Pride. Pride with friends. Pride with friends from out of town. They
make you see New York again. Wilma and Bill from Baltimore arrive on
Thursday and we race them to the Centaur-Kiehl's cocktail soiree at
Kiehl's where Randy Bettis is playing. And oh, goodie, gift bags
filled with Centaur CDs and lots of Kiehl's product: the perfect gay
weekend warrior survival kit.
Then off to THE BOY FROM OZ on Friday night, and it's a pretty cool
thing when Hugh Jackman plays in a show with Judy Garland (back from
the dead) and Liza Minnelli and teaches the audience about Stonewall
-- which was news to Wilma and Bill -- so it just goes to show you
-- we don't all know our history/herstory. June 28, 1969.
Thirty-five years later -- and here we are.
Saturday, we cab to the Freedom Party -- not to attend, but just to
feel the vibe. Perfect weather. The boys look happy. Manny's playing
Rise Up as we're sitting on a bench along the Hudson, the sky so
blue overhead. Rise Up indeed. This is a good year for gays.
We wander Hudson River Park and sit on the Pier. So many boys and
girls in town. Home again, back from where they've moved. Some Bronx
girls now in southern Virginia, they wouldn't miss being back for
Pride. NYC Pride, the ultimate Gay Reunion.
Saturday night, it's all about Victor's Light at Crobar. We're a
party of five, with girlfriend Marion in heels and black catsuit --
and wouldn't you know, all five of us trip over the electrical cable
boxes on our way in. Graceful entrance.
Inside, it's Victor's crowd: leggy women and blonded women and young
boys and questioning boys and questionable boys and boys with
attitude and boys from Opaline and boys from Boysroom and boys from
Long Island and circuit boys too. There's a circular parachute/tarp
roof over the dance floor with pin spots around its edges -- and
yes, it vaguely connotes the Saint of years past. Victor is very
loud. So loud that on the dance floor, we have to keep moving,
attempting to distance ourselves from the speakers -- but it doesn't
seem to make a difference. It's loud everywhere.
In the Pump Room, it looks like everyone's waiting around for bottle
service -- but one of Victor's corporate sponsors, Metro, has
thoughtfully placed slender green plastic vials of Metro Mints
alongside the silver ice buckets. Snatch, snatch, fill the pockets.
Very thoughtful swag for a circuit party.
There's a pin spot in the Pump Room -- and we video the boys dancing
beneath it: their very own little stage. Days of voguing and ghetto
boys and spinning on cardboard. Out in the Big Room, Marion's found
her babe and they've taken over the box beneath Victor's booth: two
blondes in black, tossing their manes. Meanwhile, Wilma and Bill are
overwhelmed. It's all too much for them. New York has worked their
last nerve -- and they're out the door by four.
We stay on, dancing on the deck above the floor. Victor does know
his go-go boys. They know the tease, the moves. Spots in red
highlight their wares.
It's a good Saturday night. Good to hear Victor again. He's loud and
tribal and dark and consistent. We're upstairs when Astrid comes on
singing Rain. She's in black silk top hat and a clingy fuchsia dress
down to her black construction boots. She works the song, and so do
the bongo drummers. The song is hot and so is Astrid. We're there
for another hour, still high on her energy -- but then, it's seven
and it's out the door into a fabulously bright sunny Gay Pride
Sunday in New York.
What a day. What joy. The Parade. So many happy people. And also
those two assholes of hate. Right during the moment of silence --
heckling hate and the police are watching them closely. The assholes
shout their hate and some of us shout back. But it's supposed to be
the moment of silence to honor those who have passed before us --
and it's not right. And it's a reminder that even though there are
1.5 million of us lining Fifth Avenue -- we still need all the Pride
and strength we can muster to fight back intolerance and conformity.
One of our favorite t-shirts of the day reads: SO MANY RIGHT-WING
CHRISTIANS, SO FEW LIONS. We resolve to get in touch with our inner
Leave the hate behind and walk proud into the Village. We do. We
photograph and cheer. All the changes that time has wrought. Altoids
and Pepsi now sponsoring floats. Gays on t.v. and in public office.
Ain't no stopping us now. Same old songs, but new meanings.
The sun. The breeze. Who loves gays more than Mother Nature? It's
heavenly. One of those days in New York. One of those perfect
weekends. Celebrate who we are in this incredible town which has
weathered so much and still goes on. It's all about us. Survivors.
We sleep off the Parade and the sun and the margaritas -- and then,
at last, it's Alegria time. We've been waiting for tonight. Of
course. Waiting for Abel and Alegria. Building up to it. And now
it's here. We tell the boys from Baltimore how tonight is going to
be different -- even though we're back at the same house. Same club,
same Crobar -- but so not the same. The difference between two
owners of the same apartment -- and one really knows how to do it up
There's no question that Ric Sena is a master of management. There's
no question that he's a consummate director. A man attuned to
detail. It's all so smoothly orchestrated. The doorwoman at Crobar
in costume -- and again, we blow our entrance, slamming into the
velvet ropes, so concerned with finding the VIP entrance -- but
she's very patient and cordial, helping us to right ourselves.
Inside, it's all happening. It's two-thirty and everyone's in place
and the floor is packed, one giant organism, moving in motion,
constant motion, and overhead, there's the Mothership, and on the
stage, a giant space bubble, and conducting it all, the master of
the music, it's Abel. And everyone's there, right there with him, as
he lays it all down, throws it all at us. It's that chunky- chunky
beat, that boom-ba-da-boom-ba-da-boom, whoo-whoo.
So much flurry and frenzy and everything keeps happening. The crowd
parts for galaxy go-go boys heading to the stage and there's a
number and we're dancing and this time Wilma and Bill are getting
it. They've got the groove, no resistance left. And Bill is catching
the looks he generates and realizing his hottie powers. Those boys
in Baltimore -- they sometimes just don't know what they've already
And then there it is -- the signature song, the Alegria theme and
the lights shine on the Alegria ball and the volume goes up and Abel
keeps it poised on the tip and the boys are shouting and the
confetti starts to drop. The mighty Alegria orgasm -- it goes on and
on and we video the energy in ten-second spots, the most the phone
can record -- and later, days later, we'll look and listen to that
video phone and shake our heads. Because while it's happening, it's
so intense, it's right there, and it's only later, in hindsight,
when you see it again, that you realize all it was. And it was so
much more than you thought then.
We dance on the floor, dance on the deck. And then another orgasm
hits. Cha-Cha Heels time. The lights go down and then it's a ring of
go-go boys, twenty of them, and they're all in black save for a neon
green silhouette outline of their bodies which makes them appear
like stick figures under the black light -- that's all you can see,
dancing stick figures, appendages moving and shaking like the arms
and legs of marionettes -- and the 3-D glasses reflect and send the
neon green go-go boys out into thousands of galaxies. It's a cha-cha
world, endlessly repeating, on and on and over and over and no one
wants it to end because Abel doesn't want you to stop, not for one
minute, and so you keep on, because he's keeping on and it's like
the smoothest, the best, the most comfortable ride. The best and the
longest one you've ever had. You're just gonna keep it like that and
keep moving and never stop because it feels so good to keep it going
And everyone's feeling it. There's no one not moving. Doesn't matter
where you go. All over VIP and down the stairs and along the deck
and in the Pump Room and over behind the bars and into the Willow
Room, it's all these boys who can't stop moving their bums,
their hips, their arms, their feet. It's the best. It's so
contagious. It's such the best release. Take your troubles to the
dance floor -- leave them go, let them out.
Pride. It's so good. It's what you want the whole year to be. So we
take it home with us. Take Abel and Alegria and all the boys who
smile and dance. Keep them close all year long.
Thanks to everyone who came to New York. There's nothing so
wonderful as seeing so many happy gay people strutting tall and
walking proud. You remind us again why we love this city so.