For the last couple of years, I’ve been re-visiting the gay haunts of my wayward youth and finding, predictably but sadly, you can’t go home again. San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, New York – the wild bath house and leather/Levi scene I remember are fading away like those full color pics in some ‘70’s porn mag.
So for my last – yes, very last farewell pig vacation (no, I’m not pulling a Streisand or Cher last tour bullshit on you), I chose L. A. where I went to graduate school at the University of Southern California a lifetime ago and first truly partied – when party meant cruising the night away, not smoking a pipe -as a young, very horny gay man.
So what were the good, the bad and the ugly of my degenerate weekend?
Well, using the web hook-up sites to line up guys either before my trip or while I was there is, if not dead, definitely on DNR. I thought the crack-happy boys playing games with you on places like Manhunt were in abundance in Lauderdale – they’re a given in La-La Land. I did end up hooking up with two guys, though, a hairy fiftyish milktoast bottom off bear 411, who came over for a quick fuck; and a young 31 year old cub off adam4adam who wrote poetry about being a gay Christian. He tried his best to get agnostic me to believe again in that Old Time Religion; instead, we both got high on his crack and played til 4 in the morning.
The one bath house I visited, Flex, was, like so many, a throw-back to the nostalgic heyday of bath houses – and it looked like most of the guys had aged in place in the same fucken room they had occupied for the last forty years. Though I did meet a cute hairy cub who even knew some of the guys I fucked around with in Lauderdale.
I intentionally avoided West Hollywood which, right or wrong, I associated with plastic, pretty boys. I’m a rough and ready rebel and like ‘em that way. So I booked the Hollywood Hotel, a fixture for almost a hundred years on the edge of the old, once fabled Hollywood, off Vermont, which was only a few minutes by car to places like the Faultline, a young bear bar, and the stomping grounds of my younger days, The Eagle, though I understand it had changed location since my years at USC. Barren with only a handful of bearish graying bikeboys on Thursday and Friday night, the place was transformed to the leather haunt of my memory Saturday night. And on Sunday afternoon, when its Beer Blast overflowed its outdoor patio and an adjoining lot with men, men, men – yea, some sagging, ancient leather guys, pseudo-guys who talked like girls, and a sprinkling of twinkish gawkers, but here and there the genuine article, at least for me – forty, fifty something, well put together masculine, furry bearded men.
In fact, I prided myself on Saturday night in getting picked up, with all that intense competition, by a 6 foot 2 rugged, hairy guy who told me he had a hard-on as soon as he saw me enter the bar – shirtless, as always. Yep, that hotel bed of my did get some overtime use after all.
I was also proud how, against my better judgment, renting a car at chaotic LAX rather than relying on cabs or mass trans, I navigated those crazy deathtraps known as L.A.’s freeways. Accustomed to the looming, spacious ramps of SoFlo’s Interstate 95, I had forgotten that most freeway entrances were almost hidden at the end of an alleyway. And, oh, those merging lanes! But I did it and lived to tell my story.
When I went to USC way back when, its beautiful campus was surrounded by a blue collar, gum-stained sidewalk, Mexican neighborhood. Two careers later, I toured the campus as an alumina, and while it had exploded into a sleek small city and a hip student body in the thousands, it was still surrounded by bodegas. I just happened to take my tour with a bunch of prospective high school seniors from all over the country and their obviously moneyed Republican parents and was surprised during the lecture that preceded our walking tour of the campus how many of the kids were undecided on a career or dead set on pursuing one in professions like architecture, law, or film where jobs were super tight. (USC’s School of Cinematic Arts endowed by Spielberg mirrored the architecture of the old movie studios.)Not at sixty grand a year tuition and housing costs –uh-uh. I even asked the student tour guide if the school gave students some idea of job prospects in their fields. I got a predictably evasive answer back.
When I had finished my graduate courses at USC, I moved to Hollywood to work on my thesis – and be nearer the bar scene which at that time was the focus of gay life in L.A. A few blocks from the Hollywood Hotel, there was a station for L.A.’s spiffy underground rail system which didn’t exist 15 years ago on my last visit, and I took the hole in the ground to Hollywood and Vine to find my old stomping grounds, which way back in 1971 were already in decay from their former glamour, in even worst disrepair, like an abandoned movie set – boarded up stores, cheap souvenir shops and homeless littering Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. (If Carole Lombard only knew what was drooling on her star.) That is until I got to Hollywood and Highland, an oasis of glitz in this sea of depression where the City had apparently invested in three blocks of Hollyworld for the tourists. Restored movie palaces and a high end shopping mall cradled in a full size replica of the historic Babylon set of D.W. Griffith’s 1916 epic, “Intolerance” wowed the legions of tourists I bumped into getting off bus after bus. Yet as I checked out the higher end souvenir shops I chuckled that this multi-million dollar cottage industry was being fueled by the glorification of, well, Dead People, stars long long gone.
Hell, if Marilyn had a penny for every shotskie with her boobs on it she would be wealthier than Oprah.
As I was leaving Eagle’s Beer Bust on Sunday afternoon, I asked the bouncer with a silver bone through his nose who had taken a liking to me whether Slammers, LA’s Slammers which preceded Lauderdale’s and was owned by the same two guys, would be happening that hour. “Where do you think all these guys are going?” he replied with a lascivious smirk.
A bit sleazy and a few bucks cheaper than its Florida bro but in just as shitty a neighborhood, it was already doing brisk business when I got there, and after having my cock edged up by half a dozen guys, I hit the jack pot with a tight bod, hairy, six footer who said to me later he only chose one guy a night to play with and I was not only the winner of that night’s gold ring, but his type to a T. (Gee, thanks!).
Of the five guys I ended up fucking with that weekend, four were out of work. My fast fuck bottom from retail; my crack happy 31 year, a paralegal, laid off by a broke City; my bathhouse cub from bartending; and my humpy hairy Saturday night Eagle sleepover, whose livelihood as a record distributor evaporated when downloading swept the industry like a tsunami. Pretty to look it, Chuck was a bit of an airhead, having left his job in NYC to live with the love of his life (his third) in L.A. only to find a month into the relationship of the century that his true love was a Manhunt addict.
Oh, but my Slammers man, he made up for all the others’ misfired careers – he was an Army scientist, Ph.D.’ed up to his humpy, hairy butt, conducting research in Artificial Intelligence.
And I thought A.I. was only the purview of gay boys.
In the end, my five tricks cost me about three hundred bucks each – hell, I could have bought the men of my wet dreams on Rentboy for less.
But, then again, I wouldn’t have had that once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching my petty life pass before me as the lane I was in on the Santa Monica Freeway suddenly disappeared with four lanes of traffic on my ass.
Want to know more about my SoCal days? Check out my blog, “A Furry Mam’s Journal” at furrymansjournal.com and read about “Jordan,” my bittersweet L.A. love.