it's our last night in bangkok (the first of a consummate two) and gates III and i decide it's time to leave the deranged and at times depressing example of 'white people in thailand' [that is khao san road] behind. we want to see other parts, areas and districts (of this incredible city and beautiful country) and so hop a cab and clumsily attempt to explain in our nonexistent thai to the disconcerted driver that we want to get to the gay district and chill there among what might be more of our 'own people', our type, our kind. the driver is perplexed by the address scrawled in my moleskin, he's embarrassed and bewildered too by our loud miming attempts to define 'gay' and 'homosexual' and 'friendly town.' we simply finally pile into the taxi, lapse into a trusting silence and at once and 'of a sudden' are on our lively hope-filled final way.
a forty-five minute highly visual quietly compelling and careening commute later, we find ourselves in another impressively urban area, distinctly less touristic and contoured by high buildings, several restaurants and wide busy lanes. it's a much more business-type area of bangkok that is comparable somewhat to what yonge&bloor is locally. gates III and i are both relieved and satisfied to have left khao san road fairly 'in the dust' but where we've ended up doesn't overly smack of 'gay' so we pause in our brief and as yet fruitless meander. finally we stop to 'take stock' and we remain still unsure. we wander around inconclusively some more into and around the thick humid bangkok night. we are saddled again with our huge travellers' pack and shoulder bags, we grow tired and get consistently nowhere. gradually we accept that we definitely aren't in an intelligibly homosexual neighbourhood at all.
after accosting a handful of mostly unhelpful strangers and foreigners, we light upon a strollingly elegant, discernibly homosexual, older man who seems most likely to be capable of giving us the succinct explanations and straightforward answers to the questions we have and the directions we seek. we are correct. he does and capably. this man is unruffled in an offhand way, he's not surprised to see us or to be accosted by us, he's just strolling along and just 'there'. it's like he has been 'put' there exactly for us to ask him categorical questions so that he can give us unequivocal replies. we ask him and he answers and everything looks to be 'on track' again, everything feels alright.
the man is indeed homosexual and he's rigorously in love with thailand. so much so that he's lived there for twenty years. he shares his personal details with us with natural familiarity and easy poise, he looks somewhat like tom wilkinson and his mannerisms and gait have a debonair ben stevenson flair and air. our cultivated homosexual guide accompanies us all the way to the sufficiently clean, modestly priced, acceptably attractive, homosexually-approved hotel that he himself recommends. he gives us clues and directions too as to where to go for 'good gay fun' and how to also get there. at the hotel, we bid him grateful adieu and his farewell is warm and kind and refined.
after checking in and once comfortably air-conditioned at last inside, gates III casts boisterously aside his towering and titanic travellers' pack. i'm delirious and prostrate, wearing as i do, almost always the very wrong footwear for a great deal of walking and for any manner of world traveling, my feet, as a result, are almost always destroyed. i collapse therefore with a plunge and luxuriously face-down upon the big and beautiful, bountiful bed. gates III zums and zithers. i start to pass completely out, i am exhausted to my core from the long cab ride, the heavy-loads carrying, the bangkok heat, the trudging about. gates III by contrast is all shot up with energy and excitement, his levels of get-up-and-go are luridly high. my exhaustion plummets me comfortably straight into a death embrace—it's by this point anyway almost midnight...
i manage to convince gates III that a nap is inarguably and for the both of us 'just the thing' but gates III seems to sense some kind of trap. he defensively denies me and almost angrily replies, 'no. no. cause then. you'll just lie there. you'll go to sleep. for good.' i'm taken slightly aback by his vehemence and coo out a reassuring 'no i won't' but he refuses combatively to be either tricked or convinced. tensely he then flops upon the bed with a bounce, he is stiff and unyielding, a nap is the furthest thing from all of his desire and interest or need. 'just twenty minutes' i with sumptuous sleepiness attempt ailing again to reassure. tempestuous and dubious, gates III rigidly concedes.
suddenly he is 'up at at 'em' once more, he's firing ferociously, to go. gates III bustles about busily, stands straightly tall and disruptively commands, 'ok. get up.' it's imperative apparently that we both hit up the homosexual town and bars at once. 'just twenty minutes' i mutteringly murmur and gates III shouts something about us having actually napped already for nearing an hour. i'm too overrun with an all-consuming exhaustion to even twitch out an argument or convincing line of defining defence but the thought of getting vertical and unwrapped seems not just unattractive but vicious and impossible, by all turns and to every boundary. i feel leaden and oppressed by the concept, to the point of a lethargically almost total despair.
'we have to go out,' gates III shouts with such dogged dramatic decision that [if i wasn't so powerfully fatigued] under normal conditions, i would have found the complete performance to be startlingly inspiring, it's so interestingly very extreme. 'we spent all this time and energy trying to find the gays and now we've finally done it! you'll regret forever that we never went out and had the time of our lives in the gayest city in the world! we have to get out there and party with the ladyboys, you'll never forgive me or yourself if i let you let me not make us go! trust me, you'll thank me later, we have to go, we have to!' i'm so exhausted that 'despite it all', i feel i still can remain unmoved by gates III's passion-drenched entreaty. 'what time is it' i ask very meaninglessly. (vying for time i opt instead to ask about it). 'who cares what fucking time it is!' gates III shouts. 'go ask at the front desk' i suggest, trying really just to get him out of the room and leave me to wallow beautifully in my nice and napping peace.
'ok.' gates III declares. 'i'm going downstairs and i'll find out the goddamned time. but if when i get back and you are still just 'lying there', i am going to fuck you. in the ass. i am not joking, i will fuck you. in the ass. a punitive ass-fucking, that's what you will get so get up. i do not joke!' that got me up faster than sheet lightning. gates III now is surprised and pleased. imbued by the easy suddenness of his success and accomplishment, he is radiant and smiling recklessly. 'we'll have so much fun. watch, i promise, you're gonna thank me, it's gonna be so awesome!' i ignore him and sluggishly and sadly start pulling on some clothes. i'm still fairly peeved and rather defiant about the whole fucking in the ass threat thing (i'm also slightly almost kind of impressed but of course only slightly. and secretly).
'it'll be so fun.' gates III says again, his face the very picture of eagerness, his voice both soothing and conciliatory. i'm too drooping and drained to drum up any of my signature comebacks or rejoinders, i'm even too tired to roll my goddamned motherfucking eyes and so. as a kind of 'revenge', i decide to go out almost or basically as is, that is, not get anywhere close to getting 'all dolled up' at all and to just wear actual gray sweatpants, a grubby pale pink t-shirt, some nearby unsuitable shoes, a cheap straw hat even and my huge heavy black-framed prescription glasses. the glasses look like they belong to my dad―if i had a dad and if this dad was some kind of newscast man from some time in say, the 50's. i look passably somewhat almost 'cute' but unnaturally excessively very casual too and not at all done up or eye-catching or anywhere close to homosexually-sufficient levels of diva fancy.
'whatever' i grumblingly mumble as i stumble gracelessly, grouchily about. i gather my things and glumly get ready to do some more of that thick humid bangkok trudging. gates III is all bright eyes and tail bushes, i am all 'fuck you' but drowsily, sluggishly, languidly. finally we get 'out there' and do the after midnight trailing and trudging thing. the getting there takes about seven forevers until we at last and somewhere arrive. at some kind of partially covered strip mall alleyway rectangle or square, it's a 'clubs cluster' space and place, type or thing. seems [this] is where we go to enter what turns out to be a 'bangkok gay clubs mall many meetings place'. i have no id on me and after a moment or two, the homosexual guards or doormen or coat-check people hospitably just motion us through and past and on and so we go in.
as we maneuver forward, we come across our homosexually elegant guide from earlier in the evening; we are just about to enter, he is just leaving. he is languorously delighted to witness our success in the finding and the coming and we in turn are pleased to so strangely and yet so seamlessly be in passing reunited with him. neither gates III nor i are the types to go with things like 'serendipity' but this re-connection somehow does feel like a sweet and serene good-times symbol, sign or 'something'.
we the three of us smile, we exchange greetings, he handsomely exits, we stride forwardly in. the square space within is literally 'teeming' with gay men of all ages, kinds, stripes, styles and strains. i'm beginning to perk up but continue too to disregard the 'see?' that radiates from gate's III's shining visage and face-splitting grin. he's like a giddy blind boy being taken to his first 3d film and i'm distracted by the lone homosexual black man who, white teeth beautiful and blinding, smile bright and blazing, struts with sexual purposefulness through and stylishly in.
the first room or club we elect to enter is a homosexual karaoke bar and there's a young and effortlessly handsome thai man entertaining a calm cluster of gays with his laidback karaoke renditions of those diva ballads with which most homosexuals are undyingly familiar and fantastically fond. gates III and i have a drink or two and smile pleasantly at the pleasant homosexuals all around in this comfortably complaisant karaoke setting. after one or two homosexually preferred diva ballads more, we decide to check out the next club space place and enjoy immediately the charismatic hosting of some intimate stage show by two exquisitely captivating thai homosexual drag queens. gates III and i appreciate the show for no more than a few minutes, we smile at and adore the hostesses and afterward we thank them warmly both before leaving.
wishing then to partake more totally of this 'homosexual club buffet', we take leave of this establishment also and push our ways further and deepest in. we arrive finally at some club that from the immediate outside looks huge and loud, packed and very crowded, excitingly crazy and darkly bright. once we get in, we are 'blown away' instantly by probably the best sound system in thailand. also we realize we've finally found the most homosexual venue in the country, possibly even the world. the club is the biggest, most crowded, gayest place we've ever been inside of, we are overwhelmed, giddy and amazed. also we are fascinated, violently happy and alarmed. the music is booming and bassdriven and gates III is excited finally to find himself somewhere in southeast asia that actually has truly proper sound, even if the music being blasted is the gayest kind of diva circuit house imaginable. 'this might be the gayest place on earth,' gates III says. 'totally,' i agree and we marvel in place of a happy and gay embrace.
for every one hundred dancing and writhing homosexual thais, there's about ten middle-aged white and studiously cruising foreigners. there's only a smattering of the usually palpably present fag-hag quotient here and representing, we gaze around us, eyes glassy and full and wide. then we are swallowed and smothered into the swoosh and swirl of gay bodies dancing and dalliancing, careening and carousing. i unleash myself into a homosexual happiness of hip-swaying and hype and acquire a sweet sexy string of new best gay friends all in succession across the evening. the club is endless and huge and literally pulsing and pullulating with gay men, we are 'blown away' by the strength and seethe and scale of it all, again and again and again. the humorously horrible homosexual club chorals assault us with brutal beats and continuous clarity, we endure and love it all as shards of lady gaga, rihanna, beyoncé and madonna stab our ears and bodies and hearts with their expected and unmistakable diva strains. the dj throughout is competently capable and capably competent, he knows the club and the sound and the audience and the whole place is going 'off' very hotly, hugely and homosexually. we marvel and we shout, we dance and we love.
later we find ourselves upstairs and pick up our final gayboy hanger-on for the evening. 'watch this', he says and vogues for me. i make a show of being both interested and impressed before i dance in my own 'space and place' again. 'you with him?' he asks me, all gay and smiling. i smile in response and reply and just dance again. 'he with you?' gayboy hanger-on asks gates III. gates III says, 'yeah. he with me.' gayboy hanger-on leans hectically in and closely exclaims, 'yeah? he with you! he! ladyboy?' and gates III smiles proudly, happily and nods without precision or point. 'you! ladyboy.' gayboy hanger-on exclaimingly asks or announces again. i only smile some more, maybe i even shrug a shoulder or two. gayboy hanger-on grins in general commendation and some uncertainty. then again he vogues for me. i offer once more that look of interest and of being impressed: gay boys as a rule love to show off their signature moves and these moves are never by any sober person's standards anything very remarkable or memorable but. as a rule, the gay boy will want to repeatedly show you his 'moves' and as a rule, you as the audience-recipient must offer that immediately instant face of the intrigued, the interested and the impressed, if only just 'for the moment.'
'you! ladyboy!' gayboy hanger-on exclaimingly asks or announces at intervals. i smile and dance and gates III frolicks and grins. later, another gay man joins our jouncingly jaunty group. gayboy hanger-on dances and makes a marked and meaningful movement with his head in my direction. he says in a clipped voice full of confident familiarity, 'ladyboy. ladyboy.' the new gay man to our group dancingly pauses for only a moment and muses politely, 'who. you?' to gayboy hanger-on. gayboy hanger-on makes the same adept head jerking gesture in my direction. he even goes so far as to jab me once or twice. 'no. him. him.' he says. his expression reveals a knowing and authoritative confidentiality, as though by right of his having 'discovered' me, his proud announcement all is very capital, revelational and supreme. i gaze into the surrounding club's dark pulse and steamed up details, i keep my own expression a mask of meaningless yet warmly neutral inscrutability. gates III continues to dance and carouse and grin.
after lots more of this gay dancing, homosexual voguing and feigning being impressed and interested in various gay dance signature moves, gates III confides to gayboy hanger-on, 'me. love him. so much. he very special. he casual ladyboy...' gayboy hanger-on stops to consider the solemnity of these words and gates III continues, 'you know. usually. ladyboys. very total nice-nice? very so much fancy-fancy? not him. he casual ladyboy.' then gates III adds momentously, 'new style.' gates III pauses to let this clarification sink in. gayboy hanger-on dances and vogues and then says. 'oh.' he follows this brief and brusque consideration with an 'ohhhh—!' as though suddenly 'everything' makes real and genuine sense again. gates III and gayboy hanger-on then dance once more and roguishly. they are happy and fused in their shared and clarified confidence. i continue too to smile and to shrug, i metaphorically sigh and figuratively roll my eyes, i 'get my gay on' and i dance.
'i know josh! from hawaii!' gayboy hanger-on suddenly says. i look at him blankly. 'just go with it. act like you know' is what i can read in gates III's nearby eyes. 'oh josh!' i say familiarly. gayboy hanger-on smiles hugely, more happily than ever before and vogues then again just for me.
later we escape to a smoking balcony or room that i manage to discover. we're joined by one or two gay thai men and their accompanying mostly silent middle-aged white foreigner cruising companions. out also comes our gayboy hanger-on. he's still offering up his signature moves and vogues for us while we look with absent-minded interest still 'on'. then in a lucid moment, i assess our gayboy hanger-on and musingly mention, 'actually. he looks. kind of exactly like... a gay edit.'gates III sobers up for a single instant to also scrutinize our gayboy hanger-on. gates III then confirms the comment and slowly says, 'actually... he does.' the great accuracy of my observation amuses us both for as long as it takes to finish our cigarettes.
after we suffer through some more endless gay club circuit house anthems, i finally begin at last to lose my fire and flare and am pretty much very ready to leave. gay edit looks about fit to vogue and preen and show me off as 'his' ladyboy discovery until sunrise and so i move to make my terminal escape. i sit zen-like and statuesque for about a thousand years somewhere downstairs while i wait for gates III to properly, firmly and finally shake the gay edit off...
at last gates III succeeds with some very detailed but unimportant lengthy explanation and apology. i in my haze can only think of the million years trudge home back to the hotel, i can't imagine where i'll find the strength to make it.
on exit, we're suddenly presented with about ten bundles of giantly oversized stocks of green onions as thick and as tall as gates III himself is. we cannot believe that these green onion bundles are 'for real' or how they can exist 'in real life'. we're so 'taken' with these questions and the wonder of the life and reality of them that we forget to wonder why or what green onions should have to 'do' at all, with homosexuality, with gay men, with gay clubs, with bangkok or with thailand... rather than seek for answers, we take of course some pictures.
on the thick hot humid bangkok night trudge home then, we take still several more very drunken snaps of each other doing very drunken things. at last i uncannily run ahead in my estranging platform wicker wonder shoes. i'm in a haze of lingering fatigue and flinging confusion, i find the hotel by mere magical instinct and collapse instantly into the deepest waiting-for-the-boy stretched out stillness and sleep. when gates III himself at long last also returns, he takes pictures of me serenely passed out calmly drunk in the lobby. moments later we are at last back in our great gay hotel room, safely, sumptuously, anew.
'there. wasn't that great?' gates III, still drunk, beams. i'm already half-naked and mostly unconscious. 'who's my casual ladyboy!' gates III croons in a voice of deep fulfillment and the drunkest affection. he gets then also messily ready for bed and plops himself horizontally heaving and down. fortunately the all-consuming urge to sleep is a mutual thing. all possible erections—no matter how hopeful or indefatigable—are nonissues and safely out of everyone's way (most significantly, out of mine). i can without effort or interruption therefore [keep a clear and final eye on that ever elusive beauty sleep ball] i can at last without interruption or effort, sweetly and sumptuously sleep.
in the pitch and pleasing darkness, my left arm is flung with careless familiarity across gates III's smoothly warm chest, my right hand with loving tenderness cups his blindly silent, touchingly vulnerable, eternally hardworking balls. 'goodnight' i jabber muffled and fadedly deep into the side of his susceptible neck, deep into the puffed and pithy pillows. he sighs his somnolent pleasure and peacefulness and puts a lank free arm around me. lightly and lovingly, he touches the back of my own susceptible neck with the tips of one or two slow and unconscious fingers and it's goodnight bangkok, it's thailand [thank you and] goodbye.
thank you thailand (for being so wonderful)
and thank you bangkok, for being so gay.