Cruisin' Central

A hustler, an old dancing queen and strip shows on Saturday afternoon

Later, he says, Geer set him up with the guy who owns Chippendale's, the world's first all-male, cabaret-style dance act. There John David danced for two and a half years, entertaining countless hyper women and pioneering a modern dance move.

"I was one of the guys who brought in the slow dance, a slow motion dance, the adagio. The adagio is almost like the tango--now it is a lost art. You know when somebody gets adulation, there's always a copycat."

In front of us, John David's obligatory young gay pal, Scott, is dancing with a peculiar life-affirming urgency, his bony frame bending and gyrating in time to the disco thumps. Scott grabs his crotch with one hand, puts the other behind his head and rolls and thrusts his hips forward as he glares and pouts. Scott's face is sharp with tiny, yellowy eyes. He looks bruised somehow, almost wounded. His dancing seems a cathartic release.

John David continues, "Then I met this gal from Hawaii, Randy Lee. She picked me up. She was a transsexual. In fact, I don't even think he had the operation, his penis was so little. Gorgeous person, absolutely fucking beautiful. Black hair all the way down to her ankles.

"She said, 'I'm doing a show around the country, and we are gonna open in San Francisco. Would you join my troupe?' I said, 'Oh, okay,' and we danced behind her, doing back-up vocals."

A move back to San Francisco was next, and there he met a woman named Carla and stayed with her long enough to produce a kid together.

"We had a son, Ryan, and Ryan turned out to be a porno star. I don't know what name he is using now as a porno star. I see his pictures around once in a while. He's buddies with Ryan Idol [gay porn star], I know that."

John David says the first time he was in Phoenix he was with Geer on location for the film Jeremiah Johnson. Now, he lives downtown and is a Cruisin' Central semi-regular. He came back to Phoenix for his health.

"I found out I had HIV," John David says, his voice rueful and dropping in volume, almost cracking. "And that sort of like put the blanket on everything. Yeah, that was a real bummer. I had moved back to Wisconsin, and I found out I had the virus. I couldn't take the cold temperature up there anymore. I came back to Phoenix; I like it here. And I have been here since. That was in 1990."

"You look great," I say.
"Yeah," he says, laughing. "Pretty good for a 54-year-old fucking faggot!"
Despite its rep as a place to get rolled, Cruisin' Central has had just a few minor liquor violations in the past half-dozen years, and the cops are needed about as often as at any other neighborhood bar. According to a few patrons, Cruisin' Central is just an old watering hole for working-class queens.

Walking out, I ask Jay the all-in-black shadowy security man if he has to break up many fights.

His answer: "Only when the moon is full.

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