Tuesday, February 07, 2006

GayProf Nails It Again

Please go visit the GayProf at Center Of Gravitas. He has just produced a brilliant dissection of the relationship between internalized homophobia and the eroticizing and fetishization of straight men, as evidenced by a huge percentage of gay porn.

I'm not saying gay men should stop patronizing places like SeanCody.com and AmateurStraightGuys.com. I'm just saying we can all be healthier people once we examine and understand our carnal motivations, once we own our desires.

.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Blarg Hop

Have any of you guys been to ALL of the bars on Christopher Street, the most famous street in all of the homoverse? Not just the bear bars. Not just the leather bars. Not just the showtune/cabaret places. All of them? Well, me neither. And apparently, not any of my blogger friends either. But that will all change this weekend when we, a loose confederation of loose bloggers, make our first big group blarg hop down Christopher Street, where we will visit every homo hangout on the entire street.

Event: Blarg Hop (blog + bar hop = blarg hop)

Date: Saturday, February 11th

Place: Christopher Street

Time: 10PM (22:00 hrs if you are Eric)

What: An old school bar crawl down Christopher Street

Who: A veritable cavalcade of gay bloggers and friends, including: Blather And Bosh, CircleInASquare, Diary Of A Dandy, Fox In The City, Glennalicious, Ham & Cheese On Wry, Joe.My.God., My Secretive Life, Perge Modo, Plastic Music, PogueGO, Proceed At Your Own Risk, Robocub, Someone In A Tree, The Ninth Circle Of Helen, Tin Man, The Mark Of Kane, VelleityNYC, We Like Sheep and doubtlessly some others. Bloggers interested in joining us, email me to add your name here.

Itinerary: (We start at Pieces at 10pm. The bars will be visited in the following order, at least one cocktail per bar, but we allocate no specific duration to any venue in case they like, suck and stuff.)

1. Pieces - 8 Christopher Street
2. Stonewall - 53 Christopher Street
3. Duplex - 61 Christopher Street
4. The Monster - 80 Grove Street*
5. Boots & Saddles - 76 Christopher Street
6. Ty's - 114 Christopher Street
7. The Hangar - 115 Christopher Street
8. Chi-Chiz - 135 Christopher Street
9. Dugout - 185 Christopher Street

Feel free to join us. Mike P of Blather & Bosh will be audioblogging the event for his podcast, and there will be copious photographic records made of the entire, sure to be sordid, affair. And of course, we will all post hungover recaps on Sunday. But probably not too early.

* Yes, we know that The Monster is not on Christopher, but it's close enough and too legendary to ignore. Marie's Crisis gets no such dispensation.


On The Line

Wednesday afternoon, the uptown 6 train....

Having forgotten to "dress nice" for work today, I am standing on the platform in Grand Central Station, waiting for an uptown 6 train to rush me home for a quick change before meeting a new client at the end of the day. We'll likely be taking him out for dinner, and my Old Navy t-shirt won't exactly exude professionalism from across the table at the tony Union Square Cafe.

The usual hodge-podge of midday train riders are on the platform with me. Tourists, students, the unemployed. I can't help noticing the very handsome Latino man standing close to me. He's short and thick and his Popeye forearms are criss-crossed with prison-quality tattoos. He's the sort of rough trade that you can find on the covers of a certain genre of gay porn, stuff with titles like "Prison Papi Chulos" and "Blatino Thug Party". Or so I'm guessing.

I lean over the tracks and peer down the tunnel. I hate when I do this, it doesn't make the train come any faster. A minute later, I do it again. This time, the handsome Latin man has moved down the platform so that when I peer down the tracks, I'm looking right into his face. An almost imperceptible look flashes across his face. Is he cruising me? Or sizing me up for a mugging? I'm reminded of when my friend Ken was lusting for a similarly rough looking character and I told him, "Wow, I can't tell if he wants to fuck you or punch you!" Ken murmured, "Either one, baby, either one."

I step back away from the edge of the platform and lean against one of the tile-covered columns. My cruiser/mugger walks over and stands next to me. I'm not too worried, I've got plenty of potential witnesses. I notice his hands. They are toughened, scarred. Whatever this guy does, he does it with his hands.

By the time the train arrives, there is quite a crowd on the platform. As I push onto the train, I think I can feel the man behind me. Is that his hand, resting just above my belt, guiding me, more than pushing me? I move to the center of the car and hold onto the pole with my right hand. I feel the man move behind me, his shoulder brushing across my back. Then he's next to me, holding onto the same pole, his thick fist scarcely an inch below mine. He looks up at me and for the first time, I notice his eyes, emerald green with flecks of gold. He nods at me and I nod back. This is getting....interesting.

The train lurches into motion and for once I'm glad to have the person next to me slam against me. I pretend to read the ads over the seats but can't resist looking down at this man again. He smiles and nods, again. I nod back, again. After 51st Street, the train thins out considerably and it looks a bit odd for us to be so scrunched together, so I sit down. He sits down next to me.

Worryingly, he says to me, "I know where you are going." His accent is thick, Brazilian, I think. His "you" sounds like "Jew".

"You do? Where am I going?" I say.

"You are going to 68th Street."

How does he know this?

"Good guess." I say.

"No guess. I know. Me and you....we have talked....on the line." With "on the line", he makes a keyboard typing gesture with both hands.

Ah. There it is.

"We have? Wow, I would think I'd remember somebody like you. I'm sorry."

He shrugs. "We talk to lots of people on the line. Some you remember, some you don't want to, yes?"

Yes.

"And I told you where I lived? I don't think I usually do that."

"Well, we were going to hook up, " he offers.

"But we didn't."

"No, you had company."

"Oh, OK. Sorry."

He nods, "It's cool."

The 59th Street stop is announced. He gets up. "I get off here. I go to Queens to work on a house. I write to you again sometime? OK? On the line?"

I nod, perhaps too vigorously. "Yeah, cool."

The doors open and as he moves past me, he grabs the back of my neck and rubs my head, thrilling me just a little bit. I watch his butt jump as he bounds down the platform towards the E train. He catches me watching him as the train slides by and gives me a sly smile. I get out at 68th Street, thinking about all the missed connections I seem to have lately. Ten minutes later, I'm in my apartment giving a white dress shirt the ironing of its life.

.

Overheard During The Super Bowl


Friday, February 03, 2006

Overheard In Chelsea


The Top Of The Rock

I've been meaning to post these photos I took back in November when the new viewing deck, Top Of The Rock, on the 70th floor roof of Rockefeller Center, finally reopened after 19 years. Tickets are $14.00, and after the exceedingly perky staffers quide you through several rope mazes and an opportunity to have your photo taken in front of a giant picture of The Rock ($14.95), you are ushered into a room featuring this rather impressive model.

Above: The model, facing from the 5th Avenue perspective. Note the attention to detail, including the tiny statue of Prometheus, who stands guard above the skating rink.
Above: After viewing the model and several large displays about the history of Rockefeller Center, you are prodded into a screening room, where you view a 13 minute film about the depression-era life of Rockefeller and the construction of the main tower.

Above: After the movie, you get into an elevator with a glass top. The entire shaft is illuminated and if you don't get vertigo staring up as 70 stories rush past you in 45 seconds, you have a stronger gut than I do. Special added branding: NBC sitcom ads are projected onto the glass as you stare up through it. How's that for annoying? (GE/NBC owns Rockefeller Center.) Above: Looking north, one of the best views of Central Park in the city.
Above: Looking northwest, midtown, Hudson River, George Washington Bridge, New Jersey.
Above: The view down towards Times Square.
Above: The viewing decks are on three levels. This lowest level looks towards Queens.
Above: On the top viewing deck, this military-esque looking dome probably is some kind of radar device.
Above: This deck looks south, towards downtown. That's the East River.
Above: Looking southwest, across the Hudson towards Jersey City. The building with the antenna is 4 Times Square.
Above: From the Empire State Building you can't SEE the Empire State Building, making the Top Of The Rock the best view in town, according to some.

Left: Hello Squinty McSquinton! It was early in the morning and I think I was trying to get myself into the shot with the ESB. Not such a good idea. Next time I visit the Top Of The Rock, I'm going to go at night.
Above: As at Disney World, all rides end in the gift shop. I did not purchase any TOTR memorabilia. Aside from the usual shot glasses and sweatshirts, there was also a $75 TOTR Christmas ornament being offered. Um, no thanks.



Rainy 42nd Street

Another non-winter winter day in midtown Manhattan. This should have been a nice snowstorm instead of a slightly cool drizzle. It's already 55 degrees at 8:30am. I'd like to repeat that there is still no proof of global warming, right Chimpy? Riiiiiiiight.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Blogs=The New Restroom Wall


Escuelita

(WARNING: NSFW PHOTO BELOW PAGE BREAK)

Fourth in a series of bar reviews....

Escuelita

Location: Hells Kitchen, 301 W.39th @ 8th Ave
Specialties: Latinos/Latinas, Drag Queens
Door Charge: Varies. $15-$20 Saturdays
Bar Prices: High (Budweiser: $7!!)
Clientele Ethnicity: Almost entirely Hispanic
Average Age: early 20's - mid 30's

REVIEW: It felt a little weird to finally visit Escuelita, considering that for a year and a half I lived less than a block away but never went. The club is located one block south of the gigantic Port Authority bus terminal, in the basement of a some sort of warehouse. Aaron, Farmboy T and I arrived just after midnight to find a half block-long line of young Latins, about evenly mixed between men and women. As it turned out, we'd just missed the reduced/free admission policy for those arriving early.

For a club in a basement, Escuelita is huge. Sprawling, even. I'd guess that it's about the size of the main floor of Splash (to use an example most are familiar with) , maybe a little bigger. There's a large dance floor on the north side of the room, with bars along two of the walls and the restroom/coat check area along the third. Almost immediately, I slammed into an unlit knee-high concrete platform, spaz that I am. My knee is still swollen.

When we arrived, the DJ was playing salsa and meringue while the scattered dancers did some touch-dancing, which was sweet to see for a change. As the dancefloor filled up, eventually the music sequed into more house-y fare, but kept its Latin beat. We were particularly amused by the trio of gorgeous girls standing near us who kept breaking into "Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!" ululations. And speaking of girls, this club has plenty of them. There was a fairly even mix of butches and femmes. A lot of them dress in the classic NYC-thug style: cornrows, oversized-sports jerseys, rope chains. I was very careful not to bump any of them.

Escuelita's fame is probably more for its outrageous drag shows than anything else, so we were disappointed not to see any while we were there, probably because midnight on Saturday night is not the best time to clear the dancefloor for a show. We did see Flotilla DeBarge walking around.

About 12:30am, several go-go boys (and a girl!) climbed up onto various platforms, including the one I'd cracked my knee open on earlier. And wow. Perhaps we'd been primed by the dancers we'd seen earlier at O.W. Bar, but we really liked the ones at Escuelita. Farmboy T was fascinated with the dancer pictured in this fuzzy shot (sorry!), mostly because he'd never seen anybody wearing a banana hammock. After I explained to Farmboy T that no, the guy had not painted his enormous cock bright red, that it was a garment, Farmboy T had to move very very close to confirm. I took a short video of the guy flopping his cock around in the thing. The orientation is screwed up, but if you don't mind turning your head sideways for 20 seconds, click here. (Warning: NSFW/Sound!)

I tipped all the dancers, something I'd never done and which made me feel oddly nervous. I was hanging back, watching the lone girl dancer,amazed with her sinewy body, wanting to tip her, afraid I might be breaking some kind of protocol - but also afraid of the reaction of her rough looking all-dyke fan club gathered around her platform. I approached the platform with trepidation, a single in my hand. The dancer sensed my nervousness and smiled and leaned towards me. I said, "Is it OK for boys to tip the girl dancers here?" She rubbed up against me and purred, "Oh, jessssssss papi. Of course choo cahn."

We were all rather pleased with our virgin Escuelita experience, despite feeling very aware that we were the only three white guys in the place. Not to imply that anybody bothered us, but also: nobody bothered us. Maybe next time.

Change of returning to Escuelita: Good.

Quisling Queers Quid Pro Quo


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Oscar Wilde Bar (O.W.)

(WARNING: NSFW PHOTO BELOW PAGE BREAK)

Third in a series of bar reviews

O.W. Bar

Location: Upper East Side, 221 E.58th (Btwn 2nd & 3rd Aves)
Specialty: None
Door Charge: None
Bar Prices: Average
Clientele Ethnicity: Mostly white, some Latins
Average Age: late 20's - late 40's

Review: For some reason I still think of this place as being called Oscar Wilde Bar, hence the title of this post, although their website doesn't have the name anywhere on it and even attributes a famous quote by Wilde as merely by an "O.W." What's the story? Has the Wilde estate stomped on any commerical usage of his name?

In any case, O.W. Bar is a ground-level bar in an typical rectangular storefront, long and narrow, with a rear patio where patrons are allowed to smoke, a very nice asset in Manhattan. The decor is sleek and modern, without being sterile, featuring big flat-screen tv's which play diva-style dance music videos at a moderate, conversation-allowing volume. There are barstools along the long bar (uncommon in some gay bars) and a nice sized open seating area of leather banquettes.

O.W. doesn't appear to cater to any specialty audience, unlike the last two places I reviewed. Instead they rely on a loyal crowd of regulars and tourists, who drift in from the nearby mega-shopping district anchored by Bloomingdales. I'm told that O.W. is also a sponsor of teams in various gay sports leagues, which I'm sure results in some great "home bar" parties.

The most appealing aspect of O.W. for Aaron, Farmboy T and myself, were the parade of very attractive strippers, most of which appeared to be Latino. Usually I find strippers to be boring at best, a nuisance at worst, particularly in a smaller place like O.W., but we were somewhat dazed by the beauties on hand, hence the above first-ever-in-JMG beefcake shot. (Click the pic for a beefier version.) Apologies to those at work who didn't expect to see skin on JMG, I will try to keep any future photos like this below the first page.

Chance of returning to O.W. Bar: Moderate.

The S-L Word

There's an adage in internet culture called Godwin's Law, the essence of which is this: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1. According to Godwin's Law, a person that invokes such comparisons has instantly lost whatever argument he is making.

For the last couple of years I've been noticing a similar situation arising around usage of the pop psychology term "self-loathing". Lately, if one describes a gay person as self-loathing, usually meaning that you believe that person's actions or opinions are reflective of their regret over their homosexuality, often the term is dismissed as archaic, no longer valid in modern discussion of queer culture.

Gay Republicans in particular reject the term, saying that just because they may support an administration that loathes them, doesn't mean they loathe themselves. I've noticed lately that if you judge someone's motivations as being based on self-loathing, you are often quickly denounced as a gay ghettoist, one who can't picture a gay person as having motivations or opinions unrelated to their homosexuality. Calling self-loathing on someone is now the gay version of Godwin's Law.

But just as I believe that Godwin's Law is often used to silence those making completely valid comparisons between the rise of fascism and the current American administration, I feel that self-loathing is a completely apt term in describing certain aspects of gay behavior. In my opinion, self-loathing is the defining negative characteristic of modern homosexuals. There are many, many positive defining characteristics: creativity, artistry, empathy, intuitiveness, generosity. But on the flip side of all of that, self-loathing stands starkly alone.

From the moment we know what gay is, and that it's what we are, we endure and internalize an incessant, heavy, debilitating, enervating barrage of anti-gay messages from our families, our churches, our teachers, and our leaders. Every bit of popular culture, from sappy Lifetime romance movies to saccharine hit singles on the radio, underscores our outsider status, our otherness.

Processing these messages, exorcising our internalized homophobia, is a lifelong exercise. We are never done working through it. Never. Just as coming out, once begun, is a never-ending experience, we must always work towards becoming self-actualized, to make the most of our unique abilities as gay people. Only a completely self-deluded queer can ever sit back and say "That's it. I'm done. I am now totally free of self-loathing and my being gay no longer has any influence on how I see myself and my place in the world."

Evidence of self-loathing is rampant is modern gay male culture. You can see it in the hypermasculine leather and bear subcultures where fear of appearing feminine informs every aspect of image and action. You can see it in gay men who falsely profess an interest in sports, because they think it makes them seem straighter, and therefore: hotter. You can see it in the online hook-up world, in the words "straight acting" and "no fems". You can see it in the rampant eroticizing of straight men and the hetero-fetishizing world of SeanCody.com and AmateurStraightGuys.com. You can see it, in boatloads, in the way that some gay people marginalize and reject feminine men and masculine women. You can see self-loathing in drug abuse, in male body dismorphia, in unsafe sex. And you can see it in gay bashing, the most tragic manifestation of self-loathing.

Self-loathing defines us, and all any of us can do is own that, and work towards evolving to a better place. I remember when I first came out, seeing drag queens proudly strutting on the stage and hearing audience members shout out "Own it, honey! OWN IT!" What those queens were "owning" was their own unique expression of their homosexuality and I envied them for it. I still do.

Sometimes I play a little game with friends. I'll say, "You are standing in front of identical twins. Everything about them is the same, their personalities, their livelihoods, their mannerisms. They share the same unique DNA and even their mother cannot tell them apart. They are handsome and sexy and have great bodies. They are totally your type. One of them is gay and one of them is straight. Which one do you want to have sex with?"

The conversation that follows their answer is always very interesting.

.