Thursday, June 22, 2017

Circus of Life


Bummed to read about the closing of yet another chapter in L.A. gay history -- Circus of Books in West Hollywood, which will call it a day in December after 57 years in busines. (A Different Light has been gone for years. The Studio One building is at risk of being demolished and my beloved French Quarter Market Place is histoire.) I can remember spending many afternoons and nights perusing the shelves looking for the latest Johnny Davenport spreads back in the day -- my friend Danny remembers it as a place you'd go after an "unsuccessful bar night" -- and how the sleazy store on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and La Jolla Avenue provided the exclamation point for my first romance in the City of Angels. 


I moved to Southern California on Cinco de Mayo 1990, having packed up my broken heart and what worldly possessions could fit in a 1983 VW Rabbit convertible. My best friend from Madison Heights (Mark) lived in Huntington Beach with his roommate Doug and kindly agreed to let me crash with them until I found a job and an apartment of my own. Everyone had taken to chatting with guys on those free party lines, so on my second night in town I decided to give it a whirl -- and instantly "fell" for a guy with a sexy deep voice and a willingness to listen. For about the next two weeks, "John" and I would talk for hours on the phone -- often falling asleep together -- discussing (what else?) our impending erotic sex life and planning when and where we were finally going to bring our budding relationship to life. While we'd exchanged nothing but verbal descriptions of ourselves, we just knew we were meant to be. 


Besides sex, one of the big topics on our minds was the impending release of Madonna's "I'm Breathless," for which the entire gay community was on tenterhooks waiting since hearing "Vogue" in March. On the night of May 22, John called me to say he'd gotten his copy on CD -- he must have been rich! -- and he played little snippets of all the songs for me as we spent another love struck evening "together." (We both agreed "Sooner or Later," Something to Remember" and "Now I'm Following You" were the winners.) Although it had only been a couple of weeks, I was getting antsy and was ready to move forward with things. (How do those people on "Catfish" talk for eight years without meeting?) I'd left Phoenix to start "fresh" without saying goodbye to hardly a soul, but something about my exciting new life consisting of nothing but talking on the phone with a total stranger already wasn't cutting it for me. John assured me he was eager to take things to the next level, too -- promising me it would all be worth the wait because he had developed "real" feelings for me -- then finally suggested we meet in the parking lot of Circus of Books that Friday night. (He's be on the black Harley.) Although I may have been a tad desperate -- having had my heart broken yet again by my college boyfriend -- I could not be serious about having this whirlwind romance finally come together behind an adult bookstore, and I never spoke to him again. (My decision was later bolstered when I learned the area was known as Vaseline Alley.) I wonder if Nev and Max could finally make this happen!

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