What if you threw an orgy and nobody came?

The invitation got the wheels of my already-overheated imagination rolling.

It was for a birthday party for a girl I knew from the gym. I had been reintroduced to her at a party I attended a couple of years ago – the Global Warming Party, so named because of the pool in the backyard, heated to hot-tub-like temperatures in the middle of winter. The birthday girl had been there, and it was as debauched a party as I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. Let’s just say, skinny-dipping was required, not just encouraged, and there was a downstairs room set aside for people whose carnal desires got the better of them.

The emailed invitation from the birthday girl – we’ll call her Fannie – mentioned a room for dancing plus the requisite DJ, a bar, and a clothing optional atmosphere. I thought a hot tub was also mentioned. The party was at a house, which meant that there would be extra rooms in which to crash, if necessary. The downside was, with Vancouver real estate prices being what they are (and houses in the city all but unaffordable except to the rich), the house was in a suburb, over half an hour’s drive away from the city.

Still, as the day approached, and my imagination became more fevered, the party took on Fall-of-the-Roman-Empire dimensions. My girlfriend, R., took little convincing, with the caveat that, should she start feeling like prey for a room full of white slave traders, we would leave.

Saturday night came around and, after a long drive on an unseasonably cold night, we arrived at the two-story abode. Once inside, we greeted by a guy in a bathrobe – Fannie’s boyfriend – whose eyes made him look as though he’d swallowed a bottle of cough medicine. He was having a conversation with the owner of the house, a guy named Gary, about who owed what when it came to bar supplies. It was not a good omen.

My spirits sank with each new discovery, except for the birthday girl’s near-birthday suit (a white mesh bodysuit). The house was unfinished – the rooms upstairs, including the living room and two bedrooms, were almost all completely empty. The food consisted of bulk plastic containers of croissants, no doubt for the morning (the invitation said the party was going to be going until the following afternoon). The “bar” was actually the kitchen, which had been cordoned off with tables and chairs. Except for a few people upstairs, it seemed empty, and there was little noise come from downstairs.

In the kitchen, as we sipped our vodka drinks, much was made about R; Fannie was quick to point out my girlfriend’s physical attributes, while the few guys standing around nodded agreeably. Shortly, our respective ages came under scrutiny. This was getting uncomfortable.

Downstairs, we found the only inhabitable space, a TV room with couches and carpet and a glassed-in three-person sauna. (There was no hot tub; I must have been hallucinating when I read the email. Perhaps I still had an image of Jessica Pare in Hot Tub Time Machine in my mind.) One sport wasted no time in stripping down to the altogether and getting his sauna on. He wasn’t the only freedom-lover – two other guys proudly displayed their fetishistic tendencies. One, Brent, was a short black guy in a belt that emphasized his equipment, the other was a Terence Stamp-type in his 60s and dressed in BDSM gear.

There were some nice moments – people shared some memories of Fannie, for instance (Brent told a story about being at an orgy with Fannie, who commented on the proceedings as they went on around and to her). And Fannie, singing a tune from her stage days revealed a surprising (to me) talent.

But here’s the thing – there was no music. And we knew no one – well, I knew the birthday girl, but barely, and I sort of knew Terence Stamp from the gym – so we stayed more or less silent. If there was going to be an orgy, which the email hinted at (my feverish imagination notwithstanding), these weren’t the people we wanted to have one with. We knew the time to leave had come when Terence sidled up to R. and started telling her his philosophy of life while she tried to keep her eyes off his pierced 60-year-old nipples.

So we pulled a quiet leave, sneaking upstairs and grabbing our stuff. On our way out we ran into our bleary-eyed host, Fannie’s boyfriend, who thanked us for coming. My first orgy – if it’s ever going to happen – can wait.


Girlfriends and comic books

Vancouver Comicon at Heritage Hall, Nov 14 2010. Robyn Hanson photo

There are certain things you don’t immediately let on to someone you’ve just started dating. Unless, that is, you’re totally clueless (something I can definitely lay claim to in the past… and probably again sometime in the near future as well. Maybe even in this blog post).

These include (off the top of my head): your negative opinion of your mother’s cooking; the fact that most of your wardrobe comes from indie-rock shows; and that your comic book collection could fill a regular-size closet.

Each long (and semi-long) term girlfriend I’ve had has had to come to terms with the fact that yes, their boyfriend is a comic book loser. Not that I have tried to hide it, though maybe I should have. But it’s one of those male things women seem to accept in guys, like hockey jerseys, Rush albums and a crush on actress Paz de la Huerta.

I recall a number of years ago when I was going through a geeky process of filing all my comics away in special protective bags (with special cardboard backing, of course). There I was, a grown man (in his late thirties!) in the middle of the living room of his tiny one-bedroom East Van apartment, surrounded by copies of The Invisibles and The Uncanny X-Men and who knows what else, when my cousin came in and said, “Wow. If ___ is still dating you after seeing this, she must really like you.”

One of my exes actually drew her own comics on a semi-regular basis. They were pretty good, too, even if they didn’t have the Hulk or Spider-Man in them.

Comic-book nerd selling off his comics. Robyn Hanson photo

The reason I bring all this up is that R., my girlfriend, got a first-hand taste of comic-book geekdom this weekend. With another move, the second in three months, coming up I had decided that it was time to sell of my collection, or at least a major portion of it. So I rented a dealer’s table and hauled six boxes over to a local Sunday afternoon comic convention. This is not something you want to do alone, plus I figured the presence of comely lass at my side couldn’t hurt sales, especially in the comely-lass deficient (except for the odd Emma Watson type) environment of a comics convention. Hence, I recruited R.

To her credit, she stuck it out ’til the very end as collector after collect (almost all male) pawed through my boxes of comics, most selling for 50 cents or a buck. Fortunately, it turned out that she knew the people at the table next to us. They were selling T-shirts, not comics, so they were even more out of place than we were.

So this blog post is going out to R., for sticking it out and being a good sport (as well as my gopher). And to any ex that I ever dragged to an X-Men movie: I’m sorry.

Read more about my experience selling off my collection here.



The Seattle W Hotel

The W Hotel Seattle's "living room". Robyn Hanson photo

The W Hotel Seattle's "living room". Robyn Hanson photo

Dateline: Seattle. The last stop of the West Coast tour of the newly reformed indie-rock band Guided by Voices. Your dedicated and possibly insane correspondent has been following the band since its show in Las Vegas last Sunday (it’s now Saturday), the third of the “Hallway of Shatterproof Glass* Tour” dates.

Four shows, six days and countless (well, probably close to 2000) miles into this admittedly foolish, misbegotten quest, the decision’s been made to go out in style. After staying at Ramada (Los Angeles), a Super Eight (San Francisco), the Timbers Motel (Eugene) and the Jupiter Hotel (Portland), all of which came in at just over $100 after taxes, we are staying at the ultramodern, sleek W Hotel Seattle.

North-facing view of Seattle from the 22nd floor of the W Hotel.

I stayed here once before and it made its mark on me; it was one of my first great hotel experiences, thanks to a combination of the décor (I’m a sucker for anything “espresso”), modernity and sheer sexiness, not to mention celebrity sighting (in that case, Quentin Tarantino, in town for the Seattle Film Festival).

This time, we have a 22nd floor “king corner” suite – a hallway leads to the main room, which features a king-size bed, a desk (espresso-coloured, of course) and a fantastic view of Seattle, including the Space Needle (not coffee-hued, unfortunately). In the spirit of the trip, I have christened it “The Hallway of Shatterproof Glass Suite” (see pic):

As the digs on this trip go, the W is by far superior to anything else. Second place goes not to the Palms (which is nice in its own way but also gaudy and grotesque, and the airless suite we stayed in was purely functional) but actually to the Timbers Motel, which won’t get any marks for modernity or sexiness but had a certain rustic, Oregon-ish charm and is located right near downtown Eugene**. The L.A. Ramada (on Wilshire) was okay, and the Super Eight (booked through hotwire.com) was just squalid.

We have one more night in the W, and believe me, we’re going to enjoy it, though we will eventually have to leave for the show (the band is at the Showbox Sodo) and possibly lunch.

The lounge at the W Hotel Seattle. Robyn Hanson photo

*Named after a line from a song, “Gold Heart Mountaintop Queen Directory”, off the band’s breakthrough 1994 album Bee Thousand.

**Word to the wise: there are several chain hotels when you first come off the highway, but if you have the time it’s worth the extra 10-minute drive west into downtown to stay at the $50/night Timbers.


Memorial Day Weekend in Palm Springs

The Desert Valley Star Weekly reports about the exposure of an illegal sex club in Palm Springs. Which sounds about right, actually.

However, if there’s a sex club at the Riviera Resort and Spa I haven’t found it. I’m sure however there’ll be a lot more going on this weekend, when folks from LA make the drive to enjoy the long weekend (Memorial Day) around the pool.

And what a pool! The eight resort suite buildings, two- and three-storeys, as well as the main building/ lobby/restaurant are arranged around the swimming area, which includes an amoeba-shaped main pool and a hot tub. Palm trees, cabanas (rentable for the day, orange-and-green cushioned loungers and scoop-backed chairs, and tan California girls in Hooters orange and tight white hotpants (staff for the Bikini Bar) are the mainstays. For the first few days, nothing but Nouvelle Vague, the French band that plays lounge versions of new wave and punk classics, could be heard from the speakers, although yesterday (Thursday) the music was changed up a bit to include ’70s soul and classic rock (including, unfortunately, Eric Clapton’s egregious “I Shot the Sherrif”). The sun is gloriously hot and, at least in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the pool is lightly populated – just the right amount of people, in fact; couples both young and middle-aged, one or two families, and groups of girls, some who are staying at other hotels but come just for the pool.

According to the “RIV Weekender”, an in-house publication, DJ Drewdown will be spinning this weekend noon-4. My plane leaves at 7, which will give me just enough time to work on my tan for another six hours before heading over to the Starlite Lounge, located off the reception desk, for Happy Hour. The deal: 50% of sharables, beer, wine and specialty cocktails, an offer I’ve been taking advantage of over in the Sidebar, which has both a dimly lit interior and a deck.

I’ve also been taking advantage of the gym, a small but functional facility with the usual treadmills, stair-climbers, Nautilus-type of unit and free weights, for some early morning workouts so I can feel less paunchy around the svelte young things around the pool. (So far, it’s not working all that well.) The gym is next to SpaTerre, the resort’s spa, where I was treated to an invigorating Balinese massage on my second day.

I have to say the Riviera Resort and Spa had been a delight, more or less. Next time I would probably rent a car to save on the extravagant hotel bills I’ve run up, though I haven’t been too bad – mostly it’s been mint juleps by the pool.

Well, heck, there’s more to write but the pool area is filling up and if I don’t act fast I won’te get a prime seat. I’m sure you understand.


Palm Springs – Circa 59 at the Riviera Resort and Spa

Seared scallops at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Seared scallops at Circa 59. Lana Maytak photo

I left Vancouver on a rainy Monday a.m., and apparently “it’s cold” there now so I feel like I’ve made the right decision coming here. More or less.

Last night, the first night, we – that is, my photographer and I – were treated to a dinner at Circa 59, the restaurant at our accommodations, the Riviera Resort and Spa (from downtown Palm Springs, by cab a few minutes – I don’t recommend walking it). With high-backed wing chairs, chandeliers that look like they were designed by H.R. Giger and black and white photos of Frank Sinatra and Raquel Welch (doing her lounge act, no less), it’s a funky modern restaurant with a nod to the Riviera’s storied, Old Hollywood past.

Starting with a series of appetizers, we were most impressed with the lobster ginger dumplings (five of them, with a spicy Japanese dressing) and the oysters (komomoro), which my photog described as “the best oysters I ever had” – though she’s from Siberia, where oysters are not available on every street corner, and I suspect that may have had as much to do with the ponzu/spring tomato gazpacho topping as the actual slimy dollops themselves.

Oysters at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Oysters at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

At this point (following the appetizers) Circa 59’s chef de cuisine came out from the kitchen to see who was being so demanding. Ruben Barragan’s former employer was Chicago’s Wit Hotel, where he worked along with Circa 59 executive chef Bradley Manchester, and he explained that much if not all of the food at Circa 59 is locally sourced and inspired.

Ruben encouraged us to try more, so we sampled the chorizo-stuffed medjool dates, a sinfully candy-like flavour combination that immediately took me back to last year’s Burning Man and the less sophisticated delicacy known as “bacon-wrapped Fudgee-Os”. We also enjoyed the seared scallops with a fava bean and potato sauce (pictured above). The spot prawns were too grainy and dry for my tastes; I maintain (as far as that goes) that they are a hardcore foodie’s food.

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Chorizo-stuffed medjool dates at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Spot prawns at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

The spot prawns at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

And then the entrees…

I’m not much of a carnivore but the rib eye was probably as good as any I’ve had; just the right amount of rare, juicy, delectable, with a chantrelle mushroom topping and foi gras red wine sauce. (To interject with a brief wine mention: I was happy to encounter my old friend the Chalk Hill Chardonnay, a personal fave since a California wine-tasting a few months ago, and a wine which went well with the…)

The rib-eye at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

The rib-eye with chantrelle mushrooms at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Halibut. Seared, herb-encrusted, and with a red-pepper sauce, but with the mouth-watering rib-eye taste still fresh in our craws, hard to appreciate.

Halibut at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Halibut at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

Not so with the butterfish (an out-of-season halibut). Two small but juicy slabs served with sides of a campari tomato so delicious it almost caused a death duel between myself and the photographer, with a salsa verde and roasted artichoke hearts on the side.

Butterfish at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

Butterfish at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

About the desserts, well, the less said the better – not because the chocolate carmel tart with a scoop of hazelnut ice creamy and the sticky toffee pudding weren’t fantastic but because even recalling their names I am filled with longing.

The chocolate carmel tart at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa.

The chocolate carmel tart at Circa 59, the Riviera Resort and Spa. Lana Maytak photo

And now we come to the sad relationship part of the story. Because the meal most reminded me of the fantastic dinner shared with the Texas Twister at the Fairmont in Sonoma on our first night there, and how it cemented our love… and how that love is now over, alas, and I’m here in Palm Springs at another fabulous hotel but not with someone I love, or whom there’s anything beyond a platonic relationship (though I for one would like to change that). And I remember that feeling, and I want it back.

Still, I can’t complain – I’m here, with two days (three if you count Friday, the day we leave) of sun, pool and reading left. And, as the saying goes: we’ll always have Sonoma.


A fantastic fling. the end?

I’m home in Halifax after spending ten days in BC with Bali Boy, and it is hard to know where to start with writing this post. I guess I’ll summarize first, by saying that we had an absolutely wonderful time together but we didn’t fall in love. In that sense, everything went to plan.

The last ten days were a whirlwind. I had all these crazy travel assignments to do, so we were staying at beautiful high end hotels and getting treated like kings, while being romantic and having a fine old time. It wasn’t real. It was a perfect combination of situation and emotion that at times felt like there could potentially be something beyond friendship or a fling , but it simply never developed. However, because we are human, ie flawed, insecure, over-analytical and emotional. (Or to quote Aerosmith F.I.N.E. as in F***ed up, insecure, neurotic and emotional) there were moments in the blissful ten days when things got awkward. Like when he got smashed, told me he loved me and proposed.

We’d gone to spend an evening at the mutual friend’s place, which was really fun, except we started drinking gin (which usually makes me feel violent but that night made me just giggly and silly). At the start of the night we were barely touching, playing it cool and all that, but as the night progressed everyone got a bit rowdy and Bali Boy kept referring to me as his girlfriend. I was drunk and happy, so didn’t correct him. After we went back to his place, he became a poet, telling me all about his love for me. I told him to go to sleep. Two hours and many proclamations of his true love later, he finally did go to sleep.

The next morning I left before he woke up (because I had to go to Whistler with a girlfriend on another assignment, not because I was running away or anything!) and later texted him to tell him what he’d said last night. He was mortified, couldn’t remember any of it. It was funny, and being me I couldn’t resist teasing him whenever I could about his proposal.

Anyway, that was right at the start of my visit. Once I got back from Whistler, Bali Boy and I headed off to Vancouver Island for a little working vacation. We spent two days in Tofino staying at the Long Beach Lodge, which has to be the most romantic place I’ve ever been. Our room had a balcony that overlooked the crashing surf, there was a fireplace and a huge bath-tub made for two.

View from our room at the Long Beach Lodge

View from our room at the Long Beach Lodge

It really was incredible. The first night we were there, we went for a long romantic walk on the beach and talked and talked. Bali Boy was great to travel with, perfect fun and very witty. We really did enjoy each other’s company. Then we spent a fantastic 24 hours in Victoria, before heading back to East Van to spend a last night together at his place.

Everything was going absolutely fine until that last morning, when Bali Boy said something stupid that really pissed me off. I kissed him, looked in his eyes and smiled, then he said to me: “Now don’t you go falling in love with me.” I think I just said something like “There’s no fear of that” and walked away, but I was just furious. What an incredibly egotistical thing to say. I seethed for a while, and thought I just had to say something more. He was dropping me off at a meeting (I scored a job when I was in BC, which means I’ll be traveling back a little more often) a couple of hours later and I brought it up, the whole not falling in love with him thing.

I told him point blank that there had been no love connection for me, and I was puzzled and slightly pissed that he thought I was there wishing for him to fall in love with me. I also said something mean, which I instantly regretted: “I’m hardly looking at you and thinking you have husband potential.” Then I told him why, because he was a 38 year old kid and I’m looking for a grown man. And I think it stung. Not because he wants to be my husband, but I think ultimately he wants to do the whole married with kids thing. I went to my meeting still feeling angry and then feeling like a complete bitch.

When I saw him later it was weird and I didn’t want it to be. We made friends I guess, and he was super complimentary and lovely, which made me feel even worse. I think we just had a little misunderstanding that I probably blew out of all proportion and we both misread shit and it almost soured what had been a pretty much perfect week together. As I left he said that he was really pleased I got that job so we’d see each other again soon, and I said maybe, but only if he promised not to make any douchebag comments. I think we will see eachother again, as friends, whatever, who knows, but I’m not in Vancouver again until September and really, who knows what could happen between now and then?


Meeting Bali Boy

So, I’m sat in the Opus Hotel in Vancouver, waiting for Bali Boy who went out on a food run. Things are going good, really good. He picked me up in his red convertible at 1pm yesterday and we went for Thai food. I was so nervous I hadn’t managed breakfast (nervous about handing my daughter over to her daddy for ten days, because I’ll miss her not because she is in any danger, as well as nervous about finally getting together with Bali Boy), so I was pretty ravenous by the time we went for lunch.

Its funny how I can have so much confidence at times but then be so chicken at others. As soon as I saw him I became incredibly shy and hardly knew what to say. He was cocky and more confident, until we were alone and then he became the shy one. It took us a while to relax in each other’s company, but once we did, it was brilliant. Bali Boy is an excellent kisser. Making out with him was divine.

Its been two days together and so far we are having a lot of fun, just hanging out, smooching, being silly. We went and watched Star Trek together, and went for a great lunch, which was (I guess) our first date. We had a fantastic dinner at Elixer, the restaurant in the Opus hotel, last night then got drunk and watched South Park episodes. Hanging out with him is so fun. I really do like Bali boy, he is everything I’d hoped.

That said, we have discussed where this is going and are on the same page. This is a fun diversion. A really fun diversion. He can be my Vancouver friend with benefits until either of us meets someone else and isn’t single anymore. Oh, here he is with food, gotta run.

April 2020

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