Metro Weekly


Nellie's flings open its doors, Baltimore's Hippo turns 35, and a couple of local boys hit the big 3-0

Sporting news… There wasn’t enough CO2 at Nellie’s Sports Bar this past Monday to high-ball the high-quality beers on draft — and at times there wasn’t enough oxygen atoms in the atmosphere for Hearsay’s high-ball, either. With a line out the door after Team D.C.’s Nationals Night Out game, the joint was jumping and Hearsay’s heart was pumping. Chris ”That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles” Dyer, Brent ”Major League” Minor, Phil ”Coach” Piga, Ted ”Shortstop” Miller, Robert ”Heavy-Hitter” York, Shane ”Stadium” Griffith — the gang was almost all here. Hearsay had fun trying to determine who were catchers and who were pitchers — oh, hell, let’s face facts, they’re all catchers! Balls to the wall, bats to the mat, hands to the athletic supporters, all courtesy of Queen Nellie himself, Doug ”Sports Machine” Schantz. With a lot of relief pitching from his managers, Darren ”Tetherball” Philips and Michael ”Badmitten” Sasser and still more relief from all the hot Nellie bartenders, waiters and security staff, who just looked so damn cute in those Universal Gear Athletics tight tees. Let’s just say Hearsay’s Monday night bar game went way into extra-innings….

Hip-hip Hippo!… Some people go to Rehoboth for the summer, but Baltimore doesn’t get the respect it deserves as a fun destination, any time of year. And Hearsay loves fun, hon. And boy buns, too, son. (Sorry about that. Hearsay’s done with the fun run of rhymes. Starting now. Don’t have a cow. Okay, starting now. Pow. Now!) But Hearsay’s secret about Charm City’s charm is apparently out: Club Hippo was hip and hopping on Saturday, July 7 — or, to be more precise: 07/07/07, which is just three digits away from being the mark of the Devil. Fortunately, the Hippo is more like kissed by an angel, having served as Baltimore’s gay nightlife beacon for 35 amazing years. And what a fun place it is to go. You can stand and model — and even sit! — and still see the action on the slightly sunken rectangular dance floor. Book-ended by bars, alcohol is always within easy-spilling distance. And the dance floor itself is big enough to bust a move. Or cop a feel of those busting a move. Or both, in the case of Ron ”Ewwa-Ewwa” Brown. As well as Michael ”House Party Headquarters” Scott. Yes, it was that kind of night. There were soooo many D.C. boys there. Brown’s hubby Bruce ”Baltimore Virgin” Nylander was there, and — well, let’s just get the name-dropping out of the way, shall we? Chris ”A Perfect” Dix. Mike ”Beat” Reimer. Bill ”Mad Max” Pullen. David ”Back to” Black. DJ ”Beans and” Rice. Lee ”That’s Classified” Hylton. John ”TenTen” Anderson. Ben ”More To” Read.

And because variety is a McCormick spice of life, Hearsay will now drop the names of some of the Baltimore lads it befriended: Dale ”My Tide Is High” Janni and Tracy ”My Bounce is Fluffy” Noell. Jeff ”Good to the Last” Siperly and Dan ”Deep Fried” Calamari. Also there was Jeff ”As Sure As I’m” Abell, the Saturday evening news anchor on Ballmer’s WBFF-TV Fox 45. ”Coming up at 10: Eager beavers already lined up to party at One West Eager Street. Run if you don’t want to wait.”

And wait he did. Because if you didn’t make it in before 10 p.m., you had to wait in a line that eventually circled down several blocks and took up to an hour for the poorest of party-planning people to get through. And with the club closing at 1:45 a.m., it made for precious little time to get your groove on. But what you lack in quantity you could easily make up for in quality, which Hippo’s owner Chuck ”Not Related to Jack” Bowers provided that in spades by tapping Junior ”Back In Style” Vasquez to spin his influential brand of complicated rhythms and bright melodies, and letting everyone in for free. ”Praise You” wasn’t just the popular refrain from one of the last song’s Vasquez played Saturday night. It was also the evening’s theme, and on everyone’s lips. All praise the Hippo, 35 years old and going as strong as ever….

The straight facts… After the fun at the Hippo ended, its grand ice sculpture reduced to a chilled pool of water, it was time to waddle over to Baltimore’s premiere after-hours nightspot, Club 1722, which is very barebones but inviting, like a townhouse — a townhouse with second-floor lounges instead of bedrooms, a bar where the kitchen should be and a DJ subbing for a big-screen TV high above the standing-room-only ”living room.” There was much to be confused about, but the most obvious confusion was over sexuality. Say, for example, you’re at the urinal and the guy next to you is making a show of himself, looking all around while he flings his pinga. It may not be what it seems. It may be just a guy happy to fling his pinga. Because 1722 is a mixed club, with ”straight” — especially straight — boys as well as gay. So one straight-but-inappropriately-exhibitionistic patron may say to an inappropriately-admiring-but-understandably-so gay voyeur, in a threatening tone and grimace, ”What you looking at?!?” To which one can only reply: ”Your waggle stick. It’s so soft and floppy.”

Don’t let incidents like that stop you. There is plenty of fun and frolic to be had at 1722. You might want to drink up before you drive there (but that doesn’t sound good, now does it?) since the space doesn’t serve alcohol. It doesn’t even open until after Charm City’s not-so-charming 1:45 a.m. alcohol cut-off. The club’s motto: ”There is life after 2 a.m.” Life goes on until sun-up or until people are too tired or too horny or just too something to stay any longer. Hearsay stayed long enough to see Charles ”Live Love Dance” Curtiss celebrating his 35th birthday — he’s as old as the Hippo. Curtiss was dancing up a storm in the small bathroom until finally some sweet soul helped him out to the dance floor. Once there, he had more room to dance to the diverse beats, from hip-hop to pop to house, from D.C.’s own Randy White, Apex’s Thursday night mainstay. Hearsay also stayed long enough to see the crowd, about 40 percent gay just after 2 a.m., become straighter and straighter as the night wore on — with hunky, hulky football players and the busty cheerleader-types who love them. Hearsay also stayed late enough to chat up and shamelessly flirt with 1722’s fine owner, Paul, whom Hearsay had eyed dancing at the Hippo earlier. Paul looks more than a decade younger than his half-century of age, with a body better than most men half his age. He explained that the club, open Fridays and Saturdays only, is mostly straight most nights, except for Pride, when the club is well over half gay, and a couple other special gay-popular weekends, such as when a certain gay granddaddy turns 35 — and we don’t mean Curtiss….

Over the past several weekends Hearsay has made frequent strolls and sidewalk sits up and down 17th Street, hitting its multitude of one-name-only bars and restaurants and just enjoying the weather. But even while in town Hearsay has checked out a couple mixed and even straight events lately. Such as Buzzlife‘s party at the 9:30 Club a few Saturdays ago. Yes, Buzzlife, the same promoters, including Scott ”Busy Bee” Henry and Amanda ”Spelling Bee” Huie, behind the enormously popular Buzz Friday parties at Nation. Almost a decade later, they’re still at it, putting on parties at various clubs around town a couple times a month. For the party at the 9:30 Club, Huie and company brought in as opening DJ Ed Bailey, the Velvet Nation/Halo/Something-New-This-Way-Comes proprietor who had just spun two weeks prior at Club 1722 for Baltimore’s gay Pride weekend. Bailey pumped up the jams until the British veteran rave and progressive house DJ Steve Lawler took over. The crowd was about as gay as a straight party gets — toward the end, it was well over half gay. Even early on the gay boys started taking off their shirts, an otherwise uncommon and generally forbidden sight in straight clubland. James ”Razma” Taswell was one of the early adopters, showing off his tattoo collage and muscle sculpture. But for a change, professional muscleman dancer Sean ”It’s Time for a Revolution” Soheil kept his shirt on for much of the evening. Per their usual, so did David Allen Thomas, Chris ”Bright Lights, Big Smile” Wiggins and Curtis ”Leggo My” LeGro. Know how you can you tell it’s still a mixed party? Fighting the habit, even the 9:30 Club gay-boy regulars completely stayed out of the women’s bathroom. Instead it was back to the urinals. You know what they say, go with the flow….

30 is the new sweet 16… How do you celebrate a 30th Birthday? Besides drowning in tears and beer? That’s the key to mourning the passing of a more innocent era at the same time as launching into a more festive and intoxicated decade — clearly, a better time. You haven’t lived until you turn 30 — even if you get to living so much you feel like dying the day after.

Aric ”But I Prefer Marlene” Dietrich opted to celebrate his new life last Thursday with a party hosted by Patrick ”The Boss” Menasco at Joe Freeman and Adam Martin’s expensive, expansive Kalaroma digs — and a divinely decadent white-chocolate mousse cake from Watergate Pastries. How Diplomatic! The diplomats honoring the Dietrich Diana-sty included Al ”Chain Reaction” Baggett, Kat ”The Boss” Danaher, hot-to-trot art consultant Mike ”I Hear A Symphony” Weber, Abderrahim ”Reflections” Ezzaki, Michael ”I’m Coming Out” McGrath and Mike ”Baby Love” Saleh, who couldn’t stop raving about or eating the cake he grew up on.

Meanwhile, Peter ”Poulet Non Plus” Hahn celebrated his new life two days later with a Bastille Day-themed party at the U Street-area pad he shares with his man, Michael ”Sur La Table” Crossett. Hahn had a keg of Sam Addams — because they couldn’t get a keg of Kronenbourg — and a Slurpee-machine vat of an elixir called French Cosmopolitan, a new batch of which had to made early on in the night, it was that agréable. He also had a garage rock band perform — literally in his garage, as partygoers, including Kevin ”Bientot” Steele, Matthew ”Le Spoon” Forke, Joe ”Mais Oui” Pheeny, Randy ”Plaisir” King, Chris ”Oh La La” Layfield and a gaggle of Georgetown gays and gals — not to mention the neighbors — watched from the alley….