Sunday, June 28, 2009

APPROACHING STONEWALL



"Paralyzed by hatred and a piss ugly soul
if he murdered his father, he thought he'd become whole
While listening at night to an old radio
where they danced to the rock minuet

In the gay bars in the back of the bar
he consummated hatred on a cold sawdust floor
While the jukebox played backbeats, he sniffed coke off a jar
while they danced to a rock minuet

School was a waste, he was meant for the street
but school was the only way, the army could be beat
The two whores sucked his nipples 'til he came on their feet
as they danced to the rock minuet

He dreamt that his father was sunk to his knees
his leather belt tied so tight that it was hard to breathe
And the studs from his jacket were as cold as a breeze
as he danced to a rock minuet

He pictured the bedroom where he heard the first cry
his mother on all fours, ah, with his father behind
And her yell hurt so much, he had wished he'd gone blind
and rocked to a rock minuet

In the back of the warehouse were a couple of guys
they had tied someone up and sewn up their eyes
And he got so excited he came on his thighs
when they danced to the rock minuet

On Avenue B, someone cruised him one night
he took him in an alley and then pulled a knife
And thought of his father, as he cut his windpipe
and finally danced to the rock minuet

In the curse of the alley, the thrill of the street
on the bitter cold docks where the outlaws all meet
In euphoria drug in euphoria heat
you could dance to the rock minuet

In the thrill of the needle and anonymous sex
you could dance to the rock minuet

So when you dance hard, slow dancing
when you dance hard, slow dancing
When you dance hard, slow dancing
when you dance to the rock minuet"
lou reed

i've always loved tom of finland. for some reason, i preferred his idealized sexuality to playboy's. i remember my college room mate, frank, talking about looking at some construction workers & how hot they looked in their toolbelts. this was a first for me, this idea of sexualizing something so mundane. part of it involves taking some specific aspect of gender & exaggerating it into a more generalized form of desire(fantasy). for me it had always worked in reverse: taking a general aspect of gender & minimalizing it into a specific form of demand. i began to suspect gay desire worked on another plane from heterosexual desire. "Whereas the Real concerns need and the Imaginary concerns demand, the symbolic is all about desire, according to Lacan." so perhaps heterosexuality is an immature sexuality, an inchoate sexuality, a sexuality based on the dyadic circumstance of self & mirror image & the resulting drama that plays out of that construction.

i remember frank talking about gay clubs in nyc where you walked into darkened smoky rooms & all that you could make out were figures(no faces)standing naked & erect waiting for relief & others bent down, on their knees, offering that relief as the cigarette smoke & darkness enrobed them.

i remember dropping frank off in key west at an incredible "gay spa," a huge walled complex that covered an entire block of old town. there was a restaurant & several bars & several pools & lots of saunas & jacuzzis & plenty of well appointed rooms & within 30 minutes frank was already getting laid. it was clothing optional. i was amazed that the place cost way less than where di & i were staying & i was outraged that there wasn't a place like that for heteros. "sweetie," frank said, "my place wouldn't have any customers if it was for straights."

i remember discovering alvin baltrop's photography & seeing the world that samuel delaney had described in his memoirs. the docks & the idea of cruising. years before in aa, i'd met a defrocked priest who kept getting arrested at all the "known" gay cruising areas in p'cola, the chimney out on scenic highway & the quietwater bathrooms. "warren," i asked him in exasperation after another arrest, "why would you go there, the cops know that's where men go for pickups?" "why wouldn't i?," he smilingly replied.

i remember discovering that the men's restroom on the second floor of the graduate library at uva was infamous as a public sex area. i'd been working there for six months in periodicals & my desk was located so that i could see all entrances & exits to the bathroom. once i was told about what was going on there, a whole pattern of behavior coalesced out of seemingly random comings & goings. i understood what those holes were that were cut into the partitions between stalls. using the restroom became an exercise in translating secret veiled communications(flushed toilets, foot tapping, eye contact). codes & patterns & gestures were the name of the game.i was surprised by who established themselves as regular vistors.

i remember finding the clubs out here like eros & power exchange in the city & steam works in berkeley. these were men only clubs & they'd been constructed in such a way as to mimic "historic" places or circumstances from the past. there were darkened areas w/glory holes, steam rooms & saunas, group rooms & pools. each area a carefully reconstructed idealization of former wilder glories. as delany suggested, these spaces still worked off "libidinal saturation," the kinesthetic AND visible overdetermination of sexuality that includes everyone in whatever role they wish to assume.


i remember going to the edgewater inn in oakland when it was a "swinger's motel" for heteros. cara & i went several times to barry & shell's in oakland & the power exchange in the city on "couples night". i've found even better places for a more open expression for heterosexuality but nothing has achieved "libidinal saturation." for the most part, swingers clubs & private hotel sex parties still operate on the old fundamental sexual heirarchy of masculine sexuality. the men dominate(& are "taken care of" by the women)& the women submit(& may or may not be taken care of by the men...usually, the women take care of the women for the men's viewing pleasure). mainly, what doesn't work in heterosexuality still doesn't work when you open it up to include multiple partners & combinations. this is NOT to say that there isn't sexual satisfaction in these scenes. i'm saying that satisfaction is achieved on a limited scale &, consequently, isn't free flowing. there's no saturation, just blockage or exhaustion.

i still like tom of finland. i detect "libidinal saturation" in his hyperbole: when he dances hard, he's slow dancing. in the sexual economy we're born into & of, exchange within the symbolic produces a free flowing stream of open communication. the history of stonewall moves along this stream. it's one of the last streams to be incorporated into the larger flow of american history but, it seems to me, it's happening. i suspect when it happens some of the less mainstream behaviors will be winnowed out. i think tom of finland is here to stay.


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