So awhile back I got this ICQ message from Heather Corinna, and she asked me if I wanted to go appear on a panel and talk about erotica webzines with her and a bunch of our mutual online friends. Seems that there was going to be a webzine seminar in New York City and she had been nabbed as moderator for the erotica panel, and I figured what the hell, I’d go. Okay, that was a bit of a fib, I really thought it would be really really GREAT because I had never been to New York before and I really really wanted to, and I’d get to meet a lot of amazing people I’d only written to before, and it seemed like a perfect chance to get a couple of fantasies out of the way at the same time. I was on my way.
FRIDAY MORNING: Up, up and away!
I get up, bright and early, already packed and double-checked, and zoom off to the airport with a song in my heart and joy in my pants. I had spent the last week researching so I wouldn’t look like a total dweeb when I got there; I re-read all my old Spiderman comics, watched The Muppets Take Manhattan again, read my Spotter’s Guide to Celebrities, and studied The Simpsons episode where Homer has to go get his car in New York. Off we went, singing and laughing, to the airport, where I found that I had missed my flight.
We went back home and went back to sleep.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON: Up, up and away!
Air flight is always exciting. Meeting new people, seeing the world from high above, where everything looks so clean and beautiful, puking my guts across six different states… ha ha! I’m kidding, I never get sick on airplanes. I get all that out of my system during the boarding process. Sorry folks!
After the landing and debriefing, I was finally in New York! Wow! It was exactly how I imagined it, unfortunately. No, I’m kidding, it was great. There were thousands of people bustling around, just in the men’s bathroom, and I’m pretty sure I saw Nathan Lane’s feet in one of the stalls. I caught a shuttle van into the city and was amazed to see how driving habits differed from back home. See, my dad taught me that when I was behind someone, I should never get so close that I couldn’t see their rear tires over my hood because that would mean that I was too close and if their car got stuck then I would still have enough room to maneuver around them. Everyone in New York seemed to ignore that simple rule, along with street signs, stop lights, pedestrians, fire hydrants, buildings, just about anything beyond their own dashboards really. Near as I could tell, as long as you didn’t leave any traceable car paint scrapings you could do whatever you wanted. How free! How wonderful!
I had missed meeting Heather and Todd that morning, but I did get to meet Jane and James at the hotel and we went out for dinner. (I had already taken the liberty of carefully distributing my cash and valuables in different areas of my person so as to confound muggers and highwaymen.) I learned many things that night: that Jane was just as bubbly and fun and cute as she appears on her site, that she and James are a lot of fun to hang around, that mussels aren’t too bad, and that you should never rely on Jane for directions in a big city.
We talked and laughed a lot — a discussion of creating a chain of S&M theme family restaurants a la Hooters remains stuck in my mind, along with James’ suggestion of the mascot (a little animé girl, on the floor, with a boot on her head) — and had a blast. Even my unexpectedly explosive allergy to shellfish didn’t dampen the evening, although I think it might have lessened my chances for a goodnight kiss. Ah well, back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. They had invited me along to an S&M gathering, but I begged off, explaining that my uncontrollable urge to heckle was not generally welcome during most public power exchanges (Hey, let’s see you try maintaining the proper level of authority and dominance over your slave while some potbellied guy wearing a Hawaiian shirt over a t-shirt that says “Let a Gargoyle Sit on Your Face” stands next to you, asking “Whatcha doing?” while eating handfuls of Captain Crunch cereal right out of the box).
I’m positive I saw Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) ducking behind the bar with an appreciative biker. Hey, after her last few years, who’s gonna begrudge her a little kinky repulsive fun, hah? Gidoudda here.
SATURDAY MORNING: Taking it to the streets
Got up with the sunrise and quickly mastered the art of taking a hotel shower (which involves hopping in and out of the spray, timing your leaps to avoid the cycles of boiling heat and freezing cold so as to hit the brief periods of humanly-tolerable temperature) before checking out and venturing out alone onto the streets. Gosh, I can’t describe the feelings I had when I was walking around the very streets I had seen on countless cop shows since I was a kid. You gotta love a town where the porn shops open at 7, bright and early. I tried spinning into a wild dance number but I guess I didn’t know the trick of it because the crowds on the street failed to fall into step behind me. They were yelling in unison, but I’m pretty sure what they were yelling wasn’t from any Broadway show I’ve ever heard of, unless it was a Mamet play.
I covered quite a bit of ground with my technique, which was to go up to a corner and immediately go in whichever direction had a “Walk” sign already flashing. Unfortunately my obedience to traffic signs clearly marked me as a tourist so I was treated to a variety of colorful local dialects as natives clamored to sell me their watches, souvenirs, faux parfums, marijuana, hot dogs, and sisters. Chased the pigeons in Washington Square Park (spotted Jack Nicholson sleeping under a park bench, that rascal) and very nearly enjoyed an authentic New York hot dog. After a bit of this I stumbled onto 6th Ave and I strolled the 34 blocks to where Heather was staying, stopping only for occasional gawking, a couple of Cokes, and some hyperventilation. Heather was waiting for me on a park bench (the pink hair gave her away). The hug was worth the trip.
Heather is difficult to describe. An unholy marriage of Janis Joplin and Pippi Longstocking, a sexy dynamo that runs on coffee and cigarettes. Just the sort of person you want shepherding you through a strange and violent city, even though I think she weighed maybe 75 pounds. We wandered around a bit before heading over to the CB Gallery for the webzine event, and she showed me all the myriad wonders of the Village, which apparently all involve shopping for shoes.
SATURDAY AFTERNOON: The Big Event
We walked to the end of Bleecker St. (past Margaret Sanger Park, which just has to be the safest place to fuck, ever) (think about it) to the gallery and headed downstairs to the basement to discover where all the smoke was coming from. All the tragically hip people were there, although they strongly resembled early afternoon drinkers. We met Bob, the organizer who had offered me couch space that evening, and Debra Hyde, writer extraordinaire (Heather attacked both with the sort of shrieked hysterical greeting I associate with old Beatles newsreels). Also Todd, who emerged from the gloom looking tall and wryly amused, which I was to learn was his usual expression about most everything. Jane and James showed up and we all sat and talked for awhile about just the sort of things you’d expect a bunch of sophisticated, kinky adult webmasters to talk about — kids, politics, The Simpsons, movies, Diablo II — before it was time for our panel.
Heather had decided, in a fit of artistic inspiration (i.e. laziness, but with style), not to plan anything whatsoever, so we sat down, got introduced and then took questions. We had a decent turnout (many thanks to you folks who yelled “woo hoo!” when I was introduced; you disappeared afterwards, possibly from shame) and we happily answered questions and giggled amongst ourselves for an hour before they made us stop.
Afterwards we gabbed some more and Heather, Todd, Debra and I all moved outside (agh! Sunlight!) to stock up on oxygen and lunch. I think we were all a bit startled with how well we all got along, and the love fest lasted all day. We kept on talking through lunch, back into the event, all through Michael Moore’s keynote speech which we pretty much ignored even though it was happening about 10 feet away, and long into the evening before everyone had to bolt.
SATURDAY NIGHT: I sleep with a lot of girls. And boys.
I expected to hang out until Bob was finished, then go crash at his place. Heather hung around to keep me company and drink some more (in that order, bless her heart), but it was becoming apparent that Bob was pretty wired and, since the anticipated mugging I budgeted for mysteriously hadn’t occurred yet, I decided to go for another hotel stay. I was there long enough for Heather to shoot video of my first on screen porn debut, something she’s already threatened to make public. I also learned some fun drinking games, including “Quarters” and this weird thing you do with Stoli, some dry ice and an enema bottle. Brrr! (Note for you non-drinkers, anything carbonated can substitute).
I took my first cab ride — uneventful, since the hostage situation resolved itself — only to arrive and discover that the only rooms the hotel had left were something called dormitory rooms. No worries, I get along with everybody. I spent some time on the phone waking up quite a few people who were not Todd before I hit the correct hotel room, and I let him know what was up. At 1:30 in the morning he sounded exactly as he had at 6 in the afternoon, something else I was assured was perfectly normal, so I went upstairs to begin getting along with everybody.
Everybody, in this case, was 15 other people. 15 young, drunk, unwashed, loud people (one of them was, I believe, Christina Aquilera, but I was “cool” enough not to blow her cover) in varying degrees of consciousness. I scampered onto someone else’s assigned bunk, clutched my bag to my chest, placed a hastily-written note on my back (“Hi! Please do not anally violate me! Thanks!”) and went to sleep.
SUNDAY MORNING: Look what the cat threw up.
I was to meet everyone at Prince and Broadway to get brunch, so a bit of experimentation was in order. Luckily I awoke bright and early, sweating and screaming. Everyone else was still in their narcotic stupors so I had the shower to myself with no distractions like noises, or towels, or soap. I wandered out on the street again, determined in an atypically manly decision to figure out the subway system all by myself, with only Todd’s meticulously detailed map and descriptions to guide me.
It was early enough that I figured I could detect and correct any navigational mistakes, and aside from a quick jaunt to Jersey all went well. I took lots of shots of the city to shove into the faces of my family and friends who couldn’t come along, the losers, and even used the restroom in a corner store all by myself. I had been raised to always leave a bathroom clean before I left it so that took a while, but still it was an event I’m glad to have lived through. Would you believe they have their illegal drugs laid out in deli cases? God, what a great place. I kept expecting to see shootouts and car chases and explosions, but maybe that’s considered gauche on Sunday.
I did have to ask a few people how I could get to Broadway (they never answered, they all just looked at me for a few seconds and then walked away, shaking their heads for some reason) but I arrived with enough time to stop by Michele’s where Heather was staying and hook up with them. There I was privileged to see a sight that few people have seen and survived: Heather, pre-coffee. I love the woman like few others, but I kept my distance and a sturdy chair between us nonetheless.
We met up with the rest of our happy, hung-over crew and set off for a corner cafe — the caffeine-deprived among us lurching forward, the more seriously hung over hanging back, and Todd acting as a sheepdog trying to keep everyone in sight. We managed to keep Heather on track with two of those long forked sticks and a Taser, although we didn’t react fast enough when she turned the corner and stampeded that poor Pakistani family.
At the cafe the caffeine junkies self-medicated and we resumed our gabbing — I was my usual grim, solemn self — and I have to admit that I was about as content as I’ve ever been without actually being naked. There are damned few people in the world I can completely relax around (I had already married the cutest one) but everyone at the table was someone I would have loved to spend a few more weeks with, or had sex with, or even both.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: I am nailed to the hull.
Sadly, after the brunch we had to split up. I hugged Jane and missed her even before she was out of sight, although I did keep an impression of her boobs on my ribcage to remember her by. Debra and I braved the subway again; she was off for home, I was off to meet Shmuel who lived locally. Bye Debra! This is only the beginning, you know. Met Shmuel and had a great time trading truly awful puns over iced tea (I won’t repeat them here, because you don’t deserve to be treated that way and because I suspect he might have gotten the better of me) before we meandered over to where I could hand him off to Todd (bye Todd!) and receive Heather in return.
I had told her I needed to pick up some cheapass gifts to take back, so she took me to Pearl River, an act for which I may hate her forever. Way too much cool cheap oriental crap, and I met Jackie Chan’s older brother’s dental hygienist who sold me a very reasonable autograph. I managed to limit myself to only three or four times the amount of allowable carry-on bags before we left. We split a cab back to Michele’s (where Heather avoided being ripped off by being more stubborn, more loud, and more Italian than the cabbie) and I was off to the airport. Missing my flight on Friday had made me nervous, so I arrived at JFK 11 hours early, just to be on the safe side.
The flight home was relatively uneventful – a little turbulence, a guy two rows up spilled his coffee, and I think we lost a wing — and I arrived home safe and sound to my loving family.
Now it’s a few days later. I’m still locating my hidden bodily caches of money — the kids just found another one this morning — and I’m still in the misty love fest feeling. I miss New York already, and my personal physician assures me that I’ll always have something to remember it by.
See ya next year!