Friday, February 27, 2009

Let's Get Physical

Cuddling Up Against the Sensitive Underbelly of West LA

It was an unseasonably cold Friday night as I walked down Sepulveda Blvd. I held my bags close and turned into the back alley behind some print shop where a staircase led to that candlelit room of strangers convened in a circle-obscured in a haze of incense-while looking at the door, waiting for me and my late ass. Yes, patiently sitting upstairs at the Bodymind Institute was one of the most insidious rolls in L.A.’s underbelly: a Cuddle Party. Indeed, this was going to be some hardcore shit.

Yet, my previous image of the Moroccan opium den fuckfest quickly dissolved as I passed the piles of magazines entitled Aura or something, and bulletin boards covered with clipart yoga fliers and a fringe of phone numbers. The main room was not filled with orgy-goers in bathrobes, smoking pipes and drinking old-fashioneds. Rather, it was a large circle of mismatched pillows resting on four, Target-esque comforters-much more kindergarten than kinky. People were milling about wearing oversized T-shirts and PJ pants, even having juice and cookies. It looked a lot more like a blood drive than a snuggle-saurus attack.

Cuddle parties have been the darling of local news channels and “indie” media ever since their invention by New York workshop facilitators Marcia Baczynski and Reid MiHalko. Wanting to create a place where “non-sexual touching” was acceptable without the imminent threat of boning, they started the cuddle party phenomenon as this fuck-free zone. Oh yeah, and to help people communicate, or something.

After I changed into my pajamas, the “welcome circle” began. My attire included my female roommate’s pajamas, covered with clouds, moons, and super sparkly stars, an argyle sock and a tan sock (both odiferous reruns, by the way) all accompanied by an old shirt that said “suicide medicine.” Not so much a comment on the duality of man as his lack of detergent.

I joined the encircled clan for the opening welcome before we got down to cuddle business. There were about 30 people in the circle, most of various sexes, ages, and waistlines. We all looked at each other nervously as the moderator began to speak softly about some rules. It was hard to hear all of them, especially because it was about a minute into his deal that I realized I had already broken one of them long before I had gotten there. I was drunk.

Hey, it’s not my fault they scheduled the cuddlefest on Saint-Patty’s day, but I can’t say the same about the amount of Guinness and corned beef’n'cabbage I ingested at 2 p.m. Sorry, cuddlebunnies, tonight is going to be a stinker!

It was a little bit of a surreal blur as the moderator softly and gently explained the rules of (non) engagement…for the next 40 minutes. I dazed in and out of consciousness, catching only a few of the rules as they floated past my increasingly reddening face. No sex, no dry humping, PJ’s stay on, “No means no.” As I looked around the room, I counted the number of men vs. women over and over, coming to an even 12 of each every time. But for some reason, there appeared to be many more middle-aged men than nubile young vixens. It was probably like one of those magic eye things at the mall.

But in the midst of pondering the ratio of dicks to chicks, the word “erection” buzzed in my ear. I immediately looked at my crotch, where I thought the phrase originated, only to realize that the moderator-and self proclaimed cuddle party lifeguard-was bringing up (har har) the issue of “visible sexual arousal.”

“Just think of it as sexual energy just popping up to say ‘hi!’ he said as I started imagining the possibilities of a wood-sporting populace: men jousting with their wee-wees, the inevitable “light-saber-Luke-I-am-your-father” ding-dong fights. Perhaps a cock pushup or two. Just as I wondered how I’d explain these snail-trails that were going to show up on my roomie’s PJs, the cuddle fuck began!

Almost immediately, a woman clad in matching leopard jammers rolled on top of me, like that boulder at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Arc. I was stunned and I was pinned.
In my daze I didn’t realize that my sparkly star/moon jam-a-ramas had been pulled clean off! Not only was I unintentionally breaking a cuddle commandment, I was nearly revealing my frightened pee-pee, hiding in my unwashed Fruit of the Looms. With a quick log roll, I maneuvered to the middle, where I latched onto the first lady I could see.

“Can I write the Canterbury Tales on your back?” I asked. Reluctantly, she said yes and I began using my index finger to script out the first few lines. After at least four passages, I forgot the rest and began to do long division, which did involve a few remainders. I don’t think she noticed, because every one of her appendages was being massaged and/or prodded by dudes as I was trying to see how many times nine went into 405 (it’s 45).

As if this wasn’t awkward enough, there was a Taiwanese news crew filming the entire event, while the female anchor (in matching pinky PJs) carried a ’70s style foam microphone in which she narrated to an Asian audience what the fuck was going on. With the news anchor “interviewing” people in cuddle puddles, a tantra teacher fondling a reiki master, and some divorcees who may have been violating the moratorium on dry humping (and possibly each other), I couldn’t take it any more. I left-a changed man with changed pants-and I went back to the bar. After all that, I’ve decided drinking is a much safer activity.


Sucks In the City: A dating guide for prople who hate dating

Everybody knows that dating sucks. In the old days, dating was so much easier: you’d ride your triceratops up to a floating castle while a damsel (or VanDamsel) would prance a unicorn down an iridescent rainbow, and minutes later you’d perform the seventh position of the Kama Sutra (the praying mantis).

Yes, this is how my parents met.

It was the Swinging ’70s, and times were so much simpler. So what do you do today? And moreover, what do you do once you’ve met that special someone while picking up their dog’s ass dumplings at the dog park or pontificating about post-surrealism at a gallery? Do you just give up and take them on a trite dinner and a movie date? No, you just need a little help from your favorite fucker, Dan Gillis III. To make your life easier, I have created the Interstate of Dating as a roadmap to the best dates you’ve never been on.

The “Arizona”

The best dates I went on were in high school, so this date brings you back to the good ol’ days of dry humping and halfway handjobs. First, walk with your date to the closest Vons. Instruct your date to buy something “embarrassing” like a cucumber, medical gloves and Astroglide, as well as a pack of Cinnaburst gum. While your date is spinning a web of subterfuge, do your best to steal a handful of dust-covered airplane-sized bottles of booze. I recommend Goldschlager. Proceed to the parking lot whereupon you should immediately jump into a shopping cart, suggesting that your date “push you around.” While speeding around the parking lot, make sure to imbibe plenty of the stolen alcohol and discuss who would be in the best band of all time, always keeping watch for when your date decides to chew a piece of gum. Upon this occurrence, immediately say, “I don’t feel good,” and with great deftness, exit the cart. It is at this point that you should vomit (remember to be polite and aim away from your partner’s shoes) and reach for your date’s hand. Once done, your date should ask if you’re OK. It is at this point that you should make direct eye contact and ask for a piece of gum, thereby proceeding to “French” your date under the yellow humming lights of the parking lot.

Second base should take place under the bleachers.

The “New York”

Every good date in New York involves danger and hotpants. So, for this date you should begin at Latin American fusion restaurant Ciudad downtown, where you’ll imbibe mojitos and discuss how much the décor looks like Kandinsky. This will indeed impress your date, but not as much as when you say, “My friend (insert fake DJ name) is spinning at the Standard, wanna go?” Proceed to the rooftop bar at the Standard and act disgusted at “how L.A.” the people are there, even if they are Asian businessmen wearing nametags. It is now time to approach the DJ while your date is checkin’ out a waitress’ hot pants. Ask for some Lionel Richie, which they certainly won’t have, but this will give the appearance of conversation. At this point return to your date and say, “This scene is sooo dead, let’s roll.” Now begins the long walk to The Smell, where you will undoubtedly encounter a vagrant or two. Do not be alarmed, they can help you on your road to Getting-laid-ville. After not giving them any money, blame “Reaganomics” for their predicament, which will help you appear sensitive and not a Republican. Once at The Smell, tell the doorperson that you work for L.A. Alternative and you’re there to cover the show. Enter the venue, proceed to a dark corner and commence heavy petting during Bipolar Bear’s set.

The “Oregon”

This date begins in a nondescript bong store around Venice Beach. The perfect weather for said date is an overcast day with a 60 percent chance of sweaters. You and your date enter the International Youth Hostel and meet a Dutch backpacker named Tomas Jensen, whereupon you ask if you can “take him on a Los Angeles tour” in exchange for weed. Once in the car, drive up the coast pretending that you and your date are friends with Mario Lopez, impressing the Dutchman with your knowledge of syndicated television stars. Once you’ve reached Neptune’s Net (the greasy-good Malibu fish shack and CPA biker haunt), leave Jens in the car while you chow on some fish’n'chips, doing your best to reach for the tartar sauce at the same time as your date, as to have a Tom Hanks You’ve Got Mail moment. When your eyes meet, take a gargantuan bong rip (remember to be polite and let your date have the first hit) and watch the sun gracefully set over our beloved ocean.

To receive desired results, repeat bong loads as necessary.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bye Bye Bushie

The election is over and we've all put our differences aside, rejoicing in this moment where our country can unite once again. The people have spoken, and the winds of change are blowing like hot exhaust from my Mazda. We learned that this wasn't Bush's first rodeo, and that Republicans are sometimes Democrats, who are somtimes Liebermans, who kind of looks like the Monopoly Man.

It's complicated, but imagine how complicated this all is for your children, sitting in their foster homes, wondering what this all means. Well friends, I've decided to make it easier for you to connect with those children who maybe frightened of Charlie Gibson's loose neck skin. I have created a pictorial analysis of the election, which you can print out in a baseball sized card, so that you can hand it to your child through the chain link fence at school without breaking your restraining order.

I do believe that children are the future.

And this is the first step to help them understand this impending future where Democrats will rule the world with a velvet fist and guns will only shoot Obama hearts of love and ambiguity.


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Friday, November 03, 2006

Halloween Hangovers

Learning to Bring Halloween Joy into Your Pathetic Little Life
By Dan Gillis, III

There’s nothing more depressing than the day after Halloween. Maybe the hardest part isn’t the nougat hangover or waking up in your bed still in a skirt, stockings, handlebar moustache and a dinosaur head, wondering whether being Trannysaurus Tex was a good idea.

Or what sexual orientation involves doing it dinostyle?

Instead, it’s just so damn awful knowing that you spent an entire year running costume ideas by your roommates, coworker, and rehab sponsors, for what? One night of fun and/or debauchery?

Well, cheer up frowny-face, it doesn’t have to be that way! The spirit Halloween can live in your heart and pleather halter-top all year long, if you want it.

And you have to really want it, because Halloween, like Easter, is all about sacrifice.

And bunnies.

That’s right, I said it. Halloween is about fucking bunnies, goddamn it. Not the actual act of coitus with our floppy-eared friends, may I remind you, but it’s more about taking ownership of your life and being a bunny, or a unicorn, or even an incontinent yeti to the best of your ability. For that one day, you have complete control over what people think of you and you get to be the bunny you’ve always wanted to be.

So why not get into that costume throughout the year? Imagine the joy of your coworkers when you walk into a company conference about logo placement on cocktail napkins dressed as Sloth from Goonies?

Wouldn’t your parole hearing proceed much smoother if you wore Kasier Wilhelm’s ensemble?

You can even put the “fun” back in funeral dressing like a crucified Kanye West at your Nanny’s wake.

But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. There are plenty of bar mitzvahs, family interventions, and pap smears you can make into parties, just pick some of these zany costumes and get ready to giggle your pants off.

The “Accidentes” Lawyer: You know you’ve seen this guy staring back from the back bumper of a bus, with those beady eyes, slightly gapped teeth, and pencil mustache a top his Latino lip. He’s practically begging to you to be him. First, you’ll need a large piece of cardboard which you should cut a hole in the center. Have your mom do this with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. Then place your face through the hole after you’ve mustachioed yourself. Get one of your unemployed artist friends to replicate that Spanish slogan across the cardboard and use part of a beer helmet to attach the sign to your head. This is a classic that only brings an air of sensibility that can be especially useful during your DUI trial.

Hawaiian Hitler: Everyone knows that dictators make great costumes, and if you want to be taken seriously during your the next Powerpoint presentation, this is the way to go. Usually I recommend being some sort of rapper/mass murder combo like Ballin’ Stalin (this requires a track suit, a clock, and an ultimatum for Ukrainians) or Kim Jong License to Ill (he’s already got the shades, just get some Air Jordans). But this year, I’ve decided that because of our noble war, we should be more sensitive with our dictator costumes. Chairman Meow is a real crowd pleaser, with that cat ear headband, green teeth, and khaki shirt. But not even the Allied forces can beat Hawaiian Hitler. The recipe is easy. Take one square mustache and apply it to the upper lip. Comb your hair to one side, or just leave your hair alone if you’re an indie kid. Then slip on board shorts, a flowered shirt, and some Vans. The costume cannot be complete without that sassy look of veiled happiness over your acquistion of the Sudatenland and those rad checkered slip-ons. Try this at the next family BBQ.

Jane Fondle: This costume brings together two of my loves: middle ‘80’s jazzercise videos and clergy molestation jokes. The key to this get-up is the detail. It may take some time to get some of these items, but it will definitely be worth it. First, you’ll need to call my mom. No seriously, it’s cool. And ask her for her light pink legwarmers and the one piece blue unitard. Then talk to my brother. Actually not my brother, just a Brother will do. Try Brother Smolders, a Catholic priest and only an “alleged” child porn “researcher.” He’s real nice once you get to know him, and he will give you the shirt off his back. Which you should take, especially if it has still has that cute little white collar on it. With this collar in conjunction with your aerobic attire and a bag of Dum-Dums and you’re set. Try this one out at a PTA meeting.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tijuana Go Back to My Place?

Down and Striking out in Mexico's Mecca of Class

Posted LA Alternative 10.25.06

Tijuana is the place that good souls go to die or go crazy. It’s the other half of the North American dynasty, a city that’s really just San Diego cut into two separate but unequal parts. For TJ, the city throbs with a multicultural populace funneling in from everywhere south of minutemen of Texas. The people wandering the avenues come from every diverse state in Mexico, and the indigenous people sell goods on the sides of the roads, displaced from their farms by multinational agribusinesses. Last Thursday, I went to TJ to hear Marcos, the leader of the Zapatista’s army for indigenous rights, hold a forum about the social ills festering along the symbiotic creature growing along the U.S.-Mexico border

And meet some hot Zapatista babes in the process!

It’s true, these ladies were muy caliente in the most extreme sense and I had to get in on these sweet cinnamon sprinkled churros before they went back to Chiapas and their revolutionary boys armed with bullet chains and sweetie poetic nothings to whisper in their ears. All I had was my press credential and a video camera, and that was step one to getting in with these cute little mariposas, right?

The beginning of this dirty millennium was the best time for love to sprout in a time of discord. It was also a great time for boners to sprout after meeting some fairly crustaceous protest chicks.

I mean females.

I’d been to every protest you can imagine. “Don’t attack Iraq,” “No Blood for Oil,” and I’d even stood outside Forever 21 on the Third Street Promenade shouting things about workers rights or something. I couldn’t really remember cause I was just looking at that one foxy broad – I mean female – in the bandana and the side bag she got in Argentina. I didn’t care that she had a little hedgehog of hair taking a nap in her armpit, for these girls that’s a stinky little badge of honor.

I am woman, smell my pits.

And don’t get me wrong, I was trying to smell those pits, especially the pits of that translator who was standing on stage right now in this broken down theatre on Constitucion Ave. “Pinche Migra” she said with her black jacket drawing tight as she raised her hand in the air. The gesture was for emphasis, I think, but really it just showed off those sexy homemade patches that she stitched on there herself, like the indigenous women of Oaxaca.

Or maybe it was made by the Prada tribe.

I tried to “interview” her later only to find out she was from L.A. Such a buzz-kill knowing that I might see her again at crossing her arms and rocking at Spaceland or eating squid at Cobras & Matadors. I wanted this to be a special moment.

Just you, me, and my camera makes three, baby.

But no dice, so I went to talk to the babieBrown Berets, essentially a Mexican Black Panther movement in the 1960s that was resurrected in 1994, when people were really into Rage Against the Machine and those Africa necklaces. They were looking all cute with their berets tipped to the side, so I sequestered two for a mano-to-womano moment, one step closer to my Zapatista dream.

What, you’re from San Francisco?

This was not good. I probably saw them some antiwar protest in ’03, and I most likely gave one of them a wink at the “Food Not Bombs” booth. “Oh yeah pumpkin pants, I think we should be dropping corn dumplings all over Kimmy Jong Ill”

This was going to be harder than I thought, where were my indigenous honeys – I mean females – with those hot little scarves around their necks?

I should have known, after my failed attempt for Gypsy, the cute dreadlocked gutter punk anarchist I met in Mexico City while I was there building community gardens, these ladies didn’t want some guy from the suburbs. They want a guy with a real stuggle.

And I thought a struggle was accidentally ordering a no-foam latte.

The day ended with Marcos saying a bunch of stuff in Spanish, of which I understood approximately fourteen words. So I packed up my cameras and headed for the border, empty handed and not even close to being embedded in a bed (or two) in Mexico.

Taking another bite of my pollo taco, I sat at the stainless steel counter of a restaurant in sight of America. I had gotten the numbers of some ladies I interviewed, but they were from exotic places like Santa Monica, Hawthorne, and Ventura. I was looking more for San Cristobal or Cuernavaca.

I put some more lime on the taco as the vendor said, “You need anything else?”

In my head, I began the plans for my next trip and my next attempt for getting out from behind the boring ladies of the states.

Cuba. Yeah, that’s it. Cuba, hold on to your Che hats, ‘cause here I come for all you Commie mommies!

I mean females.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

Whip it good!

A Little Peek into the world of S&M

Published LA Alternative 10.18.06

In this postmodern world where truth is merely an agreed-upon lie, the aperture of reality forever opens to the point of complete saturation of choice and consequence, paralyzing us with endless possibilities.

So where can I find an S & M club in this god forsaken town? And more importantly, what should I wear?

Yes, my felines, it’s been something that you’ve struggled with for years, possibly more than choosing a 401k plan or weighing the advantages of using Pantene Pro-V. I know this because I was once like you, a mere sapling growing in a dark forest of latex and ball-gags. But with a few S & M trips behind me, (and at least one trip to a South American hospital) I feel confident enough to give you a little peek-a-boo into your first visit to a darkwave fuck club.

My first jaunt into this underworld was a few years ago (cue flashback sounds please) at a club charmingly called Dungeon, where confused tourists from Manchester, New Hampshire would mingle with black nail-polished convenience store workers to songs about Manchester, England. It’s an intercontinental meeting of Level 4 sages who hate their parents in Calabasas and have names like Thistle or Anguish Panda.

Then there was me.

I went there to meet with a group of young writers, many of which had more experience watching SNL than with S&M, and I thought this would be a good introduction for them to the world of bootlicking—which is not to say that I was a guru of whipped ass either. At this time, my dominatrix experience was limited to one who I met, fatefully, at her 30th birthday party. She took Polaroids of her no-no zone and apparently made the physical act of love with a young gentleman through the bars of a cage.

It was complicated, I think I need to draw you a diagram.

It was at this tender young age when I could never know that I would later go on to work with two whip wielders (one was a 300-pound snaggle-toothed dominator, the other was the former editor of Juggs), but what I did know was that there was some shirtless man walking toward me with arms raised.

“Why did he just emerge from that curtain, and why am I wearing an ‘80s prom dress?” I thought to myself.

Oh yeah, he’s just my friend Mike, and I slipped into that backless dress in the parking lot. I’m so forgetful sometimes.

I entered through the fake velvet curtain as the crunching sound of my ruffled sleeves mixing with the low bass drum hits kicking in my chest. The room was large with exposed brick walls—it would have made a great loft in the Real World London—and in the center were ladies in corsets hanging upside down from ropes, their nippies covered with electrical tape.

I hadn’t seen that shit since middle school.

We got closer to what was called the “suspension area” and watched as men in pleather pants (he got ‘em at Ross) were whipped by those ladies from Hot Topic. It was an epic battle of the strip malls and I was there to watch, all while Skinny Puppy droned in the background and dudes in black lipstick swayed like sea anemone.

As one guy received some sweet little front-whips on a chiastic crucifix, I thought about the future, hoping that someday I would be able to see this same goth-a-rama at in a town outside of Santiago, Chile.

And luckily, three years later I did—if you just replace “some guy” with “my buddy Anthony” and “front-whips on a cross” with “chain whips in front of a bus,” then my premonition would be correct.

Don’t worry kids, Anthony ended up being fine after being “Double Dragon-ed” outside “El Cure Noche” at Club Mascara and we had a nice little visit with the stray dogs in the Chilean emergency room and that one senora screaming about machetes.

But that was thousands of miles away from Hollywood and for some reason Mike and I were now dancing on the elevated blocks to what sounded like Depeche Mode. An overweight Asian woman in our group was shooting a disposable camera up my skirt, and this led to an accidental “back sweep” that was the first in a surprising sequence of events that reaffirmed that I wasn’t gay.

The second happened during a reach for popcorn while watching the movie Troy. We were stoned, ok…

Don’t tell Dad.

So, you’re still interested in S&M clubs? Just remember that you will need a safe word if you decide to put your ass on the block. I suggest you use something that cannot be misconstrued as some crazy shit you say during sex. For example, say “Hall & Oates” not “You’re a man-eater!”

Trust me, you don’t want to end up in a Chilean hospital.

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