Inside The Mind of a Writer: Real Life Experiences That Shaped My Art
My Sorry Life As a Druggie Kinda Wannabe
Drugs, not in a good way, play a pivotal role in two of my books, my novel, “The Czar of Wilton Drive,” and my novella, “Buy Guys.” So like just about everything else I write about, I needed to experience the drug world for myself. Of all of my walks on the wild side, this was, no doubt, my most dangerous.
But some history first.
Unlike many members of my generation, the generation of Vietnam and LSD, I was pretty much a virgin when it came to drugs. About the only thing I remember using during my college days were “black beauties,” a form of speed to keep guys like me going who were doing school full time while working through school part time. Hell, I never even smoked grass, all the rage, and, in fact, felt a bit left out I hadn’t.
That’s why I was surprised, yes even shocked, when decades later lying on the beach, a guy I met through another beach buddy – I’ll call him Trig – who had been a white upper middle class Jewish boy from the Jersey burbs, boasted he had done heroin – heroin! – while in college, and that even losing a few friends to OD’s hadn’t stopped him from trolling the streets of Harlem for horse. By the time I met him, he was a barely functioning alcoholic, but I wondered if his walk on the wild side in his youth was at least partially responsible for his early dementia now at 62.
If you could label poppers a drug, then my next step into that world came at Man’s Country in the early seventies, a now defunct bath house on the lower West side in Manhattan, where for two bucks on a Tuesday night you could rent a locker and have fun. It was there I was introduced to the little brown bottle which I forever after psychologically equated with good sex. A guy I had made it with it that night taught me to drink plenty of water afterwards to avoid a headache. But once AIDS hit and it was thought bad bottles of poppers were the culprit (we wish), the formulas changed and the high was never quite the same. Sales of poppers also went underground like buying liquor during Prohibition, and the code term, “video head cleaner” was born.
In the late eighties, working professionally in New York, with a stuck-in-the-mud partner who preferred his Mets over sex, I developed my own stable of fuck buddies, mostly former playmates from the East Side Baths. One of them, Doug, a cameraman for NBC’s Today Show, lived in North Jersey about 40 minutes from me on Staten Island. I remember visiting his place after work where we’d first have a round of beers, then smoke a joint, nothing like the medical marijuana Vinny, my wheelchair lover in PA would share with me decades later that was almost as good as meth without killing your erection. Then we’d go upstairs to the bedroom and snort a few lines of coke. That was my first experience with the white stuff which I equated with the high I got from poppers: a quick spike, then a drop off and a need to do more. Even though we were still in our early forties, by the time Doug and I were done with the coke, our dicks were virtually useless.
By the nineties I was through with most of my international traveling to Latin America, Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, even Australia, and was snowbirding more and more in Fort Lauderdale which was just coming into its own as a major gay mecca. I eventually bought a one bedroom condo for twenty thousand dollars in Wilton Manors which at the time was a shit hole. (The place was later valued at over one hundred and seventy fifty thousand dollars.)
I’ll never forget Rick, my six foot five Texan from Austin who I made back in the New York baths, visiting me one snowbird vacation, and how we rolled around on my outside terrace in the dark, high on cocaine he had brought, our dicks as soft as putty.
Ah, but it took early retirement and my permanent move to Lauderdale from NYC, to ride me to the top of the drug shit pile with Lady M by my side.
Next: Part II of My Sorry Life As a Druggie Kinda Wannabe