Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Barry Hooks Up with Luke Perry
Yuri and I are in Sayville, visiting my friend Barry, the Colonial Williamsburg boy who escaped from his conservative, homophobic roots through drinking, drugs, and anonymous hookups, but has now been transformed into a health-conscious gym rat who practices Zen Buddhism and goes to gay Catholic Masses.
We're watching Beverly Hills 90210, about the angst-ridden lives of Southern California glitz kids. I've never seen it -- why should I watch a program about the glitz and glamour of a mythical Beverly Hills, when I lived a mile away from the real one?
But tonight, one of the four subplots is about gay bashing: Dylan (Luke Perry) and his friend Andrew (Rob Derringer) are assaulted outside a gay community center in West Hollywood. Andrew doesn't want to report the incident, because if he is outed, he will lose his job.
"California has job protections for gay people!" I complain. "And who gets bashed in West Hollywood? I lived there for ten years, from 1985 to 1995 -- it was a small town, quiet, peaceful, where you knew your neighbors and everybody helped each other."
"That's funny," Barry says. "I moved to West Hollywood in 1995, just as you were leaving, but I didn't find a small town at all. It was cold and hard. Everybody wanted to use you. I didn't know anybody, for real. I did a lot of drugs, mostly Ecstasy and crystal. I danced all night, and hooked up a lot, and hustled."
"Hustled?" Yuri asks.
"Prostitute," I explain.
"You were prostitute?"
"Rent boy," Barry corrects me. "I had a high class clientele. They picked me up in limousines, took me to the best restaurants, kept me overnight in the best hotels, brought in the best drugs, but then always sent me home alone."
Barry wants to talk about how empty his life was before his transformation, a standard "I was lost but now I'm found" motif, but Yuri will have none of it. He's been out for less than two years, he's never been to West Hollywood, and he wants everything there to be bright and shining and joyous. "That is very exciting. Do you meet any famous people?"
"A couple. Him, for instance." He points to Dylan Walsh, played by Luke Perry.
"Yuck!" I say instinctively. "That long face, receding hairline, squinty eyes. I'd go with Jason Priestly. Much cuter, and we know that he has a big one from that photo of him on a nude beach that's been making the rounds of the internet [left]."
"No, Dylan is cute," Yuri protests. "And I think he has a big one."
"Mega-gigantic!" Barry says.
West Hollywood, July 1997
Barry was not in the best frame of mind -- not much sleep last night, nothing to eat all day but some stale donuts for breakfast and leftover macaroni and cheese for dinner, no Ecstasy to be had from any of his usual sources. He had been dancing for six hours on nothing but adrenaline and beer, and an occasional mojito sent over by a Creepy Old Guy hoping to get into his pants.
But his rent was coming due, and nobody was getting into his pants tonight unless he had $50, some primo crystal, or a pornstar-sized penis.
He tried all of the gay dance clubs in West Hollywood, and then he went up the hill to Sunset Boulevard, where young, hip, homophobic straights hung out. Straight clubs were iffy -- you got cruised by women, you couldn't dance with men -- but if you played your cards right, you could go home with some superstud actor wannabes whose girlfriends were "out of town."
Tonight he hit the jackpot -- he had only just walked into Whiskey a Go Go, when he saw Luke Perry! Sitting in a booth with an entourage of men.
The outsider who resonated with Barry's life, growing up gay in conservative Colonial Williamsburg.
The glamorous world of Beverly Hills, 90210, where the sun was always shining and the guys were always hot. Friendship. Freedom. Community.
An icon of Barry's childhood. He even had a Dylan Walsh doll (no penis -- he checked).
There was no question about it -- he was going to trick with Luke Perry!
He walked up, started a conversation, got offered a beer but no crystal. The entourage moved away, as if they knew the routine, as if Luke had done this before.
After some cruising, he followed Luke to the Parc Suites off La Cienega, and waited in the car while Luke paid for a room.
They kissed in the elevator -- a soft, warm "first date" kiss, not the aggressive, tongue-swallowing kiss of a trick.
Inside the hotel, they collapsed onto the bed, kissing and fondling. Luke's Mortadella+ became instantly aroused. But Barry didn't.
"We don't have to do anything right away," Luke said with a frown. "We can just cuddle."
"No, I'm into it. I just need a few minutes. I've never been with such a big star before -- or such a big penis -- I've got stage fright."
Luke didn't have stage fright -- he took off his pants and underwear and lay down on the bed with his legs spread. Barry went down on him while Luke stroked his hair.
When he finished, Barry went to the bathroom to rinse out his mouth, and then returned to bed. "Could we just cuddle now?" he asked. "I'm really tired."
"Sure, whatever you want." Luke put his both arms around Barry and kissed him twice, once on the lips and once on the forehead. Then he turned out the lights.
This is what gay life is supposed to be like, Barry thought. Not endless nights of drugged-out dancing and tricking, wandering mean streets looking for yet another guy with a nice car and $50, then going home alone and empty. It's supposed to be about caring for each other. It's supposed to be about love.
Barry stayed awake all night, not wanting to miss a second of the warmth of Luke's arms, his soft breathing, his heartbeat.
He got up early in the morning, while it was still dark out, dressed, gave Luke one final kiss, and left. You can't go home again, he thought. It's too late. Besides, he really wanted to score some crystal.
Sayville, Long Island, November 1999
"It was nearly a year later when I encountered the Creepy Old Guy in a hotel corridor and started praying the rosary again," Barry tells us. He went back home to Williamsburg, where his parents were delighted to reunite with him. He gave up the bars, went to drug counseling, joined a gym, began practicing Zen meditation, and started going to Dignity, the gay Catholic group.
"Sad story," Yuri says. "Does it mean that we won't share tonight?"
Barry laughs. "Not until I get to know you a little better."
Was Barry telling the truth?
The guy Barry hooked up with never once said that he was in fact, Luke Perry the actor.
In July 1997, Luke Perry was married to Rachel Sharp. Their first child, Jack Perry, was about a month old. Luke has also dated Rene Zellweger, Kelly Preston, Shannon Doherty, and Yasmine Bleeth.
He's a gay ally who has played gay characters many times, including "himself" as gay on Family Guy. One would think that, if he were gay or bisexual in real life, he would be open about it.
His penis, as we discovered on Oz in 2001, is not nearly as big as Barry claimed, but maybe he's a grower.
It seems odd that Barry would tell the Luke Perry story just as we were watching him on tv, as if he only just thought of it.
But why make up a story about that particular celebrity, when any icon of his childhood would do?
See also: Barry and the Creepy Old Guy