Friday, July 31, 2009

Radio Talker Ed Schultz's Very Minor Gaffe

Recently liberal talk show host Ed Schultz discussed conservative talk show host Glenn Beck's comments on Barack Obama's press conference statements on the arrest of black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates. Beck called Obama's criticism of the Cambridge, Mass. police department proof that Obama is "a racist" who doesn't "like white people or white culture." Schultz, who calls himself "the fat redhead from the northern tier[North Dakota and Minnesota]," characterized the audience that Beck appeals to as uneducated white people 65 years of age and over who were "the low intelligentsia." There is no such thing as a low intelligentsia. What he meant to say is Beck's audience is made up of people of low intelligence.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

RIP E. Lynn Harris (1955-2009)

I am thankful that E. Lynn Harris, who recently died, chose one of the essays that appeared in Fighting Words, the anthology that I edited in 1999, for his anthology, Freedom in the Village: 25 Years of Black Gay Men's Writing. The essay he selected for inclusion was Don Jackson's "The Letter," a military love story. I am glad he found the essay worthy of inclusion. Harris's anthology later won a Lammy in the Gay Men's Anthology category.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

NYC Graffiti Watch

The following message was written on a scrap of paper and taped to the wall behind the toilet at the New York Public Library's Morningside Heights branch on Broadway and 113th Street:

"Dear Library Visitor,
Please don't throw/flush unnecessary objects in me.
For I choke!
Also, don't pee on my seat. It's yucky and I enjoy
tasting your pee rather than wearing it.
Your Toilette"

The message was taken down the next day. It'll never be known whether the message was written by a library staffer or a fellow patron.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Confessions of an Ex-Teen Hustler, Part 3

Hustling is a demoralizing way to earn a living, Dwayne admits. "You sort of lose your morals. The only thing that kept me going is the people who I went with." That was what kept him from being a derelict scavenging in garbage cans for his dinner. But that didn't mean he couldn't
tell them where to get off, if it was necessary. "I used to choose the people I went with. If a person started treating me a certain way, I'd say, 'Look, keep your money and shove it up your ass. Goodbye.' They'd say, 'How can you say that?' I'd say, 'Easy. I just did.'"
Before he left New York to travel around the country, he had, in a safe deposit box, $15,000. On the road "I spent money like it was water," he says with a boyish grin. The money made it possible for him to have three wardrobes (each time his clothes were stolen, he immediately replaced them). For example, he had six or seven pairs of shoes. He wore nothing but custom-made clothes. But all of that is behind him. Although he is unemployed, he does, however, have his high school equivalency diploma. And he does have the desire to better his future.
Despite the hassles of hustling, he feels good about being gay. He believes the gay pride parade, in which he has participated, demonstrates to the world that gays "are somebody. We're not a minority. We're coming out."

Author's Note: Unfortunately, when I did this interview in 1984, I neglected to ask Dwayne if he was concerned about contracting AIDS or his experiences with other sexually transmitted diseases.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Confessions of an Ex-Teen Hustler, Part 2

At one time he had a girlfriend. Her suicide attempt has since caused him not to want to get involved with any other girls. He claims she tried to kill herself because he wouldn't see her anymore. She was pregnant with his child and when he came back to New York from a trip to California and found out that she had lost the baby in her unsuccessful suicide, he got very upset.
"The average gay person that I hang around with is not a jealous-type person.If you just live your life and go out with this person, this person, and this person, they really don't care, just as long as you come back. And with girls, they want to be with you everywhere, they want to know what you're doing, how you're doing, and all this other stuff."

Dwayne made good money as a hustler. He got his johns through a call service. he would have sex with anywhere from 15 to 20 men a week, charging them $150. (($25 of that would go to the agency.) It didn't didn't pay for a hustler to be too picky about his clients. That could get you blacklisted, says Dwayne, especially by the big agencies, if you turned down three clients in a row. If the client didn't appeal to you, the possible loss of revenue and future clients loomed large in your thoughts and you just went on and did what you had to do. For one hour.
The amount of money Dwayne was bringing in a week came to something like $2000. And unlike his female counterparts, he did not ask for money upfront. That was too tacky. "What guarantee does the guy going to have that you're going to stick around?" Sometimes not getting the money in the beginning can and does present a problem.
Dwayne , being streetwise, knows all the old tricks (no pun intended) that can be played on a hustler. He also knows how to handle those problems. One old scam is to say that their wallet was lost and would he accept a check. Dwayne had a rule to never accept a check from anyone he didn't know. One guy who claimed not to have any money was quickly relieved of his Cartier watch. Dwayne later pawned it. Another guy from Connecticut after engaging in car sex, pulled the no-money routine. Dwayne reached over and took his car keys. The guy became frantic. "How am I going to get back home?" "You can walk," replied Dwayne. The guy came up with the cash in a hurry.
"You get these straight guys who come in, who still think they're straight, I call them half-way straight,they can't make up their minds. They think they can overpower you just because you're gay.Being gay does not mean I do not have the capability of fighting and sticking up for myself. They don't realize I'm still a man. If you want to have a fight, sure, I will fight you. I might not win but you definitely will walk out with some scratches."
(To Be Continued)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Confessions of an Ex-Teen Hustler, Part 1

We're sitting on metal folding chairs, facing each other. His name is Dwayne. It's Wednesday night. We're in the spacious kitchen, located in the basement of an East Side Manhattan Episcopal church. In the next room, the muffled sound of R 'n' B music and the voices of young men drift in. Every Wednesday night these young men come to the church for counseling, socializing, and friendship. They come seeking refuge from the hostility of their straight peers.
Dwayne is an 18-year-old African-American. I hang on to his every word as he tells me about his days as a teenage street hustler. He emphasizes that he no longer hustles and is looking for a good job. He tells me of his interest in modeling and acting. He might, he says, even go to school to become a registered medical technician. But right now he is out of work and living with four other gay people, one of them a psychologist, in a $1500 a month apartment on Central Park West. He doesn't plan to go back to street life.
He had been arrested twice for prostitution and he just got tired of the hassle of being moved from courtroom to courtroom, cell to cell. At age 14, Dwayne left home and for four years he hustled on 53rd Street, in the block between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Being very attractive, there is no doubt he did well on the street. He has a nut-brown complexion and wears his hair in a processed--or straightened --style;his hair is brushed back. He is wearing his hustler clothes during our conversation: a gray T-shirt (with the lettering "mcq" on the front), a pair of blue jeans cut short above the thighs, white tube socks (with blue and red stripes at the top),and a pair of dirty high top white sneakers.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Most Sensational Bartender in the World

The Most Sensational Bartender in the World

is Joel.
He stands beneath a ceiling
of red and pink balloons,
popping tops off the necks
of Coronas, Heineken, Amstel Light.
That is sensational.
I love him with his puppy-brown eyes,
his boyish charm.
He really sends me...sensationally.
He doesn't notice me across the dance floor
of swirling lights,
under the dimensional reflections
of disco balls.
He pronounces his name "Joelle."
How cute is that?
How cute and sensational is that?
He makes the best vodka sea breezes.
Pouring liquor into the anxious mouth of my glass,
sticking a slice of lemon on the side with his wet
That is the most sensational thing ever.
I'm not interested in shoving dollar bills
in g-strings flossing the sweet-glossed asses
of go-go boys with their warm, hanging dicks.
But would rather put my hard earned bucks
in Joelle's sensational dark-blue tank top.
I admire him from afar at the end of the bar.
Watch him make magical martinis,
being that he is the most sensational bartender in the world.

--Shane Allison

Shane Allison lives in Tallahassee, Florida and is the author of five chapbooks of poetry, including I Want to Fuck a Redneck. He has had poems and stories published in Best Gay Erotica, Queer Connection, RFD, Velvet Mafia, Best Gay Erotica, Ultimate Gay Erotica, Best Gay Love Stories, and many others. He is the editor of Hot Cops: Gay Erotic Stories.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Giving Credit Where It's Due

Todd Boyd in his article ("R.I.P. Vibe, 1993-2009," July 1, 2009) discussed the recent demise of Vibe magazine. He called the hip-hop culture publication "the brainchild of Quincy Jones." I have no problem with him acknowledging Jones. But he completely overlooked the openly gay music journalist Scott Poulson-Bryant, a founding editor of Vibe. He stated in his book Hung: A Meditation on the Measure of Black Men in America (Doubleday, 2005) that "I named Vibe magazine Vibe."
Hip-hop music is notoriously homophobic and it would have been a good idea to acknowledge that a major publication devoted to it was named by a member of a much-maligned but influential group. Let's give credit where it is due.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Name Is Obama, Not Bam

I wish the editors at the New York Post and the New York Daily News would stop referring to President Barack Obama as Bam in their headlines. In case they don't know it, Bam is the stage name of a well-endowed black male porn star who appears in both gay and straight porn videos. He also writes a monthly column in Black Inches magazine (or he did the last time I saw the magazine).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Was Michael Jackson Gay? Part 2

The story about Michael Jackson in the March 19, 1984 issue of Time magazine, written by Denise Worrell, I think, helped perpetuate the rumor that Jackson is gay. Michael's father, Joe, takes Worrell on a tour of the house and grounds. When they get to Michael's bedroom door and are allowed in, she witnesses this scene: "The only light comes from a television set. The light glistens off Michael's hair. He and a young man who looks about 20 are sitting side by side facing the television. Michael is watching it intently. They both stand up. ...The room is very dark.
"Michael in a very quiet voice introduces his friend to his father, giving only one name. I cannot hear it." Michael and Worrell shake hands. She describes his hand as feeling "like a cloud." His friend's hand, she writes, "is damp. He seems nervous. ...There is silence and I feel that [Michael's father] is uncomfortable." They leave. The way Worrell describes what she saw, a reader would get the feeling that something mysterious and forbidden was going on. Near the end of the article, she writes: "The cab pulls out, past the three-tiered white fountain at the front of the house. ...We start out the open gate, when suddenly the guard in the security station runs and calls after us. We return to the house." That's when Michael's parents tell her that their son is not gay. "It's against his religion [Jehovah's Witnesses]. It's against God. The Bible speaks against it," emphasizes his mother. His father further underscores his wife's statement by proclaiming ,"Michael isn't gay." If he isn't, they're doing a pretty good job of making people think he is by being so defensive.
A Michael Jackson friend, quoted in The Star (April 3, 1984), had this to say: "The young girls who adore him so much don't care about the rumors and wouldn't care if he is gay." This same friend says that the rumors started because "people never saw him go out with a woman. They just assumed he was gay. Plus he is a great dancer with grace and style and that bothered people."

Author's Note: The above sidebar is taken from an unpublished Q & A interview with Nelson George about Michael Jackson.
Although the article on which the blog posts are based is 25 years old, I hope the information it contains will be useful to music historians and future Michael Jackson biographers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Was Michael Jackson Gay?

The following is an excerpt from an unpublished Q & A telephone interview with music journalist Nelson George which occurred shortly after the publication of his book The Michael Jackson Story (Dell, 1984).

Charles Michael Smith: How did the rumor of his gayness get started?
Nelson George: It's been going on since the mid-70s. Jet magazine, in fact, printed a story and a couple of the tabloids, the National Enquirer-type papers, had printed that Michael Jackson's having a sex change. It goes back to 1976. This is not a new rumor. Ever since he reached that maturity or he became a teen and had this high voice that really sort of sparked these things. There was a rumor that's discussed in the book that he supposedly was going to marry [actor-songwriter] Clifton Davis.
I don't think he's gay. I quote him saying just that. I don't believe [he is].

[Here's the Jackson quote referred to by George: "I know it's not true, so it doesn't bother me. I'm sure we must have plenty of fans who are gay. That doesn't bother me in the slightest, but I'm not gay."]

CMS: I've heard several gay men say that they believe Jackson is gay.
NG: Gay people like to think that people who are talented are gay. That's just the truth. What proof do we have that he is gay? He has a high voice? That he dances well? That he doesn't have a lot of facial hair? I know a lot of brothers who are quote unquote manly who have all of those attributes. I have a little bit of a cold now. So when I'm speaking regularly I have a pretty high voice myself. I've found people who are willing to try to tell me he is gay but they could offer no proof. And when you have a public statement from a figure like that who claims that while he has no anti-gay feelings, he's not gay, I think you have to go with that.
CMS: Where did the quote in which Michael denies he's gay come from?
NG: A friend of mine, Steve Ivory, who's a fine journalist out in L.A. , interviewed Michael in 1978. To Steve's everlasting credit, he's the only person who ever interviewed Michael, that I know of, and actually asked him if he was gay. Barbara Walters didn't ask him.
CMS: Maybe she was afraid of offending him or his fans. It is a very sensitive question.
NG: She asked him every other question on her show. If you're going to do it, do it. My boy had done it and he got a very straight answer from the guy. I said to Steve: "You got him to say that and you haven't done any articles on that? That's the hottest question out here now. But he said he forgot he'd done the thing. I credited him in the book for doing it. To me it was a godsend. I wanted to deal with this issue but I wanted to deal with it in a way that would have class. Sort of give him a chance to answer the question. And I had talked with some people who knew Michael, who said that he wasn't but that wasn't strong enough. When I found Michael on the record saying this, I was overjoyed. That's one thing that makes me feel very pleased about the book.
CMS: He wrote a song called "Muscles" which people are saying indicated his sexual orientation.
NG: He has a giant boa constrictor called Muscles. If you listen to the lyric and you think about it that way, it can be taken another way. Because a guy has developed such a mystique about himself, people are quick to take a movement on his part, anything as a sign of something. I mean, either you take it at face value or you don't.
To tell you the truth, it really doesn't matter to me. Because would we care if he was gay, if he wasn't good? The bottom line is if the music didn't have it, then it doesn't matter because no one cares. No one cares about what me and you do because we haven't done anything yet in our lives that has that impact, that can reach that many people.