Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Children Of House

It was Tim’s 1990 Bastille Day fete – one of those events that always brought all the Pittsburgh underground youth tribes together. There were the Carnegie-Mellon hipsters, the patent-leather creeper ambisexuals, the edgy industrial-punk queers, the militant Act-Up-ers, the Point State Park theatre majors, the disaffected Dithridge kids and the should-be-in-New-York-but-stuck-in-Pittsburgh clubbers. And, of course, no party of that era in Pittsburgh alterna-gay history could have even been mentionable without the attendance of the residents of 227. Most often just referred to as the Queens’ House, 227 North Neville St. was a sort of hip, debaucherous gay frat house, certainly not affiliated with any sort of higher learning institution. Erik, Thom, Jason, Michael, Joel and a changeable entourage of minor characters who, generally, had simply forgotten to leave after the last Queens’ House party a month or two ago were the epicenter of all things cool, fun and irresponsible.

It was a muggy, sticky summer night and Tim’s house was packed to its Victorian-era rafters. Having been around the scene for a few years already, I knew most everyone, but I’ve never been much of a mingler or a chit-chatter so I headed straight for the living room dancefloor. Back then, DJs at house parties were a luxury and a rarity, so days before a party were lost assembling mixtapes of underground alterna-dance music. Rare New Order and Pet Shop Boys 12” remixes imported from Japan, Nitzer Ebb, Xymox and Book of Love. And of course, the perennial white label pre-released Madonna du jour.

Stimpy pulled me off to the side, and asked if I could somehow get whoever was in charge of the music to play a cassette that he’d brought. He handed his cherished cassingle to me. I looked down at it, and then never looked at him the same way again.

I met Stimpy a few months earlier, through our gay youth group. Tim had known Stimpy in high school, and brought him to the group and the scene. Stimpy seemed like a nice guy to me – but a little nerdy and a lot needy. Years and years of school torment left me susceptible to over indulge my first experience of in-group status.

It sounds a bit more new-agey than I’m comfortable with, but I really was feeling a connection to some new energy – a 100th monkey-style pull. And, when I saw that cassingle that said “French Kiss” on it, I knew – I knew – that Stimpy was feeling it too, and that I had just completed another necessary connection. We got the tape played, and everyone danced to the sound of the future.

A year and a half later, the vague pull that we felt turned to outright restlessness, and Stimpy, on a total whim, instituted his SEARS (Sell Everything And Run Swiftly) sale. Within 2 weeks from his decision to leave Pittsburgh, found himself at roommate referral in San Francisco. Shortly after arriving, he, and about 20 of his new best friends, called me from a pay-phone at one of San Francisco’s first raves – the Whoopy Ball, and Stimpy’s picture was plastered in NewsWeek as a visual of the new cyberdelic youth movement on the West Coast. Two weeks later, I was headed cross-country in a Renault Alliance with $300 and some techno tapes.

It’s been 15 years since we stepped off the edge, and became who we are. We live in different cities at the moment, but we still talk nearly every day as though we’d just seen each other yesterday. Most people wouldn’t believe the things that we’ve seen together, and that doesn’t matter to either one of us. We were a part of the revolution that no one knows about, we stood on top of the mountain and watched the sun rise and we’ve laughed ourselves out of the absurdity of 1,001 tragedies. We were the children of house.

Happy Bastille Day Stimpy!


Joe said...

That's total bullshit. It was a 4th of July patriotic American barbeque in Clariton and I handed you an 8-Track of Bad Company and we drank warm beer and threw rocks at passing cars. I found a shack in Appalachia and kidnapped you so you could help me raise chickens. We got hooked on moonshine and 17 years later I still don't know how I got here.

Happy Bastille Day! I love you...sniff sniff.

Frankie said...



Rodrigo said...

Bravo!! I read this piece and my hairless arms went crazy with memorabilia and electricity!!! I know what you mean and I get you..I was doing the same thing or at least trying. In a different city, in a different country. Day dreaming of how would it be to be in New York, London or San Francisco, being part of the undergroung, I remember I was 14 years old and I went to my first Rave, listening to my House and Techno music that I recorded from the only cool Radio in an old walk- man.I had the time of my life, I felt part of. I was made fun of and called faggot for my taste in music...I know what you are saying and I always loved to listen to you and your adventures, you still are the most fascinating person I have ever met!! I was also a Children de La Casa.