by Seth B. Epstein
[Ed. note: Most GASS selections are antiquated preservers
of the eternal verities of libation. In this edition, however, we twist our standard format
to bring you the poop on a brand-new institution we think has all the makings of a classic.
The 'bar before it becomes a star,' as it were. Enjoy!]
The wunderschwul of the British-American right-wing homointelligentsia has some new
tricks up his sleeve. In addition to touting gay marriage and his new book, All But
Normal, English boy-toy Andrew Sullivan has decided to become the chief investor in a
new D.C. saloon to be called Bungallows that promises to stand erect from its assorted
"For too long HIV-positive homosexuals have gone without a watering hole," Sullivan maintains.
"Bungallows will rectify that situation. He added that, like the Irish, there are two kinds
of homosexuals: Those that are HIV-positive, and those that want to be. "It simply isn't
possible -- and all queers know this in their heart-of-hearts -- to get the full gay
experience without suffering this disease." To that end, the bar will offer a way to
rough-trade your way out of negativity with style.
Bungallows will be both traditional and aggressively new, according to Sullivan. "The idea
behind the bar is getting back to queer traditions, and that appeals greatly to the
conservative in me," he says. "Bungallows seeks to return homosexuality to its roots in the
free-wheeling Eden of seventies San Francisco." Condom-wearing will be frowned on, though
not absolutely forbidden.
"The specters of disease and death lend a frisson to sodomy you just don't find in any other
act, and we firmly believe that the seeds of queer renewal lie in eschewing the latex for
devil-take-the-hindmost lattitude," he continued. "There's a peculiar post-rubber freedom I
find liberating -- and I'm betting others will too. These days queers don't live in fear --
so why should they f*** in it?" Indeed, twin, tall, tan, tatooed Dennis Rodman-lookalike
bouncers will dispense free "No fear" bumper stickers to departing patrons as a way of
promoting both bar and theme.
"We spoke to Dennis about using his name and he was thrilled," confided Sullivan, suggesting
a business acumen that belies his precocious-schoolboy mien. "Not only has he agreed to
become an investor, but he will lend his persona to our doormen/bouncers, whom we will
style 'Rodmen.' Plus, whenever his team's in town, he will host post-game parties ('Bull
Sessions') and sign autographs."
Like Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe, part of the excitement of the Bungallows
experience is that you just never know what son of a gun your going to run into next. One
power couple sure to drop by is Mr. & Mrs. Barney Frank. Barney and his inamorata, Herb,
are not-so-silent partners in the venture, and promise they will drop by after many a sweaty
Hill tussle. Also expected to jerk a few alcoholic sodas are Paul Rubens, who has ditched
his Pee Wee Herman persona for the more lucrative fields of Boy-lesque, and Hard Rock
Hudson, an infamous gay triple-X film star in dim light barely distinguishable from Bruce
"I expect our little saloon to be the place for the demi-, semi- and hemi-monde to join
hands and circle in a ring beneath the full moon, says Sullivan. Not so subtly showing off
his Camford intellectual wares, he explains: "AIDS is the red plague that is the black
plague of our times. And as 'Ring around the Rosey' was the official song of the original,
'classic' plague, if you will, an updated version ("Asses, asses, we all felch now!) we
call Ring around Kaposi will be the house theme at Bungallows. Every night, precisely at
midnight, we will hold a minute of silence for the dead and the to-be-dead, following which
we will join hands with our neighbors and sing this simple ditty of death and joy. It's
all about the cadence within the decadence; the conjunction of merrymaking and death that
has fascinated me since my youth.
A final investor, Michael Kinsley, will take time off from his online 'zine duties to run a
daily gay lotto called Stoneball. Each weekday, as happy hour draws to a close, Kinsley
will appear on the big screen live via satellite from wet Seattle, clad in the yellowest of
mackintoshes, curtsy, uncurl his lip, and proceed to suck numbered ping pong balls out of a
Habitrail. Then he will salute the winner, plug his new book Patties II: Pensees du
Pasture, and sign off with a hearty "Cheerio!"
Bungallows will be located in a five-story townhouse just off Q street. Two hot tubs will
adorn the roof, with standard stall, stool and shower accommodations on the second to
fourth floors. The ground floor will be more or less conventional in appearance, says
Sullivan. "It's basically a twist on your standard disco-slash-Planet Hollywood. Every
time a Frankie Goes to Hollywood video appears on the big screen, drinks will go
"We'll have a number of gimmicks along that line, he says, adding, "The key here is to make
Bungallows the first thing that pops into queer heads when they think fun and danger. Get
drunk, get wild, get infected -- that's our motto." One of three cheek stamps will be
applied to entering customers, depending on their HIV status. Those with the red,
full-blown AIDS stamp get 20% off their tab, the purple HIV-infected, 10%, and the blue
uninfected pay full price.
"True, it is discrimination," admits Sullivan, but we checked with EEOC and though they
were initially skeptical, once we explained our reasoning they came around. We expect no
legal repercussions whatsoever." He has approached Red Wolf, Red Dog and Killian's Irish
Red to co-sponsor contests and gay-pride events and is considering his own Ruddy Buddy
in-house brew ("the micro-beer for the microbe-ridden"). "The gay community has
traditionally left beer to the workingman straights but I think, with a little outreach, a
Red Dog would find a whole new market just waiting to be tapped," he said.
There is one act the bar owners will not tolerate, and that is drunk driving. "I simply
couldn''t handle knowing one of my customers destroyed the life of an innocent human being,"
says Sullivan. Accordingly, car keys will be collected at the door by the rodmen -- and
released only if the customer passes a breathalyzer. "If they fail, they can either crash
out in our mini-flophouse, or we'll call them a Pink Checker if they absolutely have to get
Bungallows plans to hold its grand opening on June 21st. "A wag once said that living in
D.C. in the summer is like living inside a dog's mouth," concludes Sullivan. "Our hope
with Bungallows is that we can sustain the moist fertility of that incubator all year