Blister 


In the past, when I used to jab pens into my own rib cage for the sake of joking about my aging forehead, there was a palpable air of self-deprecating calculation to it: some miserable "I'm too old for this" and "Who knew crows had feet?" percolating through excess verbiage with precious little substance to cling to. Tonight, however, is different. This week marks six years of published self-absorption in the form of this (or another) column, and I'm feeling a little, well, seasoned.

Fitting, then, that tonight marks the return of used-to-be-"superstar DJ" Junior Vasquez to what used to be the electric light parade of the international dance music thoroughfare, the Club at Firestone. Junior used to be friends with Madonna.

I used to be high. A lot.

I'm not planning on having fun tonight. By 11, I've already stewed myself in corporate potato juice to the point of conversational broth, and I swear to God I'm not driving. I pull up to my friend Eddie's workplace and thumb through my MP3 collection to find just the perfect song not to drive to.

"Omigod!" he omigods, plopping into the passenger side. "How are you, Alexis Carrington?"

"Fuck off, Jason," I Laguna back at him. Ladies and gentlemen, we have an age difference.

As "Dirty Diana" dirties up my speakers, Eddie and I settle into the irony and apathy that late-era Michael Jackson implies. Eddie explains to me that the song is about a hooker, while I hold on to my belief that it's actually a sanitary anthem. Either way, we've reached a celebratory low, and we're bucking and vogueing in our car seats to mark it. Approaching the Firestone by foot, it's all I can do not to grab my crotch and outstretch two wiggling fingers while howling bloody murder. Anything to make this evening interesting.

"I expect the sound of sagging muscles," I vocalize, while meaning specifically nothing.

"What?"

"Nothing."

But to my surprise and relative dismay, something does happen. A cloud lifts, my eyes clear, and what was supposed to be a pedestrian evening of foot-shuffled scowling gets whisked into a Moroder thump of purpose-driven night life. "This is soooo 10 years ago" totally turns into a good thing.

Well, maybe not. Ten years ago I was dancing with my friend Greg in New York to the thump of Vasquez's spinning. At some point we ended up flailing around with Jean-Paul Gaultier and Kevyn Aucoin (RIP), and at another point I ended up crunching one of my molars into my chewing gum.

Here and now, though, I'm getting the treatment. Mike Feinberg, a longtime Orlando force who's now pulling some sort of weight with the Firestone, escorts us out of the line and past a velvet rope up onto Junior's stage. "We'll start you out with a bottle of Grey Goose," he winks, clearly thinking he can buy my love. Done.

No sooner do we flop onto a couch, when Junior — a little thick in a wifebeater, the sound of muscles sagging — kicks into his set with "What Happens Tomorrow" by some band called Duran Duran. Obviously I'm elated, mostly because I just know that it's all because of me. Somebody must have clued Junior in to my presence, slipped him a perfumed note, muscled him in the bathroom. Or something.

"I feel just like Jessica Simpson here," I flatulate, and hopefully nobody hears (or smells).

Eddie and I do what any non-self-respecting homosexuals would, and embark on a journey through the hoi polloi of the club just to find people we know and let them know how fabulous we are, but to very little avail. When we return, somebody's sleeping in our bed and drinking our vodka. A circuit of circuits — one with a backward baseball cap symptomatic of low-riding suspension, or worse, rims — is having our fun for us, and we're fluttering about like unseated royalty. When we order another bottle, the security guy looks at us funny and asks if our bottle was indeed communal, if we in fact knew these people. When we tell him "no," he shakes his head, assures us that it won't happen again.

"We totally have vodka security!" Eddie belches a moneyed belch.

Indeed. The rest of the night goes off swimmingly. A laundry list of longtimers sheds their cynicism in unison (Cindy, Joelle, Sandy, you know who you are), and by the time "Hung Up" is blaring its ABBA loop, we're all fists-to-the-air then fists-to-the-floor. Junior turns his flashlight on my friend Baby Blue (of Lesbo-a-gogo fame) during Pink's "Stupid Girls" for a spotlight dance, to which she gladly obliges. Afterward, he tells her that she looks like Pink. "But I'm Blue!" she argues. Yes, it's all that obvious.

And fun. Something has to go wrong.

"You know you have a reputation," a shirtless blonde glares from couch left. "A reputation for being anti-Firestone."

"But I'm anti-everything!" I glib, perhaps too glibly.

Even that potential self-consciousness can't sully my disco diversion, though, and by 2:30 I'm threatening to take off my own shirt(s), throwing my ass in the air and ringing my own imaginary bells.

"How much do I owe you for all of this?" I sweat in Feinberg's direction, realizing that the threat of nudity is when I go home.

"Nothing," he smirks. "You're Billy fuckin' Manes!"

Omigod. I'm not too old for this.

billymanes@yahoo.com

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