CHICAGO: REFELCTIONS ON LIFE, DEATH, SEX, AND LOVE

Discerning Daddy

When I was 15 I fell madly in love with a boy named Eric. His father lived in the Dakota, Eric’s bedroom windows looking out over Central Park West, and Strawberry Fields. I would spend weekends at Eric’s place. We would lie in bed jerking off, kissing and fucking. During the day, when Eric would lock himself in his bedroom and paint, I would go across the street to the park, and cruise the Rambles.

I would spend hours wandering those trails, trying to see how many guys I could get to touch me, to let me fuck them, how many different guys I could make cum by sucking them off.

And then I would return to Eric. We would get high on opium laced joints and he would tell me about what he had created: Eric believed his work was inspired by beings who lived in other dimensions. Eric believed that there were worlds within worlds, and if we closed our eyes we could see past the thin veil of our existence: we could see into the endless expanse.

Eric would wake me up late at night. He would be crying. He would tell me that he had to get out. He had to get away. I knew he was falling under the spell of whatever madness ate at him. And maybe a part of me understood it: understood the burning in his brain, the voices.

We would go for long walks, down Central Park West to 59th, meeting Broadway, through Times Square, and into the Village. He would sit in Thompkins Square Park, listening to the drums play, listening to the drunks and the conspiracy theorists yelling at the sky, and I would wander down 7th street to the stoop where the dope dealers stood.

A bag of dope for each of us. Enough to quiet our screaming heads. And we would sit on benches, waiting for the sun to come up, telling each other wild dreams of who we would be, of love and adventure. I was going to be a poet, a writer, Eric was going to be an artist, he was going to be a cult leader: and one day, when we were older, we would find each other again, and we would spend the rest of our lives in love somewhere in the desert, or in Paris, or Tunisia, or maybe in an apartment in Chelsea.

When Eric moved to Sedona to live with his mother I thought my whole world would fall apart. I had never known pain like that in my life. Eric is the first man I ever really loved.

And the loss of him ripped through me, tore at me, like losing a part of myself.

I didn’t know then what I know now: that even though it felt like dying, it wouldn’t kill me. I didn’t know then that I am strong, and that love, even the loss of love, will just make me stronger.

My mother, Beverly, used to talk about the fires that burned in her head. How they would burn bright and then dark. How life was an endless battle between those fires. Beautiful and destructive and consuming.

“We are like that, you and me. We burn bright. And that burning can make life feel endlessly magical, but if you aren’t careful those fires will consume you and everyone you have loved.”

She’s right of course. Those fires have consumed me over and over. Like heroin. Like the screaming thoughts in my head.

The first time I kissed Eric was in Madison New Jersey, where my father was living, where his mother lived before moving to Sedona. We were on the golf course, it was three in the morning, and Eric was sure that the night sky was full of alien crafts, that the shadows were hiding whispering men, we were tripping on mushrooms and I think I kissed him because I wanted to shut him up as much as I actually wanted to kiss him.

He held me. He was so warm. I was high enough to feel us becoming one. I was high enough to believe we could stay like that forever, breathing in the night.

Layne likes to ask me when I knew I was in love with him, and I never want to tell him, because what if I fell in love with him first? Because I resist him, I don’t want him to think I love him as much as I do: I’m afraid of falling in love with Layne: I’m afraid of losing him. I’m so afraid of losing some battle that is a self-made construct: I am so afraid of giving in, and yet here is a secret: when I give in I win. Every time. When I give in I no longer even care about winning: I’m just happy.

But lately I’ve been thinking about it a lot too. When did I fall in love with Layne? Was it the night he showed up alone at Ostbahnhoff, a warehouse party in Downtown LA, where I was with my boyfriend, Noah, who was visiting from Berlin with friends of ours? Layne stood there, on the dance floor, watching me, something about his eyes, the way he looked at me: I wanted to walk up to him, to kiss him: I wanted the whole world to stop so it could be just the two of us. He smiled: maybe I fell in love with him the first time I ever saw him smile because Layne has one of the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen: because even though he wouldn’t agree with me, I know it is true: Layne’s smile that night was so full of hope and dreams and life , or maybe it was the first time I realized he was just as scared as I was, or the night, driving home from another warehouse party and we pulled over on the side of the road and he fell asleep, because I wouldn’t let him sleep over yet, because I was still refusing to give in, and his head was on my shoulder and I listened to him breath: listened to him live.

When did I fall in love with you, Layne?

Was it the time you asked me to come to the Eagle and watch you dance, and I did. I got dressed and drove to the Eagle and you danced for me. And I knew: this was important. It was important that I did that.

My mother would tell me we had been in love forever. Before we even met: that our love was just waiting for us to find it.

I come from the kind of women who believe in magic and love and destiny: the kind of women who have spent their lives refusing to be anything other than who they are.

Maybe I have loved you forever, Layne. Sometimes that is exactly how it feels.

Layne and I fuck. A lot. And we fight. And we burn as bright as we can: and we do everything we can not to be consumed, even when all I want is to be consumed.

When I got sober the thing I was most afraid of was losing what made me special, of becoming like everyone else: a man who goes to work, who grows old, who loses his dreams. What I didn’t realize was that the drugs were the things that were holding me back, the things that were robbing me of my real fire, of my true dreams.

Sobriety is a challenge for me. The voices in my head, the anger, the jealousy, the obsessive thoughts. I struggle with quieting my head so I can hear who I really am: that little voice underneath it all.

This is amplified in my relationship. I am slowly realizing that when I am mad at Layne, or jealous, or scared, it rarely has anything to do with him, or us, but with all the stories I have built from that very first kiss with Eric, through all the men I have loved, through all the loss and all the dreams that didn’t come true and all the fear: sometimes I have to step away from Layne and realize: this isn’t about us . It’s about me.

Because, like anyone who has made it 51 years, I am damaged, and that’s ok. It’s actually kind of beautiful. If I let it be. We are all these amazing, damaged survivors: we are the ones who get to tell the stories.

Layne grew up in Nebraska. He moved to Chicago when he was 27 to be an actor and an artist: to be the man he really always was. So going for a three day trip to Chicago was going home for Layne.

The most amazing thing about going home with someone, going back to where they were creating the dreams that would define them, is you get to meet all the people who loved them. You get to see them outside of the context of the life you have together: you get to see Them.

Maybe you fall in love with someone many times: maybe it isn’t one time. Maybe I fell in love with Layne listening to stories his friends told me of the actor, of the young man, of the crazy man: of my man. Or maybe it was the night we stood in the middle of a sex party at Jackhammer and Layne wouldn’t let me go, whispering in my ear, “Mine,” or when he walked me around Sidetrack in Boys Town excited to show me his world.

Or maybe it was when he showed me all the places he had fucked, or sucked dick, the dark rooms and the guys he had met there. Or walking all the way from Downtown to Edgewater where we were staying because he wanted me to see everything: the theatres he had performed in and the apartments he had lived in: he wanted me to love Chicago as much as he did: he wanted me to catch the dream.

This is what it means to get to get to know someone: to learn them: to see them. There were those moments in Chicago where I realized: This is Layne. This is a Layne I’ve never met before. This is a whole new Layne for me to fall in love with.

And we got to fuck some really hot dudes together, and I got jealous, and we fought, but mostly we walked and we talked and we grew: and we fed the fires so they could feed us.

My mother had a friend, David. David was gay. He would spend summer weekends on fire Island, he bartended at a gay bar in New Hope. David would spend weeks with us, sleeping in our guest room, telling my brother and I wildly inappropriate stories about all his adventures. Stories I would jerk off to, hungry for life.

David was the first man I ever knew who died of AIDS. I remember being at his funeral, all the men crying: it was the early years, the years we were still able to cry: before all the funerals my mother would make me go to: “Because we owe it to them. We owe it to all of them.” After the funeral we went to Washington Square Park and someone played a pop song I can’t remember on a big black radio and we all danced and I remember the way the sun burned against the buildings, the way the clouds rolled over the City, and the way a summer rain fell, and we still danced.

And I remember my mother saying, when I asked her why we were dancing: “Because what else are you going to do? It’s either dance or die, baby boy. So we’re gonna dance.”

When I found out I was HIV positive I was terrified to tell my mother. Because she had lost everyone, all those men who had helped raise me, because there came a time when we no longer danced, when we no longer cried: a time when we just knew: eventually they would all be dead.

I remember calling her. I couldn’t stop crying. I kept saying, “I’m so sorry, mom, I’m so sorry.”

And she said to me, “Baby. I love you more than anything in the whole world. This is just a thing. Just one more thing. It will not take you down.”

And of course she was right. I sero-converted in the age of undetectable viral loads and PreP and TASP, in the age where this would not kill me. But I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. Like I had let her down.

“You will make this something important,” she said to me. “You will use this to change your life.”

Maybe I fell in love with Layne when his dick was buried deep inside this little muscle dude we met in Chicago, when he reached out for me, his eyes connecting with mine: and I saw him there, I saw him loving me as he fucked that guy, or maybe it was when the three of us were kissing and I felt Layne’s hand taking mine in his, his fingers interlocking with mine…

…because this is what life is, isn’t it? All the dreams and all the love and all the loss and all the living…the burning as bright as we can without being consumed…

We fight and we fuck and we dream and we burn bright…and we love…and I wonder if Eric is the leader of his own cult in the desert, or if he is in Paris, or Tunisia, in some studio making brilliant art, or maybe he is a banker, or a homeless man, or maybe he’s dead, and I wonder who David would have been if he hadn’t have died of AIDS, or all those men who we could have loved, but instead, we turned our backs on, who as a nation we allowed to die alone from a disease that for me, in 2019 is totally manageable, and I can make their deaths matter: I can make David, who was so beautiful and funny and vibrant: I can make him matter…by loving Layne, by following my dreams all the way to the end, even the ones that never manifest: just by living and not giving in…

And maybe the first time I fell in love with you Layne was when…

Art work by Layne Manzer.

Bears, Roids, Body Shaming, and Sexual Freedom

Discerning Daddy

“Bears never want to fuck me, which sucks, cus I’m totally into bigger, older guys.” Stefan tells me. We are having a coffee at Happy Baristas in Friedrichshain, the neighborhood I live in in Berlin.

Stefan is gorgeous. He is 22, tall, with dark curly hair and the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen. He is Serbian and Spanish. He moved to Berlin to be an artist and a DJ.

“It was hard at first. I’d go to bear parties in Barcelona and Madrid, London, and the guys I liked just wouldn’t like me. They wouldn’t even talk to me. Because I didn’t have the right look I wasn’t worth even being friends with. I get it. We can all be like that. I’m sure there are a lot of guys I’m not into that I blow off as well, but I’ve really started trying to pay attention to it. I recently fucked this dude who was 20. I’ve never fucked anyone even near my age. I usually go for guys 45 and up. But this guy, he was cool and we were into the same music and instead of getting all hung up on his body or the type of guy he was…he is a lot like me but he’s Dutch so blonder…I tried to get turned on by who he was. I still think I’d like to date guys who are older than me, but I’m really trying to be open. To not get so locked into any rules on this.”

I’m not a fan of the ways in which we, as a community, use terms like Bear, Otter, Wolf, Top, Bottom, Daddy, Boy, Masc or Femme etc. to limit each other and ourselves. Defining ourselves based on physical characteristics limits who we are, and the world we experience, as well as segregating our community into these tiny shallow subsets that deny us a sense of unity and queer identity.

This was recently made clear when a queer party in LA tried to shame and deny entry to “Basic Gay White Men” who attended their party. When it was pointed out that the idea of a queer party trying to create a door policy based on gender, race and sexual identity was the wrong direction we wanted to be headed in, the response was, “If you take offense maybe you should look deeper at who you are and at your own values.” As if taking offense at defining other queer people as “basic” or on their race or sexual identity, or gender, was not worthy of offense?

I am well aware that I am about as basic, gay, and white as you can get. But does that mean I am no longer welcome at my favorite party in LA? A party I believe has been one of the most diverse I’ve ever experienced?

I think fighting for and maintaining diversity is essential. But I don’t think you can fight for diversity on one hand while using the other to discriminate. Diversity is messy. It is challenging. But I believe that diverse environments also promote evolution, and creativity, it is this challenging messiness that we need if we are going to grow beyond the fascist rhetoric that has overtaken our governments.

We have so much shame around our bodies. We are too old or too young, too fat or too skinny, not muscled enough, or too roided out, we aren’t sexy enough or masculine enough or feminine enough: these debilitating voices run through our heads all the time.

I’ve struggled with this a lot in my life. I was a fat kid. I remember in junior high school I started running. I gave up sugar (I used to steal money from my dad and go to the local grocery store and buy a bunch of candy, then I’d sit in my room and eat candy and jerk off watching those dance shows that were so popular in the early 80’s.) I dedicated myself to losing weight. I went to the gym. But there came a point in my life when it didn’t matter how hard I worked out, or how much I dieted: I never got the body I wanted.

So I started using steroids.

I want to be clear. I’m not here to make an anti-steroid comment. I love steroids. I love what they do to my mood, my body, my dick, my sex drive, and my confidence. But I can also see the perils: I see guys at the gym who are ten times bigger than me, ten times more muscled, ten times harrier, ten times stronger and I think: I want to be them. Fuck what it does to my kidneys and liver and heart: I want to look like that.

I’ve been pretty good about talking myself off that ledge. I’m very cautious in my steroid use. I rely mostly on testosterone and I try to be moderate even with that (well, not too moderate).

When it came to using steroids I made a decision: I was 45, and I knew that it was going to be harder and harder to get the body I wanted naturally.

At 50 I think I finally feel comfortable with my body, with how I look, and in turn I feel comfortable in my community. I don’t know if that is healthy or not, but what I do know is I finally feel like I like who I am: not just my body, but me. All of me.

The point is: we all struggle with these things: with our identity, with our masculinity and our bodies, with our genders and our sexualities: we all struggle learning to just accept ourselves for who we are: and we struggle with finding that balance in making ourselves into the people we want to be.

But here’s the thing: say I had stayed that fat kid, or I had ended up becoming a ten times bigger roid dude, or maybe I decided to play with my gender: none of these things make me a good or a bad person: they just make me a fat kid or a roid dude or gender queer. We are not worthy because of our bodies or our life choices: we are worthy because of who we are as human beings and how we treat one another.

When I was younger I was wrapped up in being a top. Because I thought that how I fucked somehow said something about who I was as a man. That being a top made me more of a man. Now, I don’t give a fuck. I loved to get fucked. I love to get fucked by dudes who are bigger than me and smaller than me, younger than me and older than me, more masculine than me and more feminine than me: it’s no longer about any of that for me: it’s about connection, it’s about what Stefan said to me: it’s about being open to something new, something outside the tiny confines I’ve set up for myself: about being willing to grow beyond my limitations.

It’s also about realizing that who I fuck with and how we fuck does not say anything about who we are as people.

“Whenever anybody meets my girlfriend, Tonya, the first thing they ask me is if she still has a dick.” Adam says to me, we are sitting drinking coffee in Kreuzberg, Berlin, at a small café along the canal, the open Turkish market is lively with people. “As if that somehow explains everything. That that one thing can put it all into perspective. Which is bullshit. It’s hard for people to understand that even with a dick she’s a woman, and that just because she fucks me with her dick, I’m still her man. We are so far beyond binary. Why do we have to live by those archaic rules? Why can’t we explore ourselves and all of our options? Why can’t we be who we are on the inside, and live that to the fullest, without having to always explain and justify to everyone?”

It’s gotten cold out. The sky is dark grey. Tonya is shopping for fruits and meat at the market while Adam and I sit drinking espressos, talking.

“Yeah, my girlfriend has a dick. And I love when she holds me down and fucks me deep. And if you are all bent out of shape about that shit than you are not ready for the way the world is going. Because it’s a new world and we don’t have time for your limiting bullshit.”

All I’m trying to say is: life is incredible. It is open and vast and full of potential: full of possibility. Why limit ourselves? Why limit each other? Why define who we are on the inside by how we look or act on the outside?

I think the only way we will ever really come to learn who we are or to break free of the limitations that we have allowed to be created for ourselves is to go out and try something new. Not always. Just sometimes. Make out with someone you might not normally make out with. Get fucked once in while: or fuck. Or go to a queer party instead of a bear party.

And stop trying to define us by our race, or our gender, or our sexual preferences. We are so much more than that. We are fucking limitless if we let ourselves be.

I dare you. Go be fucking different for a day. And tell me all about it. I’d love to hear your stories.

Also, check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, at amazon.com.

Strange Beasts: A Novel in Pieces. Part One.

Discerning Daddy, Strange Beasts

Caleb closes his eyes….he is falling deeper into the darkness, wrapped in it… 

            …I smell you…he thinks…and I taste you…I hear your voice when I speak…I wake in the middle of the night to you kissing me only you aren’t there.  Not anymore. And you will never be here again…

Caleb agreed to meet the man at his shop in Friedrichshain to suck his dick.  The plan, as laid out to him on Grindr, went like this,

“Meet at my shop on Wülisch Strasse and Gabriel Max Strasse.  If there are customers you will have to wait a minute. Then you will follow me to the storage room to swallow my load and then leave.”

It was a simple and elegant plan, erasing anything about Caleb beyond the status of cock sucker.  This was the attraction for Caleb.  The wiping away of who he who was, of his past, of his future, grounding him in the present moment where the only thing he was was the receptacle for this stranger’s pleasure.

He has always found a beauty in sucking a stranger’s dick…in being fucked and used.  A meaning to life that wasn’t always available under other circumstances.  He is aware of how this sounds, which is why he would never speak it out loud, never tell his friends, never admit that some days the only way he can breathe, the only way he can survive, is to be fucked into oblivion.

You can get lost out there if you aren’t careful, Michael had said to him. They were sitting on the edge of a canal in Amsterdam.  It was late at night.  A chilly Autumn rain falling.  They were drinking Vodka, drunk and stupid and happy.  The world is full of empty spaces…I have spent years lost, wandering through life with no idea of who I was, no idea of what anything meant.

“And now?”Caleb asked him.  “What about now?”

“Now it is like drowning in light, drowning in love. Drowning in you.”

Michael had killed himself exactly seven months ago.  To the day.  If ODing on heroin and fentanyl counted as killing oneself.

They had been living in London at the time, two expats from LA on a grand adventure together.

Caleb pulled up google maps on his phone.  He knew the general idea of where the man’s shop was, but he wasn’t good at remembering the names of streets.  He had been living in Berlin for 2 weeks.  If living is hiding…Michael’s voice sings in his head…If living is hiding than I am most certainly living my best life!  They had both laughed at that, standing on a beach in Portugal, watching a group of teenage boys surf against blue skies and golden sun.

“Outrageous!” Caleb had screamed.  “You are fucking outrageous!”  They were high on hash and tobacco and Michael leaned over and licked Caleb’s forehead, tasting salty sweat, and kissed it back to Caleb.

“I love you,” Michael said and Caleb went quiet, watching for a moment as one of the surfers seemed rise breathlessly into the air, hovering on invisible wings, only to crash back down under the relentless pounding of the waves, soaring back to land, laughing…ecstatic…

“It’s like a demon,” Michael said, talking about heroin.  “It’s like a demon takes over and I am no longer me.  I’m this other thing.  Possessed.

Caleb has a fear of possession.  Of demons. He has a fear of losing control.

“Say you love me,” Michael said.  “Say the words.”

Sunlight blinding him, he caught hold of Michael, caught sight of him and he said, “I loved you the moment I thought of you.”

September in Berlin was sumptuous, tempestuous, it was dark and moody and warm and sunny, lonely and hopeful: you could feel the world ending in September, the darkness that was coming.

Caleb had moved here for the darkness.  Like a blanket.  A way of forgetting.  Not Michael…I will never forget you…a way of forgetting everything that wasn’t Michael.

Caleb didn’t know how to talk about Michael.  About Michael dying.  He didn’t know what people wanted him to say.  Or maybe he did.  They just didn’t want to hear the truth: that the pain doesn’t go away.  It sits there…the loss…the sense of being empty in the core of who he was…the place where Michael had lived…gone.

Strangers never asked him if he was okay.  They never brought Michael up because they didn’t know there was a Michael. Strangers never said, “I’m so sorry. How has it been…without…how has it been since…Michael?”

He wanted to scream, to hit them, to tell them there was never a moment that was without Michael.  That maybe Michael existed more now that he was dead than he ever could have alive.

Some things you only truly understand in their absence…

Caleb still sung songs for Michael.  He still danced for Michael.  He still told Michael long stories as he fell asleep.

“I love you baby,” he would whisper, waking up.  “I miss you so much today, baby head.”

Michael would understand this walking through Friedrichshain toward a stranger’s store where he would suck dick in a storage room…to feel alive…Michael…to remember what it means…Michael never made him feel wrong.  No matter what he did, no matter what happened, Caleb could tell Michael.

“Filthy monsters,” Michael would say.  “We are such dirty, filthy monsters.”

Caleb pauses outside the store.  It is a small exotic plant shop, filled with beautiful works of art, incense and a soft, atmospheric ballad playing over hidden speakers…sad…the song is sad…and yet there is an undercurrent of piano hidden beneath aurally vacant electronic sounds…like looking into the blackness of the night sky before seeing the splendor of the moon…all that beautiful light hidden in the deep…

And Caleb steps inside.  The man behind the counter looks like his pictures on Grindr.  Fit, bearded, darkly handsome: an Italian from Rome now living in Berlin.  Maybe a little older than Caleb had thought…closer to 36 than 30, but still sexy.  Still dick sucking worthy.

The man nods and Caleb follows him to the back of the store.  There is a tiled fountain, the sound of water running over stone and a buddha spray painted dark purple and blue and a shining gold…

Berlin is not what he thought it would be.  It is more.  More beautiful and more ugly, wilder than he had imagined, and yet there are pockets of quiet, of tree lined streets, where children played, mothers’ spoke in Arabic, men laughed, tattooed hipsters sitting on benches drinking beer.

It is a City of dark purple buddhas shimmering gold.

The storage room was filled with empty pots and dying plants, painted statues and neon-light structures that flickered off and on, as if sending messages from some far-off land…brief signs of brightly lit colors telling us that it was all ok. Everything would eventually be ok.

The man put his hands on Caleb’s shoulders, pushing him to the ground.

Caleb thought about saying, I came here because Michael died and I miss him.

Don’t say that!  Michael’s laughing voice in his head.  Nothing kills a dude’s boner like a dead boyfriend.

Of course Michael was right.  It almost made Caleb laugh.  He pictured Michael in whatever strange heaven might exist for people like them, looking down on this moment, and he knew how happy it would make Michael.  I love you best when you are being truly you…I love you most when you don’t deny who you are…

Caleb pushed the foreskin back, smelling the dick: sweaty, slightly musky, it made his heart beat a little quicker.  He licked the head, feeling it grow hard in his mouth, his hand cupping the balls and tickling them gently…he had learned to never pull or twist a guy’s balls unless they asked him to.  It was always better to go gentle at first.

The man exhaled, his hands on the back of Caleb’s head, guiding him.  Caleb ran his hands up the man’s calves…muscular and thick…over his ass, and along the small of his back, taking his cock all the way in, breathing around it, his tongue licking: focusing on providing as much pleasure as he could.  Focusing everything he was into this moment: grounded.

It didn’t take long for the man to cum, shooting into Caleb’s mouth: Caleb pulled back, letting some shoot into his beard, onto his shirt.  The man, looking down at Caleb, laughed.  It was friendly, nice: it made Caleb smile.

Caleb stood up.  The man moved in, and kissed him, licking at his beard, and then he hugged Caleb.  It was startling in its intimacy.  Caleb wanted to crawl into that hug, he wanted to disappear into those arms.

After a moment the man pulled back.

“I have to work.  I hear people –”

“Of course –”

“But you should come back.  If you want. I will be full again in an hour.  You can have as much as you want.”  He smiled.  It was handsome: bright, full of sunlight, and Caleb couldn’t help but think, based on that smile, that this was a lucky man.  “Or maybe we can meet.  If you –”

“Caleb.  That’s my name.  I’m Caleb.”

The man smiled, his eyes shining, “Mateo,” he ran his hand through black curly hair. Caleb noticed dark hairs on his knuckles, his forehead protruding slightly, lips red: decadent…that is how Michael would have described them.  Decadent red lips.  Pale white skin.

“I’m gonna go,” Caleb said, and for a moment they both laughed.  “But let’s do this again.  Soon.”

Outside, the sun shone faded through the clouds.  Yellow leaves swirled in the breeze.  He passed a line of people waiting to buy ice cream.

And I am still alive,he thinks.

He walks slowly home, through this City, and it begins to rain.

 

Please check out my novel, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon.

           

Thank you to Marc Martin for an amazing Photo!

CANNIBALISM, GHOSTS AND JERKING OFF: AN INSPIRATIONAL, LIFE AFFIRMING STORY

Accidental Warlocks, Discerning Daddy

I am sitting on a Norwegian Dreamliner plane, flying from LA to Berlin, to spend the next 16 days, with my boyfriend, Noah. I was watching movies. I will confess: I actually cried watching Geo-Storm. Don’t judge me. I’m in an emo-feeling kinda feeling lucky mood.

When I was in third grade my teacher, Mrs. Darlene Sacco, gave me a tape recorder. Because I told stories. That was her very kind way of saying I made up elaborate lies.

In second grade I told my whole class, teachers, and school guidance counselor ,that my parents had died in a fire and I was left alone to care of my 6 brothers and sisters. I think I was 8 when I told this story. At the time I only had one brother. My parents were, and still are, alive.

Instead of just calling my parents the school sent child services.

It was an embarrassing moment, but I remember my mother, almost proud, saying, “Well, lying is bad, but boy, you must have lied good. You’re a real story teller.”

My father said, “If you’re going to be a liar you might as well write them down and get paid for them.”

But it wasn’t until Mrs. Sacco gave me that tape recorder that I actually felt like a real writer. I would walk around school, or during lunch, with that tape recorder, recording all my ideas and thoughts and then I would write them down.

My favorite stories involved turning my mom and her two best friends, Sue and Vi, into Charlie’s Angels. They solved all kinds of mysteries. Mostly about witches and vampires, and mafia-zombies. In some of them my mother was a hybrid of a much cooler Samantha from Bewtiched and Farah Fawcett (It wasn’t till I got older that I really learned to appreciate Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.

I basically dropped out of school in sixth grade. I just stopped going. I would just walk out and go home and sit in my room and write long and fantastic stories. I wasn’t really a happy kid. And I was a pretty miserable teenager. Life never seemed big enough to me. The world was devoid of color. But writing, stories, those worlds in my head, felt endless and beautiful, full of hope and meaning.

I come from a long line of story tellers (liars?). I once listened to my mother tell my grandmother, her mother, Sadie, about how at the local grocery store they were decapitating customers and selling their body parts to witches. It was a strange and frightening story, told late at night, at the Heart of LaGrange Hotel, which Sadie owned. The three of us had been doing the Quija Board most of the night, and my mother and Sadie had been arguing about witches. And evil. And the meaning of good.

I was ten, I think. It was hot out. All the windows were open. A breeze blew the humid night air, full and sweet, around the room.

My mother insisted that the local grocery store was selling headless bodies to witches.

“Well, Beverly,” Sadie began, her voice thick like honey, her eyes furious, her hands wrapped tight around her Jim Beam on the rocks. “What the hell are they doing with the heads?”

“Eating them,” my mother said. “They are eating the goddamned heads.”

And she stormed out, leaving me with my drunk and furious grandmother.

I remember Sadie looking at me, and then she began to laugh. She laughed long and hard.

“God, your mother is the best story teller I’ve ever known. Eating the goddamned heads. Well, shit, what else would they be doing with them?”

Sadie used to tell my brother, Damon and I, that my uncle Bruce was a shape shifter, and she belonged to a coven, and that my mother slept with demons and leprechauns. She told me how late at night, as a young woman, my mother would stand outside, alone in the moonlight, conjuring spells and demons and sending them to do her bidding.

I come from a long line of story tellers.

Though, to be honest, a part of me still believes Bruce is a shape shifter, and Sadie was a witch, and my mother, I’m absolutely certain she has consorted with a few demons, and probably some angels too. She’s that kind of woman. Full of southern charm.

For most of my adult life I have been a drug addict. Heroin was my drug of choice. When I was high on heroin the world felt suddenly beautiful, the kind of world my little boy self would have loved to live in. Full of magic and wonder. Full of a quiet, beautiful, loneliness.

Seven years ago, at 43 years old, I found myself broke, jobless and homeless, I did the only thing left to do: I got sober.

I bought a bike and road it all over Los Angeles. I used to go on long rides late at night from Silverlake, through Hollywood, all the way to the beach. I would stand at the water and scream at whatever gods were out there in all that darkness. I was full of fury and fear. I was lost.

And then I began to tell stories again. I started on Facebook. I would tell stories of my mother and of Sadie, of boys I had loved.

And people actually read them. They messaged me, thanking me for being so honest (which is a strange thing for a man like me to hear, someone who rarely knows when he is being honest and when he is lying).

When Vice agreed to publish a story about my three-way relationship with my husband Alex, and our boyfriend Jon, I couldn’t believe it. Why would anyone care about what I had to say?

All I was doing was just telling my experience. I was trying to make meaning out of my life. I was trying to find the beauty and the magic I had always felt lacking.

And then I decided to take those stories and turn them into a book, Accidental Warlocks. It took me almost two years to write that book. For much of that time I was broke. I was going to AA meetings. And I was riding my bike.

When Lethe Press said they wanted to publish my book I started to scream with excitement. I couldn’t believe it. Someone else was going to publish my fucking book!

I went into the bedroom, where Jon (I’m not going to go into the whole story of Jon and Alex and I…you can find tons of stories about my poly-triad marriage all over my blog or just follow the link) was, sleeping (Alex was away working on a TV show at the time). I was sobbing. He woke up, and I think at first he was scared,

“What’s wrong, baby?” he asked me.

“They are going to publish my book,” I said, and he was out of bed, wrapping his arms around me, holding me.

Jon died before Accidental Warlocks was published. He read every chapter I wrote, every word. I made him sit up for hours as I talked to him about ideas I had, making him tell me what he thought about what I had written that day.

There were nights when I woke him up at three in the morning to make him listen to pages. He never complained. He never told me no. He just said, “Baby, I love it. It’s so beautiful. I know it’s going be amazing.”

Here’s the thing: all I ever wanted was to be a writer. Nothing else in the whole world. I honestly believe there is nothing else I’m any good at. It was either be a writer or fail.

And I haven’t gotten rich. And I’m scared all the time. And sometimes I’m stunned by the fact that Jon died never seeing this book come to life. And maybe there is a part of me that doesn’t really believe that. I come from witches and shape shifters, my mother has fucked demons and angels into doing her bidding: I have a long history of talking to the spirits. So, I know, Jon is with me all the time. Just out of sight, helping me, laughing with me and loving me and so fucking excited by this amazing and beautiful life I get to live.

I am on a plane from LA to Berlin. To see Noah, my gorgeous German boyfriend. I will sit in cafes in Kreuzberg and write. I will go for walks along the canal and through the City. I will tell Jon stories, sometimes forgetting not to talk out loud because people start to look at me funny: the crazy guy talking to his dead boyfriend.

What’s the point of all this? Simple: I am a liar. I am a drug addict. I am an HIV Positive queer man in his 50’s. My best friend and lover died 8 months ago: but he loved me. He believed in me. And he taught me I can be and do anything I want, and you know what? He is right.

And for those of you who are wondering what happened to Alex and I: while we are no longer “husbands”, Alex is my brother. My best friend. If being in a poly triad taught me anything: it’s the value of holding on to the people you love. No matter what. Even when the nature of that love changes.

Jon once told me that the three of us were destined to be together. That we had been traveling through multiple lives together. That we were old souls on a long journey together.

And I think I now know what he means. I think I believe him.

There are a lot of people I think I have been journeying through time with. After losing Jon this idea appeared before me as the only thing that really made any sense about life.

Life has been this strange and violently beautiful experience. More beautiful than anything my little-boy -elf or my high-as-fuck-on-dope-self could have believed.

I know this is a rambling piece, tying together lots of pieces that maybe don’t always add up, but there is a point here, something I want to say:

When you are feeling scared, or when you feel lost, or that maybe you chose the wrong path and you don’t know how to find your way back, remember: it’s ok. If I can do this you can do anything the fuck you want. I swear to God. If there is one thing I know it’s that.

It might not be easy. And life will still be life, there’s no changing that. And people we love will die, and we will get older, but, and I wish I could scream this as loud as possible all over the fucking world: it’s better to fail at something you loved than succeed at something you hated. Those are words my mother told me, and they changed my life.

Cus look at me: I’m on this fucking plane. Writing this blog. And some of you will read it and it will mean something to you. Some of you might even think: Fuck, if he did it I can.

And it’s true. I swear to god. I am screaming it so loud right now.

This is my cheesy, inspirational post. Because I’m feeling fucking mind blowingly lucky.

I would love it if you went to Amazon and bought my book. Because, yes, I want to get paid (getting paid is an admirable thing, I’m trying to remind myself that every time I pitch this book out into the void), but I also really want to hear what you think.

Because I don’t get to wake Jon up late at night anymore. So, it’s you guys I turn to now.

And while I didn’t talk about sex, just know, after this Ima go to the bathroom and jerk off. I’ll probably do it twice. Cus I’m on a fucking plane to Berlin!!!!!

Hey, Noah, I hope you’re ready for me! Ima be rubbing my stink all over you! Noah really is the fucking sexiest, cutest, sweetest guy in the world. I’m really sorry I’m so stinky! But I think he might kinda like it!

Thoughts on Travel and Sex and Love Part Two

Discerning Daddy

In my early 20’s I was lost in a dark and violent heroin addiction. My life was narrow and small, without hope. I was lonely and sad, broke, the only relief was getting high. I remember snorting bags of China White in my Court Street Brooklyn apartment at night and then going for long walks through Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights ending up at the Promenade, the Manhattan Skyline like some far-off fairy tale land of kings and magicians, a land where anything could happen: a land of endless possibility.

I would stand there, high as fuck, and dream of the life I wanted: a life where I was a writer, where I wasn’t alone: I had friends and a boyfriend who loved me, family who could stand to be around me, a life where I didn’t steal and lie just to get by.

I could feel that fantasy life in me, burning through the darkness, trying to get my attention: like a coded message in the sky, or in the flamed lights of New York City, flickering in the neon, trying to remind me of who I really was.

During this time I read a book called Martin and John by Dale Peck. It’s a small book, a first-time novel by a gay writer my age who lived in New York City and in London. I remember sitting in café’s in the East Village reading that book and crying. Every word connected to me. In the acknowledgments he wrote a thank you to a café in London where he would sit and write.

I must have been 25 when I read that. I remember so clearly thinking, I want to be that guy. That writer sitting in a café in London. I want to sit in café’s all over the world writing.

I didn’t get sober until I was 42 years old.

It wasn’t till I was 49 years old, sitting at the Bach, a café on Hoxton Street in London where I would go to work on my book, that I realized: holy fuck! I got exactly what I wanted.

That’s the thing about life, I spent so much time running, so much time trying to hide from the pain and the fear, that I couldn’t see that life was pushing me in a direction, trying to send me down the path of who I really was. The only obstacle to that path was me.

This has been true for most of my life. The more I try to control and orchestrate, the more I try to force something, or to hide from pain, the more I allow fear to cloud my thoughts, the further I get from who I am supposed to be.

I am now, at 50, in a process of learning to allow who I am to unfold. Sometimes I wonder, what if I had gotten sober younger, or if I had been more focused, or if I had always worn condoms when I fucked (would I still be HIV negative?), or if I’d never used heroin, or stolen all those cars and money from my dad, or lied to my friends, what if I had never been any of the things I spent most of my life being: would I be famous now? Would I be successful? Or would I still be wandering down the lost path? Maybe all those things are the things that have brought me closer to myself.

I spent a year travelling back and forth from LA to London visiting my boyfriend Noah. Every morning we would wake up and he would go to work, and I would walk across the street to the Bach, books and computer in my backpack, and I would order a flat white and sit there and write. I started a journal called “Thoughts on Travel and Love and Life” and I wrote in it every day.

During the afternoons I would walk over to the Glory, and down to the canal and make my way slowly to Broadway Market and London Fields. I would sit in that park and watch people, strangers, as they went about their lives. I created elaborate stories about who they were and the lives they were living.

I also spent a lot of time worrying. About money. About Noah, about sex and being in a long distance relationship, about work, about all the endless things our brains find to latch on to and obsess over.

But I didn’t let those worries stop me. I would just start walking again, exploring a new city and a new people. Finding book stores and cafes, wandering through parks and museums, stumbling upon London Bridge and Big Ben and that Ferris wheel that still seems like a mystery to me: what Is that fucking Ferris wheel all about?, never really knowing what anything was until, while telling Noah about what I had done that day, he would tell me what each and everything I saw was, giving me history and context to my day.

I am a clueless tourist. I just walk, letting it all be out of context. I probably should have bought a guide book, or at least asked Siri, but I wasn’t there to see the “sights” I was there to experience myself somewhere new, somewhere so far out of context that the only thing recognizable would be me.
That is what travel is all about for me. When everything recognizable falls away, and the only thing left is yourself. You can’t hide anymore. Some days the loneliness was unbearable, the fear so out of control I felt stunned by it, but other days there was hope and joy and love. And I just kept walking my way through all of it, coming out the other side: because there is always an other side to walk out of.

I’m still afraid a lot of the time. I don’t always know where the money will come from to keep traveling, my boyfriend, who now lives in Berlin, is still 6000 miles away. I wonder how we will make it work, I wonder if I will succeed or fail. I’m 50 now. It is easy to believe life is no longer beginning, instead it is ending. It would be easy to get lost in these thoughts, to turn from my path.

But then I remember that day, sitting at a café in the East Village, reading Martin and John. I remember how badly I wanted Dale Peck’s life, to be that writer in some café in London, or Paris, or Amsterdam, writing. I remember going into the bathroom and snorting a line of heroin. I remember the sadness, the since of hopelessness. I remember thinking that I would never escape.
But I did escape. And somewhere out there somebody is sitting alone, feeling like they will never be able to have the life they want: they feel trapped: hopeless.

I don’t give a fuck if this sounds corny, I don’t give a fuck if I’m the cheesiest guy in the whole world, I just want to say this: we are never trapped. We are never without hope.

I am 50 years old. I am 6.5 years sober from a brutal 23 year fight with drugs and alcohol. I am HIV Positive. I should not even be alive. And yet here I am. Living the exact life I wanted at 23.

Think about that. What kind of fucking miracle is that?

And Hey! Go check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, on Amazon! Your Support Would be Amazing!

Thoughts on Travel and Sex and Love: Part One

Discerning Daddy

They fuck lot in Berlin. There’s no denying that. It is a city where partying and getting laid is relatively easy. Six years ago I spent my honeymoon at Berlin’s infamous sex club, Laboratory, fucking and getting fucked and sucking dicks, and watching my husband, Alex do the same. I met one of my closest friends during a threeway while he tagged teamed me with Alex.

You can find almost anything you want in Berlin, and for the most part, no one will judge you for it.
But the City is way more than that. To come to Berlin and only take advantage of the endless dick, ass and 24-hour parties would be a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for 24-hour fucking, but there’s so much more to explore and experience in this amazing City.

I’ve been traveling from LA to Berlin every five weeks for the past nine months. My boyfriend, Noah, lives here, so in many ways, Berlin has become my second home.

I think there is something radical about travel, about leaving the safety of your known world behind for something new, something foreign. Going to all the different gay and bear parties around the world is awesome, but there is something really exciting and mind-expanding about getting on a plane all by yourself, or with a friend, and ending up somewhere totally new with no planned queer party agenda.

The first time I ever travelled by myself for real was in January 2017. I made the decision after Trump won the election that I didn’t want to be in the States for his inauguration. I booked a ticket to London, a City I had never been to, but one that felt relatively safe and easy to manage alone. I had a friend who lived in London who said I could have his apartment while he was out of town.

There was also a lot of personal turmoil going on in my life and in my relationship. I felt stuck, I felt disconnected from myself and from my life.

I needed something to shake me up, to force a change. Something that would take me out of my life in a way that would give me perspective.

I was 48 years old. I had travelled all over the world, but I had never really done anything like this before: just getting on a plane and going blind to a new City, no real friends there, no big gay parties.

It was January, a cold and dark month in London. But I wasn’t there for the sun. I was there because at that point in my life I was desperate for something that would knock me off the course I was on, something to help me find my way back to the life I had always hoped for: a life that was full of adventure and hope and wonder, a life of potential and possibility.

And I have found that travel is one of the best ways to do that. It upsets everything: your sense of time and space and how you interact in the world. And how you interact to yourself, the way you see yourself suddenly changes when confronted by this new world.

One of the things I learned was that technology was my friend while travelling. I downloaded an app called Citymapper which basically allowed me to get from the airport to my new home, and anywhere I needed to go across the City. If I wanted to get lost, something I kind of enjoy, I could just start walking, but once I was done being lost, I just opened the app and could get anywhere I needed to be.

I also like having the gay apps like Scruff and Growlr. I’ve made some pretty amazing friends on the apps (and sure, they are great for getting your dick sucked too…but sometimes it’s just nice to have access to a ton of gay guys…one of them will be down for a coffee or a beer or to tell you their favorite things going on).

I met Noah on Growlr. He was a German architect living in London. We had been chatting for almost six months before we finally met in London (where he was living at the time).

I had no intention of meeting Noah for anything other than a fuck. He seemed like a nice guy, I liked chatting with him, but at the time I was married and in a polyamorous triad with my husband Alex, and our boyfriend Jon. Falling in love and dating someone new was not on the agenda.
So when Noah asked me to meet him and a friend at the Glory, a queer bar in East London, I wanted to counter with, “Lets meet somewhere dark where I can suck you off!”, but the whole point of this trip was to be a different me, to do things counter to my instincts, so I agreed to meet him and his friend.

When I first saw Noah I remember thinking, There is no way this guy is gonna wanta hang out with me. He was so handsome. The way he smiled when he saw me, the way it felt when we hugged: connected, genuine. I found it hard not to find ways to touch him the whole night, and when his friend left I asked Noah if I could kiss him.

“Of course,” he said. “I want you to.”

He invited me home to “cuddle”. I was pretty sure that cuddle was going to mean fucking, but I was wrong. Noah was very serious about just cuddling.

We spent the whole week together after that. A week that would eventually change my life. I met Noah for lunch, and after work. We would go for long walks and he would show me his favorite places in the City.

Traveling shake us up, it can be lonely and disorienting, and sometimes it’s hard to make ourselves break out and take the risk, to go to that museum or club or book store alone, to risk being lost, to standing awkwardly in a group of people who know each other, to learn to reach out and say hi. It can also force us to look deep, to really come to terms with our fears and our expectations and to rise above them.

I spent a lot of time in cafes alone, reading, or walking endlessly, or exploring the Tate Modern (one of the best things about London is the museums are free which meant I could just end up in one and wander until I was ready to go back out and explore the streets).

And what I realized was that I was okay by myself. That if I could get past that initial fear, that feeling of being alone or lost, then suddenly I found that I liked being on my own, and I liked who I was, and that maybe the world was a lot friendlier and kinder than I had ever thought.

I was lucky I met Noah. He helped to build structure around my time alone in London. Not only did I get to have this amazing adventure in a City I had never been to, and to get to learn more about who I was, but I got to have this amazing affair that would turn into a deep and meaningful relationship.

In Part Two I will explore a little more about my relationship to Noah, and how we made a long distance relationship work, and about how I found myself traveling from Los Angeles to Europe every five weeks, and I will begin to explain an unexpected love affair I now have with being alone in Cities I don’t know, and falling in love with life.

Because that’s what it’s all about. When you think about it. Learning to be okay on your own and learning to love life, to have adventures even when you are scared. To learn to do the things that scare you because you have faith that life will take care of you.

You can check out my book, Accidental Warlocks, at Amazon! Your Support would be amazing!