The tag line for this year’s Black Party read
“the final assault”—and let’s face it, you haven’t climbed the
circuit mountain until you’ve packed up your kit bag and donned your
uniform and headed to Roseland for The Saint At Large’s annual scout
jamboree. Scared and worried? Well, you should’ve been—it was a
Dangerous Black Party for Boys—and you needed your wits about you—as
well as all your equipment.
There was snow at the entrance—and birch trees
and evergreens—as well as chalkboards with the daily camp
schedule—and school desks scattered with marshmallows and night
lanterns. Men in uniform were everywhere, brandishing whips and cat
o’nine tails, dangerous games implied. And from deep within the
cavernous ballroom came the sounds of Stephan Grondin, werking “Do
It Naturally.” Follow your instinct; be a good scout—and do it.
It was after two
am, and troop leaders and scoutmasters were pouring into base camp.
We made our way upstairs, past the boxing ring where two men in
leather were being obedient and dutiful to one another’s junk. Set
a good example for youth, that’s a scoutmaster’s motto. And then we
turned toward the floor, peering over the balcony—
Three massive lighting rigs were raised nearly
to the ceiling, expanding the sightlines of Roseland’s massive
ballroom. The lasers (controlled by the lighting genius Guy Smith)
were in ecstasy, chasing each other around and across the room.
There were campfires glowing within caves at the bases of small
hills. Eagle Scouts sent out smoke signals as they danced wildly
beneath the shadowy arches high above the floor. It was Tom Sawyer
and Hunk Finn madness and mayhem—the all-fag scout jamboree at the
base camp on the ascent to Shangri-La.
And Monsieur Grondin, in touch with his
Montreal darkness, caught the spirit of the night, werking “Calling
All Peoples” and “I Need a Miracle” and “(Too Late to) Apologize.”
There were scouts climbing rope ladders and boyz supine in hammocks
and slung up in slings. And there was energy—a summit conference of
a league of boyz—all partying at their peak. Because standing
there, overlooking the massive gathering, one thing was immediately
clear: the technical prowess of this Black Party team, this
squadron, this troop of Scouts and Masters—they were all of them
consummate pros working at the peak of their (dangerous) game.
That first view of the floor—seeing it spread
out before you, with the music pounding dark and heavy, and lights
speeding like shooting stars atop the mountaintop. Finally, you’d
reached the peak: there you were—and there was nothing left but to
join your fellow scouts on the floor. And so you went—into the
fray, where there was obedience and subservience—and Joe Caro, in
army green Behaviour shorts and red bandanna—the most
angelic-looking Boy Scout imaginable—and also the Boy Scout who
coerced you into everything you feared—and loved. And meanwhile, on
the video screens above the floor flashed images of boyz in
compromised positions and the scrambled Alan Marshall Beck message “There
comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a
raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.”
Hidden treasure, hidden treasure—it was there for the finding; all
you had to do was search.
And with that, it was time for Jonathan
Peters. The changeover happened, and it was “Listen, bitch,
girl”—and dominance prevailed. Like the Boy Scout who created the
after-hours party after lights out, after taps had been blown, JP
took the party deeper into the woods, away from the tents and
cots—and out into the wildness, where nature prevailed. He was the
scout wired for sound, the “watch this” kid, the Pied Piper music
man who led his troop where he wanted. And once there, he unleashed
his “Mister Man,” a full-on symphony of desire and demand, sung by
his ward, Sylver who ruled a couple years ago with JP’s “After All
Deep into the woods, freed from all authority,
JP forced his three Macs to do his bidding, shaping something like
1979’s Skatt Brothers “Walk the Night” into an orchestral orgy of
updated sleaze and forcefulness. This was music that demanded
listening—and concentration. It was a challenge to the focus, to
find out where, and how, the beat hit you. There was nothing
spoon-fed about it, nothing immediately recognizable. This was not
music for muscle memory—nothing that would allow your body to fall
into predictable patterns—but instead, music that forced you to keep
living in the moment. If you wanted it, you got it.
And in fact, what JP was doing (and the
feelings he provoked for some) brought to mind Igor Stravinsky’s
1913 “Rite of Spring,” Stravinsky’s fantasy vision of pagan
fertility rites—and the riots that followed its 1913 Paris
premiere for its barbarism and sexuality. Iconoclastic, without a
doubt, JP werked his way into a version of Abba’s “The Visitors,” a
Black Party standard, which reworked that classic into something
nearly unrecognizable, even as it was completely magical and
And meanwhile, in the front cave, the pig roast
continued—complete with smells of sizzling bacon (a smell which one
study recently revealed is the biggest turn-on for males—d’oh!) Sear
that piggy and get down on your knees! Or as JP put it in
“Alright,” “My heart says yes, but my mind says no”—or was it “my
mind says yes, gonna give in to you tonight”?
Everywhere on the floor, there was giving, and
giving in. And, in spite of the Saint At Large’s “no cameras/no
cell phones” dictate, both were everywhere—along with video cams.
As one youthful posse put it to us, “We don’t go anywhere without
our cells. How we supposed to hook up?” Um, face to face?
And then it was show time, like the scene in
Apocalypse Now when the Playboy Bunnies were helicoptered down
into the forest of men—only this time, at this camp, it was
rappelling men swinging down the face of the mountain, and scaling
it again, to the sounds of JP’s version of “Stairway to Heaven.”
At that hour, you might have thought This
can’t get any more intense—and yet, that was precisely what
happened when the second changeover of the night occurred at 10:45 am—and
Joe Gauthreaux became the gay national Eagle Scout, leading the
tribe to the place where “The Streets Have No Name.” Never has a
group of scouts followed a leader with such enthusiasm and fervor.
Out of the forest—and into the “Hills of Katmandu”—where they played
with abandon well into the afternoon.
In the end, it was not unlike the best of scout camp—but this time,
in this incarnation, with this troop of boyz, nearly all fantasies
were fulfilled. And who wouldn’t want to return next year—to find
that one scout you might have missed—and initiate him to the tribe.