Written by Dan Tyler
It’s something that happens to all of us at our first Circuit party: We see a man, and he’s the most beautiful object we’ve ever seen. We want him. Even more, we want to be him.
His name was Randy Carver.
It was the summer of 1999. The Summer of Love. I was 24, and had just come out, and he was the most beautiful man I had ever laid eyes on. He was 27, cool, stylish: the way he danced, the way he talked, even the car he drove. Not only was I in love with him, I wanted to be him—great body, great hair, trendy as all hell, yet so nice, so kind, so friendly—without any of the cunty, queeny, “Who-are-you- Miss-Thang?!” attitude that scares off so many fledgling gay boys.
No, Randy embraced me as soon as we met, through my then-boyfriend, Brian, and he exuded charm. “It’s so great to meet you,” he exclaimed. “Welcome to Portland!” I was immediately put at ease and always found myself smiling whenever we hung out. That summer, I really came to know what music felt like: to be able to dance all night long at these wonderful underground after-parties, and then, cuddling and laughing with a fabulous new set of friends in a park overlooking the bay, waiting for the sun to come up. I thought I knew how to dance before, but with a party favor as catalyst and Randy as my guide, I started moving and twisting and locking and twirling like I never knew I could.
Absurdly, his boyfriend cheated on him and then dumped him, and Randy was hurt, terribly hurt for months afterwards. There was a sexual tension, an almost tangible chemistry between us from the start. Although we would hold hands and give each other back rubs, after-rolling, whenever we started kissing or becoming too intimate, he would draw away and choke, “Dan, I’m sorry, it’s just too soon after Jim,” which pissed me off to no end. I thought he was just brushing me off, because up until then I had never been hurt like that before.
Just the same, he was my idol, and I emulated his style. I began combing the shops and boutiques from Portland to Boston to New York for just the right outfits—fierce club kid clothes, tight spandex t-shirts. Blinky—flashy watches, earrings, and bracelets. And phat pants with lots and lots of pockets—Randy pants—like the kind he always wore. You know the routine. I always looked good in them, felt confident, stylish, self-assured, sexy.
I started going to Circuit parties. New York, Montreal, D.C. I grew in confidence and met so many people, and I would return to Portland with a thousand stories and a million phone numbers and email addresses and guest tickets to all the clubs: Twilo, the Tunnel, Rise, Stereo, Avalon. Randy would just laugh, and say, “My god, Dan, when you first got here, you didn’t know anyone, and now you’re everywhere, and everybody knows you!” It was hilarious to me that he didn’t understand that it was in trying to impress him, I had transformed myself into this professional club kid.
Then I met the man of my dreams in Boston, and I forgot about Randy and all my friends in Portland—left them all behind to be with this guy, which at first seemed to be a good idea, but then it turned bad. So very bad, so very quickly. He hurt me, broke my heart, ripped my guts out, and tramped on my soul, or so it seemed, and I was left all alone, having alienated my friends in Portland. It took a long, long time for me to heal.
Fast forward three years, and by this time I had moved out to California, but I made plans to meet up with friends in Montreal for Black & Blue. There I was, flagging up on stage at Millennium while Manny Lehman was spinning behind me. This guy at the base of the stage beckoned with a finger for me to come closer. It was Randy. I leapt off the stage and into his arms. We kissed like long-lost lovers, and then we caught ourselves and broke apart, and I was all like, “Omigod, look at you, you look great!” (He did.) He answered, “Me? Look at you! You look fantastic!
“The next thing, simultaneously was “ Wow—do you have a boyfriend?”
“Oh ... Oh !”
My heart jumped, and I think I saw his jump too. We wanted to say more, but just then his friends crashed into us, and we couldn’t really talk. But we danced close, so blissfully, achingly close, and I made plans to meet up with him at his hotel after the club closed in case we got separated (which, unfortunately, we were, dammit!). So the next morning I stumbled from the Olympic Stadium to his hotel. When he let me in, there were a couple of his friends asleep in one bed, and he was slightly out of it. Not to be denied, I let it all out: how I had fallen in love with him at first sight all those years ago. How I hadn’t understood how badly his ex had hurt him, but now, after my own failed relationship, I got it. I told him about the huge effect he’d had on me; how I wanted to be cool like him, to be nice like him, to have a great body, great hair; all that and more. He just sat there with mouth agape, eyes wide, and a childlike expression, “I really did that? You really thought all that?”
Then his eyes glazed over, and he dropped asleep in my arms, and I had to laugh ruefully. He probably hadn’t even comprehended the last few minutes I’d been talking. But that was OK.
The next day, I flew back to California, knowing where I’d come from, having experienced the magic of recognizing one person’s touch on another’s life.
I still look great in my Randy pants.