Monday, January 08, 2007

Me: Mildly clothed in Mayfair...

I don’t want to scare you, but lately I’ve been thinking about the moral value of telling the truth: Is it ever really a good idea?

For example, there was that evangelical minister, who despite being married and the father of five kids, was accused of having sex with a male escort, who also supplied the minister with crystal meth. When the escort first went public, the minister denied everything, and then later he said that he’d only paid the escort for a massage, and that though he’d purchased the drugs, he’d never used them.

I feel that while the minister was obviously lying to the extent that his nose visibly grew by several yards, and that even the Pope was giggling, the minister’s real issue was this:

He didn’t lie big enough.

He should have said that he’s only paid for sex to help put the escort through divinity school, and that he’d only bought the crystal meth as a gift for his wife’s birthday.

This past week I saw the film adaptation of Augusten Burrough’s completely entertaining memoir Running With Scissors. And while Burroughs was obviously writing the truth, the veracity of other autobiographical authors has been questioned. Oprah had to get uber-haughty with James Frey, that nerdy guy who’d fabricated a whole bunch of his book about overcoming his various addictions, and about having a root canal without painkillers. The edgy novelist JT Leroy, who bragged that he’d been a transvestite prostitute , was also unmasked as being someone way more normal and far less fun. And so, before anyone starts calling 60 Minutes and questioning the authenticity of this blog, I would just like to own up to a few difficult, but extremely necessary ‘exaggerations’:

* When I claimed that, out of respect for my own relationship, I ended my illicit affair with Hugh Jackman, who then married someone else on the rebound, I was not being entirely truthful. In fact, our passionate relationship continued long after his marriage, although he was not fully aware of it.

* I once asserted that I had advised Clint Eastwood to stop making so many masterful, Oscar-worthy films about the searing complexities of American life, and that I told him to concentrate on a big-screen version of his early TV series, Rawhide. In all honesty, Clint has called me to see if he should tackle the feature reworking of The Facts of Life. And yes, I did tell him, gently, that he was too old to play Tootie.

* I may once have remarked that there can never be too many sequels to the Tim Allen Santa Clause franchise. I was lying, although I am intrigued by the pitch for next year’s edition, in which Santa visits Muslim children and leaves development deals in their stockings.

WHEW! I feel so much better. Honesty is so cleansing that I almost can’t stop.

Okay, I once told Madonna that if you adopt three foreign-born infants, you get the next one free. And I did swear to my dear friend, the still heart-tuggingly single Tammy Faye Baker, that if you write a mawkish personal letter to Patrick Dempsey and enclose a nude Polaroid, it constitutes a binding legal agreement. And I repeatedly e-mailed Jennifer Aniston to tell her that every time she elegantly flips her hair out of her eyes on Oprah, an angel is burned alive.

From here on, I dub 2007 as the year of the honesty colonic. Tell your friends.

The last time we chatted, It was just nearing the Christmas holiday and I was assuredly hitting up all of my doctor-friends for low-dose prescriptions of Valium. Just enough to take the edge off of seeing my family, but not so much that I’d slump into some Wynonna Ryder-style binge where my prescription drugs were just falling out of my bag at various airports. That would be bad.

I spent some of my holiday in Philadelphia, where I had the opportunity to do a Christmas dinner with a friend’s family. Earlier in the day, I actually braved the malls (yes, I waited until the last minute to get my grandma a gift) and came away relatively unscathed. Frightened, yes, but the bruising was thankfully at a bare minimum. Shopping is evil.

Wawa: The last bastion of good pre-Starbucks coffee...

Dinner was fantastic. The family was friendly. My post-Christmas-Christmas went well and I was really glad to have spent it with people who really embraced the holiday.

The trip to Philly also brought on an opportunity to finally stop by the Premiere Agency townhouse and get to meet some of their crew. Located on a non-descript street (but literally a block from the largest Dave & Busters I’ve ever seen), this bi-level house serves as the control center for one of the Northeast’s largest and longest-running male escort agencies. While business was quiet the night I was around, they have an incredibly comfortable setup and I can imagine that their clientele is very happy with not only the guys they see, but the atmosphere if it happens to be an in-call.

In spending time at other ‘brothel’ style houses of ill-repute like BluBoy in Amsterdam and Villa Gianni in London, it was clear that Premiere catered to those who prefer a more personal approach to who they see. Much less an assembly-line operation than a place where conversation, genuine concern and a smile were in fashion... Not to mention hardcore and hot action.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was spent back in San Antonio in 70 degree weather. I’m dreaming of a white Christmas my ass... Hell, I just hoped for the mid-50's.

The following day I packed myself up and headed for the airport: This New Year’s Eve was going to be spent outside the states (London) and I was pretty jazzed about getting to experience some colder temps, the European outlook, Boxing Day sales in Knightsbridge, Kylie Minogue’s NYE concert at Wembley Stadium and basically just being thousands of miles away from having to hear or see Ryan Seachrest wax poetic with a way-past-prime Dick Clark.

The funny thing about opening up Tupperware is that once air hits the contained object, it’s never quite the same again. This, I fear, is what happened to Dick Clark.

The trip started off on the right foot, with Northwest Airlines offering me an operational-upgrade from DET-LGW (meaning, in non-commercial aviation-nerdspeak, a totally free bump to first). I had never had a chance to fly NWA’s Airbus 330s before and have heard so many good things about the experience that it was a real treat that this happened.

Incredibly comfortable seating (2-2-2 layout) that rivals, if not exceeds, Continental’s BusinessFirst product. It’s a newer seat design, so you’ll find all of the recent bells and whistles on it like a massage option, cradle or lie-flat sleeping positions, LED-based lighting, a large 10.5 inch LCD personal screen, AVOD entertainment and a perfectly shiny and new cabin that, while having a rather clinical color-scheme, is functional and easy on the eyes.

I don’t eat much on airplanes, so I can’t really comment on the food. People around me seemed to be enjoying it, but then again, on airplanes where ANY food is good food, they probably would have gladly eaten moldy bread as long as it was served on NWA-stamped china.

I actually slept on the way over and arrived ready to roll. Immigration was pretty much empty and I had a lovely discussion about Kylie’s bum with the woman who stamped my passport. It was then that I realized just how incredibly rude the US Customs agents are, as I’ve rarely ever seen them smile. It’s no wonder that the USA was recently voted the worst country to enter when dealing with immigration/customs officials. You know it’s bad when they won’t even smile at their own citizens.

Phonebooth Molesting: The new wave of the 2008 summer Olympics...

I was shacking up about 50 steps from the American Embassy in Mayfair. A nicely-located property that was recently renovated and now includes its own celebrity chef. The room was quite spacious by London standards, as well as having a great workout facility and executive lounge. The gym stayed empty most of the trip, which was nice, and they had just installed a really nice punching bag. That got some good use.

A pic of me taking a pic. Profound, isn't it?

The weather was typical London: Rainy, windy and cold. There were a few moments of clear skies and sunshine, but for the most part the weather was uncooperative, but that didn’t really matter to me. Just put up your hoodie and keep going. London is a walkers paradise and with one of the best public transport systems in the world (The Underground Tube), it pays to get a multi-day zone pass and forget dealing with cabbies. Just keep in mind that traffic down there flows pretty heavy at times (not great if you’re closterphobic or unnerved by masses of people) and always remember to STAND on the right and WALK on the left when it comes to riding the insanely-steep escalators. You mess that up and you’re instantly pegged as a tourist.

Spent some time sifting through the once-a-year major sale at Harrods. I had never seen so many people there, all chomping at the bit while sifting through old Burberry cashmere, ugly Paul Smith belts and what appeared to be old Elton John costumes from the mid-‘70s. The men’s department there can only be described as horribly overpriced, but they do carry a great selection of Diesel, so it’s a must-stop for me. Coincidentally enough, my hotel was also only blocks from the Diesel store on Bond Street. Yeah, that was just trouble waiting to happen...

Inside Harrods: Where bad taste goes to overspend...

We stopped and had a tea service later in the afternoon while enjoying the impending heart attack that is clotted cream. They really should rename is ‘clotted arteries’ don’t you think? Something that tasty definitely can’t be any good for you. Clotted cream is like a good wine: Wherein wine can make a bad meal a whole lot better, clotted cream can make a mediocre scone taste like solid gold. I paired it all up with some very fresh jasmine tea. Yum.

I found it especially funny that all of the pharaoh heads lining the store were in effigy of Mohamed Al Fayed, the owner of Harrods. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

You know I can’t come to London and not see what’s cooking in West End theatre. This trip included seeing Wicked (this time with Tony-winner Idina Menzel) and the much-ballyhooed play The History Boys, which recently re-opened with some of the original cast.

Wicked was in top-form. A sold-out crowd was there to cheer on Menzel, who was wrapping up her run as ‘Elpheba’ the following night. Once again this show charmed me into thinking that just because the leads are two women who continually sing to each other doesn’t mean they have to end up wrestling in a kiddie pool filled with Jell-O.

Idina Menzel originated this role on Broadway and was invited to re-create the role when the show opened in London this past fall. While she’s obviously got the spark that is needed to act the role, I couldn’t understand half of what she was singing. She’s a mush-mouth. Her vowel pronunciation is TERRIBLE and she blends every phrase into the next, making it nearly impossible for the Wicked-newbie to follow along.

Yeah, she hit some amazing notes, but who-the-hell knows what she was screaming...

Wicked's set

Adam Garcia was out this time as ‘Fiyero,’ and his understudy was much better. He not only looked the part, but had a much easier grasp when it came to singing. His chemistry with Menzel was electric.

Helen Dallimore as ‘Glinda’ was still unimpressive. I hope she leaves the show soon.

The History Boys was a linguistic roller coaster, forcing the audience to listen carefully to the gloriously-written verbiage and somewhat unrealistic social message.

While the Brits have always been a more open culture to everything homosexual, this play forced the audience’s hand into accepting (and approving) an act of sexual misconduct between a student and his professor. The overall tone lays somewhere in-between silly indiscretion and consensual circumstance. The play doesn’t seem incredibly realistic in this day-and-age, where teenage boys are as equally unwilling as ever to blur the lines between ‘gay’ and ‘straight.’ The dialogue between the guys in this show veers from blatantly honest to outright after-school-special.

All of that being said, I think there’s a little bit of each of us in the group of boys on-stage. Added, it’s a treat to watch capable actors interpret the lines with such honest passion. Sure, an Americanized giggle might crop up every now and then, but The History Boys is a play (and film) worth seeing.

Also caught the British premiere of Blue Man Group, which is playing at the same theatre I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat the last trip. It’s setup for a long-term run as all of the Blue Man shows are. It’s a fantastic version of the show and the closest version to the incredibly technical mounting in Las Vegas. Great for kids, non-english speakers and anyone who is willing to embrace the silly and creative.

Dinner at Masala Zone in Earl’s Court was a highlight, as it’s one of the best neighborhoods to eat in if you’re an Indian food convert. While Star is always a good choice for Indian takeout (and a nice post-Villa Gianni replenishing as it’s only a block away), Masala Zone is a better choice if you’re wanting to sit, relax, converse and nosh.

Over the next couple of days, I couldn’t resist the tourist temptation of Mdm. Tussauds on Baker Street. I know it’s a trap, but it’s a FUN trap. Check out Buffy...

London turned out to be a really wonderful trip, ringing in 2007 in an incredibly memorable way. The flight back was also a surprise, as NWA once again upgraded me into a comfortable 2E. I had the good fortune of flying back to the states with UK-celeb and AbFab deity Joanna Lumley. She, at nearly 60, looks incredible. She was also very open to a quick conversation about how much I loved the show, as well as her whole career in film and modeling. Yeah, I kissed her ass, but I meant every word. Lumley was incredibly gracious.

... And no, she wasn’t drinking a Bolly/Stoli cocktail. I was somewhat disappointed.

BENJAMIN’S BLASPHEMY of the WEEK: The Blasphemy Challenge. This website is dedicated to all of those heathens, atheists, roustabouts and ragginmuffins who read 15 Minutes. Really quite interesting.

I wonder how vibrating to Barry Manilow would feel: OHMIBOD! (Thanks to Jason Carter for this one)

Yeah, so I mentioned in last week’s teaser that I was unceremoniously cancelled on at the last-minute. It happens, but thankfully it was done JUST before I was about to board the plane which would have taken me to Crested Butte. Added, I would have also gotten stuck in the whole Denver airport polar lock-down on the way back, so I suppose the cancellation was a good thing. It gave me an extra day or so to get my laundry done. Always a good thing.

I know I had promised the first installment of the ‘Day in the Life’ series, but I can’t seem to get it going. I sit here and think about something that would be entertaining rather than mundane about my day-to-day dealings, as I don’t want you to start narcing out and drooling on your keyboards, but I’m coming to the realization that I lead a pretty normal existence in a very unusual profession.

No drugs. No booze. I workout regularly. I invest. I sleep 8 hours a night. I love my family. I have a cat and a dog. A great partner for nearly 6 years.

I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s comfortable for me. Let me mull it over a bit more and if I can put the right slant on it, I’d still love to start it up. Stay tuned.

A friend of The 15, Willam Belli, is courting some major networks with his new TV pilot, Tranny McGuyver. Catch a glimpse of this exclusive sneak-peek, proving once again that Willam can not only handle the over-the-top drama of a series like Nip/Tuck, but masters comedy and kenetic timing with great ease. Added, this shit is just fucking funny. Check it out:

I'm over-the-moon about the success of Dreamgirls at the box office ($50 million +), but am even moreso looking forward to the musical adaptation of Hairspray, hitting theaters in the summer of 2007. Here's a just-released montage of the movie so far, with a rather soulful sounding Queen Latifa as Motormouth Maybelle. Check it out.

Look for a ful Dreamgirls review in coming editions, as well as some candid (and previously unseen on the web) performances from current IT girl, Jennifer Hudson.

Next week, keep a lookout for my annual 2006-2007 escort wrap-up: Who’s hot, who’s not and who’s making waves in this rather small niche. It was an interesting year for rentboys, both on the very public front and what you didn’t see behind-the-scenes. Click back next week for The 15's look back at what and who made this past year so incredibly scandalous.

... And speaking of scandal...

WHICH ANGEL ESCORT was recently caught plundering his protege’s email account in hopes of stealing some of his lost clientele back? It appears as if this ripped-off-rentboy uses the personal information he steals from the emails to court new clients, all while remaining rather loose-lipped about what he finds out. Seems as if more than a few other fellow escorts know about this guy’s tactical ‘stretching of the truth’, as this Western Wonder is now finding himself standing all alone when it comes to needing moral support.

WHAT BROADWAY LEADING-MAN is thanking his lucky stars that the production company putting on his show is also paying for his male escort service? Broadway’s gone bananas for this boy-wonder, but what would the family-contingent think if they knew that with each ticket purchase they were also funding a bi-weekly visit from a rather well-hung and muscled-up rentboy?

For those who have hounded me about RSS'ing this blog (ie, subscribing), you have reason to rejoice: I've added an email notification service to let you know when new editions of The 15 are live and online! Just click on the new little 'Feedblitz' button on the top-left-menu and enter your email addy. Yes, it's that simple.

Last, but certainly not lesbian, this week’s Eye Candy is some of the best we’ve ever had. Enjoy the collection of manly-men, but save some room for next week’s edition, as well as the recently updated BN pic galleries (now with video) and the always-colorful real-time chat (located below). I'll be posting some additional new video of London and my travels later today as well.

What?!? He added video?

Until next week dear readers... Take it easy and if it's easy, take it home :)


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