The Awful Truth

If you haven't been to a New York Niteclub lately, don't worry, I just did it for you.

By Cintra Wilson

Published April 29, 1996 9:15AM (EDT)

the other day my girlfriend S. called me up. "Dude," she said. "I'm incredibly horny, we need to go out." S. is in the process of getting a divorce from her sexually-inattentive-to-the- point-of-being-insulting husband. S. and my entire peer group always hated her husband and called him "Goat Boy," because we perceived him as being grotesquely cruel to her by only having sex with her on Sunday mornings.

I was supposed to attend an important African religious ceremony the next morning, so I had a different need for the evening -- Disco. Still, I always rally 'round my friends who are truly in pain, so I agreed to go out with her to this bar called SqueezeBox.

"But SqueezeBox is GAY!" lamented S., with her mind firmly fixed on one narrow track.

"So cruise GIRLS!" I barked.

"Oh all RIGHT," she petulanted. I pride myself on having friends with flexible gender requirements.

So we get in a cab. "The club is really GREAT?" says S. in her No-Cal post-punk accent, which is sort of like a really thick Valley Girl accent but more lilty and San Francisco-homosexual sounding, so everything curls up at the end like a question: "Debbie Harry goes there? And so does, like, Nick Zed? They show his films there? But I hope we don't run into him? Because he's really gross?"

Nick Zed is kind of legendary in the East Village for being an "underground" filmmaker, "underground" meaning basically pornographic yet also celebrating the world of IV narcotics.

"Swell," I remarked with a deadness of enthusiasm. I just wanted Disco. It was my understanding that anyone with a couple of emotionally unbalanced naked friends, a camcorder and a terrible drug habit could make a Nick Zed film. But S. knew him and I knew he meant something to her as a connection to that important celebrity world.
Sure enough, the second we walk into the Box, there's a film of Nick Zed wearing a dress, receiving turbulent fellatio from someone of indeterminate sex, being projected on the wall above the bar.

"Look! There he is, getting head?" informed S.

The bar was two small rooms, one with a stage, one with a bar. "God, I wish even ONE of these boys were straight?" howled S., in an inflamed state of estrus, rubbing up against anything convex.

All of the men in the room were very little, cute, bald, muscular, rubbery-action tub-toy guys, in silver shirts and spandex tap pants and dog collars and combat boots, twittering and rolling prettily around the bar and bumping juicily together like they were all assembled out of 30-pound, soft leather medicine balls. They seemed to be fed on nothing but oranges and caramel and hi-amino protein fibers, and the room joculated with their yummy gay muscle on muscle on muscle on cologne on nylon on deodorant on hairgel, on meth.

I was to be disappointed in my Disco quest. No trancendental Soul Train Motorbootie experience was to be had on that floor, where the only beats were annoying, white-guy-angrily-masturbating-really-hard early punkrock classics, which are all well and fine, but not for oily undulating and getting down on the "tear the roof off the motherfucker" tip. So I pogoed a minute with the rest of the taut little gladiators, then gave up and waited for the band.

"Boob" was not the soothing, skillful musical experience it ought to have been. At first they seemed extremely promising. The back-up band consisted of two eighteen-year-old Asian girls -- one a grubby four-foot-tall Sumo drummer who grievously beat her toms as if she was wreaking revenge for the pain of her entire life of abuse, unjust imprisonment and subsequent slavery, and the other a tall, stellar Thai mail-order bride beauty who was wearing nothing but a green sequined thong, seven-inch spiked platform dominatrix pumps, a small tattoo and a bass. I loved her instantly, despite the fact that it seemed as if she had learned to play rock n' roll bass off some kind of Bob Ross-style TV course -- the linseed oil and spatula groove method.

The other members of the band were the largest, drunkest and most abrasive drag queens imaginable. The lead singer, wearing a series of sequined tube tops up and down his thin wick of a body that made him look like a Fabergi croquet mallet, had his nose and lips and eyebrows pierced in such a way that all of the hooks in his head seemed to be leaning outward in an attempt to escape the infected holes of pain they created, straining AWAY from his face, causing all kinds of distraction and inconvenience when it came to things like talking or singing. All one could think, listening to him warble and shriek, was "Ow."

Boob relentlessly screamed at us in the same spastic idiot sing-song language that eighth-grade girls reserve for tormenting eighth-grade boys, as the angry bi Sumo teen bashed and bashed like a nonstop wheel of repugnance. S. and I retreated back to the bar, in hopes that she could elicit an exchange of moisture with somebody. Lo, there at the bar, was the man himself, Mr. Zed, standing beneath the dirty movie of himself on the wall, his eyes blue and cloudy as greasy diner plates. His skin was translucent, his hair whipped atop his head like a half-blown dandelion, his bandy little body covered with a blue mechanic jumpsuit. A proud man, a famous man, standing deeply within his own element.

"Why is she sneering at me?" he asked S. about me, when we were introduced. "Is it because she's from San Francisco?"

S. said, "Maybe she just thinks you're famous."

At that point, like that scene at the end of "Day of the Locust," the punk queens and chorus boys and sharp-toothed college lesbians curled around us in a thick, swirling undertow, pulling us away from the bar, bodies suffocating around our throats, shoulders in our necks, cocktail straws in our eye, we were sucked beneath the lip of their teeming festivity, the froth on their tongues cascading onto the bar as we crashed under, we were aware of wet black boots, of cigarette butts and hairless knees, of punctured drag queens wailing above us like a vortex of sirens pulling us down...down...and all we could hear was BOOOOOOOOOOB.....Booooooooooob....and the shattering of a thousand ice trays...

Cintra Wilson

Cintra Wilson is a culture critic and author whose books include "A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque, Crippling Disease" and "Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny." Her new book, "Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling America's Fashion Destiny," will be published by WW Norton.

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