Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't know why i like this song... getting really into Florence and the Machines.

Story 4, Part 2 (Edited & Reposted)

I am getting to the point where I am working and look like that is what I am doing, but mentally 2,000 miles away. In my mind, beneath the little afro of hair on my head, I am on a far away island watching the tide and getting fed grapes by bronzed cabana men (why settle for boys in fantasies when you can have chiseled men?). While my physical being is there, while my metaphysical self is working through that daydream. Then Gina quickly snaps me out of it… She comes up from her station to yell at me. At this point I am already in a bad mood and want to tell the bitch to relax and that I’ll get there when I get there, but actually say nothing. She points out that she is in dire need of cold pint glasses right away. She then adds in her Gina way, “you need to wake up and start paying attention for god sakes.”

In my head, at that moment I am thinking, “bitch, get your own fucking pint glass and stop being rude.” In my head I am also imagining Julio and Avi arguing over who gets to wash my cloths. The world knows that Israeli men are utterly gorgeous so I always have at least one on hand in my dreams.

Gina likes being the resident belabusta , which is Yiddish for bossy person who thinks they’re in charge, even when they aren’t. That person who always has to be the leader of the group or whatever they take part in, because that’s just how they roll. What I probably am not considering or caring about is that she really is trying to get her job done so she could make both of us money. She is simply calling me out for not focusing on my job, which today is true. But because she gives me honest constructive, criticism, I should for the moment, like my co-workers, write her off as being the bitch I want to be.
I also find out later, that Gina herself she is working, stepping on eggshells because she had just been reprimanded for apparently over pouring a drink a day or two earlier by one second. Our bar’s shot pour standard is 4 seconds then. The cameras apparently caught her and now somebody is out to get her. She probably just wants to keep her job because it does allow her a good standard of living. The over pouring slip/moment in question is of course caught on the surveillance camera of our elusive bar owner who is always watching us.

I rush over to Gina’s station to stock her precious pint glasses. As I reach into the drop down of her station, Nick the MD to be/bartender is performing for some customer, being the show off that he is and bouncing his big ass around. He’s one of those black guys, much like Wayne Brady. He acts stereotypically black only when he needs to, but generally acts like a white guy raised in the burbs. When he works though, he often is not aware of his surroundings. He is usually too busy looking for "hot," Jewish Doctors and Lawyers in the bar. The rest of us have developed a third eye on the back of our heads that help us maneuver our way around the Labyrinth bar.

Nick has no idea about this third-eye business, nor does he care about those around him when he is working. Being the self-elected Jew of the bar (even though he was raised Baptist), he always focuses his attention on the person with the money in their hands that is within his hand’s reach. He is almost at good at guilt trips as my mother. He can guilt anyone to investing in anything he does, from cocktails to a date. The Goy has the skills of an old Jewish woman and the money sense of a Donald Triumph.

As Nick is hitting on some customer and putting a bottle back in it’s place which belong behind him, near his register. He did this without looking. In this course he also accidentally pushes me into the pint glasses I am putting away. This causes a domino effect of problems. This is when the nightmare begins. This action, in turn makes one of the pint glasses shatter into a beautiful glittery rain that looks like an explosion around my hand of glass dismemberment, which drizzles everywhere. Then a huge shard of glass is then push into the skin about three inches above my inner left wrist. I am so in shock that, I almost don’t believe that this happening. As I pull my arm out of the drop down cooler, I could see a piece of my flesh just dangling. I can’t see how deep the cut is, but all I can see is blood. I drop everything and run into the back room. Nick is still chatting with the customer oblivious to what just happened.

On the way to the back room, there are little trails of blood to show where I have been. In a fluster furry, I open the first aid kit that the bar has. Like a cruel joke, it’s of course empty, full of just a pile of napkins and 3 tiny band-aids, and a tampon. I have a double take moment. Being that this is a men’s gay bar, a tampon is highly unusual in our first aid kits. I would more likely expect to find lube or even glitter before a fucking tampon.

I start laughing hysterically, while still unsure as to why I am laughing at a horrible moment like this. I am a person who tends to laugh at the wrong moments. I am the guy who laughs at funerals, any religious ceremony, any of life’s generally awkward moments, when I look at any full-length mirror and during romantic moments in movies when most people cry. I laugh at the sight of bad news, and most people find it revolting.

I pick up the napkins I find to soak up the blood. James walks by and ask if I am okay, while he stares at my arm from a distance. His face look horrified. James ask me if I will be able to work the rest of my shift, and whether I have insurance. I am getting even more upset by this point. I am starting to simmer by this question and the evening’s predicaments. The fact that he has the gaul to ask me such a bazaar question as I have a piece of my own flesh dangling from my arm is ridiculous.
I go from laughing like a crazy person to complete silence, give James an evil stare and tell, “yeah, I’ll work. We can turn this place into a fucking making bloody mary bar tonight.”

As I stare at my mangled arm I begin to feel a subtle sharp, throbbing. It is getting worse with every second that I stare at the blood-infused napkin covering up the glass battle wound.

I am almost in a trance staring at my arm as Gina storms in to the back room, which seem to just be adding to my angst. My heart starts beating faster and there now is a vein on my forehead popping up that I have never seen before. Gina asks me if I am okay. She then picks up the injured arm and looks at the dangling piece of flesh and inspects it. It’s like she instantly turned into the professor from Gilligan’s Island. Maybe she will turn my arm into a radio. Gina then goes to tells James who is freaking out to get us more napkins and to “chill the fuck out.” She looks into my horrified eyes, which are now more upset and worried about loosing my job, than the actual injury. She reads me very quickly even though I try to conceal my emotions from her. She tells me that I will be employed next week and have nothing to worry about. She says that I need to relax, then show me a scar in the same spot on her right wrist. I start to think great, she is trying to fucking bond right now and turn this into an episode of Oprah, get pissed and all of a sudden calm. Apparently she has too cut her self similarly five-years prior. She speaks calmly, petting my shoulder in a way that only a woman could and tells me that I will be fine because I like her am “tough as nails.” I don’t know how true that is, but for the moment she made me feel like a tough lesbian, which is way better than I had felt before this conversation and tougher than any man I know. She hands me $20 dollars and tells me to go take a cab to the hospital for stitches and to call her later and let me know how it all turns out. She makes it seem like it was just another normal day. She has this way about her that makes me calm down. From that moment on, the pain is gone and I have adrenaline that is getting me through this.

I am waiting for four hours alone in the emergency room to get seven stitches. It’s now 5a.m. and I arrived to this mothball smelling hospital ER an 11:30 pm the day before. I find a Vicoden that I guess someone slipped into my pocket before I evacuated the bar. I don’t know who the magical fairy is that left this treat was. I don’t event take a moment to consider where it came from. I of course take it instantly and start to choke in the emergency room. Needless to say, I got to cut the line right away.

The odd thing is that, if it wasn’t for Gina I could see myself freaking out in that cold sterile place that is the ER. Because of her, I don’t feel alone in the waiting room and know that all will prevail. I’m like a little kid, excited to see what kind of scar this adventure will leave me.

Wikio

Story 4, (Edited and reposted again)

Gina Saves



It’s a busy Friday night, I have just gotten in to work. While tired and unmotivated I decide that I will persevere. I am ready for the normal Friday hustle and bustle routine, song and prance that we get accustomed to working at the Labyrinth. This is in between rushes, during the expected Friday night 9-10pm lull. This is the time in between, where the happy hour crowd leaves the bar for a short intermission where they snort their evening hungers away, maybe grab a quick low-carb bite or bowl of "American Fries," then come back out to the bars, drink their way to love and get plastered out of their gords. It's the American way. They get wasted enough to no feel embarrassed dancing like a fool to any Madonna tune as any sensible man normally would. The snorting part is just my assumption based on the fact that at night, many of the weekend customers can often be found grinding their teeth, with runny noses and mothball breath.

The first time I realized how prevalent and stupidly obvious cokeheads often are at the Labyrinth is when I watched the third customer in a row order a drink while he had boogars running down their face and into his numbed, overly lips that undoubtedly were covered in the latest lip-gloss Claire’s offers. When I point out the mess on their face, similar to the way one treats a toddler, the customer smiles, tells me to fuck off and then tells the bartender they are recovering from a cold. Then, a second later, as he is walking away, the bi-polar bitch told me that I am “adorable.” Being that I am adorable as this asshole put it, the compliments is always lackluster from these cokeheads and since its usually said in a sarcastic tone where you cannot tell if they are complimenting or putting you down. Since my self esteem is really low, I always assume the latter of the two because it's more likely. The second that he finally walks away for good, all I could smell is the hospital smell, like that of mothballs. It makes me want a sedative or at least a magical brownie to tide me over and keep me from slicing the overly manicured faces of these lovely patrons around me, not that I would really do that. Being that my job is to clean everything up here, I am not making more of a mess than necessary.

As I come behind the bar James is cleaning his bottles and chatting with Johnny about how he had seen Johnny’s trick of the week out earlier with another guy. It’s moments like this that makes me call the bar Castro high. Then Johnny tells James that his guy is like every San Francisco gay man and in an “open relationship.” Come to think of it, in my infantile experience, this seems to be true. In San Francisco, for some reason most long term gay man relationships I am coming to find are actually open ones. Being a young, inexperienced gay who is still optimistic and still clinging to the idea that love exists, this concept makes no sense to me (This was in a world that was different, before we knew that Ricky Martin was in fact a marry too). These couples would be committed to each other, but also openly have some thing going on side. Why this is acceptable, I will never truly grasp.

As I walk past the rambling bar gossip, I go back to my Friday routine. I stock pint glasses at every station. Even though I try to be working away in my own cocoon, I can’t help but notice that everyone around me is gossiping. If it isn’t about their boyfriends of the moment, it’s tricks and various lovers. It is kind of making me sick just listening to it and less engaged in being there. All I can think about is how I want to somehow end up at a better job than this.

(to be continued)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ryder Strong



Like many young kids, I went through a phase where I would compulsively lie about everything. At 6, when my mother asked me who drew the large mural in permanent maker and scratch and sniff markers on the door I told her what happened. I explained that it was my best friend at the time and that I let him do it because I could see that it was his only way of making up for his dead-beat father not being in his life. I told her that it would be horrible for me to stifle his creativity. The truth was, I drew it myself while that friend had passed out after a sugar rush on top of a pile of toys in my room with a push pop melted all over his face.

I wasn't lying exactly all the time. I would just stretch the truth so much that I wasn't sure when I was doing it. I often would create elaborate stories when the truth was too dull or boring. As a budding 11-teen year old, friends would always ask me who I had a crush on. Instead of picking one of the girls in my class or someone who was actually obtainable, I would quickly tell people about my love for Alyssa Milano. While most 6th grade boys would go straight for talking about a chick's jugs or other assets, I found their descriptions boring. I would tell other boys about how Alyssa Milano's portrayal of Sam on "Who's the Boss," was believable always made me want to be good friends with Jonathon and eventually work at Angela Bower's Ad Agency and eventually leave to start my own firm and marry Sam. Eventually I needed to add more lucky ladies to my list, so Tiffany Amber Thiessen was added to the list and then Tapanga from "Boy Meets World."

At camps and sleepovers there was always that point. The time when fart jokes, shadow puppets and dirty jokes learned from other boy's fathers would make it into the picture. This was also the time when we would touch on the topic of who liked who. I would only talk about my "crushes" when I absolutely had to because I wasn't too. I would oddly get sweaty and nervous whenever the topic would turn to me and some douche would ask who Yuri liked. I felt for some reason like I was getting interrogated and wasn't sure why. Years later I would realize the truth of the fact that I always have been a big 'mo. The truth of the issue was that while Alyssa Milano was gorgeous and magically went from some tits to a full rack after playing Sam, I imagined her more as a sister and actually wanted to pay doctor with Jonathon. The only reason I loved Tiffany Amber Thiessen was because she went for years playing Zack's girlfriend on TV and in the back of my head imagined Zack leaving her for me. Then when it came to Tapanga, I really had no interest in her at all. I would for years have a secret obsession with Ryder Strong that I would document in the years of Tiger Beat Magazines I hid under my bead, next to the YM with JTT on it. The reason I liked Ryder Strong wasn't even him really. It was his hair. I always wanted things I couldn't have. I spent most of my teens trying to grow my hair to his length so I too could have that mid-90s hair behind the ears hair cut that would eventually prove impossible for my jew-fro of a head.

I'm not sure where this rant is going, or why I am talking about my crushes as a child. I did though, just realize that the only reason my hair is in it's current, long, frizz ball of a head that it is, it because of this stupid Ryder Strong obsession that will never happen with my jew head.

My set from about a week ago!

More about what it's like to be a comedian.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Story 3, reposted and edited again :)

There are so many different kinds of people employed there. It’s an eclectic, cutthroat group that works there to say the least. Everyone is in their own realm when they are compared to greater society. There is something in this place that makes us all similar and therefore creates a cohesive staff besides the fact that most of us are fudge-packing, Nancy boy queers and dyke.

I hate the word queer almost as much as I hate the word “partner.” When gay people use it, it makes me just want to punch them and say, "Hey, he's your fucking husband! That word makes us look even more like outcasts of greater society than we have to be." I hate almost as much when straight people use it. This is not their fault though. They are making an effort to treat us the way they are told we want to be treated, even though the term just alienates gay people more. "Partner" makes gay people sound like they are talking about a business venture. If you are gold-digger and marry a person old enough to remember when the Louisiana Purchase was in escrow then, you should call your “lover,” “partner,” or "investor" in Anna Nicole's case (may she rest in peace stuffing her face with fried chicken). To sleep with an old sack of skin for some of their fortune seems to be a fair deal when it comes to this kind of partnership. If you are a well-to-do hippy, who now shops at the Mac store and Whole Foods, get over the PC crap, because lets be honest, you already sold-out the second you paid your taxes and invested in that family-van.

Back to the story, here, we all have become each other’s chosen/adoptive family. We watch each other’s backs when customers would gang up on us or even more so, when it is the owner of the bar. He is the be all and end all. He simply runs a tight ship and keeps that bar packed while keeping everyone within a camera monitor, big brother sort of a hand’s reach. All the alcohol pours are watch, record, counted and then scrutinized from his office at the bar. The cameras are even connected to his home computer. Keeping this in mind, we know that even when no one is watching, he could be watching us from home maybe right after an episode of “Golden Girls,” while smoking a doubie and maybe eating a pack of flaming-hot cheetos? We are observed like pandas at a zoo. We deal with the cage because we know there isn’t another bar in San Francisco where we would make the kind of money we are making there at that maze of a bar. Gay bars are much like zoos anyways. People dance horribly, like idiots on a dance floor to the latest Kylie or Madonna single and look for every reason to take their crop tops off in hopes that Mr. Right Now is watching. It’s very animalistic.

When it comes to each other, I have also noticed another approach my coworkers seem to have. We are all “friends.” We all keep our friends closer and then their enemies even closer. It’s hard for me to tell which of us playing this game and who is truly genuine. If they like you, they seem to actually help you from getting out of trouble with other co-workers, our boss and patrons. If they hate you, it’s like working with the little girl from “the Bad Seed.” For those who haven’t seen the film, it’s about a little girl who is a murderer, but no one suspects it because she plays this whole innocent act that people eat up like lifetime movies. We all keep a game face going while working. On the turn of a dime we can go from friend to killer. Most of the others have no problem stepping on a “friend’s” toes to save their ass or make a few more dollars. I guess time will tell who is a friend and who is a foe.

This is how I’m told it works here. People here either work at this place for a hot second, a week, maybe three, and others are there for years. While the barbacks and doormen employed here keep a revolving door open for new drifters, the bartenders seem solid. Bartenders would get fired for various reasons. Sometimes the reasons can be obvious and understandable like “over pouring” and giving away free booze. Other times the reasons are more vague is less reasonable and more superficial. There is though always a “valid” reason even if it is completely fabricated by the owner of the bar.

For the owner, sometimes it looks as though we are just pawns, and maybe more like shoes. One could always have extra pairs of shoes in their closet, and then use them to walk from point A to point B. Then, when you purchase a new pair of sneakers, you start to wear them at all the times you used to wear your old sneakers. Then those old sneakers make their way to the shadows of the closet and eventually you may decide to get rid of them. This is all because they are worn down and or maybe just less shiny than the new ones. One day you could be his pet and the next, he could and simply make up reasons to get rid of the old and move the new into their spots. For all of us, keeping our jobs seems to be a calculated guessing game of watching each other’s backs mixed with a shit-load of luck.

The group of people who work there, are more interesting than words can tell. It’s because there, they all see the value in who they are to the bar. They know where they stand in the larger gay community. This is even if the rest of the world didn’t give a rat’s ass. While there, these individuals all seem to think of themselves as hot shit, most of them are recovering nerds and misfits. Most of us here are recovering kids that were teased in high school for being fagots and not being what hero-normative society tells us we are supposed to be and support. Here our uniqueness is applauded and precisely what people like about us. The shoe I hope is on the other foot. We now get to see what it’s like as the big kids on campus, it is just a different terrain.
Gina has been there for 2 years at that time. She is the resident, self-proclaim bitch and Queen bee. She is what I would call a career bartender, one of those who knows their job, does it well and doesn’t apologize for rocking. Being the only woman there, she demands respect from all of us and will not settle for anything less. Gina is about 25 years old. I guess the bitch attitude concept is her replacement for her lack of balls, literally speaking. She seems like the type of girl that probably at one point had and may still have those stupid hanging nuts dangling off of the rear bumper of her truck. If she didn't, she has guy friends who do for sure. She is a recovering party girl who went to San Diego State a few years prior. She is an ex-sorority, Capa-Delta-something. She was apparently the only lesbian there, so she said. Gina has a masculine haircut accompanied by curves that only could be described as feminine and gentile. Her frame and tits perkier than a bottle of adder often overshadow her rigid-masculine persona. I guess it is because she has to compete in a bar made for gay men, in a staff of men. The thing that many people misunderstand about her is the fact that they consider her a bitch and often write off the rest of her as being anything but. In truth, she is the most straightforward of the whole bunch. If she had problem with you, she would tell you. If she likes you, she will tell you, if not in words, actions. If you get in her way, she will make sure you get a good swift kick or step on a toe. The odd thing is that she actually does guide people whom she likes. Help them do better at their job. She always offers unsolicited criticism to those she loves and even worse critiques to those she hates to working with. When she walks through a crowd she demand attention and the same is true when she is behind the bar. Gina often offers management that doesn’t necessarily require her intervention. She is our know it all. What people seem to rarely understand is that is her way to help? She truly is the foster mother of the bunch, in a semi-butch sort of way. It is like she is the big sister I never knew I needed.

There is also James. He is a newly appointed bartender. He has been here for about a year and a half as a barback and has just recently been appointed to the ranks of bartender. He at is also roommates with Johnny, the “all American” guy from dinner. It is rumor that the two had dated at some point but I am not one to subscribe to rumor rubbish. James always talks about how he is at the bar just to pay off a few debts and then go back to traveling the world. It’s ironic since he has already been working here for a while. “It is just the mobile to get from point A to point B,” so he says. He is about 23, skinny, blonde, average height,. He seems to be of the type made for the Labyrinth. Everything about him screams it. He always jumps and waves his hands when his “jam” cams on, which is usually Mariah Carey or Kylie. He LOVES those bitches in a way that I simply can’t grasp. James does to not look like what I have imagined a bartender to look. At the end of shifts with him, he often offers to drive me home. I will admit that I do love these moments, although I would never say this out loud. We often roll up to McDonald’s late at night, get milkshakes, fries and soak our sorrows by listening to guilty pleasures of cheesy pop and talking about cute boys we meet or don’t meet throughout the week. We both pinky-swore and promise to never tell anyone about Mc Donald’s because it’s really a gross place and we don’t want anyone knowing that we ate from there. In San Francisco, going to McDonalds is like driving a Hummer there, it’s just asking for someone to slash your tires or throw red paint on it.

There is Michael. He is tall, skinny, with dark hair and light features that made him look somewhat exotic. He is a loudmouth who always assumes he is right. We are very similar in the fact that we are both pig-headed. Like me, Michael is the cynic, but in a different style. I consider myself more masculine, than Michael is, although he finds a way to bring out that part of me. He is a complimentary mixture of masculine, male hormones, with slightly feminine undertones, yet he himself is a package is more masculine than not. I love him for the fact that he is so comfortable with himself. I admire it and aspire to get there some day. He is like the jester of the bar. If he has something to say he doesn’t hold back and just says it. He is not one to hold back or sensor himself at any time in any way. No bullshitting, no blowing smoke up people’s ass. He is also the first guy I have ever met in a committed gay relationship. They have been together for 3 years. That span of time together is equivalent to a lifetime in gay years. Having been tied-down for so long, he always tries to live vicariously through me by pushing guys he thinks are cute on me even though our tastes differ vastly. We also have become friends over the love of our friend, Mary. She is would bring us up when we are down and down when we are up from the adrenaline of a long work shift going to the ladder parts of morning light.

There is also Aaron who is probably barely 30 years old by that point. He is the most exocentric person I had ever met. He is really tall and always commands that everyone notice his presence in a room. His outfits, jeans to the tiniest details where all custom made. His fashion sense is a mix of punk, high fashion and drag queen glamour. His hair would change color, shape and style more often than an infomercial. While he probably became a life bartender, I don’t think that this has been his goal. But, who end up doing the job or career they plan? He lives like a rock star. He parties with them and when he goes out he is treated like one. Going out with Aaron is like going out with rock royalty with a gay twist everywhere we went. I love working with him, I lately have started to call him “Gentle” due to the fact that he is the only other Jew other than myself who works there and has a love of Barbara Streisand. The only other person I know who loves her more than him is my mother. My mother will gladly sell her left arm to meet that woman. Aaron always fascinates me by hitting on every fuzzy little bear man who crosses his path. He always talks about how he loves their “chubby, mushy, furry, little, average bodies.” The first time I heard him say this, I didn’t know how to react to that comment. Now I just laugh.

Aaron is known for many, many things. The tag line, for which I will always remember him is the first sentence I hear him say during my first shift with him. “The human body is so resilient, I have been up for 3 days.” Aaron truly lives like a rock star. He is also a self proclaim – J.A.P. With taste more expensive and gaudy than any Jewish American Princess I ever did meet.
It is interesting how there are so many different types of people who work at that bar. Everyone works there for very different reasons. For some, it is a lifestyle, a career, a means to an end, a way to pay for their habits, a social mechanism, and for others a summertime job. It is like when I studied abroad. I’m living in Florence, Italy for a semester. I’m 18-years old. I am always fascinated when walking through the various outdoor markets of Italia and by all the random people I meet who work there. Many Americans live there, all there for very different reasons. Some come through on vacation and simply never leave. Others start off at a local university studying abroad and essentially defect there. There are some who stay for love, while others are running from the mob, or something back home.

Whatever the reason is, like Florence, the Labyrinth is a place many people run to in order to escape stuff in their lives for whatever reason, it kind of consumes people. You would start there, with one goal, end with another. Eventually you are just there and unsure why because your initial reason for being there is now irrelevant. The question all of us working here wonder is, why am I here?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Story 2 (Edited and Reposed again)

I interviewed there about a week earlier with the owner of the bar. He was an interesting fellow to say the least. Unlike most interviews I had been on before, at this one, I was provided with more questions than answers. The guy came off as a man of few words. I couldn't tell if it was that he himself was just a quiet fellow who kept things in because he was passive aggressive or if he was being quiet because he has judging me in his head. Judging, in the way the blue-haird church lady would act when I sat across from them on the bus, holding hands with my "boyfriend" of the minute, grumbling and squeezing the crusafix on her neck as she would be staring us down.

The bar owner, talked with grumbles and eye contact only when absolutely necessary, which made me think I had a boog sticking out or even worse had missed a chunk of hair on my face as I had often done in the past which made me look, off to put if nicely. He didn't once look into my eyes during this meeting. It seemed that he was looking right past me to something in the distance. I assumed that this was because my curly hair reminded him of Medusa and he had possibly never seen a jewfro outside of it's natural habitat, Lohman's. He would of course glance down at his drink from time to time and swirl the sliver of a twist and grumble. I wasn't sure if this was good or a bad sign. His elusiveness just made me more interested in working there. At the interview my questions consist of the following: “have you been here before?” followed by “what is your availability?” I of course lied, flashed my Kathy Lee Gifford/clone smile I had learned while working at Starbucks a few years earlier, and told him that it was my absolute favorite bar in the city. In reality, this was a bar that I still had never been inside of until a month ago. All I knew was that I needed to make some cash to cover living in this expensive shoe box of a city that I have chosen to live in. After the questions, he just grumbled, looked at me, and pretended to read my resume, me, the bartender behind me out of the corner of his right eye, then his watch, grumbled smiled and walked away. Apparently, at this moment I was supposed to know the interview was over. I left thinking that I had somehow bombed this time and went to the competing bar around the corner where I proceeded to drink my dinner in an effort to save money and calories until I felt better about the situation. I was on a budget after all.

He calls me about a week later asking if I could come in at 6pm. I got someone at the café, where I currently work to cover my closing shift so that I could check out the place. He says that I will be at the bar that day, for what he calls a “trial basis.” I am new to queer life at this point in my life. I have only one fag hag of my own, one-year “out of the closet” behind me, and one failed gay relationship turned hazardous roommate-friendship, 4 months behind me to call my own. Being the newbie, I figure that it’s my time to branch out, meet people, learn more about my community and maybe meet a man ready for a relationship. List is all assuming that I know what I am talking about, cause I really have no idea. Living in San Francisco, I presume that the Castro will be the best place to start this journey.

As for the decor of this place, the Labyrinth, it’s a site for eyes. It looks like an 80s video vomited gay all over the inside of the bar. It's the the club version of a gay Regal-Begal. The walls are stainless steel and black. The bar itself has this aroma that I can only describe as euro-man, doused in cheap colognes. It reminds me of the smells one encounters on European buses, where the invention of deodorant is rarely utilized. There is this hint of: man-musk, alcohol, all blended with the Old Spice and cheap after-shaves all mixed into the air here. Video screens are on everywhere, with little neon lights strewn about the metal walls. This place is made up of several rooms with TV screens conveniently located at every direction the eye looks. All these lights light up to the beat of the pop music videos, playing on the screens. From Cher, to Kiley and of course then Madonna, the music blasts with beats and videos. I have never seen so many men in one place and who are admittedly listening to such shit music. I prefer emo-crap myself, but will bend the rules if I must for this place. Looking around, it really is an odd mix. The whole package of this place is kind of intriguing, liberating and embarrassing, all in one.

It’s a Friday afternoon on a brisk summer’s day, and of my second San Francisco summer. For those unfamiliar with SF should know that summer here is like fall in the rest of the world. Our summer is like a San Diego winter. It is often slightly overcast with temps between 50 and 60, where I like it, but we digress. I am a struggling college student trying to pay rent while getting though the grudge that is college. It’s still daylight outside yet, once you step inside the bar it’s like Vegas. This element for some reason reminds me of my grandmother and gambling. The woman is a lovable mess who loves dark glitzy places like this and Vegas. She would love the place, a room of men to compliment her on how she looks so young in her glittery vest and tightly pulled back face under the bright lights of this place. Add a nickle-slot or keno machine for her to play while she day dreams imagining herself to be a Gabore (she sounds just like Zha Zha). Maybe a buffet that she could steal food from and she would be set.

There is no concept of time inside there. There are no clocks. The only time markers there are flow of the crowd, marked by happy hour and shot specials posted with construction paper, all over the bar, in ill-matching font. While I’m walking into the bar daylight still peaks slightly through the bar’s window blinds. The bar is sparsely populated with customers. I go up to the first bartender I see within five steps of entering this place. I then, ask him where to go if it’s my first day. I kind of expect be greeted with a welcome-mat of a smile. Or a training manual like the ones I received when starting at most of my other odd jobs. Instead the guy just shrugs. He seems unimpressed with me, he smiles at me the way someone smiles at a small child that burped and says, “Stud, go down the hall and knock on the door, one of the boys will show you around.”

“Stud?” Surprised by that label, I wonder am I really seemed like a stud? Until this moment, I have never been called anything like that. A word turns me into a signalized person. I am a lot of things, sexy or a stud is not one of them. I am 21, and the guy that people love as a friend. I'm like the Kimmy Gibbler of people, without being that annoying. I am no one special. I don’t wear the average gay-shirt that's 1-3 sizes too small, complimented with extra tight jeans that make my ass fat leak over the waist. My jeans are loose, comfortable and I definitely do not look like a model. I am still wide-eyed, shy, timid and mousy. Many of the guys here have his glow about them. I don’t think I have that same presence. I will have to assimilate though. To look like I belong here, I will probably have stop wearing the black-rimmed glasses, which up until now were my signature that help me blend into into the wall the way I like it.

I then push the long afro of curls off of my forehead and march slowly to that back door. I am oddly nervous and have a slight bit of perspiration on my forehead. As I walk to that back door I encounter many interesting people. Being new to the gay game, this seems like an interesting place to hangout, although I personally couldn’t see myself here very often as a patron. Walking though this place is the closest that I have ever been to walking though a circus. There is one big man, who is somewhere between 35 and 60 is off to my side and he instantly catches my eye. This man had somehow has lasered off and numbed every sign of his age. He has an over-muscled body stuffed into a tiny extra-small Abercrombie shirt that looks like it is repelled by him as well, where he allows his liver-spotted, tanned, muscled arms to ooze out and connect to hold hands with this little tiny pocket gay sitting right next to him. The old man also is over compensating with brown hair, which clearly has white roots; it’s just too much for the eyes to handle. Abercrombie’s boyfriend or toy of the moment is this little bleached-blond boy that has the body of a skinny, starving, young girl, with huge platypuses feet. This boy looks like a Kate Moss, during the Calvin Clean days, but maybe about 10 pounds lighter.

The view of the bar from here makes me dizzy and wonder what kind of circus I am getting into. As I pass them, a random hairy Persian looking man pats my ass like that is normal status-quo. I am so caught off guard by this that I am silent and even more wide-eyed as I begin walking faster to that back door. The odd thing is that this man, resembles my Russian uncle being round, jolly and hairy, with just slightly darker skin. His body I imagine is made of large meatballs, black hair, and dough, at least that is the thought that came to mind. Trying to keep my cool, I scurry to that backroom with a bit of a sprint.

Once in the Labyrinth backroom, I find a small room filled with a time clock, beer boxes, people’s backpacks, beer kegs and bartenders frantically counting their piles of money. I have never seen so many crumpled one-dollar bills and quarters in my life. The only woman in room comes up, looks past me as though I isn’t there, and then pushes past as she sends a quick text message. She is what I label as soft butch. She has many feminine assets, yet they where somehow complimented with some masculine qualities that I had never seen on a woman until then. She then comes back, “sorry, I needed reception, Gina here… what’s your name? You’re first day? Cute, you don’t know what you are getting into…Just hussle, don’t get in my way and you’ll be fine.” She smiles and sits back in her money counting seat and doesn’t glance up again. It’s as though she never met me.
Everyone else just glances up from counting their money, piles of $1 bills and one at a time does a generic head bob, followed by a “hey man” or “hey babe.” Then a little Asian man popps up out of the shadows of this ominous back room, which by the way is filled with boxes upon boxes of beers. It’s a frat boy’s fantasy come true. The little Asian fellow talking to me has a dingy dishtowels hanging out of all his pockets, like the people at the car wash or that demand to clean your car when driving out of Tijuanna. He then says to me with a heavy Chinese accent, “Hi! I am Ricky. Yuuu… How you say name?” As I began to answer him, I wonder what his real name is. As I open my mouth he continues: “You are barback, pick up glass all over bar, be fast, carry many glasses, don’t have be nice, get done, keep floors clean and be fast for happy hour.” He hands me one of the dirty towels from his back pocket and a key as he shews me on to the bar floor.

My job is to walk through the crowds of drag queens, twinks, muscle daddies, manly women, lipstick chicks and more. I take their dirty cocktail glasses to wash. I stack them like legos and carry them to wash… It sounds like a job a monkey could do, but hopefully I’m better then a monkey. Within what seems like a matter of minutes, the bar is packed, wall-to-wall. I am busing all the tables, urinal rooms, bar tables, while looking over the general security of the bar. This will later mean kicking people out for being too drunk, rowdy or not paying. Some may find this job demeaning, I find it challenging and a great place to study all the millions of types of people who come to this place. After a few minutes, I have made several figure 8 circles around the bar and had an armful of pint glasses with old napkins in them. As I step to set the glasses with the other dirty glasses near the bar/dishwasher, a little shit man, short enough to be made by Matel, pinches my ass. This in turn makes me loose my balance with all the glasses in my hand flying into the air and then like suicide bombers diving to their impetuous death. Of course a scene is made. Everyone is watching as I dropped to my knees where I gathered the glass with a towel. They all just stare in aw as though they have never seen broken glass or someone clean it’s broken shards up. Then a few random people try to help, making it even more difficult trying to hand me a few shards of glass that they pick up with their drunken I feel like Cinderella, hands and knees on the floor to clean up other people’s messes. It is at this point and future moments like these that I am reminded exactly of what my roles is here, I am simply help.

After 3 hours of work, I am drenched in sweat, noticeably sweatier than everyone else working. I feel like one of those obese people you see on Maury that sweats from taking one step. Maybe it’s because the are used to it or out of shape? Jon seems to be just working away like the freakin’ energizer bunny, untainted, without a bead of sweat on him. It felt like I had been there for three times longer than the three hours I is assigned to work. One of the bartenders taps me on the shoulder, then wipes the sweat off of his hand on his jeans. He lets me know that I am done with my shift. This whole shift went so whirl-wind-fast that I am shocked to be finished and so tired and drenched in sweat from a mere 3-hour shift. As I follow him to the back he hands me my tip money for the shift and invites me to dinner “with the boys.” I have never made that much money within a simple 3 hours. I made $80 dollars in tips from just rushing around and stocking glasses. Feeling like celebrating I agree to dinner.

Having lived on campus until months earlier I apparently don’t seem to have the concept of going to big nice dinners in my head. To go home to my apartment with a crazy roommate who is now becoming a crystal mess is something I am at this time trying to avoid anyways, so I agree to go to this dinner. I assume that we are going to a near by taco shop with these new coworkers, who would later become the closest I would ever know to brothers. Instead, the boys take me to a real dinner with steak, calamari, and of course cocktails. I am quickly educated on the fact that after Friday happy hour they always pick a restaurant with booze.

There are 4 boys keeping me company at dinner, there is Johnny, a tall, boy next door kinda guy, tall, in his early 30s with muscles and a smile that contains a mixed of sex and apple pie. Next to him sits Paulo, he hails from South America, a beefy, built-mid-twenties type. When I say built, I mean, he looks like the gay stereotype with tight muscles, tanned body, light hair, perfect smile, teeth and a Latin accent complimented by a subtle lisp. There is also Anderson who is an average height. He is what I would consider a silver fox type. He has a slender build with blonde/grey-hair, he is the most down to earth out of the group, with a chic sense of style. He begins to educate me now on how one needed to always specify alcohol in their drinks to handle it right. His drink of choice seems to be cosmos with the best flavored-vodka possible. There is also Nick, a big handsome black man with a Montel Williams head, complimented by an ass the size of my head. It is a solid kind of posterior which resembled that of Michelangelo’s David with more muscle. He tells me about how he is near the end of Medical school and currently working on his residency.

By the end of the dinner I learn so much about everyone through the table’s gossip as I am the fly on the wall. I now know things that I wouldn’t normally car about like that Johnny is dating someone else’s boyfriend or ex who gave them a STD or a complex, I can’t follow this crap too closely cause there are so many conversations going on here. Anderson keeps on asking me the classic questions, where I came from, where I am going, followed by a cosmo suggestion every few minutes. Nick just nods, smiles, then too asks about school, where I am going, then ventures into a story about one of his patients or a guy he has been seeing. Paulo meanwhile, keeps on separating the carbs in his meal from the protein when he thinks no one is looking. By the end of the meal his place had meat pieces and bones on one side of the plate with a pile or rice and bread on the other all separated by a red sauce, creating a seascape of the red sea. Paulo kept on asking “honey, no boyfriend?” Then he would venture off into conversations about himself and his boyfriend who’s name kept changing every few minutes. Come to think of it, maybe it is different guys he is talking about and I can’t keep up.

The bill finally came after I had dined on a meal of salad, cosmos and gay drama. For me, it is better than a Novella, with prettier men and more intense storylines. I is trying to be thrifty, since this place is so expensive. Then Anderson tells me it will be $60 each. My eyes tear up. That is nearly all of tonight’s money. All that I could think of is about how much I am paying for just a fucking salad. Paulo sees the look of discontent in my eyes and suggests that I only pay $25 since I am not eating or drinking as much as the “big boys.” This is when I first realized that I am in a new game, new turf and I would have to play by new rules.

After a month of the Labyrinth, I am making an average of $6-900 a week and working around 25 hours and maintaining a full-time college student status. To me, then, this is equivalent to winning the lottery. I have quit the lame café that I had to work four times as much to make the same money. I am making enough to live in the expensive city and enjoy it. This is the beginning of when I learn what it meant to really have good taste and play with the big boys. The Castro makeover begins.

You Go Tina Fey!

After revealing PBS' censorship move and talking about how bad that idea was, maybe it would be good for you to come out of the closet Mr. Cooper?

Seth Rogen & Jonah Hill

Are they not the same person? Just sayin.'



Monday, November 15, 2010

Moshe Kasher Comes to Punchline!

One of my favorite comedians if coming back to the Bay area for 2 shows at the Punchline San Francisco, tomorrow and Wednesday. I have seen him perform many times. I suggest that anyone in SF who is looking to laugh and is free one of those nights, to go see him. I have a show Weds and probably will try to go after to check it out if I can.



Oh yeah and you can call the boxoffice 1415397PLSF, for a two for one entry with code GITLER.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

ANother NOH8 video, but this time with Cindy McCain!



I love that Cindy McCain blames teen suicides on bullying, Don't Ask Don't Tell and the government... While she is right, is she talking about her husband? She has sat quietly at rallies I am sure with many of the political officials that have worked to enforce DADT and other homophobic laws. Now she has wised up? What changed?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

MoVember!

While I do think most mustaches look disgusting, this video is funny. I also features one of my fave comedians is in this video, Arden Myrin. Check it out!

I Love the Maria Bamford Show!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Babbling. . . Dear Lilo.

I love how delusional Dina Lohan is. I hate talking about celebrities like this, but the Lohan family is like a gift from god to comedians. Before, Dina was interviewed and couldn't admit that her daughter has a problem. She also couldn't get the amount of times she has been in rehab. Now that he daughter has actually gone to jail and rehab recently, it has come to her attention that she may have a problem.
Dina recently said that Lindsey is working hard on the road to recovery and wants to start a rehab chain to help people all over the world. Really Dina? Lindsey Lohan starting a rehab is like Jenna Jameson starting her own church, it would be odd. I for one, can't wait to try the cocaine infused Mimosas's at the rehab center. Leave it to Lohan to make even rehab cool. Scoot over Drew Berrymore, Lilo is putting rehab back on the map. Soon going to rehab will be as in as those ugly scenester mustaches so many straight guy's think look so good, even though they actually look like that Falklor from "the Never Ending Story" died on their face. Maybe these rehab will be like those oxygen bars we all heard so much about but never went to because many of them closed before they opened. I can't wait to see the infomercials with Lilo and other famous messes talking about rehab the way Cher talked about those crappy hair products. Call me crazy, I do not have a drug problem that I know of, but will be happy to get on that band wagon. I hope they name the rehab clinic after Ali Lohan because that poor girl needs some publicity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

A bit about me.


Not too long ago I was lucky enough to perform at the Comedy Store. This was the first time I performed in LA and the first time my father would see me do standup. Most comics, I assume would afraid of how their parents would handle their material because presumably it is within the nature of a good comic to push the envelope as much as possible. For me, this was more of a secondary issue really. I have never been one for censoring myself around anyone, especially my parents. I would rather put all the cards on the table so to speak. My worry was more in the fact that my dad has always had a way of embarrassing me. This is why, before the show I asked him to behave. I asked in the same way that a mother would ask a five-year old child to be on their best behavior. While my dad is a man in his 50s and one would assume that he would be filled with wisdom and life experience, he recently was spotted wearing MC Hammer pants. For this reason, his judgment must be questioned at all times.

My father has always been a peculiar man. As a young child, I often hoped that like the kids in many late 80s after school specials, I hoped that I would eventually find out that I was adopted. I at the least hoped that my mother had a secret affair with some celebrity but was given hush money as to not ruin their career. Ideally, I for some reason hoped that my father was someone cool like Bob Saget, or JR Ewing's hot son, I loved Dallas as a child (proof that no one chooses to be gay). Unfortunately, I never saw signs of money anywhere in our house. My favorite toy as a small child was a cardboard box that I used to pretend was a space ship to take me to the planet Evie from "Out of this World" was from. I would quietly pass my mother little drawings at the dinner table asking for a paternity test. Unfortunately, she would always just smile and pretend she understood even though she clearly didn't understand my 6-year old doodle-cartoon of us on Sally Jesse Raphael finding out the truth. She would just tell me that the ghost buster looked very nice as she would plop some more food on my plate. I would shake my head quietly and gobble down the rest of my hot dogs, ketchup and mashed potatoes, because my family is Russian and my mother was a horrible cook and call it a day. As I got older I realized that I kind of looked like my father in question even though I had a full head of hair. I eventually developed a love-hate soft spot for him.

A little background, my father, like most Russian men and Wayne Brady, has always thought he was black. He has always seen himself as a body builder/boxer. Like any Russian, he always saw himself as a health-fitness-enthusiet. In this fashion, he would start every workout with a pack of Benson Ultra-Lights, which he would finish off with a whey shake and some stuffed cabbage. Since the mid-80s he has worked out at a boxing gym in the middle of Compton, because, that apparently was the calling for a 5'7 and 3/4 inch tall Jewish man. He was the only white, Jew in the middle of the LA riots for no apparent reason. He claimed it was because he needed cigarettes. When I was 7, he biked marks on his shaved head to look like his idol Mike Tyson and when I was in 6th grade he bought the sound track to "Gangsta's Paradise" because he claimed that Coolio was the "shizot." In the modern day, if he still had hair, he would have a flat-top circa 1988. Does that paint a picture of the man who has claimed to be my father all these years?

In 2010 he was the only man still quoting Coolio and leaving me messages, "Yuri, call me, Gotta get up get down."

Even Coolio stopped quoting himself by the year 2010.

Growing up with a Russian/Wigger father has proved interesting. As a child, when I would come home upset because kids would make fun of me and my head was too large for my body my dad would try to make me feel better by consoling me. He would try to use American expressions, but then mix them up. He would take this one step further though and then gangsta' it up.

As I would be crying he would say (with a Russian accent) , "Yuri... hand me my Benson Ultra- Lights.... They aren't laughing with you, they are laughing at you."

I would be confused at this point and crying harder as I would start to drowned my sorrows in a large bowl of ice cream. This is because food is love and whoever said otherwise wasn't raised by Jews.

My dad would then ad this statement. "And don't worry you young blood, we can have them rubbed out." He also thought he was in the mafia.

So, at my recent show, as my dad sat down in his DMC shirt, and "In Living Color" white pants with neon squiggles on them he seemed calm and behaved. The host of the show was a funny, racist black comedian that was mediocrely funny. Three minutes into this guy's set, my dad started to whisper, "this guy is no Eddie Murphy." The thing was, that everyone could hear him including the comedian. And really? Eddie Murphy? What the hell did that mean? Was he saying that the comedian had lost his funny, now sold out and doing crappy movies? My dad did this every 5 minutes for the next hour until I got to the stage.

When I was performing he remained behaved. I was amazed and proud. As I closed my set, the host came up and shook my hand, then my dad got up. He was the only person standing.

He then yelled, "my brotha stand there and let me take a photo of you too."

The audience was confused and after giggling were silent. Now that they maintained a deathly silence of confusion and my dad stapped the photo, my father did it, he started to howl like a dog with his arms in the air. He for some reason thought he was on Arsinio Hall. As I walked off the stage I came up to him and gave him a hug to get him quiet. People clapped because they were confused by the whole situation as was I.

My dad then leaned into my ear and whispered, "I'm very proud of you. But the guy on stage is no Sinbad." It was odd.
 

No Deposit Casino