Monday, April 6, 2009
Recently some info from my memoir, ALL I COULD BARE: MY LIFE IN THE STRIP CLUBS OF GAY WASHINGTON, D.C., made the news, because OUT magazine used it in a mini-profile of Matt Drudge for their Third Annual Power 50 issue. They wrote that he “loved Chaka Khan, [and] The Young and the Restless,” which I talk about in the book. Matt promptly responded in New York magazine: “I liked Chaka in the eighties, and have not watched Young and the Restless in twenty years!” LMFAO!!!
For the record, I mention this stuff about Matt in a brief part of the book when I write about growing up and coming out in the ‘80s, a time when I just happened to be friends with Matt. (This was long before I became a stripper, which makes up the bulk of the book.) Because people keep asking me about it, I thought I’d post an excerpt from the book where I talk about Matt. A lot of people think that I was trying to “out” him, but really I was just trying to write about this quirky guy who I was friends with for a brief moment in time, a guy who just happened to become famous. My point was less about exposing Matt than to demonstrate one of those little truths about life, that you never know how people are gonna turn out. Sometimes the folks who you think are the least likely to succeed turn out to be the biggest successes. I actually find Matt’s story very inspiring, although I’m admittedly more of a Perez Hilton guy.
But anyway, here’s the excerpt. You can judge for yourself.
In high school, I might’ve been voted “Least Likely to Amount to Much of Anything”—that is, if I’d actually finished high school. I dropped out and worked full time as a telemarketer for Time-Life Books. When I wasn’t on the phone hawking the Old West series to retirees and shut-ins, I was hanging out with my friend Matthew, a cool-ass white boy who loved Afrika Bambaataa and Chaka Khan and had hip-hop lyrics written on his white Converse high-tops. Matthew and I were primarily obsessed with two things: music and "The Young and the Restless." That’s all we talked about as we walked around D.C. late at night or drove out to the Maryland suburbs where his mother worked behind the counter at 7-Eleven.
Once, when Matthew went to L.A., he brought me back an ornament stolen from the Young and the Restless set. For the most part, we didn’t discuss a lot of personal stuff, but one time when we were talking about gay people, I told Matthew that I couldn’t imagine kissing another guy. He looked me in the eyes and said, “Of course you can,” recognizing something in me that I wasn’t ready to acknowledge.
Not long afterward, I moved to New York City with Matthew and some friends and became a featured dancer on Club MTV, hosted by Downtown Julie Brown. It wasn’t so much that I was a good dancer as that the casting people liked my look—hair dyed blond, black leather jacket, Doc Martens, and jeans… I liked being on the show because I thought it would launch me into the limelight. Fame would solve all my problems, because when you were famous you could do anything—dance in your underwear like Madonna, show your ass crack on an album sleeve like Prince, or most important, be gay like Boy George or the dude with the high-pitched voice from Bronski Beat.
After a few months of this, though, I got bored and restless. My life didn’t seem to be going anywhere and I was pissed off about it. I got in a fight with some of my roommates...and was promptly thrown out on my ass. With nowhere else to go, I returned home to my parents, who insisted that I take the G.E.D. and try to find a way to go to college. As I agreed to the arrangement, I started to visualize my dreams of having an exciting life swirling in the basin of a sink and then washing down the drain.
Matthew and I didn’t talk much after that. He’d had his own falling-out with some of the roommates, which also caused him to flee the apartment and not tell anyone where he was going. But about six months after I moved home, I unexpectedly received a handwritten note from Matthew in the mail. “If this letter gets to you somewhere in this burning world,” he opened, “I have a feeling you can still relate.” For five densely marked pages, Matthew revisited all of our favorite topics of conversation, telling me how he was awaiting a new Frankie Knuckles remix of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” going through a love/hate relationship with Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time,” and incensed over the direction of "The Young and the Restless." (“That show suffered so much during the writers’ strike— will it ever rebound?”) Later, he stated: “Writing this letter to you makes me happy. Whatever happened to us? I miss talking to you, but somehow I know what you’re thinking or want to convince myself that I know.” At the end of the letter, he wrote: “213 area code soon. Call me.” But I never did. Once I started on the long path of going to school, being a good boy, and doing what my parents wanted me to, I couldn’t look back and reconnect with someone who I’d shared so many crazy obsessions and dreams with. Still, every time I entered a new situation, I always remembered something he’d told me: “Craig, people will like you wherever you go.”
The next time I heard anything about Matthew was years later while flipping through Vanity Fair. According to an article in the magazine, he had indeed moved to L.A. and transformed himself into conservative internet pundit Matt Drudge.
For more of the story, check out the book or listen to the first chapter here: