Not really, but I thought it was a funny title.
After my hardest-working week ever, I was thrilled to be able to join my friend Danny and head out to Ha Te-atron (The Threatre Club), for a Gay Purim Dance Party called “Express Yourself.” This is the same venue where the bi-weekly party Big Boys is, that I’ve been to and written about on here. The difference was that Big Boys is for men 30 and older, and this was open to both sexes (but still a gay event), ages 24 and up.
I went as “70s Gay Workout Guy,” and my costume consisted of a 6-day-old pornstache I’ve been growing, my Jewfro hair I’ve been growing out, some really gay short-shorts I bought from Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour and saving for exactly this kind of über gay happening, a too-tight t-shirt, headband, wristband and tube socks.
I’m awaiting pics from Danny and another friend, which I’ll add when I get them.
Let me just tell you – the costumes were serious and all get out !!! For secular adults in Israel, there’s almost no difference b/t Purim and Halloween. For kids, it’s a bit different – there’s no trick-0r-treating, and there’s no emphasis on macabre (no skeletons, witches, ghosts). But for the adults, it’s just an excuse to go to costume parties, exactly like in America.
And there were some super fierce and fun ones. I’ll post some pics, but they were taken w/my BlackBerry camera, so they ain’t great. I brought my real cam too, but left it in the car, b/c didn’t wanna bring two devices inside the club. The immediacy of Twitpic trumped the quality of pics for the long-term.
They played a lot of my favorites – Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, Madonna, etc. My friends Russell and Eyal were there, too. Plus, I met a deliscious and big-hearted adorable college-student, who fancied me. Always nice what that that never happens. Had an outstanding celebratory time!
So different from how I spent my last Purim: picking up a repaired Lenovo laptop in an Orthodox neighborhood and watching the drunk Frums be idiots.
After working 12 hours straight on Friday and then still going out to see my friend Danna, I went out after that to a club called Ha’Oman 17. It was the 10th anniversary of the popular Israeli sex dating site Atraf that everybody knows and uses.
Holy shit, you guys! I had no idea this place existed. You mean they have bi-weekly gay dance parties here, alternating with the weeks Big Boys is off?
Where as Big Boys is fun and all, but has music that would be scoffed at by true clubbers as just literally spinning the baby pop hits, this was true, serious tribal house music that flowed and built upon itself and took the dancefloor on a journey. A shirtless journey, I might add. There was a second room of spinning, for the poppier crowd – although just like Andy Anderson’s awesome top room at Roxy circa 2000, it had all the twinks, chubs and fag hags in it. The real action was in the main room, where DJ Hector Romero was spinning.
There were plenty of tweakers – peeps on Meth or Ecstasy. You can tell by their tweaked out eyes. But no matter, I got into the awesome music and being in the center of all that Sexy Jewish Guy Israeli Shirtlessness. I can’t believe this party has been going on every other week, and I am only just finding out about it. Not that I’d want to go every week, but every now and then – fo’ sho.
I didn’t really meet anyone, but then I usually don’t meet guys in bars or clubs. Not for lack of trying; I just find that usually the guys I am really into aren’t into me, and conversely I get followed around by a pack o’ trolls I can’t get rid of. Although I may have had one or two bouts of dance floor kissing and/or dirty dancing. Here’s a buncha pix. I was tweeting and sending to Twitpic like a mofo. Not like I was removing myself from and missing out on the immediacy of my surroundings, more like feeling so happy I had to share it:
It was fascinating though – inside the club, I couldda been in New York. The beats were Grade A, and the boys were a step above what I’d find on the dance floor in New York, at least for my tastes. But, then you’d step outside, and we were like in some industrial alley that looked like….well, the Middle East. Plus, do you have to pass through metal detectors when you go clubbing?
Around 7am, I got my jacket and left the club….almost. I got outside and heard a souped up version of “We Are Family” come on, to re-energize the floor now that the smaller room had closed and the separate crowds were coming together. Like any good Gay, I 180°d and went back inside. Danced for like another hour. Fun, fun times!
Leaving a club after hours of shirtless beats, fierce lighting and dangerous dBs and entering into the tranquility of a new dawn is a really special moment, I’ve always found – a real sweet spot. Something about traveling thru the wormhole of intense tribal dance journey into the calm promise of a fresh day is just presh. Of course, it’s also the reason God invented shades. I snapped these pics on my bike ride home.
I was totes ready to sleep all day. But my boy Pete needed to go out, as he was at the upper range of his bladder capacity after being crated for nearly 8 hours. Plus, since he had just gotten a ton of rest, a walk around the block wasn’t going to cut it. If I wanted to really get some shut eye, I was going to have to tire him out. So, I armored up with the shades, and we went to the dog park for an hour. Mission accomplished. We both crashed upon returning, and got up around 8:30 p.m.
I was delivered after a week of entirely too much work. Thank you, God.
As I wrote about a few weeks ago in my iGoogledIsrael column, while there are resident gay bars in TLV, a lot of the nightlife scene revolves around independently promoted parties that happen weekly in usually straight venues. Big Boys is one of these that happens in a big space in Jaffo called The Theatre Club. The “big” in the title refers to men over 30, not bears.
Serious gay clubbers would scoff at the music. It’s not pro-spinning for sure, though we do have that in Israel. There are huge after-hours parties with “real” DJs like Offer Nissim who spin the latest original mixes with creative transitions, etc. This isn’t that. It’s mainly europop and dancepop like GaGa, Madonna, and Beyonce, and I’m cool with that. As for the guys, it’s a bit like shopping at Marshall’s: there are good finds there, but you have to look through a lot of crap to find them. Plus, I like that unlike most bars in Tel Aviv, they don’t allow smoking inside.
Anyway, I met my friend Danny there last Friday night, and we met up with our friends Russell and Avi, and then I met a new Oleh who turned out to be from my exact small town in suburban Philly (We Are! U.D.!), and the music was pretty good.
This shot is from my BlackBerry cam on the dancefloor.
It’s hard coming up with new ideas for columns every week. Especially when I kinda do the same things: work, walk the dog, work out, do my creative writing. You think people would read a column about flossing?
My friend Simona DM’d me over Twitter that I should write about the Israeli gay scene. Well, it was either that or a column about flossing, so I did. I wrote about what I know, which is all I can really ever do. And as I was writing, I figured There’s a million and one gay travel stories on Tel Aviv that just mention the gay beach and main bars…I should write about the stuff you’d never find online, the stuff potential gay Olim or tourists really want to know – you know, sexyshiz and the like.
But Zoinks! Do I really need my mom knowing there are more Tops than Bottoms in Tel Aviv? Well, she does now. Fuck it, writers are supposed to be fearless. No turning back now.
Check in out here. P.S. Like the new iGoogled Xmas banner?
Filed under: Amerijones, Exploits, Feelings, Identity, Struggles | Tags: family, gay, men, nightlife, Thanksgiving
I have the greatest family ever. Seeing so little of them is definitely my least favorite part about living here. But video Skype chats and Facebook photo comments are wonderful things, and they’ve been enough for me to get by. It’s stuff I’ve written about here & here. As far as celebrating holidays go, I would like to be with my family for these, but I can’t be, and that’s mostly been OK.
Thanksgiving is different.
For the past five years my cousin Jennifer has been holding it in her huge, beautiful 19th century home in suburban North Jersey. I love it because it’s the one holiday where my whole fam schleps up from Philly, instead of me having to go down there. To get to Jennifer’s, I only had to hop on a 20 minute bus ride from the Port Authority, drink deeply from all that family goodness, then say sayanora and head back to NYC to play with my friends for the long weekend intead of being trapped in surburan Philly hell.
It’s more than that, though. For starters, Thanksgiving at Jen & Harry’s is called TURKEYPALOOZA. Each year, they send out a new goofball invitation heradling the event. Here’s this year’s:
Jennifer’s husband Harry is an amazing chef and we eat like The Biggest Loser contestants kings. You can’t tell by my darling, slim figure, but I have one hell of an appetite. Jen indulges my goober sense of humor by helping me art-direct increasingly elaborate staged pics of me hoarding and binging on desserts. Some of our past work includes:
Jen & Harry plan out a new craft for us to complete each year. In the past, we’ve painted our own ceramic dessert plates (not unveiled until the following year!), designed our own napkin holders, and decorated our own turkey feathers, which were assembled to create a picture of the full bird:
It’s gotten so we don’t even refer to it as Turkeypalooza anymore. Not unlike a big-budget Hollywood franchise sequel, we refer to them now as T3, T4, T5, etc. So this year I missed out on T6. *sad face* But I was going to plan something really special to connect with them all. I bought my cousin a cheap webcam onamazon.com, set up a gmail account for her and used it to set up a Skype account for her. While I have Skyped my mom, bro/sis’n’law/niece, and dad individually before, I had never Skyped the whole fam in one place at one time. I thought it would be totes awesome to have peeps just rotate in and for me to speak with the whole mishpacha this way.
Only, I think what happened was I didn’t set it up far enough in advance. My cuz did manage to log into her Skype account, and the last message I got from her the day before Thanksgiving said she was exhausted from all the planning but she wold plan a test Skype with me sometime before everyone arrived. Then…I waited by the computer all evening, but never connected with her. I used Skype’s SMS feature to send txt messages to her cell, my mom’s cell and bro’s cell. Still nothing. 😦 [I found out later that peeps who get txts from you via Skype can’t respond to them. I thought everyone was ignoring me, but they probably just had no way of responding.]
I wasn’t sure what to do. I had plans to attend a screening of a lesbian romantic comedy called “I Can’t Think Straight” as part of TLV Fest‘s “Alternative Movie Nights” monthly film series, AND I was supposed to stop by Max Brenner’s chocolate restaurant to celebrate my friend Jeff’s birthday. I’d gladly miss both those events if it meant being face-to-face with my fam (via video Skype). But no one was responding, and I didn’t want to sit at home and not connect with them and also miss both my plans. So I figured I would go and could always try them at my 1:00 a.m. (their 6pm), after everyone was in their trypophan comas. I was running late to make the screening, so I painted on my vintage GAP jeans (the ones that make my ass look great), walked the dog, hopped on my bike and was off. See, since I was late and this was a film fest screening, there would likely be an introductory speech before the film screened. If I was going to inch my way through the crowd in a front row seat (excuse me…’scuse me, sir…pardon me…sorry, thank you…) and draw a lot of attention to myself, might as well make sure my ass looked good.
So I got to the cinematheque, which is sort of Tel Aviv’s arthouse multiplex…and it was dead. The guard told me nothing was going on, but I insisted the screening was going on. He let me in, and I went upstairs and into an in-progress screening of….Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works.” 😦 Sure enough, I checked the Cinematheque guide, and the screening was LAST NIGHT.
How I got that wrong, I’m not sure. But, oh well. I txt’d my friend Ronnie, and asked him if they were still at Max Brenner’s. He txt’d me back Dude, that was last night.
Eff, man !!! There actually was a Plan C. My friend Danny had introduced me to this weekly gay party in 2012 Bar called “Beef,” and I really liked it. It’s a leather party. Hot guys, amazing music. And it’s on Thursdays, so I could always go there. And had I gone straight there, I probably would’ve been fine. But, you know – it was a big double-whammy I just had. Not connecting with my whole fam at T6 like I had been expecting to was a big disappointment. But I thought I had plans (natch, double-plans), and so I wasn’t gutted about the whole thing. But when I took the back-to-back hits of finding out both the screening and birthday parties were last night and I had missed them both, it was like *WHOMP !*, and I was suddenly feeling sad & lonely. Sad & lonely is not a good mindset for me to walk into a bar with. So, thankfully I remembered to do the next right thing, and I called my friend Anna. Voicemail. Dang, but I left one. Then, I did the nexter, righter thing and called my sponsor. He had gone to bed early (it was 11:00 p.m. by this point), but picked up. I brought him up to speed. It was a short phone call, but it was all I needed; just not to be alone with the feelings and to tell another person how I was feeling really stabilized me. I told him what I planned to do next, and he told me to have a great time. And so I hopped on the bike and was off! (It was a good week for music, what with new albums dropping from Glambert, Gaga, SuBo and RiRi, so I was jammin on the bike ride over.)
I got there early, and the place was still empty. But I saw my friend Russell there, so I went to his booth and started talking with him and his husband Avi. Actually I didn’t really know Russell yet. We were FB friends and had been introduced, but never really hung yet. Russell’s kinda famous in the gay community in Tel Aviv, I think. I didn’t discuss this with him yet, but his lawsuit to have his marriage (to a same sex partner) recognized in Israel went all the way to the Supreme Court in Israel and was successful. Anyway, we got a chance to talk, and I really like him.
So, it’s only recently that I’ve really started going out in Tel Aviv. My first six months, I was doing full-time ulpan (intensive language school) in the mornings, then working afternoons-thru-evening, then doing Hebrew homework at night. Throw in blogging and my articles for iGoogledIsrael, and there just wasn’t much time for it. But I’m taking a break from my Hebrew education, and – although my mornings are still packed with creative writing and working on a memoir of how I made Aliyah in a span of 5 minutes – there is some time to sleep in now, if I want to go out. And I’m starting to meet some people, and see them out and about and get introduced to more people, and then introduced to more people through them, and…
So, anyway, the place starts to fill up, and I’m having a good time, and then suddenly my BlackBerry vibrates. OMG, it was my cousin Pamela returning my instant message !!! When I was trying every way I could think of to connect with the fam, I remembered she was a BBerry Girl, and I tried I.M.’ng her, but she didn’t respond. Until now, that is! So, suddenly we’re IM’ng and I come alive. I mean, my heart is just filled with love and meaning.
It may not have been the connection I was expecting – with the whole family in full-on video and audio – and instead it was typing with thumbs on an itty-bitty keyboard to one cousin while being surrounded with men in leather, but it was enough.
More than enough, actually. It made my whole night. (Thank you, Pammie !!!) And so, my cousin sends me through the I.M. first a pic of my first-cousin-once-removed Dayton. And then, she sends me my little niece Alexa; both from the dinner table. And so, I snap a pic of my surroundings to send back. but – even though the flash goes off and sort of embarasses me – it’s too dark for it to come out very good. So, I have to go for this: there are three bartenders in the main room. An ugly one, a really cute one, and an *cue angelic music* truly holy Adonnis type one (in the pic above that opens the post). I tell a friend my plan and get the boost of encouragement I needed. I go up and explain to him that I’m I.M.’ng with my cuz from the Thanksgiving dinner table and she’s just sent me two pics of my little nieces, and I just have to reply with a pic of my surrounding – namely, hot men in leather, and it’s gotta be him and well, would he pose for me? Luckily, he’s not the shy type, and he gives me a good one, and I snap it. I tell you, it was more embarassing having the flash go off and looking like a goober cheeseball tourist in front of everyone else doing what they wish they had the balls to do photographing the hot bartender. But it was worth it. After this, I was feeling some serious mojo kick in, and I later went back up to the bartender and showed him the I.M. thread, and he told me to friend request him on Facebook.
Seriously – why shouldn’t I be with a guy this hot ??? So, after this my whole night just kicks into overdrive. I’m so high from the family connection that my vibes make me really attractive to everyone in the bar, and I’m meeting guys left and right. I ask Pam what we should do – is a Skype still possible at this point? She’s like Yeah, but hurry. Jen wants to put the kids to bed. But I’m about 15-20 minutes away from home by bike, and then I’d have to take the dog out, and then boot up the PC, and I couldn’t make a Skype happen before at least a half hour at the earliest. Plus, I kinda didn’t want to leave the bar. The night was in full swing, and I was lovin it. Pam didn’t twist my arm and said, Nah, let’s just bag it. Right answer, PammiePoo !!
I saw my friend Ron, and I talked to him a little bit in Hebrew first, and he paid me the hugest compliment. He said You know, some people might make fun of your [totally sucky] Hebrew, but let me tell you something: I think it’s a really brave thing you did, moving all the way here and starting a new life at your age, and so does everyone else. They won’t admit it, but everyone looks up to you for what you did, because it’s really important for Israel, and we appreciate what you’ve done. You’ll have a better life here, more opportunity than you would in America. I was not expecting this from him, and it made me feel terrific.
So, anyway, then I rode home, walked the dog…and surfed the ‘Net for two hours, b/c I was so wired up. I still wished I’d had a chance to see and talk with everyone in my amazing family, but it was amazing in its own right how my night went from sad & lonely to maybe my best night out in Tel Aviv yet.
Thanks to H.P., Shuki, Anna, Russell, Jacques & Shoham, שמאי, Eliad, Danny, & Pamela !!!
On Thursday, I went to an LGBT short film festival programmed in response to the shooting at Tel Aviv’s gay youth center on the 1st of August and the murder of two innocent people.
(I actually went on a date with a boy Amir I met last week.)
There were about 40 short films (from :30 seconds to 2 minutes in length) – all on the subject of homophobia and how stupid/bad/dumb/dangerous it is. The first one was a short doc about a young man who lost his boyfriend that night. I’m still waiting for him to come home, was the quote from him that ended it. Wow, powerful.
Most of the films had English subtitles. Yay !! I wasn’t expecting this, and figured I would just get whatever I got from the films – the stuff that doesn’t need language to be communicated. So, this was a plus.
I really enjoyed the films. Plus, all of Israel’s LGBT VIPs were there, including the only openly gay member of the Knesset (parliament), Nitzan Horowitz, who spoke to the audience passionately for about 15 minutes (just don’t ask me what he said).
I’m glad I joined this group on Facebook and also the TLV Fest, which does an Alternative Movie Night once a month. First of all, I’m a big Indie Queen, and at my last job in New York, we had several indie and queer film clients. I even worked at the Sundance Film Festival two times. It’s clear, these are my peeps.
But more than that, Israel is a small country. And its gay scene is small, too. Unlike in NYC, where a bunch of LGBT events could be happening on the same night (Night of a Thousand Gowns, Miss Sobriety Drag Pageant, GLAAD Media Awards, The Black Party, the Tony’s) – all of them getting an A-List gay crowd, Israel is small enough that there’s only gonna be one Main Event type gig per night, b/c the scene just ain’t big enough to support more than that.
So, I want to go to as many of these Big Events as I can. I’m not obsessed with or only all about the Gay Scene, but it is important to me, and I want to be a part of it. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I loathed myself for being gay. When I got over that, for me, I had to embrace it. I’m not only Gay, but I am definitely
I wore my artist friend Scooter Laforge’s new Farrah Fawcett t-shirt (of her iconic swimsuit poster). I wanted to be seen and have hotties ask each other Who’s that?
In between each film, they showed the same little promo clip over & over. It ended with the logo of a pride flag snapping open & shut, as if it were a director’s “action!” slate. Very cute. And the voiceover ended with ” ohseem cut la homophobia.” In Hebrew, a lot of times new words that come into the language from English will retain their English sounds. So עושים קאט להומופוביה translates to “Cut Doing Homophobia.” Anyway, I thought it would be really funny if more and more of the crowd started saying that last line every time (we heard it enough!). So, you know, by the end of the night, you’d have the whole audience saying the line out loud and laughing. It couldda been really fun. But I kinda pussed out, since I’m still kinda a Newbie here.
Anyway, here’s some pics from the event. Sorry, they’re from my BlackBerry camera, which ain’t very good.
I was really good to myself this weekend.
Oh, I still did a lot of work – chaired an AA meeting on Friday, cleaned the eff out of my apartment because it was my turn to host our Saturday Hebrew study group, and wrote my second column at IGoogledIsrael. (BTW, I’m really proud of this column. I was so afraid that I’d be a One Trick Pony, and I didn’t have as clear an idea for this column as I did the first one…it took an hour longer to complete than last week’s, but it turned out pretty good, and I’m so relieved… 🙂 )
But yesterday I decided not to go into the office. I can do this b/c:
A) I’m an independent contractor, and
B) Friday is the weekend in Israel (but a workday in the U.S., where my job is based). Sunday is a workday in Israel (but still the weekend in the U.S.). I usually wind up working both days (and taking off only Saturday as just a one-day weekend), but I tend to do half days for Fri & Sun, having them equal one full day when combined. It’s really sweat off nobody’s back that I didn’t go in on Friday.
Then today, when half of my study group cancelled on me, I decided to call up the remaining member and ask that we cancel the group for the day. She was cool with it.
Yay, B E A C H D A Y !!!
I’ve waited almost five months for this! This is showing incredible discipline, believe me – b/c I am a Total Beach Person. But with school and work during the week, and then a 1-day weekend that I choose to spend studying Hebrew, there just ain’t been time to go right now.
But today, I went for it. I was so excited, packing lunch into the mini-cooler, stuffing my blanket and towel into the beach bag. I rode my bicycle 5 minutes to Hilton Beach, which is Tel Aviv’s gay beach.
The eye candy was ridick !!!
Man, it was hot out, too. But I applied and reapplied my sunscreen, and I’m happy to say I didn’t get burnt. I actually studied some Hebrew by myself, and read some of my Summer Beach Read, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
I saw someone really cute I knew, who ended up joining the hunk on the blanket next to mine, and I had a great opener – I’m Facebook friends with you. (B/c it’s true: we chatted on Atraf, I tried to make a date with him that never happened, but we became FB friends, although we’d never met in person before this).
I saw a guy I know from Ulpan. I actually saw a guy I know from….New York! How random??? Yeah, he’s just an acquaintance, but once about 9 years ago, we made out in his car for a little bit. Random – he’s here for the first time visiting an Israeli GF.
Then I went into the water, or as I’d like to call it, the “Gay Soup.” That’s slang a friend of mine made up for when a bunch of gay guys hang out in a jacuzzi. Only this was, like, a jumbo bowl of soup, b/c we’re talking about the mild, gently-waved Mediterr-effing-Anean. And there were literally about 100 gay men splashing around in there. I was all by myself at first, but enjoying the eye candy. I started talking to two Israelis, and then we bumped into my NYer acquaintance. So, presto-whamo, suddenly I’m in a neat little clique/cluster, bobbing amidst the larger Gay Soup. It was divine.
I hung at the beach for almost 5 hours and had a blast. Came back to good news from my editor, who said he loved my 2nd column and had no edits for me. Then, it turns out I barely had any Hebrew homework to do. So, I had time for this post, and now I’ll hit the sack and actually get a good rest before the week starts up tomorrow.
One more Parting Shot: