Sunday, 13 September 2015 01:22

2015-"Badlands" and Gay Bar Etiquette

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!!

Published in Sixties
Saturday, 12 September 2015 19:33

2005- Trip to Orlando

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.

Published in Fifties
Sunday, 31 May 2015 00:06

2015- Second Gay Cruise

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.

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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. 

22 loveboattdanceThe ship was fairly new and beautiful as most of the ships we have been on. It was a bit smaller than some of the other ships Milton and I have sailed on. My preference is for larger ships- favorite being RC "Allure of the Seas." There is just more to do and see on those out at sea days on a larger cruise ship. With RSVP Vacations handling most of the entertainment on our cruise, things to do were certainly not a problem, but seeing a couple of the Regal Princess shows in their theater, I would put those on about the same level as Carnival or MSC- kind of a Las Vegas sort of vibe. Once we had gone on "Allure of the Seas" with their full production of "Chicago," their ice skating shows, their Cirque De Soleil type show, their promenade parade, rock climbing walls, etc, etc... it is hard to go back to just mediocre Vegas type review shows. 

There were a few negatives for me on Regal Princess. I thought they were a bit skimpy on the jetted pools. Out of the seven cruises we have been on, this ship had the least number of jetted pools and these were all very small.CIMG4960 

The cabins also left a bit to be desired. They were about the same size as MSC. I don't know the exact footage off hand but both RC and Carnival have two beds and a couch in their cabins. Their was no couch in the MSC or Regal Princess cabins. The balconies are very small in comparison as well. 

As a retired Registered Nurse that has taken microbiology, I am always aware of cleanliness on a cruise. Every cruise we have been on have been great in the public areas for the appearance of cleanliness but most get a fail when it comes to the buffet. Royal Caribbean probably did the best job of encouraging passengers to use hand sanitizer as the entered the buffet line. As you entered, a crew member would tactfully direct each passenger to the hand sanitizer. I think that is a good idea. Watching passengers enter the buffet line on the Regal Princess, I think only about one in ten passengers used the hand sanitizer. CIMG4424Tiny Regal Princess cabinCIMG4425Tiny Regal Princess cabin

IMG 3691The other thing about the buffet cleanliness on Regal Princess was that it was not always clear to the passengers where the serving utensils should go after the passenger served themselves. On most of the other cruises we have been on, there are plates in front of each dish on which one can lay the serving utensil after use. On the Regal Princess, this was not always the case. People would be seen coughing or sneezing into their hands, serving themselves and contaminating the handles of the serving utensils and then, not having anywhere else to place the utensils, they would just lay them across the food. You get a few hundred people doing this and those buffet dishes become petri dishes for noro-virus and other contaminates. The dirtiest thing in restaurants are the menus because they are handled by everyone and rarely wiped down. The dirtiest thing in a cruise buffet line is the handles of the serving utensils. It grosses me out. I won't eat anything from a buffet line where the handle of a serving utensil has been in contact with the food. 

This was the first cruise we have been on that I have gotten sick. The night before I got sick, we had eaten in one of the dining rooms which should be relatively safe compared to the buffet lines. I ordered what they called a Caribbean Shrimp Cocktail. The shrimp itself seemed okay but the cocktail sauce seemed a little off to me. I also had a dish that was made of chicken breast with a thin slice of ham over it. The first bite was disgusting. I should have spit it out but I didn't. I swallowed it and thinking that it was just the ham that tasted so bad, I peeled the ham back and discarded it to the side of my plate but then foolishly ate the chicken. I am pretty sure there was something wrong with the ham and it had probably contaminated the chicken and I do believe that was very likely what made me sick. One other option, though was the made to order omelet I had the next morning. I love the idea of a made to order omelet BUT it should be thoroughly cooked. Mine was cooked on the outside but the egg was runny on the inside. Regardless, whatever it was that made me sick, the shrimp, ham, chicken or omelette, it put me out of commission for most of one day. Thankfully, I just had one episode of vomiting and had some Ondansetron (Zofran), with me and took one of those and was feeling much better within about an hour. 

I was a little surprised at the dining room food on Princess. For some reason, I was thinking it might be a step up from Carnival or RC but definitely not!! Out of the seven cruises we have been on, MSC and Princess had the worst food. The only positive thing I can say about the food on The Regal Princess, was that most of the cruises we have been on only serve hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza after 10pm. I don't know if it was due to RSVP Vacations or if it is just standard, but the Regal Princess had a full buffet every night! Milton, who has a cast iron stomach, was eating at the buffet every night as late as midnight and 1am. 

 

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. 

 

IMG 3670Muster Drill as we leave Fort LauderdaleIMG 3678Leaving Fort LauderdaleIMG 3680Leaving Fort LauderdaleIMG 3686Getting ready for "Hello, my name is..." party

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! 

diamondwelcomepartyDiamond RSVP Vacations 30th Anniversary T-Dance

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.

 

CIMG4392We spent the second day of the cruise at Princess Cays

 

CIMG4376Our Tender Boat to IslandCIMG4377Inside the Tender BoatCIMG4381Regal PrincessCIMG4387Laying on the Beach- February 9th, 2015

 

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. 

 

CIMG4421In The Princess Theater waiting for Fiera! to start.

 

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.  

discoinferno

 

CIMG4451Disco QueenCIMG4456There were a lot of "afro's" at the Disco Inferno partyCIMG4464CIMG4466This is Jimmy, who we met at dinner the night beforeCIMG4467Disco BallCIMG4469CIMG4473CIMG4478Milton having a good timeCIMG4479Divine!CIMG4483

 

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. 

IMG 3708Miami Dock

 

Once we left Miami, it was back to lounging around the pools and wandering around the ship. 

 

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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.

CIMG4534Milton and I in our "Captain" hatsCIMG4538CIMG4547CIMG4552We met Lynn and Bunny at the Best Western hotel the day of embarkationCIMG4578CIMG4586CIMG4607CIMG4613

 

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. 

 

CIMG4645CIMG4655CIMG4666CIMG4668Wicked Witch with Toto in the basket passing judgment on festivities

 

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." 

pajama

 

CIMG4780CIMG4784CIMG4793Baby Jane giving Blanche her lunchCIMG4794CIMG4796CIMG4808CIMG4819CIMG4828CIMG4830Jimmy as a provocative bunnyCIMG4844CIMG4848CIMG4855


 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.

 

divas

 

Later that evening, I was feeling better and we did go to the "Time Machine Party."

 

timemachine

 

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. 

ranch

 

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That night, they had the "Anything Goes Costume Contest" party. First there was a fun costume party and then more dancing. 

anythinggoes

CIMG5110CIMG5118CIMG5119CIMG5133CIMG5139Winner of the costume contest

 

On Valentine's Day, February 14th, we attended the "Blush and Bashful" T-Dance.

blushandbashful

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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. 

CIMG5291CIMG5294CIMG5301

 

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.

 

CIMG5327CIMG5331CIMG5341CIMG5355At the Fort Lauderdale Airport 

Published in Sixties
Saturday, 30 May 2015 23:43

2014- First Gay Cruise

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 buy on the ship! On each of the ships we were on after that, we never had issues with the bedding. All the ships were comfortable. We were very surprised to find MSC pillows felt like pillow cases filled with rags. It wasn't just one pillow in the room that was defective. ALL the pillows were lumpy and uncomfortable. 

Divina also had the smallest cabin of any cruise we had ever been on. We have always got a balcony cabin and both Carnival and RC balcony cabins have two single beds that can be put together and then a couch that can be folded out into another bed if there are three in the cabin. We were impressed on our first cruise with Carnival that, besides providing shampoo and body wash, they also provided small samples of toothpaste and other toiletries which was a nice touch. Our cabin on MSC had no sitting area. The only place to sit inside the cabin was on the beds themselves. 

The steward for our room was as nice as any we have had although this was the first time we were on a cruise with no towel animals or chocolate on our pillows or some small extra touch. The room was kept clean and fresh towels provided but nothing that felt "extra." 

The food on MSC Divina definitely seemed more mediocre than either Carnival or RC. To be honest, I am not a big fan of buffets where hundreds of people are serving themselves anyway. I took Microbiology in college and I always feel a little hesitant about cruise buffets where passengers are handling the utensils after sneezing or coughing into their hands and then they lay the utensils across the food itself. This has been common on every cruise we have taken. Apparently it doesn't bother everybody. Over time, it does seem like there has been more of an emphasis on using hand sanitizer as one enters the buffet but not everyone uses it and even though YOUR hands may be clean initially, after you have handled the utensils that a hundred other people have handled before you, your hands end up contaminated with every cold and flu virus or norwalk virus that someone before you was carrying. Unless you wash your hands again AFTER handling the contaminated utensils, you are still putting yourself at risk. I think this is why cruise ships are notorious for spreading such things like Noro virus. At the minimum, there should be plates on which the utensils are laid and signs directing passengers not to lay the utensils on top of the food after handling. Handing out disposable gloves at beginning of buffet line might help. Ultimately, it is best that only one or two people handle the serving utensils and passengers be served by staff. Add children into the mix and buffets are a little gross as far as I'm concerned, but I am digressing. 

One of my favorite things on the Allure was all the alternatives to eating at the buffet. There were plenty of alternative restaurants where one could be served. The MSC did have some alternative restaurants but all for paying extra except for the Black Crab and Villa Rosa. If neither of those two were open, you were pretty much stuck with either paying extra or eating at the buffet. Thankfully, there were no children on the cruise and I could only hope that these adults were more careful about washing their hands and basic hygiene. I was still careful to always try to reach back to the back of steam table where utensils had not laid across the food. The real problem was the repetitive dishes they offered. At EVERY buffet other than breakfast, there were warmed over hamburgers and cheeseburgers under heating lamps and pizza under heating lamps. We were so sick of hamburgers and pizza by the third day!! Breakfast at the buffet was okay, although every other ship we had been on offered an omelet station where you could get a fresh, made to order omelet that no one else had touched. I missed that! 

The Black Crab and Villa Rosa were pretty repetitive too. We saw the same menu almost every night. I think that one night they did have an alternative menu but most nights, the same dishes were offered. One of the things I liked on RC was the ability to just pay a few extra dollars for a fillet mignon steak in the main dining room. The Divina offered no extra's in their dining rooms and seating was problematic. We prefer sitting at a table for two and that always seemed a bit of a problem with Carnival although RC always accommodated us with no questions asked and no problem. On the Divina, on this cruise, the first problem you had with the dining rooms is that you had to be sure you showed up at the right door at the right time. First, they would open the downstairs area of the Black Crab. If you showed up at the upstairs door or the Villa Rosa, you were redirected to the downstairs door of the Black Crab to accommodate the needs of the maitre de apparently rather than accommodate the needs of the passengers to be seated. If there were just six seats left on the first floor of the Black Crab, there was no way that the upstairs or Villa Rosa was going to be opened, even if a long line had formed. It was cause for a lot of grumbling among the passengers waiting to eat in one of the dining rooms. 

One of the worst things for us for eating choices was the lack of choices after the incredible parties at night that RSVP Vacations provided. When we were exhausted from dancing and partying with RSVP Vacations, we would head to the buffet for a snack before going back to out cabin. Every night, warmed over hamburgers and pizza and maybe some pasta. You could not get the fresh pizza right out of the oven, until the warmed over pizza had all been consumed. On Carnival and RC, there were sometimes midnight buffets or chocolate or dessert buffets. I think they all depend on pizza way to much for late night snacking and that gets boring real quick but MSC offered no alternatives in the entire seven days while Carnival and RC did have a few other options in this regard. 

Speaking of repetitive, I was surprised by the lackluster entertainment the MSC offered. We saw their show in the Pegasus theater two nights in a row and the acts were essentially the same but different costumes and theme. Thankfully, we were traveling with RSVP Vacations and the entertainment they brought on the ship was amazing! I can't say enough about the RSVP Vacations for troubleshooting a lot of the problems we had with MSC. 

With exception of a bartender here and there on our cruises, staff have always been friendly and attentive. The staff on MSC, other than the stewards, seemed a bit aloof. For the first four days or so, it seemed like they didn't want to make eye contact. Below deck, the staff was typical of other cruises and friendly from various places in the world. Above deck, they were mostly Italian and maybe that had something to do with their attitude toward us? I overheard someone saying that this was the first American cruise for the Divina staff and they were not used to Americans and then there was the fact that the passengers consisted of about 3,000 gay men partying all week. Regardless, after about the fourth day, it did seem like the staff warmed up a little but still not as friendly as some of our previous cruises. 

We didn't use the spa services on MSC at all but I do want to mention that they did have a gym which was about the same as other ships we had been on. On the Carnival ships we have traveled on, anyone could use the steam rooms or sauna. We were surprised to find that the RC Allure did not allow passengers to use those facilities unless they booked expensive spa treatments. This was also the case on the MSC Divina. 

Overall, I would never choose to travel on an MSC cruise if I could avoid it. I would definitely travel with RSVP Vacations on another chartered ship of this size or larger, though. Since I like big ships with the most amenities, RC probably wins out for me overall and I would love to see RSVP charter one of their ships. I loved the fact that there were no children on this cruise because often on Carnival, you can't find a serene place on the ship that doesn't have screaming kids running by. I think it is great if you are parents traveling with kids but we are probably done with Carnival for that reason. The pools and hot tubs are often filled with kids on Carnival. The Allure of the Seas did have several jacuzzi and pool areas that seemed set aside for adults. That is another reason, RC gets extra points over Carnival. I am not sure how MSC Divina would be regarding this as there were no children on this cruise. There was a "European" nude sunbathing area, though. I'm not sure if that was a feature that MSC always offers or was something RSVP Vacations created just for this cruise. 

My ratings for this cruise do NOT include the RSVP parties or entertainment. 

Published in Sixties
Thursday, 14 May 2015 22:31

2001- April- Trip to Cancun

bluebaycancunI 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. 

bluebaycoancun2Overall, 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! 
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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! bluebaycancunpool

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. 

Cancun6After 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. 

sylvancancunnoshirtThere 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.. 

miltonchizenitzaIsle 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. 

Chichen ItzaThere 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. cancunchizenitzasylvan

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. cancunchizennitzasylvan2

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.

Published in Fifties

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

Published in Fifties

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.

 

Published in Sixties

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

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 was a new found liberation.

RitchJim 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 toRitchAd be the most flattering. Often there 

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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

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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

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 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.

 

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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.  

 

Published in Twenties
Monday, 13 April 2015 01:16

1991- Black Males in Oils

My mom enjoyed painting canvases from time to time when I was growing up. Once in a while I would try to paint a picture. 

Sometime in the 90's before we moved to Vallejo, while we were still living on Waller Street, I decided to paint over a painting someone had given me some years before. The canvas was about 3 feet by 3 feet and I got a few paints and brushes and looked for an image to paint. I found an image in a hip-hop magazine of the time and started painting. 

Milton kept discouraging me. He would say things like, "You don't know how to paint," and "Your not going to hang that on our walls." I persisted and kept painting. When I was finished, I did hang it on a wall and got compliments from friends when they came over. I decided to paint more. Milton relented and went with the flow and, eventually, I think he came to appreciate my paintings. 

My main focus at the time was 'black males." I painted a few pictures of Milton and his dad and most of the other images I just found in magazines. People seemed to enjoy them and so I decided to do a few shows in Vallejo and San Francisco. I bought an "Easy-up" tent and did a few street fairs. It was all much fun although I didn't sell enough to make it profitable. The more I tried to sell the paintings, though, the less I wanted to paint. For a few years, I painted several a year. Then I lost interest and just painted once a year or so when I became inspired. You can see other paintings that are not a part of the "Black Males..." collection elsewhere in my "Life Stories." 

 

BLACK MALES IN OIL

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Black Males in Oils in Shows

 

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Published in Forties
Monday, 06 April 2015 21:56

2010-4. Europe- Madrid

 

High speed train to Madrid.

 

Milton at the back of the Royal Palace in Madrid.

 

At the Prado museum. Exhausting but wonderful.

 

Madrid's Royal Palace.

 

Me in front of the Royal Palace. The picture is taken from the steps of a huge cathedral but it was closed by the time we got out of the Royal Palace. It was Columbus Day weekend and they celebrate Columbus Day in Spain and everything closes early.

 

 

Published in Fifties
Page 1 of 2

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Beatle haircut- Click for story.
5th Grade in Abilene Tx- Click for story
1982-1993 Waller Street- Click to read story.
Darlene Marries Chuck- Click for story.
The Psychedelic Experience- Click to read story.
Women in Oils- Click for story
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click to read story.
1973- Psych Tech Program- Click for story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
Amber- Click to read story.
Forbidden Dreams of Love- Click for story.
1974- First Trip to Europe- Click to read story.
Where I was born- Click for story.
Earthquake! Click to read story.
Me in 3rd grade- Click for story.
Click to read "Introduction."
1973 "You have to be hurt..." Click to read the story.
Second Gay Cruise- Click for story.
Grandview- Click for story
Gay Disco 70's- Click for story
1970's Promiscuity- Click for story.
2014- Road trip to San Diego- Click for story.
2005 Darlene Visit for Gay Pride- Click for story.
1967- Summer of Love- Click to read story.
Summer of Love- Click to read story.
Photos of Dad & His Family- Click for story.
My Dad's Family- Click for story.
Cockettes & Angels of Light- Click for story
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click for story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
Escondido 1960's- Click for story
1964- Luv Please- Click for story.
4th Grade- Click for story.
Me in my 20's in 1970's- Click for story.
Palouse- Click for story
2005- Darlene Visits for Gay Pride- Click to read story.
1957-1958 1st Grade- Click to read story.
1958-1959- 3rd Grade- Click to read story.
1974- On Larkin Street- Click for story.
Black Men in Oils- Click to read story
My Mother- Click for more photos.
Me in first grade- Click for story.

Article

01. Introduction

03- Dads Family

03- Photos of my Father and his family

04- My Mother's Family

04- Photos of my Mom

04- Video of my Mom

04- Walling Family Reunions

04-Audio Files of My Mom

04. Billie

04. Ole

04.1. Forbidden Dreams of Love

04.2. Flames of Forbidden Love

04.3 Mom Writing Her Life Story

05- Jim Tarbert

05. Roger

1950's Grandview to Toppenish

1957-1958 1st Grade

1958-1959- Third Grade

1959- Palouse

1961- 4th Grade- Last time I wore a dress

1962- Abilene

1963- Escondido- Early 60's

1964- Darlene Marries Chuck

1964- My Beatle Haircut

1964-The Luv Please

1965 or 1966- Steve Castle

1965- In Foster Care

1966 Living with Darlene & Chuck in Seattle

1967- Juvenile Hall

1976- I Praise Thee (poem to Stanley)

1976- My Second Lover, Stanley Dunne

1976- Paul McCartney and Wings

1976-1330 Bush Street #9J

1977- 1667 Haight Street

1977- Trip to San Diego with Mary Jo

1977-1980- Tumultuous Relationship with John Perry

1978- 525 Haight Street

1979- September- Dad is Murdered

1980's- AIDS- Death and Dying

1980- Winter- First Trip to New York

1980- Word, Sound and Power

1981- Milton- Falling in Love

1982-1993 465 Waller Street

1982-1994 Computers to MacNursing

1984- 33rd Birthday

1985- Graduation from Nursing School

1985- Trip to Hawaii (Oahu)

1988- MIdnight Caller

1989- Earthquake!

1991- Aug 10th- Mom Passes Away

1991- Black Males in Oils

1991- Crack of My Life

1993- Move to Vallejo & Our First Home

1995-1. Road Trip to Washington

1995-2. Surprise Trip to Vegas

1995-3. Grandmother Rogers & Aunts Visit Darlene's

1995-4. Amber

1998- Camping at Russian River

2000 -Thoughts about Progressive Christians

2000- Resignation from John George

2001- April- Trip to Cancun

2001- Peace and Justice

2001- September 11th

2002- April-Puerto Vallarta & Blue Bay Getaway

2002- Nov 12th- My Stepfather, George McHenry Passes Away

2003- Trip to D.C. and N.Y.

2004- Feb- Road Trip to Baha Mexico

2004- Walling Family Reunion in Spokane

2005- Christmas Poem

2005- Darlene Visit for Pride Celebration

2005- Trip to Orlando

2005-1. Europe- London

2005-2. Europe- Paris

2005-3. Europe- Venice

2005-4. Europe- Florence

2005-5. Europe- Rome

2005-6. Europe- Athens

2005-7. Knee Surgery & Tongue Biopsy

2006 Christmas Poem

2006- February 23- Times Herald

2006- Palm Springs White Party

2006- Trip to Seattle

2006-July 8th Solano Peace and Justice Coalition BBQ

2007- Feb- Carnival Destiny- Our First Cruise

2007- Tre and Casey Visit

2008- Aug 15-18 Spokane Visit

2008- Psycho Song

2009- Honored by Vallejo Gay Network

2009- Women in Oils

2010 Christmas Poem

2010- Feb. R.C. Mariner of the Seas Mexican Riviera Cruise

2010- June 24- Badlands

2010- Trip to Seattle

2010-1. Europe- Amsterdam

2010-2. Europe- Paris

2010-3. Europe- Barcelona & Sitges

2010-4. Europe- Madrid

2011-1. Feb. My Fabulous 60th Birthday Weekend

2011-2. April- L.A., Palm Springs & "The White Party"

2011-3. Poem- Girl From Medical Lake

2011-4. Old Man Dancing

2011-5. May- Misty and Alex Visit

2011-6. August- Darlene and Sean's Visit

2011-7. Alex 16-18 & Pics

2012- March- Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera with Family

2013- Wedding

2014- Christmas Poem

2014- First Gay Cruise

2014- September Road Trip to San Diego

2015- Seasonal Affective Blues

2015- Second Gay Cruise

2015- War on Christmas poem

2015-"Badlands" and Gay Bar Etiquette

2015-September 8. Political History

2016 Do Not Speak for Gay Males

2016- April- Palm Springs RV Adventure

4/4/2016- Not Going Along to Get Along

9/4/15- Liberals vs Conservatives

Second Gay Cruise- Click for story.
Black Men in Oils- Click to read story
The Psychedelic Experience- Click to read story.
1982-1993 Waller Street- Click to read story.
My Dad's Family- Click for story.
Darlene Marries Chuck- Click for story.
Palouse- Click for story
1970's Promiscuity- Click for story.
Forbidden Dreams of Love- Click for story.
2005- Darlene Visits for Gay Pride- Click to read story.
Me in first grade- Click for story.
1973- Psych Tech Program- Click for story.
1957-1958 1st Grade- Click to read story.
5th Grade in Abilene Tx- Click for story
Me in my 20's in 1970's- Click for story.
1964- Luv Please- Click for story.
1974- On Larkin Street- Click for story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
Earthquake! Click to read story.
Where I was born- Click for story.
2005 Darlene Visit for Gay Pride- Click for story.
My Mother- Click for more photos.
Cockettes & Angels of Light- Click for story
Photos of Dad & His Family- Click for story.
1967- Summer of Love- Click to read story.
Amber- Click to read story.
Me in 3rd grade- Click for story.
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click to read story.
Click to read "Introduction."
Grandview- Click for story
Beatle haircut- Click for story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click for story.
Gay Disco 70's- Click for story
1958-1959- 3rd Grade- Click to read story.
1973 "You have to be hurt..." Click to read the story.
Summer of Love- Click to read story.
4th Grade- Click for story.
Women in Oils- Click for story
1974- First Trip to Europe- Click to read story.
Escondido 1960's- Click for story
2014- Road trip to San Diego- Click for story.