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...


  1. I miss the naughtier magazines and, yes, it makes me feel elderly to do so, but then, everything pretty much does.

    And doesn't that seem like a rather demure Tom of Finland illustration?

  2. Oh, Muscato, I have a feeling you may have at some point traded glances (or perhaps more) with my Mr. back in the day. He was a Philly fellow around the same time. He was a dance major at what was then the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts and had an apartment just off Broad Center City. He helped pay the rent by slinging cocktails at one of the theaters along Broad. I've heard tell of parachute pants, lots of cigarettes and coffee, and a brief stint with blue hair. He speaks just as fondly as you do about Giovanni's Room and Woody's. He was off to Erie PA by '84 or '85

    As for the Tom of Finland illustration, I'm with Peenee. I expected to at least see Santa's sack.

  3. 'Tis the season for nostalgia, it seems - The Merm in the last post, smutty mags and Tom in this. I think I'd prefer a sack-less Finlandische Santa to any number of "e-cards", and an Ethel number (no matter how piercing) to the likes of Nicki Minaj any day... Jx

    1. Oh, I'll wax nostalgic at the drop of a hat (I had a remarkable red fedora, terribly apt for this season, for example, albeit excusable only on the grounds that it was 1985). As for today's sad little pop star-ettes, I try hard not to think of them in the same breath as my idols. Not really fair to the poor things...

    2. If you're looking for a good home for a scarlet fedora, I have the perfect outfit (yet to make an appearance) that would complement it beautifully... Jx

  4. Meanwhile, two hours due south, in your Nation's Capital, the same festive rituals were being carried out (at establishments with different names on different streets) by me and my lot.

    And while it does make me feel a tad, shall we say, elder, I'm also extremely thankful that a) we're all still here to go on about it, and b) we didn't have phones in our hands, texting through the entire thing.

    Merry Christmas all.......