West Hollywood, November 8, 1988.
It was Election Day: George Bush, the Vice President of homophobia for the last eight years, vs. Michael Dukakis, who hated gay people and was a fierce opponent of gay adoption.
I was depressed over my doctoral dissertation, my ever-mounting collection of bills, and my lack of a boyfriend, so there was no point in getting even more depressed. Instead of voting, I went to Mugi, the bar for Asian guys and their admirers.
It was not crowded on a Tuesday night, with most American citizens home watching the election returns: a few Asian guys clustered together on one side of the bar, a couple of regular admirers, Creepy Old Guys who leered and got drunk but never cruised anyone.
And a twinks: short, slim, rather feminine, with a cute round face, a square chin, and prominent eyebrows, standing by the bar with a beer bottle propped up like an erect penis. Cruising me with a sultry stare.
I was there to meet Asian guys, not a twink who looked like he just walked out of the Rage, so I gave him Attitude.
But he didn't catch on; he sauntered up to me with a broad smile and held out his hand. "Allo, I am Stash (stesh) from Romania (Romen-ia)."
Romanian was the only Romance language spoken in Eastern Europe, descended from the Latin of the Roman legionnaires. Incomprehensible to speakers of Spanish and French: lots of Slavic words, strange diacritical marks.
I want to eat your sausage.
French: Je veux manger ta saucisse
Romanian: Eu vreau să mănânc cârnați ta
Now I definitely wanted to talk to him!
"You have very big muscle (mooshl)," Stash continued as we shook hands. "Do you study karate?"
"No, I just work out. I studied judo in school."
"Judo! You are from Japon?"
Quick, which of these guys is Japanese?
Easy to tell, right? But I do have some Native American ancestry, so maybe, in the right light, if you're expecting someone Japanese...
But why did I say "Yes, from Kyoto, Japan."? Maybe because I was worried that if I told the truth, Stash would move on to someone else. Besides, I spent summer in Japan a couple of years ago, and I chose a Japanese ethnicity for a school project once. That's enough for an honorary citizenship, right?
"Kyoto, Japon!" Stash repeated. "Fantastic (fon-test-ik)! You will tell me all about Japonia, and show me judo moves, ok? We go on date (deet). I know good gay restaurant close by here."
I followed him to a Greek restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard, near Mann's Chinese Theater -- not gay, but open 24 hours, and with a good gyro platter.
One of the decretei, "children by decree," forced into existence by dictator Ceaucescu's eugenics program, he was abandoned by his parents and raised in a casa de copii, an orphanage.
Life was harsh. Ten kids, all ages, slept on on army cots in a small room with no heat and no electricity. There was never enough to eat. Everyone bathed in the same dirty water.
Beatings and sexual abuse were common.
There was a picture of Bruce Lee on the wall in his dormitory that someone tore from a magazine. It symbolized masculine energy and power, and more, an escape.
Stash felt his first erotic desire looking at that picture.
Gulp. And he thought I was Asian, his masculine ideal.
A few weeks later, he and a friend escaped from the orphanage by literally climbing over a chain-link fence. They hitchhiked to Salonta, where they made it across the border to Hungary.
They lived in Budapest for awhile, living mostly on the street, surviving through hustling and an occasional theft. But Stash wanted to go farther, to America, where Asian guys studied judo and karate, their bare chests glistening in the sun.
"Jackie Chan is very hot, yes?" Stash asked. "Do you know him?"
Gulp. More Asian guys. "Um...no. I know Michael J. Fox from Back to the Future. Do you think he's hot?"
"Um...sure, he is ok. I won't say no to Marty McFly. But Chinese, Japanese guys...wow!"
Stash paid a truck driver to smuggle him across the border to Vienna. Then he hitchhiked all the way across Austria and Italy to Rome.
"Paid him how?" I asked.
Stash smiled. "How do you think?"
"So...um...how big was he?"
When he was 16, a church group got him a refugee visa, and placed him with a foster family in London. They were nice to him, but extremely homophobic; he had to stay closeted, and even pretend to date girls. But he learned English, went to school, and got his General Certificate [high school diploma].
He went to work in a grocery store to save enough money to move to America. He had just been in town a few weeks. The first thing he did, after finding an apartment and a job, was go to Mugi to meet one of the Asian guys from his earliest fantasies.
I checked my watch. 10:00 pm, and I had to get up early. Time to seal the deal.
"So...I am sorry that I talk so long," Stash said. "We will go back to the bar, or to my apartment? I live only near here."
"Um...your apartment is fine."
No way I could make up a story about Japan now, after hearing about his life of deprivation and misery. Maybe I could draw him right into the sex, and avoid my fake Japanese identity altogether.
I followed him to a upstairs apartment on Wilcox: one room, with a futon, a small dresser, a table and chair, and a kitchenette. There was no place to sit but the futon.
I put my arm around Stash and moved in for a kiss. We kissed for a long time, but when I tried to grab his obviously aroused penis, he pushed my hand away.
"Wait...wait. I like you, yes, but this is first date. We wait. You want some tea?"
"Um...sure." So the guy who paid for his way across Europe by hustling wouldn't let me go down on him?
He stood, and began puttering around in the kitchenette. "Ok, now you tell me about coming out in Kyoto, Japan."
"Illinois? Chicago!" He sat beside me again. "Fantastic! Do you know gangsters? Shoot bad guys?"
I got into Stash's bed on our second date: smooth chest, nice biceps, average sized beneath the belt, uncut, very hard. Into kissing and cuddling. Let me go down on him, but mostly an oral bottom.
On our third date, we "shared" with my Vietnamese friend Thanh. After that we fell out of contact.
See also; Turning Japanese