Sunday, October 6, 2013

WHY I LIKE MIKE

In my head I am polyamorous. I say in my head because in real life I don’t even have a date on the horizon. But in my head, there’s more romance and slutty intrigue than a Jackie Collins paper back. There’s the guy in the canteen at Wits that puts the zest in my meals there. Just sitting in his proximity gives whatever I am munching on “flavour-flave”. The guy in a certain boutique shop at Rosebank mall who makes me wanna try on every item in the shop and ask him “how do I look?”, (to which he’d probably answer: “crazy”), there’s a few guys at Babylon Illovo and Babylon Centurion who inspire a certain kind of pelvic thrust and I even have a guy that I see in the health stores and restaurants in and around Greenside. I can’t buy anything vegan-friendly without wondering if I’ll see the “Greenside guy”. These are individuals that I don’t necessarily see every time I go to that venue, just on rare occasions, enough to make it a novelty and something to hope for, or look forward to. There’s the Cresta centre guy, the Majestic video shop on Gleneagles guy, the Killarney mall guy, the Woolies guy, and more than a few on Facebook that make me want to send them a “poke”… You get the picture. I may occasionally greet some of these gentlemen, but for the most part I hardly acknowledge their existence when I am around them. It’s enough of a thrill hoping to see them or bump into them, and just to be near them. I don’t actually want to get to know them and shatter the illusion and snatch them out of my fantasy and into the dreaded “friend-zone”. It’s a blessing and a curse that I make friends with people so quickly, so remaining distant keeps the illusion and the thrill intact without the danger of rejection or disappointment. These chaps add an extra motivation and/or thrill to popping out and picking up those soya sausages or a DVD or two, a way to spice up the mundane everyday ‘ins and outs’. I guess I could call them my “phantom-relationships”, it makes sense if I consider that I had an imaginary friend as a child, an imaginary boyfriend seems a natural progression. Imaginary boyfriends are a lot like pistachios, it’s neither easy nor necessary to have just one. There are many places and spaces in the world that I need motivation to fill. One of my favourite “phantom-boyfriends” is my gym crush. I see him three mornings a week. He is about my height but he doesn’t have long spider-monkey arms like me, he is nicely filled out and substantial. He has dark hair and stubble and beautiful thick eyebrows that canopy blue eyes that are always lost in murky thought. He is introverted and broody like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. I’d love to pull a “Cathy” and haunt outside his bedroom window. He is also terminally straight. Whereas, I feel I sometimes waft around like a piece of fluff in the wind, his gait is like that off a smooth round rock rolling slowly down a gentle incline. Introspective and deeply private, he is irresistibly fascinating. After six months of observation I have begun to feel like Sir David Attenborough doing a National Geographic special on the strong, silent straight guy. It may sound stalkerish but, like a good scientist, I am very careful not to disturb my subject. Although I do know that he is aware of me. I only observe him with my peripheral vision and when he is fully clothed (out of respect). He is a fine specimen but he is more than just a quick thrill to me. I’m trying to understand what it is about him that is so captivating and the fact that he hardly speaks to anyone else and is always alone just fuels the flames of his mystery. I really like him. I suspect it is because he is the exact opposite of me. So many of my gay brothers date their exact replicas, but I have always been attracted to the “other”. I don’t have any hopes that he will one day turn to me in the weights section and ask me if I’m available to keep his back warm next winter. I’m not deluded. But my crush on him is mine to cherish. I savour it and enjoy how much easier it is to wake up and go to gym on certain mornings. Not everything in life has to be outcomes based. Sometimes the beauty of something is that it never really takes any form, other than in the fantastical world of the imagination. Some phantom things can make you substantially happy.

Monday, September 30, 2013

VENT

My heart feels so high up my throat it must be peeping through my nose holes. I’ve got a stupid, persistent sadness that I’m struggling to shake these last few days. Last night I told myself I was being silly and that I should just sleep and that all would be well in the morning. But as I recovered from deactivating my morning alarm, there it was, sitting like one of my dogs waiting to be fed, that horrible feeling back again. “Think positive thoughts!” I yell inside my head, “focus on what you do want and less on what you don’t want”, “Be a light of positive energy!” “Think of all the amazing things you’ve been blessed with!” But the red-faced-tantrum-child within me will have none of it. I look in the mirror and almost growl a low “voetsek.” I’m just not buying it anymore. All this “positivity” and “optimism” has become strained like a small closet packed to the brim before the guests arrive, packed with feelings of rejection, fear, abandonment, frustration, anger and disappointment. “I’m bigger than this!”, “It’s no big deal.” Or “Something better will come along!”, can only be heard so many times before they begin to sting your ears like hot air inflated bluebottles on a barefoot beach. I’m sore inside. I want more than what I have and more than what life is offering me and I am choking on the guilt I feel instead of the gratitude I know I should. I’m struggling to keep my bile at bay. Where is my boyfriend? Why am I so repulsive and so easily repulsed? Where is the love? Why am I so superficial? Why do I feel invisible? Too fat and now too thin! What do they want from me? What on earth do I want? WHERE THE HELL IS THE MONEY YOU OWE ME! Am I not worth it? Am I undeserving? Does it all come too easy for me? Do I enjoy what I do so much that I no longer deserve to be paid for it? Why is it so hard for me to fight for the money I have earned? Injustice pulls at my trouser leg again. Every corner of my local mall has Dead Sea cosmetics salespeople lying in wait to harass me. Murphy dictates I must go past all of them to buy what I need. They do not understand the word “no”. I get this crazy urge to throw their Dead Sea salt in their eyes and run, but I just keep declining their “free samples” politely and walk. I pay ten bucks for parking in the shopping centre and then a car guard appears with a passive aggressive hand out too. I put on the radio to calm my nerves and there is a knock at my window. A man with bad teeth and a printed card tries to con me into believing he is deaf so I will give him money for Meth. Can you blame me for wanting to throw my Minions out of my Happymeal? I know that there are hundreds of people in the world literally starving, I know that at this moment around the globe, someone is dying of a terrible disease or being victimised and/or tortured. Yet still, I cannot shake this unease and discord. I cannot settle. I refuse to be satisfied, and I will not be satisfied until I love and am loved by the right person and I am getting the respect and livelihood that I feel in my gut I deserve. I’m not blind to all the good things. I’m just tired of trying to shove all the bad things that have happened into a hopelessly overcrowded space that is threatening to burst open and crash down on me. Admittedly, just writing this tirade has made me feel so much better and vented a zeppelin of my anger-steam. Maybe that’s all that I needed to do. Maybe my shadows merely wanted me to tip my hat at them before they shuttled off into twilight. One thing’s for sure, I feel a lot less shame than I did 695 words ago.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

BITTER

I start getting this niggle in my stomach after 10 pm at night, that I may not get enough sleep before the next day dawns. So I frantically go around trying to wrap up everything that I was doing so I can hop into bed. In the process I seem to whip myself into a frenzy which makes falling asleep somewhat of a task. Last night was one of those nights. Curiosity caused me to check in, one last time, on my Gaydar and Manhunt profiles to see if any closeted rugby players hadn't by any chance left a message declaring their undying love. No such luck. I have had a longstanding on and off relationship with internet dating (which is another essay in itself), suffice to say that my current view is nothing ventured, nothing gained and apparently it pays to advertise. I did find a message in my inbox. But it was from a 48 year old man who displayed only a picture of his erect penis and a profile that explained that he and his 52 year old partner were seeking others for “fun” and “good times” with no “issues” or “bullshit.” In the message he asked me where I “performed” and encouraged me to tell him more about myself. I wasn't interested and so I ignored him. In my profile I state clearly that I do not respond to messages from faceless profiles and seeing as I am often ignored by some of the guys I send messages to myself, I have no qualms not wasting anybody’s time by engaging with someone that I do not wish to know better. I am not interested in being a third wheel in a longstanding relationship and have bigger ambitions, than being the supposed “spark” that reignites a couple’s waning flame. Perhaps I am stifled or too closed-minded but I have never been a fan of the “open-relationship.” I am the first to admit that I am far from perfect and am much more experienced at being single than being partnered, but when I do shack up, I don’t like to share. Clearly the absence of my response got this faceless man’s heckles up, because within the five minutes I checked my e-mails there was another message from him. This time he wasn't as friendly. He gave me a rundown of my profile saying that it started out all brazen and “affirmative” (interesting choice of words.) But that it gets weak and fizzles out towards the end and that he is sure that is how I am when I perform on stage or in the bedroom (less eloquently put by him.). I must have read the message ten times. Here I am, 33 years old and enjoying a wonderful career brimming with loving and supportive friends and family and yet once again a bully has managed to rear his ugly head, a faceless bully that has never even met me, never seen me on stage. A man who has managed to find a partner in this life, who should be older, wiser, happier and giving me advice, is instead trying to attack me and bring me down. I should have blocked his profile and gone to sleep. That would have been the wiser thing to do. Instead, I responded: “LOL! Thanks for the feedback. Judging by your comments and the picture on your profile you must be a dick.” I wanted to defend myself. I didn't want this man to think he could talk to me like that. I wanted him to know that I could cut back. Within a few short minutes his response sat in my inbox like a hard-planted blackhead in an otherwise clear complexion. As I opened it I could see it was awash with spelling and grammatical errors and half cast sentences. He had torn away at his keyboard in an attempt to lash me with his poorly translated thoughts. To sum it up he said that he pitied me for believing my career would last anything more than 20 months and that it would end in humiliating sexual favors, and that I would not even be able to afford horse meat with my meager earnings as a prostitute. It was ridiculous and made almost no sense but the bile that fueled the tirade unnerved me. Again I responded: “Sleep tight you bitter old Queen. I pray I never end up like you.” Then I blocked his profile, closed my lap top and went to bed. Even in the safety of my duvet, lying next to my best friend (visiting for two weeks), a woman who oozes talent and loves and respects me, I was still being haunted by this faceless stranger. I was upset with myself for my low blow. Why did I have to call him an old queen? Why did I know that would get to him? What if I did become someone just like him one day? What did I do to attract his negativity towards me? Was it just the full moon outside? Why are people so mean? Why are he and his partner not satisfied with one another? Is Love just a fairy tale I keep trying to sell to myself as a truth? What did he want from me and why on earth is he so unhappy?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

VULNERABLE

What would you determine to be a “deal breaker”? The man you Love is no longer satisfied with just your caresses. Would denying him these attentions from another be selfish? What if he claims to still love you, with every fibre of his being. He merely craves variety. “We are men after all!” he says with conviction. What do you tell your jealous heart? Is it wrong to want to keep someone so endearing, all to yourself? Is it honorable to attempt to possess another human being? Is it perhaps not even more foolish to give yourself to another person? Can we not Love and hold ourselves fast? Must we lose our footing and as we do, our self-respect? Another scenario: You've been independent and mostly on your own since the age of eleven. You know how to fend for yourself. You are kind and amusing to others but also aloof and keep everyone at arms-length, including friends and family. How are you to open yourself up to another now? How can you make yourself vulnerable after two decades of barricading the soft and fleshy parts of yourself. Would this be wise? When around you are couples carelessly tearing at one another’s heart’s and throwing loyalty and fidelity to the wind alongside caution. “Have another line babe, there’s still a gram left.” Yet another scene: You sleep beside him. You are like well-worn chairs for one another. Passion has been smothered in layers of dusty familiarity and apathy. You stay because you fear the unknown. No fate worse than to be alone. And yet as you lay in the shadow of his back you know he no longer sees you in the waking hours. Romance and breathless excitement is replaced by ritual and echoed sighs falling on deaf ears. What are we doing? Where are our “happily ever after’s”? How do we send this back and make sure they deliver the right Knight in Shining Armour that will “love us until we learn how to love ourselves.” This isn't Disney or Dante’s Cove and I don’t think I like this particular show.
Ad some cliché to your gay: Big boys don’t cry, suck it up and build a bridge over your big girl panties because; you may be a Fairy, but this sure as hell is no Fairy-tale.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PERVE

I’m burning up. Not because I have a temperature, nor because I have the flu. I am red-faced and soaking wet because I have been working out. Mostly a series of (apparently) stomach flattening squats and lunges. I am cooking! I’m at my locker and stripping the clingy wet gym gear off me so I can go and sauna and get even hotter and burn more calories. I complete the awkward one leg to another disrobing process, which frees me to drape a towel over my modesty, and make my way to the sauna. This is my ritual. These are the sacrifices I must make to the Gods of flat stomachs, if they are to bestow their gifts upon me. I try and meditate or “come to my senses” in the sauna as I have been taught in my Practical Philosophy classes. All I can think about is how hot I am and how unique each and every naked or semi-naked body that passes the sauna appears to me. Unique blends of hair, flesh, muscle and fat. No two recipes the same. There are so many people in the world. I wonder when I will meet a “special” person again. I meet dozens of people a week but there has been no real spark or connection for a while. I tell myself it’s because I’ve been busy. Am I really that strange or “one-of-a-kind” that suitable partners should be so few and far between? What if I become one of those lonely old gay men in the corner of the club that all the younger queers seem to sneer at? Would that be so terrible? Then one day there is actually someone who gives me that rollercoaster feeling. He’s older than me, late thirties or early forties; he’s almost 2 metres tall and has a big beefy build. He is incredibly well-groomed and has the most perfectly shaped eyebrows I’ve seen. He wears flamboyant striped shirts and must have a tan-can account because he is nut brown. He’s almost too perfect. He is like a clipped hedge of topiary and I am more of a shaggy bush. (I am not referring to pubic grooming; I mean that he is more refined than I am!) The first time I saw him; I couldn’t help but steal glances at him. I assumed I would not qualify for his attentions, because I am significantly smaller than him but I could have sworn he winked at me as he sashayed to the showers. Since then, we have blatantly been scanning and printing one another every time we both happen to be at the gym. Now I need to actually pluck up the courage to speak to him, but this is where my conflict begins. I am enjoying the fantasy and don’t want to burst the bubble. He is my incentive to go to gym. It motivates me to get up at 5am and squat my guts out just on the odd chance that he may be there and I can get those fantastic butterflies in my stomach again. What if he opens his mouth and he has a nasal voice and a noticeable sibilant ‘S’! Why do stupid things like this put me off so badly? And if I no longer feel an attraction towards him, what would I have to look forward to at the gym then? Sometimes the hunt is so much more exciting than actually acquiring what you’ve been hunting. I sure do love a good hunt. Maybe it’s better to take the plunge and strike up a conversation with Mr Handsome Hedges. I guess I could find another crush if he doesn’t fancy my tickle. I’ll just have to find another motivation to do my rituals and pay homage to the deities of killer abs.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

THE "STRAIGHT WHISPERER" in praise of straight men

I was about 20 years old, and had to take my banged up baby blue beetle “Betty the Boopmobile”, to a garage in Rondebosch, Cape Town to be fixed. The ultra-straight and greasy (yet not unattractive) mechanic scanned me up and down. He was looking at a camp, skinny, drama student on financial-aid, with cheap highlights. Cliché predicts that he would have hated me, right? Wrong! He gave me two new tyres; panel beat my dented dome hubcaps (by hand) and then sent me on my way assuring me he would send me an invoice. He refused payment and off I drove, never to receive that invoice. I have many stories like this. I’m not sure why they happen to me. A friend of mine believes that the only explanation is that I am in fact, the “straight whisperer”. As a gay guy, it is not unusual that I have a very special bond with my mother. She’s my solace against life’s knocks, like a gum guard when ‘kak-luck” tries to kick me in the teeth. Her love and food fortify me enough to face any battles, providing emotional and physical “padding” (love-handles, Eish!). It’s also pretty much a given that women, in general, play a very significant role in my life. Most of the friendships I have treasured have been with the opposite sex. I could also write a book about all the wonderful gay men I have known, but I want to discuss my gratitude for the extraordinary straight men that have featured in my story thus far. There were: Truck drivers clearing the road, way beyond the yellow line, so I could slowly pass in my meek 1.3 Bantam bakkie; Gorgeous, muscular hetero barmen, dancing in a circle around me, (to protect me from a rabid drunk queen with octopus hands). A handsome and well-known soap star (now married) offering to kiss me as a dare, during a drinking game - causing me to run for my life screaming- (The kiss would have meant nothing to him, but it would have moved the earth for me, so I bolted!) Heterosexual men, have been good friends and confidantes and have even come to my aid when I have needed them. I’ll tell you about two of my favourites: My dad and my brother. I have received nothing but, 1 ton truckloads of love and support, from these two great Little’s, all my life. Even as I have dragged, camped, minced and “poofed” my wares on stages, dance floors and “voorkamer’s” across the country. I know I am beyond blessed to know and love such considerate and masculine gentlemen, who shower me with Love and approval. Seeing your first born son or older brother on stage in drag or naked (or both!) and showing me nothing but pride and good humour afterwards, is not just progressive but exemplary and I am grateful for this. But my good fortune with hetero men goes further than just the familial bond. Despite being bullied at boarding school (whilst in the closet). I have been lucky enough to be accepted and (often) even loved by most of the straight men that have come to know me since coming out at 18. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about seducing straight men or being able to have my way with them (Although, I have fallen for one or two of them over the years.) I am talking about the unique friendships I have enjoyed with certain straight men, men who are comfortable enough in their sexuality to be completely accepting of mine. I concur that attractive straight men are quite irresistible for most of us gay men (we always want what we can’t have.). But they don’t have to be the queer man’s kryptonite. Once you accept that they are not gay and no amount of tequila will change that, then an amazing platonic relationship can flourish. One wild drunken night in Cape Town I found myself being cradled by a beautiful young man on the steps of the club, and as I lay in his arms beyond inebriated, he gently sang Will Young’s “Evergreen” in my ear. He doesn’t have a gay bone in his body and is also married with a child now -not that this makes you a heterosexual! (There are too many wedding rings hiding in rented lockers, in Bathhouses on a Thursday night for that!) But he’s really not gay. I am so grateful for witnesses because I can scarcely believe it happened either! During long runs of bigger productions like “panto” I have been blessed with “straight husbands”. Close straight guy mates to share my failed romances with and a fresh and unique perspective of the “other” side of the male psyche. “Don’t call him back, let him hunt you a bit.” he would suggest, and in return I could dispense my own advice with a more feminine/intuitive flair, like: “If she says you don’t have to buy her a birthday present, she doesn’t really mean it.” and a lot of laughter about the differences between gay and straight men, like their choice of underwear and deodorant, when sharing a dressing room. It was a straight male nurse in a Durban public hospital that caringly and unflinchingly held me over a toilet when I was at my most wretched from a bout of severe food poisoning. And I will never forget a certain buff redheaded actor in SpongeBob the musical reassuring me one melancholy matinee, that if he was gay “he would have been my bitch.” *I died and went to Heaven!* I blow kisses (platonic of course!) to all the straight barmen, DJ’s, Sound technicians, venue owners, managers, mates, boyfriends and husbands of mates, and ‘random straight strangers’, that helped a homo out. Thank you. I know that homophobia, prejudice and ignorance are still rife out there. But to all the straight boys that we love and love us back, I salute you!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

OUT-CAST


What should one do, if one is beginning to suspect, that one is a loser?
Every January, for the past few years, I find myself in the same situation. Despite working tirelessly and diligently the rest of the year, I am broke, unemployed and desperate to find something to do, that will prove to me that I am not a loser. This recent January was no exception. Despite sweating away half my body weight in the last pantomime for three months, unforeseen expenses lay in ambush and January bared her teeth at me again. January is also “audition” month, and this January was brimming with gruelling auditions, followed by nerve-crippling call backs, and anxiety sprouting elimination rounds. There were auditions for: Films, sitcoms, commercials, theatre and musicals, all of them, providing their own unique brand of self-doubt and requiring a different type of fear-tackling. This year despite a few close calls, I didn’t get ANY of them. “Niks”, “Nada”. I was the “un-chosen” one. And it sucked like a surfaced Kreepy Krauley.
As I approach my 33rd birthday I am getting a bit long in the tooth to play ensemble and let’s face it, I wouldn’t be my first choice for the macho new game ranger in “The Wild” either!
So my house-of-cards-self-esteem comes crashing down and I begin to panic. What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I have what they want? What could I have done differently? Wait a minute! Why am I still single? Why hasn’t anyone hot, poked me on Facebook recently? Why am I getting fat? Why am I getting older? Why do hangovers last 3 days now when they used to last a morning? Why do I have to do squats and eat NOTHING delicious, if I want a flat stomach? Why Larry? Why?
Then out of the blue I am offered not one but two lecturing jobs. “You want me to teach three bunches of ‘twentysomethings’ for two hours every week for seven weeks?”, I ask in disbelief. “Me?” To which my very pregnant friend Sarah replies: “Yup.”
Then another University offers me the opportunity to teach my very own curriculum (Independent Theatre making self-created from scratch) for twelve weeks. I am flabbergasted and excited and even more petrified than I was, for any of the January auditions. What if the students get bored? What if they don’t listen? What if I suck?
What have I got to lose?
In less than two days it will be Valentine’s Day and I will be giving my first class at Wits. I am still single and broke, and will have to wait for two months before my first pay check. But this is something new. Maybe I can do this? Maybe this is the role I’ve been waiting to be cast in?
Maybe Valentine’s, this year, won’t be so bad, single or not.