The lost art of cruising

‘Electro-tricks’ may be quicker and easier, but half the fun of the hook-up was working at it

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

I don’t get out much — at least to the bars. First of all I don’t drink anymore, and second, I am not really looking to hook up with anyone since I am in a very nice relationship.

I do, however, occasionally meet friends out for the evening or for a special event.

When I do go out, it is most often to our local leather bar, the Dallas Eagle, and I often indulge in a little people watching. I like to watch the crowd, the way people interact with one another, the ebb and flow of what was once a favorite past time of gay men: cruising.

What surprised me was the lack of that particular gay art going on.

First, let me say this is not a reflection on the Eagle; it’s a fine, first-class leather bar. What I noticed is something I have seen in other cities as well, and it bothers me a bit.

Now for those who might not know, cruising is a delicate dance men used to perform when looking for a partner, playmate or just trick du jour. It usually began with some long, slow looks, occasional subtle signals like a nod, the touch of the brim of a cap, a purposeful second glance or even just a slight change in body language.

If two people read the signals, and actually respond, it might proceed to sending over a drink — or a more direct approach. Often before actually making contact, you would ask a few friends if they knew the man in question, and for the leather scene that would also entail asking if anyone knew more intimate details: Was he a safe player? What was he into?

Of course, we also had the hanky code. It was a more direct and cut to the chase way to let folks know what you were seeking.

I won’t go into the details here, but the basics were: Hanky in the left pocket meant you were a top, and hanky in the right pocket meant you were a bottom.

Still, even with outward signs, there was an art to the whole endeavor. If done correctly, it had an element of seduction in it and all the sexual energy that went with it.

Sadly, I don’t see much of that going on anymore.

What I do see is guys checking their smart phones. Looking a little closer, I see them using Grindr, checking Recon and texting.

That’s when I realized what happened to cruising: It has gone the way of the dodo.

What was once a face-to-face encounter that actually took some time and energy is now a fast, down-and-dirty, “check a few profiles and text enough contacts until you pull a winning number” routine.

The whole cruising experience has become an electronic booty call with no mystery, no romance and no effort.

Oh yes, it is much more efficient. You can select from the variety of “neck-down pictures” and body statistics, like you were choosing a download on Amazon.

Find Mr. Right or at least Mr. Right Enough for Now, text a few lines, set a time and bingo! Insta-trick!

All very high tech and painless. No face-to-face rejections, no appallingly awkward moments. Just on-line chat and, essentially, “booking.”

It would seem to me that applications like Grindr and sites like Recon and CraigsList have replaced the whole cruising experience, and though it might be much more efficient, it really changes to atmosphere in the bars.

The heady sexual tension that used to permeate gay bars has given way to guys and gals on their smart phones texting or cruising — the web. One bar in Florida even has a screen where patrons can text directly to the screen, sort of a visual “shout out” for all to see.

Inevitably, the whole electro-trick phenomenon has spawned something totally unexpected. My partner commented on the subject of this column and suggested there should be an Angie’s List for Grindr.

I was surprised this morning when, while researching this piece, I found something very much like that.

Douchebagsofgrindr.com may just be a parody, but if not it offers some insight into the whole process. Personally, I find it kind of crass, but then I find the whole “electro-trick-speed-dating-booty-call” app thing crass.

It makes me long for the days of actually having to spend a little time to pursue and attract and seduce someone you were interested in. Try that now and I suspect you’d just get accused of being a stalker.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.Blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: A little eye-candy for a drab Friday

I know that Abercrombie & Fitch clothes are designed, ideally, for younger men than myself (next week I turn 39 — again! A new record!), but I find myself pawing through their racks nonetheless, grabbing the occasional muscle shirt. And here’s why: With ads like these, you can only imagine your own body looks as good this way. I know it does not. But that’s how advertising works.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

My self-assessment after reading the Glamour survey on women and “I hate my body” thoughts

Glamour breathlessly announced findings in its survey on body image and I’m not sure what there is to be stunned about – women are bombarded 24/7 with images of idealized bodies that don’t reflect the reality of the average woman’s size, shape, fitness level (or color for that matter):

Read these words: “You are a fat, worthless pig.” “You’re too thin. No man is ever going to want you.” “Ugly. Big. Gross.” Horrifying comments on some awful website? The rant of an abusive, controlling boyfriend? No; shockingly, these are the actual words young women are saying to themselves on any typical day. For some, such thoughts are fleeting, but for others, this dialogue plays on a constant, punishing loop, according to a new exclusive Glamour survey of more than 300 women of all sizes. Our research found that, on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily-nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.

…”That is a lot, yet I’m not totally surprised,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in body image and helped Glamour design the survey. “It’s become such an accepted norm to put yourself down that if someone says she likes her body, she’s the odd woman out. I was in a group discussion recently, and when one woman said, ‘I actually feel OK about the way I look,’ another woman scrunched up her face and said, ‘I have never in my whole life heard anyone say that-and I’m not sure I even believe you.’ That’s how pervasive this negative body talk is. It’s actually more acceptable to insult your body than to praise it.”

And we seem to be well aware of how hard we are on ourselves. Nearly 63 percent of Glamour’s survey respondents said they had roughly the same number of negative thoughts as they expected. But few realized how venomous those thoughts were until they were down on paper. So how has this become OK?

Our unattainable cultural beauty ideals, our celebrity worship-those all play a part, says Kearney-Cooke. But another big reason is that we’ve actually trained ourselves to be this way. “Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger-and those thoughts become habitual,” she explains. “Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”

OK, so it’s our broken brains that we’ve trained to cycle in these self-loathing thoughts. You can read the rest of the article for more; I was just dropping this in as a topic. I’m sure that the level of harsh self-evaluation, particularly when it comes to gay men, may be disproportionally high, given all the hardbodies you see in magazines directed at that demo. Some of the actual comments by survey participants are truly vile:

  • “Fat-ass. Lazy bitch. I hate my thighs. I hate my stomach. I hate my arms.”
  • “Your stomach is fat. That is why you are alone.”
  • “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have sex with this.”
  • “Huge legs, fat stomach, not pretty enough to attract anyone, ugly in comparison to others.”
  • “I look disgusting with my cottage cheese legs and stretch-mark hips. Nasty. No one would want to touch me.”

I’m racking my brain to think about how often I do this each day. I’ve inherited my mom’s side of the family when it comes to over-ample boobage and I’ve accepted “the girls” for what they are. My legs are short and muscular, I’ve accepted those. Honestly, I only think about where I express self-criticism is when getting dressed, usually on the problem areas for my apple-shape – abdomen, arms. I don’t carry it in my hips.

The hysterectomy, which causes “swelly belly” for some women, makes it uncomfortable to wear jeans (and it does for me), so it sort of exacerbated my issues on that front.

My operation also made me realize why a lot of women in midlife choose the often fashionista-decried “mommy jeans” that sit just above your natural waist, or those with elasticized backs (or now, jeggings) – many have had reproductive issues — hysterectomies, cancer, even multiple caesareans that make wearing low-slung tight jeans a thing of the past. Yet women who choose some level of comfort out of necessity are made to feel undesireable or the butt of jokes as a fashion outlier.

Anyway, from my POV I know I can be stylish and not a size 0, and choose things that flatter. Now whether anyone laughs at me or considers me “less-than” in terms of attractiveness – I can’t change what someone who doesn’t even know me thinks about whether I qualify for their personal beauty standard. But you do really have to figure out how to deal with your own internal critic first.

It seems like step 1 for some women would be to throw out all of the magazines idolizing the unrealistic standard.

Q of the day: So how often do you have self-critical thoughts about your body/body image?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Texas Teen Claims Sexual Advances Caused Him to Beat Fellow Male Student to Death, Burn the Body

Crime_texas

A gruesome story is unfolding in Pearland, Texas, south of Houston, ABC13 reports:

"Authorities now say that Joshua Wilkerson, 18 (above left), was beaten with a large wooden rod and that his body was burned. Hermilio Moralez, 19 (right), is charged with murder in Wilkerson's death. According to court documents, Wilkerson gave Moralez a ride home from school Tuesday and Moralez stated that Wilkerson began to make sexual advances towards him. Moralez said they got out of the truck and began to fight when Wilkerson grabbed a large wooden rod and tried to hit him. Moralez said he took the piece of wood from Wilkerson and began to hit him with it. He said Wilkerson was not moving afterwards."

Moralez also apparently tried to take a police officer's gun from its holster while he was leading authorities to the body. He has been "charged with failure to identify and attempting to take a weapon from a peace officer. His bond on those two charges are ,000 and ,000, respectively. No bond has been set for the murder charge."

Watch a brief news conference, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

College Student Andrew Compton’s Accused Killer Had Sex With Body Before Dumping It

Andrew Compton, a gay college student at Sullivan University in Louisville, Kentucky, has been missing since Oct. 28, and police all but believe he's dead. Search crews are today combing a landfill looking for his body, which officials suspect was dumped by a one Gregory O'Bryan, 40, who's charged with murdering the 18-year-old during sex.

CONTINUED »


Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Queerty

—  admin

Taylor Lautner Won’t Prove His Upper Body Strength In RV Spat

There will be no push-up contest to settle the matter, but it is settled: Taylor Lautner's whining over a 0,000 custom RV that wasn't delivered in time to his movie set (hey, I'd be pissed too) resulted in a ,000 donation to the children's charity Lollipop Theater Network.


Permalink | Post a comment | Add to del.icio.us
Tagged: , , ,

Queerty

—  John Wright

Mitrice Richardson’s Body Identified

The skeletal remains found Monday in Malibu Canyon in Los Angeles were
identified as those of Mitrice Richardson, a 24-year-old lesbian who has
been missing for nearly a year.
Daily News

—  John Wright