Thursday, July 30, 2009

PodCast: IML Bareback Issue

Brian and David B. over at The Occasional Fag hosted Will Clark and I on their Pod Cast to talk about the IML No-more-bareback-issue which recently came down the pipes.

I thought we had a great conversation. We touch upon a lot of topics surrounding this current event and other talking points which are inextricably entwined to the unsafe bareback sex topic.

Listen in: Click here for the pod cast.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Guest Post: Eric the Roommate

Eric the Roommate and I have known one another since we were 10 years old. We went to elementary school, Junior High and High School together. We've lived in Los Angeles together for two years and now New York for close to three. He's the closest thing I've ever had to a brother and low-and-behold he's straight! He's my best friend in the world and he wanted to contribute a little straight perspective to KnuckleCrack.

Also please note that Eric's band, Xylos, was featured in L Magazine as one of the "8 New York City bands you need to hear." Xylos is playing tonight at Mercury Lounge.

Dear Blog,

Hi, I'm Eric the Roommate. You can often spot me strolling the streets of the East Village with KnuckleCrack, en route to brunch or a early-evening cocktail or some other urban locale. And more often than not you would assume that I am the gay one and that KnuckleCrack is your salt-of-the-Earth, flat-tire changing, football-watching, beer-shotgunning butch American straight guy. But alas, you would be mistaken, for it is I, Eric the Roommate, that prefers the ladies (despite the cut-off shorts and wife-beaters I've taken to wearing).

Having lived in close company to one of this city's (and Los Angeles') most loudly growling cubs for over five years, I have learned quite a bit about the gay lifestyle, when it comes to sex (not from firsthand experience, mind you, but rather via KnuckleCrack's sagas of courtship and love).
And, as a straight man, I can say confidently.... I'M JEALOUS!

What am I jealous of, you might ask? I got the good looks (so he tells me.) Sick-tight gym body, check. Loads of money, check (I wish!) Razor-sharp wit... oh yes, my friend. But yes, I am jealous. Jealous of the manner in which gay men can circumvent the hackneyed social conventions of mating and dating and, when appropriate, revel in guilt-free carnal delight. And, as such, I have attempted, on occasion, to try my hand at the "direct approach," which has invariably yielded unsatisfactory results. For some reason unbeknownst to me, girls don't like to be asked, "So, wanna go have sex?" after leaving a bar. And this is what baffles me. Look at two scenarios:

1) It's 2:30am, Maggie (named changed to protect the innocent) and I are leaving the bar after a spontaneous, yet enjoyable hour of flirtatious talking. We get to the corner (very close to my apartment) and I ask, "So, wanna come over and have sex?" And I could tell by her reaction that she wanted to.... but, societal convention prevailed, and she responded, "Sounds fun, but maybe some other time."

2) It's 2:30am, Maggie and I are leaving the bar after a spontaneous, yet enjoyable hour of flirtatious talking. We get to the corner (very close to my apartment) and I ask, "So, want to come over for a glass of wine and to see some photos I took on my recent trip to the Amazonian rain forest?" "Sure!"

Scenario one... failure. Scenario two ends the next morning with French Press coffee, poached eggs, and English muffins.

The lesson? There is none... but if I were gay I wouldn't need to lie about having gone to the Amazonian rain forest. She never even asked to look at the photos anyway!

As KnuckleCrack says, "Be safe/have fun."

Love,
-Eric the Roommate

P.S. All the most beautiful men and women in NYC (KnuckleCrack included) will be at the Mercury Lounge tomorrow night to see my band Xylos. It's gonna be a sexy good time... myspace.com/xylos

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Friday: Sell Out

Antioxidaisy!
Molly over at Pom Wonderful loves her some KnuckleCrack so as a wonderful PR stunt thank you she sent me a whole case of 100% pure pomegranate Pom Wonderful juice!

Not only is Pom Wonderful packed with antioxidants but I also learned that it benefits erectile function. Rage!

Thanks Molly! Eric the Roommate and I are drinking the hell out of it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jewcy!

Let my people moan!
One of my closest brahs, Wayne Hoffman, works for Tablet Magazine which promises a "new read on Jewish life." Think of Tablet as a more New York Timesy version of Heeb Magazine. Tablet is perfect for us bubble-living, culturally-identifying secular Jews who didn't go to temple as much as we went to summer camp, wear Stars of David, Hamsas and frequently dine at the Hummus Place, but it's a worthwhile read for non-Jews as well. Check it out.

Recently Wayne picked up the story of Michael Lucas' new porn entitled Men of Israel which is the first gay porn in history to feature an all Israeli cast. But as Wayne points out, it's a bigger historic moment than that because not only is this an all Israeli cast- it's an all Jewish cast. Oh.muy.GAWD! Are you dying?! I'm dying!!

Lucas admits to having two agendas here:
One: Hot gay men, porn.
Two: Striving to put Israel back on the map as a sexy tourist destination for both gay and straight travelers alike. Well, ok, mostly gay.

I wonder if there will be a character like Moses although instead of splitting the seas, he splits a, errr, nevermind...

Just read:
This week, Michael Lucas is making what he calls “a bold move to promote Israeli culture and tourism.” His website extols the virtues of a country rich with natural wonders, intriguing museums, liberal politics, and friendly locals. More than a biblical theme park, Lucas’s Israel is a tourist destination, a place where lovely beaches beckon and muscle-bound men have sex with each other.

Lucas—a porn actor and director, and founder of the New York-based gay porn production company Lucas Entertainment—sees his new film Men of Israel as a tool, if you will, to promote tourism, at least among gay men. Before you laugh this off, know that it’s happened before, when the Bel Ami studio’s movies helped turn Prague into a major gay destination soon after the Iron Curtain fell, or when porn director Kristen Bjorn’s Australian trilogy put Sydney on the gay map nearly 20 years ago. The Russian-born Lucas has been ratcheting up the heat for weeks in anticipation of the film’s release tomorrow. His website—MenOfIsraelXXX.com—features still photos of the actors and excerpted video clips, as well as text explaining the performers’ biographies and Lucas’s Zionist motivations for making the film.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1 in 8,000,000

1 in 10 - 1 in 8,000,000
The New York Times is doing a new Photo/Audio project entitled "One in 8 Million" where they follow the life stories of individuals living in and around New York City. Recently, One in 8 Million did a feature on Ra Ruiz, a 22 year old queer youth who identifies as one of the Christopher St. Pier kids. Her story is both brutal and inspiring.

View the project and listen in: It will give food for thought about the Pier Kids and the issues facing them and their surrounding residential West Village community.

Also, click here for a post I wrote last year entitled, "The Importance of the West Village and those God-Damned Christopher St. Kids" on the same subject.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bareback the Fuck Up!

bagged to the bone

Fresh off the digital pages of Will Clark's blog comes the story of IML President Chuck Renslow's refusal to continue including bareback vendors, videos and other bareback paraphernalia during next year's 2010 event:

Dear Vendors:

On behalf of International Mr. Leather, Inc., I would like to thank you for your past support and in particular for your participation as a vendor in our annual Leather Market. We are writing you today to inform you of a policy change affecting next year (2010) and all future markets.

Though we are now three decades into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, no cure has been found. The CDC and local health officials inform us that new infections are on the rise. And, while we have had some success developing medications that might make infection more manageable, that accomplishment comes at a price. Not having experienced the deaths - the loss of loved ones -- which preceded these medications, we have an entire generation who may not fully appreciate or comprehend the severity of the situation.

Too many in our community believe HIV/AIDS is curable or manageable. Too few understand that HIV/AIDS infections dominate life. We believe that it is our duty to inform and educate. Several years ago when “Meth” was the scourge of our community, IMLdrew a line in the sand and raised awareness and used all our influence to try and stop this addictive madness. As is the case with HIV/AIDS, we believe it is our further obligation to do everything in our power to prevent future infections.

To that end, after considerable discussion, the Executive Committee of International Mr. Leather has decided that it will no longer allow participation in the IMLLeather Market by any entity which promotes barebacking or distributes/sells any merchandise tending to promote or advocate barebacking. This restriction will also apply to distribution of gifts, post cards or any other information via our facilities. This policy takes effect immediately.

Sincerely,

Chuck Renslow, President
International Mr. Leather
I encourage you to go over to Will Clark and read his input on the matter. I really enjoyed reading what he had to say.

Here's my two cents: I know this won't immediately curb or ever put an end to unsafe bareback sex. I know that. The further I throw myself into this topic the more I understand this is a never ending uphill battle. Unsafe sex Bareback never went away, anyway. It's just that at one time striving to have safe sex and the idea of protecting oneself and their partners, mattered.

I know men have the ability, and right, to watch unsafe bareback sex videos without ever practicing it in their real lives and I know that sex is between the two people having it. But this is more than that. This is more than just sex.

This has always been about more than just sex.

This is taking a stand. Slowing down, knowing your risks, communicating, wearing a condom - all of that is taking a stand! This is yet another person putting their foot down, swimming upstream in his own fetish-based event declaring he will no longer participate or facilitate in the growing complacency toward unsafe sex in the gay community and HIV/AIDS. This is yet another person who actually cares how their actions impact a younger generation.

Hat's off, truly.

Now, Mr. Renslow could have participated and facilitated in the distribution of unsafe bareback sex over the last couple of years as the niche's popularity climbed to a 3-to-1 selling ratio, but not any longer. Hell, maybe he was never comfortable with it? Maybe he was? But not anymore and I'm not going to get caught up in any bullshit tit-for-tat argument (if there is one) about what he did and didn't do since the existence of IML. That's the same worthless conversation the community always gets in and we wind up completely ignoring the matter at hand. For those of you who want to call this censorship, go ahead, call it censorship. I choose to look at it like this: I don't eat McDonalds because McDonalds is obviously an unhealthy money making waste-hole that's no good for you. Therefore, if I were throwing a house party I wouldn't serve McDonalds to my guests. This is all Renslow is doing and to do this at event like IML sends a big bold message to our current pop-porn culture while simultaneously spreading the consciousness that unsafe bareback sex does not exist at this venue because unsafe bareback sex is an unhealthy choice. Still some men will choose to forgo safe sex during that weekend and that will always happen, no matter what, but we know now where the President stands. In the face of what I'm sure will be a monetary setback and rejection from members of the IML community, I'm glad that Chuck Renslow, President of International Mr. Leather, has the balls to stand up and start doing what he can to help his community.

--

Recently I got a promotional coupon from Manhunt.net offering me several free hours of profiling and online cruising. I hadn't been on since last summer when I deleted my account after we all caught wind of Old Man Crutchley (owner of the site) donating the civilian max of $2300 to the McCain campaign! Anyway, I signed up, created a name, put up my pics and stated my case.

The third email I got, that's right, the third email, was from a "neg top" who only prefers unsafe bareback sex. He wasn't interested in anything else and if I were game, he had a group of "buddies" he was willing to introduce me to. Naturally, the rage inside me sparked like a napalm fueled blowtorch and ricocheted throughout my body like a red hot pinball, but I took a deep breath and responded kindly by saying, "nothing elicits more rage within me than stupid complacent motherfuckers like you." And I meant it. Because what's "hot" to this "neg top" is putting me, and the rest of this community, at risk. He is as "negative" as much as I know the next card you're going to pull is the Ace of Spades. Whether truly negative or not the idea that he didn't even seem to care blows my mind.

As I've asked before: How this community could go from screaming "Silence = Death" to the casual, shrug-of-the-shoulders response of, "aww, come on..barebacking is hot" in what, 12,13,14 years? is something that will always bewilder me.

No, Mr. Neg Top, I don't want to meet you or any of your "buddies." I don't care how hot a time you think we could have by not using condoms and putting ourselves at risk. You don't give a shit about me and that turns me off much more than the unsafe sex you want to have with me. I don't think you're hot. I don't think you're sexy, edgy or some lusty rebellious sexual outlaw. Listen very closely: I am worth more than that. I am entitled to and worth healthier decisions in my life.

I am interested in men who understand that there is a younger, less exposed generation out there who could use some care and actual healthy guidance. I am interested in men who care. This is me putting my foot down.

This policy takes effect immediately.

(PS: Read my post here if you're wondering about all the crossed out unsafes)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sex in an Epidemic

Sex in an Epidemic, a documentary by ACT UP'er Jean Carlomusto, was shot years ago and it's now finally making a release on youtube.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Unbuckling Straps: An undoing of the NYC Leather Community

Past or present?
A week ago the decades-old organization of Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) of New York put the kibosh on their twice a month meetings and community. Over the years numbers of attendees dwindled from hundreds to just a handful and as the letter below states, "there are simply not enough men who are willing and able to step forward to lead the organization."

The letter below was dropped in my inbox a few days ago.
I recently attended the final Wednesday night meeting of Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA). That’s right, I said “final.” Finished. Done. It’s over. The organization’s annual meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2009, was billed as a “celebration of GMSMA." What’s happening is that after decades of being a vibrant, thriving organization of gay men interested in learning about safe, sane and consensual s/m, GMSMA is now “transitioning” into a non-profit foundation. There will be no more Wednesday night programs.

During its heyday, GMSMA had hundreds of members from not only New York City but from across the country and even from overseas. Regular meetings were held twice a month, and it was not uncommon for the third floor meeting room of the gay community center on West 13th Street to be jam packed with dozens or even 100 or more men eager to learn and to socialize. One night the topic might be how to tie up your boyfriend in really good rope bondage, another time you could learn all about flogging and whipping, or how to put together a really kick-ass cop or firefighter uniform....

GMSMA was also an activist organization. Its leaders were instrumental in securing a place at the table for the leather community in groundbreaking gay civil rights marches in our nation’s capital. It was also the first s/m organization to include “S/M” in its title. That may not sound like much of a big deal today, but when GMSMA was founded back in 1981 those who engaged in s/m activities were often looked upon as freaks or deviants — even by those in the larger gay community. Believe it or not, GMSMA had to fight to be allowed to meet at the gay community center. In later years it became one of the center’s biggest financial donor organizations.

There were about 45 men in attendance at the last meeting in June, including a leather top who brought a very sexy and shirtless tattooed slave on a leash, who greeted the men he was introduced to by getting down on his hands and knees and licking their boots. Most who showed up were old-timers — one came in on the train from northeastern Connecticut. A few who came were newer members. At least half — including me — were former board members of the organization who had put in years or in some cases even decades of service to the community. But when the official business of the meeting got under way and the remaining officers announced the sad plans to effectively shut down the organization, only one man in attendance raised an objection.

It was painful for many others as well, but the unfortunate fact, what everybody knew — and what ultimately led to the end for GMSMA — is that there are simply not enough men who are willing and able to step forward to lead the organization anymore. The current board was down to just three members (a fourth signed on to help in the coming months with the transition). They were over-worked and under-appreciated. The harsh reality is that the organization simply could not continue to exist in its current form without more manpower.
It's unfortunate when an organization such as this, where gay men can come together and learn "safe, sane and consensual" ways to broaden their sexual horizons comes to a close.

I'm not a leather guy and I suppose that's just the problem. Very few men hovering around my age range and younger seem to be interested or know or know-to-care or care-to-know anything about the leather community or the meaning and history behind it. Sure some of us have our Sam Brownes and harnesses for events like The Black Party and Folsom Street East, when leather is acceptable and down-right dress code but by no means is there a trend going toward the leather lifestyle. Older friends tell stories of what leather truly means. That it is much more than fashion, accessories, more than "Masc and solid," more than butch and mean. Leather is a means to discovering the deeper connections two men can have between one another. A bonding experience. An exposure and measure of trust and vulnerability. Still, maybe for those of us whose closet doors were left ajar rather than bolted shut there isn't that search for sexual comprehension or need for fetish-based sexual fulfillment. Sex is here. It's now. It's out, it's open. It may not be talked about as much as it's happening but it is happening. The analogy of leather, no longer, necessarily applies? Maybe if play spaces and dungeons were more widely available, established or more culturally/socially accepted leather would be more current or stand a greater chance? Yet even though I'm one of those casual street event, Folsom-based leather guys it strikes me as a loss, a changing of landscapes, a shifting of wavelength when communities such as these meet an end.

Is it all be too far gone? The men of true leather are either dead or significantly older and the few still proudly fastening chaps and strapping harnesses, outside of commercial scenes, are seeing their beloved, sought out organizations closing. I suppose it's all fitting. What place does leather have these days? Here in NYC. New.York.City. We have only The Eagle, which is rather leather-light and The Lure and Spike are long gone, gone, gone. If International Mr. Leather and Mid Atlantic Leather are major events, then where are the pockets of that in other urban/rural areas? Have we become lazy or casually unconcerned?

Will we see a resurgence in leather and this community? Will men step up and lead or will this be yet another relic of our past?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Nothing Sacred: brought to you by America

"Peanuts! Popcorn!"
I've been having a field day on Facebook today posting snarky comments on the Michael Jackson show Funeral and how low I think it is. Below is a sampling. Oh, and in case you're wondering - Yes, I do think I'm pretty fucking funny:

Michael Jackson's funeral brought to you by HyperMegaGlobal Corp!

Michael Jackson's Funeral: Streaming to you live in 3D! The D is for "dead." Brought to you by Swifer and CitiBank!

Michael Jackson's Funeral: "And now one of the highlights of our show (ahem) funeral!! The showcase of Pop Stars born AFTER the bulk of his greatest hits. Everyone round of applause for Carrrrrrrrrrrrie Underrrrrrwood!" Brought to you by Nexium and Jesus*TM
!

Michael Jackson's Funeral: Brought to you by Joel Osteen Ministries and Farmland Eggs - "Just beat it!"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Single Rope Action


Whatchu' know 'bout me?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bronx Best Couple

Best couple!
Victoria Cruz and her girlfriend Deoine Scott were voted best couple at Mott Haven Village High school in the Bronx. This is a first Mott Haven and most likely a first for The Bronx.

Way to go Mott Haven Village High!

NYT: Texas Responds

Fort Worth and US rage
New York Times picks up the Forth Wort raid story:
The raid in the early hours of June 28 by Fort Worth police officers and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has set off a political uproar and galvanized gay advocates in Fort Worth, who have traditionally been less vocal than in Dallas and Houston. After years of keeping a low profile, gay men and lesbians in Fort Worth say they are furious, and their complaints have spread on the Internet, attracting support from gay rights groups across the country.

They have organized protests and formed a new organization, Fairness Fort Worth, to keep track of various investigations into the incident that have begun or been requested. They also have taken up collections and organized a benefit concert to help the injured.

“It has brought this community together so tight — it’s almost impermeable now,” said Randy Norman, the manager of the lounge.

....

Tom Anable, a 55-year-old accountant who said he was in the bar during the raid, said that for more than a half-hour the officers entered the bar repeatedly in groups of three and escorted people out. Then around 1:40 a.m., he said, the officers started to get rougher, throwing one young man down hard on a pool table.

Minutes later, one of the state agents approached Mr. Gibson, who was standing on steps to a lounge at the back of the bar with a bottle of water in his hands, and tapped him on the shoulder, Mr. Anable said. Mr. Gibson turned and said, “Why?”

Then the officer, who has not been identified, twisted Mr. Gibson’s right arm behind his back, grabbed his neck, swung him off the steps and slammed his head into the wall of a hallway leading to the restrooms, Mr. Anable said. The agent then forced Mr. Gibson to the floor, Mr. Anable said.

Next time, hit back.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Still, 40 Years Later

"Gay Americans aren’t just another political special interest group. They are Americans who are actively discriminated against by federal laws. If the president is to properly honor the memory of Stonewall, he should get up to speed on what happened there 40 years ago, when courageous kids who had nothing, not even a public acknowledgment of their existence, stood up to make history happen in the least likely of places."
The quote above comes from a terrific Op-Ed entitled, "40 Years Later, Still Second Class Americans" by Frank Rich from the New York Times, June 27th 2009.

The next day, June 28th 2009 - the exact date of the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a group of squealing pig cops "raided" a Fort Worth, TX gay bar and beat the shit out of a man drinking a bottle of water. The victim is left with severe brain injuries. A full scale investigation has been launched into the case.

Fuck that. Fuck calling your senators. Fuck sending emails. Fuck signing petitions. Fuck the "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Homophobia has got to go" chanting and let's start fighting BACK again.

I know I'm not in Fort Worth so yes it's *easy* for me to say this- but I think the Fort Worth LGBT Community should march to the front door of the police precinct responsible for this "raid" and throw some eggs against their front door. Let them know, somehow, some way, just like the kids at Stonewall, that we're not going to take this shit anymore. We should show them we're not the limp-wristed faggot pushovers they think we are and we refuse to let our heads be bashed in any longer.

Stonewall didn't become history through chanting, through sign making or "full scale investigations." It made history because cops got punched back, bottles were smashed and trash cans lit on fire.

Cars were burned out during the White Night Riots. The glass of SF City Hall, smashed.

We deserve better. Now.