Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Vegas Alt-Weekly Gay Problem

You expect alternative weeklies, thriving as they do among left-of-center political aficionados, to be havens for gay readers. It's the last place I expect to find antiquated language, stale information or overlooked yet obvious story angles.

I wasn't going to even say anything after I saw a piece in this week's Las Vegas CityLife by Jason Whited in which he conducted a Q-and-A with Mark Ciavola who has formed a conservative gay group called Right Pride. Whited uses the term "gay lifestyle" not once but twice even though the stylebooks of the Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post all expressly say not to do so. (It's inaccurate, see, because there is no one "Gay" Lifestyle same as there's no one "straight" or "Jewish" lifestyle.) I planned to give Whited a pass on his clunky terminology because he's more pro-marriage equality than Ciavola so it seemed nit-picky to bitch.

But then, after glancing at Steve Sebelius' attempt to write a piece on The District similar but much less entertaining than the Las Vegas Weekly cover that Rick Lax did in September on Town Center, I arrived at Amy Kingsley's piece about Vegas country-western bars.

The piece seemed to have been written to serve a catchy (although actually cliche) headline, "Beers, steers and queers." And here's the strange queers part:

Anything as macho and all-American as cowboy culture runs the risk of becoming kitsch. And that's exactly the approach of Charlie's Las Vegas, a western-themed gay bar in an industrial district near The Orleans. Unlike its pearl snap buttoned-down counterparts on the outskirts, Charlie's plays its country influences for laughs, with frequent appearances by a drag queen Dolly Parton.

Charlie's has the same cheap drinks, dance floor and line dancing as other country bars, plus better looking bartenders. And the people here are very friendly. You get a little flash with your country bar experience, including a boot-shaped disco ball, but it's nowhere near as over-the-top as Revolver. And there's very little chance you'll ever run into Roger Hedgecock or the Tea Party Express. Unless, of course, they make new members out of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig or former pastor Ted Haggard.

Gosh, it almost sounds like Kingsley went there for her assignment, doesn't it? And again, the writer is clearly in our court philosophically. Just one problem: The drag Dolly Parton hasn't appeared in "well over a year," according to Boan, manager at Charlie's.

Moreover, the reason why this passage struck me is that the Charlie's I remember -- it was called Backstreet back when I was single and living a different Gay Lifestyle, see -- wasn't some cheap facsimile of a CW bar. It was the genuine article, only for gays. "We're absolutely a real country bar," Boan said.

Kingsley, like Whited, seemed to think there was one sort of gay, the kitschy, fey sort; hence The Gay Lifestyle. Gay CW bars -- and there are many all over the U.S. and even a national line-dancing tournament -- usually dispell this notion. The clientele are typically rougher, hairier and sometimes paunchier. They may enjoy a little drag with their beer or bingo, but this crowd is unlikely to be the show-tunes-obsessed, diva-idolizing sort who show up in costume for Cher concerts.

Folks who hang out at Charlie's don't do so because they're paying homage to country-western bars, they do it because they love the scene but are afraid they'll be beaten to a pulp if they tried to dance with their partners at a mainstream one. And they're probably correct.

Meanwhile, just to show I'm an equal-opportunity whiner, I can't say I'm too impressed at the moment with my own Las Vegas Weekly colleague, Abigail Goldman, who landed an interview with America's now-retired first legal male whore. Patrick L. "Markus" Norton has left Shady Lady after having a handful of clients, heading back to the porn world he eschewed in interviews when he got this gig.

Y'see, the whole reason the brothel industry was scared of legal male prostitution was because of the potential for LEGAL FOR-HIRE GAY SEX to occur. That's the issue. If that wasn't a prospect, the other brothel people wouldn't care because they know that male prostitution for female clients is a non-starter as a business model in the middle of nowhere.

Norton shut down his earning potential, it would seem, by telling Details Magazine that his "sphincter is not for sale." Surely, then, Goldman would ask him about that, about whether he was offered money to go gay-for-pay, whether any guys came by asking for a line-up. Here's someone who is in a unique position to say what the market demand might be for legal gay brothels.

But, no. It appears she didn't ask. Too bad.


JMH said...

After reading Sebelius' piece on The District, I think you're missing the joke. That's pretty overdone and pretty clearly not serious -- not to mention it was posted just after midnight on April 1.

I could be wrong, but I really, really don't think I am.


oh, i get the joke. but the joke's the same one Rick Lax applied to much better effect.

atdnext said...

Since I usually like me my Steve Sebelius, I won't be too hard on him... But I still have to agree with you that Rick Lax's piece on Town Square was just too funny to put down!

And yes, LV CityLife's LGBTQ articles last week just didn't cut it. They've actually been to Charlie's fewer times than I have! Oh, and the piece on gay Republicans was just all around awkward.

They really need to step it up some more to keep up with the competition. (I still have to give CityLife the leg up in the news & politics department, but The Weekly really is giving them the real run for their money IMHO in food, nightlife, and entertainment.) :-p