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I joined a fraternity in college. But I joined it for all the wrong reasons. I had no desire to be a member. Instead, “fraternity row” was right next to the engineering building, and I wanted cheap housing. I only paid $50 a month for a room. And that was at a time of my life when some months I was worried about finding the $50 to pay the rent. Looking back, I was a bad fraternity member. I kept to myself, played my music too loud, and grabbed the biggest and best room myself that had a private deck. I was not a team player, and a terrible “brother” to the fraternity. Part of me feels bad about that, but not really.

Greek letters

By 1990, the glory days of hazing were over. There were enough deaths from forced drinking that the university claimed a “zero tolerance” policy towards initiation rituals. They still went on, of course, but they were far more tame than in the seventies and eighties. Still, the hazing was one reason I wanted to join a fraternity. In college, I didn’t know I was gay, and I definitely didn’t know I was kinky, but there was something about the idea of an initiation that terrified me and excited me at the same time. I thought about it all the time while I was a pledge.

By the time I joined the fraternity, “Hell Week” had turned into “Hell Night”, and then just “Hell Few Hours On A Friday”. As a pledge, I had to work around the house for free for a month or so. One of the jobs was to clean and rearrange the library, a task that nobody had done for years. We were fraternity members, so why would anyone need to use the library? {grin} But I loved looking through all the dusty memorabilia and documents. I donated a huge collection of technical and science books that I personally scavenged or begged from various departments at the university, and the national chapter gave me an award for my work on the library.

One of the things I found in a cardboard box was a bunch of photo albums. Inside them were scary pictures of the hazing of years past.  To this day, I wish I would have stolen the books. Instead, I just looked at them over and over. They had black-and-white photographs of young men in white brief underwear (or sometimes naked). A bunch of the photos were of each member sitting on a high stool that was placed on a table. A bright light was shining in their face. It looked like an interrogation, and all of the victims looked unhappy or ill or both. There were all sweaty, and I could see everything in their tight white underwear.

Other pictures had the fraternity members wrestling naked, or while covered in some sort of slop. There were photos of the boys dressed in drag doing a strip tease. One series of photos had someone tarred and feathered, while another had the boys tied up singly or in pairs. Most of the photos were blurry like they were taken by a blind drunk man, but you could still make out body parts. I wondered how they had gotten the pictures processed in the seventies, before the age of digital cameras, when you actually had to take film to a place where people looked at your photos.

So, I was pretty terrified when it was my turn to be initiated. We had to do a bunch of stupid things beforehand, like carve a pledge paddle out of wood, and get a bunch of professors to sign it. Mine is signed by Otto H. Schmitt, the man who invented the Schmitt Trigger in electrical engineering. He also invented the differential amplifier and “biomemetics”. I was honored to meet him, but the look on his face when I asked him to sign my spanking tool was humiliating. He knew what it was going to be used for!

I was worried that my new paddle would get a lot of use the work the week before the initiation, since the fraternity brothers made up infractions and demerits that we would be punished for on Friday. We had to wear suits and ties to class that week. Every night the pledges met and memorized things together, or cleaned, or fixed stuff around the house as slave labor. Friday night finally came, and we had to cook a big Italian meal for the members before the initiation started. The pledges weren’t allowed to eat any of the food, but with my nervous stomach, I don’t think I could have kept anything down if I could have.

It turned out that the initiation was rather tame. You see, the chapter had opened up membership to women in the eighties, so no more pledges running around in underwear. There were still stupid songs to learn, and tons of memorization. But there was no physical violence. My spanking paddle was never used, though I had to bend over and prepare to get hit with it several times. But they would miss on purpose, so eventually I got the joke.

For hours, the ten other pledges and I were kept blindfolded. As you can imagine, the brothers had started drinking heavily at the Italian dinner, and kept going through the initiation. So, nobody knew where anything was, and we were dragged from room to room in the fraternity for hours. I remember being put in a hallway alone for about an hour. When nobody came to get me, I started singing at the top of my lungs. Later, I found out that I terrified the members, and nobody wanted to be the one to go in and get me.

The worst part of the initiation was drinking the “Blood of the Brothers” (or something like that). It was basically tomato juice with a whole bunch of nasty stuff added. Now, I *hate* tomato juice, so I felt like I had to throw up for most of the evening. The raw eggs, Tabasco, and cigarette butts probably didn’t help. God know what else was in there. I didn’t want to know.

I can’t remember the other stupid things we had to do. There was a scavenger hunt at midnight, where we had to run around campus accomplishing various tasks. They drove us to the middle of nowhere and made us get out of the car with no clothes on. It turned out that our clothes were in a paper bag nearby, but we didn’t have any money or anything. The guy who was in charge of the event forgot to give us the rest of the supplies we needed to complete any of our tasks (like money), so we just wandered drunk around campus at 3 am in the morning until we found our way back home.

Then there was a big ceremony accompanied by robes, spooky lighting, and long speeches that had to be read from a script. After the ordeal, I was full member, and then there was more drinking.

So, skip forward to the next year. I was a full member now, and as I said, but not really joining in the reindeer games. But for some reason, I wanted to be on the initiation committee, and since there was low motivation with the rest of the members, I got to do whatever I wanted. I didn’t know why I didn’t see it at the time, but the hazing really resonated with me. I remember setting up the initiation rooms for days, peddling my bicycle back and forth across campus, piled with stereo gear and musical instruments that I borrowed from various friends.

Music was huge in my version of the initiation. I had speakers in every room. As the pledges came in, I played the first track of Barry Adamson’s “Moss Side Story”: an excellent eighties CD. It sounds kind of like a horror movie, with footsteps moving from speaker to speaker, the wind howling, and a woman panting and breathing as an organ plays in the background. But unlike a gimmicky Halloween CD, the song sounded like something was wrong. It was partly like music, and partly like the CD was skipping or that the stereo was melting. I played the track on infinite replay at ear-splitting volume. It made the fraternity members really nervous, and gave the whole evening a weird start.

There were many rooms I didn’t have to help with. There was one stupid thing where the pledge had to eat a goldfish. Of course, at the last minute, with the pledge’s eyes closed, the goldfish is swapped with a gummy bear or something. But one of the fraternity members was drunk and stupid and actually ate the fish, which pissed everyone off greatly since they didn’t have a prop for the rest of the night. In another room there was the Blood of the Brothers, and several other rooms full of stuff I forget. Going through the whole set-up took several hours, like a big haunted house.

But my room was the best. My assistant led each pledge into the room and removed their blindfold. I was wearing a Mad Scientist white lab coat, and there were Jacob’s Ladders and oscilloscopes displaying Lissajous figures and red lasers shooting beams through dry ice. Totally cool in a geeky way. The victim was led to a wooden chair and strapped in like an electric chair. Then, the blindfold was put back on, along with a set up soundproof headphones.

Their headphones were hooked up to my personal sound system and mixing board. It was my job in that room to quiz the pledges to see if they had correctly memorized the fraternity’s history, along with other things like the Greek alphabet and the school song. I used a vocoder with a microphone so that when I asked the pledge questions, my voice came out an octave lower sounding like Voice of God. With the chair bondage, the eerie atmosphere and the terrifying voice, some of the pledges just lost it. There were three different types of victims: some were amused, some were terrified, and some really really got off on the harsh treatment. Today, I’d call those boys masochists, but back then I didn't know any better.

For example, I would ask when the fraternity was founded (1923, I still remember that). If the pledge gave the wrong answer or said they didn’t know, I would say with the Voice of God, “Oh no, now I must PUNISH you!” Some of the pledges were scared shitless, ready for a punch in the face or worse. Instead, I added, “Now you must listen to… DISCO!” and I switched over the audio to a Village People track or something. Some of the pledges laughed with relief at this point, while other just turned green. I think others might have gotten erections.

I punished wrong answers with country music, too. Or Disney tunes or something. I forget. But after ten minutes or so of nonsense, the pledge was untied and released to join the rest of their class for the remainder of the initiation. At this point, I should have realized that part of me is a Top. I loved tying up the college boys, even if they *were* wearing all their clothes. I loved the fact that with the sensory deprivation, my voice was the only thing they heard. For a little while, I was in essence their entire world. There was something delicious about a helpless victim straining to hear Your voice, waiting for the next question or command, trying to concentrate with all their will in order to please You and avoid punishment. What made it more fun was the fact that we all had no idea we were doing BDSM, but that's what it was.

The fraternity house is still on campus, and I am always welcome to stop by. I visit in order to check out my old $50 room and meet the cute young members. They look younger every year, don’t they? Except that now when I go back, I think about what it would be like to tie up those cute little jocks and torture them. They’ve gotta still have the bondage chair I built up in the attic somewhere, don’t they? Now where did I put my headphones…

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(Deleted comment)
So do ya wanna join my new fraternity? {grin}

Wow! I wish I rememberd my initiation as well as you do. I was initiated a Beta (Beta Theta Pi), in the late 70's. Since UC Irvine had no house, I was initiatiate at UCLA with both UCLA and USC actives participating. Previous to that, we were pledges on campus, and our pre-initaion, pre hell week involved a weekend up at Lake Arrowhead (another story). Yes, we had slop on us. And sometimes, things put up our butts (no fun then, but fun now :). Our week of Hell, lasted 4-5 days. Usually during Christmas break. In our underwear for most of the time, it was cold (those large houses were not heated well). We were also sent to the nearby stores for items, in Westwood, in our underwear. With slop on us too (we were not allowed to shower for the full time). We were to prepare for the national test. The test of our lore. Study. We are, 9-10 of us, asked questions. If you get it wrong, men, 3 x's my size (big ruby types(woof!) an inch from one's face screaming at you, why did you get this answer wrong. Sometimes, pouring vodka down your throat if you get it wrong. We had to eat off the floors like dogs. Kiss and lick a lambs skull. The food was awesomely gross (looked like shit, but actually was all good food with food coloring etc). And much more (I'll post some other time). Some men bolted. Others like me, made it. The night of the test, you are shaking in your boots. You are hooded, lead into a dark room lit with candle light. And the improtant questions are asked. We had been so brainwashed, and fucked up by the time of the big test. The Betas at UCLA, and USC, were noted for have the worst Hell Weeks of the bunch. I belive they were repremanded several times. But most improtantly is the last day. Duing the "oral exam", in the dark. and what happens after, is the turning point It is what happens here, is what is the "Beta" secret.

Edited at 2008-12-10 12:33 am (UTC)

Yep. That was pretty much my experience. I was very very shy. But joining a fraternity was a bitter sweet thing also. I really blossomed socially (sorta "came out" socially in the straight world), but my GPA fell dramatically. Pot and partying a lot is not a good thing. It took me 2 yrs longer to graduate. (Although to be fair, my study skills were bad before college, and it took college for me to finally figure out how to do it right); had to drop pre-med, for Bio. Yes the Betas, on all 3 campuses, UCLA, USC, and UCI were noted for awsome parties. Sigma Chi were are equal rivals (they were better in sports, but we threw better events; yahooo parrrrrtee!
I lost contact with most of the frats and Soroity friends, when I came out. I closeted myself from them, but burst out with a bang in the gay world :)
PS. Thanks for friending. Looking forward to knowing more about you :)

Edited at 2008-12-10 04:05 pm (UTC)

The way You write really draws one in and captivates the mind.

I was really worried you were going to share the ACTUAL initiation ceremony which would be uncool.

I'm sad that you didn't get anything out of being a Brother. it was puzzled me how it was this huge experience for some of us and nothing for others.

I'd totally join your fraternity not tough. ;-)

I don't mean to sound like a dick. I got a lot out of the fraternity, a lot of other stuff I'm not talking about here. That was a period when I really grew up... but I had to do it alone, apart from straight brothers. You know what I'm talking about.

Yep. Agreed same here. No regrets.

I guess it sounded snarky how I wrote it but it wasn't how I meant it. My experiences with my brothers and with fraternity life in general really shaped me. I don't think I'd be who I am now if I hadn't pledged. That wasn't the case for my little brother and I always was a little sad about that. For some guys it's a big life experience and for others it isn't. I was trying to express my wish for everyone to get as much as I did out of it and going from what you wrote which obviously wasn't the total of your experience there.

You didn't sound like a dick. It's the nature of the medium I think that we read with one intonation which may have been written with another.

this is a great post and an enjoyable read
as I continue to figure out my own triggers
some of yours offer light, or rather clarity


yes please do it and take _digital_ pix. post them here. DO IT! :-)

(Deleted comment)
The University of Minnesota. Go Golden Gophers!


You have such interesting and amazing stories. I must say, it's a kinda hot / titillating story about the Frat initiations. That seems to be a VERY American tradition - they don't really have those sorts of things in Universities down here in Australia or New Zealand...

I HAVE heard of similar initiations in the Navy, especially when they cross the Equator and stuff like that, but nothing so homoerotic as what YOU'VE been writing about! :-)

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