Gay Pride Mixtape: Vol. 1

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Happy Gay Pride Denver! As I’ve mentioned, I’m not big on crowds of drunk people, gay or otherwise, and seeing as I’ve been instructed by medical folk to take it easy for the next few days, I won’t be celebrating my gayness with the entire city. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of who I am or of the progress LGBT people have made. Quite the contrary! I love being gay and I’m in awe how far we’ve come. Music is kind of how I celebrate everything. Once upon a glitter soaked night club, I used to dj and work in a record store. I know. Very 90’s. Anyway, I thought I’d make myself a little YouTube mixtape in honor of the occasion featuring some serious gay superstars!

We’ll start you off slow with disco and lesbian icon Alicia Bridges. Please enjoy the gold lamé boots.

Do you wanna funk? Let drag pioneer and all around badass Sylvester show you how!

Best. Baseline. Ever. And oh yeah, Freddie Mercury was a pop god.

If gets any gayer than George Michael in leather, than I have yet to find it. The dance routine at 2:44 is mind-blowing, by the way.

No gay pride mix would be complete without Boy George. Holy crap. I wanted to be him so bad.

Erasure covering ABBA? Gay, gay, gay.

That should get me started and feeling festive. Tomorrow, I’ll post volume 2 which is nothing but big gay divas!

Inspiration for August 28th: “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John

From where I stand
You are home free
The planets align so rare
There’s promise in the air
And I’m guiding you

I know. You just read those lyrics and said “Huh? WTF.”  Trust me. This will all make sense. To truly understand the depth and brevity of “Magic” by Olivia Newton-John, one must first sit through the brain melting cinematic donut that is 1980’s Xanadu. Suffice it to say, “Magic” is a song of encouragement performed by Olivia’s character Kira help inspire the leading guy who never worked again to build a clandestine disco roller rink that could perhaps save all of humanity or at the very least Venice Beach. Did I mention that Kira is a Greek muse and that ELO wrote “Magic” (along with the rest of the soundtrack)? See, I told you it was all totally logical. Clearly, this inspiration is one of the guilty pleasure variety but 32 years ago today, “Magic” celebrated it’s fourth week on top of the Billboard charts cementing Olivia as one of the era’s most popular stars. And really what’s not to love?

Plus the song itself rocks. It still stands up as a great roller skating jam with weird, trippy lyrics and a thumping baseline. Granted, Tuesday, August 28th could be a depressing, inappropriately hot and uncomfortable day but I’ve decided it will be magic. Sure I might not have the gumption to build my own mystical roller disco but I can drop my crappy attitude, blast my favorite tunes and generally enjoy myself. Even if it is just for a few moments. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to turn your home office, car or kitchen into a temporary roller disco too. Remember, we have to believe we are magic and nothing will stand in our way. Now, where did I put my legwarmers?

 

The Last Time I Saw LA Gay Pride

Throughout the month of June, all over the country, in cities big and small, gay, lesbian bisexual and transgendered men and women are flocking to their local pride parades and festivals. If you’ve never been to one of these events, I can tell you that if you do attend you are likely to see a musical act from yesteryear performing on one of the stages (Belinda Carlise! The Village People!), you are likely to see fried food on a stick (because corn dogs and churros cross all lines of discrimination) and you will certainly see a lot of people who are really, really intoxicated.

Now I’m not saying that everyone who attends a gay pride festival is going to get fucked up but let’s be honest here. The only thing gays like better than half-naked people in booty shorts at 11am wandering the streets is half-naked people in booty shorts at 11am wandering the streets drinking. Gays are so fond of daytime drinking in the streets, gaggles of them often appear at random festivals solely for that very reason. I’ve personally attended everything from Cuban festivals to an abysmal non-New Orleans version of Mardi Gras all in the name of drinking in the streets. As citizen of Los Angeles for 15 years, I could bore you with dozens of drunken tales from the West Hollywood gay pride festival. In fact, as I read blogs and saw pictures of this weekend’s celebration, my mind took a trip down memory lane. I recall line dancing in a country music tent with a drag queen. I remember drinking vodka and watching what remains of the Mary Jane Girls perform near a baseball diamond. And how could I forget seeing Cyndi Lauper wave from a hot pink convertible as a dance remix of ‘True Colors’ thumped in the background? Yet it’s my last time at gay pride in Los Angeles that solidifies the gay pride experience for me.

A friend and I went over to the parade in 2007. With cocktails to go, we headed over to West Hollywood. Perched from a cozy alcohol adjacent corner inside Rage, a parade route- friendly watering hole, we watched as the rainbow of topless men and aforementioned booty shorts pranced by interspersed with floats sponsored by  Gieco and local erotic bakeries alike. This being a Los Angeles event, “celebrities” pimping their latest reality shows or albums were on display too. We cheered as famous hot mess and former America’s Next Top Model judge Janice Dickinson floated by with a bevy of shirtless models. Dickinson claims to be the world’s first supermodel but I would contend she may also be the world’s first celebrity with Tourette’s syndrome. I however always admired her frank nature and the fact that here was a famous person who was shockingly more wasted than I was. She made me feel like, “Gee, maybe I’m not a total disaster.” Dickinson, like any good addict, had moments of sobriety followed by moments of hot messiness. During this particular celebration, it would be safe to say she was experiencing the latter. As the parade wrapped up, we plotted our next move. Do we pay $20 bucks to get into the festival or do we go drink somewhere else? Well, clearly our Jacksons would be put to better use at a bar so we headed over to the Abbey. While you’re unlikely to find nuns at this Abbey (unless it’s Halloween), you were guaranteed to find strong cocktails, more naked men and on that day even Janice Dickinson. Along with a thousand or so of our closest friends, the partying really started to happen. More beers, more shots, and a pill that someone told me was “kind of like Ecstasy.” I wanted my picture taken with Janice but her tanned trio of bodyguards politely shooed my wasted ass away. The rest of the afternoon was a slurry blur and by 4pm I was home and napping off my daytime drunk.

I share this story because in my mind the preceding events had nothing to do with being proud of being gay. I wasn’t drinking and dancing and harassing celebrities because I loved being gay and loved who I am. Quite the contrary, in fact.  Yet that’s how I always celebrated gay pride: by getting absolutely shithoused drunk.

While in LA and newly sober, I stayed away from gay pride. Not because I was worried that I would relapse. But because I felt like it I had no business being there. Like a vegan at Outback Steakhouse. Everybody else was going to be drunk so why bother? A few years later, I’ve lightened up. My recovery is such that I can attend this kind of stuff  without feeling like I’m the only one not wasted. But also I know when not to go too. Like even though its been over 3 years, there are times that I can’t go to places where lots of drinking will be going on. And this is okay. Gay pride means being proud of who you are and today I can honestly say that I am just that. I’m proud to be gay, sober and positive. And I can celebrate all of this without drinking, booty shorts or Janice Dickinson.

Enjoy! (That’s an Order)

I hate blogs that start with some rambling explanation about why the blogger hasn’t written so long. Like who cares? As if the blog reading public was wringing its hands while I slept in and spent my days making cupcakes and going to the library.I barely give a crap so I’ll keep the explanations to a minimum. I’ll only say that for the last ten days while I haven’t been blogging or really pounding away on my other projects with dwindling deadlines, I’ve been doing this weird thing I could never quite manage while I was loaded: I’m really enjoying my life.

Last week my niece had her “continuation” which is basically a nice way of saying “Congratulations on surviving middle school, now run like hell and don’t ever look back!” The whole affair was lovely as was the dinner that followed it even though my sister’s favorite sparring partner, her ex-husband, was in attendance. Everybody got along and my niece was really happy. Other events included the opening of our new theater space, the increase of paid work, trips to the movies and even a few rides on some roller coasters with my nephew. As we’ve talked about before, I truly believe in order to offer anything as a writer that I really need to try to the best of my ability to go experience my life. This can be a tricky task for someone who’s very nature wants to get high and vanish off the face of the Earth. Nevertheless, I’ve needed it.

Things have been really busy around here since January and even though I snuck off to the desert in March, I found myself feeling drained and uninspired. So I stumbled upon a “staycation” of sorts as projects for clients were done remarkably and uncharacteristically early. This allowed me time to read, research my new show, and hang out with my niece and nephew. I was also able to show up for some people in my life who needed the support so that felt good too. The real miracle here (and for non-addicts I realize how stupid this sounds) is that by just being open and available my life has been really fun and lovely. I no longer spend days wanting to drink or get high. I have a spiritual life and love in my life and blah blah blah. What’s incredible is that I don’t wake up in panic or constant calamity everyday. For years, there was always some impending doom or shitstorm brewing. And most of the drama in my life was handcrafted by your’s truly. Right before I quit drinking, I remember laying in my hallway crying and having a hard time breathing.  My stomach was tied in knots and I was in bad shape. Things had gotten really jacked up and I was feeling like my life was about to be over. Turns out I was right! And thank God. Now a few years later, I can actually be present and have fun and sleep well at night. It’s so crazy to be able to feel and experience every part of my life. The good, the bad and the glittery.

So friends and inspirations, what have you been doing to enjoy and savor your life so far this summer? And what’s that little activity or gift from the universe that never fails to put a smile on your face? Fill my comments section with happiness and joy. That’s an order!

Disco Damage

If you randomly bust into dance moves when you hear “Le Freak” by Chic  coming from the sound system at the grocery store, if you still expect to be on the guest list even though you have been to a nightclub in several years or if you suffer from minor hearing loss due to dancing next to speakers for an extended period of time; you may be suffering from disco damage. Other common symptoms include the unwavering belief that nothing gets good until after 12am, spontaneously yelling “Hey girl!” at drag queens even if you don’t know them and  a deep desire to dance instead of dealing with your life.

Disco damage sufferers like myself have a had tough week. The back-to-back deaths of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb reinforced the depressing, unavoidable truth: nothing,not even a great dance song, lasts forever. I was a toddler during the original disco era but the beat must have seeped into my brain at an early age because my whole life I’ve been in love with dance music. Yes, I am aware that an affinity for dance music is part of my gay DNA but disco and the culture around it were very much a fantasyland and that appealed to me very much as a future drug addict and alcoholic.

I was scooped into nightclubs and raves at an early age. And what goes better with dance music than drugs? Body glitter and platforms are fabulous but if I really wanted to dance my ass off, drugs had to be my number one accessory. Once at a rave in a warehouse in suburban Denver, the Chic song I mentioned earlier came blasting out of the speakers. I was high on ecstasy and it felt like this  was my moment. This is what I was looking for my whole life. I had friends on the dance floor, I felt fantastic and I was 20. This kind of high needed to happen all the time and normal life needed to feel more like this. So it was this feeling, this hunger that propelled me from Colorado raves to LA nightclubs to working at a record store and to DJing and promoting my own clubs in Hollywood. The goal of a budding disco diva was simple: get high and dance. Ecstasy was the preferred dancing accoutrement for many years but cocaine did the trick and so did some strong cocktails. (For the record, 3 Long Islands and  2 Vicodins aren’t a great dance floor combo and we’ll leave it at that.) There’s a great line in the disco classic, “Lost in Music” by Sister Sledge that sums it up:”Responsibility to me is a tragedy. I’ll get a job some other time.”  For many years, I worked to keep partying, I kept partying to avoid really living.

Eventually, the lights came on, last call was called and I tried to live real life. For a club child, this  is a difficult prospect. We’re used to phony relationships and being high all the time. Things like paying our bills and dealing with our problems are icky tasks meant for those boring, grownups we’d see heading to church on Sunday mornings on our way home from the club. I eventually would face the music and lucky for me that music still  had a disco beat. You could take the homo out of the nightclub but disco would forever “toot, toot- aah- beep beep” in my heart. Donna Summer and the Bee Gees were the soundtrack to my growing up, the background music at the roller rink and still bumping at after hours clubs when I was hell-bent on vanishing in the 1990s and 2000s. Now, songs like Nights on Broadway or Try Me I Know We Can Make it are celebrations that despite ingesting more drugs than a Rick James after-party, I too will survive. My dance parties today take place at my desk most of the time although I still occasionally hit the clubs with other sober folks.  So be kind to me if you see me shaking my booty in the frozen food aisle to Bad Girls or Jive Talking. It’s just a little disco damage and a sweet hangover that I don’t wanna get over.

glittering cloud

He was there all along. He was just hiding. Like he was known to do. But a few years ago,out of nowhere, he poked his curious little blonde head out. After being smothered and silenced for years, the real me came back for good.

After a year or so of being sober, I read that a human’s personality is fully developed by age 6 or 7. This totally made sense to me. I remember being that age and knowing who I was. I would lay on the floor of my bedroom and watch the clouds move back and forth. My imagination was always concocting all kinds of reasons why this was happening. I’d make up stories. I’d write poems about the things I saw or wanted to see. I had a million little tiny creative worlds I was building all at the same time. Somewhere inside me, I had this feeling that this is what I needed to do and who I was. He was a lovely little individual that six year-old version of me. “We remain recognizably the same person. This speaks to the importance of understanding personality because it does follow us wherever we go across time and contexts,” said Christopher Nave, the author of the study that pinpointed age seven as our personality year.

Yes this personality, the one that been described as too girly, too gay, or too weird did follow me. But when you’re a hot pink, glitter marker in a world filled with dull blue Bic ballpoint pens, you do what you can to not stand out too much. Especially in those delightful middle school years where children were run out of town for packing the wrong thing for lunch, much less being super effeminate kid who wrote letters to Cyndi Lauper and collected scratch and sniff stickers. Thankfully, my homies drugs and alcohol were a great equalizer. If I could drink with people and drink more than they could, maybe they’d think I was cool or at least they’d be too wasted to see what I freak I was. The downside of hanging out with those two thugs was that over time, my light really went out. 20 years later, that kid who marveled at sparkling skies and wrote crazy stories was all but dead.

Luckily, I saved him. Or maybe he saved me. Regardless, he came back.  The other day, I realized as I was planning my writing projects for the next few months and pitching some creative ideas for other things I’d like to try, that I’m really living the life I want to live today. There’s no end and no saying no. I want to try all sorts of wild things and take all kinds of creative risks. I want to write whatever the fuck I want.  Mainly, because now I can. And because I’m sober. Turns out it’s a lot easier to chase your glittering clouds when you don’t wake up feeling like hammered hell 7 days a week.

Yeah I’m not silencing that seven-year old anymore. This time out, he gets to stay up as alate as he wants, be as sparkly as he wants and build as many pretend places as he wants. After all, I’m really proud of the little guy and it’s the least I could do for him.

Return to Fabulous

There is a picture out there in the world of your’s truly wearing a pink sequined turtleneck under a fluffy pink fur coat. I’m wearing purple vinyl pants and I weigh about two pounds of pre-coke bloat weight and honey, I look fabulous. This was standard bar going attire and looking like Barbie’s more sparkly brother was kind of my image. There’s also a picture out there somewhere of me dressed in a tiger stripped halter top and a Farrah wig but I digress. The point is in the mid-1990s I had the look down and the cute friends and the sass to get me in for free. Like much of my sanity, these photos are lost for good. But fabulous has come back to me. Even if it isn’t covered in sequins these days.

Websters defines “fabulous” like this:

1. a : resembling or suggesting a fable : of an incredible, astonishing, or exaggerated nature <fabulous wealth>
b : wonderful, marvelous <had a fabulous time>
2: told in or based on fable

Definition 1.a struck me as particularly powerful. “Suggesting a fable like a fantasy.” It’s telling that chasing fabulous was something I did for so long when by this definition I was chasing a fable. Fascinating! The word gets more humorous when you consider that most famous fables have some sort of a lesson or moral. As I’ve mentioned maybe 60 zillion times, my life has been one big moral or learning experience or just a record breakingly long After School Special. In short, the dictionary called me out for being a delusional mess who’d rather live in a fable than reality. Guilty. (Sidebar-When I looked up ‘fabulous’ on dictionary.com, there was an ad for ‘The Five Signs of Mental Illness’ next to the definition. Wonder if one them was “pursuing fablousness”?)

Still, not all fabulous is bad, right? Google defines it as “extraordinary” and “amazingly good.” That’s how my life feels now. Living in fables and repeating the same mistakes like some sitcom character are things I try to avoid today. I have my moments of delusion naturally but on the whole I’m a lot less crazy than I used to be. The really insane thing is this: even though I spent years acting fabulous and telling people I was fabulous, I didn’t feel fabulous. I felt like shit. I wanted to kill myself. I could not possibly see a way my life could ever improve. But darn it, I was hellbent on convincing you that I was okay. Once the cat (who was actually a big drunk rabid tiger) was out of the bag, however, I couldn’t fool anyone. I wasn’t fabulous. I was fucked up and everyone knew it.  And right here was when the long road back to fabulous started.

Now in 2012, my world is fabulous. It’s not of the Farrah wig wearing or pink sequined variety, though. My fabulous is more of a 1b. You know “wonderful”, “marvelous.” It’s wonderful that I can spend a weekend with my parents and not have to sneak down to the bar. It’s marvelous that I can tell the truth about when I don’t feel so great. What’s more is that there are now pictures of yours truly looking happy and not bloated and with people he loves. But for reals, if you find those other photos can you mail them to me? They’d be fabulous Facebook photos.

The Raves of Our Lives

I feel like I’ve 12 stepped and therapied my behind off in order to be okay with my insane past. I can laugh about most of it but that doesn’t mean I always want to be reminded of it. So when my days as drugged out raver recently surfaced on Facebook, my reaction threw me for a loop.

Last week, I was added to a Facebook  group called something like “I went to raves in Colorado in the 90s”  by one of my oldest friends. I used to poo poo reminiscing yet for some reason this group sucked me right in. The group grew to over 1,000 people all of whom shared songs and memories and photos of the all night debauchery that was set to an electronic soundtrack. The fairy wings, the glitter, the fuzzy wookie boots and other cartoon couture litter the pictures of children who took drugs and danced all night long. I’ve spent this week revisiting my past and I’m surprising okay with it. I went to some of Denver’s earliest raves in 1990 through 1993 but the scene held steady well into the early 2000s. I was 17 when I first got my rave on and rolled it up by the time I turned 21. We did mass amounts  of Ecstasy and danced and made friends and all loved each other. Until we didn’t. Crystal meth came into the picture, parties started getting broken up by the cops and drama was on every dance floor. I mean talk about a recipe for disaster– take minors, add drugs that make you wanna screw your brains out, stir and enjoy! Personally, I had a blast but it was clear from my early days of raving that all I wanted was more. I went every Saturday for months and did Ecstasy every week. And coke and whatever else was being passed around. I burnt out at 20 and  again at 21. But I wasn’t alone, we were all really young and high and the lifestyle wasn’t built to last.

When I turned 21, I shook off the fuzzy backpacks and the people I met in that world.  Raves were for kids and I was ready to drink with the big boys. I didn’t look back. Well until last week. It’s odd. Part of me has truly enjoyed the memories of the people and the music and the general craziness. It’s healthy for me to look back on time in my life with love and fondness. Another sick part of me really wishes I could do it again or live like that today. I know that’s nuts and beyond unhealthy but there you go. The reality is a 40 year-old raver high on drugs still acting like the party never ended would be tragic.com. For me, anyway.

I can’t argue the culture significance of raves as I was always fickle. Before raves, I was goth before that I was a moody Smiths listening teenager. After raves I moved to LA and embraced the glam rock revival and then electro clash. In short, I was always a bit of scenester sheep looking to latch on to the next big thing. But I can  look at those pictures of myself and have compassion for that kid and the journeys he was going to embark on.