Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Jackie Factory’s Winter Solstice Holiday Celebration

Back in the day — or should I say back in the 90s — the holidays weren’t complete without The Jackie Factory’s seasonal extravaganza. Orchestrated by the creative team behind Mother, Empress Chi Chi Valenti and DJ Johnny Dynell, the hilarious holiday bashes were a slightly messy, somewhat sacrilegious take on the usual yuletide fare. So it was a joyous occasion, indeed, when I received an invitation to their Winter Solstice Holiday Celebration. The soiree was an early hours addition to the second anniversary bash for Susanne Bartsch and Kenny Kenny’s weekly, Vandam, at Greenhouse, Sunday, December 19.

Greenhouse is the latest incarnation of 150 Varick; it’s been a number of venues and I hadn’t been there in ages. Once upon a time I booked Wednesday dancers and attended a SMack! there in a sundress, back when the bar was in the center of the room. The new layout allows for a far more spacious dance floor; the dangling crystals and blinking walls make you feel like you’re in the center of an LED disco ball. Downstairs there’s enough faux foliage to replicate a real treehouse ambience; I loved it! The bathrooms haven’t changed a bit, still spacious enough for a bump with a buddy!

From 10 til 11 the vodka was free, a welcome respite from exorbitant drink prices. I ran into the tres glam Jo Weldon, aka Jo Boobs, resplendent in a hot holiday red peekaboo dress, and we shared a banquette to watch the show. Jessica Rabbit Domination, aka Heather Liteer, performed a revved up rendition of her yuletide staple “Santa Baby” and The Dueling Bankheads revived their scandalous “Frosty the Coke Whore.” “Method go-go” was provided by a trio of ethereal Butoh babes, crowned with Kahlo-esque pointsettia headpieces. I’m afraid it was all a bit lost on the less-than-genius club patrons, with the obvious exception of  the Mother crew.

I decided to hang out after the Jackie 60 segment of the evening, inspired by the convivial vibe and DJ Dynell’s thumping bass. I haven’t really done the whole downtown gay/drag nightclub scene in such a long time it was almost like an intrepid anthropological expedition! The music was mostly familiar; I got a real kick out of “I’m in Miami, Bitch!” which appeared to be a club favorite. I was slightly disappointed by the overall style of the crowd, or should I say lack thereof. Since when did denim become the new black? It’s sad enough that no one really “brings it” anymore but it was more or less a sea of jeans. Sigh.

Once the club was completely packed, an emcee got on the mic to make apologies for Susanne, who had “a family thing,” and intro the evening’s star act, Dirty Martini. She debuted her latest project, The New Weird, featuring Ms. Martini herself on vocals and backup dancers decked out in leopard. They all gyrated to “It’s Naked Time!” and her sexy dancers did, indeed, get naked! As did Dirty, of course. It was an orgy of flesh!

Sufficiently sated and slightly exhausted, Jo and I beat a path to the door by grooving through the dance floor, leaving the club to the kids. It was a great night!

Vandam Sundays
Every Sunday
150 Varick at Vandam
Doors at 10pm
No Cover

Almost Lucky

After so many weeks of online dating, this past weekend I ventured out into the brick-and-mortar world to socialize with real, live humans. Friday night I attended Gratitude, a burner-produced event that more or less replaced the Burning Man Decompression. Saturday I participated in SantaCon, the global phenomenon that began in San Francisco in 1994. And a couple of opportunities presented themselves.

At Gratitude, a very nice young man introduced himself and began flirting with me. To be honest, I was a little oblivious. Not obliterated, just oblivious. He was so young it didn’t occur to me that he was interested until he had his hands on me in an obviously, ummm, interested way! I believe I marveled, “Are you flirting with me?” or something similar. He was tenacious, I’ll give him that, standing beside me as I chatted with friends and posed for photos. He followed me around for a while as well, eventually giving up when his affections weren’t sufficiently reciprocated. But it was wonderful to feel…wanted.

On Saturday, like so many oscillating molecules, I kept bumping into the same Santas at our many stops and on random streetcorners. One particularly tall and adorable Santa caught my eye early in the day and not just because he was tall and adorable: he was wearing head-to-toe red fake fur and a preposterous three-pronged Santa hat. Plus he was shlepping an enormous Santa sac overflowing with silly sunglasses that he was handing out to Santa. I saw him at Sarah Delano Roosevelt Park, again as we entered Central Park and once more in the West Village. Probably not so surprisingly, he was also at the same after party I went to at Touch. We were standing on the dance floor, shouting over the  DJ, and just as I was thinking how much I hated the music, I blurted, “Do you wanna make out?” In seconds we were those Santas.

Man, it has been years since Santa made out! And it was awesome! A bunch of us wound up in a cab, after stopping in a deli for beers, headed downtown, me and Santa making out like bandits. We made a quick stop at Ninth Ward so I could show them my favorite new place, but it was woefully overrun by yuppies. We had a beer anyway, after begging the bouncers to hold onto our bags of Stella and PBR. Stumbling out of there, scared by the seriousness of the Muggles, we bumbled down Second Avenue toward my apartment. We found a random Santa on a streetcorner (they were everywhere!) and invited him along. Once ensconced at my place, my little tree blinking away, we made out til Santa passed out. The high point was trying to help Santa out of his drawstring fake fur pants. He was having trouble with the knot and I used a screwdriver to loosen it while another Santa snapped a few photos. I sure hope his friend finds me so I have that shot for posterity! In the end, nothing actually happened, mostly because Santa was shitfaced. And exhausted.

Laying in bed Sunday morning, rhinestones still glued to my face, stripey tights still on and, most uncomfortably, contacts still in, I contemplated my near-conquests. Once upon a time I got lucky. A lot. And there was almost always a whole lotta booze involved. The last few serious relationships I’ve had were initially all drunken encounters, one night stands, if you will, who then, once sober, actually called. In other words, these men more or less “chose” me. Meaning that though we may have chosen each other while stumbling drunk or otherwise ecstatically under the influence, my male counterparts made the next move.

In both instances this past weekend, I didn’t actually “get lucky.”  I can’t say whether it was because I wasn’t quite drunk enough or if I was consciously not choosing these men. And, laying there in bed, it occurred to me that at this point in my life, I’d like to do the choosing, ideally sober. Or at least have the choosing be mutual.

Kill That Commercial!

Being aurally assaulted by holiday advertising is an annual insult; these days the Bells usually start Jingling long before Thanksgiving. Remember the guy who went to jail for shooting his television when Brandy was booted from Dancing with the Stars instead of Bristol? Well I may soon be joining him. Because this year’s holiday commercials are even more irritating than year’s past, particularly one horrible Honda ad.

When I rant about this with fellow potential tv marksmen and -women we can usually only recall that it’s for a car. I can tell you the brand not because it’s effective advertising; I know because it just aired as I was writing this. And it runs in relentless rotation. Allow me to digress for a moment and ask, Why do car companies advertise at Christmastime? Who the hell buys a car for Christmas? Especially in this crappy economy? With millions of Americans out of work, many of whom have given up and aren’t even looking anymore, are that many people down at their local car dealership signing on for $25,000 of debt? I seriously doubt it.

But back to that double-barrel-inducing advertisement. The commercial in question here features a song so irritating I can imagine its use as a torture device: Vampire Weekend‘s “Holiday.” It’s not that it’s merely annoying in the usual “ear worm” sort of way, although I do often find myself singing the damn song. Once the 30 seconds have past and my blood pressure is returning to normal, the first thing I think, aside from how much I HATE THAT COMMERCIAL, is, Wow, did that band really expect their fast money to translate into flat-out despise? I mean, it’s one thing to “sell out” and make a few of the big advertising bucks by hawking a song. Is it really a smart move to offend people to such a degree that they would never, EVER, consider listening to your band? Ever?

Often an emerging band will enjoy its first bit of national exposure via a TV commercial; Apple seems to be especially adept at finding music from upcoming bands. Perhaps Vampire Weekend thought they might widen their audience with this media onslaught. Instead, they’ve turned off potentially millions of listeners. I know I’m not alone here; beyond my own circle of distressed friends, Joel Keller shares similar sentiments on Ad agencies might take a cue from those of us pointing our (imaginary) Magnums at our TVs and save their clients a few bucks in the process: don’t bludgeon us with the same ad more than a dozen times a day. We beg of you!

“Holiday, oh a holiday/And the best one of the year…”

You may wonder, Why doesn’t she just hit mute? Well, my TV’s so old that I don’t have a remote!

Customer Dis/Service

What the hell happened to the customer being right? These days, the customer can’t even get service. And when we do, it’s more often a dis than a service, and I mean that in both senses of the word: dis like “you been dissed” and dis as in disservice.

It usually starts by calling an 800 number. Your chances of immediately reaching a human being? Absolutely zero. Instead you’ll be greeted by…a computer. (Not like we aren’t already interacting with computers way more than humans, but don’t get me started on that topic!) The first question that computer may ask you is to “press 1 if you want to continue in English.” Why the hell aren’t we prompted to press 1 if we want to continue in Urdu? When did English become the second choice? Should it be the default?

When you eventually reach a person, what are the chances that that person is speaking to you from somewhere in the continental US? I won’t say zero because occasionally you may be speaking to an American. But even when you are speaking to an American their grasp of the English language is usually hovering close to zero. Hey, didn’t I press 1 to continue in English? Where the hell are you, “Bob?!”

Yesterday, when I reached “Bob” at some random third-party company who had passed along my credit card information to yet another company and granted them permission to debit my checking account automatically every month, something I most certainly did not approve, the guy kept repeating the same scripted sentences over and over without truly listening to what I was saying. “Yes, I understand, m’am, and allow me to assist you with this matter.” He must’ve said that a dozen times and wasted 15 minutes of my time. Not to mention my valuable AT&T minutes! Finally, exasperated, I asked to speak with his supervisor. It took him another six repetitions of the same scripted sentences before I shrieked into the phone “SHUT UP AND GET ME YOUR SUPERVISOR!” I sure hope they were recording that phone call for “training purposes” so they can teach their future “Bobs” what not to do!

Fortunately for my blood pressure, his supervisor managed to do what I asked in a fairly swift and unscripted manner. Now, to call ConEd…

Cookies Aren’t Good Company

I think cookies and I are gonna need to stop meeting “like this.”

I don’t have problems with my weight anymore. In fact, I’m thinner than I’ve been for most of my life. (With the exception of a brief span that seemed to be a confluence of depression and menopause, in which I deteriorated to a size 8.) I’m not sure why; I eat whatever I want and no longer believe in counting calories or restricting my diet. I don’t denying myself anything, ever. Sometimes I’d rather eat a bag of cheese popcorn than a meal. What? I’d rather spend money dining out than buying groceries or cooking. In the rare event that I do bring groceries home, they inevitably wind up wilted, moldy, sour or otherwise spoiled. I don’t enjoy preparing food, especially for myself.

But that may need to change. I’ve been relishing my time alone lately…more than I think I ever have in my entire life. And though solitude within the walls of my apartment has become preferable, I don’t believe that pleasure will easily transfer to a restaurant experience. So I’m anticipating the need to eat at home more often.

I’ve always been one to snack; cheese and crackers can be a complete meal for me. I suppose that could be supplemented with a microwaved can of soup. I’ll pour some dressing on lettuce if I anticipate a case of scurvy coming on. If I’m feeling particularly ambitious I may whip up my one culinary creation, if you can call it that: ramen noodles with an egg scrambled in, a can of corn niblets (if I happen to have one in the cupboard), with melted cheese on top. Yeah, I know; we won’t be seeing that dish on Iron Chef any time soon! But I like it! It’s a steaming hot pot of all my favorite things! Except for chocolate…

If one is to believe the women’s magazines, like so many others I reach for chocolate when I’m feeling blue. Research has shown that the carbohydrates found in chocolate lead to an increase in serotonin, a chemical in most anti-depressants. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that is released when you interact with someone you love. Make mine a double!

My chocolate delivery system of choice is Pepperidge Farms‘ Nantucket Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are crunchy and yummy and positively packed with chocolate! But lately I’ve found that I’m simply not enjoying them the way I once did. Or at least as much as I should be! Could it be that they leave crumbs in my bed? Or has my relationship with them run its course? Our assignations are, at this point, primarily out of habit. I drop them into my shopping basket almost without thinking. I can’t imagine what will replace them. But I think it may be time… Perhaps I can cultivate a similar “thing” with detox tea?

No Love at Buffalo Exchange

In a season when everyone could use a few extra bucks for their holiday shopping, I attempted to sell a few pieces of vintage clothing  at my local Buffalo Exchange the other day. I got NO LOVE. I hate to sound paranoid but I’m gonna blame it on my age, because that gay guy working there takes ONE LOOK at me and immediately thinks, “No way could THIS old hag have anything WE would want to buy!” It has happened to me on BOTH coasts, here in the East Village and in San Francisco on Haight Street. It could also be that I don’t wear a size 6… But if you’ve ever tried to FIND size 12 clothes in a thrift shop you’d sure welcome a few things that you might actually fit into.

I have, literally, hundreds of items that came from amazing thrift stores, antique shops, costume sales and fancy-ass department stores. I have an entire storage space crammed with these clothes. Occasionally I feel like I’d rather have a few extra bucks than one or two pieces of vintage clothing or exotic costumes. Most recently I steamed and hung up a pair of black satin pants (Limited) and a pair of black sequin pants, both pajama style (a style, btw, that never goes OUT of style…hit the shops any year, every year, and you’ll find this cut…as it is a classic). I also brought a cute 50s/60s Jackie O.-type wool jacket with custom buttons and a fur collar. I purchased the jacket at a thrift shop and sewed on the new buttons myself back in the 80s. It is obviously not a “current” style but it IS a vintage item. I also brought a long a clingy peach sequin tank top and a beautiful see-through black tunic blouse, long-sleeved, with beading. I spent over $100 for it, again, back in the 80s. I’ve recently seen similar shirts at Nordstrom Rack and H&M.

This guy wanted nothing. NOTHING. I was kinda shocked. Every piece is something that you could wear to a holiday party (I went in on the 2nd of December) and all the pieces are timeless. No, not something you’d buy and it would go out of style in moments. So it isn’t “in style” today and then garbage next month. These are items you could wear this year, next year or 20 years from now. Well, provided we aren’t all wearing space suits or whatever else fashion magazines love to “predict” we’ll be wearing in the “future.”

When he told me they were items that “wouldn’t sell at this time” I asked, “Aren’t people shopping for holiday parties?” He sneered, “Well, these are all old styles.” Yeah, for OLD PEOPLE. Like me, I guess. Bah! If anyone on here knows a GOOD place to take unusual clothes and not the crap they sell at American Apparel, please let me know. I could use a few extra bucks! Maybe I should try their Chelsea locations, where drag queens might be shopping…

Bah Humbug? Or Ho, Ho, Ho!

Tis the season and the first day of the last month of the year. It’s a time for reflection, yes, and with that often comes depression. The news is full of less-than-good cheer: millions losing their unemployment benefits, blahblahblah. Everything’s conspiring to make us buy, buy, buy with money we don’t, don’t, don’t have. I’m still looking for work, along with a few zillion other Americans. It seems we’re all gonna wind up enslaved to China anyway!

So how to combat the doom and gloom that parallels all the faux ho-ho-ho? I’m buying a Christmas tree for the first time in years; that should contribute to the economy a bit. I’m planning an open house to share my tiny tree with close friends. I’m organizing a small-ish bar crawl, a sort of anti-SantaCon, which should put a few bucks into the coffers of local bars. And I’ll probably participate in some small way in SantaCon, since it isn’t officially Christmas without thousands of drunks stumbling through the streets. I’ll take my annual stroll down Fifth Avenue to see the holiday windows, the Rockefeller Center tree and bask in the hustle and bustle.

I’m looking forward to seeing my sister and her kids here in the city. Manhattan is so festive  this time of year. Even if I can’t afford the good cheer, my sister sure as hell can! Hopefully they’ll include me in some of their celebratory scramblings.

In a month it’ll be 2011 and it can’t come soon enough. This past year hasn’t been my best so I’m looking forward to a whole new year. Til then, let’s deck those halls, shall we?