Can you imagine a writer’s strike with misspelled signs?
Let me begin this week by saying my prayers have been answered and thank god the writers strike is over. My bulimic diet of trashy reality shows has now been fully purged and I can begin gorging once again on the wholesome-homo-goodness that is Ugly Betty, a show I’ve missed more than seeing Ronco products on late-night television.
He slightly resembles a Muppet now, doesn’t he?
Frankly, I don’t want to learn how to make millions in real estate. I want to see Ron Popeil- in all of his octogenarian glory- doing a demo of his spray hair-in-a-can onto a cooked chicken, fresh out of the Showtime ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ rotisserie. Now that’s entertainment dammit.
I’m not kidding folks: One more episode of watching Ms. Ryan Seachrest’s plastic mannerisms on American Idol and I just might have switched to see what was happening on The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, a show so insipid that it makes Idol look like a live opera broadcast from The Met. Even more frightening is that Oxygen now broadcasts in high-def, so the cavernous glory that are Dickinson’s laugh lines come across in all of their skin-pleated power.
Ol’ Janice is really looking rough these days. Who wears a sun-dress on the red carpet?
I’m guessing that by hanging out with young, beautiful people, Janice thinks that maybe she can somehow systematically suck out some of their collagen and, through an osmosis-like process, absorb it, taking weeks off of her face.
But no matter how craptastic Janice and her Modeling Agency may be, it doesn’t come close to the wooden-and-woeful demeanor of I Want To Be A Supermodel on Bravo. Host Nikki Taylor gives the weekly performance of a recovering narcoleptic, while co-host Tyson Beckford proves that sometimes male models should really just be seen and not heard. What I had hoped would be a campy, off-the-cuff cult favorite has now turned into an ultra-serious, competitive and unintentionally-hilarious vapid copy of Tyra Bank’s Next Top Supermodel.
You know it’s bad when you end up channel-surfing for the Tyra Show instead of sticking it out. That kind of awesome willpower is best saved for when Oprah is passing by a Ghiridelli. Somewhere, the other Taylor sister is turning over, very gently, in her grave. After all, she wouldn’t want to crease that fabulous pants-suit she was buried in.
So, for the past week I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the island lifestyle of Key West: A city I know quite well, but always seem to find something new to love every time I’m there. Although the place is changing and catering more to cruise ship tourists than the longtime locals, the city still has that same feeling about it that probably made Hemingway enjoy it just as much as I do.
Sadly, the cruise industry has taken over some of the ports at the end of Duvall Street, pouring in thousands of day-trippers who have brought the word ‘faggot’ back into the local public lexicon. While the Keys have always enjoyed a healthy, open-minded outlook on its residents and visitors alike, this influx of middle-America is seriously screwing with that peaceful balance. On this trip alone, I heard that particular word shouted several times from rental cars and motorbikes out of the mouths of pasty white visitors. Aside from wanting to beat the shit out of them with the nearest palm frond, it took me by surprise that people could be this incredibly idiotic.
RULE OF THUMB: When you’re in Key West… and you’re straight… You’re a minority. Don’t fuck with us: We’ll knock you out (and then suggest the best cover-up from MAC for the bruising). Well, either that, or, get you drunk and try to sleep with you.
The problem, overall, lies in the city becoming only for the tourists and ultra-wealthy. Even with real estate prices lagging across the country, I never saw a home for sale in Old Town that was less than $1 million. The rich drop their money into town, but outsource all of the construction and design work to their friends in LA or New York City. Locals get the cold shoulder. Ultimately, it will be the conchs who get screwed by not being able to afford to live in the city they created. If local politicos don’t race to put in place some protection, Key West is likely to become another Cancun. That, to me, is an incredibly sad thought.
I shacked up at Island House. Now, before you ask for the juicy ‘who did he do’ details, I’m going to stop and think back to my first impression of staying with IH a few years back. It was a fantastic experience. Fresh design, great service, creative and thoughtful amenities: Island House really took the time to think about who their guest would be and catered nicely to a variety of wants and needs.
It’s shocking what a difference a few years can make. Peeling paint, a complete change of guest attitude, non-working guest room phones, un-sanitary room and public spaces, outdated gym facilities. The list continues, but overall, it felt like very little upkeep had been given to a property that was once quite beautiful.
One thing that concerned me most was WHO Island House is now catering to. In looking through the local gay magazines, it’s obvious that IH is courting that very bathhouse-driven clientele. Hell, I’ve been known to go to a few myself and have no issue with them, but I do draw the line at wanting to RESIDE in one on my vacation. There’s a huge difference between fucking around for a few hours and leaving or having to sleep in the cum-pool you’ve created. That’s how Island House now feels. You can’t even go to their cafe for a nice meal without having some 300lb naked guy fondling himself while watching you eat. It’s just trenchant.
Their gym is a complete mess, with two of the cardio machines not fully working when I stayed and all of the equipment looking like it needed a major scrub down. Everything was either rusty or dirty. Add in that most of the guys are using the gym in less than gym attire (IH only requires shoes and shorts to exercise, of which not everyone abides) and you’ve got a prime breeding ground for staph infection. I ended up not using their facility at all, opting to walk down White Street to the new Island Gym. A day pass may have been $20, but the peace of mind knowing they disinfect their equipment on an hourly basis was worth it.
The inside steam room, sauna and whirlpool were so jacked-up with chlorine, it made my eyes burn and I couldn’t deal with it for more than 15 minutes.
Lysol: When giving in to your Howard Hughsian side just isn’t enough…
Daily housekeeping only replaced the towels and re-made the bed, leaving the bathroom and common spaces unclean for the entire 6 day stay. They also continually forgot to replace both the tissue box and toilet paper. I ended up buying some Lysol at the Walgreens on Duval to appease my insanity for things being clean (or at least smelling clean).
I will comment that they did play an impressive selection of gay porn on the last three channels of the in-room TV. Three very different and distinct types of flicks: All hot. They also offered a nice selection of digital cable choices.
But it wasn’t all bad. Island House still has one of the best front desk staffs I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking with. They handled laundry, questions, reservations and general chattery with aplomb, obviously enjoying their job and making guests feel welcome. They suggested a great Bikram Yoga studio (it was fantastic) and told me about my now-favorite place in Key West for breakfast, Flamingos Cafe.
Basically, I stayed out of the resort for most of the day, only opting to return to my room to sleep. The average age of clientele looked to be 55-ish and they were all looking to play. As the only resident 20-something, I was unwilling to provide pity fucks and spent my time enjoying other spots around the island as much as possible. Went to a couple of cabaret shows at LaTeDa and, again, marveled at the vocal talents of Randy Roberts and Chris Peterson. I had a few great meals, specifically Square One, Cafe Soleil and Half Shell Raw Bar. Found a cool little coffee house on the very end of Truman and read the Sunday NY Times. Took in a couple of (fantastic) treatments at the Pravana Spa on Whitehead. Went to the Tropic Cinema and quickly saw There Will Be Blood before Oscar night (Day-Lewis rightfully won). I basically just spent time revitalizing myself and enjoying the laid-back pace that envelops Key West.
And yes, I did work on my tan. I actually have a little base tan going. I’m so proud. I’m just another week away from my first melanoma!
Oh yeah, and for those wondering, I didn’t hook up with one singular person while there. Perhaps I enjoyed the porn channels a bit too much, but decided that I’d need a can of WD-40 if I was looking to be frisky with fellow IH’ers. I didn’t want to be responsible for someone making a mess of their new hip implant.
Fibercon, now the proud 2008 sponsor of all Island House events!
Did anyone else notice that in selecting this year’s final candidates for Rentboy’s EOY sales pitch… er, I mean… contest, it seems that a whole lot of complete unknowns have suddenly cropped up from nowhere?
Not that I would EVER accuse this fine website of manipulating results to foster their own live events, but it does seem odd that many of the working boys they mention have little-to-no name recognition and even fewer legitimate reviews. I take it all with a grain of salt, as it’s been proven time-and-time again that no matter how many awards you garner, you’re only as good (and as successful) as your reviews and base group of clients.
And if it means anything, I say vote for Tristan Waters for Sexiest Escort… *wink*
Speaking of escorts and related issues, after reading through this week’s Fleshbot postings, I came across Jesse Santana’s open-letter to the adult industry regarding the difference between being a porn star and being an escort. If you didn’t read this drivel, here’s a link to the article. Read on… I’ll wait.
So, after taking this oh-so-cerebral diatribe in, digesting the irony of it all and repeatedly regurgitating from the excess of ego, I’ve come to the conclusion that Santana has the IQ of dried pasta. If he truly believes that what he’s doing makes him any better or worse than any other escort out there, he’s sadly mistaken. As a sex-worker, a person is constantly selling themselves to a singular client, making sure they’re well taken care of, satisfied and generally happy with the escort they’re getting. Quite simply, you strive to make that one person the center of your world for the time you’re spending with them.
Working in porn, you’re under contract to a studio for a film or series of films, working with a variety of guys you may or may not find sexually attractive. You’ve got to keep the studio and producers happy, or, like with most jobs in life, you’ll find yourself out-of-work (and perhaps in breach of contract). Either way, both jobs put you at the mercy of someone else. Unless you own the studio or happen to have a solid base of clients who will stick with you through thick & thin, you’re always answering to a higher authority.
Paging Dr. Freud: Santana uses this letter as a way to self-justify his own inflated ego, as well as let himself feel superior that doing porn is a greater good. Frankly, I see him as another in the faceless corral invading the porn industry at this point: The young, over-tanned and in-dire-need of a nutritionist types who think that being a ‘flavor-of-the-moment’ will lead to bigger and better things. Let’s face it guys… It’s less a way up the ladder and simply just another sideways move. There are always younger, better-looking guys willing to work for less just around the corner. Today’s twink-du-jour is tomorrow’s crackhead. I’ve seen it a million times.
The moral of this tirade? The adult industry is a small one, making it easy to vilify people at the slightest breathy statement. If Santana wishes to have a long, illustrious career getting humped on film, he’d better learn now that producers hire their ‘adult actors’ for their looks, not their ability to wax poetic: Leave the talking to those escorts who opt to spend an extended amount of time in much more intellectual situations.
In reading this month’s issue of Vanity Fair, the publication that puts anyone- naked- on its cover, I realized that I always seem to enjoy the ‘My Stuff’ section, which basically lets you know about every product the featured user uses. Yeah, it’s frivolous stuff, but it’s a fun way to get to know someone through the various shit they buy. Here’s my own personal MY STUFF. Enjoy:
BEAUTY Shampoo Kerastase volumizing. Moisturizer ReVive, La Prarie and Pat Wexler. Hair Product I hate hair product, but if I’ve got to, Kerastase Molding Paste. . Toothpaste Marvis. Soap Melalueca. Who Cuts Your Hair? For nearly eight months, nobody. Dermatologist Pat Wexler (NYC).
HOME Where Do You Live San Antonio, but only home for about 3-4 days a month. Favorite Art Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, Marsden Hartley. Sheets Pratesi and Frette. Coffee Maker An old Cuisinart and a new Jura espresso machine. Pets Cat and two dogs. Flowers ProFlowers.com. Gadget Blackberry Curve. Restaurant Peppermill (Las Vegas, NV) and La Fritte (San Antonio, TX)
Look for updated lists in the future, but also guest ‘My Stuff’ features as well. Always fun for a little look into people’s personal drawers.
ATTN PHOTOGRAPHERS: If you’re looking for portfolio work or negotiated payday, email me at Benjamin@15MinutesMore.com. I’m looking for a crop of new photos to go along with a coming-soon total-redesign of my website and am wanting a variety of looks, locations and styles. Thanks much.
This coming week takes me to the wintery confines of NYC, but thankfully there’s a hot plate of culture being served up to keep me toasty warm. I’m planning on catching a preview of the new Broadway transfer of Gypsy with Patti LuPone, as well as the revival of South Pacific at the Lincoln Center. How gay is that? Any more gay and this trip would be sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. In any case, it’s always a pleasure to get back to the city so nice, it was named twice. If you happen to be trolloping around the city, you can find me nightly at The Spotted Pig, as well as Totonnos and Bigelow Apothecary (for the skincare junkie in all of us). I’m staying far from Economy Candy on Rivington this time… I was in a full-on sugar coma for 12 hours the last time I hit that place. Pure evil.
Let’s keep the sexy going and present this edition of EYE CANDY. Enjoy this latest rousing rendition of rock-hard gents. Always guaranteed to get your heart pumping (or anything else in the vicinity of the computer screen).