This is still my favorite dance bar in San Francisco. The music IS reliable with vocals rather than that techno crap that drones on at so many gay events in The City or the rap you often have to endure at straight clubs. There are monitors around the dance floor and a video d.j. mixes the vids. I am not an alcohol drinker so can't say much about the drinks. My biggest complaint about Badlands is the same complaint I have had about other gay bars. All of us have our straight women that we love but is it really necessary to bring them to the gay club? It seems to me that a lot of young gay men are terrified of other gay men and it looks like they bring their girls to protect them? I don't pretend to understand the need of some gay men to bring straight women to a gay bar. It FEELS like they are "slumming," -a "zoo" mentality. The girls giggle & squeal at the gay men that were in the bathroom when they went to use it. OMG! Squeal. Giggle. It is really annoying. IF you are a gay man that insists on bringing straight women to a gay bar, I would just like to suggest some etiquette for you to convey to her. These apply to any gay dance bar, not just Badlands:
1. Tell your straight bff to leave her coat at home, in the car or CHECK IT! Do NOT put your coats in the middle of the dance floor. Do not dance in a group around a pile of coats!!
2. Do not bring a purse to a gay bar! Leave your purse, backpack, luggage or whatever it is that you are carrying, at home or leave it in the car. Someone trying to dance with a big purse under their arm just looks stupid!! (AND then you won't be whining about your cell phone getting stolen out of your purse! BTW, leave your cell in the car or at home too. You don't need it in a gay bar! You only need an ID and cash.)
3. Do not take your drinks onto the dance floor! Yes, you may see gay men bringing their drinks onto the dance floor but they really shouldn't either! Drink the drinks while your chatting with friends. There are little ledges & tables on which you can leave your drinks while dancing. You do not need those drinks with you on the dance floor! If you have a drink in your hand, are you really "dancing" anyway? (Some gay men are highly skilled at drinking on the dance floor but they have been practicing for years. YOU should not do it!!! You will spill it all over the floor and others near you!!)
4. Do not line dance, square dance, swing dance, ballroom dance or any other kind of dancing that entails holding your partners hand & swinging them around the dance floor, knocking over all the other dancers. This is considered sloppy and rude behavior! Contain yourself in your personal space on the dance floor and avoid throwing yourself into other dancers.
5. No "parking" on the dance floor. You are taking up space from those that actually want to dance.
6. Don't dance in group circles. It's really obnoxious.
7. IF you are a straight women & bring your straight bf to the gay bar, you are responsible for him & his behavior! PLEASE do not feel you have to prove to everyone that your bf is straight by sticking your tongue down his throat. If you want to make out with your straight bf, go to a straight bar or get a room. Look around- Do you see gay men making out in the gay dance bar? Probably not. So why would you think we all want to watch two straight people making out- AND PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, if you MUST have some tongue, at least get off the dance floor!!!
8. No slow dancing in a gay dance club. Yuck. No "break dancing!" No dancing that entails laying down on the floor. Save all of that for the straight bar, please.
9. We know how much straight women love coming to gay bars. There is a reason for this- they are GAY bars!! Hello? IF you are a straight woman that likes coming to gay bars, please don't come back by yourself with your straight boyfriend, regardless of how "liberal" he is or a group of your straight women friends! You should consider it a privilege that your "gay" brought you to the gay bar in the first place. You shouldn't think that it is now okay for you to bring all your straight friends to goggle the "gays." We are not there for your amusement. A gay bar should not feel like a zoo. Gay bars are not a place for you to "slum." There is nothing that ruins a gay bar faster than a lot of straight people! If you love hanging out with straight people, go to the straight bar where you can dance in a group around a pile of coats and purses and spill your drinks all over the dance floor.
10. Lastly, straight women should not dance like they are a stripper on a pole trying to seduce someone with their hotness. Remember, this is a gay bar! Nobody is interested in how your breasts heave and your ass twerks. Only gay men can get away with those moves in a gay bar because they look "cute" doing it. Straight women just look desperate. If you need a meat rack atmosphere, go to a straight dance club where all those "sexy" moves will be appreciated!!
When I was younger, I would sometimes have bouts of depression. As I got older, I realized that there was a pattern to my depression. I realized that I usually felt depressed in the dead of winter when the days were short and there was not as much light. I realized that I must suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is what caused us to start planning most of our vacations in the winter months. We love the San Francisco Bay Area in the summer because there is so much to do. There are still things to do in the winter but when the days are short and dark, I really don't feel like doing much at all. I found that if I go somewhere sunny for a few days around February, March or April, it really helps me get through the winter doldrums.
We had already planned to go to Europe at the end of the summer in 2005 but in February, that seemed like a long way off. I was craving some sunshine and knew I needed to get away. I looked on Priceline at packages and came across one that included airfare to Orlando, Floridan and hotel for a very reasonable price. Milton and I discussed it and decided we could keep the price down if we avoided Disney World, Universal Studios and other theme parks. We would just go for the sun essentially.
We had a great time. The flight to and from Florida takes all day and was pretty exhausting since we started out from home and from the hotel there about 3:30 am going and coming. We had a pretty nice little extended stay kind of rm that had a little kitchenette for $41/night from priceline. You know I always like a good deal when we travel. We got a Grand Am from Budget for $151 for the whole time.
On our first full day it did rain and I was pretty dissapointed since the whole point of going was to get away from the rain. I guess we brought it with us. We drove over to Tampa/Saint Petersberg which is about 70 miles from Orlando and is on the Gulf Coast. We went to the Salavador Dali museum there which was pretty interesting. Dali has become so commercialized in some ways but seeing his actual paintings really renewed my respect for his art. We took a tour there that told about his life and explained a lot of things about his art that I didn't realize.
On the second day the sun came out and we drove over to Daytona Beach on the Atlantic Coast which is about 50 miles from Orlando. Within just a couple hundred miles, you have four major cities and so if we lived there, I think there would be plenty of things to do. On the way to Daytona Beach we stopped and looked at a house in Deltona. We did not like the particular houses we looked at but it gave us an idea of prices.
As we approached Daytona Beach, we started noticing a LOT of people on motorcycles. There were people on motorcycles everywhere. As we got closer to the beach itself, it became wall to wall motorcycles.
I had never seen so many motorcycles. They were having a HUGE street party... or practically city-wide party although for several blocks there were bands and a street faire thing going on with bands and a lot of partying. We walked through for several blocks and enjoyed it. We also visited the beach itself and this is a pic of me... notice the BLUE, CLEAR sky! It was like SUMMMMER!!
The sand was as white as the sand in Cancun. It was a bit windy though and I am wearing a jacket in the pic. Daytona Beach was a much bigger city than I had expected. It looked pretty intact for having been hit by three hurricanes in the last year.
When we got back to Orlando, we rested a little bit and then headed out to explore downtown Orlando's Church Street which is kind of a hip little area downtown with a lot of club activity and 20 & 30 somethings. We wandered around downtown Orlando and looked at condo developments. It reminded me of L.A. or S.F. thirty years ago... it's urban downtown living is just starting to emerge. If we were to retire in Florida as little old men, urban, downtown living might be more appealing than living in the suburbs. We would also feel safer in a hurricane in a highrise probably that isn't going to blow away. I think we might have gone to Universal Studios City Walk that night too. It was free and we were only doing free things pretty much.
I think it might have been the next day that we decided to go back to Tampa to see Ybor City. On the way we stopped at Disney's Celebration and looked at a couple of condo's there. Celebration was very interesting. It is really a beautiful, pristine little town. It was only built about eight years ago but they have used classic architectural styles and apparently have very strict HOA rules. You would certainly feel safe there. Milton says that he thinks Stepford Wives was filmed there. It was actually very pleasant-- very Norman Rockwell. It was interesting that you see happy looking people everywhere but no rowdy teenagers. We wondered what they had done with them. I couldn't imagine any driving down these streets with their subwoofers thumping. It was such a perfect little town. Maybe these people were robots? I don't know but I wouldn't mind joining them and living in such a pleasant looking place.
On our way to Ybor city, we stopped and looked at several housing developments. Houses run about $150,000 or so less than they do in the Bay Area. We would have to live in Modesto or Fresno to get similar prices and maybe even then, it would be hard to find houses as nice probably. Apparently a lot of the homes are sold as "vacation homes." People buy them as investments and then rent them to tourists for $200.00/night that come to Orlando to visit Disneyland. The real estate market seemed very hot in the area- there was a lot of building but in some areas, you had to enter a lottery to actually get a house because they were going so fast.
We also looked at some manufactured homes. We saw some as low as $64,000 but they had walls that looked like plastic and we couldn't have lived in them. You had to spend about $150,000 before all the walls looked like sheetrock. We saw some pretty nice manufactured homes and even saw one that was two stories. That was weird. The ones we really liked though were in the $150-200,000 range and by the time you bought the land and moved it, I couldn't see any advantage over buying a regular house. You could get a great regularly build, brand new house with a yard and about 1600 square feet for $220,000 so am not sure why anyone would bother with the manufactured ones. I wouldn't want to live in one with the hurricanes anyway... regular houses all seemed to be made of cinder blocks and those wouldn't blow away.
When we finally got to Ybor city, we were pretty tired after looking at houses all day and we just stayed a few minutes and turned around and headed back to Orlando.
On our final day, we went out and looked at more houses early in the day and then just relaxed until we left for the airport. We had a great time. Ever since we got back we have been working on our Europe vacation for September. We bought our airline tickets to London and have booked hotels in London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome and Athens. We have also booked flights from Rome to Athens and Athens back to London. We have been immersing ourselves in books on Europe and art galleries and sites.
This is about part 2 of our 2015 vacation. Milton was turning 60 in 2015 and wanted to visit Disney World in Orlando again. We had both had such a wonderful time on our first RSVP Vacations gay cruise so we decided to do another one of those too. We would fly to Orlando and spend a few days at Disney World and then drive down to Fort Lauderdale to get on the ship.
This was our seventh cruise. We had previously been on several Carnival ships, a couple Royal Caribbean ships and one MSC ship. This was our first Princess ship and like the MSC ship, it was an RSVP Vacations charter. RSVP Vacations really do a spectacular job of entertaining their passengers and so it makes it a little difficult to sort out who gets accolades for the positive and blame for the negative but I do want to try and sort it out here.
First of all, the positive: Last year was our first RSVP Vacations cruise and they had chartered an Italian line, MSC and that crew was a bit aloof, inattentive and unfriendly. The Regal Princess crew was just the opposite- they were warm, attentive and friendly and seemed to enjoy having us as passengers. They genuinely seemed to be having almost as much fun as we were. We appreciate that. I would give the crew a 10 out of 10. They were great.
The ship was fairly new and beautiful as most of the ships we have been on. It was
As is usual on all cruises, we started out with a "muster" drill. Everyone has to bring their life jackets to a location where you would board the life boats.
We were late to the "Hello, my name is..." party because Princess Cruises had lost Milton's bag which had our "Hello, my name is..." t-shirts we had bought specifically for this occasion. We kept checking with our steward but finally, he told us to check at the purser's desk. After checking there a coupe of times through the evening, Milton's bag finally appeared. This was the first cruise that we have ever had problems with our bags arriving in our cabin.
Later that evening, around 8pm, we went to see "Charo" in the ship's theater. She was only doing two performances and they were both on embarkation/sail away day. She did a wonderful show. I think everybody was impressed by how great she looked. Milton and I talked about seeing her on the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. We estimate that she must be close to 70 but then we did read somewhere that she got married at 16 so maybe she just got a very early start? Maybe she was only 18 or so when we say her originally back in the sixties?
At 10:30pm that first night, we attended the RSVP Vacations 30th Anniversary Diamond Party. There were a lot of people wearing silver in their outfits and so it kept feeling more like a "Silver" party than a "Diamond" party but it was great fun regardless. We love to dance and never miss an opportunity to do so if the music is good and the music is great on RSVP Vacations cruises. It is more than good!
The first day had been wonderful. There is such an abundance of activities on a RSVP Vacations Cruise. It is impossible to attend every activity and show.
The next morning, we woke up in Princess Cays.
Princess Cays is a private island owned by Princess Cruises. I rented some snorkeling equipment and saw some lovely fish out among the rocks offshore. Milton doesn't swim and not interested in getting a tan but always sweet to let me have my "beach day." A hamburger and hotdog buffet was served on the beach. Although we had purchased "soda" cards which are supposed to cover all the soda you want to drink during the cruise, our soda cards were not good on this island. Princess seemed to want to nickel and dime us for sodas. They should have been included at this buffet!
Upon return to the ship, after we had rested and had dinner in one of the dining rooms, we attended the Princess Cruises show "Fiera!" In addition to all the incredible activities that RSVP Vacations provide, we still get the standard fare from the cruise line. Fiera! was the typical cruise line show for a midsize ship and had a few singers and a few dancers. There were some interesting visual effects. The Princess Theater was the smallest of any of the cruise line theaters we had seen.
Carnival and MSC offer similar shows. Royal Caribbean exceeds all the others in entertainment, though. Royal Caribbean has full Broadway productions on some of their ships. On the "Allure of the Seas," that we had taken a couple of years previously, RC had a production of "Chicago," an "ice" show as they also have ice rinks on their ships. They also had a Cirque du Soleil type water show as well. In all the "straight" cruises we have been on, Royal Caribbean far surpasses MSC, Princess or Carnival when it comes to entertainment. When it comes to gay cruises, RSVP Vacations does such an incredible job that it really doesn't matter much what the cruise line offers.
At 10:30pm, we went to the "Disco Inferno" party with DJ Robbie Leslie. He had been on the gay cruise we had taken in 2014. He does a great job of playing all the hits from the "disco" era. We heard all of favorites from the 70's, including Sylvester, Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, and many others.
As we were leaving the dance floor, we saw a guy laid out on a couple of tables. He looked like he was unconscious. I asked the guy that was standing over him if he was okay. This guy replied that he was okay. But as we approached the doorway to where the elevators were, we saw a ship medic of some kind coming out and going toward where we had seen this guy.
The next morning, upon awakening, it was announced over the loudspeakers that we were heading at top speed to Miami as there had been a medical emergency. We heard somewhere along the line that there were two people who had overdid it at the Disco Inferno party and were possibly in coma's. We assumed that it was probably due to some bad drugs. Upon arrival in Miami, we were meant by multiple police cars, ambulances and drug sniffing dogs. We were in port in Miami for a couple of hours before we were allowed to go back out to sea. The itinerary had to be changes slightly but really didn't have much effect on the cruise.
Once we left Miami, it was back to lounging around the pools and wandering around the ship.
On the third day of the cruise, February 10th, we spent a relaxing day out at sea. In the afternoon we attended "The Love Boat T-Dance." Princess Cruise line was the one used in the seventies television show. The actress that played the daughter of Captain Stubbing was on the ship and we kept running into her. She was no longer a chubby kid. Of course, Charo had also been a guest star on The Love Boat, too. A special message from the actor that played Captain Stubbing was played on the big screen.
After resting for a while, having dinner in one of the dining rooms and wandering the ship and checking out various shows, including Bob the Drag Queen, we attended the "Code" party. This was a bit risqué with many of the men in leather or minimal clothing.
On Wednesday, the 11th, we had another day out to sea. We attended various shows and lounged around the ship. That night, we attended "The Pajama Party."
On the 12th, we got off the ship for a few minutes in Cozumel. I wasn't feeling very well and when we got back to the ship, I had to rest in the cabin. My stomach was churning and turning and finally I ended up on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. Finally, I vomited. This was the first time I had been sick on a cruise. I am convinced that it was something I had eaten the night before- the awful shrimp cocktail, or the disgusting chicken breast with a slice of ham on it. The only other possibility was the "made to order omelette." I was too sick to attend the "Diva's" T-Dance.
Later that evening, I was feeling better and we did go to the "Time Machine Party."
On Friday, the 13th, we were anchored off Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Milton and I had been there a couple of times on other cruises but we did get off the ship and took a walk. When we returned to the ship. the "Ranch" T-Dance was underway.
That night, they had the "Anything Goes Costume Contest" party. First there was a fun costume party and then more dancing.
On Valentine's Day, February 14th, we attended the "Blush and Bashful" T-Dance.
It was a wonderful cruise. Disembarkation is always the worst day of any cruise. The ships always want you up and out of the cabin early in the morning. Some ships are better than others in getting everybody off the ship. Since our plane didn't leave Fort Lauderdale until the afternoon, we decided to take the Everglades- Flamingo Gardens excursion that would kill some time and get us to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. We boarded an airboat and zipped through this part of the Everglades. We did see an alligator.
From the Everglades tour, we went to the Flamingo Gardens before heading to the airport. It was a lovely gardens and we did see some flamingos.
When we had gone on our first cruise on the Carnival Destiny in 2007, it was only because we didn't think we could afford a gay cruise and because of my job's annual vacation bidding process was too far in advance to get gay cruise itineraries. We had to bid on our vacation time about a year and a half before our vacations and R.S.V.P. Vacations and Atlantis Vacations released their information about a year ahead. We ended up going on five straight cruises before we had finally had it with other people's screaming kids. Don't get me wrong, I had thoroughly enjoyed each of our straight cruises but I always missed having gay people around. When we were on the world's largest ship at the time, The Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Sea's with six thousand passengers and no gay people we could find, I felt like I was in some small town. I felt isolated.
The previous two cruises with family were great because we had people we knew to interact with. The Allure of the Seas was an incredible ship. We loved that cruise but 6,000 straight people are just not as fun as a couple thousand gay men! By this time, I was willing to go ahead and book a gay cruise and gamble that I would get the time off from work. It did turn out to be a bit of a scramble getting coverage for all the time off I needed but it all worked out.
We had married in September, so this cruise was a bit of a honeymoon and it was also the week of my birthday so it was kind of birthday thing too. The ship was from a company called M.S.C. out of Italy. It was the crews first American cruise and their first gay cruise. They obviously had issues. RSVP Vacations were incredible. M.S.C., though was terrible!! I would never, ever go on an M.S.C. cruise again. The pillows were lumpy. The cabin was the smallest we have ever had on a cruise. The food was terrible.
My Cruise Critic review of the MSC Divina:
My spouse and I had been on 5 previous cruises. We had been on enjoyed cruises with both Carnival and Royal Caribbean. We found that Carnival was fine if we were traveling with other family members that had children but Royal Caribbean had much better activities since they had bigger ships with rock walls, ice skating rinks, huge promenades, and both a higher quantity and higher quality of entertainers. For us, the food was comparable on Carnival and RC and the cabins were also about the same size. Our favorite ship had been Royal Caribbean's "Allure of the Seas." The only reason that we chose the MSC Divina this time was because it had been chartered by RSVP Vacations for a gay cruise and we had never been on a gay cruise and wanted to try one. RSVP was incredible but MSC lacked in several ways.
On our first Carnival cruise, we were really impressed with the bedding in our cabin. The pillows and comforters just felt luxurious. The bedding was so good that it was available to
My ratings for this cruise do NOT include the RSVP parties or entertainment.
When I had been living in San Francisco in my late teens, I remember being destitute and walking around San Francisco with only 25 cents to my name. I ate at the "missions" sometimes where you would get soup and a sermon. There were a couple of times that I was desperate enough for a few dollars that I would sell my body for a few bucks to eat. I would go to the unemployment office but could only get sporadic, temporary, minimum wage jobs. On one of those visits, I saw a flyer about a training program that would pay you while you attend classes to become a Licensed Psychiatric Technician. It wasn't long after Kenny had drank drano and killed himself and immediately after Jim Archiquette sent me and Louise suicide notes, that I fled back to Washington State. I worked for my dad at the Brunswick in Toppenish until my mom called or sent a letter to ask if I wanted to come to Upland to participate in a vocation program to become a Licensed Psychiatric Technician. I jumped at the opportunity, feeling like it might be my last opportunity to do something to get on my feet and finally have some independence and security.
After the year long program, I passed the California State board and got my license to work as a Licensed Psychiatric Technician. I had missed San Francisco so much during that year of Southern California suburban freeways. I would spend my weekends driving an hour to West Hollywood where there was a gay community and went to the bars and baths there but it was not the same as San Francisco at all. Gay people in San Francisco had seemed like an extension of the Haight Ashbury hippies, while the gay scene in West Hollywood seemed scattered and plastic by comparison. I returned to San Francisco as soon as I could.
I lived in the hotel over the Rainbow Cattle Company at the corner of Valencia and Duboce streets. I had a $10/week room with a bathroom down the hall and everyone on my floor shared a kitchen and a pay phone. I went out to all the hospitals in the area that had psychiatric units and even hitchhiked down to Agnew's State Hospital, about an hour South of San Francisco, which would eventually become the campus for Sun Microsystems. Then, one day, someone came to get me in my room to say that I had a call on the pay phone. It was Saint Francis Hospital.
Initially, when I first started working at Saint Francis, I would tuck my long pony tail, which went to the middle of my back, up under a synthetic short haired wig. I think I had purchased it at Macy's with Louise one day. I can not fathom why Macy's would have been selling short haired wigs at the time but it looked real enough that I could pass as someone much more conservative. The Director of Nursing at Saint Francis at the time, Doris Weber, was very conservative. I wore that short haired wig for the first six months or so that I worked at Saint Francis.
Since I was 6'4" and male, I was often called upon to manage out of control patients. Registered Nurses were the ones that were in charge and the ones who gave out the assignments and that would direct the activities of the staff. It often felt like I was put into tenuous situations by the R.N.'s. They seemed to have all the power. I wanted some of that.
I started taking pre-requisites at City College of San Francisco and it wasn't long until I had accumulated quite a few credits. It was difficult but I was determined to get through these classes. I had been derailed too many times by drama in my late teens and twenties and I was determined not to be derailed again. Along the way, I met Ron Greene.
Ron was gay and around the same as me but almost entirely bald. He was outgoing and friendly while I was more shy and reticent. Ron initiated our friendship and it was very lucky for me that he did. I had never had the best study skills and had never been one to create study groups. Ron had great study skills and had no problem pulling others into study groups. I really don't know that I would have ever made it through the pre-requisites and nursing school without Ron. When it came to cutting up a frog in Biology, Ron took the knife. I took notes. When it came to handling cadavers in Anatomy, Ron would pull them out of storage. I would observe.
It was the early eighties and gay men had been dying in droves from AIDS. In some of our clinical rotations, we were giving care to those dying of the disease. There were many times that I thought I couldn't do something and then it turned out I could. I always hated needles and giving shots but I had learned to do that as a Psychiatric Technician. Now, there were many other things that were extremely difficult to do that would raise my anxiety, but I found I could overcome my anxiety and actually do these things that seemed so impossible. One night before I clinical rotation where I knew I would have to, I couldn't imagine myself giving stoma care for a patients colostomy. Yet, the next day when confronted with the situation, I was able to step up and do what was necessary. We really are capable of so much more than many of us think!!
We had some great instructors at San Francisco City College. Down through the years, I would hear the misnomer "two year nurse." The fact is, there is no such thing as far as I have ever been able to find. The real fact is that most four year nursing programs include most of the general education courses and the pre-requisites in their "four years." There are some higher level courses of course, but generally geared toward management. For front line nursing, there is no more rigorous a program than what City College offered. The "two year" nursing program was on top of two years of pre-requisites.
On either a summer break or a semester break, as we approached the last semesters of the nursing program, Ron took a vacation to Mexico. He came back sick, complaining of open sewers that drained onto the beaches of Acapulco. He had also traveled on buses into remote regions of Mexico and had drank the water. He received treatment but just seemed to get sicker and sicker. Finally, he was diagnosed with AIDS and would never return to the nursing program. He would die at the V.A. hospital in San Francisco shortly before the rest of us graduated. I owe so much to him but he continued to give and left me his old car, which Milton and i continued to drive for another year or so after that.
A few years back we were at something called the "Unity Fair" in Vallejo and were asked to pose for some pictures. We didn't really understand what they were for at the time but a year or so later, the Vallejo Gay Network contacted us and asked if they could use one of those pics on a banner they were sponsoring. We were honored of course and said yes. The banner has been up for severall years now and I wanted to get some pics before they came down. About a year or so after this video was taken, the banners had come down. I'm not sure what happened to them after that. I would love to have had this one!
I was always a little apprehensive about visiting Mexico. Cancun was good for a first time visit though. It is very American in many ways while still giving you the ability to sample Mexican culture. Cancun is a good base from which to explore Isle Mujeres, Cozumel and Chichen Itza which I will discuss in this review. I will also tell you of our experiences with the all inclusive Blue Bay Village (same as Blue Bay Getaway but NOT the same as Blue Bay Club!) and will briefly mention our experience with the one gay club we visited.
Just to let you know my perspective, I am a fifty year old white gay male with a forty some year old black lover. My lover of twenty years was taking me to Cancun for a fiftieth birthday present. Neither of us had ever visited Mexico before. We had done quite a bit of research and had decided to stay at the Blue Bay Village because it was advertised as adults only and was all inclusive. The price of our package through MexSeaSun (same thing as Apple Tours) came to about $1100.00 each for round trip air fare, seven nights lodging, meals and drinks including alcohol.
Overall, I think we got a pretty good deal but there were some problems I would like to alert you to. You can read my opinion regarding Mexicana airline elsewhere on epinions in which I discuss getting to Cancun and my warning regarding customs and immigration.
Upon arrival at Blue Bay Village after not sleeping the night before (because of my schedule at work), we were exhausted. A bellboy was called and we embarked on a long, winding route that took us to our room which was at least a city block from the Blue Bay Village lobby and in a much older and shabby looking building where everything was marked "Plaza Los Glorias." We later realized that we had gone through a wall that had recently separated Blue Bay Village from the separate resort of Plaza Las Glorias. Were we being shuffled to a less desirable resort? Apparently Blue Bay had recently bought the next door Plaza Las Glorias and we were being put there instead of what we had paid for!
The Plaza Las Glorias building was in desperate need of painting and some of the hallways we were taken through were rather dark. When we finally arrived at our room, the first thing I noticed was the torn curtain sheer which had a big gaping hole in it. This was certainly alarming and my excitement quickly turned to dissapointment. I looked around the room. The furniture was old with paint chipped. The room was an awful peach color and had a mild wet cement odor. The door locks on the doors were the old fashioned key locks rather than the modern card electronic locks which the actual Blue Bay main buildings had and most American hotels prefer for security reasons. The door frame- the part where the bolt of the lock goes into the wall- was broken and the metal part was dangling by one screw. You would not have needed a key to get into the room- just a gentle push on the door! There was no remote for the TV. The bathtub appeared to have hairs in it (which later turned out to be cracks in the surface of the tub- the tub really looked disgusting). This is not the kind of room you want to see after planning and being excited about a trip for months and being exhausted upon arrival!
I went and located Ms. "B", the Apple Tours representative. She seemed to be busy with others. When I interrupted and started my tirade, the woman with whom B had been speaking said "Oh, they put you over there too?" Apparently there were others that were not getting what they had been promised by Apple Tours and Blue Bay Village. Finally, B brought me to the front desk and talked with them. She told me if they were not able to find a better room, she would put us in a different property. Well, we had done our research on Blue Bay and already knew they had another property called Blue Bay Club which was in a remote location and allowed families. We knew we definitely did not want to end up there so when she said this, it felt more like a threat than an assurance.
The front desk gave the bellboy the keys to three more rooms- all of which were still in the Plaza Las Glorias property. Each of these rooms were rather shabby too but the last one had a microwave and refrigerator. At least the curtains, tub and doorjam seemed in better condition. We were tired of fussing and just wanted to rest and caved in at this point. We had to bring a table lamp from another room since this last room had none. We also had to exchange the TV in this room with another room because there was no remote available for the tv that was already there.
After several hours and quite a bit of haggling in our exhausted state, we were finally able to rest for a couple hours before heading for the dinner buffet (a side note- we did notice over the week that we were there that there was activity toward renovating Plaza Las Glorias and the name was being removed from the building and the logo for Blue Bay was being applied-- I just think it was outrageous that they had put guests in BEFORE the renovations!!).
I have to say that I was impressed that first evening with the buffet. There were a lot of choices. The food was good but I have to warn you that over the period of a week, the buffet becomes very repetitive and kind of boring. I suppose I would compare it to Hometown Buffet in the states. Adequate- nothing exceptional- I guess mediocre is the word I am looking for. Slightly better than mediocre maybe. The food is plentiful though, from 7AM until about 10PM at night and all drinks are included as well. There are also a Chinese and an Italian restaurant available to break the monotony of the buffet but they both require reservations a couple of days ahead of time and they require a little more getting dressed than what the buffet required. We never made it to either one.
The activities were fun to observe at Blue Bay. I think if you were a heterosexual that likes to drink alcohol, you would really have a very good time. There are various activities through the day and evening. There are three different pools. The main one is quite nice and this is where many of the activities take place but I have to tell you, if you want a poolside beach chair at the main pool, you will need to get there about 6AM! If you want a beach chair in a good location on the relatively small beach at Blue Bay, you will need to be there by 7AM. These people get up early! And they put their towels on the chairs and wonder off for hours (maybe they go back to bed) but nobody else feels comfortable sitting there since there is already a towel there.
There are various games we observed such as horseshoes, volley ball and such. We also attended one Disney themed show (energetic but not every polished) at the theater they have there and then one night they set up a stage in the buffet room and had some Mexican dancing which ended with a French Can-can.
There are also free non-motorized water sports available- wind surfing, hobbie cats and that sort of thing. The water sports guy Jose was great and very helpful. They have lessons available for free. Motorized water sports were available for a fee.
The beach at blue bay does have the cool limestone sand for which the area is famous but it does not have the beautiful turquoise water. If you want to stay at a hotel with the beaches you usually associate with Cancun, you will need to say on the Caribbean side of the hotel zone (and probably pay quite a bit more money than we did), not the bay side where Blue Bay is located.
During our stay, we also visited Blue Bay Club which allows children. If you stay at Blue Bay Village, you are allowed to visit Blue Bay Club and have all the same privileges. Blue Bay Club did have a nicer building overall- (certainly better than the Plaza Las Glorias in which we had been stuck)- but the location is terrible! It is VERY remote. You would have to take a LONG bus ride or a boat shuttle to get to Blue Bay Village or downtown or the hotel strip where everything is going on. The beach at Blue Bay Club is even smaller than Blue Bay Village. I would only recommend staying here if you are just going to stay at the resort and read.
Speaking of reading-- bring lots of your favorite magazines and books- they are hard to find in Cancun. Also, even though Blue Bay promised "satellite tv" which in my mind would be a good selection of channels, we were only able to get English CNN, HBO, HBO Plus and Cinemax. And sometimes those were even showing stuff in Spanish. You probably won't spend a lot of time watching tv anyway but sometimes in the evening, we would have enjoyed a better selection of channels.
We had been warned several times about time share salesman. You will be accosted repeatedly on the streets and even in the hotel with great sounding offers of free tours, meals, etc. but just keep in mind that nothing is free in life! There is usually going to be a high pressure time share salespitch string attached. If anything sounds like too good a deal or someone seems overly eager to help you, just remember, I told you so. (on a side note, it is also interesting that when I complained to one Blue Bay representative about our treatment, they tried to sell us the Blue Bay "Premiere Club" which they assured us would get us a better room NEXT TIME!! They wanted us to go listen to some lengthy salespitch for this but, of course by this time, we would not have trusted anything said from this organization)
The day after our arrival, we were supposed to meet with the Apple Tours representative at 5PM. We were there but they had not showed up by 5:45 and so we gave up on them. Essentially, we learned, they were going to try to sell us various excursion packages. I would advise avoiding these anyway since they are way overpriced. For example, you can get to Isle Mujures on a ferry for about $3.00 but the hotel charges about forty (although the hotel is probably more convenient and does include food, drinks and snorkeling). We just like to be able to come and go when we want rather than being on someone else?s schedule. The same with Cozumel. It was very easy to get there on our own. The tours sold in the hotel left too early in the morning and went too long in the day for us..
Isle Mujures, Cozumel and Chichen Itza are HIGHLY recommended! For Isle Mujures and Cozumel, or probably anywhere that you need to take a cab, just be sure you don't need much change from the cab driver because they won't always have it or at least they will say they don't. I would recommend NEVER taking a cab in Cancun itself since the bus system is so great and easy.
There are various "theme" parks that will be foisted upon you and maybe they are okay but I would say the highlight of the trip for me was the real deal at Chichen Itza. Read up on it before you go. The Maya pyramids are really impressive. It is an all day trip but very much worth the time and money. We had debated whether to go on that tour but I am so glad we did. We also found that Gray Line tours has a better bus going to Chichen Itza than the hotel or Apples recommended tour- Gray Line has a bathroom on their bus but we were told the hotel's recommended tour bus did not have a bathroom. If I am going to be on a bus for this long of a trip, I want a bathroom. Lunch is included on most tours.
I highly recommend you set some time aside for snorkeling. Isle Majures has a park called Garrafon that makes it convenient but it is probably not adequate for serious snorkelers or divers. Nice for us though. I would recommend bringing your own towel although you can rent everything you need there. I also snorkeled at Chankanaab on our day trip to Cozumel. My lover doesn't swim and so I did not really try to do anything more serious than just these parks but there are many other options available.
My lover and I were curious about the gay activity in Cancun. We had our Bob Damron (a gay guide) with us and could see that Cancun was rather limited compared to Puerta Vallarta. We went to Karamba on a Wednesday night about 10:30PM. There was absolutely nothing going on. We went back on Saturday around 11:30 and a few guys were sitting at tables. The music was some awful techno crap. You are brought to a table by one of the waiters and they bring you your drinks and then they obnoxiously return every couple of minutes asking if you are ready for another drink. Very pushy.
This scene at this bar did not really get under way until after midnight. It finally got pretty crowded. They had some performers- a male and female doing some dance with batons with lights on either end. Pretty boring. Then they had these strippers that took FOREVER to strip. Well actually, I don't know if they ever did finally finish stripping since we left by that time. It was probably about two in the morning and we were tired by that time. The music actually did get pretty good for about thirty minutes out of the couple of hours that we were there. I guess if you like techno that just drones one and on and on, you would like it.
There is another bar called Picante according to Bob Damrons but we could never locate it.We also so a building with a big rainbow flag with the name "Le Club" which was not listed in Bob Damrons but we never got there when it was open.
The weather while we were in Cancun varied. We did have about three days where it was pretty overcast and we got rained on a few times but it is that warm tropical rain that doesn't last very long. You don't really even need an umbrella because it is usually brief but it would not hurt to have one in case you want it. We were told that it was unusual weather for April- that the rainy season usually starts later in May. Most of the time it was in the eighties during the day. I love tropical weather!
All in all, I enjoyed the trip and was thankful that my lover had been so generous to take me. Cancun is a good base from which to explore Isle Mujures, Cozumel and Chichen Itza none of which I would miss. Blue Bay Village was adequate although there is obviously a lack of integrity here- I would never trust Apple Tours or Blue Bay to meet the expectations that they set up but I do think that overall we still got a pretty good deal once we changed rooms and I did have a great time--- even though I did lose a little sleep over being in Mexico illegally... but that is another story.. which you will find in my review of Mexicana airlines in which I discuss getting to and from Cancun.
This article is not finished... please check back in a week when it has been finished.
This is video of our first day on the Mariner of the Seas, February 21st, 2010. We were out to sea for the first day and it was an opportunity to explore the largest ship on the West coast.
We were out to sea on the second day of the cruise but there was plenty of things to do on the ship. There were many venus of entertainment to visit. We enjoyed the ice show and the tribute to Ricky Nelson. The 70's party on the Royal Promenade was a blast but was way too short. We found the Dragon's Lair disco later that night and discovered a group of gay men on the ship and Milton and I felt comfortable dancing. So far, we had only eaten in the Windjammer and at the Promenade cafe. We were having a great time.
This is some footage from day three of our cruise. We took a little "tender" boat ride from the ship to shore in Cabo and spent a couple of hours walking around the Marina and out onto the beach. It was a beautiful day and after weeks of rain and drizzle in the Bay Area, I wanted to soak up every drop of sun possible and ended up getting sunburned. After a couple of hours, we went back to the ship for lunch.
This is video of Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, days 4 and 5 on the cruise and day 6 which was out to sea
We had been to The White Party in 2005 and decided it was time to check it out again. Northern California had been having a very wet winter and we were ready for some sunshine. Since I can't tolerate more than about four hours in a car, it takes two days for us to get to L.A.. Kettleman City was our rest stop. We stayed in L.A. for a couple of days and stayed at a great Best Western on The Sunset Strip, a few blocks from The Whiskey. The room was large and the hotel was covered in bouganvilla and the sun was out. We enjoyed touring around L.A. to the Disney Concert Hall and Olvera Street. We enjoyed riding the metro to Union Station. The Getty museum was wonderful. We got to Palm Springs on Friday and went to Hunters Bar and danced that night. On Saturday, we went to the pool party. On Saturday night we went to the actual White Party. We had a great time.
I am currently editing this article.. please return in a week or so..
During the period of living on Shotwell, Jim and I were getting along pretty well but we were young gay men and it was the height of the sexual revolution so we were certainly not going to be left out of that. We often went to The Stud on Folsom street and danced. I wasn't 21 but got in easily by just walking past the doorman without giving them eye contact. The place was consistently packed.
We also would visit other bars along Folsom such as the Ramrod. People openly smoked pot in the bars back then. There was a bar across from the Stud that was not very popular and didn't last long and would later be replaced by a restaurant called Hamburger Mary's and the bartender there was very Cockettish. He had a pierced ear and a pierced nostril with a chain going between the two. Jim and I invited him home for a "three way." As I remember that three way and a couple of other three ways I have had in my life, it was kind of awkward. Who do you focus on? Sex with one person can be complicated enough but two was just not my thing at all. There is too much thinking involved and distraction to stay excited.
I just want to say that the sexual mores of the seventies, (pre-AIDS), should not be be judged by the post-AIDS sexual mores and values. The sexual revolution that started in the sixties, after the birth control pill became widely available, and which continued through the seventies came to somewhat of an end, after people started dying in the eighties of AIDS.
Both heterosexuals and homosexuals were experimenting with sex during the seventies. Since gay men had the extra dose of testosterone to drive them, they did, without a doubt, take sexual activity to new levels. The attitude of the late sixties and seventies was "if it feels good and it isn't hurting anybody, do it!" There was a group of sex workers in San Francisco that summed it up- what young people were saying to the old with their acronym C.O.Y.O.T.E., which stood for "Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics."
Gay men were in just the beginning of creating community and discovering who they were. Many questioned heterosexual roles of the past. One did not necessarily have to play the "male role" while the other played the "female role." It could all be interchangeable and new roles could be created. Monogamy was not essential. Open relationships were common in which one could get their emotional needs of a partnership from one person but not have their sexual activity restricted. Of course there were still the human emotions of jealousy and insecurity that had to be dealt with but many couples navigated throught these emotions- some successfully and others not so successfully.
When I hear young gay men today talk about the promiscuity of the seventies with much judgement in their voices, I know they have no way to comprehend the context of those times. Kids grow up so differently today than the kids of the fifties and sixties. Kids today seem so much more knowledgeable of sex and S.T.D.'s and grow up associating promiscuity with HIV and death. In the seventies, there were no such associations. Sex was fun. It could be recreational. If you got a sexually transmitted disease, you stopped by the V.D. clinic and got a shot or a few pills. Nobody died from sex. In the context of post HIV, gay men of the seventies would appear to have all been sex addicts, but in the context of the the 1970's, that would not be accurate. It is all about the context of the times in which one lives and the community in which one lives and the values of that community. The culmination of the 1970's was like a release of pent up energy and a breaking away from the repression of the fifties. Those of us that grew up in the fifties and sixties where there was very little discussion of sex or information about sex, the sudden immersion in sexual freedom was exciting and fun. For those of us that were gay, it
was a new found liberation.
Jim took me to a bathhouse called Ritch Street for the first time when I wasabout nineteen or twenty. The was a three story building designed for gay men to engage in sex with one another comfortably. In bathhouses, you pay for either a locker where you can stow your clothes or a lockable cubicle of about five feet by eight feet with a mattress covered with a clean sheet. There are hooks on which you can hang your clothes. You are given a towel and you quickly learn there are techniques in wrappying the towel around yourself properly so as to make it look cute rather than sloppy. Some men wander around in underwear or in jickstraps or naked with the towel over their shoulder, but most have the towel wrapped around their waist with nothing on underneath. There is a constant pacing through thehallways looking for "Mr. Right Now," a sexual partner for the moment. Lighting is dim and lightbulbs are often red to be the most flattering. Often there
is no verbal exchange between men as it is easier for Mr. Right Now to fit into one's fantasy if he doesn't start talking. If I guy looks like a hot stud and then talks like a mincing queen, it can shatter the illusion and much of the sex in sex clubs and bathhouses is all about illusion.
The difference between a bathhouse and a sex club in those days was that bathhouses had showers where sex clubs might only have a sink to wash up in. There were no private, lockable cubicles in sex clubs. Sex clubs were usually cheaper and one generally spent less time there. You got in and got off and got out, where you might linger comfortably in a bathhouse all night.
Some bathhouses were beautiful environments and some in places like New York even had live entertainment. Bette Midler and her pianoplayer, Barry Manilow famously got their start in the Continental Baths in New York. Ritch Street didn't have such entertainment but it did have a fabulous whirlpool in the basement with an aquarium that must have been about eight feet by six feet with exotic fish swimming in it as a background the the beautiful naked men. You could sit in the cafe that served salads and sandwiches and snacks and watch the men shower and bathe in the whirling waters of the pool.
If I remember correctly, the first floor of the Ritch Street was made up of lockers and cubicles. I think there were some glory holes and showers in one area and a television viewing area. Glory holes are essentially holes in a wall big enough for a penis. A man wanting oral sex would step up to the wall and put his penis through the hole and a man on the other side wanting to give oral sex would be on the other side. Sometimes each cared about who was on the other side and would try to see who entered on one side of the wall or the other but at other times, it didn't really matter who was on the other side as the fantasy in the mind was more significant than the reality of who was on t
he other side of the wall.
In the basement there was a large whirlpool in which probably fifteen to twenty young men would rest between sexual encounters or find another sexual encounter. Above the pool was a huge salt water aquarium in which exotic, beutiful fish were swimming. There were a row of showers along a wall in which the young men could shower off the chlorinated water
of the pool after exiting the soothing. pulsating waters. All of this could be observed while having a healthful snack such as a salad or a sandwich on multigrain bread. The place was beautiful and filled with beautiful men.
In April 26, 1980, CBS Reports episode, "Gay Power, Gay Politics" anchored by Harry Reassoner focused on the growing political power and influence of the LGBT community in San Francisco. Harry Reasoner began the episode with
"For someone of my generation, it sounds a bit preposterous. Political power for homosexuals? But those predictions are already coming true. In this report, we'll see how the gays of San Francisco are using the political process to further their own special interest, just like every other minority group before them. Gay power, gay politics, that's what this report is about. It's not a story about life-styles or the average gay experience. What we'll see is the birth of a political movement and the troubling questions it raises for the eighties, not only for San Francisco, but for other cities throughout the country."
After the episode aired, I remember my sister calling me and asking if those things shown in the sensationalist episode were true. Much of it was. I knew Buena Vista Park well.
"Cruising" with Al Pacino released was released not long after this with the serial killer, killing gay men in New York.
By October 1984, the cities health director ordered bathhouses to close... almost all of these sex clubs and bathhouses were closed and the majority of gay bars began to close and or became straight venues. at that time 723 men in San Francisco had died since 1981.