One of the things I love about the area where I live is that no matter what the night, no matter what the hour, there’s always weird shit to do.
Weird is a relative term, of course. I’m not talking about dressing up in rubber and rolling around in butterscotch pudding with someone weird (though I probably could find it with a little hunting), or getting into a hot ’n’ nasty session of popping helium balloons in the nude weird (ditto). But at any given moment, there’s always something entertaining to do that I would never have found in the Midwest, or god knows the South. This calendar year alone I’ve stumbled into odd art gallery openings, movie and TV shoots, impromptu zombie appearances, a kimono fashion show, strange street theater, and a pair of Elmos going at each other with fists flying in Times Square.
Compared to all that, a night at something called Porno Bingo sounds pretty tame. And it actually was. I’ve been to many a Drag Queen Bingo night at some bar or another, all of them of varying quality. Porno Bingo is something of an institution here, though; it’s run by porn actor Will Clark, a handsome grizzly of a guy who keeps things moving through three games.
The porno, in case you’re wondering, is the prize for each winner. Porn is not actually playing during the game itself. And porno not something that takes place when Clark calls O-69. Although it does get a little porny when he starts flirting with me, which is something he’s done the couple of times I’ve been. (Did one of you guys show him a pic of my dick?)
Anyway. A couple of weeks ago I was at Porno Bingo with a handful of friends. It was between games, and during the break a Boylesque performer was sauntering around the bar wearing an awful lot of makeup and an outfit that looked like one of the Kit Kat Club dancers from the Alan Cumming Cabaret. And I mean the female Kit Kat Club dancers. I knew two of the other guys fairly well; the others crowding around our table were more mere acquaintances than anything else. We were drinking and commiserating over not winning any man-on-man DVDs at that point, and watching the Boylesque performer use a very sharp pair of hair shears to cut the elastic bands holding together his skimpy little outfit, when a fellow named Philip walked up.
I’d met Philip once before. Much as I dislike the word, I find it appropriate here—he’s a little bit of a hipster. Scruffy face, bad complexion, hair that looks like it just rolled out of bed independently of the head to which it was attached. He was wearing a hand-knitted scarf of Doctor Who proportions in Kelly green and dirty white, a pair of too-tight jeans, and a ironic T-shirt of some late-nineteen-eighties band. He was slightly sleazy looking, to be honest—not a bad look for someone who admires a little sleaze, like I do, but it wasn’t quite the well-groomed fashion of most of the guys in the bar.
Philip had come not to play bingo, and not to see the Boylesque performer who was down to nothing but his lederhosen and some spangles on his nipples, but to drop off a book to one of the other guys at my table. He was on his way to a party, he explained—and the party had a name, which I now can’t recall. It was something like Splashdown! or Hothouse! or Jetstream!—it definitely had an exclamation mark at the end, and I remember thinking during the moment that the party name sounded like some kind of porn distributor. But he wanted to stop in and drop off the book he’d promised his friend—and then, with a round of handshakes and hugs as appropriate, he was on his way.
“Splashdown!?” I asked (or Hothouse!, or Jetstream!, or whatever it was), once he was out of earshot. “Is that a party at a bar? Or like, a sex party?” Not an unreasonable question, as this city has a lot of regular, weekly sex parties, most of which have their own names for easy publicity.
One fellow that I didn’t know well leaned over and hissed, “I’m sure it’s an orgy, because that one is such a MANWHORE!”
I stared at the guy, blinked, and thought to myself, Man, you really don’t know whom you’re talking to, do you?
I have no idea whether Philip is a manwhore or not. If he is, more power to him, from one manwhore to another. Solidarity, manwhorebro! But I did have my suspicions about why someone else was accusing him of marwhoreialism. “A bigger manwhore than me? Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Oh please. You, a manwhore? As for him, trust me on this one,” said the gossipy queen. “All you have to do is look at him.”
I left it alone after that, and thought to myself how dispiriting it was that someone would assume the guy was the town tramp, just because of looking at him.
When I was much younger, I considered myself afflicted by a wholesome demeanor. I had a sweet, innocent baby face that totally belied the depraved things I was doing for men in parks and restrooms city-side. I learned fairly quickly that no one wanted to corrupt what they assumed was my unsullied innocence until they actually saw me whip out my dick or unzip my pantsand get on my hands and knees. Then they were game. The experience taught me to be a sexual instigator, rather than someone who sits and waits. To this day I’ve used that wholesome, innocent look to get what I want. It’s tough for many guys to imagine that someone with my sweet smile can be as lowdown and dirty. Until they see the X-rated photos, that is.
In other words, I get away with so much simply because I look so innocent. It’s a quality I’ve learned to work to my advantage. I suspect a good four-fifths of what appeal I have is because on the surface I don’t really look like the kind of guy who’d do incredibly dirty stuff. But if I’d been born with hair that was more unruly, or eyes that were beadier, or a complexion that wasn’t as good, if my facial hair grew out in a way that was seedier or if I put myself together differently, maybe people I know would be (rightly) hissing the word manwhore about me, too.
Okay, perhaps I should assume that the people I know who know me well are already using that word to describe me. Maybe the people who’ve just seen me a few times would be hissing it, too.
It applies to sexual roles, too. I’ve known guys who’ve gone far in their sexual adventuring because they look like the strapping, take-charge tops that they really are, and I’ve known bottoms who exude a certain come-hither appeal that lets others know exactly what they want. At the same time, I’ve known quite a few bottoms who become frustrated because the looks with which they were born seem to give off a toppish, butch, or dominant message—they can’t hook up without the other guy trying to go ass-up for them. And I’ve known a couple of tops whom no one takes seriously because they seem so damned bottomy, even before they take off their clothes.
It’s not a new observation that we tend to project our own expectations and desires on others based on how they look. What I’m curious about, in today’s Open Forum, is how my readers have found their own looks affect the snap judgments others make of you.
Have you gotten away with debauched escapades all your life because of your rosy cheeks and winsome dimples? Are your friends whispering things about your sluttiness behind your back because of your louche appearance? Are they dismissing you because you look like the type of person who would never do anything extreme? Are you characterized as one thing when you’re really another? If so, is it something you’ve resented all your life, or have you learned how to capitalize on it?
Post your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s learn something from each other.