It's about two blocks from a Shenzhen landmark - a mammoth ground-level
billboard lauding the late, great Deng Xiaoping, who could be roughly construed
to be pointing in the direction of Discover, if one wanted to interpret it that
way. Discover's owner, who also runs a straight, established bar in Shenzhen's
primary foreign barbarian district, Shekou, told me via my girlfriend's
translating that he'd been open for about 3 months and that the city moral and
legal guardians were basically looking, but not telling.
We had arrived early and what with the cockroch infestation, a Backstreet Boys
disc continually booming and the sight of two other early patrons - a male
couple avidly watching a "Tom and Jerry" (or "Cat and Mouse" as it's cleverly
known here) video and giggling hysterically at their zany cross-species antics,
it wasn't exactly a promising start.
But things picked up after a few more drinks, another dead cockroach and a
sudden influx of mostly sharp dressed young male professionals.
"I'll have to tell my coworkers that this is where all the cute guys are in
Shenzhen," my galpal exclaimed. "Too bad they're all gay!"
By then, we were watching the second bill of a floor/variety show that began
with a three guitars and drum machine playing what sounded like
Chinese-inspired knockoffs of Bad Company and Foghat. Not exactly the musical
mix you'd find in a US gay bar, I suspect, nor was the decor -- under
rennovation from a previous incarnation, it still sported faux American
frontier log cabin walls and dark knotty pine tables, booths and chairs. Log
Cabin Republican, Sino-style? Or perhaps a gay barn, not gay bar? Though there
were nods to the clientel with enormous Chinese beefcake posters of nude, oiled
hunks deftly cupping their genitals and some other gay-related pictures/icons,
including Marilyn and one drawing of a lean, mean Elvis slouching with a guitar
case on a street corner apparently looking for something other than wrestling
females flashing white cotton panties.
"Yeah," I said. "American women also often complain that all the good, cute
guys are either married or gay." Chinese Foghat was followed by 11 very young,
thin guys clad in nothing but thongs or sparkly briefs with numbers pinned to
them who strode somewhat shyly one by one atop the bar, faced the audience with
stone faces and then turned to model their mostly-pancake butts.
"Oh, that one is cute," C. said.
"They look terrified," I replied.
It turned out they were male hookers up for bid. Patrons picked a number they
liked and then negotiated in the back of Discover over fees and terms. The
audience - it was packed by now, easily 300-plus and 99.7% male - responded
neutrally. No hoots, cheers, applause or cat calls. It was mostly young
business types who smoked, drank and threw dice from cups non-stop, though a
few queens dressed in slim chest baring shirts with rabbit or cat fur collars
minced around the edges.
Under a blue and white banner that proclaimed in Chinese: "Surrender to
passion. Become the man-storm!" the entertainment took a cross-dressing
cultural turn for Act 3; a traditional Tibetan folk dance featuring two guys in
Tibetan drag and three in traditional Tibetan male clothes, one of whom sported
none-traditional ethnic spiky hair and black retangular emo glasses. No one
camped it up, though. It was like watching the equivalent of an American square
dance with gingham-clad transvestites. Or maybe a cross-dressing Amish barn
Act 4 was a male fashion show. Again, no camping or vamping. Just cute guys
modeling slightly bargain basement-looking sport coats, sweaters, slacks and
shirts amid silently farting fog machines.
The emcee - no Joel Grey in Cabaret, he - then favored us with an overly long
rendition of lip-synched popular songs, including one for which C translated
the chorus as: "I love you like a mouse loves rice. I miss you like a hooligan
Tender words and just the thing to set the stage for the high - or low - point.
It was a very loosely Bollywood-influenced temple dance with a "priestess" in a
sparkly red baggy halter top and three attendants/devotees clad in black and
brown vinyl wraps and old shag carpet remnants or pieces of Sonny Bono's
moth-eaten fur caveman vest tied to their sunken chests. Between doing her/his
best Kali-cruises-Sunset Strip moves, "Her" Worship submitted gracefully to the
simulated hump and grinds of the devoted trio.
A hard act to follow, as the less-than-enthusastic bidding that proceeded for
bottles of Chivas, Jack Daniels and Great Wall red wine hawked by the
still-cheerful emcee proved. But the man-storm was still going strong, the dice
rattling and Tsing Tao beer flowing when my girlfriend and I left, with another
rendition of "I miss you like a hooligan misses girls" echoing in our ears.
Copyright 2006, Asian Sex Gazette and Peter Davis