What’s Old Is New Again

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So many times, things fall to the annals of history and seem to disappear, leave gaps in what once was. But with LGBTQ, many things that had become passé have come back around and fallen into favor, even if slightly changed. Then there are times that new things spontaneously come into creation and burn bright. Since I have been discussing fetish and its relation to our history, I thought this one fit right in there. I do not endorse and suggest any of these, only open up to you about what is out there. But, at the same time it is important to point out that any of these topics covered here or previously are not bad by nature alone.  It is for you to decide what is good and healthy and what is fun and arousing.

History is often repeated, but there are occasions where new things can be created from previous incarnations. Roleplay isn’t new to the kink scene, but it has taken on many variations over the many years and even has been escalated based on technology. One such variation is puppy play. Now, ok, I know you are going to say that there has always been a kink scene where people have acted like animals to a master before. They may anal plugs with animal styles tails to create the illusion, but as I said technology has allowed some to go to a whole new level. Puppy play is a healthy mix of BDSM, furry, and role playing. It became a rage in the gay scene in about 2015 and has really escalated since and moved over into the heterosexuals, as well.

So, let’s drill it down to some basics, keep in mind I do not partake in it, so this is an observational view. Puppy play is when one person takes on the role of a pup and the other takes on the role of a handler. The pup, literally, acts like his biological counterpart, while the trainer treats the pup as if he was training one. There are no requirements for special gear, if you choose not to, or can be as elaborate as you would like. Many pups start out with a tail (small anal plug with an outward curved in resembling a dog’s tail), a pup mask (a leather, usually, mask that covers the face and looks like a dog’s snout), and a leash. Some include a harness as well and even have a trainer that may collar them, at some point. After that, it is more about letting go of who you are and getting in touch with your inner animal side. Turning off the cares and concerns of your day to day and responding on instinct and what feels good. Some describe it as turning off your inner monologue, slipping out of who you are, and becoming your alter ego canine.

The key thing to remember here is that this type of play is not driven by sex, in fact there are many pup/trainer relationships that do not involve sex. In many of the same veins that Dom/Sub relationships go, it is about letting go and surrendering, to become vulnerable and open. Our society teaches us that those feelings are signs of weaknesses and so are not wanted. Many who view it from the outside pass a judgement on how silly it may look or weird to their view of normality. But let’s take a different look, how awesome would be to just be? Think about being with someone who actually knows your secrets and will never judge you. You have the ability to play and have fun, without worrying about what bills are due. The ability to have someone give you reassurance and be open enough with them to enjoy each other for the joys you feel with them. These are all things that pups and trainers say they experience. Want to see what it looks like? Check out the Leather Stallion tonight and tomorrow night (Mach 22 – 23, 2019) for the Ohio Pup & Trainer event.

Ok, this one falls in the outskirts of kink and only really fits it due the way having multiple sexual partners or group sex can be considered kink. And it is definitely one that was once really popular, fell by the wayside, and made a resurgence in gay male circles. If you haven’t guessed then let me clarify, we are talking about Gay Bathhouses. Public bathhouses date back into history and were common place in many cultures. Gay Bathhouses, a place where men congregated to engage in male to male sex date back, at least recorded, to the 16th century. First recorded in America was in New York in 1903 where police conducted the first ever raid on a gay bathhouse. They became vastly popular in America through the 1920s and 30s and probably hit their heyday in the 60s to early 80s. Many famous celebrities got their starts performing in bathhouses, and not sexually. Take Bette Midler, she was known as “Bathhouse Betty.” Her cabaret performances in the, then, Continental, in New York city is what gained her iconic status with the gay male population. During this time, she also had backup by pianist Barry Manilow.

During the 60s and 70s, they were fully licensed ran and owned gay establishments and where the quintessential place for gay men to go and be with other gay men, no judgements only carnal desires. Before I proceed, let me say that not all men who frequent bathhouses then and now are gay. This is where the kink can fall into it. There are many heterosexual and bisexual men who come here to throw off inhibitions and conduct in sex that is outside of their normal predilections. Bathhouses took a decline in the 80s as the HIV/AIDS epidemic continued to rise, exponentially. Safe sex practices in bathhouses were almost non-existent and since the disease was new enough that most people hadn’t heard of it, or when it was called GRID, if gave a means to spread quickly. Once “barebacking” and promiscuity were shown to be a large cause of the spread, many people left the bathhouses. As with most things, Gay men aren’t easily swayed from our habits.

The bathhouses of today are vastly different than those of the days of yore. Gone are the days of the many dark, cavernous buildings, many have switched to a high-end spa appearance. Modern amenities and memberships create an air of elegance in the trysts we chase. Take a look at Flex Spas, they have four locations in the United States. Here in Cleveland you can find Flex in the old Art Deco Greyhound building and boasts as being the largest private alternative men’s club in the world. You will find rooms have been decorated as extensively as high-end hotels, they gym/weight rooms are all the most up to date equipment, and the pool spa areas brightly lit take away the old day’s stigma of dark and dank sex clubs. Don’t let all the trendy decor and weight machines fool you, there are fully function playrooms to fill your wildest desires. Find someone you prefer to get a bit more one and one with, they do offer rooms, as well. This creates a modern day luxurious getaway that caters to your every desire. They even offer memberships for more frequent visits. It takes away the stigma of doing something that seems base and dirty and replaces it with a feeling of experiencing what makes you feel good.

Humans have this amazing ability to derive pleasure from so many sources. We can have lives where we can experience our own versions of best version of life and sexual satisfaction. The only true limits are respect, mutual consent, and our own comfort level. If you have the desire, explore your inner nature and see what you may be missing. At the very least, maintain an open mind about what others like and makes them who they are, remember it is their journey as much as it is yours. Above all other things, love yourself for who you are and without judgement. Lighten up, you may just have fun!

All The Queen’s Men

Last night I experienced one of the most spectacular shows in all the drag I have seen. All the Queen’s Men made their eastside debut last night at ALL AXS and they knew how to bring the show. This amazing group rolled into town, took over the bar, and left the crowd begging for more. And, like I said, the best Drag King show I have ever had a chance to see. Their energy definitely took over the crowd and they knew how to work it. And they were part of the amazing shows that Billy Welker is bringing to his customers to make ALL AXS the most inclusive and friendly place to be in Willoughby.

Angelica Arkett, Terri Mann, Mr. Ohio King All-Star Matt Cockrin, and Santana Romero make up All the King’s Men.  If you have never been to a King show, then it is definitely something you need to experience. Sure, Queens can turn a look and duck walk across your wallet for tips, but Kings show the sexy side of male performers that both men and women fall for. My own experience with King shows were back home in Virginia and while they were fun, they were nothing like the show I experienced last night. Angelica was a captivating host, kept the audience engaged with her quick with on fleek lip syncs. Terri Mann is the MAN behind the show and just left you wanting to open your wallet for him. Your current reigning Mr. Ohio King All-Star Matt Cockrin gave you smoky intense and soulful lip syncs that just made your heart skip a beat. Santana Romero brought you flavor and rhythm that made you want to move your hips to his beat.

This group was crowd interactive and boy did the patrons eat it up. Many times, they were dragging the women to their feet to sweep them up in their intensity, while Angelica entranced the men and left the swooning. For some it this was their first ever show and for others it was their first ever King show. No matter which they were All the King’s Men treated them like familiar lovers, giving them more and leaving them wanting. High energy and captivating was the theme for each half of the show. The crowning performance, for me, was Terri Mann who performed a song mashup of 30+ songs, talk about turning it out.

I would like to say thank you for All the Queen’s Men for coming out and making an awesome Tuesday night at All AXS. You guys were incredible, and I loved the show. If you missed the show, never fear they will return, and don’t quote me, on March 25th. If I am wrong, I will update this post with the correct date. When they return, make sure you are there with your dollars out and ready to have an awesome time.

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No T, No Shade

If you have not been to ALL AX’S, then why the hell not? This bar has been steppin’ it’s pussy up almost every week. They are doing it for our community and to become a destination spot on the east side of Cleveland. What it needs to get there is you, so make sure you get out there and show them some support.  The weekend of February 22nd was a definitely step up and a history maker for the little town of Willoughby. Queens can pack a house, of that there is no doubt. A Queen throwing a read at a slightly drunk audience can be an amazing thing to witness. No matter if it is a drag show, drag brunch, or even a drag bingo, it is a guaranteed fierce time. Friday, February 22nd was a prime example, All AX’S in Willoughby played host to Veranda L’Ni, Kari Nickels, Aurora Thunder, and Natasshja Norielle. This was the first drag show in Willoughby, at least that I am aware of, and it truly went down in history.

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The show started about 10:30 pm and the house was packed long before the show even started. I am not sure that Billy Welker and the staff was truly ready for the experience that a drag show can bring. The energy and anticipation of the show was amazing and true to queen time telling, it started about twenty minutes late. If you have been to a Veranda show, then you know even late this queen can run the crowd. Her engagement is amazing, and her performance is one of the best I have seen in the Cleveland area. Kari Nickels is another queen that is amazing to watch. And they did not fail in packing the house. As you can see from the pictures, I did not get very close to the stage area, but it shows off the amount of people who turned out to support the show and the bar.

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These Queens worked this crowd, not a one stayed on the stage and posed. Each one of them worked for their all mighty dollars and the people were as eager to hand them out. The floating through the throngs of people, lip syncing for their very lives, as it were.” The crown was intense and the largest that the bar has seen, so far. Yes, there was some waiting for drinks and yes they were a bit understaffed, but the staff at ALL AX’S never walked away from taking care of us, never complained, and did their best to provide the service needed. Yes, there will be growing pains along the way, but Billy Welker and his staff will not be scurred away. I mean damn, how many other bars have you been to have called in all they support to help out and even bring in people from the crowd to help serve everyone? That’s right, henny, not many. Special shout outs to Dennis Baker for rolling up his sleeves, although we tried to get him to take off his shirt instead, jumping in to help run dishes to the kitchen and serving drinks to those who were waiting.

Now if you missed this show, have no fear they will be back to take our money and wow us again. This time make sure yo ass is in attendance. March 8th and then again March 22nd will bring back Veranda L’Ni and her crew. So, get out ya stripper change and bring yo’self out and tips those bitches. Oh, and buy some drinks, after all the bartenders are there to serve…. Just not shade.

 

The T On All AX’S

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Friday February 15, 2019 was the first LGBTQ night after All AX’S had their grand opening as an LGBTQ inclusive bar two weeks before. I wanted to check it out to see the differences from that visit. The idea of having a LGBTQ bar destination on the east-side of town is still an amazing idea. While many people feel the decline of LGBTQ bars is no big deal, I feel that it is important is providing structure to a community especially in a part of town that doesn’t have a lot of LGBTQ options.

Billy Welker is the owner behind All AX’S and is committed to making this spot all inclusive. A few of us had reached out to give a few suggestions on how to get the word out to the local community. One easy one that I suggested was to get equality stickers or rainbow stickers so that anyone would be able to identify it as a safe place. Upon walking up to the bar, we noticed the stickers in the main windows. Not overly stated, but if you know what you are looking for, they are a nice reminder that this bar is welcoming. Just peeking into the bar, it was easy to notice that there were more people this time.

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You could hear the music from the outside and was a nice beat. I knew that it was going to be DJ Toni Freeze and her set is always good. Always a great combination of modern and classic dance beats. There was about 20 people in the bar and was a good turnout of only the second publicized night of it being a LGBTQ club. The vibe of the bar was warm and fun, all seemed to be enjoying the atmosphere. If you read the first review of the bar, I mentioned that it had a kitschy atmosphere that is truly inviting. The walls are covered with vinyl record album covers, strings of multicolored lights stretch between the columns of the bar, bright mirrors behind the liquor selection gives it a larger appearance.

The have a good selection of beers and liquor and the prices are really good. A few beers and couple mixed drinks definitely do not set you back as much as many of the places downtown. The drinks are mixed well and skew a bit more to the liquor side, rather than the mixer. Their beer selection offers a lot of local flavors, as well as plenty larger labels. Food menu is more to just bar foods. You can find shrimp baskets, burgers, wings and fries, plenty enough to help soak up the night of drinking. There is a patio out back and will be awesome once the weather warms up for enjoying it.

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Many people were saying how awesome it was or that they couldn’t believe there was a gay bar in Willoughby. So, the word is out, and people are reacting to it. The entire time I was there I only heard a couple people have anything to say that wasn’t tinged with excitement. There were a few heterosexual people who did ask if the people in the bar were gay. Once they answered, that was about it. Only one seemed to make any kind of joke about it. The bar stayed busy up until about midnight, when I left.

I talked with Ms. DJ Toni Freeze and she asked how we liked the music. I told her that it was a great mix of songs, current Top 40 and back to the 80s. She mentioned that she thought people were reacting well to what was being played and that she tried changing up the music depending on the people that were in the bar. We talked a bit more about her set and style of music and she was happy that Billy offered her a reoccurring gig at the bar. I feel that her style of music will be a good balance for all people that come to the bar and not alienate any particular group. DJ Freeze also has a website for being able to download music she has put together and you can download them here.

This Friday, All AX’S will be hosting a drag show starring Veranda L’NI and will host Kari Nickels, Aurora Thunder, and Natasshja Norielle. The show starts at 10:30 with no cover charge, I mean how can you beat that. This will be a good measure of how the success of the bar will be. If you are in the area you really need to come out and give your support to the bar and check out a good show. I have seen Veranda several times, since I have moved to Cleveland and she always puts on a great show and works the crowd well.

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Billy Welker is doing everything he can to make this a destination and it is going to take you guys coming out and supporting it. If you have ideas of things you would like to see at the bar, you can drop a line in the comments section or better yet, visit the bar and let the staff know. Show your support and interest. Let’s make it a fun place to be and make the bar a success.

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