Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Cults of Personalities

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For Halloween, 1985, I went dressed as an idiot. Kip, my insufferable roommate, had some how talked us into dressing like 'clones', to make some sort of 'statement' about his disdain over most of the world's fashion choices. He made us all wear white dress shirts and 'curtain' pants. Granted, I did see his point, because in the mid-eighties, some of us took the decade's DIY sensibilities to the extreme. It was fun and cheap, but it was polarizing, which is why you don't see me writing too much about life on Halsted Street back then, the heart of Chicago's gay neighborhood. We would sometimes take a stab at Halsted, but we were often refused entry. Chistopher Street, where Manhole Hydrate is now, Roscoe's and Side Tracks never let us in. Now, I've been refused enrty to many bars and clubs, straight and gay, during the 80's, all over the country, so I'm not trying to single out Chicago's gay bars. We did have many great places to go; places that classified themselves as straight, or 'straight with extras', but the gay bar world was not having it, when it came to us wild children. I guess us gay boys with eyeliner and 12' spiked hair, had too much baggage for those bars to bear.

That Halloween, I decided I needed to at least have great hair and make-up, so I bleached my hair blonde, cut it into a mohawk, dyed a big chunk of that magenta, and went to the perfume store at the Century Mall to buy some new eyeliner. My ex wore Borghese's silver, and looked amazing in it, so I bought a copper one. The elderly woman at the counter was super nice, and let me try it on there, and said I would look great in any make-up. I told her I wasn't trying to look like a woman, and she said I know that, honey.
When the four or five us went out that night, I could see the disappointment in the eyes of the other clubbers, for we were usually such a decked-out bunch, and they had high expectations for us to be pulling some crazy punk-looking costume. Jody and I called it an early night and caught up with Carla and the Barry Avenue gang's much better party, in our yucky outfits.
When we got home, we ran into the dozens of moving boxes that were squeezed into the hallway, because it was dark, and we were drunk, and we forgot they were there. Evan, a chef, had moved in when he ran out of money for his hotel, because he just moved here from the south, to start a restaurant job. Kip had recently met him out one night, so I'm not sure what possessed him to invite him home. Maybe because Evan was gorgeous; he looked just like Stephen Mallinder from Cabaret Voltaire. I don't think he was gay, but conveniently bi. My and Jody's whispered theory was that Kip was so smitten with him, he confessed his trust fund secret to him, and told him he could stay at his place til he got back on his feet, the morning after their tryst. Their only tryst, because Evan told me one day, that although he and Kip slept in the same bed, they only 'did it' once.
We had some fun nights while we lived there, eating the many wonderful meals Evan would prepare for us, and getting stoned and drunk, while we played Love, Hounds of Love, Fables of the Reconstruction, and Cities in Dust over and over, but Evan was in Kip's club, and gave me you sad, retarded asshole looks whenever he passed me in the hallway or ran into me in the kitchen. I could only imagine the crap Kip filled his head with. Evan's and my relationship eventually took a turn better once he found out Kip's deep, secret love for him, and how that must have looked like to Jody and me. After he moved out of Kip's bed and onto the couch, he always had a lot of pot at the ready.
Evan had an equally gorgeous sister, Josie, who I fixed up with Marty, which lasted about two weeks. I was to soon regret fixing them up, because she and I had way too many teary why doesn't Marty love me! conversations at Berlin, and I had way too many I wish Josie didn't love me! conversations with Marty, and somehow, somehow, the whole mess was my fault.

As I wrote earlier, my new salon job started early November, 1985. The salon was on Sheffield near Webster, and I used to love walking down Webster in the daytime, looking at all the beautiful old homes, making up stories about who used to live there a hundred years ago, and what their lives were like. I walked a little quicker around there at night, though, because I was constantly besieged by the nam myoho renge kyo gang. They were nice, and nice looking kids who hung around the area, probably because of the close proximity to DePaul University, but they tricked me into having conversations about the life-changing affects of chanting. Maybe they spied the copy of Don't Fall Off the Mountain I had tucked under my arm, and saw an easy mark:
"Come with us, come chant with us! You seem like someone in need of a direction and power in your life. Can you say it now with us? Nam myoho renge kyo. It'll change your life!" They cooed.
I was scared to death. I was scared to death to be happy and loving and powerful. I was not ready for that. I was miserable and insecure, I felt worthless and ugly, but dammit, those were my problems, and I would figure my own way out of them. I had no idea at the time they were talking about Buddhism; I thought they wanted to brainwash me into white-slavery or something, and I ran from every group of good-looking kids that looked like they were about to talk to me, from then on. I was shocked when I saw Tina Turner's 'enlightenment' scene, in her bio-pic, What's Love Got to Do with It?, repeating that same chant, and I was even more shocked when I found myself meditating almost daily, on the sound of my breath, for the past 13 years or so, and how much better off I am for doing so. But I must admit, back then, whenever I got myself into sticky situations, or when I took too many drugs, I would do that chant. I can't remember if it worked or not...

So one of my new bosses, Consita, had made a really bad first impression with me, and I debated quitting, but couldn't, because I was fascinated by her. She was only a few years older than me, but she was so worldly and self-made, and had the gift of gab. She was fun, and liked to have a good time, and always wore great clothes and hair-dos. Her and my other bosses, her business partners, loved to eat out, and they would take me with them, (after they taught me how to tone down my look a bit) and introduced me to the many different types of food Chicago has to offer. I learned through them there wasn't a cuisine I wouldn't happily devour.
They loved to tell me the tales of their adventures through Europe, and I vowed then and there to go with them one day. I enjoyed working there at first, and they respected my talents, but it didn't dawn on me until years later how much work I did for them for no pay. The conversations we had about my tiny paychecks would usually dissolve into a thinly veiled excuse about of the 'priceless' knowledge I was gaining from 'assisting' them.
"All the good salons do it!" They would say.
I was making just enough money to squeak by, and they had a life I wanted, so I decided to stick it out.

Back at home, things went from bad to worse with Kip for Jody and me, when we decided to drive up to my hometown in Wisconsin for a few days, for Thanksgiving. The night we got back, we couldn't get into the apartment, cause Kip changed all the locks. We didn't give him rent money, so he had a right to be mad, but he at least could've said move the fuck out! I kicked in the backdoor, we got enough clothes for a few days, and checked into a hotel. That night, we begged Scot to come over, so we could tell him our plight, and to beg of him to let us move back into our old apartment. He also had every right to be mad at us, because we skipped out of the lease we had all signed, and left him trapped with Brad and Ray. Ray was a kindred soul we met at Medusa's one night, who we quickly adopted into our little gang. His parents had recently kicked him out of their house after he came out to them, and he and Brad spent the past month bonding over many hits of acid, their crappy families, and endless hours of Hatful of Hollow, while not working and stealing thousands of dollars from Scot's poorly hidden stash, and secretly hating him and laughing at him behind his back.
"Sure, you can move back in!" He said with a smile in his face, knowing what was coming next:
"If you kick Brad and Ray out!"


David said...

This is like a soap opera!

Anonymous said...

Manhole? Hydrate has been there for how many years now??

BC said...

lol. Oh God, how scary is that... See what happens when you get old!