Put several homosexual men in one spot, pour the alcohol, stir, and within a few hours you are promised a hook up, a break up, a break down, a fight, or all of the above.
Or, if you are lucky, you’ll experience the most descriptive, joke-filled, bitchy comments, and loving exchanges that transcend any straight conversation you’ll ever hear.
Gay men lay it out and soak it up. If you are thin-skinned, you are sunk. You often have to put on your big girl Andrew Christians and move on.
No amount of craziness I could make up about the 25 years I spent working in gay bars in Houston, Texas could compare with the true stories I experienced. However, with my new serial, “My Life Behind Bars”,I have chosen to weave the truth along with fiction and a bit of fantasy in order to guard against having my ass kicked in a dark alley by someone who thinks I have divulged their darkest secrets. Names will be changed, locations obscured, and no judgment passed to the extent I am capable, which I warn you up front won’t be much.
Many of the experiences are hilarious simply because I was surrounded by homosexuals who, as we all know, can be extremely witty, bitchy, and bright. In other stories I will look head on and unflinchingly at the sordid side of a dynamic and often treacherous lifestyle that can create a dangerous pit into which some will sink — a pit of excess sex and drink and drugs. And oh, did I mention, sex? Others will excel, fully realizing their true talent, destined dreams, and the ability to leave a trail of glitter wherever they go.
My hope is that readers will experience moments of laughter, a few tears, and at least one “light bulb moment” that leads them to a revelation about themselves. If I do my job properly, some will be pissed off at some details I am prepared to reveal about our sometimes decadent, narcissistic, and selfish lifestyle — one we refuse to face at all costs and, when we do, then only with a cocktail in each hand and an occasional Xanax. For every bombshell I drop I assure you that my own personal involvement in some bat-sh*t crazy behavior will not be overshadowed. (Except for possibly the drugs, of which I was barely a participant. But I was no Pollyanna, either.)
Like Penn and Teller, comedians who reveal the trickery behind magic, I plan to unveil homosexuality as I know it in all its glory, delightful darkness, and heightened enlightenment. I plan to do so without all of my bitchy nature tagging along — but that possibility and a snowy Houston winter have about the same chances.
If at any point you think you recognize yourself, relax. More than likely the subject at hand is a combination of multiple persons and happenings. Other times I may strip the Emperor of his new clothes and wait for the fallout.
So, in the immortal words of Bette Davis’s Margo Channing, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
Should you stumble across my bruised body in a dark alley, please, call 911.
Part One: Do I look like someone who gives a sh*t?
I had an advantage point serving cocktails at several of Houston’s top gay bars, a position that sprang from a job in marketing in those same establishments. Over the years I emceed shows, acted as personal assistant to the bar owners and created a variety of new ideas that supported the patrons’ tastes and served many social, political and charitable organizations. All provided high levels of observations, but none like what I saw and heard while slinging Mai Tais and Bloody Marys — unless it was when I wielding an unforgiving microphone.
As a karaoke host I was deadly. My brand of humor was compared to Don Rickles and Joan Rivers. High compliments. Much of the time the audience got the joke and willingly laughed along. Often they screamed with delight or mock horror when I would say the very things they were thinking but would never voice. When someone was offended and foolishly attempted to correct my behavior, forgetting I had the microphone and years of experience handling hecklers, it didn’t take them long to realize that they had entered a battle of wits unarmed. I seized these moment with my acid tongue-lashings, ending with them being escorted off the property screaming, “F*ck you!” until landing unceremoniously on the sidewalk.
At times the karaoke experience would occasionally yield a decent enough voice. However, their talent was too often overshadowed by an ego that tainted any enjoyment of their skills. They pissed and moaned about the sound system, their line-up to sing and, of course, me as host. The club needed a complaint department just to cover the disgruntled haters. I will admit that I did sometimes stop them in mid-song when their vocals sounded like cats being strangled and had the DJ put on “Do, Re, Mi” from The Sound of Music. It’s a song designed to teach the basic skills of singing. The subject either missed the sarcasm completely or stormed off in a huff. I assumed I was offering a public service.
I do know that the audience was amused and thankful that it wasn’t them in the hot seat.
Hosting karaoke was a high profile gig and a magnet for horny boys who dreamed of sharing the spotlight with a minor celebrity. I made out, literally. During musical howling I was not above running to a back office for a three-minute make out session. Most of the time they were content to shove their tongues down my throat and grind their firm butts on my lap, making it difficult to return to the stage as my hard-on raged. I must admit that as painful as some karaoke could be, at times the perks outweighed the egos and delusional, untalented wanna-be pop, country, and rock stars.
One young blonde, blue-eyed queen who was just my type had had his fifteen seconds of fame on a national vocal competition, and although his rating was in the double digits, he was sure that his sh*t did not stink. Granted, he was cute and I did hit on him, bringing him roses and pouring my heart out. He gave me a bullshit speech about how he was focusing on his career and didn’t have time to date. The next week his Facebook status changed from “Single” to “In a relationship.” F*ck the little bastard. Besides, he had eyes like a blowfish and stubby Fred Flintstone fingers.
But I’m not bitter.