Moving Day. 2/1/2013
Last night was our final night as residents of NYC. We were invited to a book release party. It was held at the home of a very important network television executive for two very important television producers. We’re all about the same age. Within a decade of each other at least. Most of the guest list was too. And most of the guest list spent most of their twenties like I did – going out in NYC.
Annnnd…here we all were again in one room. You can see pictures of everyone here. Linda Simpson – who gave Aqua her first ever mention in a real live New York City party rag. Lady Bunny, too. When Bunny invited me to perform in Wigstock (as a background dancer) I thought I was one step away from superstardom. There were also editors from uber-cool periodicals like Paper Magazine – in which I appeared in one party picture exactly one time. And a lot of other writers, artists, and personalities whom I knew from somewhere, who knew me from someplace. Usually somewhere-someplace long ago.
And there was also Robin Byrd.
If you don’t know Robin Byrd, she’s kinda hard to explain. She’s hosted several cable Public Access shows in NYC since 1977 which feature live strippers, both male and female. She was taken to court several times, but ultimately won the right to show nudity on television because Public Access laws declared that any and all viewpoints were allowed to be aired that fell within community standards.
Robin argued that the community standards of New York City allowed full nudity, phone sex commercials, and other fun dirty stuff. And, well, in my experience, that’s certainly true. So she won her cases and her shows have been airing ever since. In fact, during the 1980’s, the ratings for her half hour stripper shows sometimes equaled Dallas’ in the New York market.
For many gay young men arriving in New York City, including myself, Robin Byrd’s Men for Men show was the first time they saw gay sexuality addressed in a (very) public forum. She also began every show reminding people to wear condoms. In an era where staying alive in NYC meant either wearing condoms or sitting at home masturbating, Robin Byrd had you covered for both options. She should be sainted.
Anyway, at this party on my last night in NYC, Robin “Baby Won’t You Bang My Box” Byrd congratulated Brent and I on our Amazing Race win. I hadn’t pegged her as a fan of CBS Sunday Night Family-Friendly Shows. But she is. And she’s also seen every episode of Fabulous Beekman Boys. Which is only fair because I watched every episode of Men for Men. Many, many times.
Spending my last evening in NYC chatting about goat cheese with Robin Byrd is about absurdly poetic as life can get. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from NYC.
I’m sorry. I digressed. That’s what happens when you’ve ingested a lot of illicit substances. Where was I?
Oh yeah….not in New York.
So, I may take an hour or so to mourn my youth tonight. Just a little. Probably between 2 and 3 am when I always wake up because I’m getting to that age where I don’t sleep well. Tonight is Friday. I’ll listen for coyotes and think about some kid who moved to New York City this very day and is out at a bar having one of the best and/or worst nights of his life.
Mostly what I hope for that kid is that eventually he meets his Brent. Because, as it turns out, even though most of the glittery dreams I had for my New York City self came true in some form…the only true treasure I’m packing up and carting away is Brent.
My road in life has gone from living alone on Avenue A to a gravel driveway built for two.
Tonight I may be an ex-New Yorker.
But tomorrow we’ll be locals.