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April 2005

Location: Key West, FL… Currently en-route to London.

Wow. It’s been an incredibly tough couple of weeks. It’s absolutely amazing how life can flow along so smoothly one second and then completely shatter the next. While I still believe in karma and a life of the ‘golden rule,’ it’s sometimes quite tough to keep your chin up and realize that things will eventually scab over. For now, things are tough, but not un-manageable.

I again want to thank those who sent emails, good thoughts and love to my family, as it still is jaw-dropping to me that so many people out there took the time to do so. While those who know me also know that I’m not the most spiritual person out there, I do feel EXTREMELY blessed for such support. Thank you so very much.

On that note, let me also say that I will also discontinue giving public family updates, as a very small minority of people are taking this opportunity to openly question my loyalty and love for my mother. I found it to not only be a tacky thing to do, but something I didn’t quite expect from another human being: If you’re going to act like an ass, I’m going to treat you like one. Plain and simple. In times of great family stress like this, I tend to forget my manners and use words like ‘fuck off’ and ‘eat shit you commie-pig’ quite a bit. Forgive me if I’ve offended.

So anyway, I’m traveling again on entirely different terms and found myself last weekend in Key West. I had never stayed ‘gay’ on the island before, so I called up a friend of mine and asked where the best place to shack up would be: He recommended Island House. After browsing through their website and putting out a few more feelers with friends, it seemed that IH would be the perfect place to stay while taking care of things in Key West. Reservations for the joint were a breeze to make and luckily they had an owners suite available for a very, very reasonable rate. Goodtimes: I had my reservation and I was almost ready to get going while the going was good…

The flight into EYW was uneventful from San Antonio, with Continental Airlines once again proving to me why they’re the best in the business. I cabbed it over to IH to check-in, drop my bags and clean up a little. Located on an absolutely beautiful block in Key West’s Old Town, IH is really a stunning property and looks practically brand-new. It was hard to believe it had been there since the early ‘70s. IH’s front desk staff was impeccable, giving me a full tour of the property, letting me know about every amenity available and also taking the time honestly make me feel like I was at home. After the week I had spending most of my time in the hospital, the guys at Island House did an picture-perfect job of helping me decompress a little.

Let’s start off with the room: It was practically an apartment. Wet bar, refridge, king-sized bed with excellent sheets and well-decorated in mahogany & leather hues. The bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping in and at 6’3″, it also dwarfed me as one of the largest I’ve ever slept in as well. It must have been bigger than a traditional king. Bathroom amenities were Aveda. Well air-conditioned. Full range of cable channels, along with an info channel about gay Key West (and IH) and an adult channel with some good-looking ‘educational videos’ playing constantly. I also had a balcony overlooking the beautiful trees below, along with a hammock to veg out on when time allowed.

Now more about the actual property: Damn, this place was spotless. Extremely clean. Well designed and very well landscaped. Creatively lit. Expansive compound. Includes a full bar, restaurant, play/video rooms, gym (which was fantastic), various spa areas, steam, dry sauna, massage availability and it’s all clothing optional. Due to other circumstances, I didn’t partake in the clothing optional atmosphere myself, but the endless supply of good looking guys in various states of undress said it proved mighty popular otherwise.

I had an opportunity to use their gym facilities later that day, which I found to be extremely complete for a guesthouse. A full gym of well-taken care of equipment. While I didn’t eat a full meal at their restaurant, I did stop in for a chicken quesadilla. It was obviously homemade and not the store-bought, frozen variety. The chicken tasted fresh out of the skillet. Really good. Their bar is fully stocked with both traditional spirits, wine and beer. The most interesting thing regarding the bar is the daily happy hour, which allows guests an open bar (ie, free) for well-drinks, wine and beer. I’m not a drinker myself, but it sounds like an excellent way to get ready for an adventuresome evening and also a way to socialize with others on the property.

The pools and water facilities were heated to perfection, crystal-clear and obviously well taken care of. Fellow guests at IH came in all shapes and sizes, with many of the guys sitting in the 30-50 age range. Everyone was respectful of each other’s sexual limits and there never seemed to be a ‘bathhouse’ vibe about the place. Everything was classy, upscale and very well done. While a sexual element was present, it wasn’t overwhelming or seedy feeling.

The ‘worst food I’ve had in awhile’ award goes to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Key West. I didn’t have much time to scout out food that night, was already out and about after taking care of an interview earlier than day and needed some grub. In the words of the comic book shop owner on The Simpsons: WORST HAMBURGER EVER… Heed my words. Don’t go.

The owners of IH (Jon and Martin) are always omnipresent on the property and know the island like the back of their hand. They let me know that due to a new ordinance passing that now let’s the local go-go boys go totally bare in bars, the city was having a celebration all weekend long with various circuit parties and events happening. While I didn’t have any late nights out on Duval Street, I did catch a glimpse of the annual ‘Drag Races.’ This benefit for charity pits drag queens against each other as they haul ass & high heel down the closed Duval Street in various (and wacky) obstacles.

Watching a grown man in overly campy drag try to run in 6″ stilettos is a sight to see. Absolutely hilarious and all for a good cause. Don’t quote me, but I think it was all for AIDS charity.

What I found most interesting about the whole shindig was the very large crowd that gathered to watch the spectacle. Incredibly mixed they were, with many straight families enjoying the show, along with an open and hand-holding GLBT community as well. I smiled knowing that there in Key West it just may be possible for these two worlds to blend seamlessly. With many tourists coming in from cruise ships, I would have assumed that there might be some apprehension towards the very openly-gay atmosphere of Key West, but it was quite the contrary. Everyone seemed to accept each other and the vibe was very chilled out. A good day for humanity indeed.

Jon also sat with me, as I wanted to get some factoids about IH, and let me know how much of a transformation the guesthouse has gone through since they bought it back in 1999. It’s mind blowing how much they’ve spent on refurbish
ing ($3 million and counting) the place. Every penny shows, as it’s really the best gay guesthouse I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying at. If time allows and the opportunity presents itself, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to stay gay at Island House again. It’s definitely THE place to be in Key West.

Some factoids about Key West’s Island House:

* IH has 34 rooms, all of which vary in size from 120-700 sq ft.
* Pricing info is seasonal and can be found on their website
* Repeat visitors get 10% off their next visit to IH
* Originally built in 1976, Jon and Martin took over the dilapidated resort in 1999 for some serious TLC and refurbishment.
* Weekends see 100% occupancy, while weekdays sit at around 91%. What does this mean? There is always a good selection of guys at IH, so book early if you want to stay and play.
* Christmas through Easter tends to see their highest occupancy.
* Forget renting a car. A bike rental is most convenient, as parking in the blocks around IH can sometimes be challenging to say the least.

Since it’s been way too long since I’ve put up a WHACKOFF of the WEEK, let me suggest this gem of a site suggested to me by a Key West pal: It’s a little wacky, but the amount of eye candy in the speedo sections are fantastic. Added, I sort of like the name of the site 🙂

A Benjamin Brainstorm! I’ve been chatting with fellow design friend of mine who want to turn ‘15 Minutes’ into it’s own stand-alone web magazine site. Interesting concepts are being thrown around, but for now, I’m unsure of where it’s all going to go. As this blog keeps growing in popularity (150k hits a week so far), I’d definitely like to raise the bar a little by expanding content and functionality. More info to come, so keep those eyes peeled.

So, currently I’m flying on a CO 777 somewhere over the ocean and headed for London until Friday afternoon. Weather reports there say it’s cold and rainy, which is pretty typical for the UK in the springtime, but I’m keeping an optimists view of things and hoping it’s clear enough for a nice walk in the park and some time outside in general. I don’t have much time in the ways of entertainment options, but do plan on seeing a few friends in the city and reliving some great memories at the K+K George Hotel in Earl’s Court. It’s one of many spots around the world that HB and I shared. Being in London will be especially tough, as it’s the first international city we met in. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Lately, it’s sort of been a double whammy with him and then mom getting into the accident, so I’m taking things slow and making sure I don’t fall into too much of a funk. I don’t plan on getting back into the swing of things (escortwise) until we’ve got all of our specialists lined up, but I will look forward to getting back to some assemblence of a normal life. My family wants it that way, as do I. With time everything heals.

Okay, so I’m breaking my non-drinking rule right now and having a nice glass of red here on the flight. WHOOHOO! The stew thought I was cute so she handed me 3 mini-bottles for the price of one, so now you’ll know why I may start sounding a little loopy in the coming few paragraphs. *wink* Nothing like drinking cheap wine out of a plastic cup. Now, if I could only find my way to the cockpit, I could really get this party started. I can almost hear it now:

‘Attention passengers: Starting in 10 minutes, there will be a lube demonstration in the BusinessFirst cabin.’

Honestly, here’s hoping it will help me get some shuteye, as my flight gets into Gatwick at 6:45am and I can’t sleep the day away. I’ve got to haul my cookies off the plane, catch the Gatwick express and then the tube to Earls Court and get myself situated. If I’ve got time while I’m over, I want to head to Harrods in Knightsbridge and salivate over their food marketplace for a bit. I’ve also been told awesome things about the Carivaggio exhibit at the National.

Damn, there’s never enough time in the world. Can’t someone petition for a 36-hour day?

Who let me dress myself today? I’m wearing a brown t-shirt with grey cords. It looks like I got dressed with a color-blind stylist. LOL. This is classic… Classically ugly.

Hells-bells. I almost forgot the EYE CANDY. I must be getting old, as my Teflon memory is acting up again and letting things slide a little. Enjoy this week’s variety and please forgive if it’s not my best. It’s been a long week of not surfing porn sites. I don’t think I’ve whacked once to the new offerings at That always spells trouble IMO.

Alrighty, I’m headed off to sleep for a bit and appreciate everyone tuning in to read what’s happening in this week’s ‘15 Minutes.’ Your continued support for both my family and my site is well received. I truly have great people out there watching out for me. Thank you so very much for everything. I’m really, really thankful.

‘Come-on-a-my-house, a-my house. I wanna give you candy!’