My Life As A Gay Man – The Series: 1969, My Days in L.A. and Jordan, Part 2
One afternoon, I had taken a piss just after my last class and was ready to hike back to the boarding house when I noticed the big wet piss spot right on the crack of my crouch. I pulled down my T-shirt and tried to hide the spot with my books but it just didn’t cut it. Just then, Mr. Crutches’ blonde companion pulled up on the campus roadway in her little white Fiat convertible.
Staring straight at my crouch, she said with a sly smile, “I think you could use a ride.”
Up close she wasn’t just pretty – she was beautiful, perfect features, and not a trace of make-up, perfect complexion, blue eyes, thin lips, double dimples, just about the perfect face. She said her name was Reese, that she was from Detroit, wanted to break into theater, and lived in the Hollywood Hills, I, in turn, told her I was a Jersey boy out here to get some sun and then, why I don’t know, I began complaining about my boarding house mistress who had been giving me a hard time lately about my increasing number of overnight “guests.”
“Well, we may just have a little symbiotic relationship going here,” she said as we made the second traffic light before my place. “I run a roommate service on the side. I think I can help you get out from under her clutches.”
“And what about you?” I asked as I got out in front of the boarding house. ”I was an English major. I know what symbiotic means. Getting something in return.”
“I know that,” she nodded, and pulled out into the sun.
I got to know the bus route to Hollywood pretty good and began hitting the Boulevard and the bars at least two, three times a week. At first I found only a few, tight standup places, Christ, one was a piano bar – they were ancient and leering – then I saw an ad for Gino’s in the Press. It was a slight hike from the Boulevard to Melrose but it was worth the walk. An open, outdoorsy patio kind of place with a wrap-around bar and huge dance area. And everyone was young – just like me. Today, every time I hear the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back,” popular at that time, I think back to those nights at Gino’s.
A short, little leprechaun of a guy, not well proportioned with short legs and a big torso, a wave of blonde/brown hair and impish features, asked me to dance. I was immediately struck by his country boy accent. He said he had been a beautician back in West Virginia but was here now for good, and up to just last week had been working in a wig factory that supplied stuff to the studios but had lost his job. It was late – after 2 – and his offer to put me up at his place, a short walk away, sounded a much better option than hiking it back that night on the bus.
Tommie lived in an older garden apartment off Western. Covering a complete wall in his bedroom were match covers from every bar, restaurant and motel – gay, straight, and in between – he had been in on his ride out from WV before his 1961 VW Bug died on him. On his bureau on stands were three or four wigs, and he sloppily put on one as he handed me a drink.
“This is the shit I made from quality Asian hair – no genuine vinyl here – til the bastards decided they could do with one less. Hope the next bitch that wears their stuff goes bald,” he said as he threw the slightly alive thing back on his bureau and took off his clothes.
Performing after all that booze was problematic and in the end we jerked off and went to sleep. Next morning, I had a quick cup of caffeine, obligatorily took Tommie’s number, and grabbed the bus back. All I wanted to do was get back to my room and sleep. Yet, in the end Tommie gradually became my tour guide to gay Hollywood.
It was our third Friday night out on the town and we decided to have a “night cap,” breakfast at 3 a.m. at Arthur J’s. The place was packed, with a line outside to get in – drags, clothes queens, leather boys, crew cut lezzies – an X rated version of Disneyland, minus the rides. And there in one of the back booths was that broody guy from Aesthetics Theater class and Reese. By then she had spotted us.
“So where have you guys been slumming tonight?”
Tommie recited our party night litany. So everything was out on the table – or so I thought.
“What about The Stables?” she asked. “It just opened up on Santa Monica and it’s sucking up all the crowds. We’re hitting it tomorrow. I’ll pick you guys up.”
“Whose we?” said Tom eyeing Crutches, a bit pissed Reese knew about a place he didn’t.
“Oh, some boys I know.” She glanced back. “No, not Jordan, he’s not the party boy type.”
Tommie and I were in the middle of our scrambled eggs and waffles when she popped up to leave. Jordan, on the other hand, who had been in the inner part of the booth closest to the wall, rose up slowly, grabbing a pair of crutches that had been hidden by his long trench coat. Their hard click on the vinyl floor as he staggered out like a mechanical soldier whose batteries were running low almost competed for attention with the music blaring out of Arthur J’s ceiling speakers. And whether it was pity or sudden infatuation, I felt something for this guy in my gut, and that night I jerked off fantasizing about him lying naked beside me.
The Stables had the stereotypical country western motif with the cattle skulls and wagon wheels on the walls and sawdust on the dance floor, though they played Motown and James Brown, not Patsy Kline. Ah, but the guys, those rough and ready guys, bearded, mustached, tousled hair with their broken-in levis and T-shirts that hung just right on their bodies, they – they were the draw. They were the drug. And when I played budding exhibitionist and took off my T, I could see my fur and tight muscular body suddenly made me a Hollywood star. To this day, decades later, I rarely walk in a gay bar or are in one for long with my shirt on unless the prudish management thinks otherwise.
Was this lifelong compulsion to bare flesh borne out of the deep and intense feelings of inadequacy and insecurity of my teens and an insatiable need for acceptance and admiration?
Monday morning’s Drama and the Critic class seemed a little easier to take with the memories of the weekend still fresh. But it took two quick “rum” and cokes that I made with whiskey, the only shit I had in my boarding house room, before I got up the nerve to open the envelope marked, “Official Government Business – Selective Service.”
I didn’t call Moms or Dad who would only carry on like I had already come back in a body bag.
I didn’t call Tommie, who, being a career fag, wouldn’t understand why I just didn’t declare myself a gay boy.
No, I called Reese.
“Don’t worry, baby, Momma has an answer.” And her answer, Dr. Harvey Weinstein, a Timothy Leary look-a-like and as Left wing as you could get, did his magic and morphed my chronic stomach aches into a duodenal ulcer that got me a 4-F exemption.
It was the best eight hundred bucks I ever spent in my life.
Suddenly I felt up again about this Halloween party Reese had invited me and Tommie to at her place in the Hills.
I’d actually have something to celebrate.
Friday -: Jordan: Part 3