Saturday, December 21, 2013
Ho Ho Ho
I always think of Finland as such a Christmassy kind of country, don't you?
Seeing this takes me back, immediately and evocatively, to Christmases long gone by in Olde Philadelphia, let's say circa 1983. Dressed in our black bomber jackets (decorated of course with "Divest Now" and pink triangle buttons) and skintight 501s, our statement solidarity-with-Palestine kaffiyas trailing behind us Isadorischely, we would inevitably spend a December Saturday or two racing around town looking for presents (for others and, speculatively, for ourselves). Wanamaker's (with its Christmas lights and pipe organ spectacular, not to mention its very festive men's cologne section, dangerously tempting Contemporary Man collection, and heavenly lunches in the Crystal Room), on to Strawbridge & Clothier, down to South Street for some trashy fashions and the latest albums, then back up Antique Row in case there was some particularly fab tacky figurine, bit of MamieEisenhowerana, or vintage Barbie bit or bob.
Inevitably, though, we'd end up at Giovanni's Room on Pine Street, the still-just-getting-by-today gay bookstore that in those days was a light in the semi-darkness, a mecca, a genuine center for a large and vibrant community. There we'd pick up the latest from Armistead Maupin or Ethan Mordden and - back to not-too-saintly Nick up there - browse the rack of naughty greeting cards (and naughtier magazines, but that's another story - and doesn't it make one feel low-tech and elderly just to think of it?). What would it be - Edith Massey in black leather and tinsel? Drag queen Joan Crawford menacing a cowering elf (Mommie Dearest being then a still-festering recent memory)? Jeff Styrker with a wreath in a surprising location? Or one of Tom of Finland's vintage stunners, as seen here? So many choices...
The early sunset coming on, we'd schlep our bags a block or two up to Woody's (also amazingly still there, although its own website for some reason makes McAfee nervous) for a cocktail (or seven) before retiring home to prepare for another long night out.
Were we ever so young? Apparently we were, for I still have the books, if not (and probably for the best) either the questionable sweaters from Contemporary Man or the flasks of Drakkar Noir that formed a considerable part of that year's trade in gifts. I suppose the only real change now is that Tom's dangerous daddy Santa is now someone we'd have to feel rather avuncular about. Well, that and that it seems unlikely that Jeff Stryker's able to support that wreath in quite the same way any more...