Asta Philpot was born with a physical disability which greatly limits movement of his limbs. He’s based in Leeds. He’s a singer and will be performing with the great accordionist Liam O’Conner in Killarney later this month.
Asta was born with a condition known as Arthrogryposis which means joint contractures that develop before birth and are evident at birth. Limitation of joint motion before birth leads to joint contractures. In short, it limits the movement in his arms and legs, and he is bound to an electric wheelchair.
He was in an Irish bar in the Costa Brava in 2006, when the Irish pub owner suggested he visit a ‘night club’ – a legal brothel down the road. He lost his virginity and had a great time. “But the most important thing was the human contact.
“The prostitute I saw worked a lot with people with physical disabilities and was able to connect with me on that level. After that point I felt like I’d been through a passage of rite, and was now a man”.
He believes in legalised prostitution, a view that many across society will not share, but that appears to have currency within the "disabled community". Asta says: “Every human being has the right to intimacy with another human being. Intimacy is a therapy. The reassurance of something as simple as a hug can be a profoundly alien thing to someone with a physical disability."
He decided to revisit the brothel with two other young men affected with different medical conditions (one legally blind and the other paralysed in a motorcycle accident). Both were virgins.
The BBC filmed his trip, and it opened debate about legalizing prostitution in the UK. The documentary opened some controversies about the opportunity to legalize prostitution in UK, as a means of giving sexual experiences to physically challenged people, who often lack enough social opportunities to build a love relationship despite having a normal social potentiality and normal feelings and sexual needs.
You can see the film inspired by Asta’s story in Cork’s Triskle Arts Centre from Sunday 30 June to Wednesday 3 July. The film’s called ‘Come As You Are’ with a special Q&A with Asta after the screening on June 30th. See triskelartscentre.ie for more.