Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Second City Syndrome (some more queer geography too)

Due to work I've been traveling across my fantastic State of Florida.  To quote a Presidential candidate: "I love it here, the trees.....are all the right height...and the lakes, the lakes..."  So I guess you get my point.  But despite all my travels I'm always happy to be back in Miami, but because I realize I carry a "Miaminess" wherever I go.

This month I went from Bushnell (where I took my Obama magnet off the Beemer) to Orlando and most areas on the East and Gulf coasts of Florida.  While I try to be as humble and down to earth as possible, I still get the feeling they're looking at me as some kind of "city slicker".  Perhaps it's my suit and tie or my fancy Cole-Haan Veneto pennys.

I realize now that all these people have what I call "Second City" syndrome. Second City Syndrome is the full knowledge that although your city has all the ingredients that make up a "city" such as population, a performing arts center, professional sports teams, there still is something missing. That maybe a new stadium,  mall or  In my opinion there is just a hint of vitality missing.  There just is that one missing ingredient that turns a city from Kansas City bland to New Orleans wow. 

My first realization that I'm in a second city is when the gay people say things to me like "you're awfully gay, maybe you should live in Los Angeles or New York or Miami". Which says to me that "fabulosity is not welcome here."  The uniform is khakis and a button down collar, maybe a polo. Nikes are fine, but you can leave the John Varvatos Sid Oxfords for your once yearly trip to New York. Make out in the Camryaccord, that is unless you're a lesbian, then use a truck.  Second cities also have very integrated gay and lesbian communities and both groups hang out and do things together, so you don't know if you're in a gay bar or a church social.  I've also noticed that gay communities in second cities tend to be run by lesbians (albeit funded by gay men).   Larger cities tend to have very defined and separate gay and lesbian communities. 

Don't get me wrong, having the nice Florida executive home on the golf course in a development with a name like Willowbrooke is a wonderful, peaceful life but it's just not for me.  I mean getting excited over the menu at Longhorn Steakhouse or Macaroni Grill is typical for a night out in some of these places. Please remember the drink specials end at 8:30 and try to be home by 10PM on a Saturday night. That a weekend getaway to New York, New Orleans or Miami is enough excitement to get you through the next few months.  

I guess my true rant about these places is that I don't fit in. That somehow, outside of a few major cities I cannot relate to a typical middle class American life.  That my experiences in the vast stretches suburbia have been full of a quiet angry ennui. That my soul needs to be fed by strange people from far away lands, and new foods never tried before. That I can't stand the idea of eating in a chain restaurant that isn't a McDonald's. I mean Carraba's, really? That rushing home every evening to catch a glimpse of reality TV somehow softens my own reality. I can't fit in, I can't wear khakis, I can't be khaki.  I feel exotic, I feel colorful, I feel Miamian.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No Facebook, No Biscayne Hooker Report and the other joys of social media

Last night I was hailed by a long time acquaintance at Publix in Miami Shores.  "Hey I want to read your Biscayne Hooker Reports."  Now granted, I never dreamed that an occasional paragraph about the latest fashions and happenings of the "Women of the Night" in my neighborhood would warrant a "shout out" at my local supermarket, but in a sick way I was pleased.  Lately the Hooker Report has gotten me into a bit of a snit with certain church ladies who have "self selected" themselves out of my life. 

I asked if he was on Facebook, he said "no not really". 

My answer to him: "no Facebook, no Hooker Report."

Of course it got me thinking about social media in general, and to those people who "opt out" of the whole phenomenon.  I am an avid user of social media and I understand it's power. However I never expected to called out in my grocery store about "the hookers!" that are on my Facebook page. Nor did I expect to end a personal friendship in the real world, by my activities in my cyber one. Far more often it's the other way around. 

I think about those people who choose to eschew social media because "they're too busy" or "it seems like a waste of time." They may be concerned about their privacy or some other such foolishness.  These are the people that still send jokes or say "hi" via a very clogged email system.  Worse, they might even call me on the phone for a chat.  If you want to chat with me, just send me a message on Facebook, because like my snail mail, I only check my personal email box a few times a week. Better yet, send me a text. As far as privacy is concerned, what's the point. Marketers know where I live, what I make and where I spend my money. If the government is interested in my doings, I doubt seriously I could do anything about it. 

The beauty of social media is that unlike email, snail mail, or phones is that it's a passive medium, just like TV. You can pick and choose what you want to read, respond to or who to communicate with. If you ignore a posting nothing happens, but there is a social risk when you ignore a call, letter, email or text. For the latter you ignore them at your own peril. However, if you want to read about Jenny's dogs, Mike's political rantings, or Kirk's opinions on street walkers it's all there for you to see, or not. It's like those people back in the 90's who proudly proclaimed that they "didn't have a TV" and couldn't laugh at cultural references like "soup nazi" or "we were on a break" are the same people who don't understand the significance of "honey badgers" (my own animal totem) and "shit abuelas say". Yet at the same time spout their "superiority" for not being on social networking sites. How superior can you be, when social networking is the front line of democracy for Arabs, Chinese and women fighting for their rights?

I mean really, what do you do when you're not social networking? Working? Not even the busiest person can fill a 40 hour work week with just work.  Exercising?  No, I believe those people who are not "into" social networking are doing what we all did online before Facebook: watching porn and shopping. 

To ignore this new phase of human interactivity and endeavor you do so at your own peril. There's old 20th century adage: "the end of the world will be televised", but in this century you'll read about on Facebook first.  So if you're missing the Biscayne Hooker report, send me a friend request......or not. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Strip Club Etiquette for Ladies

My whole life I've been watching characters "decompress" at strip clubs. Whether it was Al Bundy at the "nudie bar" or the guys from office dramas, or even guys on the lam, the strip club was a darkened haven of manliness in a sea of rampant femininity.  Bored, the dancers would writhe on the stage or pole as the men stared blankly and vaguely aroused.  I mean strip clubs tend to be subdued affairs where men chat idly, sip booze, and give sullen whoops as they put cash in the dancers' g-strings.    This had always been my experience in strip clubs whether they were straight or gay. 

This is quite a different experience from the way women behave at events where male strippers perform. There is shrieking, clawing, guffawing and just crazy fun at the sight of a hot man gyrating his pelvis at her. You would think that the girl has never seen a man in the nude before.  I've always been curious at the female tendency to scream when she sees a naked man, is it a biological imperative? I mean is it like a "fight or flight" response? What is it about the male anatomy that makes women squeal followed up by a giggle. I remember this response in middle school when I flashed some girls, it seems after the first squeal, it's imprinted behavior.

So there's a new Club in Miami called Swinging Richards. It is a gay themed strip club that caters to men who like men. Most of the strippers are straight personal trainers from local gyms who are proud of their physiques and their equipment. On any given night there are about 30 guys, on three stages who dance a 10 minute set. If the guy earns $10 bucks in the first 8 minutes he will strip down completely, full monty. If not, he will dance out his set and gracefully exit the stage. 

For the most part the patrons sip their booze and happily tip the dancers. The men who watch chat with each other, discuss politics, home decor, fashion and gossip the way their heterosexual brethren might talk about sports, and sports. Until that is, a woman comes in.

I was sitting there drinking my cosmo, chatting with my friends and this woman walks in the door, runs up to the stage and literally starts screaming. She was a foot away. Two other woman came up next to her squealed and giggled. Really? These were not young women. They were making a scene like this was the second coming or the last penis on earth.  None of the men were squealing, Dennis Rodman was not squealing. Then, after groping the performer, seeing his privates....they walked away giggling, no tip. They basically cock-blocked all of us from tipping the dancer and then the guy was just left there, penis in hand, no money.  It was at that moment I was glad I never dated women.

So ladies, if you go to a gay strip club just remember:
1. It's not Chippendales, go scream with your real girlfriends
2. Guys are there to chill, respect that.
3. Tip your dancer, waiter and bartender, they are not there solely for your pleasure.
4. Gays really don't want you there, no matter how much you think they do.(Even gays like a female free environment once and awhile.)
5. Don't act like middle school girls when you see a bunch of hot men stripping, sit back, relax, enjoy the show....make them work for their tips.    ; )

I love my Tattooed Monkey

So just spent the weekend in San Diego with my son, whom I like to call my Tattooed Monkey.  He's the son who decided forgo college to become a tattoo artist.  I know as parents we often worry or criticize our children's decisions in life and when our son said "I'm going to be a tattoo artist", I have to admit a bit of apprehension. I have to say my apprehension was foolish and I am amazed at how he's successful, confident and taken his talent for art and live the life many of us crave: dedication to artistic endeavor.  Some might not approve of the medium but it's gaining respect and the fact that many tattoo artists are now commercial successes through TV and licensing, you can see how its popularity is increasing. I'm waiting for his work to show up on a pair of shoes, just like Ed Hardy. 

My second favorite thing about hanging out with him, is that unlike fine art, tattoos are everywhere on all kinds of people, and hanging out with him I am with an art critic. We can look at line, color, content and know the difference between a good piece of work and a poor or mediocre one. He can look at crisp lines, colors that bleed and tell me whether it's a "good tat" or a lame one.  I now have a new vocabulary for people besides "hot" or "fat". 

The true icing on the cake is going to his shop.  Last time I was there, there were three newly minted Marines in the lobby. Cute, hair shaved high and tight, and probably used to following orders. So the three of them poured over the many possible "Semper Fi" tattoos trying to decide what to get on their first weekend leave.  I said I was the tattooist's dad, they all said "cool" in unison.  I suggest they take their shirts off so they could decide where to put their "tats".  "Turn around" I suggested, "let me feel your muscles, yeah, I think you should put a tat here on your chest." "How about on your leg?" They didn't hesitate to show me some thigh. Just then my husband came into the shop and suggested that "we've done enough for the troops." Sigh. 

So while I agonize over what my tattoo might look like....a small rose on my ankle.....a dolphin on my hip, maybe....or a full scale "angel wings" on my back. My friends, neighbors and even my brother's retired in-laws are getting inked.  Hmmm what about a rainbow....would that be too gay? In any case, I'll wait for it to be done by my Tattooed Monkey, if he can find time for an Odie on my calf....maybe?