Blew Velvet on Cruising
When I was a kid in Florida there was this notorious spot near where I grew up that was like “don’t go there at night because a bunch of gay dudes have sex in the bathroom and on the beach.” It was this urban legend of Central Gulf Coast Florida. Honestly, as a young gay boy this was something I secretly fantasized about all the time. That’s how I knew about the concept of cruising even though I had never done it.
When I was about 19 or 20, I had just moved to New Orleans and I lived near this place called The End of the World. It is this little look out, sort of a little jetty, that goes into the Mississippi River. Obviously cruising was happening in public and I just had to find it, so I remember when I was living there, being able to come home from the bar or at any time during the evenings, and look on the apps to see if people were walking around. We would just go to the End of the World and hook up there. There were also a couple of glory hole situations in this abandoned apartment building nearby. So that was my first official cruising situation.
I had cruised in public places like bars and stuff, sort of the act of cruising itself, before that. Cruising happens in a couple capacities: there’s anonymous cruising spots, like going to a video store where you’re expecting a dick to poke through a slot; then there’s cruising at a bar where you’re doing the inherent homosexual signalling to indicate that you want to have sex; and then, because it’s the 21st century, we have apps now and cruising can happen in more of a planned way, whether it’s just that the location is disclosed or something else.
I think it’s a huge, important part of nonverbal sexual communication that takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience and probably a lot of community for.
I think that personally, all forms of cruising are very useful if you’re trying to be a radical, independent slut in the gay community.
I love cruising people at bars, I love getting cruised at bars, I love picking up on vibes someone is trying to put down. I think it’s so sexy and the “no thank you’s” are as easy and as good as the “yes’s” for me. It’s just cool that you can communicate with people that way. In this post lockdown world it feels like there’s an anonymous cruising renaissance happening right now and I’ve definitely been tapped into that.
As cruising is its own language, I feel that there are dialects that are spoken regionally. New York has its own language, San Francisco has its own language, the town I grew up in probably has its own language — the rumor was that in order to get laid at that beach where I grew up, you wore a white ribbed tank in the middle of the night and that was you signalling that you were there to fuck.
The first time I went to San Francisco I had sex basically immediately. I was waiting for someone to pick me up from a friend’s house on the side of the street and a truck pulled up a little bit away from me at a parking spot. I was wearing these athletic pants that were super bulge-y. I looked at this guy in the truck and he looked at me and looked at my bulge. I touched my bulge and he opened his door and he pulled his dick out. I don’t think that’s a language that happens in New York — maybe that’s because there’s not that many places where you are likely to be in a car like that.
The most memorable thing that ever happened to me as far as cruising is concerned is when I first went to The Rambles. I had heard about it and read all this old gay literature about it, but had never really been. So I went for the first time and sat on a bench with my bike. I had looked it up on Google Maps so I knew I was there but didn’t know where everyone was. It was all just couples walking around holding hands and people laughing. Then this one cute boy walks up sweating with his shirt on his shoulder and he looks at me, and I look at him, and he looks back at me. I do the whole chin up and nudge my face at him and he comes over.
He opens up with like “Are you having any fun?” and I was like “well not yet, are you?” And he says “Yeah, all the time. I live right around here, I’m here like every day.” So I’m like “Where do you have fun?” So he tells me to lock my bike and then walks me around for like two hours all through Central Park, explaining where everything happens and when. Then he takes me to this place that felt like this smut Disney movie: he walks me through these small, baby trees and behind this one large tree is all these guys in a circle, jerking off in broad daylight surrounded by a thicket of leaves in the middle of Central Park. It was so cool. Then he took me to his favorite private spot that nobody was at and we fucked.
I’ve read a lot about cruising. There’s this book called Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade and it’s by Justin Spring. If you don’t know, Samuel Steward is the guy that Dr. Kinsey studied in order to define homosexuality on the Kinsey scale — he’s like as far polar gay as you can get. He wrote about every single person he ever had gay sex with, hence the name secret historian. He talks about living in Chicago and working near a naval base and how the sailors would come into his tattoo shop and he would suck their dicks, drink, give them tattoos, and then they would go about their lives in the navy.
The whole Take Me album I’m writing right now is sort of an emotional roller coaster of being young and day in this moment. Originally the concept was describing how we dealt with pandemia but part of that was me dealing with a big ole break up from a very important relationship. I think being able to have some very free, chaotic sex was really helpful for me. With the “It’s Not Enough” track, we actually shot the music video in Prospect Park which is an area where I cruise. So it was really about realizing that you have the tools around you to get your needs met autonomously and cruising is one of those tools.
I think if you’re interested in trying to cruise, here’s my tip: if you want to go about it completely alone just brace yourself for a series of triumphs and failures until you start to understand the game better. That’s just how a lot of people do it. But if you find yourself asking how to do it, you might want to go with a friend first. If you can find somebody who knows the ropes, have them show you the ropes because someone is going to have to show you at one point whether they’re a stranger or not.
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