Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

It feels like all I ever do is go to Bowery Bar and then write about it in my blog. Ugh! I don't even like that bar and yet it feels like I am there all the time!

I’ll admit it. I don’t have much of a social life. My days generally consist of:
- me sleeping until almost noon
- eating a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats while watching The View
- wandering through my new house annoyed by the disrepair but too lazy to address it
- Fucking around on, Yahoo News and MySpace
- Realizing how late I am from sitting on the internet
- Hopping in the shower
- Driving to the train
- showing up minutes before my show
- Doing four hours of radio which leaves me with no interest in humanity
- Dashing out of the studio to catch the first train home
- Heating up something to eat while watching Robot Chicken
- Fucking around on the internet until I realize it’s 4am and then going to bed
- Lather, rinse, repeat

This has left me with all sorts of problems. I have a house that needs some TLC. I have no desire to go anywhere or do anything. I have a radio show and a video podcast begging for content (not to mention a blog), and no compelling interest in existing outside of a four square foot area radiating out from my own bed. If I could get away with a bed pan that I emptied out my bedroom window and using a mini-fridge as a nightstand, my dream life would be complete. As a kid I couldn’t understand why people like Howard Hughes ended their lives in a single room, but now I wonder at what age I could get away with it without it being totally creepy and crazy. Is forty too young?

One of our few ridiculously hot listeners was in town this week with his boyfriend so I agreed to give them a studio tour and a drink out on the town. He is fresh out of the Air Force and I like to do what I can to support the troops. It’s my own version of the gay USO. So I took Zach to Bowery Bar since he is relocating to New York City. He needs to know where to find and converse with the other ridiculously hot people in the city once he gets here, and that location on Tuesday nights is still, eternally Bowery Bar. It was also a good excuse to finally see DJ Ben Harvey who has been something of a hermit while packing and unpacking from his move to DUMBO (not the Disney movie, although that would be kind of cool). The stars continued to align with roommate working late and Chip Arndt being in town for the AIDS Ride (please donate money to support Chip. He is a good guy and he is trying to raise a lot of money). I even sent a text message to D-A-N who happened also to be going to Bowery Bar tonight (although I suspect he is always out on Tuesday night and it is not casual coincidence that keeps us running into each other).

Zach only stayed for one drink, but it was long enough for him to swap military tales with roommate. He had a very early flight and a hot boyfriend waiting for him at the Hilton, so he was excused. Ben Harvey was as adorable as ever, and we almost got three sentences spoken between us before the usual suspects began parading through the door like it was a red carpet premiere. First, Peter Stickles, late of HereTV’s The Lair showed up, this time minus his good friend Michael Carbonaro. Apparently Michael couldn’t pull his enthusiasm for going out tonight from a hat, so he opted to stay home. Since he is 15 years younger than I am (at least), that wasn’t excuse enough for me. Then D-A-N arrived in a red muscle tee and playfully tussled hair. His pupils were like two giant black holes from which no light or tall, strapping lad could escape. Draw your own conclusions. I last saw him downing an orange juice like his throat was on fire and talking with Lance, the formerly straight waiter who abandoned his pussy hound ways to chase men. His resume seemed to intrigue D-A-N when I told him, so when I saw them exchanging numbers on my way out for the evening, I wasn’t surprised. Oh and Lance Bass was there and I meant to talk to him because we got offered an interview with him at 11am and I like Lance and NSync and all, but there is no reason for me to reorder my world (i.e. sleeping until noon, Mini-Wheats, etc) just to talk to him on the radio. I was about to go over but they were leaving and I just thought, “Eh. The publicists will work this out, or they won’t.”

I was wearing my shiny PlanetOut backpack from 1998 because it is easy for others to find me that way and I am trying to bolster their miserable stock price by reminding the who’s gay of Bowery Bar that they still exist. This caused me to be spotted by a PlanetOut executive who wondered where I got it then realized that he knew me from FantasyMan Island, my long defunct column. While talking to him, Chip Arndt bounded up to me like a hungry lion with his friend Greg. Greg is everything gay men and straight women aspire to be: tall, thin, and put together just right. He is the gay guy straight girls are always trying to set up with any gay stranger they meet at a party because they can’t fuck him themselves. Chip is sexy and wonderful and I wish he was running for something so I could vote for him. I admire him because when he and Reichen broke up, he let Reichen keep all the fame they accumulated in their relationship. Chip kept his dignity and I suppose a set of dishes, possibly some stemware.

Speaking of dishes and stemware, Wade Williams wandered in and I didn’t even know he was in town. I razzed him about not calling me and insisted that we were now even from when I came to LA and didn’t call him, but he insisted it wasn’t the same thing. Whatever. I feel even. Conor was also there, complaining about an upset stomach, which caused Ben Harvey to also feel unsettled. I think the two of them make each other queasy. That was the last exchange I had with either one of them. Ben slipped away into the crowd, as did Conor at some point. Finally, I realized that it was late and I had to catch the train home. So I bundled up roommate, kissed Peter good bye at the door and sailed away in a cab.

Usually I like to have some kind of 360 degree connection to round out the story but I don’t have a lesson tonight. That would make this blog posting about life out at ye old gay bar outside my normal cookie cutter structure. Maybe the lesson is that I am in a rut. It’s not a bad rut. In fact, I like it very much. I’ll have plenty of time to catch up with Ben Harvey at my housewarming party on Saturday and I’ll see more of Chip on Sunday when he returns home from the AIDS Ride. However, it did feel like a wasted night at Bowery Bar, even down to this blog in search of an ending. I saw most of the same faces. Had the same drink I always have. Hated the same pretentious gays I have always hated. And then came home to eat something fried and watch some TV. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I may not be living in one room yet, but in my head I am getting pretty close. And honestly, I don’t mind.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stars Fell On Alabama

Someone's friend, by way of getting to know me, recently approached at some night out and said, "I hear you know every gay celebrity." While it is true that I am a shameless name dropper, especially in my blog, it sort of surprised me. When I reflect on my life, it is always the quiet moments that ring out the loudest for me. In biographies, it is the stories of stars meeting stars at cocktail parties and movie sets and the like that pad the otherwise dull adventures of a life lived. But when I think back on my own life's biography, it is rare that a celebrity encounter or friendship leaps out as a defining moment.

I think about the many overnight trips I took driving at night alone from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, my car winding through the darkened canyons that make up the narrow Nevada/Arizona/Utah connection, dramatically illuminated by my headlights under a starry night sky. I think about the dead kittens I found in my barn in Michigan, ripped to shreds, and kneeling alone in the yard to bury their tiny parts behind the abandoned chicken coop. I think about riding the rockets in Tomorrowland with my friend Geoff singing "Fly Me To The Moon" at the top of our lungs. But tonight I think about Danny Roddick.

I never really knew Danny. I met him briefly a few times, most memorably earlier this year at the GayVN awards. He sat behind me during the show, making catty gay comments about people that I strained to hear over the noise of the crowd. I don't think he knew I was eavesdropping but I doubt he would have cared.

There was a screening tonight of Brotherhood, his last film for Buckshot Productions, over at Jerry Douglas' perfect New York City apartment. When I called Jerry to RSVP on Friday, he said something about "concerns about exploiting the situation with Danny" but I had no idea what he was referring to and I made a mental note to ask him about it tonight at the party. Before the screening, Jerry said a few words, as a director is wont to do at their screening, and it was then that I learned that Danny Roddick was dead. Moments later, there he was, youthful, smiling and beaming on Jerry's TV, as though nothing had changed.

Tonight I came home and decided to look for some information on what had happened. He was so young and it seemed such a surprise. Drug overdose is the apparent cause, although according to some, it was the porn industry itself that took him to the edge and beyond. I don't work in the porn industry so I only know what I have seen first hand. It's a business, and one in which the performers have a very short shelf life, and I don't mean that in a callous way. Erik Rhodes is right. Once they've seen your pussy (Britney!), what else do you have to show them? Those who have stayed in the industry for decades have done so because for them it is a career, and not a short term ego boost, an infusion of quick cash, or publicity for their escort business. I don't think the porn industry has a drug problem. I think the gay community has a drug problem. And having the kind of job where you can make a grand in a single day is just the kind of work drug addicts love: short hours, quick money and plenty of time off.

It would be impossible for me to know every gay celebrity, or even most of them. Not really know them anyway. After all, how much do we really know about anyone? Even in our tabloid culture, we still know more about Britney's pubic hair than we do what's going through her mind. Danny Roddick's MySpace page lists "Children: Someday" but that someday is never going to come. It's just too late now. Maybe I should have turned around in my seat at the Castro Theater, introduced myself, and gotten to know him better but I always assumed he would be on the radio show on that very same someday and I would have gotten to know him then. Then again, Reichen Lehmkuhl and Jenny Shimizu were both on the show on Friday and even after 40 minutes, I can't honestly say I know the two of them either. I even spent some time with them later in the VIP room at Splash, putting them on the spot to spell each other's difficult last names (they both succeeded with flying colors). But I don't think I understand them any more now than I understand why, among the DVDs and VHS tapes of Madonna videos and camp classics that Splash had a copy of "Schindler's List" on the shelf.

Maybe I will never really know anything or anyone. The late Gene Siskel used to end every celebrity interview he conducted with the same question, "Tell me something you know for certain." The answers would often be something like "I know that I love my children with all my heart." One thing I know for certain: I will never know Danny Roddick.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Life Of Riley

I have a lot of empathy for my friend Chi Chi La Rue. Last year, I was in New Orleans for Southern Decadence and I went up to the VIP room and Chi Chi was there. That year, I was hanging out with Roman Heart, who spent most of the weekend gingerly stepping over glasses and spilled drinks in between half-hearted dance moves on top of the downstairs bar at the Bourbon Pub. When I ran into Chi Chi, she was screaming for her cardboard box. Suddenly, there it was. A non-descript cardboard box labeled “For Chi Chi Only! Touch It And Die!” This was the box of giveaway porn and I recognized it immediately. When Romaine and I travel for the show, we also have “the box” and while it is sometimes filled with porn, it is more likely to be stuffed with t-shirts or mardi gras beads. It was in that moment at the Bourbon Pub that I realized how similar my life on the road was to Chi Chi’s and how grateful I was that I didn’t have to do it in a dress, wig and heels.

Chi Chi has a powerful personal effect on people. I have wondered for quite some time now just what it is about Chi Chi that creates the opportunity for them to do things they would never otherwise do. I think it is her utter exuberance about everything. She is just so enthusiastic, and when someone is cheering you on so vigorously, it is hard to say no. I suppose it is a combination of this aspect of her personality and my empathy for her that turns me into her personal assistant whenever I see her lately. And it’s not Chi Chi demanding that I wait on her hand and foot. But there is just something about her that makes me happy to get her a fresh cocktail or carry her suitcase full of CDs around. I did it a bit in Minneapolis during pride and was back at it again tonight.

Chi Chi is in town this weekend to DJ at the HustlaBall. Now I had never been before, but it is exactly what it sounds like. It is a big party/event featuring dozens of porn stars and escorts mingling and having fun with three packed floors of potential customers. The HustlaBall staff just assumed I was Chi Chi’s assistant, which was fine with me. This weekend when I go to Dallas, I won’t be able to walk down the street without being recognized. It’s nice to spend an evening being not just an ordinary person, but even better, an unimportant one. I only wish it hadn’t been such a struggle to get a free drink, but I guess that is the trade off.

The only people at the event tonight who knew I even had a real job were prior guests on the show. It felt like everyone was there tonight. Barrett Long, who was also in New Orleans last weekend was there with new roommate Jason Crew, whom I first met on the set of Big Rig two years ago. That’s a lot of trouble for one household. The third musketeer was the ever delicious Rod Barry. He was upset about something and after some shots started getting belligerent. We danced a bit until his playful punching got too painful and I pawned him off on Barrett Long, who seemed to have more experience with unhappy Rod. Michael Lucas was there and apparently was one of the performers on stage (I heard he planned to pee on someone so I skipped the show). I kept running into him all night and he kept looking at me expectantly but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it was that he wanted me to say. Chi Chi was effusive in her praise of Michael on stage. Yes, she was almost too nice, like Robert Blake gushing about his great wife at the restaurant moments before she got shot. “Did you hear how nice I was to Michael tonight? Tell everyone how nice I was.” Duly noted, Chi Chi.

Lucas exclusive Ben Andrews was there in his eyeglasses and hoodie with no shirt underneath. I think Ben has a Superman/Clark Kent thing about his glasses, like somehow no one will realize he is porn star Ben Andrews if he doesn’t take them off. Colton Ford was also there, preparing to sing later at the event. I spent a few minutes talking to Colton, and Ben, and it was nice to have a private conversation with them for a change since nearly everything else we have ever said to each other has been broadcast live on the radio. RuPaul was Chi Chi’s other guest for the evening (aside from me), but he didn’t stay long. He just dropped by to say hi to Chi Chi and then headed home. It was too bad because Ru was one of the few people there that I wish I had gotten more time with.

A huge number of those porn star/escort types at the HustlaBall were brought in by Howard from FabScout. I met Howard two years ago the first time we did Fort Lauderdale Pride and I kind of really like him. Porn agents generally have a bad reputation. Well, why be so narrow? Agents generally have a bad reputation. Porn performers are consistently and depressingly messed up and flaky. Tonight in the DJ booth Chi Chi and I waxed poetic about the former Gus Mattox and how nice it is to see a hot man who also is reliable, smart and fun. “If only all porn stars could be forty-five…” I thought out loud. Unfortunately most of them are 22, or younger, and don’t know what they want to do with their lives yet and don’t know what it means yet to have a job. So, I don’t envy Howard’s job (or Chi Chi’s for that matter), although he does have lots of cute guys to look at so it could be worse.

One of Howard’s boys was a porn star named Riley Burke. Riley is a delectable blond with a thick of chest hair and a willing personality. If given half the chance, I would desert us on an uninhabited island and fuck his brains out forever. Unfortunately, my three and a half year old niece has a better grasp of her own emotional state than he does, and tonight was especially messy. He spent most of the time hanging out with adorable Seth, the “hung Czech” personal assistant, future lawyer, certified massage therapist. Seth has a flawless body, which was on full display during his 20 minute nude massage in the VIP lounge, and he was totally sweet and fun. Not to mention that years of yoga have paid off to the point where he can put both of his legs behind his own head. However try as we might, there just wasn't any real sexual chemistry between us. Riley on the other hand, had my attention at all times. One minute sweetly standing with me at the bar telling me his hopes and dreams, the next getting his ass eaten out by a stranger. The munching must have been fantastic because as soon as the guy was done, Riley was unzipping the stranger’s pants, barely getting “where do you live” out of his mouth before the stranger’s cock went in it. What a lesbian.

Riley’s self-esteem was falling faster than prices at Wal-Mart. This made me want to rescue him but fortunately I am old enough now to know what a complete waste of time that is. Riley kept asking Chi Chi, who had directed him in one of his most recently movies, how he looked. It didn’t matter how many times Chi Chi said he looked great, he asked again and then caught another disapproving glimpse of himself in the mirror. When I tried to say good bye later, he smiled wanly and brushed me away. Seconds later he burst into tears, surrounded by the comforting arms of two muscle bound escorts. I guess the evening was just too much for him and he snapped. Riley had said earlier in the evening that he thought Howard was too hard on him, but now I am thinking maybe Howard wasn’t tough enough with him. He is a beautiful guy but if he can’t pull himself together he won’t last six more months in this industry and he’ll be dead before thirty.

We left the HustlaBall and headed into a cab. Chi Chi and I were both hungry for a classic slice of NYC pizza. In the cab ride back to her swank hotel none of the pizza places were open, so I volunteered to run to the corner and pick up a slice for her while she got out of those painful heels. Sixteen blocks later and nothing, including the all night pizza joint with the “Open 24 Hours” sign, was open. Ugh. Doesn't anyone in Chelsea eat greasy food in the middle of the night anymore? Then it started to drizzle. That was the end of that. I love Chi Chi but it’s not like she promised me a kidney. I performed above and beyond the call of duty. It was fun, but now it was 2:15 in the morning on a school night! Time to wrap things up. I picked up a couple of sandwiches and a bag of chips and returned finally to Chi Chi’s room, where I think she had given up all hope of ever seeing me again. “Postcards From The Edge” was playing on her TV and we bonded a bit more over our shared love of the movie. “I love ‘these are the options? Lana, Joan and you?’” Chi Chi declared, quoting her favorite line.

In the car on the way home, I thought about my favorite line from the movie. “Never let ‘em see ya ache. That’s what Mr. Mayer always used to say. Or was it ‘ass?’ ‘Never let ‘em see your ass.’” Tonight I saw Riley’s ache and his ass, and I think I speak for everyone when I say, I’d rather see his ass.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

To Live And Dine In LA

I almost died yesterday in New Orleans.

I used to take my anti-aging vitamins two at a time until my Grandmother snapped, “Oh for crying out loud, open your throat and swallow them all at once.” So for the last year and a half, not wanting to seem like a pussy in front of her, that is how I have done it. A fistful of pills thrown down my throat, which had been a fine system until yesterday when life once again imitated the art of 30 Rock and the vitamins got lodged in my throat. Moments later, I was coughing and puking in the sink until three of them came back up. That was enough clearing for me to swallow some large swigs of water to get the rest of them down. But standing there alone in my underwear in the hotel room, my face red and puffy from the hacking, just served to remind me of the running theme of the weekend: we are just too old for this.

Nevermind that it was anti-aging vitamins I was choking on, the whole weekend was an endurance test for the liver, kidneys, stomach and feet. Each day began at the crack of one, with a sumptuous lunch that left us incapacitated and in need of a nap. We’d regroup at 8pm for another massive meal and then head to the Bourbon Pub for a night of intense intoxication. For three days, I battled nausea from overeating, overdrinking, and rapid changes in temperature moving from air conditioned interiors to searing humid exteriors. The combination of humid heat and a basket of fried pickles I refused to abandon even when beyond stuffed nearly caused my gastric demise on a street corner on Sunday afternoon.

Out at the bars, everyone was too old for their outfit, me included. I understand the gay desire to never get any older, but I just don’t know if an ANF muscle tee, cargo shorts and a sideways baseball cap are appropriate on a charter member of the AARP. To paraphrase Helen Gurley Brown, “I will wear shorts until I die”, but that doesn’t mean it will be pretty. I suppose the most important thing is that everyone was having fun, and when you are on the shady side of fifty, really how many more days of fun are left?

I spent a lot of time this weekend in the VIP room at the Bourbon Pub, thanks in large part to my friendship with Chi Chi La Rue. Listeners of my radio show and my disgruntled roommate may think I am famous, but I am largely unknown even in the gay community. It is a situation I continue to relish even as it keeps me standing in lines and denied access to free cocktails. My anonymity is worth the trade off. Although to be fair to the Bourbon, Jonathan knows me but his staff doesn't. And instead of making one of those dreadful "don't you know who I am" scenes, I just opted to ride in on the La Rue train.

Friday night Chi Chi La Rue was holding court on the third floor at the Bourbon Pub with Lady Bunny, who had just finished her set. Chi Chi had been DJing all afternoon long and was clearly ready for a drink or five by the time I arrived upstairs. Lady Bunny was in her own movie, primarily Valley of the Dolls although she did slip in and out of Bette Davis when the occasion called for it. Chi Chi’s hot phrase of the evening was “I’d love to do it, but I can’t brisket.” My love of a good pun knows no bounds and the next day at the Old Chartres House, I just had to order the BBQ brisket po-boy sandwich in honor of it.

As the night wore on, Bunny’s wig got progressively scarier and scarier. The combination of the late night and the humidity took its toll on that wiry heap of plastic yarn that looked like the Lady had scalped a Barbie beauty head circa 1972. “Tell everything! Include diagrams!” Chi Chi urged in between briskets, but I can’t really draw. Chi Chi demanded that Lady Bunny show me her brown stained pantyhose, which she insisted was from Bunny shitting herself. Bunny claimed it was a gumbo mishap but two hours later she was still in those same messy hose. The only thing dirtier than Bunny’s legs was the carpet. I dubbed it the night of 1000 spilled drinks, although I only managed to spill one of them.

At one point, some cutie boys insisted that their friend come up and audition for Chi Chi. This happens quite regularly since I witnessed it myself in Minneapolis with a dirty boy dancing on a box while Chi Chi was spinning, the more Chi Chi looked past him, the harder he started grinding. Back at the Bourbon, Chi Chi told a great story while we were waiting about two men getting it on right next to her on a pool table while she was trying to just sit and enjoy her cocktail. And the more she ignored them, the more aggressive they got, to the point where they were fully engaged with their legs thrown across Chi Chi’s lap. The hunk finally arrived upstairs and he was a handsome thirty-something with a tight body. Chi Chi asked to see his cock. “But I’m not hard,” he whined.

“I didn’t ask for a story. I asked to see your cock.”

He whipped it out and even soft, it was quite big and thick. Chi Chi clutched me like a new car winner on The Price Is Right. “Oh my God! Did you see that? It’s huge!” It sort of surprised me that Chi Chi, after all these years in porn, could still get excited about seeing a new cock. I guess that is a lesson for us all when we are feeling old. A weekend in New Orleans may play out like a heartburn commercial when you are thirty-something (or older), but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to enjoy it anyway.