The Man Show: Or, My First Trip To A Gay Club

• It should be noted that the place was called Hotdog. Or maybe HotDog. Or Hot Dog. It's hard to say. The signage was in all caps, and the one inside was adorned with sequins. Regardless, it stands (or stood, since it's about to relocate) at the corner of Santa Monica and Fairfax, which is pretty much the pulsing glittery heart of West Hollywood. And it's called Hotdog. And that's all I could've hoped for in my first experience.• Being a straight man in a gay club feels a lot like spying on people who shouldn't have let me into the party. • Really: Hotdog. I think all gay clubs should be this blatant. Were I to found one, I would name it something like Jimmy Cock's or Frank's Ass Shack or Lance's Bait and Tackle Shop. Or Dudeville. • Man, some of those guys were cut. Insanely. I wish I had the build of a gay guy. Holy crap. • There was always at least one dancer up on the mainstage, and sometimes as many as three. He was a ripped but blandly handsome guy in a G-string whose job was to dance back and forth to the insistent house beat, which pumped out a consistent 4/4 thump thump thump thump no matter what song was playing. (The DJ was pretty slick at blending all the crappy songs into one long crappy song, but more about him later.) The performer(s) also had dollar bills tucked into his thong, and the DJ kept exhorting us to "be sure and tip these dancers, y'all." This was somewhat surprising, as most straight clubs I've been to don't have a scantily clad woman gyrating on a pedestal and letting drunks shove sweaty bills into their underwear, though I admit that would definitely spice things up. But I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the dancers. It's not like they're actually doing a routine or anything, and they're up there for what must feel like hours. And the money has to be terrible. • More topless guys than I expected. • And now, presenting The Top Five Guys That Cruised Me: 5) The guy who gave me the eye as he walked past and turned to look. I would place him higher on the list, but since it was just eye contact and nothing else, he's just good enough for last place. Sorry, bud. 4) The guy who squeezed my upper arm as he slid past me through a doorway. Touching people as you pass them is nothing big, and I do it all the time at clubs to part the sea of humanity. But this guy squeezed. 3) The guy who gave me a shoulder check as he walked past me, even though there was at least 2 feet of clearance to my left and I was standing to the rear of the bar and there was practically no one nearby. 2) The guy who quickly squeezed my ass as I was bent forward over the bar trying to order a Newcastle from a dour-looking Hispanic bartender. Thanks, guy. 1) Eduardo. As I was standing idly near the dance floor, content to chew on a short red plastic drink straw and observe the mass of intricately coiffed and high-cheeked young men frolicking before me, a man probably 8-10 years my senior slyly approached me with a small smile. I made the kind of darting eye contact women use on men in this situation. He came up and said hi. I said hi. He introduced himself, and I did likewise, at which point he said I had nice eyes. A million thoughts and possible rejoinders ran through my mind, not least of which was, "If you like that, you should see my [pick your favorite euphemism]!" I also thought that I kind of agreed, that I do have some pretty good eyes, even though they're hidden by glasses and a general look of confusion. But instead I just thanked him and, I believe, returned the compliment. (I wasn't quite sober enough to muster a decent response, and besides, if it were a girl I knew exactly the kind of flirtatious and funny response I would use, but not wanting to totally lead him on, I decided to pass.) So we talked about where we're from, and what we were doing there, and relationships, or as much as two guys can talk about those things in a few brief minutes while surrounded by a swirl of brawny men in muscle Ts grinding to disco. He was more than a little handsy, but not overly so; he seemed content to settle for mildly exploratory, e.g., tugging on my jacket's lapels while saying "But we'll be all right" as he reassured me about how it's inevitable that people get over bad relationships and move on to new ones. I eventually told him I was going to get a beer and that I'd be around, but I didn't get another drink, just took a couple laps around the club and then headed for home, the disparate group of acquaintances with whom I'd traveled having long since split up to pursue individual agendas. But that was Eduardo, the No. 1 guy to cruise me, who was polite and soft-spoken and whose breath smelled like vodka and bubblegum and whose English was heavily accented and not completely sure of its idioms. I hope you have a good week, man. • Everybody smelled pretty good. You'd think that a couple hundred guys all wallowing around in different colognes and who knows how many exfoliants would create an olfactory nightmare, but it didn't. • I'm pretty sure the girl in the mermaid costume on stage wasn't always a girl. • Speaking of girls: Man oh man, there were some pretty hot women there. And why not? The dancing's good, if you're into boring house stuff, and they can let their guards down and go someplace they likely won't be hit on. This makes for an oddly target-rich environment for a straight man. It's a little unnerving, almost. • The air is charged with hormones and the expectation of random hook-ups, which isn't all that surprising: Aside from being a gay club, meaning a place that's celebratory and encouraging, it's also, you know, full of men. Watching men approach women in a straight club is to observe a classic and dangerous game, since the burden is very nearly always on the man to approach the woman (tough), and then to be interesting (tougher), etc. Typically, broadly speaking, the man is the initiator. But Hotdog/Hot Dog/HOTDOG is full of nothing but initiators, all trying to initiate with one another, and they're all more than a little horny and getting drunker by the second. Hence the ability to walk in and pair up with someone literally within minutes. • Seriously, though, the giant disco ball surrounded by six smaller ones? Come on. • The DJ was almost antagonistic to the whole thing, since he kept urging us to "drink the f**k up" and tip the dancers and get nuts. Like, does this really need to be said? Everyone already seems to have had these ideas, and they don't seem to bear repeating. Talking DJs are annoying. I don't want to hear you remind me to drink or anything, I just want you to throw on some Kanye and let me works my magics. • It was a long night, but an interesting one. I made several laps of the dance floor, content to watch various ages of guys and their respective fag hags dance while I just coasted around, oblivious. I don't plan to make a habit of frequenting gay clubs, since in addition to playing some pretty annoying (to me, anyway) music, they don't have that much to offer me, what with my not being gay. But I hung out with friends, danced a little, and even got my ass grabbed. How could I top that?