In last week’s blog I jokingly implied I have an interest in male prostitutes, hustlers. I don’t. I’ve never paid for sex nor have I ever been paid for sex. I know many people have. I have friends who have. Therefore, I have no judgments regarding sex for pay on a moral level. I do, however, on a safety level.
But that is not what this blog is about.
It was the mid-1970s. I was perhaps 27 or 28 years old, but, as I have for my entire adult life, I looked younger. I was at Seattle’s first disco, Shelley’s Leg, with my best friend Ray Woods. Ray was handsome, muscular, and charming. People noticed him; he got attention. But this had not always been the case. By the time Ray had graduated from the University of Washington, Ray had transformed himself from a nerdy high school geek to stud. He had done this through a regular, disciplined work-out schedule in the weight room at the school’s Intramural Building.
Because one of Ray’s grandparents was Native American and because Ray was fascinated by the character Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire, I nicknamed him Sacajawea DuBois. He did not have a nickname for me yet. That did not happen until…
…that night at Shelley’s Leg. We noticed a middle-aged man repeatedly staring at me, not Ray. He was perhaps 50, rather pasty looking and pudgy. He was not my type, which was fit and young. That, I realize, makes me a cliché and shallow or, as I prefer, discerning and possessing good taste. Nevertheless, the man eventually approached us, began a conversation, and we discovered he had a thick German accent; he was visiting from Germany. As we talked, his focus was on me, not Ray, and I was uncomfortable with his attention. It did not take him long to ask a question I had never been asked before.
“How much money you want to come to my hotel with me?” he asked.
I was taken off guard. First, it was unexpected, but more important to me was that he assumed I could be bought. What had I done to lead him to think that? I was dressed in the typical Castro Clone look of the era (Levi 501s, tennis shoes, a moustache, and either a tight tank top, a snug T-shirt, or fitted Izod polo shirt). That was the gay bar look of the day. Nothing I wore, I felt, implied I was for hire. My body language and attitude, too, was classic disco, cool on the outside, but with a splash of sexual heat. But I did not have the look of a hustler, whatever that was at the time, nor did I exude a message that I was for hire or, for that matter, interested in him.
I laughed at the man’s proposition. “I don’t do that,” I said. “Sorry, but I’m not interested.”
He turned to Ray. “What about you?” Like me, Ray had never been approached this way before. But, more curious about the adventure than interested in the money, Ray looked at the opportunity as a new experience and left with Fritz, Otto, Heinz, Bierstein, or whatever his name was.
One moment I was there with Ray; the next moment I was alone with my cool and aloof exterior and tense and insecure interior. I soon joined other friends, socialized and danced. A few asked where Ray was. One even noted, “Didn’t I see Ray a few minutes ago?”
“He left,” I answered, without giving details.
The phone rang early the next morning. “I can’t believe I did that,” Ray screamed without a greeting. “It was horrible. Oh, my God, why did I do that?”
“It was that bad?”
“Worse. I got the creeps just touching him and I knew I was committed to doing more.”
“And now you know why I turned him down.”
“Tom, I came home, took the longest, hottest shower I have ever taken and I still feel dirty. Oh, shit, it was awful. I couldn’t wait to get out of that hotel room. I should have stayed with you.”
“Yeah, but you got paid”…and I’ve long forgotten how much Ray was paid…“for it.”
“It wasn’t worth it,” Ray said with a shiver. Before I could make a comment or ask a question, Ray added, “Oh, I asked him why he had originally picked you over me.”
“Yeah,” I asked, “why did he?”
“He said you had a goofy quality.”
“A goofy quality?” I said. “After all the time I’ve spent at the gym, after all the time I spent making sure my clothes fit just right and looked appealing but not desperate. After all the time I spent on my fucking hair, he was attracted to me because I had a ‘goofy quality?’”
And that was the day Sacajawea DuBois came up with my nickname. He rarely used it aloud. But birthday cards, holiday cards, and invitations were always addressed to Goofy Jude (pronounced “yoodeh”), the German word for Jew.