Sunday, March 11, 2018

Two Old Gaysian Short Films that Surprised Me.

With HereTV's Falling for Angels: Koreatown, Chapter II train wreck that showcased a unrealistic interaction between two Gaysians in LA's Koreatown I decided to spend the morning watching some old gaysian shorts and I was pleasantly surprised.

The Golden Pin

This film addresses family obligation with blunt metaphors and good chemistry.  The Mom always knows.  I also love that the main character is a Vietnamese stud and that the white characters are just background.  The focus after all is about the Asian and his family and western elements are "the other."  He's also hot as fuck.

Yellow Fever

This film is SO 90s, but also so UK.  But the racial issues here are relatable.  The main character is intentionally insane.  He's hung up on his identity as a potato queen.  The moral of the story is summed up in this line, "when it comes to relationship, it should be about personality, not nationality."  Which is of course 90s talk for ethnicity.  The film exposes how ridiculous the gay community can be.

Falling for Angels: Koreatown
This was such a missed opportunity to showcase LA Gaysians; it felt like the director interviewed a handful of gaysians and smashed together his observations into one long terrible cringy dialogue.  It felt like it was going through a checkbox of things.  Actual quotes:

  • There's this metamorphosis that happens when you'r having sex looking into someone's eyes that look like your own
  • I knew that if i could love someone that looked like me, I could love myself
  • The [SGV gaysians] who grew here are like a different race, they're self confident and well adjusted and they breakdance.  It's like where's the neuroses of low self esteem? 
All of the issues covered identity issues.  But the gaysian community faces a lot more than just self hate.   They should have just scrapped the script and followed a group of four gaysian friends to Rage in Weho.  And then have them gossip at BCD Tofu house in Koreatown at 3AM featuring the following characters.
  • Slutty one who's careless, lonely and parties
  • Social Justice Warrior who doesn't practice what he preaches
  • Transplant with insecurities that overcompensates
  • One that's dating a white guy and addresses sticky-rice hypocrisy 
I can assume that the writer only knows gaysians who live in white spaces, who have and compete for white boyfriends.   These Gaysians, who are the sprinkle of color, struggle with predictable identity and rejection issues as the constant "other"  have been addressed enough.  Falling for Angels: Koreatown had the opportunity to expand outside those themes.Why not feature gaysians who are well adjusted and focus on their LA born/raised here specific lives?  Or is it unfair and alienating to show this utopian where the people you're interested want to date you back and that everything you do and speak is popular thought because both your high school and college were a majority Asian?

The first scene where the condom breaks was ridiculous.  It would have been more realistic if he discovers that the adopted Korean sleeps around A LOT and freaks out because of how nonchalant he is.  

"When was the last time you got test?!?"
"I don't know.. a few months ago.. don't worry about it.."

This would address hook up paranoia + hook up carelessness in two contrasting characters.  

Any way... I just hate missed opportunities.  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Investing in Friendship

A few Fridays ago I stopped by a friends' apartment where I was greeted with sliced oranges seasoned with special salt purchased from their trip to Mexico city as well as a sampling of mezcal.  The mezcal was supposed to be less earthy, but there definitely smoke seeping through my glass.

He put on a record which included some eclectic loungy tunes.  His partner chuckled as I made jabs about the music.  As I sipped, I declared "man, you guys really know how to relax me, this is just what I needed to unwind on Fridays."  Though I declined special espresso beans, I felt my body absorb their good energy.  They were hosts that made sure I was comfortable.  No detail was missed.

After Jimmy arrived, we headed out to Honda-Ya for some izakaya.  Jimmy and I usually avoid izakaya because we're never really satisfied, but we realized we were doing it wrong.  In order to truly enjoy izakaya requires ordering everything and not being concerned about the price tag/value.  Too often, I put "value" or "price" on food/experience.  Noodles should cost this, pizza should cost this, meat on sticks should cost this, but what I didn't account for was the value of company. 

Our friends ordered everything that sounded delicious.  The plates stacked up.  Jimmy and I watched them bicker about ordering California Rolls.   Jimmy and I laughed nervously, but as always the bickering turned into teasing, turned into affection.  This couple in front of us argue so much, but it's because they're honest with each other.   And the honesty surpasses the criticism of food or music preference.

We got the group together to sing karaoke after dinner in our usual VIP room- a playlist that included high school rock, Japanese pop, Bjork and Rihanna.  At the end of the night it clicked...

...that I need to invest in friendship the way these guys do.  By hosting, by caring, by being honest, by putting value on good company.  I want to be less calculated with my generosity.

2018, I told myself that I want to be better.  I've already failed in a few ways, but it's a work in progress.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ridesharing Stories

I enjoy this forced interaction with strangers when taking Uber / Lyft.  Something about learning about what people are up to and broadening my understanding of this complex, yet simple city I live in.  And they don't mind talking usually.  My questions are structured:

  • How's your day going?
  • Been driving for a while?
  • What neighborhood do you live in?
  • Is this your full time gig or are do you have other projects?
People in LA love talking about where they live.  This is how I learn about back lounges, restaurants, and venues and quickly bookmark if it's interesting.  They also have other projects and don't mind talking about them since Uber/Lyft is just a way to get some cash while they work towards something bigger.  These four questions are sufficient in getting a good conversation going.  And my rides are that much more pleasant.  Here are a few stories I shared on Facebook, but I want to continue to blog about them here.

January 2018
My driver this week told me that he managed the popular Nick's Cafe in Chinatown for two years. The owner told him to count every raisin that he gave the customers and would close the store randomly when the venue was used for filming. This is where most of the revenue comes from. The owner hated him and told him that she didn't need him. So he quite and the store remained closed for three months. "What? she said she didn't need me," he was sassy. "Any way, I'm going to open my own restaurant called 'Frit-Ta-Tas'. Everything will look like boobies...the eggs will have nipples."

December 2017 - Various
Today's driver told me about her Mac and Cheese recipe, her late ex-husband who's best friends with Muhammad Ali, and her sisters who love to drink. At the end she gave me a candy cane. .
Last week my driver told me how he worked in Office rental sales and how burnt out he became.
Another guy was a rapper and was interested in how I think cool neighborhoods die once they become wealthy and popular.
A passenger in a shared ride told me he owned two LA bars. Another passenger was an extra and was heading to film a train scene.
Another was a mom looking for a new place to live while going to school.
Another guy told me that he worked for movie studios in set design and that the hand on the volleyball (Wilson) from Castaway was actually his.
In LA, getting from here to there is a struggle, and for me story telling makes the journey more pleasant.

More stories to come.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Finding in Joy In Sharing Random Objects

When people see our elaborate photobooths from the parties, there's always two questions: where do you find this stuff and what do you do with it after?  OfferUp is my favorite app to buy and sell random things.  Craigslist isn't reliable and your listings expire after two weeks.  However, with every prop that I buy and sell comes a pretty good story.

The Locker - Andrew and I bought it from an artist who used it to "store his guns."  We didn't know if he was joking or not, but he was living in east downtown in a garage with a mattress on the floor.  He was moving out.  After using it for Try Outs and also our Halloween Party which was Mean Girls themed (Boo!  You Whore), I sold it to a barbershop owner who was going to paint it to match his shop and then let his barbers store their personal belongings.  Thought that was pretty cool.  He brought his buddy to bring it down the stairs.  Thank gawd because it took all 4 of us to drag it up the stairs and it was a bit of a hazard.

Locker room and Threeway Call with Cool Mom

The Lacrosse Stick ($4 at Goodwill) - It was just a prop for TryOuts and apparently worth $80-$100 new.  I sold it today to a girl who just joined a team in high school.  She was super excited.  I told her she could have it for free and he dad told me he would ship me some coffee beans because he was a coffee roaster.  They were such a cute family and super grateful.  They drove 40 minutes to meet me at Silverlake Reservoir and stayed to play with it.  That actually inspired this post.

New Years Decorations - Joe hosted a NYE party in New York in 2016 and didn't know what to do with the props and decorations, so he shipped it to me.  I gave it Nathan so that he can decorate his party "Fyre Festival: Till the World Ends" for this year.  Joe told me how happy he was that his things had a second life after I sent him a picture of the decorations up in Nathan's apartment.

The Glow in the Dark Barrel - The First "Asian Glow" Party we did in 2013 Andrew bought this barrel from a farmer and painted it highlighter yellow.  It was the first of 3 blacklight parties where I would install 8 blacklights and turn everything off.  This one was fun; we had highlighters and folks drew on each other. We also high neon yarn and made it look like lasers were shooting everywhere.  I've since sold the blacklights to some teenagers and also the barrel which is now in a music video.

Salon Chair - In 2016, we thought we were going to get evicted because the owner wanted to "move in," so we hosted a "Sia Later" wig party.  Andrew found this salon chair on Criagslist.  The photos were hilarious.  After that, I sold it to a young hipster who wanted to use it to decorate their house.  Weird.

ShenYun Legs - We had a party called "ShenYun: A Must See."  And Andrew of course, comes up with this crazy idea to make it look like we were doing the splits with PVC piping.  Of course, he based it off his 6'1 body so it didn't quite line up with everyone else who was normal Asian height unless you faced your back to the camera.  It was a Asian fabric dance party, not a Chinese party... let's be clear everyone.  The legs show up again in the TryOut showers and the MeanGirls Halloween party.  You know, when Caddy falls into the trash can in the hallway?  Stretching it?  I sold it to this lady who used it for some display/craft project.  Wonder where what really happened to them and I'm kinda sad I sold them cuz I feel like I could have reinvented them.  BUT we still have those red shoes that look super good on Charles.

David as Kimora Lee Simons

See the legs in the shower in the back?

Jurassic Park Jeep - For Andrew's birthday, we hosted a "Dat-Ass-Ic Park" party and our friend Daniel bought a barbie power wheels and painted it to look like the Jurassic Park Jeep.  You can see the purple interior on the wheel.  BTW, this photo made me laugh so hard when I found it.  I sold it to someone during Halloween who was competing in work group costume contest and wanted to roll into the conference room with it.  We've established that Andrew really really likes parties with Movie themes.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I buy super random things and it makes me sad to see these found objects just laying in the room after a good party.  I think trashing them is wasteful and donating them isn't as satisfying because you don't know where it'll end up.  It brings me so much joy when I find others who actually appreciate them, giving them new life!  Now... what to do with that random Titanic chair... ANDREW! UGH!

Try Outs: What Team Do You Play For?

When we were brainstorming the theme for our September party we didn't think we could top "Shade by the Bell" from 2016.   Then something clicked... Sports themed.  Try Outs... and then it just came to us "What Team Do You Play For?"  What was originally going to be another high school theme with a class photo backdrop evolved into a homo erotic locker room party replaying all of the nervousness we went through in high school during P.E.

I always want to make these themes easy for my friends to participate and I'm always impressed when they come in an outfit with some thought into it.  SeanCody / CorbinFisher / RandyBlue much?  But less white, more Asian.

A couple of favorites:

Rebel and Teacheer

Just me after a few drinks

Creepy nerd and Don made a 321 shirt!

Team fabulous

This is how you do it, right?

The Breakfast Club

Me.. being me

The only people who know how to play sports there

Typical Charles jumping all over everyone


Band geek!  Jimmy got nervous when he was actually blowing this around

Threeway scissors

He wore his cheerleader outfit!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Being Better in 2018

There was a moment in Hawaii after a lot of drinking when Jimmy called me entitled.  In the hotel restaurant at 2AM, I got upset when Jimmy wouldn't sit with me while the kitchen staff reheated my food.  I obnoxiously responded to his awkwardness, "I paid for this overpriced hotel, It's okay that I asked that they reheat my leftovers."  It was all inline with policy, but Jimmy wouldn't sit with me because he felt bad for the staff.  He was embarrassed and said that I was acting entitled.  I told him sharply in a drunken state that people can call me cheap, tacky, naive .. whatever, but to call me entitled or wasteful was the worst thing you can say to me and I did nothing wrong by asking the 24 hour kitchen to reheat some food.  I was upset that he made it a big deal and I was furious that he called me something that I was so disgusted by and took that opportunity to tell him that I hated hotels, but instead of lashing back at my ridiculousness he told me something that made me feel extremely guilty.

He told me that when he was young, his family couldn't afford to stay in hotels so they would just drive by and he would pretend that he was staying there.  To be able to stay on a beach side hotel now that he's older was an absolutely luxury for him.  While I roll my eyes at the extra fees and announced that I'd rather stay in a poorly kept AirBnb with no AC for a fraction of the price, he was enjoying something that he thought he could never have.  He was already thankful for being there.

I started to cry... cry heavily... because I was drunk and because I was so upset at myself and because of his story.  And I apologized and told him that I would be better.  "We had such a wonderful night, let's just live for that," he responded and that's what we did.

At times it seems like I do a lot for him, but he does even more for me by being patient, loving and understanding which is why we've been together for so long.  My new years resolution for 2018 is to be better.  A better person, a better boyfriend especially now that it's our 7 year anniversary.

I've made many mistakes that I've held close to my chest.  There is so much temptation to be selfish, but I need to remember that we're in it for the long run and that together we can be better people at least for each other.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy with what Life Has Given Her.

My mom is an only child and both of her parents have passed away.  Our family dog also passed away in August of this year which led her to cry for hours.  She tells me that she's worried about getting old because loneliness is inevitable.

As a child of immigrants, I feel lucky that my parents are living happy comfortable lives.  Like many, I've internalize a sense of guilt.  Taking care of your parents and making sure they're happiness is intact is the natural next step.

For gay children, we've become convinced that we've grown up to be the furthest type of person that our parents can be proud of.  For some, hearing "i love you" is rare... to hear, "I'm proud of you" is a dream.  However, the guilt that I was struggling with is that I feel like I cannot grow the family in a way to help my mom with that loneliness which will compromise her happiness.

My mom asked me over lunch, " you want children?"

"I don't know... but I know that having a children would make you very happy."

She interrupted me, "that's the wrong way of thinking.  To have children is to provide happiness for yourself...  it's not about me.  It's for you."

"I'm... very happy you said that."  I wasn't expecting this sort of response, especially not that quick.  I paused and took a 3 minute break holding back the tears; glancing at strangers to see if they noticed that the conversation had turned into something more serious.

"What is it?"

The swelling in my eyes increased, "I know... how lonely you are, and having grandchildren would make you very happy... and all I want to do, is to make sure you're happy."  I verbalized the internalized guilt that I had been repressing.

Without missing a beat she responded, "I have two beautiful children, I've accepted what God has given me and I can't be happier.  I've lived a very difficult life.. your dad saved me from being abused, I've seen a lot of bad things, but I accept everything as a gift.  And I gladly accept that grandchildren may not be in my future, and that's okay.  God has already given me enough."

I absorbed everything she said.  It was something that I needed to hear.  It was such a powerful conversation to have; for my mom to express that her happiness wasn't dependent on what I could provide her and that having me was enough.  That I was enough.

It made me realize that coming out to my parents two years ago was only the beginning.   Talking about the future, talking about happiness was the next.

So do I want children?
I still don't know, but if I do...  it'll be for me especially now that I know it's a possibility. For the first time in my life, I've met two Vietnamese American Dads in their late 30’s and their 5 month old daughter. and talking to them, though only briefly, showed me what my future could possibly look like:

So much love and happiness.  It's just mind blowingly expensive  and terrifying.

SO...being a gay uncle is still my number one choice.  Come ON little brother!!  (But of course, do it for you.  ;) )