I wanted to hear about it. These were not groups dedicated to the politics of the death penalty, either pro- or anti-, but people interested in discussions about the process and experiences. Quickly, I learned that many of the readers and writers also had tied this interest into sexual fantasies. Honestly, I cannot deny that the same was true for me. However, I quickly learned that there were a few differences. Most of the stories, and art, shared in these groups featured unrealistic extras, such as nudity or off-the-wall details, that departed from a realistic execution. Many also featured the execution of women in a way I found uncomfortable. I have yet to find any other people who seem to have a similar interest in the realistic experiences of an execution from a first-hand perspective.

In many ways it is frustrating to me that this interest has continued to cause arousal, and often related responses. I often fear that my interest is not safe, both in that it is as damaging as an addiction to pornography and a deep fear that under the wrong circumstances I might do something specifically to bring about my own execution.

When I got married a few years ago, I tried to step away. But I’ve failed. This is also a concern, and I’ve never shared my interest in this with my wife, fearing that she would not understand or approve. I’ve recently also begun to wonder if I’m essentially asexual — a label I’m hesitant to adopt since it seems to be strongly backed by the gay community, whose politics and science I don’t agree with. Honestly, I’ve never found women, or men for that matter, to cause the same kind of reactions that capital punishment can. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply love my wife, and I don’t think that our marriage has suffered because of my lack of interest in sex.

For now, I will probably continue to pursue this interest when it interests me — which is not all the time by any means. I may even become a bit more open, but I’m not sure.