Once Audrey, my castmate, finally wore me down, we went out,
ending up in a Harlem loft where a record company with more money
than taste was holding a release party for it's latest gangsta rap
atrocity. Despite the rampant display of garish bad taste and
ostentation, (or because of it) the evening was mesmerizing. I was
still hopelessly starstruck and this particular constellation was
like none I had ever experienced in the midwest. Quite content to
hover near the buffet table, I spent most of the night gaping and
"Don't just stand there stuffing yourself with free shrimp and
barbecue." Audrey, had to yell into my ear to be heard over the
sound system. "Go get your groove on."
"But I don't know anyone here except you."
"All the more reason to get out there and mingle. Why do you
think they call it show business? "Lip Service" is not going
to run forever, you know. Eventually, you're going to need another
job. Some contact you make tonight might lead to something." There
was logic in what she said, but that hardly made the idea any more
"You know I don't like talking to strangers...and famous
strangers intimidate me."
"Please! Disregard the hype and attitude. Despite what they may
think of themselves, everyone in here is not famous." She
thrust a neon-colored drink into my hand. "Try one of these. Maybe
it'll bring out your personality."
"What is this?" It seemed a dubious proposition.
"Alcohol makes me--"
"One little drink is not going to hurt, and it might loosen you
I don't usually drink anything stronger than Snapple, so that one
little sledgehammer hit me pretty hard. The second and third ones
hit even harder. I finally did make it onto the dance floor though
and, with the lights flashing and the music pumping, even "got my
groove on." Several times. I just don't remember how -- or with
whom. I don't even remember how I made it home to bed that night.
But, once there, I had a long, vivid, erotic, dream about meeting a
gorgeous man and making passionate love all night.
I awoke hot and sweaty the next morning; the bed sheets
inexplicably tangled around my ankles. Rolling over, I reached to
retrieve them and froze--. I was not alone. Any foggy remnants of
sleep evaporated instantly at the sight of the naked body lying next
to me. The smooth, milk chocolate, brother snoring softly beside me
was undeniably fine, but only vaguely familiar. When he felt me
stir, he reached over and wrapped a muscular arm around me, hugging
me back against his chest in an unmistakably intimate way. I felt
his erection, stiffen and bump against my butt.
My heart -- and thoughts -- raced. What was I doing, waking from
a sound sleep to find a total stranger in my bed? Several months of
the "Daily News" most lurid crime headlines and a catalogue of AIDS
statistics flashed across my mind until I noted -- with great relief
-- three (!) empty condom wrappers strewn on the nightstand beside a
Rolex watch worth more than my share of the national debt. Feeling a
bit more secure, but still clueless, I relaxed somewhat and allowed
my companion relax me even more.
Later, while he showered and I retrieved his clothes from behind
and underneath the sofabed, I realized from where (besides the
previous night's festivities) I knew my mystery man. Grinning
boyishly up from the cover of a back issue of "T.V. Guide" on the
coffee table, was my overnight guest. Better known as "Curtis",
recent cast addition and prominent resident sex symbol on "Loved and
Loveless", one of the soaps I watched each day before leaving for
the theater. Stunned, I picked up the magazine and saw where he'd
autographed it for me. "Hope you enjoy my performance tonight.
Thanks for your support, Curtis a.k.a. Jamal Beckford." I had to sit
I was still sitting there when he emerged naked from the bathroom
and stood there glistening while I admired his freshly scrubbed
perfection and wondered exactly what type of "support" I had
promised him. Once he began to dress, the ensuing conversation is a
blur. That is, until I made the mistake of mentioning that I'd had
no idea he was gay. The look he gave me would've stopped Mike Tyson
in his tracks.
"What do you mean?" Caught offguard, I plunged ahead, explaining
the obvious. "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about! I'm
not gay!" Confused and not knowing any better, I pointed out the
previous night's evidence to the contrary, but the brother was not
having it. "I told you, I'm not gay." He repeated firmly. "...I just
like to freak, sometimes."
I suppose I shouldn't have observed that he could just as easily
have spent the night freaking with one of the many women at the
party, because that's when he lost it completely. Started yelling
and screaming, called me a "mudslinging, traitor-to-the race, black
faggot" and threatened me with everyone from his agent, manager,
publicist, bodyguard, and the network's libel lawyers -- to his
cousins in Newark, Al Sharpton and the Million Man March. I could
only stare blankly at him in amazement.
When my front door slammed behind him, I was still staring. And
still sore. I knew I hadn't fucked myself. I listened for the
"Twilight Zone" theme music. Despite occasional, adolescent
experimentation, I'd never been contortionist enough to give myself
head -- definitely not the expert, ravenous, deep throat I'd enjoyed
the previous night. If he wasn't gay, he'd certainly gone out of his
way to be polite.
As it turned out, that first night was no isolated incident. Ever
the optimist, I continued dating and sleeping with the brothers
whenever the opportunity presented itself. Invariably, afterwards,
almost all of them insisted that they were straight. Most wouldn't
even entertain the notion that they might be bisexual. Even after I
stopped bothering to ask, they volunteered their heterosexual
credentials: wives, girlfriends, children, etc. Conveniently, they
always failed to correct my unfortunate misimpression until
after a bout of hot, sweaty, sex.
The second time, it was a popular new jack balladeer with a
heartthrob image and the reputation for being quite the ladies man.
When he trooped into a Brooklyn after-hours jazz joint with a bunch
of his "boyz", I recognized him immediately. They were having a
rowdy good time, but our eyes kept meeting and I began to think to
myself "Hmmmmmmm." When he unfurled his lanky frame, ran his hand
casually through his dreadlocks and headed for the men's room, my
curiosity got the better of me and I followed. He didn't acknowledge
me when I entered the john. We were alone, so I positioned myself at
the urinal beside his, the better to discreetly check out his
"discography". I must not have been discreet enough.
"Looking for something" Startled, I looked up. Right into his
sexy brown eyes.
"I noticed you checking me out...in the club."
"I thought I recognized you, but I wasn't sure."
"So you followed me in here to get an...autograph?"
"I guess I just didn't believe someone like you would be in a
dive like this."
"Oh, I'm a jazz buff from way back. Besides, it's my night out
with the fellas and I'm trying to keep it low key, y'know." He had
finished his business, but seemed in no hurry to put his impressive
equipment away and zip up. "The press always tries to twist shit
into shit." I nodded sympathetically and he strolled to the sink to
wash his hands. His reflection in the mirror caught me checking out
his muscular butt. He grinned. "Is that your man, out there?"
"Who? Where? Oh. No, just a friend, grabbing a late bite after
"Sounds like fun."
"You certainly seem to be enjoying yourself with your crew."
"Something tells me I could have a better time with you tonight.
Think you could ditch your friend?" He laughed at the look on my
face. "Meet me outside...if you're still hungry" I went back to my
companion, told the biggest, fastest, lie possible -- then walked
outside. He was waiting for me in a champagne-colored Lexus. When I
got in, he cranked up a slow jam station on his system and started
singing along. I know it sounds corny, but it worked. The impromptu
concert for one that began in the car, was finished in the guest
room of a friend of a friend's Park Slope walk-up where -- after
spending the rest of the night running through his quite extensive
repertoire of sexual acrobatics -- we fell asleep.
It was the next morning, when I inadvertently let the "G" word
slip. I wasn't even referring to him. I was talking about myself.
But brotherman hit the door faster than a Diana Ross CD hits the
cut-out bin. The next time I saw him, was three months later on the
Soul Train Awards. He was escorting some scantily-clad hootchie with
extensions who clung to his arm tightly and smirked smugly for the
cameras. "Please..., " I thought to myself, reaching for the remote.
"...if she only knew."
The straw that finally broke the camel's back came later. I met
this dude in the Village. I was heading for the subway after dinner
and a movie with friends. He honked, then leaned across the front
seat of his jeep to ask if I had a light. Once I got a good look at
his bald head, goatee and the fine dusting of black hair that
trailed down his muscled chest and rippled stomach into a
well-packed pair of sweats, I told him there was a book of matches
in my apartment on the table next to my bed. He popped the lock and
I got in.
When I emerged from the bathroom wearing nothing but "CK-be" and
a smile, he had already fired up a joint and was reaching for the
biography of James Baldwin that lay open on the nightstand. He
flipped through a few pages, then tossed it aside disdainfully.
"What's the matter?"
"I heard he was a faggot. What are you doing reading that
Now, physically, this brother was perfection. I mean, it wouldn't
be an exaggeration to say he made Tyson Beckford...look like Steve
Urkel. His mahogany nakedness seemed to glow against my white sheets
as I stood there another moment, watching him stroke his growing
erection and trying to pretend that I had misunderstood him. But it
was no use. I sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed. My guest
offered me a hit off the joint. When I shook my head, he shrugged
and his biceps bulged as he took a final hit, then stubbed it out in
my MOMA ashtray.
"If you don't want none of that joint..." He growled, fisting his
ebony hardness. "...then how about some of this one?" Just as I was
weakening, I noticed James Baldwin's picture staring at me from the
back of the book on the nightstand. I sighed again, knowing what I
had to do.
I was kicking myself as soon as the door closed behind him. Just
thinking about what might have been, I beat off twice that night and
still went to sleep evil and horny. But the next morning, when the
trash trucks and sunshine streaming through my open window woke me,
I propped myself up on the pillows and finished reading the Baldwin
Someday my black prince will come...hopefully. But when he does,
I want him to be someone I don't have to hide out with in the
shadows. Someone who knows who he is and what he wants. And, if it
hasn't happened yet, it's a lot more likely now that I've cleaned
house, cleaned up my act...and stopped rummaging around in