On Being Gay, Internet Famous, and on Edibles in a Hollywood Strip Bar

Some things just go together like milk and vodka.

It can be difficult to interview someone about being publicly gay when you know your boyfriend is getting a lap dance in the room behind you. I’ve never been one to make life easy on myself. A few weekends ago, Elijah Daniel, the guy who brought you Trump Temptations: The Billionaire and the Bellboy, and I decided to take our boyfriends to Cheetahs. If you’re unfamiliar with the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, Cheetahs serves as a bikini bar for men who either have never heard of Internet porn, or those who want to bask in the camaraderie that comes to light only in the brilliant luminescence of its dancers. 

Like all good friendships, Elijah and I met on the internet. Both publicly out, we still exist in very different spheres. My personal essays are bathed in a sadness that even I am trying to understand. Daniel exists to make people laugh at dick jokes. I use my sexuality as a conduit to help me write about my depression through the scope of my life with men. Each piece represents a different aspect about how my sexuality has informed my sadness; each essay a testament to how I have tried to transform myself from a writer who solely writes about blowjobs to one that is saying something.

For Daniel, sexuality is an afterthought. Sure, he’ll tweet at hot gay celebrities about wanting to eat their ass, but it is never the conversation piece. Why would it be? I’ve made my career being sad. He’s made his career off of planning to throw dildos at Donald Trump

I'm digressing already. This piece was pitched as a story about doing edibles in odd locations. Obviously Daniel and I needed to talk about being publicly gay in the least expected spot we could think of. Obviously, we needed to be high out of our minds. 

You must abide by a set of rules in bikini bars. Like, don’t fucking talk about gay shit during someone’s dance.

Daniel dumped out a smorgasbord of edibles on my coffee table, with a side of aplomb. We sampled like we were picking at an artisan cheese plate. After gobbling (what I can only guess) was roughly 250 mg of THC each, we hopped into a Lyft.

Feeling flirty and fun, I asked our driver if he had ever been to Cheetahs.

“Good dancers…” he said, narrowing his eyes at me like "bitch, what are you doing on a Friday night at a female strip club?" 

I had no answer. Tits do nothing for me; they never have.

We entered Cheetahs and “the beat dropped.” Or, for those of you who don’t do edibles, I went from stone-cold sober to balls-to-the-wall high. A girl on roller skates twirled on stage so fast, I was sure she was about to bust ass. I offered to buy us a round of drinks.

Daniel and I talked about whether or not we had a responsibility to the gay community. A woman slapped her hand in front of us and demanded: “Am I boring you?”

You must abide by a set of rules in bikini bars. Like, don’t fucking talk about gay shit during someone’s dance.

Cheetahs Club Hollywood. Image via Eater LA

After the dancer's song ended,  Daniel and I talked about whether or not I was glamorizing sadness, and if Daniel was a comedian or a performance artist. I admitted that maybe in the past I had fed the idea that it was more interesting to be a mess than to be healthy. Daniel could see why people would see him as a performance artist—ultimately, it was a means to an end. Neither of us felt responsible for other gay men. We admitted that we had no idea what the fuck we were doing.

When you make your sexuality into a large part of your online identity, people tend to think you’re an authority on some level. For myself, people turned to me for sad but biting observations on the world. For Daniel, they kept waiting for the crazy shit he would pull next. Neither of these things needed to be linked to the fact we sometimes put penises in our mouths. Early on in our Internet careers, we had made a choice  to bring it into the fold.

“This is the first time gay people have been allowed to be so gay!” I screamed over the music. I shoved a dollar bill into a blonde’s g-string.

“I rarely talk about my boyfriend online because I feel like it helps protect him,” Daniel yelled back.

The more high I got, the more my worries slipped away. I tried to buy myself another lap dance.

As the night went on, I respected the bikini bar dancers more and more. We asked to take a selfie with a dancer. She informed us with a thick Russian accent that for $15 she’d take a selfie with MY ass. My body buzzed from cheap whiskey and the heavy edibles.

I bought my boyfriend a lap dance. I worried aloud that writing about sex and depression in the way I do will send the message to young gay men that sex can be horrific.

“You’re not responsible for every person who reads you,” Daniel called out to me.

My turn for a lap dance came around. In the Cheetahs back room, my dancer sat me on a velvet couch. I told her we could just talk. We did, and it was lovely. 

The more high I got, the more my worries slipped away. I tried to buy myself another lap dance. My friends intervened. We did shots with the bartender. We sat with our arms around two dancers. I’ve never felt more like I had wandered onto the set of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

The conversation Daniel and I had set out to Cheetahs to have didn’t seem so important anymore. Representation so often is out of our control. People often tell me i’m a sad sack, a glorified blob of depression. For Daniel, people are dismissive of his work because it is brash and sometimes he does things solely because he fucking wants to.

The reality is, whether we’re public about being gay or not only adds or detracts from a fraction of our work. Like the dancers at Cheetahs, we practice our craft again and again, needing to forget who may be watching. Representation doesn’t always go the way we want it to. That night, while watching a dancer do a full-split to Madonna’s "Material Girl," the point seem moot.