Saturday, December 1, 2012

Ben There, Done That

There I was, shivering as the icy wind kicked up off the East River. It’s night in DUMBO and I am in line outside the Galapagos Art Space. I have been here so many times that I can’t possibly recall them all, but I do know that I have never waited in this long of a line before.

"Here we go again. Out at another gay bar."

Apparently the two guys standing behind me were straight (in Brooklyn it can be very hard to tell) and even stranger, one of them was clearly reading my mind. But while they hurriedly texted their friend Rachel, hoping she was already inside, I waited impatiently as the time dwindled away. With the new hours of my show and the rigidity of the Metro North train schedule, I don’t have time to sit idly by on Grindr chatting with Mr. Easy-On-The-Eyes-Even-Though-Mine-Are-Rolling-From-Annoyance. For this latest adventure, I had literally fifteen minutes and the thought of spending all of them in line to get into a club was not my idea of fun. 

My Submission To
The occasion was the third anniversary of Ben Harvey’s smash hit GUMBO party. Fittingly, this was my third time seeing Ben this week and my second night in a row out on the town with him. Last night, I was his ad hoc plus one for the Out 100 party at Milk Studios down in the Meatpacking District. If you are keeping kosher, you know Milk and Meatpacking should not mix and in this case you are right. The crowd was lively but the venue was too small.

Before I found Ben, I spotted Thomas Roberts and his new husband, Patrick, heralded on the list this year as the Newlyweds. I wanted to say hi but they were swamped with well-wishes up to and including the second they ran out the door like two Cinderellas trying to catch the last pumpkin uptown. But really they were more like two handsome princes, each more charming than the other. That’s appropriate because the Out 100 is our gay prom and living the sentiment is important.

Hey Mr. and Mr. Charming. It's twelve past midnight. Don't close your eyes.
For this occasion, I was dressed up. I decided to go classic Manhattan: black suit, black tie, dress shoes, even an old school elegant watch. On my way into the party I ran into honoree Gregg Kaminsky and his husband, who raved about my flowing black trench coat. The coat, along with the shoes, were Barney’s New York Outlet store purchases in Carlsbad, California after I knew I was moving to Manhattan and decided I needed "Manhattan" clothes to wear. They have barely left my closet in twelve years.

Manhattan is a much better idea than it is a place. As I arrived at Grand Central in my grand outfit, I was overwhelmed with the desire to walk to the party. And so I did, my grand coat floating behind me as my hard-soled shoes clacked dramatically on the pavement of the dirty city. I am sure it was quite a sight, especially with my bangs (Ben called them "the swoop"), long and one with the breeze. But stomping like Naomi Campbell at Milan Fashion Week from 42nd Street and Park to 15th Street and Tenth was a terrible idea, and as I left the party three hours later, the blister on the back of my heel burst and I glamorously hobbled two more blocks before I reluctantly gave up the ghost and humbly granny shuffled to a taxi for the trip back to the train station.

Inside the party I was as out of step with fashion as my blistered feet soon would be with the cobblestones of the West Village. Yes, there were other men in suits. But the boys were in slim fitting high fashion togs. I saw more than one pair of red pants. My initial search for my delightful new friend Adam Goldman was stymied repeatedly by the sea of square glasses and cardigans. Attention Old Navy: The Cardi Party you have been crowing about has arrived.
Serving You Out 100 Party Realness... For Less!
Ben was there, handsome as ever. And Adam I finally found with his crazy hot friend Steve, whose eyebrows were just too big enough. Naturally I also ran into Chris and Cub, which was reason enough to go. Even in my shoes which somehow made me two inches taller, they both still towered over me, especially Cub who for some reason seemed basketball player tall. Cub told me a story about how the guy he dated before Chris didn’t like carrot cake and we both agreed that not only was that a solid reason to end it (especially after Cub had baked him one for Valentine’s Day) but clearly in Chris he was much better off.

I talked a lot with Ken, rushing over to him to tell him how much I loved the photo he ran this week of a woman carving a turkey on the subway. In my years in New York, I have seen my share of disgusting behavior and strange items consumed in the foul confines of our filthy subways so I appreciated the bold political statement made here.

This is all about the reaction shots for me. Delicious!
 Andy Towle was there with his boyfriend Dave. Andy was wondering why our Words With Friends games ended, but I had no answer beyond promising to start a new one. Later, Dave caught my eye from across the room so I did some exaggerated facial expressions in his direction for his amusement. That caused mixed signals in the ether because suddenly a reed thin ginger (like a gayer Conan O’Brien) sauntered over near me and then realizing I was not making silent movie gestures to him, scurried away.

Michael Lucas wandered over with Jason Bellini. I spent a few minutes with them corralled near the entrance to the kitchen with Adam and his group. I told Michael I was in one of his new movies. He had no idea. "Even I’m not in that one," was his typically cryptic response. Michael demanded to know why he hasn't been on the show in a while and I admit I do miss having him around. I promised we would have him back soon for those of you who have missed him too.

My evening at the Out 100 ended with Ben and Adam. Nearby, Davis Mallory was posing for some photos in one of the photo stations at the party. He looked pouty and sexy like always, and his muscles were so tight under his shirt he really put the meat in meatpacking district. But I didn't talk to him either. There were too many people and my feet hurt and I was worried about being able to rescue my fantastic coat from the notoriously not fantastic coat check.

Squint To The Upper Left And You Might See Me!
I didn't bother checking my other coat at the GUMBO party the following night. It was enough that the spell was broken and I was no longer the glamorous Manhattanite who attended the Out 100 soiree. Instead, I was plain old me, my swoop a windy mess, my five dollar Gap polo shirt fading, my L.L. Bean “lesbian” red plaid jacket a bulky unruly heap on my shoulders. The Brooklyn gays inside were serving up slim fit elfin woodsy realness but it was nothing in the face of the realness of my real massive lumberjack coat.

"I thought that was a person, slumped in the corner," a woman (Rachel?) confessed to me inside after I went to retrieve my coat and bag from under a table. I had ditched it there while Ben and I took some fun holiday photos in the GUMBO photo booth and when she accidentally stepped on it, she thought she had crushed a human person. So when I tell you I dress like a hobo in everyday life, maybe now you will believe me. After all, an empty glass on the floor next to my stuff had a dollar and some change in it when I came back to it.

I wish I had stayed longer at GUMBO, if only just to spend more time with Ben. But like I said, it was our third time this week and after two glamorous nights out on the town, I was ready to head back to the suburbs. I humped down into the subway station at York Street and waited for the next F train. When I got there, I recognized a young but not particularly attractive bearded guy in a bulky black parka sitting on the bench. I had noticed him pushing his way out of GUMBO as I was waiting to go in and now twenty minutes later, there he was again.
Hop On For Creepy Late Night Adventures!
As the train arrived, he walked past me and got on through a door on the further end of the train. That seemed strange to me but then a stop later I noticed that he had gone out of his way so he could sit right next to a cute guy who had been waiting on our platform some distance from me. Our train car was virtually deserted, maybe seven people in the whole thing. The two very awkwardly shared a double seat surrounded by a sea of empty chairs until the cute guy got up and appeared to exit at the next station, but really he walked into another car and sat down.

I sighed. The guy in the puffy jacket was a straight up creep. I mean, come on. That is a seriously icky move. But as the cute guy left the train, the creepy guy cast his eyes around the train looking for someone else to be icky to. He looked right past me. Didn't even give me a second glance! Not that I wanted the icky guy to sit next to me, but I am at an age where at least it would be flattering to be offended. I closed my eyes and thought about all the compliments I had gotten the night before at the Out 100 party. Perhaps if I was still in my suit and my amazing coat and my hard shoes he would have given that better version of me another look. Or maybe I need to just quit while I’m behind.


Read more of Derek's adventures in When Nightlife Falls and Colonnade: A Life In Columns. Both are available now on, and in digital form for The KindleThe Nook, and in the iBookstore. 

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