A FEW WEEKS LATER, WE’RE UPSTAIRS AT WOODY’S, the best-known gay bar in Philadelphia. Here, all of Farnese’s worlds are colliding—the politics, the women and, by nature of the location, those rumors. It’s a private fund-raiser for Farnese’s reelection campaign that, at $100 a head, is low on muscle but close to his heart. These are the folks who stood by him before the Fumocrat machine kicked in. Park arrives, and she’s having dinner with Farnese later; it’s one reason folks think they’re still an item. Farnese speaks to the room, apologizing for legislators on either side of the aisle who don’t support same-sex unions. “I take that as my fault,” he says. “It’s my responsibility to educate them.”
This moment is as close as anyone will get to understanding who Farnese really is. He’s not just staying on-message when he talks about gay rights or natural-gas taxes. On the issues, you know where Senator Farnese stands. But Larry the single guy, the geek, the only child to Italian parents who’d really love some grandkids? He’s a cipher, a code that has yet to be cracked. That’s good politics, especially considering Farnese’s predecessors, whose spilled secrets led to their downfalls. Yet in this town, where politicians rank with athletes, chefs and TV newscasters as celebrities, his stance on the issues won’t be enough to sate the gossip hounds on the Square. Even if all Larry Farnese is hiding is a comic-book collection and a few one-night stands.