Thursday, July 23, 2009
The Club at Firestone
What's this? A stir on the horizon?
The Club Firestone?
We had been hearing rumors for quite sometime that a hot happening gay bar was going to open in Orlando. It was going to be in the historic Firestone building in downtown Orlando. I had lived in Orlando since 1976 and I had never seen the place or knew what anyone was talking about. How could an old garage make a good club space. Everyone knows that ex-theaters make the best clubs. One need look no further than Club Z, 1235, or Paragon. By the way those were all the same club in Miami Beach, different names, but same amazing space.
Yes Firestone was coming and I knew I had to seize the moment. We could not let another great space fall in our laps once again, frequent it at the beginning and then go back to the PH a few months later only to watch the demise of the newer space. This had already sadly happened to our Central Station out in Fern Park, FL. To be fair there was something to do with shady finances on Central Station. Allegedly. What a shame they were the first club that I ever remembered bringing in hot muscle stud strippers from TX every Friday night. The Headliners. They should have called them The Curly Mullets, or The Workout Socks in Cowboy Boots with G-Strings. That was their look and they owned it. They were all HOT and I hated when that place closed.
Focus, focus. Sorry, back to the opening weekend at Firestone. Look white had worked for me in the past and it was easy enough to do. Everyone had at least a white t-shirt. But remember,
If you rolled with me, you commit to your costume and you commit fully or you Drive, Arrive, Dance, and probably Leave alone! You are not on my list and I don't want to stand next to you at the door. Got it? Believe me they all got it. If you chose not to participate in any one of my escapades you could always bow out, but not last minute. I told everyone that we needed to get on that guest list and that our theme was all white. Since we are going out in white let's just make them the hottest sexiest trend in the gay community: White Calvin Klein boxer briefs. Complete your look with combat boots and no shirt or a white shirt. I also knew that that particular look would show up great in all the black and white press photos that were sure to be taken. (See how my mind is always thinking?) Yes we really did go out in just our underwear (a lot). We did it all the time. Remember, safety in numbers...
We did it. We cracked the code and got on the DJ list, or manager list, or someone's list. It wasn't easy. It was also about the only time we were on the list in any way for years. Yeah, they got all that for nothing. Except for Don. Don knew one of the managers who had given him a black rubber pass. The black pass got you and one guest in, no questions asked. The rest of us scrambled. One exception was that Singhaus family was always kind enough to call ahead for a few of us if asked, or we just didn't care. We just wanted to go dancing. We had jobs, so we were about the only Club kids I knew that weren't all broke.
We went all 3 days of the opening. finishing off on the Sunday T-dance with Marcy Singhaus's famous & enormous Sangria. I told the boys if we could all go in force for 3 days, then it would help to create the buzz that would be needed to sustain our new playground. Lucky for all of us it worked. We only got better from that point on. We went every week. We were photographed often and our pictures were in all the rags. We were often mistaken for the Clubs own stripper/dancers. Hey hot bodies were in and I was in between them. Many of my friends could easily rival the muscle boys that actually were hired to dance on the tall speakers.
Speaking of speakers, I have a thing for dancing on them. Some girls dance on tables, some boys dance on boxes, but Glamour Boys dance on top of the biggest speakers in The Club. This is an old move that I had used at 1235, Backstreet in FLL, and the Palladium in NYC, etc.
The Club had one really perfect speaker. It was just past the first bar, adjacent to the dance floor, pointed at the big stage and high enough to deter others from thinking they could or would be welcome to join you atop it's lofty heights. That speaker was OURS. When I say ours, I mean it. We were known for dancing on that speaker and while I might have made a guest appearance on another speaker on a given night, that is the one we called home. The Club wised up and bought a spot light for that real estate so they could light us up the minute we decided to all jump up on top. Now this speaker was probably 8-10 feet long and about 5 feet off the floor. It sounds plenty big, but if you have 10 boys all in there underwear trying to dance on it and look cool, it often just became a giant grinding stone. We had lots of fun, cool moves for dancing together in the closest of quarters. Left hand forward, right hand back, all hands left over head, all hands right overhead all rock and grind forward, now all backward. I know it's hard to describe, but trust me if it didn't look good, would they have spent money on buying that spot light? I think not.
If the night at the Club had just the right energy (and it usually did, all it took was a diva singing out our new favorite tune) we would instantly know that our presence was needed. We would swarm from all corners on to our speaker and get in to the groove. Energy and excitement. The great music, costumes and space made us feel like we were a part of something big, something special.
If Gary R (not to be confused with Crazy Gary, as he had moved to D.C.) had a frustrating week, well nothing seemed to pick him up more than picking me up. Literally picking me up on his shoulders. Lucky me, all the Glamour Boys loved to play and put me on their shoulders. It was only natural and I was only about 130lbs, so it wouldn't kill even the smallest of my boys. I would fall back a bit and then it was just a simple tilt from there and outstretch my arms a bit and I was suddenly in the shape of a cross. They would carry me over the crowd to reach out to my adoring or abhorring fans. It was a great move. It was mine. I own the rights. Don't try it-you're not suited for it. Besides, it takes a lot of trust to let your friends carry you over a crowd. I should make it clear that I was never passed to the crowd. That would have never do! My carriers were selected based on height and shoulder strength. The tallest and the strongest got my shoulders the rest would grab my legs, back, or ass. I have a small advantage, I was only 130lbs but also 6 ft tall, so they had plenty of length and no real weight to bear. I also have a herrington rod in my spine so I was already stiff as a board. That is really the key to a good cross formation, you have to be stiff or you will look sloppy.
We almost always met at my house on Saturday nights (then the Clubs only real gay night). We drank Absolut and Cranberry. Then the famous words would be shouted from my mouth, "Get out of my house!" No kidding. I really meant it. Get out! The Club parking lot was $5 and it only held a few hundred cars. I did not want to be walking all over downtown in my underwear week after week. I needed to be in the official watched lot or I would not be a happy G.B. I also needed them all to leave as I had a long narrow driveway and that meant my car would be the last to leave the premises, making my parking chances dicey at best.
I believe that the true heights the Glamour Boys reached were forged in that Club Firestone and it all had it's roots in my past experience with how powerful a simple statement of all white dress could be. I have used a white theme for more than just Cinco de Mayo or Club events. But more on that later.
I have always said that my closets are our archives and our Costume Institute. My home is the THOMA Gallery (Thomas' House of Modern Art) . Hey funding is always hard in a downturned economy. Everything must have multiple uses.
I just thought you should know.
Middle picture left, you can see me with the long hair, and 4 of my boys on Our new speaker.
I am also in the bottom middle getting kissed by two of my hottest boys, Patrick and Darren.
(click on the photo to enlarge. Photo by Lorrie Del Mar, how funny is that. I have a great Lorrie Del Mar story to tell you about...)