NY Mirror

I finally cranked up the cojones to go to El Mirage, the gay sex club on East Houston Street, where love is just 43 bucks and a leather harness away. Crawling into the unremarkable-looking entrance while covering my face, I found an eager line of wannabe wankers, which I joined for the 10 longest, most brightly lit minutes of my life. Eventually it was my turn to check in, which involved being shown the rules—"Be courteous," etc.—and signing something that said, among other things, "I was born a male with male genitalia and chosen to retain such." (I guess that weeds out all those irksome transsexuals, if not the illiterates.) After forking over the 40-buck initiation fee and swearing I wasn't a cop, I was not only named a throbbing member, I was given a "frequent fucker's card," which guarantees that after only 18 visits, you get one whole entry, as it were, for free.

Alas, I won't even make it for a second time. The place is just too humiliating—in different ways than one had hoped. At the checkroom, I was ordered to hand over all my clothes except either my T-shirt or my underwear—plus three more dollars! This became like a gay Sophie's choice, as I anxiously stood there deciding which body part should be exposed, my doughy boobies or floor-scraping scrotum. Under pressure, I cooked up a plan, shrewdly telling them I'd wear just my T-shirt, while slipping my undies in my bag so I could sneak them on again in the club and cover my male genitalia. Practically everyone else chose to wear neither option, so I ended up as overdressed as Bette Davis in Jezebel—the only person to ever sport a cluttered look in a sex club.

But however you dress, the place turned out to be surprisingly lovely-—let's be courteous—with fenced-off or netted areas studded with trees and awash in soft lighting and low-playing Brazilian music. It's all very Chelsea Market meets On Golden Pond en route to the Ramble. Too bad what's missing is any palpable sense of sex appeal. Every single guy there seems to be a five—not good looking, not bad looking; not young, not old; not to die for, not to die from. They're all about the same! It's totally tragic tuna! If a six ever wandered into the mix, he'd be mass-eaten alive before even getting to the clothes check. What's worse, though they've got it all hanging out, a lot of the guys act so skittish and tentative that the mood hardly ever becomes charged, and the paper towels available on tables (along with lube and condoms) seem to only get used for flop sweat. There's an occasional sex tableau on a sling or herky-jerky scene in a corner—with hungry faces pressed against the fence to watch—but I barely noticed them since I was busy dodging all the customers blankly roaming the joint, self-consciously waiting for Godot to come and pinch their nipples.

illustration: Jillian Tamaki
illustration: Jillian Tamaki

I had to applaud the more proactive types, like the two gentlemen lying on their stomachs with synchronized butts perched in the air—but they had to stay frozen in that pose for hours, devoid of any available frequent fuckers. Imagine the discipline that takes! "It's dangerous in here," one guy murmured to his friend outside the supposed orgy room. "I almost poked my eye out on a tree." Oh, that's what that was. Well, my bag must have been a hazard too because an employee eventually tracked me down and demanded I check it, no doubt for three more dollars. Instead, I took my male genitalia, along with my street clothes, and went to a tranny bar for free.


Fully clothed and confident again, I determined to grab life where it hurts by actually interacting with other living organisms. At the opening-night bash for EDWARD ALBEE's Seascape, I asked ELIZABETH MARVEL—who's excellent as the female lizard— if this was her first reptile role. "Yes," she said, "but it's not my first role on all fours." Don't ask. Is it her first wildlife role? "Yes," she replied, "but I've barked like a dog." Haven't we all? (Especially in some of the above paragraphs.)

At Dillon's Lounge, the zanily entertaining The Ultimate Drag Off! pits animalistic people of all genders against each other in a tuck-and-pluck contest judged by the increasingly drunk audience. When I attended, the flawless host SWEETIE guided the gals through a MADONNA showdown that had the uncannily beautiful RAPHAELLA edging out the surly MIMI IMFURST, who lip-synched "Burning Up" while lighting sparkler titties and playing with her hairy patch. Beneath it, of course, she had male genitalia just like Madonna.

Another drag queen with balls, LADY BUNNY, has come out of the forest with a new DVD, Rated X (For X-tra Retarded), that showcases her shellac-haired self in club-performance clips, Wigstock highlights, and segments that have her blithely go-go dancing in between doing lines, I mean one-liners. Among the chortlers: "How does CLAY AIKEN remove a condom? He farts!" and "What's the difference between a priest and acne? Acne doesn't come on your face until you're 13." If those are too racy for your suddenly so sensitive ears, there are more family-friendly bits like, "What do you get when you cross a crooked politician with a crooked lawyer? CHELSEA CLINTON."

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