Hearsay

A night at Baltimore's new Grand Central

Hearsay spends a night in Charm City at the newly refurbished Grand Central and finds 8,000 square feet of fun, fun, fun, plus a little late night teabagging down the streetÂ…

It has been eons since Hearsay had set clubbed feet in Baltimore. But last Friday night was one of the best Hearsay’s had in nearly as long. The homespun residents prove the Charm City tag to be true, and you’ll encounter none of the spin that afflicts Washingtonians. Baltimoreans, when asked, tell it like it is, warts, crabs and all. Now, don’t worry none, hon, Hearsay’s not thinking of transplanting to ole Ballmer — but it’s a nice place to visit, don’t you agree? Hearsay’s primary destination: Grand Central. Wow, what a place! It’s bigger than a breadbox. It’s bigger than two breadboxes. Hell, it’s bigger than eight hundred three thousand forty two point seven breadboxes if Hearsay’s Official Wonder Bread Box Slide Rule is correct. Scott "Ask Me About My Days In The Orioles Locker Room" Davies laughed at Hearsay’s frequent wandering state. But you’d have to have been there several times — or, like Davies, be an employee — to know your way around the 8,000-plus square-feet, all tightly woven into two low-level buildings. And with eight rooms, each with its own bar, it’s like eight times the fun of most bars. Wait a minute, you might say if you’ve ever before watering-holed at the wonderfully gay named intersection of Eager and Charles streets. Isn’t there a small, Cheers-style, neighborhood-y bar with pool tables called Central Station pub at that location? Why yes, that would be the original bar, the first of the two buildings of which Hearsay speaks. Don "A Little Sin City, a Lot of Charm City" Davis has owned the pub for a dozen years. In February, he purchased the building that housed what was the hitching post next door, the Stagecoach, and poured $1 million dollars into the space to transform it into the hip-happening talk of the town, the biggest gay complex in the state of Mary-Land. Yep, bigger than the still-going-strong-after-all-these-years Hippo, just two shakes and a twist down Eager-Beaver Way.

Hearsay took in the old-school feel of the upstairs martini bar, with its Tiffany-inspired light fixtures and raucous aye-aye sailor bartender, John, who skipped to Cher — literally. Next door resides the quiet piano bar, and betwixt lies the outdoor patio, offering an Oriole’s-eye view ofÂ… the Hippo, a parking lot and, off in the distance, the big phallus that must be the reason the Mount Vernon neighborhood is gay central. Hearsay was quite dizzy by the time it stumbled upon the disco lounge, with its trendy (but not too trendy) lighting, hip (but not too hip) wavy metallic touches and a glass wall curved around the large (but not too large) dancefloor, where club manager Steve "Honest-to-Goodness" Henderson performed double duty as the resident DJ, working everybody into a "Friday Fever" frenzy.

The best part of it all, though, are the diner-style booths overlooking the dance floor, we’re you can rest your weary butt, admire the scenery and strike up a conversation with that cute hair-hopper you spotted dancing. And here’s the best part: you can actually hear what he’s saying as well as the music a-playing. How novel! If only we could get some crabs serviced  — oops, sorry — if only we could get a little crabcake sandwich service here, Hearsay’d never eat anywhere else in B-more (with the exception of a long and meaty Pollock Johnny’s every now and again). All the booths were taken by the time Hearsay pulled around. So Hearsay hopped on a stool at the bar and chatted up the best bartending team of the night, Ricky and Brian. But soon Hearsay got the bad-news-blues: As a recent grad of the celebrated Peabody School of Music just down the street, bass-playin’ Brian leaves shortly for New York. So get on up and take a gander at him while you’ve got the chance — a week or two. If you ask nicely he’ll rip off his shirt and show you his well-plucked strings.

Did we mention the women in Baltimore? No, Hearsay doesn’t just mean the unforgettable pretty Salem Cigarettes counter girls, handing out free packs of fags — right in front of the cigarette-vending machine — to any fag who signs their questionnaire. Nary a night goes by that fag hags aren’t bemoaned in D.C. And rare is the sight of lesbians outside of strictly lesbian events and bars. Not so in Ballmer where lesbians — gasp! — mingle — gasp! gasp! — with their gay brethren of all races and ages — gasp! gasp! wheeze! And fag hags are groped, not roped out of the club. Self-described fag hag Chana "Miss Personality" Colley was with her gaggle of gay gooses, Tom, Michael and Michael — but that didn’t scare away frisky gay Billy, who "always molests me," Colley protested, not completely convincingly.

Hearsay was looking to get molested itself, so it asked around the question that surely no other visitor to Baltimore has ever thought to ask. Where can I get me some tea-bagging? (Oh, native son John "Pecker" Waters, what you have done for the town!) If the stranger you ask doesn’t up and walk away, he’ll likely roll his eyes before telling you to head down the street, take a left and follow the road as it curves, giving you the name, the exact location and exact time to go. What, you didn’t think B-more boys would really be as fun as Waters makes them out to be? Indeed they are. And apparently now that B-more strippers can take it all off, well, there’s a new pastime in town: helicoptering. It’s not yet widely known, though, since it’s not yet immortalized in film, so chances are the conversation will still revolve around tea and not flight. Such was the case with one super-colorful, multi-pierced bloke, who related to Hearsay the story of a Starbucks (Starbucks!) co-worker, fired (fired!) for taping a teabagging session in his hotel room (hotel room!). Waters couldn’t make this stuff up if he triedÂ…

Hearsay

Changes at gay Rehoboth, DJ Victor Martinez's b-day, and more

Department store dancing and panthers at Rehoboth BeachÂ…
DJ Victor Martinez turns five in dog yearsÂ…
A fitting memorial at the LanternÂ…

After Capital Pride debauchery and Supreme Court sodomy, Hearsay needed an extended do-nothing vacation. So it came to pass that Hearsay has been silent lo the past several weeks. Hibernating Hearsay retired to the land of tax-free livin’, wicker-furniture sittin’, Hooters tootin’ and First State experiencin’ American life. Howdy, dowdy Delaware! July 4th is the biggest summer weekend in Rehoboth Beach (also known to the uber-faithful as Risslyland) — there are just too many things to do, but Hearsay made a personal vow to take it easy for a change. Fortunately easy is Delaware’s middle name. Frisky is it’s last name. At the beach, at the bars, at the beach house, at the lake — boys, boys, boys were getting randy, randy, randy. Hearsay’s personal favorite tale: two trashy boys were giving each other a "hand" under a strategically positioned towel on Poodle Beach, until a big gym queen came over and sprayed them with a water gun, to much applause. "You two need to cool off," he scolded, apparently envious of the attention not being paid to him.

It wasn’t just the boys getting Hearsay hot under the Speedo, though. The damn mosquitoes were getting all the fresh blood around, sucking for their small-wonder lives. So Hearsay stayed indoors as much as possible, maintaining the pasty white glow it had worked so hard all winter to achieve. Of course, if Hearsay smoked — it gave up the Marlboro Reds years ago — it would be outside approximately every 4.3 minutes, puffing away with every other smoking queen now banished by Delaware’s Draconian Smoking Ban in bars and restaurants. And also there’s a lot of huffing and puffing amongst the regulars over a restrictive noise ordinance that Rehoboth police have begun to enforce, though it wasn’t at all obvious last weekend. From the Blue Moon to Cloud Nine, all bars Hearsay stopped in were reaching eardrum thumping decibel levels.

Of course there’s no more Renegade Complex to frolic at — it’s been demolished to make way for outlet-mall townhouses. So, where to dance? Salvation came in the guise of the customer-service king of retail, the Ames Department Store, which has started a nightclub. Well, actually it’s all the doins’ of ever-trusty Dan "Promoting is My Life’s Calling" Contarino, with help from the Moon’s Rob Dick and Eric Teves. The new club’s name? Am. The promoters, in their small-wonder wisdom, simply draped a black cloth over the -es in the Ames sign out front of the former Rehoboth store. But how to refer to it? Brian "I’ll Be Your Guide" Damron pronounced it as "Aim," as in "TakeÂ…" Don "Welcome Back" Kautter called it "A.M.," since that’s when he most often comes out to play. The ubiquitous man about town Chris "Swiss Miss" Riss suggested it was an acronym, standing for After Midnight, Animal Magnetism or Auntie Mame’s. (Thank you, Chris. How’s the real estate market?) Well, whatever you call it, it’s certainly discount department store dancing at its finest. The E and S weren’t the only things lost in the switch to dancing. A C seemed to be covered over too, as it was hotter inside than out. And waiting to check out of the store, so to speak, took as long as ever, since the Am boys kept the bathrooms the same as they ever were at Ames: too small and dumpy. Speaking of dumpy, early on Saturday night Hedda "Wilted" Lettuce led us all fleeing the dance floor to retreat to the lounge. "Attention Am Employees: Clean up needed in produce. The iceberg display has ruined our romaine domain." Working the lounge was Heine "No Small Wonder" Lund, the Rehoboth personal trainer extraordinaire, who was one of the harder! better! faster! stronger! drink pourers of the night as the clock struck last-call at 1 a.m. (Don’t forget to drink early and often in Delaware, girls.) Some in the audience surely lost out on their last shaken and stirred, but the Men of Mega at least helped many of them recover the latter with their advertised "Special xxx-effects." "Attention Am Shoppers, don’t be alarmed, but there’s a loose panther in the store who won’t stop growling." Hearsay was so scared at one point it tripped the fire alarm, but few dancers noticed until the music cut out, thinking the panther growl, the alarm, and the robotic warning were all part of Blake "Ballmer Bells and Whistles" Rodgers‘ DJ package.

Alas, like Ames layaway, the Am nightclub will only be around for 90 days, or through September, at which point the building is to be — what else? — razed. Can’t stop progress. And Rehoboth certainly has progressed, socially speaking. It’s never been more re-homo, according to all sources. Mark Aguirre was elected last year as the first openly gay commissioner for the City of Rehoboth Beach. And in May that body unanimously passed a gay anti-discrimination clause. The Advocate just ranked the town the country’s 5th Best Summer Destination for homosexuals. USA Today, with help from Gay.com, went so far as to rank Poodle Beach the best gay and lesbian beach. And Letters from CAMP Rehoboth‘s Steve "Rehoboth Is My Only Baby" Elkins said that in recent times the gayby boom has spread like wicker furniture among beach denizensÂ…

Hearsay wishes a belated happy birthday to local DJ sensation, Victor "And Sometimes Victoria" Martinez, who entered his 5th dog year(roughly speaking, arf, arf) on June 20th. For his birthday, his beau of five festive years Rick "Cedar Point" Skippon took him to, well, Cleveland to see the folks ("Happy Birthday, darling, let’s spend it with the in-laws"), en route stopping in Pittsburgh to catch a baseball game (butch boys, these two, but not too butch, as Victor has been known to treat himself to the occasional manicure and pedicure). Old Vic, as he’s known in the U.K., is a Friday night resident DJ at Cobalt and a Saturday night regular at Wet. He’s sensational — stop in and hear him sometimeÂ…

Hearsay was profoundly touched to learn that the manager of the Fireplace, Alan Harden, approached the current co-owner of the Green Lantern, Greg Zehnacker, with the request that the celebratory wake for two late Green Lantern employees — Fred Dabney and Al Weber — be held at the bar Alan used to manage long, long ago. The event, held last Thursday, July 3, in the Lantern’s upstairs berth, was an intimate, poignant affair, with several former Lantern customers reentering the renovated bar for the first time. Overheard: "Wow, I never knew it was such a beautiful space!"Â…

And last but not least: Bob Summersquall. No, that’s not right. Bob Summersquill. Nope. Let’s try again. Bob Summerzkill. Oh, forget itÂ…

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