Typically, my Friday nights entail an early sleep to shed away my work week side effects, grabbing dinner with a friend(s), reading, or editing photographs. I’ve always considered myself a thirty-five year old trapped in a younger body, and my friends have accepted this so sweetly over the years. But tonight, I was debating attending an art show in bleak weather when a friend called and said, “Come to the drag show at Pantheon!” After enlisting another friend to tag along, I figured it was a good night for some diva entertainment.
Before tonight, I had only been privy to one other drag show, which was in Asheville last Halloween. I was surprised that the Asheville gays disappointed me, but perhaps the better queens were absent that night. All I remember is a large woman reminding me of the mother from the original Hairspray (the Rikki Lake version), a tall lanky woman that kept approaching my friend wanting dollar bills but receiving none, and a lesbian couple that performed two emo-like skits with vampire themes. And then there was Edward Scissor Hands, I couldn’t determine if the person in costume was male or female. I found this problematic because I thought Edward was attractive, but unable to decipher sexual makeup, I just watched from afar. Now, not that I would have had a problem with Edward being a woman, I just can’t date a woman. I have always been fond of the male body, infatuated with it, and after experiencing sex, was committed to my desire for men, and to be blunt, for penis. Now types of men I’m drawn to…that’s a whole other blog entry…a topic I’ve been analyzing introspectively for some time.
Anyway, my expectations were so high tonight. I thought surely Charlestonian gays will know how to put on a show. Even if the entertainment would be lax, the atmosphere at Pantheon is a techno-hippy free love feel. The floor is a dance orgy, a cohesive mass of people in rhythm, it is Durkheim’s sociological theory of ecstatic states at work. It is a liberation in movement and personal boundaries. Gay, lesbian, straight, bi, transgender, Black, White, Hispanic, tourist, it is all there, and in those brief hours, it is a diversified group of people with one common goal: to have a good time.
I walked in, had my wrist bound with a band, and paid the entrance fee. My fifteen dollars in change, however, was delayed. The man holding the three fives up with a smile. So, being in a carefree mood, wearing a low cut top, I opened it further to let him stick a five between my breasts, then another in my hand, and the last one he put in his mouth, which I grabbed with my teeth, stealing back my last bit of change. As I walked away, my friend said to me, “You know he’s straight, right?” My response, “Fuck, no! I wouldn’t have done that had I known!” Our other friend soon joined us and told me the cashier guy said I was cute and he was surprised that a woman that didn’t even know him did all that. I need better gaydar.
After a round of rum and coke and the three of us downing a shot of buttery nipple, we were ready to see some over six feet tall ladies walking in heals better than I ever could. Seriously, I sprained a foot Downtown after walking into the same hole in the King St sidewalk, not once, but twice, and I was sober. These ladies lip synced like Milli Vanilli, wearing elaborate sequin costumes (or in one case, only faux daffodils), and dancing with a passion only seen in 80s pop culture films. When one came out with a colorful pink and blue feather headdress and skirt, surely, I thought Big Bird would have mounted her on the spot. The crowd was forever cheering, limbs extended with dollar holding hands, and point-and-shoots snapping away, which made me wish I had brought a camera had I known it was permissible.
Afterwards, the dance orgy ensued. Male go-go dancers shimmed across the bar. Most of which I couldn’t help but admire their abs and taut “cakes” as I was informed is the terminology to use when describing a nice butt. It was a brief moment of sadness to realize that any eye candy in that place likely wasn’t inclined towards my sex; so, I just drank and danced. Though I did figure out one distinction between sifting through straight or gay. If my ass got grabbed and was followed by a long, hard stare…he was straight. If my ass got grabbed and was followed by a chuckle and a kiss being blown in my direction as he danced off…he was definitely gay. And I knew going in that straight men show up only because they figured out that’s where straight women go to get away from them.
Straight clubs are completely different. Often times, dance floors are consumed by females, encircled by dozens of men, merely watching. Perhaps even taking camera phone pics while sipping on their plastic cups and beers. Almost like a herd of cattle being analyzed by the ready-to-mate bulls. It is only when a woman feels the sudden grind of a thrust happy groin against her buttocks does she know to be considered worthy by one of them. That process horribly disturbs me. This isn’t present at a club like Pantheon. I could be dancing with a complete stranger, male or female, just because that is who I found next to me in the dance mass. It is a refreshing feeling to walk into a place and not be concerned if I will be determined to be attractive, rather, I am there to enjoy my friends, dance with whomever is around me, and be oblivious to it all. Which, surprisingly enough, I got hit on more at the gay club than I do at straight clubs…what sense is to be made of that?
So, my night was filled with fun loving strangers, foreign hands and limbs touching or dancing around me, and I only got elbowed in the head twice (it happens because I’m so short and no one bothers to look down). All in all…an eventful night.
As for Saturday, my intended shoot is canceled. Perhaps some thrift store perusing in its stead, a trip to Redux to view the Munny artwork, the Gullah festival, food from one of my favorite Downtown restaurants, or even a Terrace theater matinée. Who knows. As of right now, it seems Saturday may end up a solo outing unless I’d be fortunate enough to have a friend(s) surprise me with their company…but either way, the day will be enjoyed. 🙂