The definite seasons on the east coast. The passing days, changing. Slowly.
Each day has a brand new identity. New light. Color.
The bland, endless Los Angeles summer has finally come to an end. After 8 long years. I am heading home.
I pull on my knee-length, woolen socks and my heavy boots.
I am going to therapy… daily. I am finally addressing the issues I have been ignoring this past year. You know, those pesky medical issues.
Strangely, without warning… even though we share the same streets. I never see him. Nor do I wish to conjure him, manifest him, make him appear… I had lunch with one of his co-workers the other day, a youngster (we met at an AA meeting) who wanted his job.
It was funny being at the same table as someone who works in close proximity to him. Their opinion.
They knew the story. An urban myth that they delighted in fact checking.
Of course there’s loads going on (Film/House/Social) but somehow I don’t have the energy to write it.
I take pictures and let that suffice.
I found a picture of Joe. He’s obsessively going to the gym. A man mountain. In his late 60′s now.
I scarcely ever think about him. Isn’t that odd? To have no thoughts about someone who was once the center of your world.
With a last moment, radical change of plan the boy and I found ourselves in Woodstock, two hours north of NYC.
An effortless drive with Amelia and Stephanie.
He had arrived from Toronto the night before… looking even more beautiful than I remembered him. His flashing green eyes, his perfect pale skin.
The house is cozy and beautifully decorated. The land around it manicured.
The kitchen well designed for making huge dinners for many people.
We drove into the quaint town of Woodstock for Santa’s arrival. We arrived too late.
There are very many, odd-looking people in Woodstock. This seems to be the place where hippies come to die. During their twilight years communing with the ghosts of Jerry Garcia and Janice Jopling.
We gawped in awe at the Hippy Alternative Santa with his bearded female companion.
We wandered the tiny shops that sell scented candles and argyle mittens.
In one of the curious hippy shops an old man wearing a black robe… playing a long flute asked Stephanie riddles. She looked askance. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She said.
It was a bit too Lord of the Rings for me.
A few too many gardenias painted on the clap board.
Christmas Eve we ate gigot, a traditional French Christmas eve treat. We sang Christmas tunes in the kitchen as Mary (our hostess) cooked.
A late night. The boy curled around me. The dogs at my feet. The night before Christmas.
We woke on Christmas morning to a light dusting of snow. Thrilling!
We ate toasted panatone and coffee for breakfast.
The boy and Stephanie made cookies… they tasted divine.
After Christmas dinner we checked our tarot cards by a roaring fire. It caused Stephanie a certain amount of comfort and tears.
Amelia suggested that we celebrate the solstice with pagan rituals. We burned the past in the fire and toasted our good fortune.
Late last night we watched The Impossible which made us all sob.
Occasionally we (he and I) would sneak away from the party and… well you know the rest.
Here you go:
There is a week of mayhem to report. A week of extraordinary conduct. A week of moving back east.
I can’t show you his face.
Only in NYC.
Then, I meet a woman who KNOWS all about my film. I mean, she knows the story like an urban myth. But it’s not a myth. It’s the sad truth.
“Oh, I know this story,” she said. Her eyes sparkling with anticipation. “I think he’s my friend on Facebook. Yes, look…” she pulls out her smart phone and there he is. I push the phone away. I shouldn’t be looking at that.
“What was he thinking?” she roars with laughter.
Women love my film. It confirms everything they think they know about men. The injustice of men.
Dead five-year olds. 20 of them.
The children are shot dead by a crazed, entitled white boy. The little bodies buried this week. Lined up against the wall and executed. You know they didn’t have a clue. You know they did as they were told.
I thought about the little dog facing the lethal injection.
A horrific pendant: ten Afghan children are splattered into the mud by a drone.
Somehow their little brown faces are missing from the media. Somehow the little white children in Connecticut are worth more.
We asked you to vote for him, now he’s letting us down all over again. Surprise, fucking surprise.
I saw a man being mugged on the 5 train. Into Manhattan, a stealthy, tall, nimble black man rips an iPhone 4s out of an asian man’s hands leaving him with his ear phones on his head. The rest of us sat amazed.
The white people urged him to call the police but he said, “I’m already late for work.”
I’m buying a parker. It’s lined with blood-red shearling. Like the monkey they found in Ikea.
Dinner in the neighborhood, dinner at the Mercer Kitchen with Courtney, dinner at the Standard Grill with Brock.
Dinner with Cristina who I have not seen for 30 years on the floor of her palatial Upper East Side home. It was as if all those 30 years just melted away. That we were friends again from last week. Funny, compelling, brilliant, beautiful Cristina.
Dinner with new gay AA friends in cheap diners.
Dinner at Mary’s Fish Camp with Benoit. We stop at Boxers (gay bar) on the way home. There’s nothing for us. Benoit peels off leaving me on the street and as I wait for the green light a handsome green eyed man says hello.
At first I wonder why. Why is this stunningly handsome 27-year-old man saying hello to me.
Then we’re in Barracuda kissing each other.
I’m wearing that huge fur hat.
I can’t kiss him any more. I can’t suck any more spit out of his mouth. I can’t look into his green eyes.
I am so overwhelmed by him I walk through the rain until I am soaked to the skin. Wondering how it happens? Wondering how it ends up like this?
All the way home I’m humming Nature Boy to myself.
In the morning my room smells of damp fur.
On October 1st I will be 16 years sober.
That means that I have not had a drink or a drug for 16 years.
I got sober and I didn’t relapse.
Gay men find it impossible to stay sober. They relapse again and again. The reason is clear: sex. Sexual addiction. I am not suggesting that all gay men who claim that they are alcoholic are in fact sex addicts but most gay men who can’t stay sober cite sex as the primary reason for relapse.
The simple fact of the matter is that most of the time, readily available anonymous hook ups quickly take the place of alcohol and drugs. When a sober man walks into the apartment of a super hot man doing crystal meth, sobriety is quickly flushed down the toilet along with HIV status.
I hear the story over and over again. Yet, as a community, we think we can get away with this risky behavior. It is an arrogant vanity.
Gay AA is a sad affair. I go periodically—mostly when I flee the super charged straight stag meetings because I find the straight, young newcomers too triggering.
While many straight sober people create a new life with AA that involves abandoning bars and other locations that might lead to relapse, gay sober men often want a sober version of the life they had before, complete with dance parties, bars and gogo boys. Any reason to have a party will do—including the absurd “three-month anniversary.” Or, as one galling invitation I received said, “Help Joe S. celebrate his one-month anniversary.”
Forgive me if I’m wrong but anniversaries are a yearly celebration.
Many of these sober parties are indistinguishable from their non sober equivalent: scantily clad men line up for espresso machines manned by disco short-wearing super hot straight guys more used to shaking cocktails than dispensing coffee to gay guys jacked up on caffeine. Unable to attend drug-crazed gay circuit parties, many gay sober men in LA flock to the sober circuit parties, such as Hot ‘n Dry, which is held annually in Palm Springs. These events are more likely to take someone out than any other reason I’ve ever heard in gay AA. Yearly, after this event, bedraggled gay men turn up at meetings, their eyes blazing from excessive drug use, taking newcomer chips. Should I be surprised? After all, the Hot n’ Dry ticket salesman had assured me that it would be “a sex fest from the moment you arrive at the Ace Hotel.”
The absurd idea that we can behave like we have always behaved as long as we have a deluded and lackluster understanding of the 12 steps just doesn’t work. Two years ago, after I appeared on Sex Rehab With Dr. Drew, I suggested that within the gay community, we might have a sexual unmanageability problem and was flooded with vitriol. But that’s not going to stop me from sharing what I believe to be serious issues.
The other serious issue within gay AA, in my opinion, is the resistance to God or a Higher Power. Most of my gay sponsees are understandably wary of God. The Christian God—the religious God—hasn’t made them feel very welcome in the past and has actually steeped them in shame and misery. To find that at the heart of AA is a God—even if it’s one of their own understanding—is anathema to most gay men. From what I can determine, most gay men just ignore the God part of the 12 steps—a relevant fact when the God part, in my estimation, accounts for roughly 90% of recovery. Working through the God options with gay men can be excruciating. Why bother looking for spiritual validation when they can get immediate validation on Grindr?
I used to love AA in LA; my love for it was actually the reason I first moved to LA. Now I hate it. It’s like a cult—sober grandees ruling over desperate men, the film industry providing the sickest of backdrops: men flaying themselves before agents and film executives in the hope of catching crumbs from the sober table I see this everywhere from the straight stag meetings, where misogyny and homophobia are expressed freely, to the sickest meetings of all: Gay AA in LA.
For all of these reasons and more, last November, after nearly 16 years, I stopped going to AA meetings. I was exhausted, disillusioned and utterly miserable. My last meeting in LA, at the iconic Log Cabin on Robertson in West Hollywood, was a gay meeting attended by 300 gay men.
I couldn’t walk away fast enough.
And yet yesterday, after a nine-month hiatus, I walked into a co-ed meeting in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I was an hour early. I helped set out the chairs in ten neat rows and then I made the coffee. During the meeting, I shared my resentments and my fears and afterwards, a tiny woman called Dianne came up to me and let me have two full barrels of her tough love wisdom.
“It’s time for you to get fucking humble,” she said. “Come back and do fucking 90 in 90 like a newcomer.”
She was right. After months away from AA, I felt spiritually bankrupt. I stopped fighting and did what we are all meant to in the rooms of AA: I gave in.
Later that evening, the young man I helped set up the meeting took me for dinner. We talked recovery. This morning, we had sex. There I was, doing the walk of shame, doubled down. I had once again fucked a newcomer, counting days. It’s my story in AA. The younger men find my honesty irresistible and I can’t say no.
When I first got sober in London, the only gay men I met in AA were old queens at the Eton Square meeting. I met a couple of gay men in NA but within the deluded gay community, at that time, there was a mantra I heard over and over that “quitting was for losers.” Several years later, after celebrities like Boy George got sober, the rooms of AA and NA filled quickly with what we now recognize as gay recovery.
Back then I was accused, by my drinking friends, of being a contrarian—of rocking the boat and spoiling it for the others. As it happened, I was in the vanguard. I remember being hounded by drunken gay men who were outraged that I might, just by being sober, challenge their powerlessness and un-manageability. Of course those very same men now thank me for introducing them to the 12 steps.
After a few months away from AA, I am ready to start again but, as Dianne said, I’ve got to get humble, forget all those years of sobriety and do 90 meetings in 90 days. For the first time in a long time, I value my life. I should have left LA years ago but I’m a tenacious old queen; I didn’t want to let go. Just one more meeting might fix me. Just more line, one more Vodka Tonic and the crazy opera playing in my head might stop.
Walking back into AA in New York was a relief, a joy—just like it used to be. I want to be sober. The only problem getting in the way of that is me. But I know that if I’m going to be able to do it, I’ll have to learn how to say no to sex. As a single gay man, the consequences are dire if I don’t.
At this time of life it is time to take a good hard look at what is and what could be.
The obvious frailties: reading glasses, aching joints, the prospect of a life without enduring love.
If I had only invested in a surrogate child. All my fears may be allayed.
That, for the uninitiated, was irony. You know how I feel about those surrogate gaybies. Abandoned to nannies until they can talk. Dressed up like performing monkeys.
“They spent every weekend on Fire Island this season and didn’t take the baby once.”
I am judged by what I own, by the company I keep, the baby I can afford, the art on my walls, the boy in my bed, the ideas in my head, the club I belong to, the house of my dreams, the car in the drive, the clothes on my back, the God of my understanding. I am judged.
Who am I? Take all of this away and leave me on the streets of Brooklyn and I am content. I want to be just like you. My history erased. My name changed. Once again.
The fire sweeps through the apartment building. The fire captains excited by the prospect of a real fire, manageable, heroic. Nobody is injured. The windows are smashed. The art deco facade blackened.
The jews are on the streets blowing their horns for the new year.
“Are you Jewish?” The young Hasidic Jew asks me.
” No. I’m not a Jew.”
I change my mind the next time I am asked. “Yes,” I lie, “I’m a Jew.”
He takes out the ram’s horn. I stand there in front of this eager youth with boyish whiskers and a large black hat, (the bastard child hat of the sombrero and the fedora) and for ten minutes he chants incantations and blows his horn.
Delightful Prospect Park adjoining the Museum could have been designed by Capability Brown but was (of course) designed by Frederick Law Olmsted the designer of Central Park.
We ate at the new burger joint in Park Slope. My burger was made of Elk.
As I was ordering my elk burger I opened an urgent email. My friend’s brother had been shot dead on his farm in Maryland. He was found, partially eaten by animals, on his tractor. They have no idea if it is suicide or murder.
I filed the tragic news as ‘pending’. I called his Mother and offered condolences and help.
These streets. They yield all manner of fine opportunity. I can disappear on these streets.
Today it is dark, wet and grey. The wind is warm however, the rain splashes onto my face. The Little Dog sits patiently outside the coffee shop.
Yesterday I lay in the arms of a beautiful boy who wanted me to fuck him. His cat curled up in a shoe box.
After he came we lay watching Glee in bed.
Mawkish, sentimental nonsense, a world invented by gay men where periodically an entire orchestra will appear from nowhere and youngsters will start singing hearty cover versions of popular tunes. A world run by the LGBT community. Bullying each other with waspish bon mot.
The drama is lackluster and situational.
The one-dimensional characters problems are slight, their solutions are wholly achievable. They worry to the point of suicide about their home town until they are saved by the gay hero.
This new gay frontier, where blue-collar dads talk like Kant, where black trans boys walk freely and unchallenged around a mid-west high school in full drag… this homo-utopia merely betray the dreams these gay writers had about their own youth. The dream of freedom.
“You’re Fired!” “You’re Cut!”
But of course Kate has a drinking problem and a lost dream and Whoopie wants to be Maya Angelou.
I took the dog and the train into Manhattan where I met with old friend Oscar Humphries who looked amazingly well.
We have had our fair share of adventure (all over the world) these past ten years: Driving 24 hours into the Australian bush to a Bachelor and Spinster ball for the Sydney Morning Herald. Louche nights in Paris and London…
Son of Dame Edna Everage creator Barry Humphries he is perhaps one of the most talented yet self-destructive people I know. We went to an NA meeting on Prince St. Then dinner at Cafe Select. I just adore him.
I had a late date after dinner with a charming man. We brought cup cakes and drank hot chocolate on West 4th St.
I climbed into bed at midnight and fell straight to sleep.
Nightmare: The Cohen’s, David and his 6 children are looking after The Little Dog. I bump into the youngest son who tells me without compassion that “You’ll probably be sad when I tell you this but…” they had to put The Little Dog to sleep because it was too ‘nippy’.
Were I the Moor I would not be Iago.
In following him I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so for my peculiar end.
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, ’tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at. I am not what I am
The ethnic mix, the 19th Century architecture, the potential.
Caribbean accents shouting over the sleepy neighbourhood.
A man, wearing his dreadlocks crammed into a woolen hat, screams at a lover. “Suck my dick you bitch!” his roadside companions say, “Chill man.” He ignores them, grabbing hold of his cock through his baggy jeans. “Go on, suck my fucking cock you fucking bitch.”
Every morning at sun rise I walk the dog through the fetid neighbourhood.
The once elegant streets, charming garden enclaves, Victorian arches to long abandoned mews. The beaux-arts flourishes and tatty pediments, the flaking eves and badly painted architrave in desperate need of wholesale renovation/conservation.
“This is the front line.” I hear a cocky young white boy say to his distressed looking girl.
The charming coffee shops and elegant restaurants are already here. Franklin is heralding the beginning of the great gentrification. Some of the multi-occupancy dwellings have already been restored to their original 19th Century grandeur. The streets will be reclaimed.
Yesterday, after my long walk, I met a young actor kid who sat with us and told his life story.
Later that day I met his gf, he gave me a button that says ‘Is That A Poem in Your Pocket?’
We are going to take some pictures today. I want to wrap him in a sheet like those Eve Arnold pictures of Marilyn Monroe.
I hung at the club with my old friend S and my occasional fuck… Levi.
S and I had a lovely dinner at Cafe Select then headed over to the Bowery Hotel when we met occasional film producer Sofia Sondervan.
On the way there, S warned me that Sofia was prone to heavy drinking and bouts of anger stemming from post natal depression.
She told me that they had fallen out but S had since forgiven Sofia. Sofia had ‘taken a break’ from the film industry.
Sofia is a sturdy woman, sporting large country hips perfect for child bearing.
A character Thomas Hardy might have written
The face of a jolly farmer’s wife, complete with ubiquitous ruddy complexion and broken veins in her nose and cheeks. A solid, Dutch female, roll-mop eating her way though her late 40′s.
Her large, masculine hands more suited to kneading dough that writing script notes?
At first she was utterly charming, her blue eyes flashing flirtatiously. She showed me a picture of her dog. She ordered martinis.
She was accompanied by a young woman who could very well have been her daughter.
After a few drinks some women disintegrate. Usually older, blousy blonds… like Sofia.
She embarrassed us all by telling loud stories of S’s past sexual conquests… then made sure single S was aware that she (Sofia) was married and had a child.
Her increasing drunkenness thinly disguising her passive aggression.
The subtext was clear: like many married people Sofia looks down her nose at her unmarried friends. The tyranny of marriage.
She announced that she had ‘fully financed and cast’ her new film. Triumphal, decadent and wholly ersatz.
I asked, quite innocently, if the young girl sitting with her was her daughter.
Sofia baulked. “No”, she said. “How could you say such a thing? This girl is 29 years old”.
“Oh,” I said. “She looks like a 19-year-old.”
“Yes”, the girl said smugly, “I get that all the time.”
It wasn’t the most helpful thing to say. It didn’t exactly help Sofia out of the vain quicksand into which she now began to rapidly sink.
“How old do I look?” She asked.
“55?” I guessed.
Sofia ‘suddenly’ realized who I was. Her tone changed. She had been reading this very blog. She had read the LA Weekly article about me going to jail…
“What is the difference between jail and prison?” She mocked.
“I”m assuming that you are a bit touchy about your age.” I mused.
Sofia decided that this was a good time to unleash the hounds.
She told me what she knew… real and imagined. That I hated AA. That she had ‘heard’ things about me from other people. ‘She invented fights with Joe Simon and mocked the white in my beard. Yes, she tried to shame me for being older than her. She pretended that I had ‘friended’ her on Facebook when the opposite was true.
For those of you who know me… and I mean… KNOW me… this drunken attack was ill-judged. S left the table.
I cocked my semi-automatic and took aim into the fat, menopausal, drooping face of Ms. Sofia Sondervan.
“Do you want some good advice Sofia?” I asked quietly. “If you don’t want men to think you are 55 years old… lose some weight, get those unsightly bags removed from under your eyes and do something with your hair.” I smiled comfortingly into her bovine face. “I mean, let’s face it… your credits are lacking, your choices are poor. You should be at home with your husband… if he can bear the sight of you. If touching that aging, crepe skin and those white, wiry pussy pubes still turns him on. At least you have your baby… the great thing about babies? They’ll give you unconditional love regardless of what you look like.”
She took it well. Gulped at her dirty martini and smiled at her friend.
“Did that make you feel better?” She asked naively. “Oh yes,” I said. “I can live quite well on a diet of pure vitriol.”
“Tell S, ” she parried, “Both of us are married.” Her smug friend nodded in agreement and held up her left hand. “…and we both have kids.”
As I was leaving I saw the equally reptilian Producer Dan Halsted sipping water with his pugnacious assistant in another part of the bar. All the freaks were out last night. He’s probably at an AA meeting right now conning the assembled crowd with his story of perfect recovery. Fuck. What a cunt.
New York City. September 2012.
How exquisite the weather is. How gorgeous the men are. How much the Little Dog loves the street.
I sit in Cafe Zelda on Franklin and drink coffee and eat the home-made pop tarts full of delicious raspberry jam.
I take the subway to Union Square or to 42nd Street.
Of course I’ve been taking masses of pictures… some of which I post on here.
The other part of the story?
Hanging most days at The Mercer Hotel.
I much prefer The Mercer. I am so over my private club… especially since the piss elegant renovations. The newly decorated corridors in the hotel part of my club look like the old corridors from The Shining… sans creepy twins.
The staff have all been replaced and the service was terrible. Waiting 40 mins for a cup of coffee.
The manager at The Mercer installs me at a sweet little table where I meet actors and actresses. I am currently casting my movie.
I had lunch with Lady Rizo and Alexander. Great fun catching up.
I bumped into the perfectly charming Josh Hartnett and his girlfriend Tamsin. Malibu friend. Josh is very excited about the film he’s directing and Tamsin was off to Spain to make a movie.
Bryan Singer fell into the lobby a little hung over and after a big, sweaty hug sat with his LA friends.
Powerful LA people seldom manage to maintain their power once in NYC. Especially during fashion week. The cheap veneer falling away for all to see what lays within.
Met a very frosty Olivia Wilde with the perennially cheerful Paul Haggis. It was probably my fault she was so grumpy. I said, “Oh hi, I know Tao… your ex-husband.” Her face dropped. “My EX husband.” She stressed.
When are you not meant to mention the ex? I thought their divorce was amicable? Then I made the situation worse by telling her how wonderful she was in People Like Us… considering what a ghastly film it was.
Paul just looked at me fall deeper into the shit storm… of my own… making.
Dinner at Bond St. with CM.
A wonderfully romantic walk by the piers with an occasional love.
Housewives of NYC and second-rate rappers. Food was good tho.
Chatted with a new gay dad who told me emphatically that I should support ‘gay marriage’. He showed me a video of his kid crawling. The video was taken from across the room. He told me that he rarely sees his kid during the week.
I asked him what I ask my straight friends: “Did you take maternity leave?” No! He guffawed. Why would he do that?
The kid is being brought up by nannies. Of course.
It made a bad party worse. I tried not to react… I really tried.
Currently writing my AA expose piece. It’s proving harder than I imagined.