Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Is Real? I Don't Know

Rock Island, May 1978

When I was a kid, my church had no problem with classical music, but my parents hated "that longhair stuff," so there was none in the house.  My first exposure to Bach, Berlioz, Beethoven, and Mozart came through a series of Young People's Concerts (1958-72) which appeared occasionally on Sunday afternoons, hosted by famous composer Leonard Bernstein.

Later, when I joined the school orchestra, I learned more about Leonard Bernstein.

I saw his gay symbolism-heavy musicals, On the Town (1949), starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, and West Side Story (1961), starring gay actor George Chakiris and assorted high-stepping hunks.

And his Symphony #3, Kaddish, named after the Jewish prayer for the dead.

He appeared on tv, conducting Gershwin in 1974, Mahler in 1975, and Beethoven in 1982.

No one ever mentioned that he was gay.  His works revealed nothing, except maybe the Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp, and Percussion, after Plato's Symposium (1954).  The Symposium contains Plato's famous defense of same-sex love.

In the spring of my senior year in high school, shortly before the senior prom,  Aaron, the rabbi's son who was gay (but didn't know it yet), invited me to a performance of Bernstein's Mass, a musical theater piece based on the Latin Mass.  He talked about how odd it was for a Jewish person to write something so Catholic.

Then  I realized that Bernstein was mirroring the oppressive chant of "what girl do you like...what girl...what girl":

What  I say -- I don't feel.
What I feel -- I can't show.
What I show -- isn't real.
What is real?  Oh Lord, I don't know.

Later, in my room, with the theme song to Husbands, Wives, and Lovers playing in the background, I wrote a poem in my journal (excuse the high school angst)

We live in masks
Our faces hard and cold, our voices monotone
And if we see a thing of beauty, a red pill is prescribed
And if we dare to fall in love, the verdict is insanity
So we continue
Shuffling on to houses and wives
And the suicide rate continues to climb

 Two months later, during the famous summer of 1978 I would see Grease, and hear Frankie Valli sing:

We stop the fight right now, we got to be who we are.

My Brief Modeling Career

Chicago, April 1979

One of the highlights of my freshman year at Augustana was my brief -- very brief -- modeling career.

I had my own radio program, the "International Pop Hour," where I played pop songs from Europe.  In between, I interviewed anyone who might have the slightest international connection, from the political science professor from China to the Italian-American manager of Langomarcino's Chocolates.

 One day in April, shortly after I got back from determining that my friend Mary's brother was "straight," I interviewed Lars Lundquist (not his real name), who came to Augustana as a foreign student in 1968 and now had his own photography studio in Chicago.

"I do everything -- kids, dogs, weddings, even passport photos," he said, "But I'm specializing in fashion.  I want to get some clients and go into talent management."  He paused.  "You know, you've got a nice fresh-scrubbed all-American look.  Did you play football in high school?"

"No, I was an athletic trainer.  But I saw more moldy towels and stinky athletic supporters than any football player."  I cued the laugh track.

"Can you come out to Chicago next week?  We'll do a shoot, and see what happens."

It's a scam!  My inner skeptic told me.  But then..."He's got a studio in Chicago, on Michigan Avenue!"  Besides, my listeners -- all 5 of them -- wanted to know what happened.

So the next weekend I drove out, and he took some shots of me wearing an orange leisure suit, a polo shirt and jeans, and a yellow turtleneck sweater with green pants (bright colors were "in" that year).

I quit my job at the Carousel Snack Bar, and through the spring and summer of 1979, except for my 10 days in Colombia,  I drove out to Chicago every few weeks and let Lars photograph me.  I got some work: see if you can find the Christmas 1979 catalog for the Marshall Fields department store, or Chicago Magazine in the spring of 1981.  I didn't keep any copies -- the photos were too embarrassing.

The money wasn't very good, and I was too busy with classes, clubs, and my job to drive out to Chicago every five minutes, so I was getting tired of it by the fall of 1979, when Lars asked, "Would you consider working for the gay market?"

"What?" I asked, stunned.  "What kind of market is there for gays?"

"All you have to do is pose nude -- there's no sex involved.  And the pay is good."

Was it legal?  And where could you go to buy nude pictures of men?

Apparently there were several gay porn magazines available in the adult bookstores of big cities.  Plus a mail order industry of nude male photos, marketed to gay men who couldn't get to big cities, and didn't want a porn magazine delivered to their home.

I could be a beacon of light to gay men in small towns!

But I would be out to millions of people.  Ok, hundreds.  They wouldn't be seeing my real name, but still...what if my mother saw the photos...or my friends at school....

A few days later, I met Fred, my ministerial student boyfriend.  I was sure that he would disapprove, so the nude photo shoot never happened, and my modeling career fizzled out (except for the adult movie I made, sort of, a few years later).

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Pitcher with the Secret Move

Upstate, March 2009

When I moved to Upstate New York in the fall of 2008, my social calendar was soon crowded with invitations from members of the Gang of Twelve, guys who had known each other for years, and who shared everything, from gossip to boyfriends.

They had a hierarchy.  The Upper Class got the first shot at the New Kid in Town: The Rich Kid, The Grabby Nurse, and The Satyr .

Next came the Middle Class: The Truck Driver, The Rapper (though they cut in line due to the special circumstances of their breakup), The Klingon, and The Sword Swallower.

By March 2009, I was getting calls from members who were not at all well off financially, but some of the more attractive of the Gang of Twelve.  Like the Pitcher.

  Date #8: The Pitcher with a Secret Move

He was, in fact, a former pitcher for the semi-pro Cooperstown Tigers. Now he worked as a desk clerk at a hotel in Oneota, and was a volunteer umpire every year at the Cooperstown Dream Park.

The selfie he sent showed a guy in his 40s, broad-shouldered, muscular, clean-shaven, with "matinee idol" good looks.

He had been friends with several members of the Gang of Twelve for years, and dated a couple of them, but the usually-gossipy bunch didn't say much about his past, and nothing about his bedroom activities.

I was intrigued.  Maybe he was spectacular, and they didn't want to ruin the surprise.  Or awful, and they didn't want to ruin the surprise.

Turns out he was great, except for that sports thing, and one other problem.

See if you can guess what it was:.

First clue: He arrived at my apartment for our date all hot and sweaty from the gym, and asked if he could take a shower first.  Of course I wanted a glimpse of his physique, and "accidentally" walked in while he was putting on his underwear.

Very distinctive: white mesh, extending from his waist to just above his knee.

"Are you a Mormon?" I asked.

"Oh, no, this is French.  Very comfortable.  And it shows off my basket nicely, don't you think?"

I had to agree that it did.

"I always wear it to gym  It gets me lots of attention."

Second clue:  We went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant (since he was not well-off financially, I paid).

The Pitcher didn't say a lot about his past, so I didn't bring up my usual stories of my date with Richard Dreyfuss, the bodybuilding contest in Turkey, or how I single-handedly bankrupted the porn industry.  Instead, we talked about gay rights, tv -- he was a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race -- and -- yawn -- sports.

"Which date with the Gang of Twelve have you liked best so far?" he asked.  "Myself excluded, of course."

"I can tell you the one  liked the least -- the Sword Swallower.  He freaked me out!"

"I know!" the Pitcher said.  "I've told him a dozen times to tell people what he's into, don't just spring it on them.  For instance, I'm into a lot of things.   But do I just jump into it?  Of course not.  I always talk to the guy first."

"What, exactly, are you into?" I asked.

"Oh, lots of things...bondage, spanking, water sports, master-slave scenes, talking dirty, underwear, leather, drag, porn, shoes, feet.  Do you find any of that appealing?"

"Definitely the leather and the underwear," I said with a grin.  "Of course, I like the guy best when he's out of his clothes."

Third clue:  After dinner, I invited the Pitcher back to my apartment, but he refused.  "I have to go to work at midnight. But how about next weekend?  Come over Sunday night, and I'll fix you a nice big home-cooked dinner. Then afterwards we can see what happens."

So the next Sunday I went to the Pitcher's place -- a small house trailer in Milford -- for a dinner of brisket, matzah ball soup, mashed potatoes, beets, and hamentaschen (someone in the Gang of Twelve told him I was Jewish).

Then we sat on the couch, watching The Amazing Race and Desperate Housewives, and kissing and fondling.

He let me grope his fancy French underwear, but when I tried to reach under his shirt, he moved my hand away.

When Desperate Housewives was over, the Pitcher said: "Well, it looks like we've gotten to know each other.  Why don't you slip out of those clothes?  I'll be right back."

I assumed that he had to use the bathroom, but instead he disappeared into the bedroom. I heard the door lock -- no peeking this time!

He wanted to get undressed in private?  Weird.

I took off my clothes and waited on the couch.  And waited. And clicked through the channels. And waited. And wondered if it would be impolite to help myself to more hamentaschen.

Was he putting on some fancy fetish gear?  Preparing for a bondage scene?  I was about ready to knock on the door and see if he had fainted.

Finally the door clicked open, and the Pitcher appeared.

Have you figured it out yet?

More after the break:

The Pitcher was wearing mascara, fake eyelashes, lipstick, and a red wig.  Red press-on fingernails.

A bra, panties (not fancy French underwear), red lace pantyhose, and high heeled shoes.   .

WTF?  ""  I was speechless.  It was like The Crying Game in reverse.

The Pitcher looked confused.  "What's wrong?  I told you I was into drag."

"Yeah, but it was one thing in a list of 30!  I thought we'd be doing a bondage scene."

He sat next to me on the couch.  "You definitely said you were into underwear."

"No, no...manly underwear!  Jock straps!  Not lady's underwear!"

Ok, in Florida I hooked up with Victor, AKA Miss Chita Taboo, but he wasn't wearing women's clothing during the act!

"Well, we seem to have had a miscommunication," the Pitcher said.

"That's a bit of an understatement!  Could know, go back into the bedroom and take it off?"

" No -- no, I only like being with guys when I'm dressed up.  It's the only way I can relax and let myself get into it."  He put a red-nailed hand on my shoulder.  "Have you ever tried it with a guy who's dressed up?  You might like it."

"I'm pretty sure I wouldn't.  Sorry."

I don't mean to imply that the Pitcher's problem was enjoying bedroom activities in drag -- there's nothing wrong with wearing lady's clothing, whenever and wherever you like.  His problem was keeping it a secret, especially from the guys he planned to take into his bedroom.  Or revealing it in impenetrable code, as if it were something shameful.

See also: The Drag Queen on my Sausage List.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Jermaine, The Biggest Guy on My Sausage List

Boston, February 2001

#12 on my Sausage List, the biggest guy I've ever met, was a 21-year old political science major from Harvard.

We met in the spring of 2001, when my doctorate in sociology was nearing completion, and I landed a dream interview: Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at Boston University!

I was so certain that this job was my "destiny" that I started looking for apartments and hanging out in Boston gay chatrooms.  One of the guys I chatted with was Jermaine.

Instead of the usual "stats? size? top or bottom?", we talked about gender discrimination laws, hate crimes, and heteronormativity in the classroom.  Quite heady stuff for a chatroom!  And we made plans to meet for coffee and dessert at the end of my first day of interviews (the committee was taking me to dinner).

The interviews were atrocious -- snobbish faculty, snobbish grad students, questions that were heterosexist, combative, dissmisive, or just plain rude.  No way I was getting this job!  No way did I want it!

It was a relief to extricate myself from the badgering and walk from my hotel to the House of Blues, an upscale soul food restaurant with live music, where Jermaine was waiting.  Very attractive: shorter than me, dark-skinned, solidly built, with glasses and a bright smile.  Now I was even more depressed.  Were all Boston boys so hunky?

We ordered appetizers --  Voodoo Shrimp and Fried Pickles -- and then dessert -- Bread Pudding -- while I complained (you never complain on a first date, but I figured we would never see each other again, anyway).

"Don't worry about the job," Jermaine said. "You'll find something great."

He talked about his law school applications -- Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, Yale -- and then a career fighting gay oppression: "We've made some strides, but there's still so much to do. Sodomy laws, health care, partner benefits, gay youth. The fight is only beginning."

Then he started talking about his volunteer work with homeless gay youth at the MCC, but he stopped himself after a sentence or two.  "I'm hogging the conversation, aren't I?  Time for you to talk: what's your favorite thing about living in New York?"

After all that, it felt sort of sleazy to be cruising him, but after awhile I reached down to stroke his thigh. He smiled, but moved my hand away.  Then, oddly, he asked, "Who's your Daddy?"

Um...well, I'm twice as old as you, about six inches taller, and I'm pretty sure I could beat you in arm wrestling.  So you ain't my Daddy, son!

I didn't say that.  I just smiled and kept silent.

After awhile Jermaine wanted to go to the Machine, a 18+ dance club, but I was too tired for the blaring techno-rock of the Cute Young Thing crowd.

"Why don't we go back to my hotel?" I suggested.

He stared at me.  "Who's your Daddy?" he asked again.

"Um...that would a 65-year old retired factory worker in Franklin, Indiana."

"Ok, let's go," he said with a smile.

On the way, Jermaine got into an actual conversation with a panhandler.  Never in my life had I seen such a thing -- you ignore them, or at best drop some coins into their plastic cup while looking away.  And he talked about so many charities that I felt like a piker.

Was it ok to bring Jermaine into my bed?  It would be like seducing a saint.

We got to my room and began kissing and fondling and undressing each other, but when I moved my hand to his crotch, Jermaine pushed it away and asked "Who's your Daddy?" again.

This time I said "Why don't you wait and see?"

Finally I was completely naked, but Jermaine was still wearing pants.

"Isn't it about time for the Full Monte?"

"Ok, sure," he said, strangely reluctant.  He stood, unbuckled his belt, and started to lower his pants.

And lower them.

And lower them.

I stared.  It was a baseball bat.  It was a Kovbasa+++++.

"Yeah," Jermaine said, embarrassed.  "At this point most guys drool and make sleazy jokes."

I caught myself, and returned my gaze to his face.  "About what?  You have a very nice physique.  Your pecs are really hot."

He laughed and knelt in front of me.  "That's the right answer."

Later Jermaine told me that he was sick of being fetishized, desired for nothing but his beneath-the-belt gifts.  The question "Who's your Daddy" was designed to see if I would try to pressure him into being a super-top pile-driving sex machine.  He wanted to kiss and cuddle, and fall asleep in the guy's arms.

I was happy to oblige.

We saw each other again about two months later, when Jermaine went down to Delaware for his Uncle's 50th birthday party, and invited me along as his date.

Otherwise our schedules never synched, and in the summer of 2001 he moved to Berkeley.  But we continued to chat online, and as the months passed and I didn't get a job, he kept saying "Don't give up -- you'll find something great!"

Jermaine is the biggest guy I've ever known.  But not because of his Kovbasa+++++.

See also: Skinny-Dipping with the Biggest Guy on My Sausage List; 8 Harvard Yard Hookups; and Hooking Up on a Job Interview


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