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 Manhole/Malebox fellowesses.

"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 Willis.

"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 two-for-one.

"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 home."

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 long."

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