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Originally published in Honcho magazine - January, 1996

 

Gay Bars

 

by Lefty Boylan (aka Michael Kirwan)

 

 

"Excuse me I have to take this now," said the bar-back as he firmly grasped the stool I'd been occupying since the beginning of happy hour. This has happened several times since my return to New York. What the fuck is this shit? I'm a dinosaur of the old school, I like to lean on my elbows, have an ashtray at the ready, and be able to spread out my money (and whatever other crap that's found its way into my pockets) and drink, getting pleasantly buzzed. I like to have a home base where my cruising buddies can return with their finds or horror stories, get a refill and plod forward. I like to establish a chatty, bantering relationship with the bartender and the other planted patrons.

Even though my top-shelf drink of choice is not ordinarily included in the 2-4-1 deal, I enjoy the early crowd who are more concerned with downing as many free drinks as possible than scoring (that's for later, when the muscle-heads finish their tofu and workouts).

So my perch is whisked off after I've mouthed off sufficiently enough to get my point across but not get tossed out of the place. Now that I've shelled out sixty dollars and some overly generous tips, I'm expected to scrunch up against a wall, balance my paraphernalia in alcohol-numbed fingers and in most cases, start drinking out of those motherfucking plastic cups! Here I am, a good paying regular customer being forced to behave like lumpy wallpaper, so the place can fill up with dancing queens and those silent shufflers who nurse their prop beers for hours and rarely tip more than a quarter.

What exactly is going on here? At the bar, people are lined up three deep, they are ignored for ten minutes because the extremely cute and friendly bartender is now rattled and tuned out, and when they finally get their beverages (you know that they've been conned into picking up drinks for their buddies) they spill half of them trying to escape the crunch. Wow! This is fun! If you head off to relieve your bladder, even your leaning post is usurped, leaving you marooned in the tides of guys all searching for a comfortable berth. Eventually you begin weighing which of these rat-faces you should go home with, just to get the fuck out of there.

From the time I've walked through the bar doors (say, four o'clock, to beat rush hour), the dance music has been screaming, gradually getting louder until my internal organs are convulsing in a tandem rhythm. I like this music. However, this place hasn't got a dance floor. It's a cruise/neighborhood/drinking bar. Aren't there other types of music more appropriate for afternoon and early evening imbibing? Are all the gay bars in this town involved in a conspiracy to render each and every patron deaf? It's impossible to have a conversation. There was a time when homos were known for their witty repartee and droll insights and story-telling skills. Lately, the only exchanges I've noticed in bars is the smoldering glance, tentative smile, and the head nod indicating that a connection had been made. We've become a colony of fucking mollusks!

Where are fags carrying on a dialogue? Gyms? Coffeehouses? A.A. meetings? Doctor's waiting rooms? Where the fuck are the literate, verbal, engaging cock-suckers congregating? I've gotten into the habit of hanging out in straight bars where there's a little diversity on the jukebox, and people still know how to talk. Sure, have to listen to a lot of bad girlfriend stories, but it is happy hour and the girlfriend isn't around, so even if I don't get to bend them over every time, at least it's fun.
 

 

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