What a circus. NYC Pride. A
thirty-ring circus with shows playing round the clock all over the
island. Boyz from all over, they're flooding the streets of Chelsea.
It's Thursday night and our London boyz, with an ever-expanding
entourage, have taken over their guest house and converted it into
the New Chelsea Tubs a sauna in every room! And GymBar right
around the corner, packed with sports queens (not an oxymoron,
apparently), with beer by the pint, and once properly sloshed, off
to XL where we walk in as Shequida introduces Jason Walker, from
Junior's stable, and there's Junior himself, front and center,
supporting his boy. It's a mini-concert, and even a beer dashed to
the floor doesn't deter Jason's falsetto. It's his stage and he's
claiming it. And the boyz come and go, talking of everything but
And Friday dawns sultry in the city and by dusk Jean-George's Spice
Market is packed with pretty young things and we eat well and spicy
and pricey and head to Viceroy to pick up Amsterdam cuties and then
to G Lounge for Luau Pride under the tiki huts. Boyz and more boyz.
They notice the London boyz and say, "You're from out of town,
right?" and the London boyz go, "How did you know?" "NO ATTITUDE.
YOU'VE GOT NO ATTITUDE."
So now we have to teach them New York attitude. Oh, God, what is it?
It's the walk/snap/leer/box/booty thing all happening at once, with
a smile to service, right? Is it teachable? Hmmm. Maybe not. But
then watching a London boy trying to work a snap...
Saturday on the Pier. It's the New York passeggiatta. The outfits,
the dogs, the collars, the shades, the swag. It's the parade before
the Parade. And now thanks to the London boyz retinue, now up to
ten, we're parading ourselves over to Alan and Joey's afternoon
soiree. Ever gracious, Alan doesn't bat an eye as his apartment
fills with unexpected guests from London, Wales, Boston, and
Brussels, and fortunately, because it's a relief to be in this
swellegantly cool apartment. (Hello? Could we please consider
converting the entire Piano Factory to circuit-queen housing? Alan,
can you get right on that?) But wait here's Kat looking terribly
distressed and there's a huddle in a bedroom as she tells us we have
to do an intervention and I'm thinking, "Now? Can't it wait until
after Pride?" But it's only her m-i-l on diet pills. Very funny,
Miss Kat; watch your back in Montreal.
And meanwhile, the doorbell keeps ringing as the circuit family
arrives, everyone home for the weekend. It's so nice to have face
time instead of just space time with all these people. Lovely
Lawrence with his tall cool LunchBox Boy, and Matt Kalkhoff, more
glamorous in person than even her Bab's glamourpuss shots. and
Patrick and Brian, who are/aren't moving to Gotham in less than/more
than a year. And Alan's Joey, who paints such beautiful canvases.
And LegupAtLast so we no longer have to keep asking boyz at
parties, Are you LegUp? only to have them give us New York
attitude. And Joey Cumley, of course, with not only ex-Michael in
tow, but also working his Louis V, Movado, and Miss Chanel. And the
NYC Hunk, aka Mr. Weinstein, who's doing breakfast with Kat at six
on Sunday morning watch your coffee cup, Mr. Hunk.
And now it's Saturday night and we're walking into Spirit/Twilo/SF,
for the first time you got me, baby since it's become Spirit,
and walking that entrance hall, we're flooded with Sunday morning
memories of worshipping with Junior, but this time it's Offer Nissim
whose work we know thanks to Joe Caro's CDs, and Miss Niss is a wisp
of a thing with arms as long as his hair which he waves like willow
branches as he conducts his orchestral maneuvres in the dark. It's a
fascinating performance, this Israeli deejay working these songs
into choral symphonies. All the songs are here, the ones we know,
the ones that he's made his by his production. And the crowd cheers
as Goddess Candis Cayne in a goddess gown (those legs, those
tits....) introduces Maya who sings Miss Niss's songs. She's a
little thing, too, with a mane of hair, and she sings well though
she might spend some time with Candis learning New York stage
attitude. We stay for Peter's opening hour or so and he keeps the
boyz working. Our New York boyz, John and Tim, are here, their first
New York Pride since they moved to Gotham in August. They're loving
it. It's a good Saturday night party, but one we feel fine about
leaving at five a.m.
Because, for us, it's all about the Parade. The people lining the
streets, the floats, the spectrum of color. Balloons and banners,
Altoids and condoms. Beads and bracelets. Last week, after we texted
one of our more curmudgeonly friends and wished him Happy Pride, he
texted back, "What's to be proud about?" We didn't bother responding
to him but if he were alongside us, witnessing the parade, he
might know the answer to his own query. To see so many people
walking and marching, parading and smiling, hand-in-hand, and
kissing, and hugging and loving, the geriatrics of SAGE and the
children of Hetrick-Martin, the baton twirlers and the cheerleaders,
the swimmers and the rugby players, the attorneys and the teachers,
the fathers and the mothers what's not to be proud about? We're
alive on a planet that needs what we know about love. That's why
we're here. To see so many young people, so very many very young
people, and Robert says to me, "It's all about them. To see them out
now. I think we're going to be all right."
The children are flooding the park at the end of Christopher Street.
So many gay people. So many happy people. Such beauty. Such
unblemished untouched beauty. A sea of Tadzios. We photograph them
from a respectful distance. You don't want them getting New York
attitude not yet.
We walk up to the Pier Dance just as Madge's Music mixes with
Lola's Theme and we tm the Britty boyz who are deep in the
maelstrom. Lola was their favorite song from last winter and now
they're shaking it on the piers of New York. It's music that carries
us over the humps of this sometimes bumpy life.
I want to throw a tantrum as we head up Ninth Avenue. I don't want
Pride to be over, not yet. I want Pride like this all the time. I
want to swim in a sea of gay people who know how to love. But Robert
says, "Relax. Chill. It's not over. There's still Alegria."
Big Top Alegria. Alegria Circus. The Greatest Pride on Earth. With
Ringmaster Ric and Tony and Abel. The line going in reminds me of
the Saint, waiting to pass through the three stations before getting
upstairs. That kind of meet-and-greet line, with air kisses and
hugs, and a hushed tone. The boyz, so professional, in their tees
and jeans, muscles bulging. Their faces nicely tanned. The wall of
televisions with Ric Sena's GREATEST PRIDE ON EARTH. It's three a.m.
and the boyz are pouring in.
Inside, we pause a moment in the Reed Room. It's packed, even in
here. The boyz are dancing wherever, on the banquettes, on the
tables. We take a deep breath. "Dolls? Fellas? Are you ready? Let's
And so into the Big Top Room we go. It's mayhem and madness, just as
we expected, just as we wanted. We watch our step and make our way
to the back bar where there's a viewpoint we love, the whole Big
Room from the back. In the center, there's a circus tent carousel in
yellow and red with yellow and red lights and on the stage, a huge
skinless elephant, his feet on circus drums. Trapeze artists and
acrobats swing from the circus tent while tassels in yellow and red
swing from the sides of the SkyBoxes. It's a circus of the mind, a
Pinocchio Fantasyland, the circus you see in your dreams where
everything is suggestive.
We head upstairs to VIP and watch from above. The sea of boyz, the
men so beautiful. We're wondering about our London boyz, hoping
they've made it here safely. And there goes Ringmaster Ric in black
top hat and black cape. Tony Moran has this beat going. It's so
perfect for the circus. It's this beat for this sound system which
is so incredibly tuned. There's so much going on. We're mesmerized
by it all. There's a tm from Lawrence who says he's shining his
light on us from the floor but we're so hypnotized, we don't even
see it. And then there's our London boy Chris, and one look at his
face says it all. He's seen it now, Alegria all over his face. He's
charged with happiness. "Just a little party," he says, laughing.
What Tony's doing with his music, it's irrestible, it's contagious.
There's no one standing around; there's no one not moving. We're
dancing on the boxes, overlooking the floor. And then, there it is,
just as the circus performers hit their positions around the room.
Those elaborate costumes, the surreal circus of the mind, in purple,
green and crimson red. There it is, we can hear it starting. It's
THAT SONG. That song Joe K. loves, the song from GayDays, the one
performed at Pier Dance (but NOT the hip-hop version) oh, no, this
is it, the real thing. Dolls? Fellas? Are you ready?
And even if there was one person not moving, s/he's moving now. The
place explodes. Let's dance. Let's keep dancing. Let's never stop
dancing. And now there's Lawrence, we see him with his blue light.
Big happy smiling Lawrence: love him, love him. And oh, no can it
be? Is that for real over there? Is that really her? IT'S NURSE.
Nurse is here. Looking hot, looking sweet, she's pumping that arm,
dropping to the beat. Crazy girl, we rattle with her in tweakspeak.
We live her all over.
We're downstairs in the Pump Room, squashed in a corner, but then we
find another London boy, Stuie, and he's manic, bless his heart. "If
you know anyone, tell him Stuie wants a shag." By all means, dear
heart. Consider your message delivered. We're dancing by the
railing, watching some mirrored man scale the elephant. Completely
covered in mirrors, he's stepping carefully up the skinless
elephant. He could fall. We can feel it. The elephant could crumble
but it doesn't. And oh, my God there's Joe Caro in his quadrant.
Right by the stage. Duh. He's here. We were worried; we didn't see
him the night before at Peter's Gods, but of course he was there.
He's working his shorties. He's got a fan and lights. He's making
the rounds, searching for Korean gangs. And look, there's Chynna
Girl from South Beach. Flawless.
It's a circus, the Alegria Circus. We watch our London boy Chris
work the staircase. Now he's got that New York attitude. He's making
this party his own. He's working his beat. And Paul comes up to us
and says, "I thought there was no smoking in New York." Well, yes,
that's true, I explain, but at Alegria the boyz are all suns, so
they do what they want. But it's not like they're messy at this
circus. This is a well-behaved, professional circus. Even the two
married men we see to whom we could have said, "Do your wives know
you're here?," even they're professional in their indiscretions.
It's such a beautiful crowd filled with pride. There's so much to
be proud of.
And then it's six or so and Tony takes his applause as Abel takes
the controls, alongside Ric, and now we're off on the second
journey, into the second ring of Alegria Circus. Abel starts it off
right, slow and dramatic. Long enough for us to catch our breath.
And then, bam we're off and running. Thank you, needed that. Let's
go round again.
And later, much later, way up under Abel's influence, there comes
this moment when we're upstairs, looking down as the lights lower
and the circus tent carousel rises up toward the ceiling, and as the
music becomes more atmospheric, with male vocals, and the circus
darkens with the smoke/nitrous fog lazily rising above the crowd,
the silver ALEGRIA globe goes white silver sending out shards of
white light which shoot above the boyz and now the circus has
taken flight, heading out into the galaxy. It's beautiful. A pause
in the journey. And I say to Robert. "I hope we know these people
when we get back to the home planet." Because we're all here in this
together now and you just want to imagine a time when we can all
look back on this and say, "Well, wasn't that a trip?"
It's so hard for us to let go of Pride weekend. We want to wrap
ourselves in all the good that happens and hope that it's enough to
last us through the year. We leave the Alegria Circus at
nine-thirty, out into the sultry heat of a Manhattan summer Monday.
Another day in New York with every reason to be proud because we
know such good people. Thanks to everyone who made our Pride so
fierce. You live in our hearts all year.