Chasing The Dragon: Are You Chem-Friendly? By Cameron Yorke

Cameron Yorke was recently on WROTE! To find out more about him and his work, check out Episode 210: The New Normal!

Very briefly, Cameron Yorke was a successful journalist who accidentally became a drugs kingpin, providing liquid pleasure to eager punters wanting to get “High and Horny.” Then it all went wrong, ending in the death of a young man and a prison sentence for Yorke.

That’s the short version. The long version is told over a trilogy of books, the first two being Chasing The Dragon and Candy Flipping. I certainly learned a lot about this underground industry and the drug-fuelled parties, the wide variety of people involved, the lengths many go to in order to achieve sexual pleasure, and the hunger for as much as possible.

I worried for the author and everyone else involved long before it all went horribly wrong. There was an inevitability about it, almost from the first page. For me it was deeply disturbing that people would willingly do that to themselves, and the peer pressure involved. More than once I wondered what drives a person to seek out this kind of thing?

But I’m not and will never be part of that world, so I would not understand truly how it feels, or what the allure is. I get that, which is why I hope my review as someone new to this topic helps.

There is a lot to unpick here, and an incredible story that needed to be told. However, I thought both books were let down by the editing, and an overuse of exclamation marks, which had the effect of sensationalising all the activities. Someone did die, we have to remember that, and others were left with mental health problems and zero self-esteem.

The size of the paragraphs was also an issue, with stonking great chunks of prose that left one a little breathless by the time I had read through it. Again, this lessened the impact of the words, which was a shame. The books could have been more concise, and therefore powerful, if it had been edited more judiciously.

One thing that came across well; Yorke’s life became a drug-fuelled hot mess, a sort of Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas but in Belsize Park. There are times when it was hard to read because of the relentless pleasure-grasping, but I did because I wanted to understand even just a bit of why he embarked on what seemed like a wanton journey of self-destruction.

I’m not squeamish by any means, but in the end I was reeling at the shocking salaciousness of it all. A little less lurid detail might have had a stronger impact. I came away with the message, “you’ll be fine! It’s fun! Until you get caught!” Were you breathless after reading that? Well, that is what the books are like.

There isn’t much more I can say. Both books will stay with me, that’s for sure. I probably sound like a dowager aunt clutching her pearls, but although it was a fascinating insight into a shadowy underworld, I’ll stay on this side of the table, thank you very much.

When you’re finished, I’ll make some tea…

BLURB

Everyone is into Chemsex – everyone wants to get ‘High and Horny’ and PnP is a normal weekend pastime. At least that’s what it seems when you log onto one of the many gay apps now available, And if it’s not your bag, be prepared to be bullied, ridiculed, scorned and demeaned, such is the attitude towards the few chemsex virgins still left. Chemsex, for the uninitiated, refers to sex parties lasting three or more days, fuelled by recreational drugs such as crystal Methamphetamine or Gamma-Butylactose (GBL), where up to 100 men will gather for indiscriminate sex, in fact, gay middle-class men of almost any professional background are spurning relationships to inject, or ‘slam’ class A narcotics every weekend all over the world, turning to chems as a substitute for love.

Chasing the Dragon is a brutally honest portrayal of this phenomenon, and demonstrates how quickly seemingly successful, civilised men get sucked into a downward vortex, where judgement becomes impaired, and the bizarre becomes the new norm, with disastrous consequences.

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