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The following interview was conducted by pop-culture poster boy, freelance blogger and executive editor of Gunpowder & Gold Alexander Mayfair. It originally appeared on Washington, D.C.-based online magazine Outrage DC.
“Ken! Ken!” I pull my earphone out and look over. John, one of the D.C. Soviet Safeway’s resident cashiers, is enthusiastically waving for me to come over to his check-out line. I stand awkwardly in line, and by the time it’s my turn, we’ve already broken into our usual banter about how I look like the Ken Doll. “You know, not that 1960’s version. The new version that’s not into Barbie anymore. Comin’ out Ken!”
We have this same conversation every time he sees me and I’m still not sure whether it’s a compliment or a read. He rings me up and I reach for my wallet. The second I look down, I immediately feel a hand brush through the entirety of my hair, front to back. “Just had to make sure Ken wasn’t wearing a weave,” John assures me. John, this shit is real.
By the time I finish my errands and meet up with Brett at Meridian Hill Park, I am late. Again. We find a free spot on the grass and pop some champagne before officially starting the interview.
Alexander: Who’s the ideal person to be trapped in an elevator with for 12 hours?
Brett: I would have to say it’s not someone I know. It’s like a dream, you know? You can’t quite see their face, but it’s definitely attractive in case we hook up during that 12-hour time period. Maybe have some meat on their bones in case I get hungry. You know, in case it turns to cannibalism because 12 hours can quickly turn into 36.
Alexander: So you have all bases covered -- fun, hook ups, and food. All in one person.
Brett: Or maybe they work at Taco Bell and are carrying a few burritos. Like, “I just happen to have a Crunchwrap Supreme from earlier.” After you’re in an experience where you’re trapped for 12 hours, that’s probably the person you’re going to marry … even if they work at Taco Bell.
Alexander: If you were driving an expensive fast car, what song would be playing?
Brett: Trey Songz, “Say Aah.” Mostly because I feel like I’ll be popping champagne while I’m driving.
Alexander: What if you have had a little bit too much champagne? Whose choreography would you be emulating, assuming you don’t crash?
Brett: In my head, it’s Beyonce, but in actuality it’s probably closer to Helen Keller. This skin is pasty-white, and my hips do not lie. I’ll be a Helen Keller that can’t see her own look, but knows it looks good.
Alexander: What if you meet someone who’s into moves like Keller? Tell me what a non-obvious end to the perfect date looks like.
Brett: Non-obvious? I feel like a perfect date is when it feels so effortless and all of sudden you realize, “Omigawd, we’ve been hanging out for 32 hours straight!” They’ve came home after the club or something, and they’re still here and you don’t want them to leave. Multiple meals, and we’re still just kicking it.
Alexander: When you’re that attracted to someone, what’s one thing you can’t live without?
Brett: In terms of looks, taller and darker than me. Oh, and furry. I’m short and pasty, so if you’re shorter than me, and lighter than me, I’m not into it. There’s probably crossbreeding of my relatives way back. In terms of personality, a good sense of humor is key, and confidence. If you’re not confident and have to ask too many questions in order to make things happen, I’m not into it. Don’t ask me if you can kiss me -- just do it.
Alexander: Funny, we’re like opposites of each other. I usually go for short and brown.
Brett: That’s ‘cause we’ve both got the pasty thing down, but you’re tall. Anyone taller than you, and you’d be like, “Ok, listen Yao Ming, I can’t do this sh*t.” Like, they custom order shoes, probably. Shorter than me and you’re approaching handicap or midget status. I’m sorry, I mean "little person."
Alexander: What if you do end up with that ideal person? How are you going to propose?
Brett: I think I’d like to be proposed to because I probably wouldn’t come up with anything cute. I think that being proposed to doesn’t have to be dependent on top or bottom roles but people take it that way. Like, “Oh the top would ask the bottom out, or the top would propose to a bottom.” Forget all that … I would like to be asked to be married. Or I’ll do something super-cute that I can’t even think of right now.
Alexander: Like, a Hello Kitty theme?
Brett: A Hello Kitty-themed pool party proposal thrown by the Pocket Gays!
Alexander: [in hysterics] You just emerge from the pool as Hello Kitty …
Brett: With a ring!
Alexander: But you can’t say anything because Hello Kitty doesn’t talk.
Brett: [crying laughing] But I can see through the mouth of the costume.
Alexander: Well, I’m glad we figured that out. If you had to name one person who shaped the person you are today, who would it be?
Brett: The biggest would probably be one of my friends in high school who was one of the first other gays I knew. I would sneak down to visit him in San Francisco. I had to lie to my parents and make up a fake permission slip for this club that I was in and pretend I was traveling to a conference with the club. They were going to be paying for the lodging so all I needed was spending money! I was 18 at the time, but my mom wouldn’t have let me go somewhere like that by myself without parental supervision. I bought tickets with another friend, and we flew down from Seattle.
Alexander: Ever get caught?
Brett: Nope. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I actually told my mom. She said, “I knew something was weird about that trip. It just didn’t make sense that they would send you down to San Francisco for something like that.” That was my senior year of high school, and it was the first time that I had ever seen other gay people in real life. It was the first time I knew what gay people were beyond what you saw on TV, which at the time was just “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found the real gays. I guess I would have gotten to where I am today, but who knows how long that would have taken?
Alexander: Now that you’re fully fledged, let’s indulge in some gay arts. If you could read someone, how would you do it?
Brett: From cover to cover. If I’m going to read you, first I have to like you. At least enough to call you out on some sh*t in public. So, it would be in a public forum. Not a malicious public forum because I’m not going to paste it into your LinkedIn profile or some sh*t. Brunch is the best reading environment, especially over mimosas. Reading is fundamental, emphasis on the "fun."
Alexander: What if you were internationally famous? What would you be known for?
Brett: Comedy. I like to make people laugh, and I tend to do that fairly well, without sounding pretentious. So hopefully everywhere I go, people will think I’m funny.
Alexander: What about when you’re not performing? When do you feel most uninhibited?
Brett: Probably when I’m a couple drinks in, surrounded by gays. Whether on a dancefloor not giving a f*ck that I can’t dance, or during Pride or Southern Decadence, it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re a couple vodkas deep and loving it, or completely over it and ready to bail, all that matters are the people you are with and the great music. I like living for the moment and giving it all.
We eventually finish the interview over Russian Mules at dinner, and before I know it, it’s 11 p.m. I follow the rainbow flags home to the gayborhood like a drunken Dorothy. Ken returning to the plastic dream house. Needless to say, I pass out and sleep well.
Check out the latest installment of Grindrphiles over at Outrage DC.
We'd like to share a graphic that we put together here at the Grindr office -- the Grindr World Heat Map. We think it's pretty fascinating, and we think you will too.
It's an image of the world with a bunch of little dots on it. Those dots represent all the Grindr users who were signed into the app at one specific point in time a few weeks ago.
As you can see, users span the globe, with particularly high concentrations in certain areas. This is a huge community, and each and every one of you plays a crucial role in it.
If nothing else, the Grindr World Heat Map proves that Grindr is clearly the number-one place to go if you want to meet guys!
The Grindr community has just exceeded 4 million users worldwide, meaning there are more guys on this mobile social app than anywhere else. Together we've created the largest mobile gay community known to humankind. Not bad!
To keep up with all of you, we here at Grindr HQ have been working tirelessly to create a revolutionary new version of Grindr, which will be available as soon as we put the finishing touches on it.
“With 4 million men, Grindr is the best place to meet guys, and we’re introducing the new Grindr, which makes your search a lot easier and faster, with new features such as filters and communities,” said Joel Simkhai, founder and CEO of Grindr. “The new Grindr continues our commitment to innovation and our belief in leveraging location-based technologies to help gay men find one another.”
With the new Grindr, we're introducing a long list of fun new features that you're sure to find extremely helpful in your quest to quickly find just the type of guy you're looking for.
The new Grindr will give you better functionality, including filters, a new slide-screen menu, and an optimized interface with a revamped look and feel that still maintains the classic Grindr framework that all of you know and love.
Here’s just a sampling of what the New Grindr will be capable of:
For a sneak peek of some new Grindr screenshots, check out Grindr.com/new.
Get ready to experience Grindr like you never have before.
We can't wait to unleash the New Grindr. We're confident that you're really going to love it. Stay tuned for more, and thanks again for being Grindr guys!
The following interview was conducted by pop-culture poster boy, freelance blogger and executive editor of Gunpowder & Gold Alexander Mayfair. It originally appeared on Washington, D.C.-based online magazine Brightest Young Gays. Mayfair is now writing "Grindrphiles" for Outrage D.C. Check out his latest installment here.
“This is how you start a roadtrip.” I press play, and the bass starts to boom as Mariah Carey’s “Dream Lover” floods the car. All three girls in the back simultaneously squeal. We’ve just gotten on the beltway, the sun is shining, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the summer than heading to the beach for the weekend. My hand rides the airwaves outside the window, and I lean back in my seat, enjoying the rays on my face while singing backup for MC.
Cut to two hours later -- the traffic is moving at the rate of molasses, the overstuffed car is starting to feel seriously claustrophobic, and despite the three hour suggested travel time, we still aren’t even halfway to our destination. The sense of light and airy excitement the five of us had felt just hours ago has been overtaken by quiet frustration.
Then it hits me. It’s Friday, I’m leaving town for the weekend, and I haven’t lined up my interview for next week’s article. I sit there in dismayed silence as my stomach starts to sink. I stare blankly out the window, thinking until my vision starts to blur. Then, suddenly, lightning strikes for the second time in 10 minutes. I whip out my phone and furiously start to text my Virginia Beach gays.
By the time we get off the highway, I already have a gameplan. We arrive to the house, set our things down, and start getting ready for dinner. No one knows the area, and I convince them that I’ve got a great recommendation in Ghent, Norfolk, Va.'s, gayborhood. By the time we finish dinner, I have an interview set up for the following morning at 11.
Adam shows up late the next morning, but I’m thankful for it. His delay has allowed me to suck down just enough mimosas to start feeling like a human being again. I pour us both one, and we sit down in the living room to start the interview.
Alexander: Well, it’s Saturday morning. If we were in an ideal world, tell me what tonight would look like.
Adam: It would have to start with dinner at a nice restaurant since I’m kind of a foodie. I like special food -- as long as it’s unique, different, and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. I usually skip dessert because when it comes to food, I don’t like sweet things. I prefer sweet drinks, so I’ll skip dessert and just have more sweet drinks later. My taste in music is like my taste in food. I like things that sound different and unique. I like things that feel good, so I would try to find something that’s low-key but still funky.
Alexander: Like a lounge?
Adam: Yeah! Definitely more like a lounge. I enjoy that atmosphere more, versus a club. I’ve done the club thing in LA and New York. I did that, and I’m way more mellow in my 30s. Whether I’m sitting down, mingling, or dancing, I just can’t -- it’s too many people. It’s the same reason why I don’t go to water parks. It’s just gross [erupts into giggles].
Alexander: I haven’t been to a water park in years, and after that visual, I may never go again. Thanks for that. By the way, do you know who else never goes to pools? Drag queens. So if you were on RuPaul’s Drag Race, what would your name be?
Adam: Omigawd! Well, I definitely would want to work with my roots. I’m half-Jewish. I’ve always gotten a kick out of Jewish ladies like my mother and her mother. I would probably be something ridiculous like Millie Diamondberg or something -- something along those lines, like Joan. A good Joan is great. So yeah, Joan Diamondberg.
Alexander: Tell me about her.
Adam: She likes gold and diamonds, obviously, but she doesn’t wear them too much because that would just be cheesy.
Alexander: What does she look like?
Adam: Well, she’s blond... going gray. I think she would definitely be older.
Alexander: You mean distinguished?
Adam: Yeah, she is distinguished, and she loves large glasses -- large sunglasses that she wears all of the time. I see Joan wearing a lot of throwback stuff. She’s very in the attitude of Gloria Steinem, but she likes to be taken care of. She’s very forward and progressive as a woman, but she still likes to be pampered and have things bought for her.
Alexander: So she has a fur coat.
Adam: She definitely has a fur coat! She has to have several because you have to rotate. And she’s funny. She likes to make the people around her laugh to disarm them, which is what a drag queen does already anyway. Joan was just doin’ it before the drag queen thing happened.
Alexander: [Laughs] I think I’d like to meet Joan. What if you were a music genre? What would you be?
Adam: I’m just going to be brave and say disco. I just think it’s fun. There’s a part of me that truly believes that in my previous life I was at Studio 54. I mean I probably died on that dance floor in my last life. That’s what I feel. So yeah, I’ll stick with disco.
Alexander: Funny, I grew up thinking the same thing. Now tell me, dancing queen, who’s your dance icon?
Adam: Dance icon? Well, I am totally impressed right now with Kazaky! I had no idea they even existed, and I’ve literally YouTubed the sh*t out of them like I’m sure every other gay guy in the world has. They are obviously classically trained, and I can appreciate that. I don’t hate on their beats, and they’re being produced well. They’re Ukrainian, I believe, and I’m constantly in awe of them. They are super sexy, even though they’re not my type of guys, per say. I tend towards guys who are bigger and built, but they are athletes in a whole other way. They are like gymnasts. They pull it off, though, and they ride this androgynous line of dancing in heels but singing from a male perspective about other men. I like them. If I could go back in time and re-pick a career... sure, I mean, I would look ridiculous, but I would be loving my life. So yeah, Kazaky.
Alexander: I’m a big Kazaky fan myself. You said you like bigger guys, though, so tell me: What’s the first thing that attracts you to someone?
Adam: It’s an energy thing. It’s a heart and soul thing. I know that sounds absolutely ridiculous, but... OK, wait, let me back up here a little bit. The first thing that’s attractive to me is really good triceps, nice calves or a good ass. I mean, that’s across the room, and I have no idea who they are. That’s the answer -- that’s the first thing, and I think everyone who’s reading this article can probably relate to that. I’m not going to lie. There’s more to it, but that takes a little time to figure out. You asked for the first thing, so I’m talkin’ about the physique.
Alexander: Fair enough. Honesty is always appreciated. Moving from initial attraction to dating, however, what’s your best tip?
Adam: My best dating tip? If it doesn't feel right, then don’t bother with it. I have always gone with my gut when it comes to dating. If it’s not right, I give it a chance to get right, but if I don’t start feelin’ something, then I just let it fizzle out or do whatever I have to do to get out of it. Hopefully there’s a conversation with the other person that’s like, “Look, this isn’t working.” It’s not a personal thing. It’s just that your chemicals aren’t working together, so just move on. That’s the way it is. Every time I’ve followed that advice, I’m happy I did. I wasn’t wasting my time, and I wasn’t wasting somebody else’s.
Alexander: What about when the chemistry is there? Where do you take someone on a first date when you want to impress him?
Adam: I love to take boys on dates to a restaurant in Norfolk that everyone loves called Luna Maya. It’s a good date atmosphere ‘cause there’s people to watch, there’s delicious food to eat, and their drinks are great. No matter who I take there, they are always left wowed by the experience. In fact, that was my second date with my current boyfriend [whom Adam actually met on Grindr just over two months ago].
Alexander: Sounds like quite the place. As we all know, though, not every date is a success. Spill the beans on your most awkward first date.
Adam: It was actually a Grindr date. We met for drinks, and I was in a place in my life where I wasn’t sure where I was going to be in six months. I made that very clear. I made that clear halfway through the date, and it was like I dropped a bomb on the table. The tumbleweeds just rolled by, and he kind of just sat there. I felt like he thought there were going to be wedding vows that night or something. He stopped and looked down at the table for a good two minutes and didn’t say a word. Now, I’m a talker, so I didn’t know what to do. I gave it a minute and then I was like, “Are you ok?” and he said nothing. Then finally he looked up, took a deep breath and said, “Well I guess that’s that, isn’t it?” and I said, “Um, I guess so.” He then took care of the check, got up from the table and walked out. I think he maybe said two more words to me before he left, like “Good night.” It was awkward, but after I felt relief ‘cause when it’s not right, it’s not right, and he acted like a total b*tch. That’s not how I roll. At all. It was rough.
Alexander: Wow, that’s abrupt. Guess he didn’t want to waste any time. Onto lighter subject matter... who would you rather: Kourtney or Khloe Kardashian?
Adam: Gawd. You have to remind me. I’m so bad with this stuff. Who’s the one with Kanye right now?
Alexander: That’s Kim. Khloe is the taller one who’s married to the basketball player...
Adam: A little heavier?
Alexander: Yes, a little heavier -- sort of looks like a drag queen. The other one is the eldest sister. She’s petite, has a child and is pregnant again.
Adam: I think the one who’s with the basketball player. I like her. I like her energy. I was a heavy kid, and I’m not the lightest lady in the room, so I can relate to her. The reason she’s funny I get. It’s about disarming people and protecting yourself. I can relate to that. I think there’s a lot of gay guys out there that can.
Alexander: The fat kid in me certainly can! As I’m on a bit of a mini-vacation myself, it only seems fitting to ask you: Where’s your ideal vacation destination?
Adam: Somewhere warm, quiet, and not overly developed. I love Costa Rica because of that. There’s a respect for preserving nature. It’s very laid-back. I don’t surf, but it doesn’t really matter. Costa Rica has been my best vacation yet because of seclusion, sunshine and beautiful views. I also like to be up high, looking down.
Night falls, and I meet up with my best friend, Rachel, who lives in downtown Virginia Beach. We start off with 151-infused Rum Runners at Harpoon Larry’s, a local dive bar. Our next destination is only a couple of blocks away, but by the time I walk up to the bouncer, I feel fantastic. I hand him my ID, take a look around, and realize we have gone from dive bar to divier bar. The crowd looks like a mash-up between a tattoo convention and a Rick Ross concert. My friend Michelle tugs at my shirt and whispers in my ear, “Let’s clear the dance floor.” I’m way too sober for this, so I herd the group over to the bar to indulge in some more liquid courage. Skrillex comes on two shots later, and I grab Michelle’s hand and begin to dart through the crowd to the packed dance floor.
By the time the song ends, not only have we completely cleared the dance floor, but there are open-mouthed locals literally pointing at us. Having given them my best Kazaky impression, I think of Adam and laugh. "I may look ridiculous, but I am loving life right now."
It'd be an understatement to say that Pride festivities can get a little crowded. Friends split up, get lost, and need somewhere to regroup. It's also a challenge to find a good place to meet up with that new Grindr guy you've been talking to.
Well, we're here to help. Find one another at our official Grindr Meetup Spots during LA Pride this Saturday and Sunday. Look for the 'Grindr Meetup Spot' banners at the following excellent local businesses in the West Hollywood area:
8737 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
661 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
... and The Fight Magazine's space (booths 22 and 23) on the festival grounds Saturday.
Plan to meet at a Grindr Meetup Spot, and always know where to find your old friends -- and your new ones. And grab a drink, a bite, or a tank top or two while you're at it!