“Don’t Flush for Piss:” The Sleaze Factor – Part II

“Don’t Flush for Piss:” The Sleaze Factor – Part II

So what separated the real Mc Coy Sleaze Factor bars of yesteryear from today’s S  wannabes?

  • Dress code: You didn’t see any polo shirt types with $100 designer jeans. Or flip flops or Bermuda shorts. The more ragged the better. At the Lure, it didn’t matter what you looked like; if you were wearing sneakers or, Jesus, after-shave or cologne, Mr. Bouncer would turn you away.
  •  Wall-to-wall men: There was no place, I mean NO PLACE, to move except against another sweaty body in bars the size of the men’s section at any Macy’s. Show me how many men’s bars that size are that crowded on a weekend night today.
  • The smells: Sweaty arm pits and chests, beer-laden piss, even carcasses (The Lure, in the heart of the now chic Meat Market, was once a meat packing warehouse).
  •  Cruising – Big Time:  You walk into a bear bar today shirtless and no one gives you a glance. Then, that was the ONLY reason you were there. Now it’s all social. Thank Grindr and Adam4Adam and Scruff for that.
  •  A sense of history: Even if it was more illusion than reality, these holes had the dingy, dreggy look as if they had been there from the early days of NYC’s pre-gay liberation when being queer meant belonging to some truly secret society of men, not a sub-cultural demographic dissected by Congress and wooed by Corporate America.

And on Summer Sunday late afternoons from 4 until about 8, the Sleaze torch was handed over to the Dugout at West and Christopher. There, sweaty men, half naked men flooded the corner, searching for the one last fling or two of the weekend before Monday morning reality came crashing down on all our respective little shitty worlds.

Even if they hadn’t become victims of the real estate boom of the early 2000’s that transformed  this abandoned sector of New York into a new Soho, (though I understand it’s still called the Meat Packing District), I doubt NYC’s gay sleaze alley might still be with us.

The reason? Simple. The web which has made hooking up a 24/7 amusement park – more virtual for some I think than real – from the convenience of your smartphone. Gay bars, all gay bars have become social clubs.  And leather bars trying to enforce a dress code just ain’t gonna happen much anymore in this age of anti-discrimination.

I’m just hoping some gay historian had the smarts to save the “Don’t Flush for Piss” sign in the Spike’s john before the wrecking ball moved in.

 

“Don’t Flush for Piss:” The Sleaze Factor

“Don’t Flush for Piss:” The Sleaze Factor

You know what’s disappearing big time in today’s scene? The Sleaze Factor. Today, too many bars are interior designer sparkling, like they were the “after” of some Bravo house make-over show. Christ, you can even smell the fresh coat of Sherman Williams. One famous leather bar in a minor league metropolis once oozed with the S Factor but lost it recently to a mutilating, emasculating redo, and now sports perfectly purple walls and nicely stained railings straight out of Home Depot.

No, no, no! I want the smell of piss to savor, cheap yellow lights to leer under, peeling black paint to smudge against my torn T-shirt, scraped, crumbling concrete under my boots, pool tables stained by Bud Lites, pre-cum and sweat.

And though only a few bars dared to sport them, backroom dark corners where shadows sucked and fucked in porn brazen brilliance.

I want the real raw deal, the kind of dark, dank atmosphere that made your dick quiver even before your first grope of the night.

There was a sign stenciled in white on the black wall of the tight, SRO-style john at one of NYC’s sleaziest West Village bars, the Spike. “Don’t Flush for Piss.” That sign said it all.

True, you can still find the S Factor at Lauderdale’s Ramrod leather bar and the Slammers sex club  (though the S there is more a re-creation like the Wild Wild West in Disneyworld) and echoes of the glory days at Philly’s Bike Stop, D.C’s Eagle, and Christopher Street’s Ty’s.  But for real authentic sleaze you’d have to take a time machine back to New York City’s West Village Sleaze Alley threesome, the Spike, the Eagle and the Lure.

For anybody in the leather/levi scene of decades past and living in New York, visiting these bars on a Friday and Saturday night was a given. You wouldn’t just visit one of them even if essentially the same guys frequented all three. You’d have your early evening beer at the Rawhide in Chelsea (for those of us who came in from the ‘burbs parking in the West 20’s was saner). But by 11ish you were trotting your levied ass (or bare one if you were wearing chaps under your trench) down to West Street. The streets were dimly lit and kinda scary to be honest, but you didn’t care. You were butch (with no shirt under your leather jacket on a 10 degree NYC January night so your tits were all perky for your grand unveiling in the bar) and about to enter Manhattan’s Butch Zone. The S bars were all within reasonable walking distance of one another, so making the circuit was easy even with the wind blowing in your face.

And when you’re Saturday night horny, four or five blocks in sub-zero weather means nothing.

Wednesday: The Sleaze Factor and what separated the places of yesteryear from today’s S wanna-be’s.

 

Gay Double Speak

Gay Double Speak

Hell, today more than ever in this culture of info-overload, our society is full of celebrities, politicians, and commentators saying one thing and meaning something else. Or as Trump’s people would put it, “alternate truths.” But I think it all started with us gay boys:

“You look great!”

What he really means: “You looked like shit the last time I saw you, and you still do, but since I heard Gig left you, and I can see why, I don’t want to be the person who pushed you into walking in the middle lane of the highway so I’ll be upbeat.”

“Gees you lost weight!”

What he really means, “You don’t look as fat as the last time I saw you, but you still got a ways to go to look as good as me.”

“Boy you look like you work out a lot.”

What he really means: “I’m envious. I probably spend more time in the gym than you do. So how much juicing up do you do, buddy? Don’t you know it’s gonna pickle your liver?””

You ask when a guy you thought was interested in bedding down wants to connect , and he replies, “Cool!” or if you throw out a strategy, he replies, “Sounds like a plan.”

What he really means: “Shit I don’t know if I want to make a commitment right now, I mean you look O.K., but I’m on vacation and I’m really waiting for somebody better, but just in case, let me string you along with some nice, hip totally evasive response.”

A buddy is getting nowhere with some hottie he’s tricked with three times in a row: “But I really love him!”  You reply very empathically: “Well, did you tell him how you feel about him?”

What you want to do is shake him and yell, “Look, all you were was a good fuck – if he wanted more from you, don’t you think he’d say so by now? You’re 45, and look 55, he’s 33 and ready to pose for the cover of Men’s Fitness. Wake up and smell the coffee!”

The guy is 55, got infected when he was 39 (i.e., around 1995, ten years after researchers knew how HIV was transmitted). He describes himself as a “survivor,” looking for some kind of sympathy from you. You respond, “Glad to hear it.”

What you really want to say is: “You fucken jerk – you knew what was gonna on. Sorry to hear you got fucked, literally and figuratively, but my tax dollars are paying to take care of you and you want sympathy too? Huh?”

You’re on the beach and your buddy introduces you to bunch of guys he met in from San Francisco for the weekend.  As they leave for their beach blanket, you exchange, “it was nice meeting you.”

What you really want to say to the hottie of the group: “Here’s my cell number. Ditch your friends and let’s fuck.”

Or if none of them stirs your dick, “That’s a relief. I was afraid one of them was gonna make a move on me.”

You’ve fucked around with a guy at the bath house and you both had some fun but it’s too early in the evening to cum, so as he moves on, “he says, “Catch you later.”

What he means: “That is if nothing better comes along because I’m a pig and I want to fuck around with as many guys as I can tonight but if I still haven’t cum by 2 and you’re still trolling around, well, why not?”

You’re introduced by an acquaintance to some fifty something rich faggot who’s either a six figure Manhattan corporate attorney or a trust fund baby who can’t stop telling you what exclusive neighborhood his seven bedroom home and two thousand square foot condo and beach front vacation getaway are in, how he trades in his Lexus for a new model every year, and where he stays when he vacations on the French Riviera. He, in turn, introduces you to his 35 year old muscled partner who throws his arm around him affectionately.

You smile benignly and reply, “that’s great.”

What you want to say is, “I don’t give a fuck if you got as much money as Bill Gates. You’re still an ugly old fuck that even half a mil in cosmetic surgery won’t help.”

And to his hunky paramour: “Who the fuck are you kidding with all this all lovely-dovey bullshit? How many times did you fuck his sorry ass or his yours for those keys to the Ferrari?”

But, as we all know, honesty is not always the way to win friends and influence people – and definitely doesn’t work when you’re searching for dick.

 

Country Cruizing …

Country Cruizing …

Some observations since slumming this summer up in PA country:

This is Mr. and Mrs. Pillsbury Doughboy and their Muffins Territory. A Jenny Craig franchise up here would go bankrupt in a month.

Down in Lauderdale, sex is more important than eating. Up here, eating is sex.

Here the homely nerds that got bullied and picked on in high school are now the professionals in Manhattan making big money. The pretty boy jocks with bodies by God who bullied them are here cutting grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow.

Here old men think about or have sex. Old women go antiquing.

Down in Lauderdale we barhop, fuck, beach, and get high. Up here getting high and fucking is all they got.

Here with the nearest gay guy 25 miles away, virtual sex on a hookup site or phone app isn’t an option, it’s a given.

Here, guys in Witness Protection Territory, hiding from guys they squealed on go from Tony Soprano to Stu Levine.

All I know, come Labor Day I head back home to the narcissistic, the anorexic (my 42 year old lover and I only half joke that we must be anorexic if we go nuts if we gain five pounds), the drug happy, the sex addicted, and the who cares about skin cancer, I wanna look good naked crowd.

And I can’t wait.

 

 

Happy Birthday Ma! (Wherever You Are)

Happy Birthday Ma! (Wherever You Are)

Mary,  my mother, a life time nicotine addict, who died peacefully and painlessly in her apartment down here in South Florida of a brain tumor in 2006, would have been 96 today.  (This year my father, a World War II vet and hero who died at 76 of a stroke, would have been one hundred years old.) And while I still think of her bitter sweetly at times, my fondest recollection of her was that she was a bitch.

Buying all that Freudian mumbo jumbo when I was in my teens about how a domineering mother and submissive father made you gay (today I’m convinced it’s in our genes), I blamed her for my atypical life. I never quite reconciled that, though, with the reality that my father was my first sex object and gave me some of the best hard-ons of my youth.

My mother’s family came from a little town in the Ukraine, and my sister and I often referred to Mom as the “mad Russian,” as she was constantly ranting and raving about something with a terribly negative view of people – including her husband – while my father, always the diplomat, stood quietly by. Once when I was grown and long out of the house, I boldly confronted him as she was off on one of her temper tantrums with this demand: “Why don’t you rap her already?” He just shrugged his shoulders.

In hindsight, I think my mother had real clinical psychiatric issues. She may have been dipolar, with a heavy dose of a Napoleonic Complex. Perhaps, deep down, standing at just four eleven, and growing up in Depression poverty of immigrant parents, she felt insecure and inferior and never outgrew her tomboy scrappiness and aggressive often “in your face” character for, in her mind, it was the only way she would be heard. Though she was forced to drop out of high school a month before graduation because she needed to help her family, Mary was intelligent and savvy, and everything I know about handling money I learned from her. Yet she was obsessed with being the center of attention wherever she went, and had the emotional maturity of an eight year old. But if it’s true opposites attract, it was these very qualities I think that, besides her beauty, drew my father to her.

All this made living with Mom hell. You never knew what would set her off and when, which made holiday family gatherings or just simple Saturday afternoons sheer stomach wrenching experiences. And when my father, who never smoked, rarely drank, and seemed to be in terrific shape for someone who was not an athlete, dropped dead in the bathroom after coming home one night from a VFW meeting, I blamed cohabitating with this crazy woman for forty years as the cause of his early demise. After all, she was the one who smoked like she owned stocks in R. J. Reynolds – shouldn’t she have been the first to go? Overly critical of him while he was alive, my mother was totally lost when he left her, demonstrating the best performance by a widow in a leading role, though her grief did not stop her from trying to sell his three month old Cadillac to friends and co-workers  – including my boss – at his wake.

My sister dropped out of the family theatrics early in the game, marrying at 22 and moving to Long Island, leaving me, the single son (my closet homosexuality, interestingly enough, never became a subject of family discussion) to watch over Mom. One Thanksgiving long after my father had taken the easy way out, and in my feeble attempt to keep the family together, I drove all the way to extreme northwest New Jersey where my mother, without consulting either my sister or I, had moved to after my father’s death, and brought her to spend the night with me on Staten Island which, in holiday traffic, seemed half a world away. The plan was for us to drive over the following morning – Thanksgiving Day – to my sister’s on Long Island, another marathon on the LIE.

But when my mother saw some light snow falling that holiday morning, she refused to budge, and my frustration in seeing my carefully orchestrated holiday plans go down the sewer reached the point of no return, and in a sudden fit of rage, I knocked this then seventy something woman to the floor. She pretended in typical Mary style to be injured – she wasn’t – and all I thought was how I, a senior health care executive, was going to be charged with elder abuse of his own mother. We later buried the hatchets and spent Thanksgiving as the old lady and her fag son in a local diner.

When guys later on in my life would tell me they knew they were gay when they were practically still in diapers, I would look at them with a jaded eye. Then one night I was watching an old western on TCM and realized that I had had a crush on one of the handsome cowboys when I first saw the flick with my mother at the Central Theater in Passaic, New Jersey. I checked the listing for the year the film was released and saw I was five years old.

But I think my greatest life lesson if not directly imparted by Mom certainly was of her making came a few years later when I was 8 and my sister 3. At the time, my mother worked in a cookie factory, and one of her co-workers offered to pick the three of us up for a Saturday romp to Seaside Heights on the Jersey Shore. How I, even more than my sister, looked forward to that day. (My love of “the shore” was one of the motivating reasons I retired in Fort Lauderdale.) So that morning, with sand pails and shovels and blankets and beach chairs in tow, we trotted down to the pre-designated spot where Mom’s friend would swing by and pick us up.

Only she never came.

After an hour of our futilely waiting and me counting cars whizzing by, Mom forced us to face reality and turned us right around for home.

What I learned that day I never forgot and has, rightly or wrongly, guided me throughout my life: never put your faith in other people; always rely first and foremost on yourself; and always, always have a Plan B.

Mom and I probably fought hundreds of times during the years we shared this earth together, but even when she told me never to come back, I did like a bad penny and played the good son to the end, and, when I moved from NYC to Fort Lauderdale in 2002, I brought her down with me. (Mind you, she had her own place – you can only carry that loving son shit so far.) That’s why, given our roller coaster relationship, I found it strange, even alien, that in her last days as the tumor was eating away at her brain, the boisterous, cranky bitch I had known all my life had become a serene, even pleasant little old lady.

The last time I saw her in her apartment – she was by then on hospice care – I was dressed up for a staff meeting at the college where I taught rather than in my usual jeans and a T. Her final words to me as she gazed with a silly ass smile were, “You look nice.” The following morning, just as the hospice nurses predicted, she was gone.

So when the funeral director allowed me to view her one last time in her coffin before shipping her body up to the cemetery in Jersey to be with my father, I made sure to place a pack of Winston Salems by her side.

But no  lighter.

After all, that was the least a son could do.

Are We Next?

Are We Next?

In just one week. Trump and his cronies in D.C. attacked the fairness of Affirmative Action, and the right for individuals to legally immigrate to the U.S. unless they have special skills.

Now, some argue that after being on the books for over sixty years,  it’s time the policy that gives black Americans special consideration in situations like college admissions should end, and that such decisions should be made on merit alone. Trump has voiced support for a legal action taken by a group of Asian Americans who brought a suit against Harvard, claiming its preferential entry standards for blacks robbed them of slots that merit alone should have won them.

And when it comes to immigrants and an economic reason for their entry, my grandfather on my father’s side was sponsored by his brother who was working in the coal mines of Sand Coulee, Montana, and had a job waiting for him. It was around 1908 and family folklore claims my grandfather who knew no English had a sign around his neck when he arrived at Ellis Island from Slovakia that read: “Ship Me to Montana.”

As for the poem by Emma Lazarus at the base of the Statue of Liberty about America addressing the world “to give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” much of the immigration at the beginning of the last century that saw millions from southern and eastern Europe, in particular, come to the U.S was fueled by the capitalistic expansion of the white Anglo-Saxon industrial czars who, plain and simple, needed the cheap labor. It had less to do with altruism and more to do with making a buck.

And if you think these issues only affect somebody else, get this: nine states beginning January of 2018 will require the flying public and that includes all us “red blooded Americans” to present a passport in addition to driver’s license or  ID card to fly DOMESTICALLY.

Yes.

Probably some of you are beginning to ask: okay buddy, so what’s your point?

Are we gay Americans who arguably are still the most reviled group in America  despite all the patronization we’ve gotten in recent years – largely because of our economic clout not because people are more open minded  –  be next on the Trump hit list?

Could the legality of gay marriage be tinkered with? Or as l’ve pontificated before, a national law passed allowing religious liberties to be used as a reason for discriminating against us?

Or worse?

 

 

A Hard Dick Is Hard To Find: Gay America’s Erection Crisis! Part II

A Hard Dick Is Hard To Find: Gay America’s Erection Crisis! Part II

So what do I think is the reason for the shortage of hard-ons among a growing number of us gay guys – regardless of age – and our need to turn to pharms to make it happen? (Hell, have you noticed even porn stars are having problems staying hard and they pop Big V like M and M’s?) Excluding the meth heads who, even if they’re 19, can’t get it up, it’s my firm belief we, straight guys and gay guys alike, have become desensitized to sex. Sex and skin are all over the place. My female college students when I was still teaching dressed like streetwalkers, buff bodies are all over TV, and I even spotted a billboard for Manhunt.net on Interstate 95 here in Fort Lauderdale. No wonder guys came out of the limp dick closet by the millions and made V Pfizer’s best seller ever.  (Promos for V, its generic versions and all is ED cousins account for the most spam e-messages of any other product!) It takes more and more to get us hot.  And you have to agree, there was something to be said for the good old days when gay life was only whispered about, not talked about in Congress and every major media outlet,  and where we felt like we were members of secret society, not a hot demographic sought out by marketers.

A few years ago my ex, who’s 10 years older than me, after being content for decades with a platonic relationship (which is why I’m a pig), decided he wanted to resurrect our sex life. OK, I said, no problem; it beat putting money down at the sex clubs. But when his Pee Wee wouldn’t react to my alluring advances, he desperately asked if I knew how he could get some Viagra. Not letting on that I get at least a dozen spam messages a day from pharms trying to hustle the stuff now that I’m such an established customer, I innocently said I would Google the web.

He checked the mailbox three times a day like a kid waiting for Santa to slide down the chimney. Finally, IT came. He asked me to sign for the envelope postmarked India because he didn’t want to show his face to the mailman. But when it came time to pop the pill (I know this sounds nuts), he stopped cold in his tracks. All the contra-indications  those announcers on the commercials rattled off on the sound track while the visual showed some couple exchanging lascivious smiles suddenly engulfed his brain. “I can’t. I can’t do it. What if …,” he stammered. Was he worried about that erection “lasting more than four hours?” Frankly, I think that’s a ploy to push the shit. We should be so lucky.

So there the pills sit, forlorn and abandoned, in a dark desk drawer. I would have to have the luck of being married to the one guy in the whole U.S. of A., straight, gay, or into canine creatures, who ordered Viagra and never took it!