Monday, December 10, 2007

Just keep petting me, okay?

Opening the door into -- yes, Blow Buddies -- I'm surprised to find a punkish queen with a bunch of piercings as the greeter: do you have your membership card? Sure, she's wearing all-black, and leather, but she's nonetheless a queen who says I like your jacket, a black queen at that, which makes her the first person of color I've ever seen working at Blow Buddies. I decide to take all of this as a good sign, also I can't help noticing the theatricality of the whole thing -- you pull a metal ring for the bell to the entryway painted all-black with a black curtain on one end, stand in line while gazing up at a porn screen until you part the curtain and there's the music pulsing, guys filing in and out, the coat check, lockers, everything black with a bit of the jailhouse/military theme but high ceilings, a long hallway to the rest of the adventure.

This is what Patrick Moore talks about in his book Beyond Shame: Reclaiming the Abandoned History of Radical Gay Sexuality. He's making the argument that the explorations in 1970s gay sexual spaces were a type of art in the theater of the imagination, certainly a viable and important position -- although Moore unconvincingly declares that the most public of these spaces (parks, piers, bathrooms) were too "diffuse" to consider art in the same way as the more commercial (and bounded) establishments. Moore does offer a surprising critique of gay male misogyny and gender segregation in emerging sexual spaces, but unfortunately offers no critique of the deification of unquestioning masculinity in those same spaces, a fault that I would argue has as much to do with the downfall of these spaces as potential sites of liberation as AIDS, demonization, drug addiction, gentrification and assimilation. In fact, Moore glamorizes this masculinity as a "revolt against traditionalism" because masculinity overwhelmed more conventional standards of beauty as the dominant paradigm for attraction. Moore continues the book with one of the most scathing critiques of the 1980s East Village art scene that I've ever seen, a fascinating evisceration that unfortunately includes the most horrifying quote in the book: "I believe that in 50 years time we will look back at drag and camp as the minstrel shows of gay culture."

I'm aware that much of Moore's appreciation of 1970s clubs and sex spaces probably derives from the fact that he didn't experience them in their heyday, a fact of which he is keenly aware. But nonetheless he’s also heightening my awareness of this space that usually seems so oppressive in its seriousness -- while Moore is wary of the dangers of camp, I'm all-too-conscious of the campiness of every masculinity fetish, especially those in the theater of the gay sexual imagination. The first guy I see is wearing one of those one-piece workman's outfits unbuttoned to reveal his waxed and muscular chest, the second guy in skintight jeans with a bulging crotch and gray beard -- both of these guys probably perfected these outfits in some of the exact 1970s spaces Moore examines. I'm tempted to think that maybe at Blow Buddies the ‘70s never ended except for the celebratory part, but then I remember the music -- snaps and horns over the bass that could only be the 1990s, although if I close my eyes a bit maybe I can hear a tambourine and a rattle. Actually, the music is just right -- punctuating the rhythm of something you're hoping for -- and the guy at the coat check says I haven't seen you in a long time, have you been on hiatus?

I like that word: hiatus. Maybe this is going to be a good night, after all. Scanning all the types of masculinity in the house – ‘70s clone realness with the mustache and those same jeans, testosterone rage with bulging eyes and belly either in or out, circuit authenticity with the track pants and camouflage lycra t-shirt to hide the fact of an actual absence from the process of working out -- I'll admit I'm not really feeling anyone, until this guy grabs me I like that. He’s maybe in the circuit category, cute though with sweet eyes and he's Asian, which probably places him outside of most of these guys’ attraction paradigms, that's what I've noticed at least. We're hugging I’m kissing his neck then he takes my hand and I figure he's leading me to a room, but actually he leads me to the center of the maze, gets on his knees and he's sucking my cock so that we’re practically blocking everyone, I mean only one person can go by at a time which is funny but a little obtrusive -- I guide him just outside that section so we're still in everybody's view but not blocking entry or exit.

He's not a great cocksucker, but I'm enjoying the spectacle and I like leaning over and rubbing his muscular back, he's a gym queen but there's also fat -- I like that, it doesn't make me feel desperate with imperfection. There's something about watching people watch you when you’re getting your cock sucked that makes everything so much hotter because you can imagine your desire magnified. There's this skinny guy who's watching from the distance, something says indie about him maybe the graphic on his t-shirt or the way he's wearing his pants -- when I say indie I do mean the marketing trend but it's something so absent here at Blow Buddies, I guess a softness in masculinity that I go wild for, I mean I can't help craving the accoutrements as well like that time I watched that guy with plugs in his ears and one of those emo caps that's probably really something from the military. But what am I saying, exactly?

I'm saying that this is the guy who I’m craving even though I can't say exactly why -- I rub his neck as he goes by, but he keeps walking. This older guy with a part in the middle of his gray hair starts rubbing my chest and I'm not exactly into him, but I'm into the performance so I smile but I think he can sense that I'm not totally feeling it so he smiles back and keeps walking. Then there’s the guy I'm hot for, coming back around and he stands maybe 10 feet away I'm looking right into his eyes while this other guy is sucking my dick I guess it's a bit disloyal to use the passion he's bringing into my gaze on courting someone else but also this is when his technique suddenly gets better, I mean I'm looking into the skinny guy’s eyes but it's dark and I'm not entirely sure he can tell I'm looking right at him except that I know he knows and after a while I motion him over with my hand.

He moves over against the wall but just out of my reach, actually I can rub the side of his neck but he still seems shy except when I pull my dick out of this guy's mouth he leans over to take a look and he makes that sound, how do I describe that sound? Not a grunt because it's quieter and not a gasp maybe it's a moan, a soft moan at this point I'm kissing his neck, now that we’re three -- me and the guy sucking my dick and this guy who’s now got his hands unbuttoning his pants -- there's a whole crowd around us, I always like a crowd but if this guy takes out his dick and someone else is sucking it, will I get a chance? I whisper in his ear: I want to suck your dick, do you want to go somewhere -- and he makes that soft grunting moaning sound again and starts to pull up his pants which aren't quite down anyway and then I'm not sure whether he's leaving or getting ready to leave with me and that's when I get on my knees, hands under his balls, even with his dick he's shy because he's holding it to the side. There's so much you can read into these gestures -- all of these gestures, like when I say do you want to go somewhere but then I get right to my knees, or when he's holding his dick to the side then sheltering the head while I use my lips on the shaft, or when someone keeps grabbing my dick and I keep moving his hand away or when I'm looking up at his eyes to search for everything or when I realize that I'm moving the wrong guy's hand away I mean the first guy jerking jerking jerking like he wants me to come right away I don't. Actually that's the sweet guy who was sucking my dick until I got on my knees but now he wants to get me off he needs to get me off he wants it now he keeps moving his hand back and I move some other guy's hand away because I think it's his hand, I squeeze it tight like I'm annoyed and I can sense his sadness mixed with anger like I feel when someone does that to me and it's my first time moving in there direction.

All of this translation, it gets complicated but also there’s the intoxication of the moment like I might die if I don't suck this guy's dick but what if he doesn't want me to suck his dick now? I really am thinking all of this, like I'm reaching over to assure the guy who's hand I moved away with force that I made a mistake but then he turns away and I turn to the other guy who's grabbing my dick -- no, I say, I don't want to come right now. And then I'm sucking this guy's dick -- you know, the skinny one who's maybe shy or maybe tweaked or maybe both -- maybe not tweaked because he gets hard fast, that's when his dick goes all the way into my mouth I mean when he wants it there in all its thickness I'm looking up and his eyes every now and then, at different angle than before where it was all seduction, maybe I felt more powerful in my desire because I was pulling him closer.

Now my desire feels more powerful than me, at first I'm sucking slow because I'm savoring it, then faster when he's moaning, and maybe the guy who was sucking my dick is making out with him but I can't tell because I'm focusing down here -- I'm curious because he didn't want to make out with me or at least he turned his head away, this guy whose dick I'm sucking, rubbing his legs and putting my hands under his shirt I want to show all the affection and feeling. Then he pulls away and faces the wall and there he's shooting I'm watching his face, wow, then the guy who was sucking my dick is trying to get his lips around this guy's cock but I hold him back -- no, I say, he wants to come like that. But then he turns the other way and someone else has his dick in his mouth and he leans his head back like maybe he likes it, I wish that was my mouth but my mouth is kissing his neck again and hugging him I like hugging him. Then he’s zipping up -- thanks, I say, that was hot. He says thanks, then the other guy is sucking my dick again and this short guy walks by who's got that certain fashion masculinity I fall for, the one I call masculinity couture -- facial hair just trim enough to pass at work or the leather bars, but mostly in the Gucci ads except he's short and stocky with muscle and wearing camouflage briefs so there’s a circuit element too, very New York, I rub his chest he's grabbing my balls and I kind of go after him, I'm stumbling because my pants are kind of still down.

I don't mean to lose the guy who’s sucking my dick but somehow that happens, this guy's walking away anyway while I'm kissing him from behind, but that's okay because outside of the maze or what is that strange area, anyway? I mean, it's in the center of the club but you feel like you're underground -- theater, indeed -- and outside there's the tall skinny guy I grab him and give him a big hug. This is when I'm all talkative, I don't know what I'm saying except that I'm happy and he says this may sound weird, but I liked your book. Which book, I say -- he means Pulling Taffy, which is kind of hot because the scene we were just a part of, it was really just like a scene out of Pulling Taffy. I say that doesn't sound weird at all, it’s great to hear.

The truth is that sucking his dick made my night, but when he tells me he liked reading Pulling Taffy, that adds a whole different dimension I mean he knows a lot about me, I want to explore this commonality and that's when I'm really talking -- about the fact that we’re not supposed to talk, about everyone's masculine realness, about how much I'm talking maybe I shouldn't be talking so much but I like to talk, about the absence of any sort of indie looks and maybe that's a generational issue or just about who's willing to come here the indie boys might be the most cliquish and scared of all. I even say what would you call your look, but he says he doesn't know. I say I would say it's maybe a little bit of a mid-‘90s club look, he says he wasn't really thinking about it. Then I hug him again, and I'm walking around smiling right into everyone's eyes with so much passion it's like I'm pulling them in on a conveyor belt and some of them even notice. I love this mood, where else can I get this mood? Then I run back into my new friend, or at least I'd like to think he’s my new friend so I hug him tight even though I can't tell how much he likes these hugs I like hugs I like hugs I like hugs! Now I'm talking about the music -- I always talk about the music, the music is good right now we haven't gotten any of those scary vocals. He says what do you mean? I say you know, like Do you think you are better off alo-one -- and I'm exaggerating how bad that song is, does he know that one? I can't tell.

I’m asking him what sex clubs he goes to, if any of them are fun because this one is fun for me tonight but that’s only because I haven't been here in six months and when I come once a week it's awful, I mean awful. He says he only goes here, but what about parks and bathrooms? He says oh I go there, I say which ones -- where do you have fun, because I don't have fun anywhere. He says City College, I say I've heard a lot about City College but that's a bit far for me, it's a little bit too ambitious. He says well I go to school there. I say well that makes it much more convenient.

I say well, if you ever want to go out to sex clubs with someone, you should give me a call -- I'll give you my number. So then we exchange numbers and that's sweet, he's looking for his friend before he goes home. I go in the bathroom, and there's a guy from earlier, the one who was sucking my dick -- I grab him in a big hug he's hugging back even stronger then we’re making out and he picks me up in the air, fun!

Back out in the hallway they're playing some song about the underground, oh those cheesy samples I can fall in love with just about any sample about the underground! Come on into the underground, and I'm doing a special dance move on the runway, I love my special dance moves! Right around now is when I've been there too long -- wait, I almost forgot to tell you that I found the short guy with them camouflage briefs and kissed him on the neck and said what is your fantasy? He said oh I don't know, I'm just hanging out. Just to make sure he understood, I said -- well, think about it and let me know and I'll find the guys to make it happen. After that, he kept his distance from me, but I was serious -- I would have made it happen, I'm that kind of girl -- an organizer, right?

Somewhere around here, which is way after my offer to Masculinity Couture, I realize I'm staying too long because the music has switched to tribal circuit -- before it was almost tribal, or maybe tribal without the circuit, but also minimal -- now we've got the cheesy vocals, or not the vocals yet but I can tell they're coming. Or maybe it's the crowd that's changed -- fewer people and more desperation, I'm skipping all the moments of other people's disdain like the guy who pulls his cock away like I'm a snake or the preppiest, most suburban guy there who wanted to suck anybody's dick except mine. I stumble upon a circuit trio in the corner I figure I won't be invited, but this one guy with a huge cock pulls me over so that he can suck my cock -- then he says let's go somewhere, that was quick. Upstairs we're in one of the booths where you can look down on the other booths and he’s sucking my dick again I pull away I don't want to come yet. I mean I want to come, but I want to do it slowly, he wants it fast but I keep pulling his head back, then he’s got his hand tickling my balls without me even asking oh how perfect and then I can't help it I'm about to shoot down his throat when he pulls away and sticks his tongue out -- I hate sudden gestures like that right at the end, but I'm coming anyway in four spasms they all go onto the center of his tongue like the tears in a Pierre et Gilles photograph. Then he's moaning and shooting down lower, between my feet I'm imagining, and when he stands up he says are you neg or pos?

Is now really the time to ask? But it doesn't matter, now I'm high in the sky and hugging him and and staring out at the disco ball you only notice when you're up here. Well, that's camp -- isn't it? He's a big soft guy with big soft lips, we’re making out he says you're a puppy and I'm smiling with my eyes closed holding the high he says you really are a puppy, how old are you? I say 15, and he's petting the back of my head like I really am a puppy keep petting me I really really am.


grantatee said...

mattilda, i am so touched by this share of yours...

i especially like your 'labels' for the entry of childlike excitement and facial products.... and damn right girl, you are an organizer!

ha ha.

i'm glad that it was a fun night. and i enjoy hearing about your quest- and how its difficult and hard, yet fun and exciting too.


Kathleen Bradean said...

I love your sex as performance art pieces. Probably because that's the way I like to view it too.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Grant, darling -- facial products, so many facial products to organize! And yes, the fun moments make the tragedy worth it, almost -- no, wait, I mean the fun moments push away the tragedy, right? Push push push push away! More childlike excitement, less tragedy...

And Kathleen -- performance art, indeed...

Love --

david said...

Mattilda I must admit I am so behind on catching up with your blog! I read Patrick Moore's book long ago in my search to understand the importance of the cruising space (along with Times Square Red/Blue). I felt similar to you -- a mixture of yes this is good and no what is he talking about? kind of feeling.

All I can think of here is masculinity as the "revolt against traditionalism". I mean, for me I saw this in the "radical queer" sphere with the upsurge of drag king performances, the gender neutral movement in what I felt wasn't something towards androgyny but towards masculine aesthetic. In contrast what I saw for femmes were the traditional formats of the drag queen. I mean, where was the femme movement where everyone could put on makeup and heels and feel empowered? It was always so contained in the club/bar entertainment realm.

I recently went to the Bijou in Chicago -- which is actually, to my knowledge, the longest running (still open) gay sex club in the country. Basically these kids here threw a party there and it was mine (and the majority of the other "younger" people) first time in an explicit sex space. So we got to talk to the staff who worked there who I thought were incredibly friendly and encouraging. And we also got to go upstairs (even women, which to my understanding is never welcomed there during normal operations) and check out the space which I thought was so great because I had only read about how they were built and never saw one in person. Of course, many of the regulars ran away since everyone was exploring it but on some level, at least in the Midwest, it was a time for a lot of people to experience this in a time that wasn't pressured and sexually charged (although the opportunity was constantly there to take advantage of).

So much of this is being lost, or not understood and I don't even think I fully understand the complexities of the experience. I do think a lot of "the cruise" is happening online now which is an entirely different format to experience someone. I've been doing a lot of thinking about it lately -- I mean, you reveal what you want to reveal, the anonymity is there, but I wonder if the cruise isn't deeper for some. Like a cruise of deep desire that spans outside of the physical sexual goal and into a psychological space of finding someone who you think can really identify with you or someone you feel like you can anonymously confide in. So much of it can be confessional. Like an "anti-cruise cruise" thats a product of generational loss and the overwhelming feeling of isolation and lonliness. Really, there seems to be a big parallel with that last piece. And a significant parallel also exists, I think, in this search for the unattainable -- in a thing that can never definitively exist (like the search for the largest cock, the perfect body, the embodiment of your ideal sexual fantasy figure). Yet the feeling of possibility exists -- that if you search and cruise long enough that you will find it.

Anyway enough of my rambling! I enjoyed this post a lot.

Davey in Chicago

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Davey, thanks so much for writing!

That party at the Bijou sounds fun -- I think Liz Rosenfeld writes a little bit about the Bijou in her Nobody Passes essay. I went there once, but I think it was either right before or right after reading and my friend and I didn't want to pay the cover which was kind of high -- they let us walk around a bit, though.

I like this:

"I wonder if the cruise isn't deeper for some. Like a cruise of deep desire that spans outside of the physical sexual goal and into a psychological space of finding someone who you think can really identify with you or someone you feel like you can anonymously confide in."

I think I do that all the time, even if the identification/confiding is only in the moment it can still be so special.

And you're right -- the cultures and ways of communication that have existed in these spaces are definitely fading away -- I've found my sexual self and myself in public sex environments since I was 14, searching searching searching for what I only sometimes find, and even then such a fleeting glimpse but oh such possibility anyway. I always thought the spaces would still exist I mean that there was a certain permanence even if the places moved around. Now I'm not so sure.

Love --