“You know what they say: You can’t teach a gay dog straight tricks.” -South Park
“I want to go out tonight,” The Writer says. “Oh my god, me too. I’ll be right over.” I’m in bed naked and most all my clothes are dirty, but I manage to scrounge up an outfit: uncomfortable underwear that are reserved expressly for planned slutty nights, mismatched socks, a deep purple v-neck from American Apparel, and hygienically questionable black jeans. Oh, and a big black coat because it’s randomly freezing tonight. Not cool L.A. I grab my stuff and rush out the door, blasting the radio in my car. I make it to The Writer’s in record time (I’m serious about this wanting to go out tonight thing,) and scamper up his front step. My face is glowing–not my typical expression upon arrival at his house. That is until I see who answers the door. It’s Trick Bradley, that vapid kid with the fake ID. “Hey…” I say, trying my best to pull the drooping grimace on my face up into a inauthentic smile. The Writer is right behind him and smiles at me. “Is that a ballerina shirt?” He asks me. I look down in the second it takes me to realize that he’s talking about the shirt I’m wearing. My head shoots up: “No! You are such an asshole.” “It’s not a bad thing,” he says defensively. “Bradley, do you think this looks like a ballerina shirt?” He looks away and shrugs. Whatever. L.A. people have no sense of fashion.
On our drive to the bar, The Writer and I discuss writing stuff, further muting Trick Bradley. Fortunately. Unfortunately, Trick Bradley can’t get into the bar. “This isn’t real,” the scruffy bouncer says. My initial reaction is shock that a guy that looks this dumb is able to identify such a forgery. My secondary reaction is insufferable annoyance that we’ve come all the way here only to be turned away. I don’t make eye contact with Trick Bradley because if I do, my facial reaction will be unpleasant to say the least. The Writer and I scoot in anyway, pretending not to know him, as to avoid any awkwardness with the bouncer.
Inside, we are greeted by a man I will refer to as Turtle. Turtle is probably in his early 40s and is “good” friends with Wolf. He also has a ridiculous reputation in that literally everyone in WeHo knows his (creepy) game. He’s incredibly insecure and super jealous. Also, he’s not particularly attractive. By which I mean I literally cannot think of single individual that I know who would hook up with him. Remarkably, a young cute-ish twink stands at his side loyally. He’s clearly from out of town. The pretext of why they might be together is beyond me. Until he goes on stage.
It’s karaoke night and the kid selects a cheesy Kelly Clarkson ballad to sing. The performance is propped up by his above average voice. This pisses me off. No one wants to hear/watch someone with relative talent get up on stage and sing some boring ass song about how you’re in love for the first time. Shoot me. Or at least buy me a drink. No, if we wanted to see that we’d watch American Idol. Karaoke is the sacred Japanese tradition of embracing the characteristics of an alcoholic for a night, shamelessly screeching out an epic tune to the point of butchery, and falling off stage when you go to take your bow. Everyone knows that. The Writer informs me that Turtle is a “music industry executive.” Turtle is definitely not a music industry executive. He’s a bottom feeder who lives in one-person apartment. But it would appear that this kid doesn’t know that. (The music executive part. It seem like he knows all about the apartment. More on that later.) As the song reaches it’s climax, The Writer gets a text from Bradley, and we regroup outside, deciding to make our way down the block to Stripper Circus.
Stripper Circus is kind of what it sounds like although Stripper Carnival would probably be a more apt name; strippers do their thing on platforms like in most of the other bars in WeHo, only at “Circus” there’s a gimmicky row of ridiculous carnival games, hosted by…well, guess! If you guessed strippers, you’re wrong. The answer we were looking for is drag queens! So I guess a truly accurate title for this “party” would be Carnival Game Queens or something like that. Regardless, Stripper Circus works like is this: you buy a drink, get a ticket, play the games, win shitty cheap booze, get drunker, lose the games because you can’t see straight, buy another drink so that you can play again. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Bradley manages to get in, but Stripper Circus is packed. Partially because there’s a spontaneous, limited open bar meaning I’m double-fisting whiskey cokes while some guy’s bulge dangles above my head like mistletoe. The Writer breaks through the pack, pulling me with him through the sea of gays. Bradley gets left behind. “I think we lost Trick Bradley,” I inform him once we’re in the clear. “Haha! You still call him that?” “You have like 3,000 facebook friends. If I don’t use your mnemonic devices, I’ll never remember anyone you introduce me to.” “Trick Bradley is a smart kid…” he starts, and I interrupt him with a chuckle. “…I’m sure he’ll figure it out.” We continue away from the chaos, when The Writer sees a big group of guys he knows, sitting at a table with a bottle of Grey Goose. He introduces me to a few of them–I immediately forget the names that I can actually hear. Then he sits down to chat. I’m left standing, holding my two drinks. Which very quickly become one drink. Another guy walks over and sits down next to the boy on the end. The new guy whispers something to the other, who turns to me. “What’s your name again?” He half yells. I remind him. “This is my boyfriend, Sam,” he tells me before turning back to Sam. I manage to make out what he says next. “He’s The Writer’s boyfriend.” I don’t correct him.
I’m half way done with my second drink when Trick Bradley finally finds us. “Hey,” he says. “Having fun?” I ask with a bit of an attitude. “Not really,” he mumbles. “Come with me,” I say, leading him to a surprisingly quiet corner. “What are you drinking?” I ask trying to spark up…well anything really. “Vodka redbull,” he says with certain punctuation. Trick Bradley is quite the conversationalist. After a few more mind-numbingly boring exchanges, I decide to plunge right in. “Are you a top or a bottom?” I ask out of nowhere. “Neither…I mean both, I guess…why?” “Just trying to make conversation,” I say honestly. But not really. I’m starting trouble. After a few more inappropriate questions, I decide it’s time for another drink. On my way to the bar, I see The Writer’s glass is empty and drag him with me. “Want to buy me a drink?” I ask sweetly. “Eh…” like I said earlier, asshole. “I’ll do your laundry,” I offer. “All of it?” He questions. I’ve never seen someone with so many clothes in my life. They’re all over his bedroom floor, bathroom floor, car, closet. Everywhere. It’s disgusting, and it drives me crazy when I stay there. I’m gonna do it anyway. “Sure.”
After that drink, we’ve had it with Stripper Circus. Plus, it’s getting kind of late. Turtle texts The Writer, pushy that he come back to our original destination. “He’s not going to get in,” I say of Trick Bradley. “Let me see your ID,” he says. I fork it over. “He can pass for you.” “Not really. Besides, don’t you think he’s going to remember that he rejected him like an hour ago?” “Please. I’ve seen that guy before. He has the memory of an elephant,” he insists. “Then how am I going to get in?” I demand. “Once he’s in, I’ll bring it back to you,” he says. “Fine. But if they confiscate it, you’re buying me drinks for a month, pal.” The Writer hands Bradley my ID. “Oh, and give him your coat,” The Writer commands. “No! It’s freezing…” “And you don’t want people to see your ballerina shirt?” The Writer teases. I hit his arm and strip my outer layer. “Hurry up!” I yell after them. I can see my breath, and I’m only wearing a t-shirt. I hold my arms shivering on the corner as passersby look at me like I’m crazy. “Nice shirt,” someone drunkenly blurts out while passing. I’m not sure how he meant it, so I don’t know whether to yell thanks or fuck off.
After what seems like ten minutes, The Writer returns. With Bradley. I immediately rip my coat off of him and wrap it around myself. “I couldn’t get in,” Bradley says. I look at him like “wow, really?” The Writer is more annoyed than I am (despite him being the one who invited a twenty year old out on the town with us). “I’m going in,” he announces and heads back to the bar, leaving me with the trick. This pisses me off, but I’m a problem solver. The bar we’re at has a gated front patio–the perimeter is probably four feet high. “Listen Bradley, there’s only one bouncer tonight. He can only watch one side.” He looks at me like he doesn’t seem to understand what I’m getting at. “…so I’ll go distract him, and you will climb over the fence on whichever side he’s not looking,” I continue. “Okay,” he says without protest. Good we’re getting somewhere. I walk up to the bouncer and present my ID. “How you doing tonight?” I ask sweetly but without flirtation. (He looks straight. And not in a good way.) The bouncer nods, uninterested. Just then, I see Bradley standing directly in the bouncer’s plane of sight. I shake my head at him as I pass the bouncer. “What am I gonna do now?” He asks when I meet him at the fence. “Not my problem,” is what I should say. Or maybe, “why can’t you follow instructions?” But despite my bitchiness, I’m really a helplessly caring person. It can be incredibly annoying. “Meet me on the over there,” I tell him. The bouncer eyes us, suspiciously.
On the other side of the patio, I scoot past several tables and end up squished between a man sitting on a stool and the gate. “Can I move this?” I ask him pointing at an empty stool next to him. “I guess so…” he says as I clear it to make space, when Bradley finally arrives. “What took you so long?” I ask. “I got a text,” is his response. Bradley drove us here and sent at least two text messages, so I’m unsure how that hindered his ability to walk forty feet. But I don’t question it. Bradley tries to lift his foot into a ledge when I push him back. “Wait! He could look over here.” “Oh.” I shake my head. What the hell am I doing? Bradley just stands there as conspicuous as can be. Luckily, I spot a group of five walking toward the bar. They stop in front of the bouncer and rummage through their wallets for ID. Perfect timing. “Now!” I yell, grabbing Bradley’s arm and pulling him up. He hits his leg hard on the top of the fence then begins to fall forward. Lucky for him, I break his fall…by which I mean my elbow jabs into the back of the man I’m pressed up against to hold us up. Bradley clears the fence, and I help him up as half the patio looks over chuckling. I won’t lie. It’s kind of a rush.
Bradley’s next move surprises me. He ducks under a table and heads toward the inside. “What are you doing?” “I don’t want him to spot me!” He says of the bouncer. That’s fair. We quickly find The Writer sitting at a table, chatting with Turtle and his kid “friend.” “There you are!” The Writer says. “Let’s go get another drink,” he continues.
At the bar, he orders a vodka something. “Don’t worry about it,” the bartender says to The Writer when he pulls out money. Good for him. “I’ll have a Jack and coke please,” I say to the same bartender. He mixes my drink and says to me, “ten.” Seriously? He knew we were together. I fork over the money for the overpriced drink then take a sip. Hell no. “Excuse me,” I say to the nearest bartender. “There’s like no whiskey in this drink.” “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t make that, so I can’t help you.” I look around for the jerk who served me. “That other guy isn’t here anymore.” “I don’t know where he went,” the guy says to me. This blows. I turn around to find The Writer, but he left me. Typical. I wait around for a few minutes for the first bartender to come back. How far could he have gone? Then Bradley comes up to get a drink, and I see the bartender return. “Don’t order from that guy,” I warn Bradley. Not that it matters; he’s taking drink orders on the other end now. Bradley orders his drink and goes back to the table just before I get the attention of my new nemesis. “Excuse me!” I say waving him down. “What?” He says shortly. “Hi, remember me? You made this drink a few minutes ago then disappeared?” “No.” Wonderful. “Okay, well, whatever. This drink has almost no alcohol in it.” “No, it does,” he tries to correct me. “I would know. I made it.” “That’s nice, but I tasted it, and it’s extremely weak,” I continue, trying to be civil. “I was hoping you could add a little more whiskey…” “That would be a double,” he states. “No, see this isn’t even a single, so it wouldn’t be.” “I put a shot of whiskey in there.” “Dude, no you didn’t. I’m a drinker of whiskey. I know what a Jack and coke tastes like.” “If you’d like to make it a double, it’ll be $5 more dollars.” “Are you serious? You gave me a watered down drink then you made me stand here and wait for you just so that you could be a total prick to me? I’m glad I didn’t tip you asshole.”*
I rejoin my “group,” which has moved to a table outside. We’re in view of the bouncer, so Bradley keeps his head low, looking a little nervous. It’s really noisy, and I’m getting foggy at this point, so I start to lose track of the conversation. Bradley stares at me blankly. “That was good work back there.” “Thanks,” he says with some enthusiasm. We begin to joke about our acrobatic abilities and actually maintain a decent conversation. “You’re alright,” I tell him drunkenly. And definitely condescendingly. “Thanks,” he says again. “You say thanks a lot,” I inform him. He gives me a “thanks” smile. I catch the tail end of a question or a joke about my sex life or something coming from the others at the table. “Oh, I’m celibate,” I slur. Turtle laughs. “That’s not what I’ve heard!” I roll my eyes. He thinks I’m kidding.
I turn my attention back to Bradley. “Hey, are you a top or a bottom?” “You already asked me that,” he says. My mistake. “Oh. Well, what do you think of The Writer?” I ask him. “I don’t know,” he says. He knows. And he knows what I’m really asking. “He wants you to fuck him,” I say. This isn’t necessarily true. I half expect Bradley to say thanks, but instead I get an “Oh,” his backup answer. “Would you?” I interrogate. Now I’m the asshole. “Maybe,” he says. I have mixed feeling about that response, but it’s a safe one. (Meanwhile, The Writer is sitting two feet from us.)
“I like have a boyfriend right now,” he announces about ten seconds later. “What?” Bradley nods. “You have a boyfriend?” “Yes.” This brings me some sort of relief. “Are you like in an open relationship?” I ask. “No…” I have more questions, but I’m interrupted when the karaoke DJ announces it’s time for an encore for Turtle’s kid. We travel inside to experience the boredom up close. Thirty seconds into the song, I decide I’m definitely drunk enough for a performance of my own. I walk over to the DJ booth and know exactly what I want to sing. Without consulting Bradley, I fill out the form, writing our names on it and hand it to the DJ. “Hour and a half,” he yells. “What?” “Hour and a half wait…unless you tip.” “How much?” I ask. “Twenty bucks.” I’m tight on cash, so I hand him my paper and say, “I’ll be right back.” I approach The Writer and put my hand on his arm lovingly. “Heeeeyyyy!” “You’ve had a lot to drink,” he says smiling cautiously. “Want to give me twenty bucks so I can sing on stage?” “Not really,” he says. “I’ll do your laundry!” “You’re already doing my laundry.” “Yeah, but I’ll do it better.” He looks at me a little impatient. “Come on…I like left my friends to comfort you…” as soon as I say it I wish I could take it back. And he sees it in my face. Now I’m really the asshole. He pulls out a bill from his pocket. “Here’s a five.” I bite my lip.
Since I’m definitely drunk at this point, the guilt over what I said goes away pretty quickly. Not to worry though, it will return. I’m a guilt-ridden person. Replacing my guilt is ambition. Get the money! “‘scuse me,” I say to a stranger standing near me. “Oh, sorry,” he says stepping aside. “No, no, no! I wanted to talk to you,” I say smiling. I have incredible swagger. “I’m cute, right?” I say batting my lashes. “Sure, yeah.” I decide on the direct approach. “How’d you like to give me fifteen dollars to sing on stage?” “No thanks,” he says turning back to his friends. Shut down. No problem. I’ve got thick skin. I went through that a couple times an hour in high school.
I approach another guy, putting my hand on his upper arm and smile. “Hey, how are you?” “I’m wonderful.” “What’s your name, cutie?” I make one up. “Blake.” “Can I buy you a drink, Blake?” He does. Not that I need it. “Listen, how would you like to donate a couple dollars to a great cause?” “What is it?” “It’s the Blake Cuts The Karaoke Line Foundation.” He hands me a five. Cha-ching! “You better wave at me from up there,” he says. I wink, grab my drink, and continue my search for more cash.
“Is there anything tonight you would love to see more than me singing up on that stage?” I say to my next target. He turns around, looks at me, and grins. “Yeah. You naked with your hands around your ankles.” Gross. “Fuck off,” I say, sticking my tongue out in disgust and run away. I’m done with that game, so I look in my wallet and see I only have $5 left. 5+5+5 = not twenty. Time to negotiate. It’s a good thing I’m on fire tonight.
“Hey, how far in line would I be able to cut in line for $15?” I ask the DJ. “I’d say that would give you a wait time of about fifteen minutes.” “That sounds fair,” I say pulling money out of my pocket. The first bill I get out is a twenty. I have no idea where that came from, but I don’t question finding money in my pants. As long as I wake up knowing where I am in the morning. I hand the guy the twenty. He looks at me like “what?” “Do you have a five?” I ask awkwardly. “Are you asking me for change?” I nod my head confidently. “Whatever,” he says, complying.
I go back to the table, and Turtle is missing. His kid looks relieved: “Ugh. I wish I could just go to sleep tonight without Turtle cuddling me.” “Just tell him you want to sleep on the couch,” I offer. “He’ll probably try to sleep with me there too.” “I don’t think he would fit,” I almost say but think better of it. “Like I appreciate that he flew me out here and introduced me to all these people, but we’re out so late every night, and I don’t get any sleep…” (I hold back a snicker.) “…because he’s always trying to stick his hand down my pants while I’m sleeping.” “Wait,” The Writer says beating me to the punch. “You haven’t…done anything with Turtle?” “Ew! God, no!” “So you haven’t fucked?” I check with great tact. “Definitely not. Gross! I’m not like a whore!” Deeply underestimating people seems to be a theme here tonight.
(Later The Writer tells me that he met this kid when he visited his hometown. Apparently he asked The Writer if he new a music exec named Turtle, and The Writer didn’t know what to say because he knew someone named Turtle, but clearly he’s not a music exec. Small world. Turtle flew this kid out for a week, telling him he’d help him break in to the industry–Turtle doesn’t really work, so he has a lot of free time to make shit up. All of this in the vain hope that this smooth, hairless boy might let Turtle suck his peepee. Or at the very least coercing his thin sleeping body into his flabby arms. I’m just going to say it–it’s deplorable and pathetic.)
A million more questions pop into my mind to ask about this Turtle situation, but before I have time to ask just one, the DJ announces who’s up next on stage: me! And Bradley. Bradley looks at me wide eyed. “You signed me up?” “Yeah, come on,” I order. “No…I don’t want to.” “Shut up Bradley! I pulled you over a fence. You’re coming with me!” He protests again. “You don’t have to sing. I just need a back up dancer!” And with that, Bradley and I climb on stage and the Bad Romance track begins. And plays. And plays. But I fail to notice this. The crowd in front of us yells for us to start singing, but I’m in a whole nother world thinking they’re cheering oblivious that the song’s begun. As I show off my Gaga moves, I see The Writer. He’s yelling something but thanks to all the noise, it’s looks like he’s mouthing. “I can’t read lips,” I yell to him from the stage. He shakes his head then points at the screen, and I realize we’re already more than 30 seconds into our performance and have yet to belt a single lyric. If only the bar new what a blessing this was for them, they would have acted much differently. “Oh,” I utter into the mic. “…lav, lav, lav, I wancha lav!” I screech out triumphantly.
I see Trick Bradley prancing around behind me with the mic in his hand as I instructed him, and I feel that our show is really starting to escalate to the next level. So that’s where I bring it. I (attempt to) turn my voice up an octave as the chorus begins and gloriously present the choreography with perfection. What I don’t realize is that this requires me to swing the mic around in my hand, far away from my face. While this is probably a nice break for my audience–they don’t have to listen to my tone deaf wailing–waving the mic up and down in front of my face makes a weird swooshing noise. I misinterpret the looks of horror from the audience as looks of awe and wonderment, which really pumps me up. That’s when I notice they begin to cheer. And The Writer is yelling something at me again. I wave to him enthusiastically, which causes me to lose my balance. Fortunately, I prevent myself from prematurely falling off stage. (You want to save that for the finale.) After the bridge, it’s all out choreography warfare. I’m stomping, swinging, head banging, and screaming my heart out. I’m very passionate about this song. After all, what ballad could be more fitting for all of this than Bad Romance, right? “I want your love and I want your revenge…I don’t want to be friends–” it’s like I’m on stage butchering the soundtrack of our friendship. How very meta.
The music comes to a halt before my heinous chanting does. As I shriek my last “ooo lala” I hear it. “Want your bad romance!” I conclude to resounding boos from across the bar. “That’s what I was trying to tell you,” I hear The Writer say. Turtle’s kid tries to hide his embarrassed expression. I have a challenge for you. Try your hardest to get a hundred drunk gay men to jeer at the best Lady Gaga has to offer. That’s right! You can’t, and that’s why I’m a bad, bad bitch. And if I hadn’t walked into a window in front of several hundred people the week before, if I weren’t the drunkest I’ve been this year, and if I hadn’t lost the ability to appreciate the sensation of shame years ago, this audience’s response might been at least a little disheartening. Fortunately, I thrive on this kind of dejection. “Booooo!” They continue. “Rude!” I yell back. The DJ tells me to get off stage, and I’m met with more boos. So I think: “What would Gaga do?” And it comes to me. I put my lips right up against the mic and say in my most sultry voice, “I hear…they’ve got some pretty TREMENDOUS COCK here in Los Angeles, California!” The booing is immediately hushed and replaced with cheers. It’s like I scored the winning goal in one of those cheesy 80s high school basketball films.
My “audience” puts up their hands for high fives, appreciatively punching my arm, and even throwing in a few sportsman-like ass slaps for good measure. I wasn’t particularly planning on going back to the bar, but the gays seem to push me in that direction where a smiling guy greets me. “You want a drink?” He asks. I’m truly unsure if he’s one of the gents that I solicited for karaoke funds earlier, nor am I sober enough to continue my line of thoughts. He asks me what I want, and the next thing I know his tongue is in my mouth. I’m not sure which of us initiated this. (I did mention to someone at work this morning that I really wanted to make out with someone tonight). But again, who cares if I initiated it. It feels good, and it’s harmless.
What’s that you say? What about my vow of celibacy? I’m drunky drunk drunk, so I’m allowed to bend the rules. Besides, we made out for about 30 seconds. It’s not like I got sloppy in the bathroom. Also, this is a total hit-and-run–I literally wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a line up, ’cause I’m completely blitzed.
Once the face sucking comes to a close, I find my way back to The Writer. “You don’t need to be drinking anymore,” he scolds, taking my drink away. He’s completely right. “What did you think?” I ask delightfully. “Can I get my money back?” Asks The Writer. “Take it up with the DJ,” I retort. “I can’t believe they were booing you,” Turtle’s kid adds, a little dumbfounded. “Yeah, but it was just the end, so whatever. They enjoyed the show.” Bradley looks at me knowingly; “actually, they booed from the beginning.” “Really?” I ask, looking to The Writer. “Yeah, it was terrible.” Their bluntness either indicates that this is some sort of intervention or they strongly assume I’ve heard this type of criticism before. (I have. My mother asked me never to sing in front of her again just three weeks after completing a vocal training course in college. Also, dozens of small children have come up to me mid-song and asked me to desist.) Either way, my capacity for singing was not appreciated by the gays of West Hollywood, so it’s a good thing I’m quick on my feet. And drunk.
Bradley drives us back to The Writer’s house shortly after. “You shouldn’t drink that much,” The Writer scolds. That really pisses me off, coming from the guy who couldn’t keep his shit together long enough to have an honest emotional conversation with me a few weeks ago. “Seriously, I don’t like seeing you like this. My dad’s an alcoholic.” This makes me feel kind of guilty, so I don’t say anything.
The next morning, I wake up next to The Writer. I roll over and his eyes squint open. I look at him for a moment then smile. “What?” He whispers sleepily. “I think I made out with a black guy last night,” I say. “Yeah, you probably did,” he yawns. And that’s the story of how I made out with my first black guy!
*I always tip bartenders and waiters/waitresses very generously. This guy was just rude to me from the get go.