Tag Archives: baltimore

BDSM: Baltimore Doesn’t Scare Me

6 Jan

“Don’t forget to play Macho Man! And YMCA!” My manager is texting me.

I’m standing in a dark elevated DJ booth futilely trying to hook up mixer wires into my computer, looking out over Baltimore’s premiere leather BDSM gay bar.

It’s my 11th day in Maryland.

Back up.

I spent my first week training to start doing trivia with a new company here. Although it’s a different format than Geeks Who Drink’s trivia, I was so happy to be back in my element – with a microphone in my hand, reading questions to drunk nerds. My manager gave me two bars to host weekly, one, an Irish bar in Timonium, with decor that wouldn’t look out of place on Game of Thrones. It’s a warm place with an older crowd. Easy peasy.

Manager, whom I’ll call Dan, messages me on Monday asking me if I’d be OK heading up a new locale, a hip gay bar downtown. The guy they have isn’t working out and they want someone with a lot of energy and experience. I readily agree. It’d be a nice contrast to the relaxed pace of the Irish bar. I start looking on their website to find the address.

The first thing I see pop up on the site are two rugged men wearing gimp masks. Another photo of 6 burly men caressing a football wearing what appear to be thongs.

The screen reads: “Leather. Bear. Fetish. BDSM. Life’s better with a little punishment.”

What?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with kinks – far from it. But what kind of bondage bar has a trivia night??? I text my manager jokingly pointing out that he didn’t clarify what KIND of gay bar I’d be working at – he hastily tries to assure me that they are just trying to fill the slow hours evening between opening and when it gets wild with something that’ll attract “after-work gays.”

I ask Ari if he wants to accompany me. He politely declines.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s winter (so dark early), every area is unfamiliar to me or because many articles I’ve read recently referred to this city as “Bodymore, Murderland” (first of all, Bodymore? Not Bulletmore? Come on people – use your brain) but I was apprehensive about the bar while looking for parking. Inside though, it was clean and Depreche Mod played softly from the speakers, everything was chrome and brick. Tasteful black and white photos of men cuddling hung from the walls. A sign pointing upstairs told me there was a bondage shop selling everything from whips to bow ties (“for that special occasion.”) I’m pretty sure everyone inside thought I was lost.

A lone bespectacled man sipped from a pink drink at the bar. I introduced myself to the bartender Nicole who informed me that trivia actually start at 8, not 7:30 as I was told. I had 2 hours to kill.

I started setting up my equipment. Buddha Beer Bar had a slightly raised platform for me to stand on, the Irish pub had a castle like area with turrets surrounding it, but this bar had a DJ booth. I was at least 3 feet above the audience and I felt very on display (not as on-display as the jock-straps in the corner but pretty close).

After some technical difficulties, the game started and once I had my script going, it went smoothly. There were 3 teams thankfully so nothing was too overwhelming. Two hours went by with no disasters – not bad for my first solo show.

The only awkward part of the night was when I announced the category “Baseball” and guys booed. I fired back with “If you guys hate sports so much why are you watching basketball HMMM??” And then immediately remembered where I was.

The next category was “the devil” and everyone cheered.

The category after that was “land borders” which received no response.

I mentioned that I was new to the city and got a cheer. Afterwards, guys came up to me to welcome me and to ask if I would be doing trivia every week.

I spent a while talking to three young men who informed me that it was “twink night” at the bar, which was why there was only one guy walking around with a leather kilt and harness. They were also delighted to learn I was in comedy and one gave me his number and email to put me in contact with a friend of his who hosts ladies’ open mics. Of all the things I was expecting that night, getting a guy’s number was not one of them.

And I didn’t play The Village People like my boss enthusiastically suggested.

It felt wonderful to be back on stage. Tues, Wednesday and Thursday were great. I met the director of the Baltimore Museum of Industry, where I’ll be giving tours, Thursday night Ari and I explored a very cool brewery in town.

Friday was hard.

I was driving around, buying food for Shabbat, going to the library, a doctor’s appointment. And starting feeling terribly homesick for New York. There’s so much I miss. Walking everywhere. The energy I feel from the huge amount of people everywhere. Or even the safety I feel from the huge amount of people everywhere. The lights, the buildings, the noise. The general buzz of electricity around every corner. In Baltimore, even in the cityest part feels spacious and empty. The complex we’re in started to feel like I was stranded on a desert island. My car closed in on me.

“What have I done?” I thought, crying and driving. “Why did I leave my friends and my home? This place isn’t for me. I want to go home.” Knowing that home was here now.

Just thinking about it makes me throat close up even now.

I have to keep reminding myself why I wanted to move in the first place. To challenge myself creatively – to live somewhere where I could find a different audience and different experiences. A place that would put me closer to where I needed to be despite the fact that it feels like I’m isolated. A place that would be a compromise between the suburbs, quiet and space Ari wants and the city where I could do everything I dreamed of.

The fact that I could just jump in the first week, get on stage, and take control is a testament to how much I accomplished and learned in NY.

Sure, I could’ve stayed there, continuing to do a good job at trivia, stay an intern at QED, spend 45 min on the train to go to open mics and compete with the biggest talents and attractions in the world for an audience (in a theoretical sense – I don’t consider myself anything on the same level as “competition” to any amazing shows in the city obviously).

But it’s hard. And sometimes I feel sad and scared and utterly panicked that I made a huge mistake. And other times I feel elated and proud and completely enthralled by the promise of a new city and fascinating new experiences at every turn.

And sometimes I think of a mantra: “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

Stay warm, friends 🙂

Africa or Israel? My First Official Day Here

28 Dec

I am going to mark yesterday as my first OFFICIAL day in Baltimore even though Ari and I have been here for almost a week. Because before yesterday I don’t think I even talked to anyone outside of Whiskey and the grumpy Jewish guy who works at 7 Mile (and it was to say ‘no plastic bags please! We just moved here!’ and he was not excited at all. Whatever man! I’m here get used to it!)

Finally, New Yorkers should get the respect they don’t deserve at all!

But before I talk about my first real day, I want to do a movie review on one we saw Tuesday and that was Downsizing, starring Matt Damon. It’s about a world where scientists have discovered the ability to shrink people down in the hopes of reducing their carbon footprint but also to make their lives easier by making their money go further. Ari showed me the trailer a few months ago and I thought wow that’s definitely a unique concept for a movie – I’m in! AND it has Kristin Wiig AND the love of my life Christoph Waltz?! Count me double in.

But (and total SPOILER ALERTS ahead – look for SPOILER OVER further down), the movie was not what was pitched in the trailer. I was expecting tiny people getting drunk off 1/10 a shot of vodka and playing in doll houses or whatever. What I actually got was a serious, almost preachy doomsday movie about climate change. And I ALREADY SAW DARREN ARONOFSKY’S ‘MOTHER!’THIS YEAR I CANT HANDLE ANY MORE ECO MOVIES.(honestly though, Mother! fucked me up.  I was actively angry after I saw that film.) Christoph, is, as always, a darling little chestnut of a gem in the film and he can no wrong. Ever. But why put comedy geniuses Jason Sudeikis and Kristin Wiig in a film when you’re going to make them be the most boring characters ever?! I honestly can’t remember a single interesting line either one of them said. They play blank slabs of concrete in the movie I think. Anyways, once you know what you’re in for, yes it’s pretty good. Except it mostly takes place within the small world so you almost forget everything is .04 normal human size – and then, what was the point of making the movie at all?

Maybe I’m dumb and don’t understand it – that’s possible, feel free to tell me what you thought of it.

SPOILERS OVER

I’ll tell you what’s spoiled, me, for other men after watching Christoph Waltz smile even one time. What a lovely little coconut.

ANYWAYS. Back to Bmore. So I applied to run trivia down here because I had such a wonderful time with Geeks Who Drink – I trained last night with the manager at one of the companies down here. The Manager called me back Tuesday night at 11pm to tell me to meet him last night in order to learn how to run their music trivia.

I got to the bar, which was literally in the definition of the term random. It was a bar right off the highway, seemingly surrounded on all sides by a parking lot. Inside it was dark, there were pool tables and tiki lights. It seemed like a place Sam and Dean Winchester would stop at after chopping off a vampire’s head.

I got a Blue Moon, found the Manager and realized that when he said he liked to do trivia he LIKED to do trivia. I’ve never met such a hyper, not-on-coke, person in my life. He was like a hummingbird that looked like Jim Carrey. I was giving out answer sheets when a man with the most spectacular  mustache came up to me. He looked like a stubbly flannel-wearing Snidely Whiplash. “M’friends call me ‘Stash,” he told me.

I guess he didn’t have a name before he hit puberty. Or friends. Or maybe he was born with the ‘stash what do I know.

As intimidating as ‘Stash looked, he was a sweetheart – which I’ve found to be the case in most bars when I do trivia. The guys who may look tough are the ones who love to joke with you.

Music trivia was great – it’s very little scoring since it’s a Bingo format. The Manager was very much jump-in-sink-or-swim kind of teaching which I like and it felt so good to be back on the mic.

After the show, one woman, Cathie, came over to talk to us. She started asking the Manager where he was from since they were both native Baltimorions (or Baltimorons as people who are not me like to say). Someone they both started talking about the Catholic school featured in Netflix’s The Keepers. They both knew a friend or a friend-of-a-friend who went their during the sex abuse scandal or other priests in the area. It was fascinating to me to hear what people thought of the documentary about their little area (even though I only watched 2 episodes – it was really upsetting and as I said I ALREADY WATCHED ‘MOTHER!’ THIS YEAR). She asked me where I was from and I told her I moved to Baltimore 3 days ago. She clapped her hands.

“Oh my God that’s so great! Welcome to Baltimore! Which part do you live in now?”

“Pikesville?”

“Oh I know that area….do you like in Israel or in (she lowered her voice)…Africa?”

I’m not sure why she chose to do that for the Africa part and not the Israel part. I assumed she meant the parts where I live with all the ultra-orthodox. I told her Israel. I mentioned that I went to College Park so MD wasn’t entirely unfamiliar to me. That led her on a story about her boyfriend who lives in CP and the murders he’s witnessed vs. how many she’s seen by her house. I love that the number crimes you’ve seen is something to brag about. And by love I mean it’s deeply unsettling. We are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

But everyone at the bar, Manager, ‘Stash, Cathie, the bartenders, the 3 people who saw me looking for the women’s room and pointed me in the right direction, were super nice. I am already exhausted by the amount of strangers who have spoken to me.

Tonight I’m shadowing the regular trivia game.

After a few days of settling in I’m eager to start creating. It is also FREEZING outside, but 10 degrees warmer than New York so that helps my homesickness a bit 🙂

 

 

Quoth the Raven, “Hello Baltimore!”

25 Dec

Hello! Out there internet!

 

I’ve been feeling kind of anxious and blah lately, gearing up for the move to Baltimore and then spending yesterday moving (honestly, did not think through the 8am Sunday morning Christmas Eve move time – people were NOT happy waking up to boxes thunking down stairs. I was coming in from the car when an old woman on the first floor opened her door and yelled ‘what the FUCK is going on?’ at me and I looked around shocked and said ‘I THINK someone is moving so early wow that terrible’ and she was placated) and today putting stuff away. Anxious and nervous about moving to a new city almost on a whim but we did it and we’re here, there are literal ravens everywhere, there are yellow black white and red flags on everything. Welcome to Baltimore.

 

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“RAVENS CAN MIMIC HUMANS!”

 

I just spent like 6 minutes looking up facts about ravens and they are fascinating. Never ever make one mad because they are scarily smart, old grudges, take revenge and also rove around in teenage bird gangs. Is there no place in Baltimore safe from crime?? Even the local bird population really?? I think I watched something about it on the Baltimore bird crime show The (Telephone) Wire. Yes, I’m rusty at comedy thanks for asking.

 

Yup, I’m super rusty and tomorrow I’m going to hit up an open mic maybe, or an improv show. Since driving down last week to pick up the apartment keys I’ve been discovering podcasts (like a zillion years after everyone else) and I’ve been binge-listening to Comedy Bang Bang every second of the day. I loved the show on Netflix but never had a commute so wasn’t interested in the whole listening vibe of it but now it’s been on non-stop for 6 days. It’s so so great and stupid. I had an improv coach that would laugh at stuff we did and then say ‘that is so stupid.’ It was his highest form of flattery. It’s been a while since I’ve found so much joy in a comedy thing instead of anxiety that I wasn’t working hard enough on my own projects – that’s so dumb. It’s so hard to divorce the part that loves comedy and derives happiness from the part that’s like ugh this is amazing I’m so envious and anxious about my own stupid projects. Silly.

2018 is gonna be the year of getting back to enjoying things for its own sake.

 

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“I ENJOY TURNING BITS OF METAL INTO HOOKS TO PICK UP FOOD WHICH IS SOMETHING HUMAN CHILDREN COULDN’T FIGURE OUT WHEN PRESENTED WITH THE SAME MATERIALS”

 

I have a few job interviews lines up this week – they’re both part time gigs and at museums/performance venues so that should be fun! And trivia! Hope to get that up and running soon too.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, I hope all your holidays were bright and lovely. Here’s to a year of success, joy, light, warmth and cookies 🙂

 

Jerry and Crazy Tony

8 Jul

Hello children! I have returned, just as I promised.

The Fourth is over and done with and now we can all turn our attention to the next big thing we’re counting down to: Take Your Pants for a Walk Day! I don’t really understand it either, but some people really like their pants so don’t knock it. Man + Pants love 4evaaaaa make it legal already, it’s 2013 ammiright?

I hope you all had nice vacations, those of you who were off (sorry, Gadget). As I said ages ago, I was in Florida for the past week. Super excited to be in the sun, on the beach, in ma bikini and with ma best pals. Alas, 24 hours after we landed in Fort Lauderdale I am hacking up stuff and my head feels like it’s been filled with hot egg-drop soup. Spring Break! Time for my signature Robitussintini. (I’m joking, don’t drink that. You’ll literally have psychosis and be forced to write an awkward ‘humor’ column.)

It still turned out to be a pretty solid vacation. Joy and Liana have been like my sisters since 3rd grade. August marks the first time one of us, Joy,  will be getting married and things will never be the same (DUN DUN). Which is why we obviously had to prank the shit out of her.

Haha! The ole' burn her wedding dress a month before the wedding!

Haha! Your face is so red!

See, Tuesday, I was still talking with something like a gravelly smoker’s voice that would’ve let me fit right in with the leathery elderly gambling their social security away at the Hard Rock casino nearby so Joy and Liana decided to  have an indoor day and because we have a limited understanding of what 23 year old chicks on vacation in Florida do for fun, we went to the Hollywood Science Museum. We were the only ones there over 19 who were not a parent or a camp counselor or lost. NO SHAME. Children’s science museums are awesome! (Except for the fact that you have to wait on line alone to take a picture in the fake mars rover while mothers give you the side-eye) But there’s touch-tanks and brain teaser puzzles and whatever the fuck this is!

"It's Jerry!"

“It’s Jerry!”

There was also something that was a drunk-driving simulator. It looked like a arcade racing game except instead of putting in a coin, you plugged in your sex, age and how many “drinks” you’ve had. Then depending on your BAC, the game screen would change blurriness. Then it was your job to follow the GPS directions home without hitting anyone, speeding,or crashing into buildings while your wheel jolted and made you drift lanes. It was also timed, because everyone knows when you drive drunk it’s important to feel the pressure of making it home in time. The game should’ve specified a reason why you needed to get home in 2 min and 30 seconds, like maybe your parole officer was coming to visit or maybe you’re trying to catch your wife cheating again, but weirdly they didn’t. We watched two kids play before we did and both times they either rammed their car into oncoming traffic or turned too early and slammed into a school. Joy’s turn, she had 6 “drinks” but then maneuvered her car all the way home without any violations. The screen said “Congratulations! You made it home in time with no speeding tickets or collisions.” Don’t you think a game like this should ALWAYS BE RIGGED TO LOSE? I mean, we knew it was a joke and that drunk driving is probably a bad idea but kids are dumb, what does “winning” this game show them? The game should be, enter your information and oh no, the car won’t start because your friends took your keys away. The end. You still win.

Oh, so the prank. We had finished the museum at 3 p.m., the same time Liana’s dad was supposed to pick us up but his phone was off. We sat outside the museum watching children chase pigeons like the creepers we were. At some point Liana and I decided to explore the gift shop while Joy watched our stuff (ie 5 boxes of Zours we bought at Walgreens for lunch). In the gift shop we noticed a basket full of fake but EXTREMELY realistic looking cockroaches. We didn’t even have to say anything to each other. Our minds were one. We needed a fake cockroach to hide in the shower for Joy. At 27 cents a roach it was definitely worth it.

Saved us a bundle when we brought him out to dinner with us.

Saved us a bundle when we brought him out to dinner with us.

Later that night, we planted it in the shower and waited outside. “No, no, no!!” We heard from inside. Joy ran out in a towel. “There is a HUGE big in the shower!” she shouted. We started cracking up. She was confused. Until we explained the bug was plastic. She was mad but we WERE NOT SATISFIED with her response. We decided to do the prank right this time and so we put it on Liana’s mom’s couch cushion. And waited again.

“Ugh! A bug!! Get it out!” we heard her yell to her husband. “Don’t squish it on the couch!” “It’s so big! Get rid of it!” Liana’s dad got a paper towel and grabbed the bug about to throw it outside, but Liana (who realized her newfound best friend, whom she named Crazy Tony since we had been watching Honey Boo Boo all week was going to be thrown far into the yard) jumped on her dad’s back. “NO! DON’T THROW IT!” as her dad tossed it onto the ground.

Then he watched in horror as Liana went after the cockroach and put it right into her mouth. “HAVE YOU BEEN DRINKING?!” he shouted at her. “WHATS WRONG WITH YOU GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!” Liana spit it into her hand laughing, “It’s fake! It’s fake!” He didn’t hear her and slapped it out of her hand. Thus a new member of our group was born. Crazy Tony would come everywhere with us the rest of the week. Liana took him out at the airport to more than one’s person’s confusion.

Later that night we were in bed at 1 a.m.(or three beds pushed together because why would you sleep any other way?) when a REAL 3 inch cockroach started climbing on the walls. Liana ran to beg her dad to get rid of it.

“Why don’t you just put it in your mouth?” he answered dryly.

___________________________________

Alas, now I am back in Baltimore after spending the weekend in New York. Work starts back up tomorrow. My article about the celebrities in Baltimore actually did get published but after other reporters added more interviews. Whatevs, I still helped and I don’t have to read any more information about One Direction’s new tattoos! Happy Day!

In Which I Debate the Pros/Cons of a Nude Superhero

24 Jun

But first, how was your weekend? Mine was good thanks for asking, I spent Shabbat with my Boyfriend (hi Ari!) in Teaneck, New Jersey. If you’ve never been to Teaneck just imagine a cute house, a sweet little grassy park, a bunch of Kosher cafes and Jews milling about because that’s all I’ve ever seen of Teaneck. Oh, and a sign that says “No Smoking in Park” with the word No crossed out in Sharpie and under those words, written “Smoking weed in park is OK!!” which seemed legit. So if you imagined that well then you really don’t need to visit.

Saturday, we played Trivial Pursuit with a bunch of his friends. Playing Trivial Pursuit with teams is great if you want to foster competition between teams and also breed contempt for your own teammates. Because when you have a few people second-guessing answers and then finally just going with the person who seems most sure, it can lead to you shouting “AH WHY DID I LISTEN YOU YOU ABOUT SEX AND CITY QUESTIONS OBVIOUSLY THE ANSWER WAS KIM CATRALL AHHH EVERYONE IS DUMB” to people who have formed only a tentative opinion about your mental health. Plus I’m not very good at competition as evidenced by the time I threw a air-hockey puck at Ari’s head at Dave and Busters that one time. By the end of the game it almost feels better when your team says a different answer than yours when you turn out to be right so you can act all superior when it comes to Scooby Doo trivia.

Also this weekend,  Ari and I traded books so I had to read a Superman comic since 1. He has a mild obsession with Superman (or maybe it’s normal for every 24 year old dude to have their grandmothers sew capes onto their Superman T-shirts?) and 2. I recommended he read “I Left My Tent in San Francisco,” a memoir I picked up when I was in London and  probably the funniest book I’ve ever read – I highly highly demand you read it. Now. I’ll wait while you order it off Amazon for ONE PENNY.

So I read The Red Son comic which is about what would happen if Superman landed in Russia instead of America. And it was interesting, I definitely didn’t know what was going to happen – and that’s pretty rare when I read. Also Batman wear a Ushanka with bat ears. Maybe the most adorable thing ever. I want one.

Nothing strikes fear into your enemies more than a fierce accessory.

Nothing strikes fear into your enemies more than a fierce accessory.

But since I’m clearly just going to be forced to look at/ read about Superman forever. I was thinking about him on my way down to Baltimore and had a question. “Why doesn’t Superman just fight nude?” And I’m not asking because I’m some perv who wants to see Henry Cavill naked (Tom Welling on the other hand… JK) and have children exposed to some naked role model but hear me out. I have reasons:

1. It’s not like his outfit is bullet proof, he’s indestructible. His spandex offers no protection at all so he’s not wearing it for that reason.

2. His costume isn’t like Under Armor  or something, it’s not keeping him warm or cold – obviously if Supes can hang out in his ice castle with little to no protection from the elements, he doesn’t need his suit then.

3. He’s like a perfect specimen. I’m not saying only perfect bodies should be naked but it can’t be a reason he needs wear clothes. Also, he’s immortal and I imagine that immortal people wouldn’t feel shame or embarrassment since you just have a different perception of time and the human experience plus you’d just think that all these people will die some day and/or forget the memory. Plus they’re humans, what does he care what they think as long as he’s keeping them alive. And I assume that if Superman is saving your ass, you’re not gonna comment on his.

4. Less clothing allows you to fly faster, also that cape is hella loud when he makes an entrance. No fluttering cape or boots make for quieter sneaking around.

5. I’m not saying Lex Luthor is homophobic or anything but I’m sure it’d be intimidating to fight an all-powerful being who is also totally naked – it’s the element of surprise and also awkwardness! Villains would be like “This is uncomfortable can we just hold off on the fight until you get a towel or something?” and Superman would be like “Nope! *superpunch*”

The only drawback would be for when he hooks up with Lois Lane – she might be fooled by his glasses disguise but I feel like she might be like “Something looks familiar…” Also I don’t know if he hooks up with Lois? I’m going to ask Ari. BRB. He says “It depends on the story” so OK, in my story that’s what happens. Also, even though I’m not crazy about the Man of Steel – the comic book medium was v. rad to me, if you have any suggestions for me I’d love to take recommendations.

Anyways, today I stopped by the organic clothing store that I have permission to write about for a features story this week. Usually stores are pretty pumped to have free publicity but the dude who owns the store (the Jeff Daniels look-alike if you’re following along) is intense. He speaks very intensely. He asked what reassurance he had that I wasn’t going to smear his eco-friendly store with some expose and I said “Umm..because I’m an intern writing a fluffy piece for the style-section?” I never really had a run-in with someone who didn’t want to be interviewed but I guess it’s responsible for people to be distrustful of the big bad media. I can’t really emphasize since I just tell everyone everything and literally give strangers my debit card Pin code (true story, total accident though).

But then again, I’m not the one being interviewed.

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