It's the day after and I'm emotionally drained and every snippet of
music which recurs in my audio memory takes me right back --to
Montreal. All day yesterday, preparing to leave that city along the
St. Lawrence River, that so very gentle town, and I could hardly
speak without feeling vulnerable. Four days of being with such good
people, celebrating together in a place where individualism is
celebrated and tolerance a given and the pursuit of happiness a
constitutional right that cannot be amended -- well, who would want
This was our third Black and Blue, and this year, as it was for Alan
and his posse, was all about friendship. This year, we got Wilma and
Fred (Will and Bill) to join us for their first foray into Canada,
and we put them up at the Hotel St. Paul, that bastion of high end
queer design -- while we were at the Hotel Nelligan on St. Paul.
Both of these hotels are in Vieux Montreal, along the river, but a
very easy cab ride to Le Village.
And so it was that Friday evening we buzzed over to Sky Pub which
was packed with the after-work crowd for the start of a three-day
holiday weekend. The doors were flung open and the boys were sailing
back and forth -- it was a Paul Cadmus drawing come to life -- the
fleet's in town. Sip, sip, chugalug, and the magic takes hold. Half
an hour later and Fred and Wilma are buying real estate, relocating
Onward to Stock Bar -- for the dancing boys. Those boyz. Those boyz
and their-- appendectomies. Everyone knows these boyz. Josh and Doug
were there, with their Montreal friends. The bar was packed. The
boys were on webcam. Fred and Wilma wasted not a minute before
scoring a ringside table -- and then the boyz' attentions, thanks to
Wilma's banana muffin-size diamond. Then the backroom dances,
promises made and promises broken. Egos assuaged -- and many other
things as well.
We were trying to store our energies so we skipped Leather Ball and
its after-parties. On Saturday, we wandered the town to feel the
energy building. Some people say it's not what it was, it was better
before, been there, done that -- and yet, there are always people
for whom Black and Blue is a first time. Reap that energy -- that's
what I feel, for there's the essence.
But of course, what's a circuit weekend without a little drama. Fred
and Wilma forgot their tickets. What? That's right. All their party
tickets, left behind on the front hall table, back in Baltimore.
Hmmm. What to do? Buy new ones, that's what we suggest; it's a good
cause anyway. But actually, no, Wilma decides that Stock Bar's in
the picture for another night. (No wonder those boyz clear 140K
So Robert and I go alone to the Military Ball. One-thirty when we
get there, to a Metropolis that has, seemingly, finally finished its
renovations. It's crowded and Joe G's working and there's something
of a rave-quality to it, and especially when he plays Chemical
Brothers' "HeyBoy, HeyGirl" and I feel like we're at the Hammerstein
in NYC where we saw the Chemical Bros. one year -- with Fred
(because Wilma was, again, with the dancing boyz.....) It's a nice
crowd, but maybe without that manic mayhem that marked last year's
Military when Manny was at the helm. Then there's the Military MASH
production number which is a combination of camp and kitsch, with
the inclusion of the song "War(Is Stupid)" -- which, dammit, lingers
in my mind for the rest of the weekend.....
And then it's James Andersen, and we're dancing and then I see who
can only be Alan Flippen, I'm pretty sure it's him, though I've
never met him before -- and so we introduce ourselves, and he's a
sweetheart, the kind of ringleader who insures that you know all the
others in the immediate vicinity, all of them CPI sisters, Scott(y)
and Steve Lam(b) and Duke and Jeff and Pei, and so all at once, we
have a family around us -- and that's a very good thing.
And it's here that I want to say that even after reading someone's
words on CPI for the past three years, it's good to realize, again,
that we are all more than our words, and that on the circuit itself,
it's possible that our souls are more in evidence. And that when our
defenses are down and we are joined together, bonded by the music,
we are a very good community.
Kat Coric had a party before the Main Event, and it was filled with
members of the CPI family. To be there was to see again how nice we
really are. You look at these people and you talk to them eye to eye
and then you try and remember what they've written and to reconcile
that with the person in front of you. It's incredible how writing
can be so nuanced. And once you've met the person, then you can hear
the words from his/her mouth, in the way the words were intended.
Which, for me, means only to resist judging people by what they
We wanted to stay at Kat's party -- with all its incredible artwork
(the original Sound Factory indictment papers, framed, with a
miniature crane hoisting a cargo of... well, substances....), and
those sugar rush cookies and KitKat bars -- but the enthusiasm was
Off to the Palais des Congres with its multi-hued panels of light
and down the long hallways and Fred and Wilma get new tickets, and
then up the escalators and through coatcheck and security check and
then finally we're heading into the Main Hall where there's a
hologram of Le Roi Soleil projected on a waterfall, and there are
several carriage/caleche carts propelled in a circle by trotting
servants of Versailles, and the VIP salon gated by a white picket
fence, with fountains of molten chocolate and platters of fruit
which you dipped and swallowed and dribbled and messed, and a
chocolate trough for complete immersion, and a VIP balcony, which
overlooked the main floor with its holograms of Louis XIV and le
soleil and a bank of football stadium lights at the far end,
flashing yellow and red.
Oh, the Main Event. You wait for it all year. You remember the other
ones. You tingle in anticipation. And then you're there again. You
try to capture it as it is -- let it wash over you in all its glory.
For it is something special. It's not like the others. Where else do
you see so many different kinds of people? Where else on the circuit
does it seem as if no one is judging you -- for the crunches you
forgot to do that morn and the jeans which aren't quite right? It
just doesn't matter. There are so many pretty people here and
they're just so damn nice. They run the gamut of age and size and
there's no one style of dress and no one style of body and no
preferred way of doing anything. It's all about what you want to do
and how you want to move.
And as Alan said, once you let the music in, it's futile to resist,
as if anyone would want to. Michael Kaiser was perfect as the
lead-up to the opening number. He set a groove that was so
consistent and infectious, the prelude to really ripping it up
yourself. You could feel the excitement mounting as the performers
took their places atop the stack of cable spools. They stayed there
for at least forty minutes as the drama built. And then there was
this break in the music, momentarily, but just long enough for the
crowd to know, and there was applause as the carriage of Le Roi
Soleil made its way through the crowd and toward the front of the
hall to the stage just beneath the VIP balcony. The nobles took
their places. Then the servants entered. There was a dance on the
stage which was like a water ballet with the most hypnotic and
haunting music. People moving together on their backs. Swimming
through galaxies without gravity. There was red and yellow light.
There was communion. There was drama. There was the fever pitch of a
party which was attended by so many people, all in a similar state
of mind, with transcendence about to occur.
I love these moments. I love twenty-minute production numbers. The
protracted orgasm. The high that goes on, and on. There was so much
to witness. The crowd's reaction and the performers and the lights,
and behind it all and leading it all, the music (which, according to
the program, was mixed by Mark Anthony).
After that, after that expansive and extensive production, the Main
Event was wide open. We got Fred and Wilma on the floor. Newsflash,
newsflash: Fred and Wilma are dancing. Please, if any of you on this
list see them at a party, drag them onto the floor. The whole place
was grooving to Chus and Ceballos. They were on fire. They knew how
to work a room. And what a room it was. We kept moving around the
floor, checking out the various sections. What a joy to see all the
ways in which people move their bodies.
Then another production number: We Dance For You. If anyone needed
convincing that it was all right to be who you are, do whatever you
want, that you had the freedom and right to be, then after this
number, there was no question. Roger Sanchez took over and he moved
like the festival express barreling across Canada. He brought Ibiza
and London with a bit of the Bronx to Montreal. He was global
circuit for a global crowd. And then later, Cirque de Soleil trapeze
artists, swinging and twirling through the air, one holding the
other with only flexed feet... Help.
We stayed until eight-thirty. We wanted to stay on, for Mark
Anthony, but we also wanted to soak in a hot tub. Knowing when to
leave.... The morning after, Main Event behind us. Walking home to
our hotel through a holiday Montreal. What a peaceful gentle city.
We did Recovery that night. Club Soda, which seemed like an old beer
hall from the 1890s. Dark and woody. After Lydia finished, there was
Mistress Veruschka, and she flailed from the ceiling as the confetti
bombs burst and rained down on the crowd, and Manny took over like a
galloping stallion. The party was off and running. The floor was
packed. The boys were downright trashy. Hands in your pants,
squeezing and pinching. At this party, one smile took you further
than a twenty at Stock Bar. Not a bad ending to a very fine weekend,
leaving a nice taste in the mouth, as it were.
Montreal, sweet Montreal. One evening we sat at dinner next to two
couples, one from Montreal, the other from Toronto. Talking about
our two respective countries, and the one from Toronto says, "There
are three differences between Canada and the US: guns, global
dominance, and capital punishment." Which rendered us nearly
And then later, on another night, a cab driver said, "We believe in
making love, not war."
Okay, so maybe the town's not perfect, but it's certainly a
wonderful place to spend a weekend partying with the people you
love. Big thanks to everyone at BBCM and to all we met from CPI who
reminded us again how it's all about the spirit.