Philadelphia Gay Sex Diaries: I Have to Shave What?!

Collage by Kevin Burzynski

Collage by Kevin Burzynski

Like most gay men, I discovered the real truth about myself the first time I had sex with another guy. Consider it this way: Imagine you spent your entire teen years (and, in my case, up to the ripe old age of 30) eating vanilla ice cream. It was nice, it was pleasant, but you never really craved it and sometimes even felt you could do very well without it. And then one day you have a triple hot fudge sundae with nuts and whipped cream and cherries, and you think, Holy shit! This stuff is amazing! Why haven’t I been having this all of these years?

So you’re finally on the right side of the menu. But relief is quickly replaced by panic, because it turns out that when it comes to sleeping with other men, there are all sorts of rules, norms, and strongly warranted hygiene rituals that can take years to master. And, it feels, just as long to maintain.

My hetero brethren, you have no idea. You can skip the gym, dismiss the belly as “dad bod,” have sex without showering, never think about your body hair — where it is, how it looks or feels or smells. As I soon discovered, switching sides meant signing up for a full-time job of keeping up appearances. I had never even heard of a body groomer. (In case you haven’t, it’s a special battery-operated clipper for men that trims body and pubic hair.) There are special straight (ha!) razors for scraping and smoothing genitalia. There are entire websites devoted to explaining how to properly shave one’s butt, how to prepare oneself to avoid pain (or get more of it — vive la différence!), and what lubricants are best for which scenarios. And there is a virtual ocean of foams, gels, cleansers, balms, moisturizers and body powders to ensure that you are sparkling, smooth, and, most of all, fresh fresh fresh all over, so that when it’s time to get busy you both smell appropriately like Snuggle fabric softener. Ask any gay man and he’ll tell you that his weekly (yes, weekly) body-grooming routine can easily take two hours — more if it’s going to be the “first time” with someone. Half the guys I know at least trim, if not downright shave, their torsos and legs, especially if they have nice muscle tone and want to show it off. (In gay world, marketing is everything.) For the truly committed (and, in my view, satanic), there’s waxing for the chest and ass.

All of which makes spontaneity impossible. If you haven’t been, ahem, randy in a bit and have let your routine languish, a sudden opportunity quickly becomes a lost one. (I can’t let him see me like this, you think.) It all looks so easy in gay porn, where the two mechanics take the guy who can’t pay for his car repairs and toss him over the hood. In real life, not so much. For one thing, no mechanics actually look like that.

Every straight man I know looks at gays with at least some modicum of envy, in large measure because of the easy availability of casual sex; a tap of a phone app can have Mr. Right Now at your door in 20 minutes (10 if you offer to pay for the Uber). But it turns out being part of a culture that objectifies men like, well, women isn’t all no-strings fun and games. It’s work. And it’s certainly not an easy culture to age in.

But still, hot fudge beats vanilla every time.

» See All of Our Philadelphia Sex Diaries

Power Brokers: Inside the Lives (and Homes) of Philly’s Million-Dollar Real Estate Agents

Mike McCann, Laurie Phillips and Noah Ostroff on Washington Square | Photograph by Chris Crisman

Mike McCann, Laurie Phillips and Noah Ostroff on Washington Square | Photograph by Chris Crisman

Jules is … betwixt.

A word about Jules: He’s rich. You have to be to get a showing at the Ayer, the 1929 luxury condo building that faces Washington Square, and whose pedigreed residents have included, among others, Chase and Jennifer Utley and Larry Magid. Jules is slender and refined and looks to be in his mid-40s, with an impressive mop of black curly hair and arty black glasses, and he strolls through this unit (asking price: $1.7 million) as if it’s a gallery exhibit and he can’t quite decide whether the paintings are exquisite or vulgar.

The listing agent is Laurie Phillips, the silver-haired doyenne of Rittenhouse Square real estate, who swans around the space like a Price Is Right model, carefully opening kitchen drawers and bedroom closets while extolling the terrace and the view (albeit a sliver of one) of the Square below. Jules wants a place with a lot of natural light, and one that can accommodate his oddly shaped nine-foot-long dining table. In this moment in high-end real estate, one never knows what might be important. Read more »

Jersey Shore Food Guide: The Best Food on the Ocean City Boardwalk

The Best Food on the Ocean City Boardwalk | Illustration by Melissa McFeeters

The Best Food on the Ocean City Boardwalk | Illustration by Melissa McFeeters

It’s easy to get sidetracked on the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey: There are delicious smells wafting from every which way on every single block. But smells can be deceiving, and when you’re on the hunt for something delicious, you need some insider intel. Well, dear reader, you’ve come to the right place: We ate our way down the Ocean City boardwalk and back again in search of its most delectable flavors and tastiest treats. Below, the bites you absolutely don’t want to miss.   Read more »

Garrett Getlin Snider Is Not Your Average Teenager

Left: Garrett Getlin Snider (photography by Justin James Muir). Right: Lindy, Garrett, and Ed Snider, circa 1997 (courtesy of Garrett Getlin Snider)

Left: Garrett Getlin Snider (photography by Justin James Muir). Right: Lindy, Garrett, and Ed Snider, circa 1997 (courtesy of Garrett Getlin Snider)

Garrett Getlin Snider is fretting.

This really isn’t so unusual, as it turns out. Garrett Getlin Snider frets a lot. About his twin sisters, “16 and gorgeous,” who are now at an age where every horny teenage boy on the Main Line is taking notice. About his grandfather, Ed Snider, the legendary 82-year-old Philadelphia Flyers owner and chairman of Comcast Spectacor. About his grandmother, about his studies at Drexel, about the kids: the kids in Montgomery County, the kids around the country, the kids around the world. Who is going to help the kids? And so Garrett Getlin Snider frets, worry lines already beginning to form across his square, pale 19-year-old face. Read more »

Would You Wait Eight Years to Join the Lombard Swim Club?

A view of the pool on a sleepy summer afternoon. Photograph by Christopher Leaman

A view of the pool on a sleepy summer afternoon. Photograph by Christopher Leaman

“Just act like you belong and we’ll be fine.”

I’m trying to remember the last time I did something like this. I think it was 1982, when my friend Bing (yes, Bing) and I were 19 and nonchalantly sauntered up to the bouncer of some dive bar in Cherry Hill and somehow convinced him we were 21, subsequently sailing through the door into a den of smoke and thumping music. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried to crash a party.

I’m with a friend of a friend of a friend — we’ll call this person Jimmy, though for reasons that will become clear momentarily, Jimmy isn’t said person’s real name — and on this particularly steamy summer night, we’re walking into the entrance of the Lombard Swim Club, an imposing fortress of water, liquor and secrecy located between 20th and 21st streets, not far from Rittenhouse Square. If you’ve strolled this block of Lombard, you probably never even noticed the club was here. Which is precisely the point. Read more »

David Devan and the Future of Opera in Philadelphia

David Devan on-set inside the Academy of Music. “We need to be inventive,” he says, “and we’re in the city that invented America.” Photograph by Chris Crisman

David Devan on-set inside the Academy of Music. “We need to be inventive,” he says, “and we’re in the city that invented America.” Photograph by Chris Crisman

“Toi toi toi!”

It’s the opera equivalent of “break a leg,” and David Devan is saying it to everyone in sight as he darts around the bowelsof the Academy of Music like a squirrel. No one seems to know the phrase’s origin, but everyone says it right back, despite the fact that it sounds like a toddler reaching up from his playpen and begging for his rattle. Devan dashes off again — David Devan does a lot of dashing — and as the clock ticks toward eight o’clock this opening night, he’s up-down, up-down, up-down the curving back staircases of the Academy, squeezing in every last air-kiss and hug and look of delighted surprise, the kind good hostesses give at dinner parties when you bring the right bottle of wine. Read more »

Joan Shepp and the Rebirth of Chestnut Street

Joan Shepp and daughter Ellen in front of the outdoor garden in their new Chestnut Street digs. Photograph by Steven Laxton

Joan Shepp and daughter Ellen in front of the outdoor garden in their new Chestnut Street digs. Photograph by Steven Laxton

It’s a steamy evening on Chestnut Street, and not just because of the humidity. It’s the press opening for Joan Shepp’s new boutique, and the requisite champagne flutes and trays laden with hors d’oeuvres are present, as are the chic people who wouldn’t dream of taking a bite. (This is the fashion set, darlings.) PR maven Rakia Reynolds, wearing what appears to be a corset made of white wicker, gabs with Where Philadelphia publisher Laura Burkhardt, who will show up to the opening of an envelope. Nicole Paloux, another PR maven, though of the more mousy, elfin variety, peruses some jewelry near Nigel Richards, a fledgling fashion designer better known as the husband of the city’s brassy high priestess of PR, Nicole Cashman, whose absence is surely due to Ebola or some such catastrophe. Elizabeth Wellington, the Inquirer’s fashion writer, is here, channeling Audra McDonald chic, while in a corner flits Danuta Mieloch, the Polish beauty who has made Rescue Rittenhouse the place where Women of a Certain Station come to have their crinkly complexions turned to the texture of mayonnaise.

They’re here because Joan is here, and the style story line in town has been All About Joan since last fall, when her eponymous shop on Walnut Street suddenly shuttered and then turned up in the mall at Liberty Place (the mall! At Liberty Place!), and then she said she was going to open a new store on Chestnut (Chestnut!), and, well, kittens, it turned out she meant it. This has raised the fashion stakes considerably. Now the question isn’t whether Joan Shepp,who has been dressing the stylish Philadelphia woman for four decades, can make a success on Chestnut Street. It’s whether she can make a success of Chestnut Street.
Read more »

The Best Jersey Shore Boardwalks for 2014

The Great White coaster in Wildwood. Photography by Trevor Dixon

The Great White coaster in Wildwood. Photography by Trevor Dixon

Wildwood

Keep in mind it’s a carnival town. Its Boardwalk is sprawling, loud, tacky, a little bawdy and a little seedy. And, if you go with the right mind-set, a hell of a good time.

The Morey family runs three mammoth amusement piers, a collective riot of rides, arcades, water parks and coasters. In this latter category, Great White is one of the best wooden coasters in the nation. The Moreys continue to invest in blue-ribbon rides; new this season is a higher, glitzier Wave Swinger (a.k.a. the flying swings).

In recent years the Boardwalk has seen new restaurants with outdoor seating, complete with netting above your head to keep the seagulls at bay. (Our pick: Jumbo’s, which makes a decent chicken sandwich and stocks Dogfish Head.) On Mariner’s Landing, look for a new taco shack with on-trend fillings like Korean barbecue beef, or stick with the tried-and-true — an order of Curley’s Fries.

While the Mack’s Pizza “stop” sign is a Boardwalk fixture, for nostalgic boomers, Douglass Fudge, with its pine paneling and elegant tartan boxes, is one of the few old Wildwood landmarks left, and worthy of a visit.

Cape May

No one goes to Cape May for stimulation. So it’s no surprise its beachfront promenade is a quiet repository of a few stores, two arcades and not much else. Surf Side Delights is a small grill serving perhaps the best pork roll sandwich at the Shore (732 Beach Avenue); for a diner-style breakfast, try Oceanview Restaurant — it faces the water, a rarity for a Shore eatery.

Of the two aforementioned arcades, the northern one (at 732 Beach Avenue) is your standard-issue Tween Central, but the southernmost (at 406 Beach Avenue) boasts a beach volleyball court and shady seating for watching the games.

The real lure here? Bikes, bikes, bikes. Get up early (you can’t ride after 10 a.m.), rent wheels from the friendly folks at Cape Island Bike Rentals, take a spin, then squeeze in a round of mini golf across the street at Stockton Golf, which has hydrangeas throughout. There are worse ways to spend a day at the Shore.

Stone Harbor

Just briefly — yes, we know Stone Harbor doesn’t have a Boardwalk, or a promenade. But its 96th Street shopping district serves the same purpose. Our picks for best retail: the Bread and Cheese Cupboard (baked goods extraordinaire); Seashore ACE (the nicest hardware store you’ll ever visit); Island Art Stone Harbor (a bit tacky in spots, but some of the old photos and signage are awesome); Skirt (the down-the-Shore version of the stalwart Main Line boutique); and Shades (sunglasses galore, including Chanel; 261 96th Street).

Sea Isle

You need to know that the Sea Isle stretch is not — absolutely, positively not — a Boardwalk. The locals are sort of fanatical about this. It is a beachside promenade, a name they hope will conjure strolls rather than 20-somethings stumbling home from too many beers at the Springfield.

Because said promenade is made of concrete, bicycling and running are wonderful here. There’s also ample seating, including a shady octagonal pavilion at the mouth of John F. Kennedy Boulevard perfect for imbibing frozen treats. (Our pick: the “Skinny Minnie” from Goldie’s Dips Ahoy, a nonfat frozen yogurt topped with a scoop of sorbet.)

Shopping is mainly concentrated at the Spinnaker Seaside Shops, located on the ground floor of a massive condo building, where Sessoms’ Nautical Gifts sells authentic coconut heads worthy of Gilligan’s Island. The Book Nook is one of the last remaining independent bookstores at the Shore. Get there, because Kindle screens do not mix with sun and sand (3500 Boardwalk).

Ocean City

The draw of the Ocean City Boardwalk can be summed up in one word: constancy. And so the hit parade remains, year after year: Manco & Manco (now under a bit of duress with its owners indicted for tax evasion) for pizza, Ove’s for doughnuts, the Old Salt for tchotchkes, the Pirates of the Golden Galleon for mini golf, Shriver’s for candy, Johnson’s for popcorn, Henry’s for sweatshirts (and the best throw blankets at the Shore).

The venerable Music Pier serves as the walkway’s anchor, each year hosting events like the Miss New Jersey Pageant and doo-wop concerts by acts you thought were dead. The fact that the town is booze-free is reinforced by its amusement attractions: Gillian’s Wonderland Pier (owned by the mayor, the son of the former mayor) almost exclusively caters to the under-10 set; Adventure Island Waterpark (formerly Gillian’s Island Water Park), a few blocks north, has new owners who made a half-million-dollar investment in upgrades.

Shopping in Ocean City is more miss than hit, but one exception is Ocean Treasures, which sells some terrific retro signage perfect for gazing at during the long, hard winter as a reminder that the sun will eventually come out tomorrow (966 Boardwalk).

Atlantic City

While the A.C. Boardwalk may be the most famous along the entire Shore, it isn’t the reason people show up here. (That would be gambling.) That said, if you can embrace Atlantic City’s general gritty schizophrenia, there are a few worthwhile stops along the boards.

The Pier Shops at Caesars offer some of the Shore’s best high-end shopping (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany), and some nice city restaurant branches to boot (Buddakan, Continental). The legendary Steel Pier is going through yet another overhaul trying to reclaim the old magic, but its centerpiece, the new, luxe observation Ferris wheel with climate-controlled cabins, won’t open till early 2015.

Down the boards a bit, the best show in town isn’t on a casino stage, but outside Boardwalk Hall, where Duality, the free nightly light show that celebrates the city’s architectural history, will leave you downright mesmerized.

As for the rest, a rolling chair ride ($5 for a short trip) is still a worthwhile throwback spin, but the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, while a fitting monument to absurdity, isn’t really worth the $17 price of admission. Parades are a constant, including the recently revived Miss America Parade, at which, each September, competing divas try to outdo one another in ridiculous footwear as the crowd roars “Show us your shoes!” (They do.)

Read more from our Summer 2014 Jersey Shore Guide.

Jersey Shore 2014: The Shore, Your Way

MO-shore-2014-opener-trevor-dixon-400x400

Photography by Trevor Dixon

Going to the Shore is a ritual that almost all Philadelphians share. Together, we feel that rush each summer to get on the road, to wear the same shorts for a week, to start cocktail hour an hour earlier. Once we’re there, we all get a little happier, a little nicer, a little more relaxed.

Of course, there are also those experiences that make the Shore completely our own. Who you are determines how you vacation: Maybe you look forward most to the break-of-dawn bike ride to get doughnuts; maybe you take pride in knowing where to secure the best square of sand; maybe it’s showing your kids the fine art of pulling an extra ticket out of the Skeeball machine.

With that in mind, we’ve created a Shore guide that will give you more of what you want — whether you spent all winter dreaming about the seafood, the surf or walking the boards. Click on to make this your most special summer yet.

The Best Jersey Shore Boardwalks

The Best Food and Drink at the Jersey Shore

The Best Family Fun at the Jersey Shore

The Best Beaches at the Jersey Shore

The Best Gambling at the Jersey Shore

To see our picks for the best the Shore has to offer this year for food and drink, family fun, beach and water activities, and gambling, buy the June 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine, on newsstands now, or subscribe today.

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