Now, that’s more like it.

One retraced his steps to Taylor Square and, in only 1.5 attempts, found the hole-in-wall entrance to the Manacle, oddly reminiscent of the hidden doorway of Garage in Montreal circa mid-’80s. (Imagine a kind of raised and very deep loading-dock staging area inset between storefronts. At the right rear was a hard-to-see concrete staircase that led to Garage. Or if that was too confusing, one just followed the poufters.)

I spotted the vaguely ridiculous leather-pride flag and in I went past the “fearsome” Brando manqué leaning against the rubbish can.

I just need an explanation why the gayest city in the Southern Hemisphere has a single leather bar that’s the size you’d expect in, say, Iowa City or Winnipeg. You can fit the whole thing (including DJ booth and wee dance floor) in the upstairs front room of the Eagle. (Loved the Super Hits of the ’80s programming – how many covers of “Mad World” do we need?)

After noticing that about one out of every five fellas had noticed me (was it the sweater?), it was time to nurse a pint of the hard stuff and chat up whoever was handy. The first two lads had the deceptive appearance of typical inverts, but, once probed, revealed they were DeGrassi fans. One was right chuffed when I explained that I live in the old DeGrassi hood and that my Shoppers Drug Mart is the one where Wheels bought his condoms. Talk about street cred. His mate had visited Toronto (and Woody’s), staying at the Royal York. He had no viable explanation for the size and uniqueness of the Manacle, but did advise me which FBEs were better.

I think we need a new word for the current quasi-skinhead hairstyle trend – a mohawk that’s only the length of a Nº 2 buzzcut. Suedehawk? Anyway, we had “various degrees of suedehawks” at the bar, one of whom looked my way for a short time. Putting down my demon liquor, I headed to the head and was able to make a confirmation. I think I’ve now seen the very best ever nightclub getup: A large-nosed barman in black T-shirt, distressed acid-wash jeans that were little more than a waistband and a few denim strips down to the intact calves, a black jockstrap, and… a yarmulke. I was dazzled by this, totally charmed. And the confirmation I was able to make? The headgear wasn’t a fashion accessory.

Circum… stances prevented me from snapping a digipic, as a stout Welshman and I had gotten to know each other a bit and had other plans.

My opening line was the provocative yet candid “I’m down from Canada. Who or what is interesting to do?” Now, where else should I be trying out that line while I’m here?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2004.10.04 00:15. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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