This week we are heading back to the Big Apple with Conor Kelly O’Brien, an actor, theatre maker and creative arts organiser, originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania — after a day of soul-zapping auditions Conor found himself at 9th Avenue Saloon, a gay dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen. It was here, whilst commiserating over an alcoholic beverage or two, that Conor met a man, got pleasantly distracted, got frisky, and then… well, you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out… but, yeah, definitely one of the more interesting one-night-stands I’ve heard about.Transcript
Conor Kelly O’Brien 00:00
I think part of him was really enjoying it too. I think part of him was like, Oh, this is interesting. We kind of played house for a day. It was very much like, we were a couple and like, you know, I was going along with my husband and his mother for her birthday. And it was a very, I mean, other than the age difference, which you know, in your game was nothing. He was very, he was very sweet about it.
K Anderson 00:28
Hello, my name is K Anderson and you are listening to loss spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories are created there, and the people that they used to know. This week we are heading back to the Big Apple with Conor Kelly O’Brian, an actor, theatre maker, and creative arts organiser, originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania. After a day of soul zapping auditions, Connor found himself at ninth Avenue saloon, a gay dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen. It was here, whilst commiserating over an alcoholic beverage, or to that corner met a man got pleasantly distracted. Got frisky. And then well, you’ll have to listen to the episode to find out. But yeah, definitely one of the more interesting one nightstands I’ve heard about. So when did you When did you move to New York?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 02:07
sort of an on again, off again? relationship? Not much most of my actual relationships. 20 when I was 20. So eight years ago, nine years ago. 2021. Yeah, I am approaching the dreaded gay age of 30. This summer.
K Anderson 02:26
does not talk about that. Well, you still have a few years, right? No, I’m not even going to like buy into all that age is bullshit.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 02:36
No, it’s nonsense. I will I will tell you, it has nothing to do with my virility or my sexuality. I’m better looking than I think I’ve ever been. I know what I’m doing more. It’s just the expectation of like, Oh, god, I’m 30. I should be doing more. It’s not like, per se, it’s 30 is great. It’s like, Oh, god, it’s me being it’s not actually being 30. Do what I mean, like the idea of like, when you’re 25 it’s like, Oh, honey, you’ll get it together. You’re only 25 when you’re 30. Even though it’s a great age, you’re still young, there’s sort of an expectation of like, you’re 30 you should know what you’re doing.
K Anderson 03:08
Yeah, but if you didn’t like just fuck for the entire decade of your 20s then you kind of wasted your 20s
Conor Kelly O’Brien 03:15
Oh, that I must have because Oh, it was a bit we’ll talk. I mean, I mean, I mean, I laid up for last time. But I was a very sexual Late Bloomer. Oh, yeah. I mean, I did stuff but like, I didn’t do stuff until.
K Anderson 03:33
So you just like, touched it and then ran away? No, no, no. I mean, I did more than that. But like, you know, I’m, you know, I, I’m not sure I know.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 03:43
I can I can say whatever I want, right? Yeah, yes. Okay. I didn’t know what that there’s no rating on this podcast, right? Besides five stars. So I was raised in a cult. This isn’t that’s not a joke. I was raised in a cult, particularly a cult, but many might be sort of familiar with in a tertiary way. I was raised to Jehovah’s Witness. Okay. And so being queer and gay, let alone You know, with, you know, not an option. Although I will say ironically, my departure from that faith had nothing to do with my setting. I think my sexuality was a low simmer underneath it. My departure was more so just logic, I actually would have been willing to repress sexuality. If I had to. It was just that like, Well, I do not believe in any of this. And on top of it, I feel like there’s something going it’s like that pre diarrhoea feeling you have and it was like, I feel like something’s going on down here. That I have to express. No, so I I didn’t kiss another person of my gender identity. And since I was 18 1918, I was 18. When I first meet out with another guy,
K Anderson 04:49
and had you left, had you left the Jehovah’s by them?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 04:53
Not entirely. I was sort of like halfway out the door by that point. It’s a process which is a whole conversation. I was like, I was like halfway out the door. And then I wasn’t 23 until I would see and it’s but then so we
K Anderson 05:10
would like you move to New York, really passive aggressive hand jobs. You know, to wait so what do you mean by passive aggressive? hanjo? Do you mean like begrudging, just
Conor Kelly O’Brien 05:21
like, just like I’m loving this, like, just like not knowing what I’m doing. I was very much. I mean, it. It took me until I was 2221 22. To put my lips on a deck. I mean, completely sexual, sexually repressed, didn’t know what I was doing. Didn’t understand my own body, let alone somebody else’s. And then I just made up for lost time. In the around 2324, I would say I cook emerge from my sexual repressed cocoon. And then it was just game on Island Muppets was Muppets take Manhattan if the Muppets were just you know, sexually repressed. gay guys
K Anderson 06:04
are lame. Only Miss Piggy is so okay. So let’s just pause for a moment and go back to moving to New York. So you moved when you were around? 20 What was your what was the game plan?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 06:18
become famous by 25. So okay, needless to say, we were a few years back a few years behind that plan. Um, there really wasn’t one it was just go experience. I knew I wanted to work in theatre. I actually was living in when I first moved to New York. I was living in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, I was working for, for next to nothing. An organisation called the living theatre, the living theatre founded by Julian back and Judith Molina, may they rest in peace. And I would I worked the theatre was on Clinton street in the Lower East Side, I would work in the theatre, which was like a small black box under neath the first floor on the basement level, I met so many amazing people. I did a lot of like administrative work and and then I actually wound up living on the stage of the theatre for about three months. And so that I mean, I would use them as a shot was a bathroom downstairs connect to the dressing room. So I had, you know, a bathroom shower, you know, a little closet, I could store things and I would wait until the shows were over. I mean, they knew this, this wasn’t like I was hiding it. I’d wait until the shows were over. I had like a makeshift cot slash sleeping bag thing that pulled out. And I would literally sleep in this theatre alone every night. And I mean, I hadn’t I had until like, but no one would be down there until like noon. So I mean, I had until noon and then I’d leave and go to one of my whatever job I was doing whatever auditions I was on whatever productions I was working on behind the scenes or as an extra in. And then yeah, it was an incredible experience. I wish I had been a little more liberated at that point in my life. Because there was a lot of opportunities sexually. illicit drug use. That was I mean, to the point where I don’t even know the offers, I was probably given at that point, because I was so unaware of flirtation, so unaware. I
K Anderson 08:08
think my mind went to a different place. I was thinking like, Oh, yeah, you could take a costumes and do roleplay you could like hang from the stage. Oh
Conor Kelly O’Brien 08:17
my God, that’s your I mean, that’s leaps and bounds. I’m talking about, like, you know, someone would be like, hey, do you want to go get a drink tomorrow? And I’d be like, No, I have drink. I have I have drinks here. Are you Do you need help? Like, I mean, completely, the dumbest, poor little child you’ve ever seen. I mean, everything from you know, I mean drugs to sex to, you know, spontaneous cross country road trips to work opportunities. I mean, I don’t want to paint this heat. It wasn’t I mean, they were lovely people. And I see, I’ve already done it, I probably shouldn’t pull back on that a little bit. Um, they’re wonderful professional, you know, very accommodating. No one ever, ever made me feel uncomfortable in that space and in that community, but I definitely was a bit of a square, you know, square peg trying to fit into a round hole. or lack thereof.
K Anderson 09:13
Ching and yeah, thank you. And then so Okay. Is theatre this thing that’s just always driven you and you’ve just been certain that that’s what you want to do?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 09:27
Yeah, I think it was, um, I will say, I was never, you know, the little queer. You know, Broadway Bound baby. I knew that, you know, besides the fact that I can’t sing that. Well, at least, you know, beyond carrying a tune in an ensemble. I just knew there was something about acting like legitimate acting that just really appealed to me. And I guess, I mean, actors will tell you this isn’t true. And I’d like to come up with some self gratifying response. Anyone who doesn’t like being themselves relishes the opportunity to get to play on the people. I mean, I’ve had any child likes to play dress up and likes to play characters. And then once that continues well into your adult, you know, there’s, there’s a psychosis behind it, which is fine. I started taking acting classes since I was really little. I mean, really little. And then my first legitimate theatre experience, I think it was 13 1213. It was like a really good, like American Theatre chestnut piece to be your first claim. And I audition, I got the part and George totally gave me a complex for all future roles. That I would not it wouldn’t be so easy, it wouldn’t be so accessible, but it’s cliche, but I fell in love with it. And then my first my first paid film role, I think I have 1617. And it was like this weird, independent film thing. I remember I got $100 check, and I thought I was fucking loaded. I mean, I thought I was like, I was like, my shit didn’t smell. Fuck all of you. I am brilliant. And I you know, I think I held on to that check so long it was I don’t think I even cashed it. I was just so like, enamoured by the concept of money. And it’s mine. And I did it by acting.
K Anderson 11:08
Quick side. Quick sidebar. If someone gives you a check nowadays, uh, you just really pissed off? Just angry. I’m just like, Oh, great. Now I’m gonna have to go to the fucking bank. Thanks. I fucking love
Conor Kelly O’Brien 11:21
No, no, no, no, trust me. I will never get anyone out there wants to send me a check. Or find me on Venmo Connor Kelly O’Brien? Well, yeah, to
K Anderson 11:31
see I mean, the Venmo. That’s fine. I like that goes into your account. checks. You have to like go and do something with them. Do you not have remote deposit? You can’t take a picture. Oh, maybe you do? I do. Okay, that’s okay. All right. Well, fine. Okay, fine. Fine. checks out that annoying. So So you had the acting bug? And so was New York, kind of like this mythical beast for you?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 11:59
No, no, because Scranton is only I mean, you can do from my apartment in the city because it’s right over the the bridge in Harlem. You could do door to door showers. You know, I mean, it to me, it’s just as mythical as it was when I was 12 years old, the first time going. The first time going, active memory. But no, New York has always seemed at least to me, very attainable, very understandable. Not necessarily breaking into that industry. That’s still a beast that I don’t quite have a handle on. As much as I think I do, and then realise I have no idea what I’m doing.
K Anderson 12:34
Okay. And then so what were those first days in New York like that? Was that your first time living away from home?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 12:43
The first time living away from home? Yes. Yes, that was my for I would say that was my first time really living being away from home. Um, it was weird. But I mean, I had such an unusual, unique experience. You know, most people it’s, you know, I didn’t go to a traditional four year college. So for most kids, it’s, you go away to college, and you live in a dorm where you have a beer, your meals are provided, you have a roommate, and you know, you’re a full time student and you join clubs, and I was working right out of high school before high school, or something like, you know, living on this floor of a theatre and being in this really, you know, very, you know, intense neighbourhood in Brooklyn, and, you know, emerging onto the gay dating scene, not knowing anything about myself, which I mean, I feel but I feel like most people, especially in the queer community, and I could be wrong. But most people of my generation of you know, the kind of young mid middle aged millennials now have a sort of, there’s like they’re stepping stones, right? You know, and for some people, it’s, you know, their first experience maybe was with someone in high school, or it was, you know, their freshman year of college. And for me, everything sort of hat was equally delayed. And then the most insane turned up to 10 experiences that people in their 40s have never had.
K Anderson 14:00
Are we talking gay people in their 40s? Are we talking straight people in their 40s?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 14:05
That’s a good question. Um, I met straight people in their 40s
K Anderson 14:09
I mean, that could be anything that could be like sitting on a cake. True.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 14:16
I don’t know if you’ve had this experience. But you know, I talked to some of my straight friends and for them three, some is like, Oh my god, maybe someday I’ll attain that unimaginable goal. And it was just like, oh my god, I’m so tired of them. Like it’s so it’s it’s,
K Anderson 14:31
I mean, I think it’s, I think like to be fair to straight people. Yes. Which is not really what I do often like it like organising a threesome. It’s a bit it’s a bit more complicated. They’ve had such a hard time. Let’s lay off straight people, people you know, and that no, but like,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 14:47
I like to say there is a difference though, between people who are straight and people who just happen to be heterosexual. There is a very big difference.
K Anderson 14:54
Okay, break it down for me and then I’m going to go back to my threesome point.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 14:58
Straight to me, is you The most vanilla white, boring. Never thought outside of your world. I know plenty of you know cisgender dudes that are the most amazing, brilliant people in the world who just unfortunately happen to be heterosexual. And they say they were born that way. So I’m going to take their word for it. I like to think there is in my opinion, when you call someone’s you know, something like, Is he gay or straight? Oh, he’s heterosexual. Okay, that’s just your sexuality. And and it’s all good. You’re straight. To me. That’s equivalent of saying your basic you’re boring. In my book, it’s like Oh, stop being so strange. So
K Anderson 15:35
then, so then heterosexual people? Yeah, that I feel as though it is a bit harder to arrange a threesome because if you’re like all of this same gender and you all fancy that that gender then it’s like, oh, okay, like I fancy everyone that’s involved in this threesome. But if you’re like heterosexual, and there’s two men and a woman, let’s just say for simplicity sake then you’re one of the men then you only fancy one person in that threesome.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 16:09
And then they have a name for it they literally call it the devil’s three way. I mean it is I don’t know if that I don’t know if that expression has transcended the Atlantic Ocean but when I was getting out here in the states you know if you’re a straight you’re a bunch of straight guys. It’s like yeah, I had a devil’s three way once and that means it was you another guy and a woman and it’s like you are you are so lucky enough to have any two human beings willingly you know capitulate with you, intimately, you disgusting little cretin. How dare you call it like
K Anderson 16:38
so? Because Because it’s awful
Conor Kelly O’Brien 16:41
because of the straight guys because it was straight guys minds you know a cisgendered straight guys mind a three way is him and two women just wanting him profusely. Just just wanting that, you know, in that that mid level insurance agent deck. And just and you know, just just I just want to know how many Phantom Menace promotional pillows you still have on your
K Anderson 17:03
stand and it’s a very negative connotation. It’s not like yeah, the devil. No, no, no.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 17:10
No, no, no, no, there’s no hailing Satan industry community. Um, no, it’s no, no, no, not like Dennis food cake. Like, it’s so rich and delicious. Like, tap? Like, Oh, no, oh, no, you had to
K Anderson 17:21
die. I knew this strike. Who had a devil’s three way I’m gonna use that term because I’ve just learned it. And he was like, Okay, well, I’m gonna throw myself into this and sucked off the other guy that was thinking like, well, this is just what you do. And then the other guy who just like didn’t touch him for the rest of the night and he felt really rejected.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 17:48
Jones at least the ones I talked to you to them, it’s for them. It’s sort of like I really want to be with this woman. And this is what she wants or usually or sometimes it’s like a married couple. And she will and like they willingly agree to bring someone a third party in which is you know, if all parties are consenting more power to you. And I think for you know, I know married couple that you know, love to this day they love to invite someone in. I guess they would be polysexual polyamorous I guess I don’t necessarily think there’s any romance in that particular relationship. I think it’s just for fun.
K Anderson 18:21
Conor Kelly O’Brien 18:22
Yeah, well, swingers, to me indicates that you’re like trading off. They only will play together. Okay, I’m just gonna third person brought in. But I mean, yeah, again, all power to them. But for them, it’s like, yeah, we brought another woman in, and I made out with her on that bad boy, my husband watched. And it’s like, wow, Deborah, good for you. That’s incredible. And I don’t want to sound callous but I mean, for some people, that’s a huge deal. And you know, what more power to you. Um, for me, that’s like, I literally just like like,
K Anderson 18:56
say are you like me like straight shaming? Um,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 19:02
no, no, I’m not straight shaming. I’m am I am I am i right taken aback? I am. I am. I am straight up straight taken aback. Oh, I wonder if we could make that happen straight up. Like like read like reframe that, like instead of it meaning like for sure. Definitely. It’s like, oh, straight up. Like meaning like a heterosexual thing I’ve heard. Like, Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Straight up.
K Anderson 19:30
Like that’s murky territory. Yeah, like we’ve just kind of we’ve just kind of stopped them from saying that so gay about things they don’t like, we don’t want to kind of like start that war again.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 19:41
Oh, that’s true. That’s so strange. That’s so heterosexual. Yeah, that’s true. But yeah,
K Anderson 19:46
I think like if you’re in a threesome, if you agree to it, you just need to throw yourself in. Like, you can’t be like, Oh, I’m not gonna I’m not gonna you just just like fucking like unique and just go for it. That’s My advice,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 20:00
right? I mean, to be fair, though, are you telling me you’ve never had a threesome? With a? I don’t want to assume whom you are only attracted to. But have you ever even ever had a queer threesome? And there wasn’t one person?
K Anderson 20:13
Oh, yeah, no, yeah, yeah, absolutely not. But I’m like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna make sure your experience is fun. So yes, you can suck my dick. Yeah. You’re such a humanitarian. But that’s like, yeah, like, I just, I think that that’s just really iffy when people do that, like, regardless of your orientation, when you like, go into it. And then you’re just like, Oh, I’m just gonna focus on this one person. It’s like, Nah, man. Nah, those aren’t the rules. I have seen that happen. I’ve experienced that happening though, with cisgender gay married men, couples cisgender. gay guys.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 20:55
I just I’ve learned the game I’ve learned. I’ve learned the art of this game is specificity. So yeah, know, that sometimes not always. But sometimes there is one person in that relationship who really wants this and the other person who’s just going along with it to a piece that other person. And you could just tell
K Anderson 21:15
that is just the most. It’s like, it’s just, it’s so uncomfortable. Because then because then you feel like an interest. And the thing that I always do is I like I mean, this is this is a theme in my life, but I always overcompensate. So I’ll pay more attention to the person who’s not interested. And then just end up feeling.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 21:34
It’s like what you’re having. It’s like having a really boring, it’s like having a conversation with someone and there’s one person that’s really bored, and they’re like,
K Anderson 21:39
yeah, so what do you think about that? Yeah,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 21:43
tell me what happened on your What happened to my girl and then when you had when you got your accounting internship, did they provide the pens? Or did you have to bring the pens from home and like you’re trying to find around and they’re like, just just finish this?
K Anderson 21:57
Yeah. And I’m just Yeah, I just go into people pleasing mode. Dammit.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 22:02
Yes. Yes, completely. Um, and to an extent that you know, you don’t want anyone to feel bad. You know, there’s there’s a difference between people pleasing her, but like, I
K Anderson 22:11
know, this is the thing like we say if you’re, if you’re a couple and you go into a threesome and one of us into and one of you isn’t into her, like, if you’re the one that’s not into it, just like go and make a cup of tea and fuck off.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 22:24
That’s the most reddish answer I’ve ever heard. To what you know what not what to do if you’re not enjoying a threesome. That was not a British accent. I don’t know what that was. But
K Anderson 22:34
well that like Yeah, that’s it. Like, don’t just be there in line could just bring the mood down. That’s it. That’s all I’m saying. Okay, anyway, we have not even started talking about that. No? Well, shall we? Shall we mosey on down? Let’s mosey on down wait. So where do we start?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 22:57
Oh, where do we start? Um, so moving on the stage, the living theatre, discovering who I am. What I want out of life, my sexuality, my worldviews. My religion, literally ever and I was already out of the religion at that point. But there was still a lot you know, thing about cults is that it’s not what you believe. It’s how you believe and how you think that it really impacts you. So we’re still unlearning that and, you know, kind of trying to shed some of that judgmental energy and mindset I had. And so I started frequenting a couple of gay and queer bars in the city and one in particular, that I really, really liked. Not because it was even really close to anything, but it was it was in Hell’s Kitchen, the ninth Avenue saloon, which just closed as a result of the covid 19 pandemic. Less than a year ago, I was devastated to see that. And I really enjoyed it, because it was it was just, it was a bar that happened to be queer, you know, gay friendly. I was never a huge fan personally of like, really loud nightclubs. Or, you know, I’d rather go to a pub that happens to be a really fun gay bar. You know, you can actually have a conversation that was really good, diverse music got a jukebox. The drinks were affordable. It was in Hell’s Kitchen. So it was very accessible to the theatre district. And one night after a really particularly bad string of auditions, just one after another that I want I didn’t get seen for because they were like, everyone. We’ve seen 300 people today, we’re not seeing anybody else. After waiting, like four hours, I know. I’m just like, you know, Charlie Brown music like walking back to the subway. And I decided I’m gonna go in for a drink. I went in and sat down. And it was just so miserable and being so hard on myself and I kept a notebook I still do. I would like document what I thought about auditions, what I bore, who was there, you know, common other actors, I would run into, you know, very meticulous notes. And I just remember looking down at my notes and sort of an out of body experience, just rereading my notes from the day and I was just so hard on myself. I mean, there was nothing constructive. There was an Nothing positive. It was just like, you suck. You’re terrible. You’re a terrible actor. No one likes you. What are you doing? Go back to Scranton, like ba ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba. All I mean, to the point of just like I think, almost to an extent I wanted to be self pity, like I needed that feeling. And then, you know, a gentleman comes over and I’m not going to do an Irish accent. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, come on. It’s so bad. I don’t I’m not an accent I can I can do dialects and accents. And I have a coach for a while. He I can’t do it. I really can’t. It’s so bad. It was like he came over and he’s like, you know, I’ll do it. I’ll do what it sounds like to me. Because he’s basically like the Lucky Charms character. And he just came over. I was like, Well, can I go into trade? Like it literally sounded that high pitched. so bad. So I was like, No, like, everything just sounded like that inflection. I know, that’s not true. or deep, masculine, you know, grow. But it was like, Hey, here’s like, you know, that’s what he said it was argue all right, love. Because I can just, I mean, like, I don’t know, I had a black or a dark aura around me, but I was just like, Oh my God. He’s like, Can I buy you a drink? And I said, Yes. And for the purposes of this story, we’ll call him.
K Anderson 26:12
Matthew. Matthew. No, come on something more. I know his name was his name was Matthew. I was I was I was doing a bit. Oh, okay. Can we just call him something? Seamus? Seamus. My name is Connor, Kelly and Brian. Why can’t you do the accent?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 26:31
I don’t know. I could, I’m just I’m not good on the spot. It was he was also a Northern Irish accent, which is a very, very distinct, you know, that’s so you know, you know, a Dublin accent is a little more generic in a way. No one from Dublin. Come at me for that. But he was so like, I mean, you could barely understand a word he was saying. So he has to buy me a drink. And I said yes. And that was already through a friend sort of heading towards a whisky lovers palette. And he just was like, jumped on that. And he said, you know, what’s your name? I said, Connor. Oh, my God. And then he’s like, what’s your last name? Oh, Brian. Oh, my God. He was super. He was super charming and handsome. And he made me feel confident again. And you know, I was being chatted up. And I as I mentioned before, previously, I have not had a great track record with healthy relationships as an adult. At that point, I was still I was, I was young, and I was very young for my age. And he asked Take me home. And I pondered it and pondered it. And I will say, he was never bossy. He did not feel predatorial he was older. He was 3132. You know, so he was, you know, another, you know, 1011 years my senior, but he was very charming, and very hospitable. And very patient and we made out and I truthfully mean this, we didn’t we didn’t go we didn’t we didn’t have full penetrative sex. I don’t remember exactly what we did, because we were both quite intoxicated. And back then. I mean, it was like three drinks and I was gone.
K Anderson 28:10
And we’re okay. So did you make him in the did you make out in the bar? Yes, we did.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 28:16
We made out at night daboo. saloon. The bar to the point where I will say and again, this is just another testament to why it’s so important to have good queer spaces because he went to the bathroom. And the bartender who had been kind of keeping an eye on me throughout the night and knew that I was having a rough day came over to me and was like, Honey, are you okay? Do you want to do this? Do you like him? Are you just having a bad day? And I remember very distinctly said to me, someone else isn’t going to make you feel better about yourself. And he said, like, if you want to have fun, girl, you’re gonna have fun, but he was like, don’t there’s like this little fireplug like twink like guy who was probably like 45, like a guy who think those guys will have like, the short little fireplug bodies of like a 45 year old bodybuilder, but the face of like a 19 year old. And he was like, with these, like, don’t go there. If you don’t want to go there. He’s like you do what you want to do. You could sit right here on making something to eat and sober you up. Like I’ve been so protective and so genuinely concerned. And I was okay, I knew what I was doing that I remember, even in the moment being like, this would have never happened at a straight pawn. Right. And I don’t mean that bartenders don’t look out straight. bartenders don’t look out for other people, but like, no male bartender was gonna look out for him 21 year old guy who was about to go have sex, like there just wouldn’t have been this concern and recognition that you know, this might not be exactly what I want and maybe you know, there is something to this age difference that should be considered if I was fine, but I just think we remember in the day, they closed I would went in and tipped that person in particular as much as I possibly could they left a few years ago, I don’t know where shout out to Billy, where he is now.
K Anderson 29:57
But okay, so so like,
K Anderson 29:59
I mean, I’m starting to get a bit worried about this story now since Billy’s since police look.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 30:04
No, it’s no, it’s no, it’s no, no, no, no, it was, it was it was, it wasn’t so much that like I’m drinking and going to make out with some guy and was really making out with it, it was more so like, he saw how devastated I was when I came in. And I think it was more so like, you’re making your decisions based on want and fun and safe sex, not because you’re like, it was more of an emotional concern that it was like a safety concern. But it was so lovely and so genuine. And I remember being in that moment and being like, because I was so new to this world being like, Oh, thank you, I’m fine, you know, I then proceeded to drink quite a bit more. And we both did, we went back. And I mean, to the point where neither of us was going too much, not much was going to happen. Because we both had been drinking a lot of whiskey. And he had this beautiful, beautiful apartment in Tribeca, which is sort of like the financial district far downtown. Like where the World Trade centres were in that area. And I just remember waking up in his bed, john, the biggest bed I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean, one of those like, like two king size beds together, took up like a running, I didn’t look sharp, like right, like, very, like 80s wall street light broker. And like, you know, I’m gonna walk out and like one of his oversized like, dress shirts, like that kind of feeling. That’s not what happened. I woke up like 90% in the same clothes. And I just remember, like, I just heard like, screaming, screaming happening from the kitchen. And at first, I was so tired and hung over. I thought that it was like a TV. Or he was listening to the radio. And it wasn’t like it was a small It was a big bedroom. But when you walked out of the bedroom, you pretty much were in the kitchen like right when you walked out. And I ran into him and his mom, who he had failed to mention this coming over that morning, because of this same way. Okay,
K Anderson 31:55
so who was screaming that?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 31:57
The he and his mother both of them, okay. He his mother said she was saying if you don’t care about me, and you went and hooked up with yet and you know, did you bring back some other whore? I mean, this was going off on just what’s going on? I remember she distinctly said, you know, I’m not giving her a pass on this. I’m not giving her a pass on this. I’m just gonna say it’s the truth of what happened. She said at least tell me it’s a woman this time. And I just was like, in the doorway, like, Oh, shit. You know, which is not cool, which isn’t. There’s no excuse for that. You know, she was angry. And they were, and she was clearly trying to get us go. And then she just looked at me and didn’t break one ounce of her rage. It wasn’t like she saw me and went like, became uncomfortable embarrassed. And she’s like, well, what’s your story that like, just came over to me? Like, just like, Oh, she had
K Anderson 32:45
it. So she had an accent as well. So why don’t you? Why didn’t she
Conor Kelly O’Brien 32:53
be her accent would be the like, she was just the highest pitch, she was this little stout little woman. So pretty, like this pretty pretty face. A bigger plus size woman, but very short, you know very much in contrast, cuz he was like broad shouldered and very tall. It was they were just like, them yelling at each other. I’m sorry, it was the funniest thing. And they were just so like, I think one of them would make a joke, and they both laugh. And then they’d get right back into the fight. And then she, um, I was just talking, and then all of a sudden, I just started like shaking. And I’m like that, but because like, I suddenly had this feeling of like, I’m in trouble, which for no reason for no good reasons. I’m in trouble. And she, she then suddenly, she instantaneously, just as quickly as she snapped at me. She got real quiet, and felt really bad. And she’s like, why don’t I make you a cup of tea, go sit down on the couch. And then I went down, sat on the couch. He was in the shower and just talks
K Anderson 33:50
and she said you didn’t just like find a cupboard to hide him.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 33:56
I wanted to I just wanted to disappear. I just want to like sink into the ground and melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. But she was like, no. And she asked me What’s your name? And she had the same thing. She’s, you know, heard by Irish names like, Oh, well, at least you’re Irish, which I mean, there’s a lot to unpack there as well. But at the moment, I was just I was fine with just anything. I was like, Ah ha ha ha. And I just like I made a joke like, well, it’s any consolation. My father hates the British. And like she laughed and thought it was funny. It was just so
K Anderson 34:21
hey, let’s let’s bond over xenophobia.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 34:27
I was just like, at that point, I was just like, I’ll say what everyone else you know, and Ron, you know, everyone that Enron deserved it? I don’t know, you know, but she was very she was you could tell. Later in the day, she apologised for the comment about at least you’re not a woman. At least it wasn’t at least Please tell me it’s it’s a woman. She did apologise for that which I thought was heard
K Anderson 34:50
which, which? You just said later in the day, so that means you didn’t leave as early as you could? No, no.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 34:57
I spent over 24 hours with this family welcomed including my time with him the night before into the next day, because we went back it was not late we back to his apartment like 10 and I didn’t get back to my apartment until midnight the fall. If not later,
K Anderson 35:14
stankey close before
Conor Kelly O’Brien 35:16
him I say I showered, I showered and he loaned me some I kept my pants on because he was he’s like a, he was like a big dude and abroad shoulder guy. He gave me like a T shirt that just was a little like one size too big. And I just for brace my jeans over the back of the back of something. Um, and she said, you know, and so what apparently would have happened was they were supposed to meet up in the lobby of his apartment building. She lives somewhere else in the city. They had moved as a family back in the 90s. And he was still young, but he went back to stay with his father a lot in Ireland. So he had still maintained, you know, his Irish culture and his accent. But she had stayed Shu born and raised there. She had stayed here though. I forget what she did. She lives somewhere. She lived in Brooklyn, I think. But it was her birthday. And she coming up soon was sometime in May. I remember that. Sometimes. We’re happy. And we’re happy birthday. And she wanted to 200 and take onto like a brunch. And then we’re going to have a whole day of it was a Saturday. And she was just like, you know, I was looking forward to this and he and I haven’t spent time together and so on and other children live back overseas and blah, blah, blah. And I felt so horrible. I’m like, No, I’m like, No, he’s awful. Like I we just we just bonded over like hating him. I’m like, No, that’s awful. He should never know. I completely sold them out of the bunch of them to to know each other like no, he picked me up. It’s It’s It’s simply I mean, I was just anything to this woman. I just felt so i don’t i don’t know who I don’t want my name is. So I went in the shower, like just please let me shower. I got shower. They were having coffee. They kind of made up so mind you there just made it like 9am in the lobby was like almost noon, because she was like pounding on his door. He finally woke up at some point and we slept in quite late. By the time we left the apartment, it was almost noon. So brunch became lunch. And I said okay, I walked outside thinking like okay, we’re done here. I’m like, he gave me a shirt to borrow. He was like this key but don’t worry about it cuz it was so sweaty, and disgusting. I had to put something else on and I’m like, thank you so much. I am so sorry. I’ll call you and I’ll call you later. Enjoy your birthday. Happy birthday. So this is coming from the kid who was raised Jehovah’s Witness where premarital sex wasn’t allowed. Being gay wasn’t allowed fucking celebrate a birthday was allowed. And here I am, you know, on the streets of New York. Like saying goodbye to this guy. His mom being like, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. And she grabbed my hand. She said, I thought you I thought you were gonna come with us to lunch. And it was that thing where I was just like, Okay, so I’ve already spoken because my phone was dead. I thankfully knew the person’s number. I called the person in the theatre. I’m like, hey, they didn’t even notice I wasn’t there. I was like, I didn’t come home last night. I’m fine. Not cutting me. My job was so much basically a labour of love. They were very chilled. Well, if you take the day off, you’re fine. I was like, okay, so we went to lunch at a beautiful restaurant. Somewhere in Tribeca. He picked up the tab. And literally, we’ve spent the whole day together. We went to the movies. We went shopping, and she because apparently on her birthday, they don’t buy gifts. They just take each other shopping and get them whenever they want. And they are not fabulously wealthy, but I need to have a two bedroom Tribeca apartment this gentleman had to be doing quite well for himself. Because he had an office and his bedroom. And we were shopping and I still have it it’s somewhere in my I’ve been scratching now it’s probably in a box somewhere. They bought me he bought me this beautiful sweater that I was eyeing up the whole time we were at Macy’s, your Harold Sperry. So if you want to get again, it’s like under the buy mood. And I was like
No, no, no, no,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 38:50
I was just sort of like trying something on because I was bored while they were shopping. And she’s like now I’m gonna get it for you. He’s you know, he’s got money to spare, doesn’t he? And like she was the sweetest she went from instantaneously. Like, being so angry and upset to instantly recognising this 21 year old kid doesn’t know what the fuck was going on. It’s probably so scared and like, worried and I was hung over most of the day. And we were together with natural department just hung out. They just talked. And then we went to we have a tap dinner. And what do we do? I think we just went got drinks. I think we just bar hopped it was the loveliest loveliest I don’t know how many people out there have had, you know, love affairs that have been like a 24 hour cycle where like, you meet the person you hang out the next day really liked each other and you spend the whole day together and they never talk to each other again. It was very much that except I personally enjoyed spending time with his mom more than him. He was lovely. He was very lovely. But she was just so so sweet. Um, I have her email address. I haven’t spoken to her in a couple of years. I speak very truthfully, she could be dead she could be
K Anderson 39:54
what do you kept in touch with her?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 39:56
Yeah, yeah, she, she emailed me email. I didn’t get to send her this app. So, this would be my introduction to Yeah, she could not have been more lovely. I told her about Believe it or not, that’s not the worst date I’ve ever had. I told her everything from crying when I was 18 years old walking home in a Mr. Humphreys costume from Are you being served to being dumped halfway through a first date on Eighth Avenue? Because we accidentally crashed a funeral. And it was uncomfortable. And then this one, this one, one, this one, definitely one for the best ending. It was so lovely. And so, so sweet. And I really appreciate it. You know, she said some problem, what we would now call problematic things. But she said them from anger. And she acknowledged that she was wrong. And most importantly, she was just a human being. And she was so compassionate and lovely. And they invited me out the next day. They’re like, you want to come over for dinner tomorrow night? And I can tell that
K Anderson 40:56
you said no. You said no.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 40:58
Oh, yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, he and then I could tell that he was like, the invitation wasn’t coming from him either. She’d be like that. And I could tell he was like, um, I brought home a 21 year old from the ninth Avenue saloon. One time. There was no no ring was purchased. No gallery has been paid. The band’s have not been read. She was just so sweet. She was so sweet. I think she did want me and she said she hadn’t since expressed that had I’ve been a little older, she really would have pushed for us to date. She said you were young. And you had some things to learn. And as you were like, I got read by this like old Irish woman. That you know, and she wasn’t that I wasn’t like good enough for her son. She’s just like, oh, he fucking sucks. He sucks, he would say. And they were so sweet. And they had such a wonderful dynamic. And, yeah, we kept in touch have not spoken for about two or three years.
K Anderson 41:55
I just I’m like, struggling to understand everyone’s motivation here. Apart from maybe your maybe yours. I can get on top or like, I can be like,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 42:05
mine was just, like, just getting to the next moment. Like Okay,
K Anderson 42:10
yeah, yeah. So you were kind of like swept up and being polite and like,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 42:14
yes. At first, I was just being polite. And then it was like, you want to come to lunch? I’ll be honest, I was hungry. And I knew he was gonna pay for it. And I was like, okay, like this. And I, I very much knew from an early age. Like before, you know, Matt was like, 515 16 even if I didn’t know what was going on, even if I was a little afraid, even if I was super repressed. I knew to always, as long as you’re being safe, always see a story through. Always, always.
K Anderson 42:40
I mean, if you hadn’t, we wouldn’t be here today. How would I? How would I come? Without the appearance on this? Exactly, exactly.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 42:50
Exactly. Like my No, my motivation was always like, my one of my dearest friends, Simone who was also in my writing partners. She’s an amazing performer, Director of customer based in Brooklyn. And you know, we there’s a running joke that one of my favourite quotes of hers is I’ve only ever wanted a weird night. We’re all like all I’ve ever asked for Oh, like very sincere, very sincere. All I’ve ever asked for is a weird night. And it’s so true. I stand by that I stand by that I recognise it’s a privilege and I recognise that’s a little almost narcissistic to say that in a way, but I do love a really unique experience.
K Anderson 43:28
Why is that narcissistic?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 43:30
Oh, because you know, when I say Oh, it’s fun to be adventurous. Like I’m being adventurous in a very safe way. For the most part, I have done things that were horribly stupid and horribly dangerous. That’s the next episode, right? Yes. That one really there’s one in particular that I will tell you off the record could not discuss because it would literally put people in jail. Mmm hmm. Well, one of the mornings and so my motivation was to see the story through not be rude get that free lunch and then over lunch I just genuinely bonded with this woman and then in part the man I went home with so much like I just genuinely adored them and the night that it was saloon was such a comfortable fun space to meet.
K Anderson 44:22
And so like, at the end of the day, like I said, Okay, sir, so your motivation I understand her motivation. Maybe there’s a little bit of guilt maybe there’s like some thing going on.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 44:36
I think there was a bit of motherly concern because she I don’t know what he told her when I was in the bathroom. I don’t know what what her feelings were I think she went I didn’t say thing that we all have right that you when you’re really really angry and you explode and then you instantaneously feel regret even though she had some justification for being that angry, upset or her son. There was no you know, and lashing out at me was well, understandable. Not necessary. I think she was just a kind, generous, welcoming person who happened to get caught up in a bad moment. Who then and then felt the need. And so and he was just trying to appease her. So I mean, out of the three of us his motivation and needs were, he was just the walking was
K Anderson 45:17
bad, like, but I mean, this is the Yeah, I mean, so I kinda get, like, I kind of get him like, just like not rocking the boat. Anything that mom says, I’m gonna go along with because she’s already she’s already pissed off, don’t want to pay her anymore. But I would then just try and get rid of you as quickly as possible. I wouldn’t be like, let’s hang out the whole day. I’d be like, right? Well, we’ve had brunch, fuck off,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 45:42
which I would have been fine with. I have been fine. If I’d be like, I’d be like, see you on the one train bitch by like, I’d be fine with that. I’d be fine with that. I’m kidding. I didn’t live off the one train that he was a no, he was so sweet and kind and generous about it. I think part of him was really enjoying it, too. I think part of him was like, Oh, this is interesting. We kind of played house for a day. It was very much like, we were a couple and like, you know, I was going along with my husband and his mother for her birthday. And it was a very, I mean, other than the age difference, which, you know, in April, it was nothing. Um, he was very, he was very sweet about it. By the end of the night, there was definitely like a energy. And I was just he could have left any time I was just having a blast with Fiona. Um, he and I, Matt and I have since run into each other once. After ninth Avenue saloon actually ran into each other again, he was chatting about probably some other 2122 year old at the time. And we just made eye contact. And we hadn’t seen each other in the years with like, two or three years at this point. And I remember looking at him saying, Oh, my God, Hi. Are you doing and walked away? And I was meeting someone I was meeting a friend he was with someone. And it was this beautiful moment. Have we mutually saw each other said Hi, instantaneously had a flashback to that moment, probably when we told the other person we were with like, Oh my God, let me tell you a quick story about that guy. And then felt no need to like, you know, do the whole like, how are you? How’s it going? Blah, blah, blah. If he wants to get a hold of me.
K Anderson 47:27
This is the other day. This is the other thing I need to ask. So how did that go down? Like was she like, well see? Yeah. Do you want my email address? Like?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 47:37
No, no, um, for whatever reason, I think it was whatever job I was doing at the time. My email address is pretty easy to find. And she just she found me down and she emailed me she
K Anderson 47:50
she Google goodness. Yeah,
Conor Kelly O’Brien 47:52
it was my It was my old she is one of like, only five reasons that I keep my like omg GL accounts? Like the one the one that just like
K Anderson 48:02
letters, my name. Oh, the one that you weren’t thinking about, like having to send job applications via so you just made up any old random crap?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 48:10
Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah. I have not heard from her in quite some time. I am absolutely I’m going to reach out to her probably today or tomorrow. See how she’s feeling? See how she’s doing? And then if I feel brave enough, be like, okay, by the way, I did just do this podcast. She’ll get a kick out of it. She was the she was the sweetest thing in the world.
K Anderson 48:32
Okay, so then how did you feel when you heard that nine to have a nice and learned was closing.
Conor Kelly O’Brien 48:40
Gotta say I didn’t even hear it was closing I just saw like two weeks later. a Facebook post like someone else posting on their Facebook page, like, so sorry, you’re close for good. We’ll miss you blah, blah, blah. They didn’t. Unless I’m missing something that there was no like fanfare, they just kind of faded part of in hopes that maybe they’re going to rebrand or restructure and form a new business. You know, post COVID world, but from the whispers I heard, okay.
K Anderson 49:07
And then what did that venue teach you about yourself?
Conor Kelly O’Brien 49:12
It definitely taught me to be in the moment. I know that sounds cliche, but it truly taught me to get out of my head. I mean, keep in mind literally I was in my head. I was very close. When he started talking to me to be like, dude, I didn’t know mode. Like I came in here for a drink. I mean, I was like 21 year old that was might well have been like 59 year old Barfly. Like, what I was in my prime, like as I’m trying, like, I was such a little you know, Norma Desmond little queer. To get out of my head a little more, get out of my head a little more, be in the moment, a little more. The supportive and lovely, beautiful generosity and kind spirit of the staff there has done initely influenced me as time has gone on to, especially to people who are now in their early 20s. Or then or people that are in their 60s that are just coming out, you know, in terms of their queer identity to have a little more compassion, because I’m sure I was such a little annoying shit. Sitting at that bar, you know, pitching about my audition problems, you know, as there’s probably like, 30 out of work actor sitting in that bar
K Anderson 50:26
in New York, Nair. No, no. Did you ever go to ninth Avenue saloon? Have you ever had an awkward one night stand? Either way, I want to hear from you. Get in touch and let’s have a chat about the show and where we should go to next on last spaces. I’m on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can find me with the username K Anderson music. You can also find Connor on those very same platforms. He unfortunately hasn’t been able to secure the same username for each of his accounts. So I am going to post them in the show notes. Or you can also visit him on his website corner. Kelly O’Bryan dot com. Last basis is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have been writing songs about queer venues, and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys, which is also playing underneath my talking right now on all good streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces.