Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Am A Camera

I bring my camera out with me on nights on the town like this because I always intend to take photos to better commemorate the evening. After talking to Gary today about his lost camera and the contents of our first fun night together, I am a little sad that my blog and my own memories are all we have left of it. It helps that I was spending tonight with two of the most photogenic and photographed friends I have.

Shaun McCarron, along with his boyfriend Paul, is a model, most recently featured on the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. I think the show is a fine diversion thanks to its ample mixture of hunky horseflesh and outlandishly phony drama. It isn’t going to win a Peabody Award anytime soon but it’s always good for a late night zip through on TiVo, scanning from underwear photo shoot to brief moments of mild tension teased and slo-mo played ad nauseum. It really fills the time.

After being on the show Friday and Monday, I told Erik Rhodes that even though we don’t like the same food, go to the same places or have any friends in common, we really should hang out more. He heartily agreed and we decided to go to Bowery Bar tonight, and drag Shaun along with us. So I slipped my camera into the pocket of my cargo shorts and headed downtown. I wore a cute shirt from Old Navy that cost me $6 when I bought it in Utah back in January. It is the perfect thing to wear to a place like BBar, I thought as I passed the French Connection store around the corner, because I am guaranteed to be the only gay there in it. True enough, while someone at the bar was wearing my favorite Club Monaco shirt, I was the only one there in Old Navy.

There was an insane line outside. So long that if I wasn’t meeting several people at the bar, I would have turned and walked away. This is Roommate’s biggest pet peeve with me. He doesn’t understand the point of having a national radio show if it can’t get me to the front of lines at trendy places. But I relish my anonymity in the city and part of me thinks that if I don’t start pressing doormen for favors, I can still hold onto that feeling, even as the phone numbers of the callers creep closer and closer to home. My friend Dan who agreed to meet me out was the first to arrive and he had the same reaction to the line I had. “Don’t worry,” I assured him. “As soon as Erik Rhodes gets here, we won’t be in this line any longer.” Sure as shooting, Erik arrived and hurriedly whisked us to the minor mob of impatient gays in tight t-shirts waiting at the main door.

“This is where all the fags who think they deserve to be inside already stand and wait.” His dismissive attitude of the pretentious boys at the door made me love him even more. Going to a gay bar with Erik Rhodes is like going to the prom with the captain of the football team, and where he thinks the whole high school thing is one big joke. It’s twice the delicious. Naturally, we were swept into the bar faster than you can say tank top weather.

I was glad to be out of the line. Not just because it is humiliating to stand in a long line outside of a virtually empty bar. But also because I was in the line for all of one minute before the homos behind me started the worst conversation I ever had to hear with the opening line, “How was Fire?” The kid meant Fire Island, but after I told occasional Fire Island share veteran Dan that story we both agreed that no one calls Fire Island “Fire.” In one word, they managed to take something that was already obscenely obnoxious and shoot it off into a whole new orbit. I don’t exaggerate when I say they should be stoned to death in the streets.

As much as we trash “the scene” at Bowery Bar, the guys who go there, fueled by the patented blend of drugs, liquor, desperation and sardine-like proximity that has kept it a downtown staple for more than a decade, are surprisingly chatty and friendly. Most gay bars in New York, no one wants to talk to anyone, with the exception of happy hour at Therapy which is so spontaneously kissy at times that it constantly threatens to make mono Manhattan’s most common communicable disease (second only to rudeness to tourists). On my first trip outside to rescue Shaun from the long line, a guy tapped me on the shoulder and told me I had a nice body. I stared at him blankly, asked him where it was, and then kept going. Later a guy walked up to me and said, “Someone put a roofie in my drink. Can you believe it? Come see me later. I’ll be over here.” I am certain I would not get this reaction if I went to Bowery Bar often. It is only because I make an annual pilgrimage that I am greeted as fresh meat.

The same cannot be said for Erik. He could go to that bar every single night and still be a hot property. First he ran into his friend Phil, who threw a birthday party for him two years ago. Phil is a photography student and a “prodigy” according to Erik. I was tempted to do that thing where you pretend like you don’t know someone is a famous photographer and ask them to take a picture of you and your friend in front of something. My camera was in my pocket and I did want a picture of me and Erik since there isn’t one that I can recall, but I got shy and thought better of it. Even Shaun ran into people he knew at the bar. So did Dan and later so did I when the DJ Keo Nozari swept in with his ultra low key cool vibe and sweet smile.

The place was also awash in reality show people. Erik Rhodes of course made a famous splash on My Life On The D List last year when Kathy Griffin ever so patiently stripped him of nine layers of clothing at the GayVN Awards. Shaun was on last season of Janice Dickinson, his ass so delightfully cupped into tiny underwear like two ripe peaches wrapped up in a very expensive napkin. Keo ran into his friend Ronnie who had been one of the contestants on Manhunt, the Bravo male model series (not to be confused, as Keo initially was when I asked him if Ronnie was from Manhunt, with the dirty hook up website). I even saw Project Runway reject Milan sitting at a table, not looking rejected so much as tired and in need of one of those five minute face lifts they are always advertising on late night TV.

I suppose it is too bad that I only took one photo all night. Waiting for the train in Times Square to go down to the bar, I snapped a photo of some funny graffiti scribbled on an ad that I will put in my ongoing New York photo project that I not-so-ironically call “Advertorial.” So this will have to be the only record of the event. The sight of Erik Rhodes putting his head on my shoulder so sweetly, the bags under Milan’s eyes, and the Long Island gay Guido poser who tried to blend in between Shaun and Erik who were oblivious to his presence will live on only in my mind. Maybe Christopher Isherwood was on to something. We are our own cameras, viewing life, shutters open, through our own lenses and filters, and recording. But I am thinking, about the antics we see from our single perspectives, and knowing that we view only what we want to see.


Bryan said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only gay guy in the world who thinks that wearing Old Navy T-shirts out in public is a bad thing.

Derek Hartley said...

I think you missed the point I was making entirely.