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When the moon's smile becomes a smirk
Shortly after I started Youngman, Incorporated a guy from Florida moved up to setup an Atlanta branch of Party Boys. He was an amiable, overweight doofus. He damaged his standing with boys by sleeping with them.
Neal was his name, he'd repeatedly play Tommy Vee's RubberBall ("Rubber ball, I come bouncin' back to you / Ah-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh"). I often suspected that when he was alone he'd listen to the song and cry. He was a sensitive Jewish kid who probably went into the business to find sex but was hoping for love. His attempts to seem sophisticated and tough were woefully insufficient. For a few years in Atlanta I was surprisingly social. I'd hang out with all sorts of people including Neal. Being Atlanta's two gay telephone pimps was all we had in common. Our conversations have vanished from memory.
Neal, hating Atlanta, later sold the business to Charles Ray. Sometime after I'd left the Atlanta Barb I ran into Charles. He'd closed Party Boys; don't know if I ever knew why. But he was avid to setup another gay escort service and wanted me as a partner. I was unemployed, sponging off my friend Ariel (David Wayne Cochran - maybe if you ever search for your name you'll see this). Being a lazy, unmotivated young man, I thought it sounded like a swell idea..
Charles Ray was managing a restaurant and fed me well. Sitting in a booth next to the jukebox we'd scheme for hours. I grew to hate Rubber Band Man, Car Wash and Dancing Queen.(Not too many years ago I found myself owning the first two and the first present I bought my Charles as an Abba collection.)
Charles started paying my rent and giving me a small allowance to tide me over until we got things going. He thrust a couple of roommates on me. The amphetamine addict passed out with a lit cigarette and almost burned down the house. The con man stole a stack of blank payroll checks and persuaded clerks to cash them even though he had no ID. His plausibility was almost a superpower. One kid who spent a night repeatedly told me that he wasn't gay even though he'd sucked his best friend's (a street hustler) cock. I hadn't asked. Pretty he was but I wasn't going to make a pass at such a fucked up boy.
Love that's fresh and still unspoiled
I wish that Charles's bodybuilder friend had been one of the imposed roomies. An ex-con (like most of Charles's friends) he had a serious honesty that reminded me of Victor. I liked him. He'd cruise butch looking young men with nice na´ve eyes. A description of me back then I guess. One night he asked me if I'd like to fuck. I've never given a more ready or surprised yes to that question. Surprised because he guys I could tell he liked watching all appeared to be very athletic, I wasn't. Surprised how my liking for a big, tall, hairy guy had grown to include lust. He was in an open relationship. Not taking tricks home was one of the rules. When we got to my place the speed freak was there. We'd try to get together a few more times but something always intervened. Aside from being fond of him, sleeping with a heavily muscled guy would've seemed almost a new kind of sex. Wonder if it would've altered my preferences. Never have I more regretted one that got away.
Charles and I talked about putting out a gay personal ads magazine. Charles said somebody from the mafia - no kidding - would drop by to talk about financing it. Was he really a Mafioso? I don't know. Armed robbery had put Charles in prison for many years. He'd robbed finance companies back in the days when they kept cash on hand. Have you ever met an ordinary looking person who seemed terrifying? Mr. Mafioso gave me the willies. He also knew a tremendous about gay publishing and distribution and turned us down.(Atlanta was the mob's southern headquarters for porn. The man who controlled it lived in an isolated armed compound in the suburbs.)
Another conman pal of Charles showed up. He was connected with the gang that ran bingo games at Veterans clubs (the only places in Georgia where bingo was legal). I earned an semi-honest dollar by putting together a pro-veterans booklet.
Plaza Drugs on Ponce de Leon Avenue (where many of the intersecting streets change names so white people didn't live on the same streets as blacks) was open 24 hours. Its daytime clientele must've been ordinary enough. Late and night when Charles Ray and I went there the sandwich shop was filled with hustlers, petty thieves and junkies. Charles knew many; I enjoying hanging out and listening to them. Wouldn't want to do it again. Their lives were bounded by self-imposed want, thin friendships, parole officers and scoring. Tight, boring lives really. More colorful at a distance.
Visiting Victor and Nancy in Eden, NC I tried to pass some stock dividend checks and spent a few weeks in jail. Charles never seemed able to pull together the money to start a callboy agency or much of anything. I was getting bored. Moving to San Francisco sounded like a fun idea.
I called a guy I knew only through phone calls. "Richard of San Francisco" ran what he said was the oldest gay escort service in the city. I'd called only to see what he could tell me about moving out. He invited me to stay with him.
For a trip to paradise?
Greyhound was running a special: $50 to anywhere in the US. With maybe $75 I bought my ticket and said goodbye (I thought) to Atlanta. My bus trip was made miserably memorable by the crazy lesbian who sat next to me for over a thousand miles. There'd be a bloodbath she said if people knew the horrible truth she knew. Something about the Kennedy assassination, I can't recall if she shared the details. Being told that I was willowy didn't make up for the hours of weird confidences.
Towards evening my bus pulled into the San Francisco terminal. I had less than a dollar on me. What I didn't have was Richard of San Francisco's phone number. If I'd known that I could've walked to the corner and bought a copy of The Advocate from a vending machine my afternoon would've been easier if forgettable (in Atlanta you bought The Advocate in adult bookstores).
When the only sound in the empty street, Is the heavy tread of the heavy feet
I sat in the terminal feeling nervous and stupid. It was getting dark and by the standards of an Atlanta summer, cold. Any minute I expected to be noticed and told to move along (to where?).
An old fellow came up and asked sympathetically if I needed a place to stay. The surface sympathy didn't fool me. I knew that and how I'd be expected to pay. Desperate and alone, I shrugged my mental shoulders and said thanks. Bus station pickups must've been his regular hobby; it was only a few minutes to his grim little apartment. Nor did it take long to give him his payment. My mind was too focused on my dilemma to care. But I evidently hadn't been invited to stay long. When he started talking about passing me along to a friend I panicked.
Richard of San Francisco had mentioned that Rev. Ray Broshears was a friend of his. Broshears was a local gay activist, famous for founding the Lavender Panthers. (For a short time they patrolled the Castro with rifles. A predecessor to the Pink Pistols.)
Publicity hungry Broshears' number was in the phone book. He invited me to come over. Like many freelance minority politicians Broshears was theatrical, vain and capricious. Making a big production out of making sure that I wasn't a dangerous crank he consented to call Richard of San Francisco. After a short bus ride to the Church Street district I was safe.
Richard had invited me out because we'd chatted back in the Youngman Incorporated days. He knew I could handle his boys and clients. Unexpectedly he wanted me to be one of his boys. The men who'd offered to pay me on the streets of Atlanta I'd always answered with a smile and "no thanks." . Broke and dependent in San Francisco I let him chivvy me into seeing a couple of his regulars.
Who would like to sample my supply? Who's prepared to pay the price
Cal Culver aka Casey Donovan worked for Richard of SF. Culver (who I'd later meet) was the quintessential tall, blond hunk next door. Being a famous gay porn star didn't pay well back then. Once when Cal wasn't available I was sent in his stead. Wildly curly longish brown hair, moustache, hairy body, I was at the opposite end of the erotic spectrum. (I've never found myself attractive. Probably why I was always surprised when pretty boys did.)
The client was gracious in his disappointment. I sat naked in a chair and chatted with him for about an hour. I half-wished I was what he wanted but was relieved that I wasn't. I took my money and split without being touched.
Number two was gross. He was fat, drunk and wanted lots of attention. Deep kissing, extensive touching with the TV blasting in the background is all I remember of my time in the expensive but tacky hotel room. Thankfully there was no sex; I don't think I could've gotten it up.
Let the poets pipe of love in their childish way
The last experience was mostly concentrated boredom strongly tinged with unpleasantness. I wasn't upset, disconcerted, angry. But I didn't have the right mindset to play for pay. It wasn't virtue that made me decide I'd sold myself for the last time.. Looking back I'm chagrined with myself for having so little flexibility. For a time I thought it might have been my unhealthily romantic nature that confined me. But I still enjoyed casual sex. It wasn't shame or a preference for beauty that kept me from selling myself again. I didn't want to be a professional boytoy for the same reason I didn't want to dig ditches. Prostitution was too sweaty, boring and demanding for a lazy, over-sensitive guy like me.
I spent some time working for Richard on the phone. Later he'd move me to West Hollywood to setup a callboy service there.
Part I: Peddling Flesh in Atlanta--
Lyrics found on Todd's Cole Porter Page