Richfield clowns, Diana's gowns, and John Waters' Pecker

We gave at the Mall. Is there anything more amusing than an amusement park full of queers? Each year we just get giddier about Camp Out, a benefit for District 202 that combines three of our favorite things: poofs, dykes, and retails shops. Oodles of queer folks descended on the Mall of America last month, lining up to eat unhealthy food, sumo wrestle, and try that nail-biting axe ride. The highlight of the evening, however, came when the inimitable Miss Richfield hosted an all-too-twisted version of the Newlywed Game, complete with tacky game show music, a befuddled straight couple, and Barbie-Q as the clingy-dress-clad assistant. In response to the query, "What was the last gift you gave your partner," the lesbian fessed up to a wedding ring, and the gay boy...a bottle of lube and a card. Nothing like living out those clichés.

Dear God, It's Funny. Speaking of the suburban czarina, Miss Richfield's latest offering, "Thank God, It's Richfield," left us with serious case of perma-grin. The show, which runs through October at Bryant-Lake Bowl, is by far the best shtick we've seen in a long time. A mishmash of oddball ballads, piano duets, talk-show-style interviews, and oh-so-subtle lighting changes ("I'd like the pink gel please"), the 90-minute lineup is performer Russ King at his finest. And kudos to his clogging, singing, blender-operating cast too. Cooking with walleye has reached unthinkable heights under Miss R's tutelage.

Gown meeting. Our weakness for all things fabulously royal (a list that definitely doesn't include Weight Watchers sellout Fergie of York) led us to the Mall of America last month to see the touring diplay of Princess Diana's dresses. Not even Camilla Parker-Bowles could have resisted, knowing that the proceeds went to benefit Camp Heartland, a Minnesota retreat center for kids affected by HIV/AIDS. We spent a Saturday jostling housewives, strollers, and unwilling husbands for a peek at outfits that cost as much as a car. These weren't the top-line dresses--most only served to document how yucky '80s fashion really was, even for a Princess--but we're not above a brainwashing in the cult of personality. Our fave frocks included a beaded blockbuster (Don't you always need something new for those dinners with important heads of state?) and a lurid nightclub number replete with tartan patterns and silver-lamé touches. Our greatest regret, however, was that we couldn't get our girlfriend to spring for the Diana paper-doll collection.

Not-so-secret code. No tuxedos, no polo shirts, and especially no white sneakers are allowed on Fridays or Saturdays in the Twin Cities new leather bar, the Minneapolis Eagle (515 Washington Ave. S.). And no exceptions. In fact, we know of one patron wearing the aforementioned forbidden footwear who, upon being refused entree, returned to his friend's car, retrieved a can of black spray paint, calmly recolored his shoes, and 10 minutes later was admitted without a second glance. (We hope he was wearing socks!) The dress code, not enforced until 8 p.m. on those two nights and fully posted on the bar's web site (www.mplseagle.com) is a huge hit. "It's about time," is the most common comment we've heard. "Minneapolis has been needing a real leather bar for years." Not to disparage the Saloon, whose Tank tops and bottoms are still our favorite chaps to hang with on a Sunday night, but the Eagle wears its harness all week long. And it serves lunch, the first gay bar to do so since the fabled Sutton's. The fare is more than fair, and even during a weekday nooner--we had the curried turkey salad pita and the jalapeño poppers--the creak of cowhide is never far away. As one member of our party observed, "The meat is tender and the boys are tough." So don't sweat the code. Pull off that Abercrombie and Hilfiger, pull out the black jeans and boots, and pull a few brews with some attitude-free biker babes.

Better than tan lines. The Arena Racquet Swim & Health Club in Minneapolis recently replaced all their old exercise machines with top-of-the-line Cybex and Hammerstrength equipment. According to the staff and our muscle-minded friends, the spanking new appurtenances have proven extremely popular with pumpers and pressers. One machine in particular has attracted the gaze of local gays--the Cybex apparatus that isolates the, um, glutei. Patrons utilizing this station attract more jaw-dropping attention than bungee jumpers at the State Fair. Or a decent act at the La Femme show-lounge. Even Dr. Laura might look good on this machine. We dropped by for an eyeful ourselves and were immediately sold. The boldest member of our party was tempted to approach the blond, buzz-cut butch sweating at the new gluteus station and ask if he could spot the guy. "You don't need a spotter at a machine," we reminded our gym-challenged pal. Too bad, 'cause from the looks of things, we weren't the only ones who'd spotted the blond. The Cybex device kicks serious derriere and is the first of its kind on the market. We think it couldn't have arrived a moment sooner. With the onslaught of the fall television premieres, and the holiday season leering just over the frosty horizon, queer Minnesotans definitely need to improve their bottom lines.

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