The Young, the Hot, and the Horny

News reports may have led you to believe that the Puerto Rican Day Parade is nothing but a circus of horny thugs. They're not entirely wrong.

Amid the floats, processions of schoolkids in traditional costumes, and 50-odd versions of "La Bandera," scores of young people were trying to get their mack on, especially near the Central Park entrance at 59th Street.

For all the guys that were ogling women—squeezing their asses or tapping them on the shoulders in more tepid attempts at making a play—there were just as many girls parading by trying to have guys sweat them. In the end, it's a sport.

"Damn, son, shorty got some good back right dere!" a shirtless guy called out to a friend, rubbing a gold medallion in the shape of his zodiac sign and panting over a young girl with a bulbous rump to rival Jennifer Lopez's overhyped ass. One girl actually blew a whistle to slice her way through the wall of men in the park.

Scoopy—a slightly tubby guy carrying a little Poland Spring bottle filled with Goldschläger—kept dipping into the path of estrogen to take pictures with girls that caught his eye. "The real Puerto Ricans come to see the parade, but for most of the male gender, it's the women!"

Scoopy wasn't even a Boricua. "I'm Dominican. Dominican women are a little too stuck up for me. Puerto Rican women are a little more . . . loose." Just then, a girl strolling by jiggled her butt for the camera. "Shake those rice and beans, mama!"

The bad press from two years ago combined with the queasiness surrounding any post-9-11 mass gathering made for a less-than-fabulous parade. No J. Lo, no Eve to move the festivities—although salsa sensations Brenda K. Starr, Marc Anthony, and Huey Dunbar gave float performances. "There's not enough singers," complained Tainary, a Dominican teenage girl from the Bronx.

"We're still waiting for Marc Anthony. Where da fuck he at?!" said her pal Tiara. I asked if the guys bothered them. "We ignore all that, but I wish these guys would stop grabbing on me," said Tainary. Big Pun's "Still Not a Player" rang out from a float, and everyone chanted the words line by line.

Even with the young folks on a late spring break, there were people there for the parade. "It's important that we're here on Fifth Avenue for all the world to see," said José Perez. "For all of us to be here together, no matter what nationality."

Jennifer from Brooklyn anxiously watched the floats with her girlfriends, sporting Puerto Rican flag bracelets in an outfit she said took two days to construct. She rolled her eyes at the mention of all the guys on the make behind her. "I just like everybody getting together."


In the dance music industry, vocalists usually play second fiddle to the producers who mastermind the tracks. House singer Ultra Natéis one of the few exceptions to that rule. At Cobble Hill café/furniture store Halcyonlast Wednesday, the up-front-and-personal chanteuse crooned "straight raw dogs"—new, unfinished tracks off the forthcoming Grime, Silt and Thunder—and renditions of old hits for an audience of mostly black gay men. The intimate concert was part of manager Bill Coleman's weekly Peace Biscuit Power Hour. (Keep an eye on this night—Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads spin a set next week, and N'Dea Davenport stops by in July.)

Naté left her label, Strictly Rhythm, a year ago to start her own imprint, Bluefire. "You got to do it yourself because the record label ain't gonna do shee-it but get you real broke quick," she informed her audience before launching into "Brass in Pocket," a remake of the Pretenders song.

Four years ago, Ultra's single "Free" became a ubiquitous dance hit, especially with gay men, and she was paraded as one of the grand divas of garage. Things got difficult when the singer tried to move away from that confining title, which all too often means a career of shrieking high notes at circuit parties. Her second album with Strictly received little promotion, and "Twisted," a soft, wistful number in step with the soulful house wave, was largely ignored by the label. She released the single with Giant Step, the longtime purveyor of soul-inflected dance music, although Strictly limited the pressings. The record started producing lots of buzz, and it was clear that her bosses had passed on a hit. "That was the final stroke," she laments. "I didn't need another lesson in futility." Now—pardon the pun—she's free to do what she wants to do.


jgermosen@villagevoice.com

 
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