Taking Pictures of Cats Having Sex In Istanbul

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Whenever anyone he knows goes abroad, my brother asks them to buy him foreign fetish porn. Some examples: bondage, lactation, hentai, large women sitting on skinny men, goats (or any farm animals) wearing latex. He does this on the pretense that the exercise will encourage the traveler to engage in genuine, meaningful, enlightening cross-cultural…something. Cross-cultural sex-offender convictions, likely.

Since guidebooks generally don’t include how to say, “Where you keepin’ them fukbooks with the gals in clown makeup?” in Norwegian, these “conversations” (and some people have actually fallen for his line of crap) must also include pantomime and that’s what my brother is really after: nothing makes him happier than a little absurdity.

He also likes weird porn. He's working on many levels, all the time.

Because it gets relevant here in a moment, you also need to know that my brother is sort of a neophyte cat lady. He owns two, talks about adopting more and even bought an enclosed baby stroller/bike trailer to take his otherwise indoor felines on tours of the neighborhood, safely enclosed by the trailer’s mesh sides.

Anyway, we went to Turkey this summer and, as usual, my brother asked me to bring him home some foreign fetish porn. I told him no.

But then.

So, it was our first night in Istanbul and the people I was traveling with were all dead from jet lag and the general stress of traveling, so after dinner I left them at the hotel and went for a walk through the Old City by myself, armed with a backpack full of camera equipment.

It was at the Hagia Sophia, an ancient Cathedral built by the Byzantines in 500 AD, a church nearly as old as Christianity itself, that I happened across a wrought iron fence surrounding an empty lot that was infested with cats.

Ahh, the elements of the title come together now, don’t they?

Along this fence, on a raised concrete wall that extended up to about eye level, two cats were getting their freak on. Have you ever seen cats making kittens? It’s the kind of sex I-cut-myself-just-to-feel-something girls have with boys whose daddies made them join the Hitler Youth.

It’s biologically mandated sexual assault. Daddy-cat bites mommy-cat on the neck while she tries to claw his face off and there’s just no way to tell if either party is enjoying themselves, but as animals go, at least it isn’t the usual disinterested three seconds of pumping. Kitties know how to put on a show.

As I watched, it occurred to me that here was my brother's Turkish porn. Equipped as I was with a semi-professional photography outfit, I proceeded to document the beautiful event. The cats didn’t mind. They let me get right up close and, being the obsessive-compulsive that I am, a simple snapshot wouldn’t suffice when I could get a Pulitzer-quality photo of, well, cats fucking. I wanted the perfect shot, him biting, her mid-yowl, the very definition of lust.

You thought my brother strange.

Directly across a narrow street from the fence stood the Istanbul Hilton. With a doorman. I heard him yelling something, presumably at me, but I don’t generally stop taking photos until yelling escalates to shouting and then the cop showed up.

What was I doing?

Nothing much, officer.

The cop proceeded to explain—via a series of world weary, disappointed frowns—that in Turkey people do not take pictures of cats having sex because it is a gross thing to do. I defended myself by saying that the pictures were not for my own gratification and that I was merely a player in some sort of cross-continental performance art orchestrated by my brother. An innocent, in other words and please don’t send me to Turkish prison as I have heard really bad things about Turkish prisons.

He did not arrest me, but he did make me delete every picture of the copulating cats. The few pictures I had of the other cats on the wall—the cats not having sex—he let me keep, even giving a thumbs up to those photos and smiling, the way a parent might after a toddler manages to use the toilet instead of filling their pants.

We go abroad as cultural ambassadors. It’s likely that I am the only American some people will ever meet. It warms me to know that I have done my country proud.

I would also like to add that my brother is absolutely right: the value of travel for travel’s sake is in the stories you bring home. No one cares if you saw the Mona Lisa. Seek the fetish porn and see what happens.