If, like Camille Paglia, you think gay men have all the fun, you’ve obviously never hung out with the lusty ladies from the Park Slope nightclub Cattyshack. Owner Brooke Webster—former proprietor of the famed, since closed Meow Mix—celebrated Pride weekend a few years ago by renting a stretch limo to cavort around town with her friends, including comic Marga Gomez and Girlie Action’s Vickie Starr. This year, she decided to do herself ten better, renting a 20-seat bus to whisk a small army from one Pride party to another. She nicely let the Fly Life fussy femme on board for Friday night’s, um, outing.
I start the evening with my trusty co-pilot, rock writer Jeanne Fury, at Cattyshack itself, where we get our first glimpse at the mondo Party Bus. Cattyshack regulars—co-promoter Nicco, go-go girl Pink Tracy, and street promoter Trish—try to figure out how to affix banners advertising their big bash tomorrow night at Fontana’s, aptly named Dyke-O-Rama.
Our Fearless Leader, Brooke, shows up a few minutes later and says hello. I note that a Jodie Foster movie, Silence of the Lambs, is playing on the TV. We suck down our drinks and try not to openly ogle the two foxy ladies bartending, Autumn and Bea. (OK, Fury tried.) Fearless Leader informs us that Bea’s sister was co-owner of the now closed Starlight. What?! Starlight’s closed?!
“I’ll tell you on the bus. Let’s go.”
All aboard the Party Bus. We’ve got a crew, far too hot to be called motley. The aforementioned Nicco (perhaps the cutest transman ever), Trish, and Pink Tracy are joined by singer Veronica of local band Mahogany, street team promoter Herlinda, go-go gal Sarah Sugah (a/k/a Miss Cattyshack), Snapshot promoter Shana, and their friends Holly, Linda, and Sacha. Later, we successfully kidnap Cattyshack bartender Bridget from her duties at Heaven.
Though the limo was swankier than our Party Bus, the benefits soon become clear: The driver couldn’t drink and drive, but we could drink while he drove. Unfortunately, it’s proving to be a bumpier ride than I had imagined. I make a mental note of the in-bus bathroom and resolve not to drink too much, then order up an alcoholic beverage from Rose Troche, The L Word executive producer-writer-director, not to mention arbiter of pretty much all cool lesbian culture in the mainstream media for the past 10 years. Deciding that a vodka cranberry might spill and stain the seats, I quickly opt for cheap champagne. This proves to be a fatal choice.
“Next year, I’m getting a monster truck,” Brooke announces.
We whiz down the West Side Highway to our first destination, the Roxy, for the famed party Lovergirl. Fearless Leader charges to the front of the velvet ropes and confers with Kate Lovergirl, does a head count of her “children,” and in we go. We’ve arrived a bit early; the Roxy is woefully empty. Thankfully, there’s a food tray. It seems everyone in our entourage has gotten the same idea at the same time: “Better eat to soak up all the alcohol,” advises one lass. In the middle of our condiment raid, I start giggling maniacally. “I can’t believe we’re eating all the food,” I say to Rose between bites. “Whatever! I can smell your ham breath!” she replies, then turns one of the trays around in a vain attempt to disguise its depleted contents.
We’re starting to get our buzz on as we reboard the Party Bus. We do a drive-by of Henrietta Hudsons—lesbian drive-bys are superior to other drive-bys, as they involve pretty girls instead of guns.
Meanwhile, Rose instructs her captive audience on how to subliminally promote tomorrow’s party. Her plan involves a scripted conversation that goes something like this:
Dyke-O-Rama Secret Agent: “Hey! What are you guys doing after the Dyke March tomorrow?”
Unsuspecting Innocent Lesbian: “Uh, going to some parties.”
Dyke-O-Rama Secret Agent: “Are you going to this one party, Dyke-O-Rama, at Fontana’s? It’s gonna be awesome! It’s got two floors, with bands and DJs and go-go girls!”
Unsuspecting Innocent Lesbian: “Oh, cool!”
When we don’t follow the script with the right fervor, Rose upbraids us. “C’mon! I’m used to working with actors!”
“That’s Rose,” says Brooke, who’s known her for 15 years, “Always directing.”
Later, I witness one of the Dyke-O-Rama Secret Agents trying out the script in real time. It goes something like this:
Dyke-O-Rama Secret Agent: “You girls going anywhere after the Dyke March?”
Unsuspecting Innocent Lesbian: “Uh, what’s that?”
Well, she tried.
We make a pit stop outside Don Hill’s for Girl Nation; Fearless Leader checks it out for us while we guzzle more champagne. She returns with bad news: Nobody’s at that party yet, either. But she’s magically delivered five new girls for the bus. That’s why Brooke’s the Fearless Leader.
We hit Heaven, a tiny, festive Chelsea spot that’s got energy and, more importantly, actual people. The music is not up to par for my snotty techno tastes, though, and Jeanne Fury is looking mighty uncomfortable anywhere near a dancefloor. Meanwhile, Rose guides me on proper jello shot consumption, which involves sucking. The new girls are making it a goal to make out with everyone on the Party Bus, and maybe even the rest of the human population. At one point one of them tells me a story (in retrospect, I am sure it was entirely fabricated) involving a girl in junior high who demonstrated how to give a guy an erection by rubbing up on her. Later, this same girl exclaims, apropos of nothing, “I don’t usually go commando on top and bottom.”
The Party Bus pulls up to the destination we’ve been looking forward to all night long: Misstress Formika’s Area 10018 party at Speed/Shelter/whatever-the-hell-it’s-called-now. It’s pretty hopping, but slower than I expected for Pride weekend. Maybe everyone’s saving their juice for Saturday and Sunday; as someone had said earlier, “If you’re gay, you’re ‘sick’ on Monday.” I find Formika and all my old pals from the days when Starlight was called Velvet and the best party in New York was Foxy. Former Foxy regulars DJ Adam and Sherry Vine are there, along with Miss Guy and Amanda Lepore. I feel a little like Dorothy at the end of the yellow brick road. Formika shouts “C’mon!,” forcefully yanks me over to the bar, and coerces me into doing another shot. Sherry sings while wearing a Summer-of-Love-y outfit, go-go boys show off their barely concealed throbbing penises, and drag queens galore gaze adoringly. Yes, Toto, there’s no place like home.
FUCKING HELL, WHO’S KEEPING TRACK OF THE TIME ANYWAY?
The Party Bus will eat you alive. Only the strong survive. Fearless Leader does her usual head count—it feels like a bizarre version of a school trip. We’ve lost a few girls along the way, and head back downtown to Fontana’s, our final destination, for a nightcap. The club is empty. Nicco and the girls head to the pool table. I try not to fall off of my bar stool. There’s a promise of pizza, but I am not sure I could even manage to chew in my current state. Rose bids us farewell, and I soon follow.
11:15 A.M. SATURDAY
Oh, my head.