Friday, April 30, 2010

Birth Of Elation

Birthday parties are for kids young enough to still count their years in fractions and the super elderly where each passing year is nothing short of a miracle. For the rest of us, birthdays should be politely ignored. I was slow to come to this realization, like all people do. When I was in my twenties, I didn’t mind having birthday parties at all. I mean, what’s not to love about a room full of people who are there solely for you? But now, birthdays just seem like a rote chore made more unbearable by constant reminders on social networks that every day is some birthday.

Tonight, I took my friend Adam down to the ACE Hotel for Corey Johnson’s 28th birthday party. Adam is visiting from Phoenix this weekend and I was much surprised on Wednesday night when I came home and discovered him propped up in the guest room bed reading his kindle. He is in town this weekend for my annual Cinco de Mayo party which for some reason in that moment I thought was next weekend and not three days from now. It is this kind of constant surprise about my own life that keeps my roommate Mike in a persistent state of agitation.

As soon as we arrived at the ACE on 29th street, we headed downstairs into the basement party room and waited on line at coat check. A nice young lady was working the table and a copy of “The Actor’s Art and Craft” was tossed casually on her chair. An actor prepares… to check your coat. We dropped our bags and started to head in when suddenly I ran right into that guy who insisted that I stop writing about him. I thought he was in Los Angeles! When I asked him if he was leaving already, he looked past me with solid black shark eyes, gave a negative response in a negative way and moved beyond me in every sense of the word. It was a chilly reception with frosty on top.

Inside, the party was jumping and the boys were hot. As I looked around for Corey, Adam asked if the crowd was here just for his birthday or if this was normally a bar. Adam was dutifully impressed when I said they were all just for Corey. “I could fill a room like this too if I wanted,” I said confidently, but that was a lie. I’m that guy still haunted by the accurate portrayal of his childhood in Little Man Tate, where he is cast as the brainy kid with that kind of dyky warrior princess mom (before Xena made it fashionable) and who had a birthday party that no one came to. To this day, every time I throw a party, I believe that no one will come. The moment that invitation goes out I start dreading the whole decision and the misery doesn’t end until the last person goes home. But I keep throwing parties because little kid fears are no excuse for a life half lived.

I didn’t see Corey right away but I did see Andy Towle. Andy is so adorable and I never see him out. He is not a party animal and with his fabulous apartment and smoking hot boyfriend, why would he ever want to go out for anything more than the morning paper and a fresh bagel? Andy was so sweet to me as I gushed about his blog, towleroad.com, which is a twice daily must-read for me, first in the late morning when I wake up and then right before the show for updates and breaking news.

Wandering off to get a drink at the bar we ran into Corey, twirling through the place with a tiara on his head. He was beyond drunk and everyone was grabbing at him like a pair of twenty dollar Ben Sherman jeans at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale. And then in an instant he was gone so we continued on our journey. Near the bar we settled in with Chris (sans Cub) and Henry. I gently ribbed Henry about the recent photos of him on Facebook paying dodge ball. Chris was missing Cub, who was down in Atlantic City headlining a bachelor party weekend for a straight friend.

I fell in love with Cub all over again when Chris told me that Cub is very down on the whole Fire Island business that, as it launches each spring, grips the Manhattan gay scene annually like a toxin. I just don’t understand the notion of going from the island of Manhattan to Long Island by train, transferring once along the way. Then taking a cab to a boat dock where a ferry takes you to an overpriced, deer tick riddled island filled with all the gays you see all week long back in Manhattan. Of course out on Fire Island, you get to see them in unflattering direct sunlight and ill-fitting Speedos while they rant about their housemate who never does dishes and used all their lube without asking.

It was then that Chris got a happy text from Cub that he had located eternal FM radio personality Delilah on his drive down and my love for him faded away. Delilah and her maudlin love songs and dedications from women who pine away for male co-workers who don’t know they exist and prisoners reaching out to touch in a new way those they have stalked is the quintessence of everything I hate about terrestrial radio. Oh well. I guess no one is perfect.

Then again, I started developing my own weird music obsession recently myself. I noticed a few weeks ago that the music at the supermarket was better than it used to be and then I realized, it wasn’t better, I was just older and the music was targeted to me. And then it hit me. That is how everything is now. Everything is made and sold by people my age, so everything in life is now pitched perfectly for me to experience. It is almost like the whole world is created personally for you, which makes all of life feel like Disneyland to a five year old. So growing uglier sucks and suddenly feeling pain in places you never felt before is always a bad omen of things to come, but all of that is masked nicely by the warm comfort of knowing you are the target demo of modern life.

Even though they have longed for an invite to my house, Cub is in Atlantic City and Chris is using the weekend to go down to DC and neither of them will be at my party. Henry is listed on my Facebook invite as a Maybe but I am certain he isn’t coming. I didn’t even bother asking him. Although his boyfriend Dan did tell me tonight how excited he was when he went to fabulis.com and saw me in the top ten. “You’re number five in the world! I can’t believe I know someone ranked so high,” he beamed even though I never got higher than eight. “I’ve slid since then.” I assured him, my rank now hovering at a still impressive 32 though long since overwhelmed by obsessed college kids with nothing to do in their permanent state of unemployment but vote each other up on the list.

However artificial a popularity contest like the Fabulis list is, it does feel good to have so many votes. Sure it isn’t the same as having a house full of people, hearing your favorite song in the cereal aisle or filling a club on your birthday, but these days you have to take your kudos where you can get them.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Callous In Wonderland

There are always hot guys around. This is the world I live in. Well, it is the world I work in, which sometimes feels like real life, even when it isn’t. I exist on a plane with blurry players dancing on the blurry lines between fantasy and reality. Who can say what is real and what isn’t?

The whole show tonight was the subject at hand. We spent an hour talking to the two finalists and the winner of the current season of Project Runway. But I was less interested in talking to Seth Aaron about his leggings than I was confronting him about my lack of an invitation to Laura Bennett’s finale viewing party. After all, I thought Laura and I made a connection when she joined us in studio recently to plug her delightfully breezy parenting guide “Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday?” In my head, I imagined I would be her new gay boyfriend and even though I know less than nothing about fashion, we would pal around over spiked coffee and she would try to marry me off to her gay manny. But I emailed her more than a week ago to no reply and then I see pictures from her party posted by the gay bloggers she did invite. Suddenly the reality is that I am Stella Dallas, outside looking in.

We rounded out the show with our usual Friday Night Dance Party, our excuse to not talk much in the last hour of the show while a famous DJ plays their favorite tunes. Tracy Young the sexy lady who spins at all the hot gay boy events was in studio for this round, looking as adorable as ever. Her first song was her mix of “Tardy For The Party,” the freshman musical effort of one Kim Zolciak, who puts the real in The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Kim called into the show and was exhaustingly vague about their relationship, while Tracy just sat there politely minding her own business. Now I know why reality TV requires so much editing. Some stories demand scissors and tape to make sense of.

Moments before Tracy bounced into our lives, adorable singer and actor Chris Salvatore popped into the studio. Ever since his film Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat hit the home video market, the gay community has memorized every detail of his naked body in freely distributed screen caps. Yes, we got him to reluctantly take his shirt off in the studio. It was very Coco from Fame without the creepy campiness. But he really wanted to discuss his music, especially his appropriately titled single “Dirty Love.” While he was leaving, he asked for my phone number so he and his manager (my friend Ryan) could meet up with me after the show.

I admit it. I thought he was attractive. After my silly flirtation with Drew Cutler a few weeks ago, I should have thought better of another in-studio showmance, but flirting is fun and it’s even more fun when the flirt comes back to you. So I met up with Chris and Ryan after the show at the apartment of some friend of theirs that is apparently so popular (aka whorish) that it appears on foursquare.com as a destination. (Normally a line like that would be me trying to be clever, but in this case it is in fact true.) My plan was to just spend a few flirty minutes with him before heading off to Brooklyn for a special Friday night edition of Ben Harvey’s GUMBO.

There were about eight gay men in the apartment and each one was more attractive than the last. They kept exploding out of nooks and corners, arms bulging from tight t-shirts, winning smiles shimmering in the night. I have to assume they all share a very popular house on Fire Island in the summertime, although I honestly didn’t want to know more. No sooner had I tried to remember some (any) of their names than a titsy blond woman wandered into the scene demanding acknowledgement that she wasn’t a fag hag because fag hags have no hope of ever getting laid and then blurted out, “You know what I hate about the gay community?”

“Everything?” was one response. “Gay men?” was the one with universal agreement among the men.

These of course were our reasons for hating the gay community. She hated it because when she went out to a gay club, she had the least chance of getting laid. She said this of course while a gay man was running his hand over her left breast and I pointed out to her that she already had gotten more action at the party than any of the gay men standing there. Let’s just say between her ridiculous stance against the gays (if all you want is to get laid, hang out with straight men you idiot) and her monologues delivered at full screech (“I just don’t understand lesbians. The whole thing doesn’t make sense. I am hungry for cock in my stomach!”), my dinner was ready to leave before I was, and I was beyond ready to go.

After Chris was prodded into singing a bit of one of his tunes a cappella in the bedroom, the three of us decamped to The Ritz. I had planned to ditch them at the door on my way to a quick turnaround in Brooklyn, but then Chris had nuzzled up to me while we were walking over after he found out I was single. As I tried to leave, he grabbed me a bit on the arm, “You aren’t leaving now, are you? You’ll come in for one drink, right?” Cut to me standing there with Ryan watching Chris do a shot out of an ice sculpture shaped like a man’s ass. “I thought it was a vagina!” he yelled with a smile, wiping his chin with the back of his hand. A bit later, I was leaving to try to make the 1am train when I ran into Rob on his way in with his notorious roommate Erik Bottcher, who I had never really met (or have I?) and who is connected to me on Facebook through about 120 of the hottest men you have ever seen.

Tardy Erik, for whom the party was just getting started, grinned at me and it was wicked, “Oh you aren’t leaving right now, are you? You can join us for a minute right?” I can’t say no to a handsome man and back into the breach I went. It was nice to see Rob again since we used to work together and he keeps trying to get together with me and I never make it happen. We swirled around a bit downstairs, perplexed by the bartender who was half wearing a shirt. I watched Erik and Rob do shots out of test tubes served by a weary drag queen. A not-so attractive man followed Rob out of the bathroom and tried to make something happen between them but the reality was that was never, ever going to happen.

Naturally, Rob and Erik wanted to go upstairs and moments later I was back where I had started. Erik knew all of Chris and Ryan’s hot friends from that tiny apartment located on the corner of Manhunt and used condoms. Of course they did. Hot men are like migrating birds. Their way in life is easier when they all group together and head in the same direction. Suddenly it was Chris and Rob side by side doing shots, Chris out of an ice penis and Rob’s lips pressed against that frozen ass from before. It was time for me to go, again. For real this time.

The first time I said good bye to Chris, I dirty danced with him for a few minutes before walking out the door, but this time, I gave him just a quick hug and a kiss good night. The slow dance had felt hot and passionate, like the real thing. But what is the real thing anyway? Earlier on the show, he said people liked his performance in Eating Out but he was essentially just playing himself. He is an actor and creating a moment and making it seem true is what he does for a living. Besides, didn’t I think I had the real thing before only to have it explode into a horrible ball of hatred that left only mutually assured destruction? Perhaps showmance is real enough for now. After all, it always feels good and there is never any bitter after taste.

Kim was so maddeningly vague but when you are a real person in a Real world, there is probably a lot to sort out. I know the feeling. What do any of us know for certain about anything? My mother used to say that my grandmother Laura “never believed in anything she couldn’t put her fist through” and maybe that is the right idea. So much of life is show and unlike a movie where they turn up the lights or a play where the actors bow, the show of life doesn’t have the kind of definitive delineation that makes separating truth from illusion easy. Without the comfort of a proscenium arch, none of it is particularly real and reality is just what we make of it. If pressing up against Chris and running my hand through his hair and down his chest felt real then I guess it was real. Or at least, real enough for tonight.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"Disturbing, But Possible."

That’s what I said to Mario at his suggestion that an underage twink stripper might spontaneously pop out of the pecan pie resting in front of Matty at the end of his birthday dinner. It is Thursday night at The Park and of course we are all back at the scene of the crime. Mario is excited about the impending arrival of his baby but Brian’s one track mind is on real estate. I dragged Erik over to witness Matty and his sophisticated and fashion-forward friends celebrate his birthday. This isn’t Gay 101. It’s Gay 304. After all, where else will he see a Crumbs cupcake cut ten ways?

I have been trying to arrange a meeting between Erik and Matty so that his gay education can be furthered. When I arrived, Jordy was standing near the front and it was déjà vu all over again. He loved that I described our last encounter at the club as “two ships passing in the night,” as if I invented that dull cliché. He was meeting a straight girl from high school and her boyfriend who were both visiting from out of town. As soon as he spotted them bursting through the door, I waved and backed away slowly like Ann-Margret in “Bye-Bye, Birdie.”

Alone, I hunted through the club for Matty and a few minutes after Erik arrived, he texted me that they were finishing up dinner in the restaurant downstairs near the front. The Park is a huge complex and, as I explained to Erik, exactly the kind of restaurant I wanted to open when I was a kid. He asked me why I didn’t do something similar now and I shot it down instantly. “A restaurant is a financial sinkhole.” There are reasons why you dream about things when you are a kid and don’t make them a reality when you grow up.

After the crumbs from Crumbs were cleared away, we all wandered upstairs. Shay was there and as lovely as always. She keeps trying to get me to add her Facebook Fan Page, probably because she knows I am an outlet mall shopper who needs some ShayStyle, but I am not what I would call a joiner. Matty’s boyfriend Andrew was properly suited to the occasion while I was the bad friend who didn’t wear Polo on his birthday. Matty was justifiably incredulous but in typical Matty fashion, forgot the upset before the possibility of concern turning to a wrinkle could take place.

“Matty should get a job working in Protocol at the White House,” I suggested to his friend Clay as we watched Matty work the crowd like a campaigner, every hand shaken, every baby kissed. Clay was very cute and slender in a v-neck tee under a slouchy wafer of a cardigan. He insisted he has known Matty for years but I was suspicious because we had never met. I like to think I know all of Matty’s friends, even though I say all the time that Matty is the only gay you need to know in Manhattan because he knows everyone else. But still, I should know all the gays at his intimate birthday dinner.

To show Clay my attraction to him, I threatened to throw him down a flight of stairs. And it was said not just once in an amusing way either. More than once so he got the point that I really might actually send him sailing if given the opportunity. Moments early, I had followed Clay and Matty further into the bar, where we engaged in conversation with two men, Ian and Kelly (“Like the color!” I offered, much to Kelly's visible annoyance). Kelly was a fine conversationalist, though with the noise, I couldn’t hear a word he said. And his need to take everything I said literally (for instance, “I work here. I’m a busboy downstairs.”) all had a reasonably unhappy ending.

But the real failure to communicate was with Ian who did not understand that I was joking about owning a Jitterbug cell phone and assaulted me with a barrage of information about his Droid phone that had all the subtly of a Scientologist trying to sell you Herbalife and Amway at the same time. I was trapped and Clay saw that I was trapped, and so in a move that I would have made myself if the roles had been reversed suddenly declared that he had to pee and walked away. Walked away! And this is why I threatened to throw him down a flight of stairs. Because merely pushing him just wouldn’t have gotten the message across.

Come to think of it, I am pretty sure I met Clay before at Therapy quite some time ago. But that was under a staircase on the ground floor, so he was safe from my threat of violence. I suppose it was doubly upsetting because I would have done the same thing. It was just so unpleasant to see the behavior in someone so otherwise attractive. Although in comparison, I love Conor and he doesn’t have a flaw I haven’t been willing to turn a blind eye to.

Conor was with his boyfriend Ryan, who I branded “Dimples” after Conor made such a fuss about his face. The dimples were cute but he had an ass that would not quit, even after the whistle had blown. “Dimples” seemed nice enough although I am fairly certain he was fucking with me when he said he quit his job so he could concentrate full-time on his tan before summer got here. The more I talked to him, the less certain I was that he was joking, but again, the ass, the body, it was all tight like hospital corners, so if his tan needs that kind of attention, well then I guess that’s just fine.

Conor’s friend Andrew was also there. “Will you remember me this time?” he huffed, although I didn’t remember forgetting him before (although he might be easier to remember if he hadn't blocked me on Facebook, no doubt because of my generous links to his profile in my blog). I whispered sweet nothings to him about him being impossible to forget because he is so handsome. And like all attractive men who only care about the massive, nuclear levels of attention they need to receive, he melted like a Soviet reactor.

I love Conor and Andrew but I had to explain to Erik that they are on the dark side of the force. “Conor is not on the dark side,” Matty said, as he sipped complimentary birthday champagne in the VIP lounge area he staked out as his own nearby. “If he isn’t on the dark side yet,” I told him, “He is at least Anakin just before he becomes Darth Vader.” I say all this with the full understanding that I am on the dark side of the force too.

After all, I am not shy about pointing out the shortcomings and foibles of others. I make the most callous observations of friends and strangers without regard to feelings or fallout. I even sent Conor on a mission tonight to get more information on the pretty guy I have seen the last two times I was at the bar. The one I suggested looked like he was made out of cream cheese just at the expiration date. Conor recognized him from his gym. “His name is Daniel and he is from the UK.” Not quite enough for me to find him on Facebook. It makes me long for the days of Friendster, when that would have been everything I needed to unveil his life story.

I live in the world of the disturbing but possible. That is the bread and butter of the gay male existence. Earlier Matty and Mario had been talking about a mutual friend who claimed to have calmed down but was living as wild and on the edge as ever. That’s who we are. I know it’s who I am. Believing in my head one thing, and living a life completely contrary to that vision. I am sure Erik learned a lot about what it means to be a gay man in New York City tonight, but perhaps the lessons learned weren’t the best we could offer as a community. The problem is that I am just not a very good teacher because the only lesson I teach is how to be me. And that is a terrible lesson.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Forever, For Now

Nothing really stays the same. And this is frustrating, though hardly a surprise in a city like NYC. Manhattan is changing constantly, sometimes right before your very eyes. I really hate change. I like life to be a long stretch of moments frozen in time, like tiny raindrops caught in one of those cool moments in the Matrix where the camera is moving but the action is still.

In 2003, Sean and I joined Scollay and Mickey in Florence and one day we were sailing through the Uffizi museum. It was near closing time and Sean and I happened upon Venus on the half shell, as she is more casually known. And there was a small bench for the oldsters to sit and gaze up. So we just sat there and in the last few minutes the museum was open, we just sat somewhat quietly and beheld the Venus, unobstructed by other tourists and writ large on the facing wall. The experience lasted for just a few moments but in the endless loop of my mind, I am forever there, witnessing the birth of Venus.

Tom was on the show tonight and he is so handsome and brilliant and marvelous, it always puts me in an introspective, just-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life kind of mood. For me, Tom is like Geena Davis at the end of Thelma & Louise. “Let’s just keep going,” he seems to call out to me and just spending a few minutes with him makes me want to slam the gas pedal down in that Thunderbird and take flight.

After the show, we met up with Erik and the three of us trudged downtown to The Park. Erik was with me there last week, but Tom had never been before. He loved the space, but thought the whole thing was too dimly lit. “How are you supposed to see who you want to go home with?” he asked, perplexed, and then more seriously, “How are they supposed to see if they want to go home with you?” I had to agree with Tom that the lighting was especially dim, though punctuated frequently by the sudden glow of ultra bright iPhone screens as text messages were checked and sent. I suggested that anyone using a new iPad in there would have the unpleasant effect of switching on a searchlight.

Erik, who last week was dressed like a Dockers ad for some kind of casual Friday celebration that never seems to end, heeded my advice and went more relaxed this time with a nice polo shirt. Why anyone would take fashion advice from me is a mystery but he was so buttoned-down last week, it made me nervous, like at any moment we might be audited or asked to give a PowerPoint presentation. Erik told me that he too felt better dressing more casually, so at least in this instance, it wasn’t a total disaster.

I like to spend a fair amount of my time out at gay bars inspecting what everyone else is wearing. This is a good way to spot trends and check to see if people are still wearing any of the same things you own. I am slow to retire items from my wardrobe and it helps to decide what to toss when I look around a room of attractive gay men and see that none of them own anything like what I have in my closet. But tonight, the crowd was strange, and I don’t just mean the two guys with the Flock of Seagulls hair and what appeared to be homemade capes and caftans fashioned hastily from bed linens.

There just wasn’t anything even approaching a fashion through line to hang your spring wardrobe on. Tattoo muscle arms in a 2xist tank top, scrawny hippie in a simple wife beater, polo shirts and jeans, button down shirts tucked into pressed shorts, even some guys huddled together in the back in suits. Maybe this is finally the fashion trickle down of the bad economy. Without money left for new things, they are just throwing together whatever is left, like when you are hungry and you make dinner out of whatever the last three cans are in the pantry. This makes life for a fashion victim like me completely without hope.

Perhaps we can all learn a bit from Venus. When you have the clams, you buy whatever you want. But when you are down to your last clam, just come as you are. My mind wanders back to the Uffizi. It was drizzling there in Florence, just as it is now in Manhattan. But the Hudson is a poor substitute for the charms of the reflected glory of the Arno. Erik agreed with me that the crowd was not as attractive tonight as it had been last week at The Park. Oh well. I guess nothing is perfect even in its moment nearest to perfection and nothing lasts forever. We can keep the memories we cherish the most suspended in time, but the rest of life swirls away from the wheels of time into a dusty cloud of eternity.

And the Thunderbird just keeps going.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Over Easy

I think it might be the end of Bowery Bar as we know it.

It is not exactly with the heaviest of hearts that I report the long threatened demise of NYC’s most durable club night. For years, I have visited (though not thoroughly enjoyed) my regular Tuesday nights at the famed watering hole. I went there again tonight, the first real night of spring, for what I expected would be the usual gay fanfare. But it had all the charm of the Bates Motel after they moved the highway. They kept lighting the lights but I don’t think anyone is coming anymore.

Classic doorman Derek was positioned outside the entrance but the usual long line of long-legged gays never materialized. Not only did I see him letting in women, a Tuesday night rarity, but he was welcoming them with an enthusiastic smile and at one point, the slightest of bows. The scales of power had definitely tipped. Inside, the attendant gays dripped with the usual unnecessary attitude but it was even more unnecessary than usual in the half capacity crowd. The staff aggressively hustled people away from lingering near the exits but maybe they were just trying to discourage them from leaving.

Adam was waiting for me when I arrived, patiently lurking just inside near the hostess stand. He looks as handsome as ever, and was a little hungry. There wasn’t really anyone there yet, so we got a small table and ordered some food. Near us, a banquette with a wealthy homo stationed inside it swarmed with firm young men in tight new clothes like it was some notorious gay beehive. That was to be expected. But elsewhere the bloom was off the rose and the bees were not buzzing with their usual enthusiasm.

Corey Johnson circled our table three times like a tired dog looking for a place to lay down. He must have found it because we never saw him again. After dinner, we walked around a bit and then ended up at the back bar where we each ordered a drink. Adam and I wandered out to the patio and set up camp near the wall watching the gays pass us by.

“The last time I stood in this part of the bar,” Adam told me, “[A former porn star] suddenly turned and said, ‘I wish someone would just pound my ass right now.’” A startling announcement to be sure even from a porn star, but perhaps it was more startling that none of the men standing around when he said it took him up on the offer. But those were the glory days of Beige, when hot porn stars were just standing around demanding that you have sex with them. Now I am pretty sure they would say that just to have an excuse to leave.

I suppose it was bound to happen. We thought it was all going to come to an end in 2001 but then Britney and Justin showed up and suddenly it all came roaring back in the days following 9/11 when everyone in the city yearned for a return to the comfortable normalcy of the 90s. And in past years, I have tripped over actors and singers and models galore as I snaked my way through the pit. Just four days ago, The Park had porn star Erik Rhodes and fashion designer Marc Jacobs and actor Alan Cumming, which is the kind of star sightings I would have expected at Bowery Bar. But the most notable guy I saw all night was the cream cheesy hunk I spied by the basement coat check line at The Park last week. Hardly something to write home about, though he did look as attractive as ever. And by ever, I mean, since Thursday.

Matt Kugelman had been enthusiastic about joining me tonight, but he and his friend Constantino ended up swinging through G first and arriving much later at B-Bar. Matt was buzzed when he finally got there and I don’t just mean his hair. I had trouble hearing but there was something about margaritas and a party. In retrospect, I probably didn’t need to hear the story to surmise exactly what happened. When it comes to the gays, you don’t exactly have to be Jessica Fletcher to put all the pieces together.

While we were standing there, Bobby popped up out of nowhere. I haven’t seen him in a while. Initially I thought it was at the fancy pride party in the sky I had so much trouble writing about, but he seemed to think it was more recently. Anyway, it was nice to see him, even if it wasn’t for very long. He and his friend, whose name I once again didn’t hear or remember, left almost as soon as they arrived. And even the sudden appearance of Keo Nozari wasn’t enough to keep me there much longer.

“I think Bianca is coming.” Matt said encouragingly, looking up from his phone but that was my cue to go. “I have to leave. You know how I live to miss Bianca’s show.” But in this case, it had nothing to do with Bianca. I could tell Adam was ready to escape the place like it was on fire and I too couldn’t wait to run out of there myself. Perhaps the pulse quickened after I left, but I will never know. As far as I am concerned, it is no longer the beating heart of midweek Manhattan gay life. It's time to call it. Time of death: Tuesday, April 6, 2010.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Fox Trot

The lighted spire of the Empire State Building is robin’s egg blue. The yellow daffodils are in bloom parading up and down the sidewalks on every Manhattan avenue. The trees along 34th street are exploding with white blossoms as if punctuated with clumps of snowy cotton balls. There are many wonderful times of year in the city, but I think none is more spectacular than that first real flush of spring, when everywhere you turn there is a welcome splash of color and freshness. When a city known more for its grey hue and jet black fashion sheds its heavy winter coat of snowy blah and reveals a kaleidoscope of bright colors that wipe away the months of misery the first of the year can bring. Time once again to shake out my own mothballs and return to the beating pulse of New York nightlife. Spring is here, I hear.

Just in time for the high season of club activity, Josh Wood has launched a new weekly party at The Park called Fox Thursdays. Matty promoted a party in the same space last year and it was always filled with all the gays of our lives. So I naturally assumed since I heard Matty was there the last two Thursdays that he would be there again. The fact that my text messages beforehand alerting him to my anticipated appearance went unheeded worried me not in the least. No matter. There were plenty of other fun and fabulous people to keep me going.

As soon as I walked in the door, I was pleasantly surprised to run into Jordan, who I hadn’t seen since I did a mercy run down to a birthday party at Pieces and returned the gloves he had left in the studio during an interview. I was so surprised to see him that I didn’t hear the names of any of his friends. Naturally once that happened and we had been talking for a half an hour, I couldn’t very well go and ask them again. I mean, I suppose I could, but I probably would have just offended them and then still not remembered their names anyway. I’m just like that.

We lingered in the front bar for a bit and then ventured into the main floor back bar. The Park is a large space and like the water-tight compartments on the Titanic, as one space fills up, it spills over into the next. The whole thing is ready to sink under its own weight when the massive crowd pours upstairs to the patio party space there, and within an hour of my arriving, it was so crowded there, you were literally drowning in a sea of hot gay men. This is not necessarily a complaint, mind you.

Newly gay Erik joined us there with his friend Jon from college. Since Erik is new to being gay, I knew it would be virtually impossible for him to find me in such a gigantic space, so I went back to the front bar to find him. By the time we three made our way back into the beating heart of The Park, I had lost Jordan and his friends in the crowd. For the rest of the evening, we continued to pass each other, like two ships in the night, but never spoke again. I didn’t even get to say good-bye.

Chatting upstairs by the bar, we bumped into my fashionable friend Sam, who was very happy I was there. “I never see you anymore.” Sam told me, "Thank God for Facebook so I at least can keep up with what you are doing.” Apparently both of us took much of the winter off from going out and like that famous groundhog finally poked our heads out to see who might shadow us. Sam was busy taking pictures of some of the gays in the bar who had the nerve to be wearing trucker hats. “Is it 2002 already?” I asked innocently.

We all decided to wander around with our drinks to see who else was there and in the back of the upstairs patio, I ran into Henry and Dan. Tonight for the first time I noticed something I should have realized quite some time ago: that Henry has a fondness for bowties and Dan, like me, likes polo shirts. I now realize that I have noticed them dressed like that on more than one occasion and yet never put it together like it was a thing. Their humpy friend Adam was also there and did not remember meeting me at Chris’ birthday party last week at The Boiler Room. Fair is fair, I didn’t remember his name. He was one of the guys who went to college with one of the other guys, in this case I think Henry. In any event, the important part of the encounter was that Henry was sniffing Adam quite intensely.

“He smells really, really good!” Henry’s boyfriend Dan didn’t even blink he was so unfazed by Henry sniffing Adam’s head like a bloodhound. I will admit, curiosity got the better of me and I smelled him myself. He did in fact smell delicious, a wonderfully soapy fresh clean smell. But I think Henry was in some kind of a gregarious mood because as I was leaving he informed me he was going to hug me until I felt uncomfortable. While he did hug me for an excessively long period of time, I think Henry is just too marvelous to ever grow uncomfortable or even tired of hugging, even under the watchful if passive gaze of his boyfriend.

Down at the basement-level coat check, waiting in the long line to get my backpack, a group of attractive fit thirty-something guys came down the stairs to carouse in the ancient bathroom. One of them, in a white printed t-shirt and poured on jeans that left nothing to the imagination waited outside next to me for all of his also hot friends to finish up inside. He was so beautiful, it was really something. And clearly the best looking of his crew. Without a doubt, the most beautiful man I had seen since the hot guy working the Mr. Softee truck up on Broadway and 50th street. The one who smiled when he saw my giddy charge across the street to get my vanilla cone in my short trot from the radio studio to the subway down to The Park tonight.

“I saw you from across the street,” he smiled a winning smile, leaning out the service window on his impressive party arms. “I had a feeling you were coming here.”

“This is the best thing about spring,” I told him, “When the weather turns and Mr. Softee arrives on the corner.”

He smiled even wider. “Aw thanks. That’s nice to hear.”

I wish I could have gotten the hot guy next to coat check to smile like that but after a quick glance back and forth he suddenly became very interested in his cell phone. The body and face were perfect as if sculpted from velvety rich cream cheese, even if the whole package was up against its printed expiration date. While still so very, very good-looking, he was definitely about to turn that corner to older gay guy. I thought to myself as I grabbed my backpack and headed up the stairs to the ground floor how difficult it will be for him to get old, to lose all that firmness and beauty that has carried him through so many Fire Island summers and to where? What was his final destination to be? After many a Fire Island summer, dies the gay swan.

Now normally this is the point where I could bring the whole evening full circle making some kind of statement about the bloom of spring and things fading almost before they begin to blossom. Or, about how the cream cheese is still edible even if it is a bit dry and crusty on the edges. But I don’t even have time to form the thoughts in my head before I see a familiar hulking figure looming at the top of the stairs.

“You mother fucker!” I yell, my horrid voice echoing out through the bar as I spy notorious porn hunk Erik Rhodes waiting for me on the landing. He looks suddenly sheepish like a child caught ditching school.

“Uh oh. Was I supposed to do the show and I flaked on you?” He looks a little panic-stricken. “I am suddenly having flashbacks about that.”

Erik Rhodes has been MIA for weeks now. He was supposed to do the show and then we never heard from him again. And then his phone stopped working. He hadn’t updated his blog in months. I suppose somewhere in the back of my mind I just assumed he was finally dead. Moving to Staten Island is like faking your own death, but after a while, people will just take it as the real thing.

Turns out that Erik’s boyfriend replaced his phone on him (without asking or telling) which is why he had a new number and didn’t have my number anymore. Moments before arriving at The Park, Erik had just gotten into some kind of verbal argument with an overweight woman at Gray’s Papaya, whom he constantly referred to as “Precious.”

“She even told me she was pregnant. Like I give a shit.”

Despite his instance that he had really calmed down, and to be fair, he did seem more relaxed and normal than I had seen him in a while, he was clearly riled up by a variety of outside forces. “There’s that Alan Cumming. Didn’t he put out a cologne called ‘Cumming.’ That’s disgusting.” This from the man who has told such brain blanching tales on our show gay men have complained that they crossed a line. But, on the good side, he was very happy with his new career behind the camera directing at Falcon. “I love it. I tell the models when they look like shit. They don’t like that very much but I don’t care.” He hasn’t lost an inch of his massive muscle mass or brutish honesty so while I have no doubt the models don’t like it when he says they are in an unflattering position, I doubt any of them challenge him.

It was nice to see Erik again, even if he ended up making me miss the train I had intended to take home. That kind of detour was worth it. He always makes me laugh and if the three hugs good-bye are any indication, he missed me too. Spring is full of wonderful surprises and you never know what fox you might find on any given Thursday at The Park.