Tits Up, Chin Down

Talking with Crystal Kimmey, lesbian cowgirl

After a night of boot-scooting with lesbian cowgirl Crystal Kimmey, New Yorkers should be crying foul that Gotham is not even a spoke on our nation's big wagon wheel of gay rodeos and homo country bars. A three-year veteran of the gay and lesbian rodeo circuit, Kimmey rides bulls, wrestles steers to the ground, and teaches line-dancing at Charlie's, the only county-and-western gay bar in Chicago. That's not the case in Houston and Phoenix, which boast several gay honky-tonks, or Colorado, home of the International Gay Rodeo Association, with 40 chapters coast to coast. Underneath a neon sign that reads, "one of those lil' pisant country bars" we talk about Crystal's three favorite things, her six-month old son Seamus, her partner Tracuy (who's last name she took) and chute dogging.

Riding bulls could kill you. How does your partner deal? Yeah, she worries. She knows that I've already gotten some injuries. I've gotten some teeth busted out, a cracked rib, hairline fractures, things like that.

We'd been going out one month. I said to her, "You need to see something if you're going to stay with me." So I took her to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Rodeo. I had a steer whose horn just barely left a scratch on my forehead. Because he reared his head back real fast and he just barely touched me. That much lower and I would have lost an eye. And I said to her, "If you cannot handle this, I understand." She's been with me ever since.

Did you grow up chute dogging [wrestling steers]? I grew up in Southern Missouri. The first time I ever broke my leg was on a horse. His name was Bucky.

How did you get into rodeo? My old dance partner and I went to the Phoenix rodeo to show off and see how we compared to other people on the circuit. And I found out women were allowed to ride bulls in the gay rodeo. So I came home and made a few phone calls and ended up talking to a guy named Jim Brown, who runs Diamond Jim's saloon in Detroit. He told me he'd be glad to show me how to do it

You live in Chicago. Where do you practice bull riding? Wherever you can. Most of it is on-the-job training, bluntly put. So my very first rodeo, I'm like, OK, I've never done a real animal before. He's like, OK, "This is your steer. It is in the shoot." We put my rig on it which is the rope that your hand goes in and they tie it around your hand. He goes, "You're going to sit down, you're going to put your hand in the rig, you're going to wrap the rig, you're going to slide up, stick your hand in your crotch, stick your tits up, your chin down, lock your heels and go."

Did you stay on? Gate opened. Steer bucked and I went flying. I stood up and I looked at him. I was completely disappointed in myself . . . I was almost crying. He goes up to me and he goes, "Good, now we can start to learn how to ride a steer."

What do you look like on a bull? One of the eight founders of gay rodeo, Wayne Jakino once said to me, "You're not the best rider but they love to watch you ride." When I chute dog, steer wrestle, if I get the bitch of the rodeo—and I know it's going to be a bitch, OK—this is the one who during the entire rodeo, no one has dogged, no one has flipped over and pinned. And I get him, OK, I'm going to fight like crazy to get him . . . In three years, I've only buckled three times, and that's after about twenty rodeos . . . that's like 200 times I've tried. I've only been first place three times. To do that, and to want to keep doing that losing proposition, there's got to be more to it. That's what I love. It feels good. It tastes good. It makes the grass greener.

 
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