We had run into a couple of friends at Broadway Café and were discussing plans. "I wish there were a Hispanic gay club in town," said one. The other friend lit up. "There is!" he said. "Belle Starr's has Latino drag nights on Saturdays!" (There's similar fun on Fridays, too.) Considering the dearth of actual bars on Southwest Boulevard, this was something we had to check out. So we called our Research Assistants and pre-gamed at the Cashew. Two large Dewar's-and-waters (and three hours) later, we made the short trip to the Boulevard with RAs Julianne and Cece, whose help was invaluable -- especially later in the week, when we had to piece together the rest of the night, Rashomon-style.
Long story short, we missed the drag show. By the time we arrived at 1 a.m., the ladies had changed out of their outfits, and we didn't get to see any fantastic get-ups. However, we still had a fantabulous time, thanks to our lit state and the cool atmosphere of the place. Belle Starr's is made up of three areas. We entered and paid the $5 cover at Opal's, a bar area with a cozy, warm feel and a friendly wait staff. We sampled the $3 margaritas (which, we agreed, tasted delicious at first, then became not so appealing halfway through, though this could have been attributed to the melting ice), then walked into the middle room, which was darker. Hispanic cowboy types in plaid shirts danced while a shirtless guy writhed sensually on the low stage. We strolled past this scene and entered the Back Door bar, the industrial-looking, concrete-and-neon-decorated part with cage dancers.
We returned to Opal's and met a cool array of folks. We chatted with one of the performers who was out of costume. He told us he was Miss Gay Missouri. He makes his own wigs, and he advises that a bodysuit-foundation garment thing (with big tits) helps make everything smooth while showing off the curves.
We asked him to name his special talent as Miss Gay Missouri. He said he does a "high-energy" lip-synch number to Selena or Talia. We were hoping for a more sordid answer, but what can you do?
Then we met Santro, 23, from Honduras, a lovely guy who's been in the States for about a year and a half and was at Belle Starr's because he likes the music.
We were curious if there was a sort of culture clash between our perceived notions of Latino machismo and gay culture.
"Are you gay?" we gently probed.
"I'm 100 percent man," Santro said in his lilting English. "I don't like gays, but I can see why they come here. It's not a problem for me. They do whatever they want to do."
Yes, they do. Just like the (presumably) straight guys who dry-humped us on the dance floor. (Note to guys: ick!) We had moved back to the middle room, and while the RAs were being manhandled, the Night Ranger became entranced by a rockabilly-looking guy, Tomas, who was intently watching the old black-and-white movie that was silently flickering on a TV. The NR asked him what he was watching. He said he wasn't sure. Tomas' hotness plus his Australian accent were alluring, and we were prepared to shift into heavy flirt mode -- until we found out that he has a boyfriend (they've dated since 1991), which broke our heart.
So the NR made it to the dance floor and was vigorously dry-humped by a cologne-drenched guy in a sleeveless plaid shirt. (It was the most action the NR was getting that night, so she went with it.) In the meantime, our RAs were having an adventure of their own: After each experienced a special moment with a serial grinder, he tried to make conversation. Only he had to bring over a translator. According to RA Cece, the translator told them that Señor Grinder had a great time dancing with them and wanted to thank them and say goodbye.
The bar was shutting down, so we stumbled outside. The Grinder appeared and somehow communicated that he couldn't find his friends. He asked Julianne if she could take him home. "I already gave you a ride on the dance floor, my friend. What more do you want?" she said under her breath to us. Just then, the translator made his appearance, pen in hand, and engaged in "a flurry of Spanish encouragement for grinding boy to make some sort of move on us," Cece said.
We took our leave of this UN lovefest and pondered our night. The verdict: Lots o' fun, loved the music, and the pre-game was a necessary factor in the equation.
"We made penises hard at a gay club. That's an accomplishment, I guess," Julianne said.
Well, on a night when the pre-drink dominated our plans, we'll take any accomplishment we can get.