I do not like subcultures. Burning Man attendees, steam punks, Victorian goths, Harajuku girls, and even trapeze artists give me the serious heebie-jeebies. Maybe I just got too burned-out (no pun intended) on nutritional yeast and hula hoops from college, but I hate when grownups roll around half-naked and covered in any type of face paint or glitter. When my ex-boyfriend told me he used to go to raves in a Yorkshire field wearing JNCOs and a blue wig, I lost a little respect for him. And I am totally allowed to say this because some of my best friends are radical fairies! But every time they try to tell me about their cool festival in Tennessee, I just plug my ears with my fingers and start to scream: “La La La. I can't hear you.”
So, when I got the invite to my final sex party, and it said "Costume Required" I almost called The L to say I couldn't go. Especially since the theme of the party was “Alice in Wonderland.” This was quickly turning out to be my worst nightmare.
The party was held in a secret location near Carroll Gardens. Everyone is required to bring a partner and stick with that partner the entire time. Once again, I had a hard time finding anyone to be my date, and so once again, I ended up playing hag to one of my closest fags, Jason. He told me he would only go on one condition: he wouldn't pay for a single thing. He didn't want to get his money clip out for anything—no booze, no entrance fee, no smokes, and no cabs.
Luckily, this party was walking distance from my house and the rest of my expenses will be written off on my taxes as research. (Just kidding tax man!) Jason came over the night of the party and we coordinated our outfits. I went as a sparkly Queen. There are queens in Wonderland, right? I wore a see-through, diamante-encrusted muumuu with a black bra and tights underneath. Jason went as a rogue queer wildebeest in leopard leggings. We thought we looked great while still maintaining a level of cool.
However, when we got there, the doorman wouldn't let us in. Apparently, what I was wearing was too much of “a dress.” I found the manager and explained our situation. She said we could only come in if Jason took his shirt off. There was a strict no shirt policy. This was not ideal. Jason and I are in the midst of working off our winter weight, and he was not too happy about having to walk around the party topless. I shrugged my shoulders and told him I would buy him brunch.
At the entrance, we were greeted by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. I started to get an itchy feeling, like I was allergic to something. I can't remember if it was Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum who told us, “In order to get through to the other side you must present an offering to the Cheshire Cat.” Behind them sat a woman who must have robbed the wardrobe department of Cats. I wanted to offer her a joke, but Jason said, “Hell no, you got us into this mess now you're going to kiss that pussy.” I sucked it up and tongued her. Luckily, her whiskers were painted on.
Finally, we were inside. It was a smallish loft with a pay bar, which was ridiculous since it cost us $100 dollars to get in. There was a hammock and a mattress that spanned the length of the room. The party promoted itself as a queer/radical space, but we could tell from the moment we walked in that there were only hetero couples. The breeders were decked to the nines in their costumes. One woman came as the Mad Hatter and instead of wearing clothes she simply painted on a suit and tie.
We walked over to the bar and tried our best to make small talk. All the conversation was stilted though, and I couldn't help feeling we were missing something. We weren't making friends. We went over to the side lines and sat down on a bench. It was my two worst phobias combined: middle school dances and live action role play retreats.
Jason and I are cheap, so we had smuggled in a bottle of tequila. We ran to the bathroom, locked ourselves in a stall and made sex noises in between taking chugs from the bottle. I thought I would be the judgmental person at this party, but both of us agreed something was off and that we should pretend to be a couple, lest they figure out we didn't belong. I made Jason hold my hand on our way out. This was not an inviting crowd.
They had a face painter. Since no one was interacting with us we decided to get our faces done. It would, at least, be better than awkwardly trying to get people to talk to us. The face painter was dressed as a German beer wench. She told us face-painting wasn't her main gig; she's writing a memoir about the 7 years she spent married to a gay clown. While giving us the details on her failed marriage she kept changing her voice because that was her other “thing.” She does voiceovers and wanted us to hear her do the slutty girl from Minnesota. She blew glitter all over my face and I dry heaved for a moment.
“Oh no! Are you okay?” she asked, sounding like a Fargo character.
“Yeah,” I lied. “I just forgot to close my mouth and choked on some of the glitter.”
We were stuck. They lock the doors at this party and while you can leave, you can't get back in. You even have to ask permission to smoke a cigarette. Once we realized just how bad the situation was, we made a beeline for the hammock, whispering the whole time about how much we hated being there. People kept coming over to look at us and then moving on.
“Well fuck you. I didn't want you suck your dick anyway,” Jason said under his breath.
Jason really wanted to leave. I did too, but I also felt like maybe we weren't giving it a fair chance. Maybe we were putting out bad vibes and people could read it on us. The crazy in me took over, and I laid down on the bed and started writhing around. A woman dressed as Xena the Warrior Princess locked eyes with me and asked if she could spank me. I don't understand how Xena got to Wonderland, but I don't care, because this was the highlight of my night. I love being spanked. After five minutes, she brought out a flogger. She asked if it was ok, and I told her to go for it. It was the perfect mix of pain and pleasure. Unfortunately, we had to cut it short because Jason was pulling my hair trying to get me leave.
“I can not believe you would leave me all alone out here. Women are giving head all around me. It's not natural!”
It was true, all around there was girl on girl, and guy on girl, but there were no homos doing it.
“Where the fuck are the gays?”he hissed. I doubled over laughing. I couldn't take him seriously because his face was painted like a tiger. He looked like an angry, gay Tigger.
He pulled me up by the scruff of my muumuu and said, “We are leaving.”
He was still going on about how much he hated the party when the bouncer came over to us and asked how much longer we were planning on staying. One of the party rules is that you can't be catty. We were way beyond catty. We were having a hissy. My heart started pounding. We were about to be kicked out. We talked smack, we drank in the bathroom, we had a cigarette without asking permission, and press wasn't even allowed in the first place. I tried to get as tall as my 5'3" frame allowed and said, “We were just on our way out.”
This was not a party, at least, it wasn't what I consider a party. There was no conversation, no laughter, and no entertainment. Jason and I felt like we had to be something we're not. For Jason that meant being straight, which was not going to happen. In addition, everyone there had to have the correct clothes, language, and agenda—like belonging to an elite club. They didn't want me as a member, that much was clear anyway. And, unlike Woody Allen, that was fine by me.
I had never before been in an environment where I felt so alienated. Even before we got into the party, the bouncer was telling us we didn't have the right clothes. When we got inside no one would talk to us, except the face painter and we were paying her. I liked getting spanked but I didn't like that the woman who did it had to wear a costume. Even though she was wearing a leather mini dress, it was still a uniform. For a community so open to free love and pushing sexual boundaries, why weren't we accepted?
I know I can have a good time at a sex party, and not feel like a pariah. Case in point, I loved Chemistry. But, this party wasn't about sexy people getting to know each other. This party was about a community that has a chip on its shoulder. I may hate costumes, rules, glitter, and cash bars, but I've got a freak flag too, and I want a sex party that embraces me while I wave it. That's not too much to ask, is it?
Follow Lacy Warner on twitter @laceoface