Pleather harnesses, living it up as an A-Gay, and death by dildo (with Bernie Hodges from ‘What, That Old Queen?’ podcast)

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This week we are talking to Bernie Hodges, a voice artist, actor, and co-host of the ‘What, That Old Queen?’ podcast.

Moving to Bristol in the early 90s with a few mates when he was just 21 years old he quickly built a life for himself, but struggled to find his tribe and that sense of belonging that comes with that.

But, that all changed when he started to go to Horseplay, a club night that billed itself as an ‘underground homo disco’ which started in 2011.

We caught up to talk about pleather harnesses, living it up as an A-Gay, and death by dildo…


Bernie Hodges 0:00
When I came out in the early 90s I think this stigma of being 30 You’re dead in the gay scene was very much there.

I don’t think it is now. I’m still gonna go out clubbing when I can and have some fun because I can. I’m a single gay man. And I think that’s the beauty of being gay is because we can do that. You know, I think when you’re straight, it’s expected that you settle down and you have kids and you don’t do that. But you know, I don’t have any of that shit. So I’m gonna carry on partying until like until I drop.

K Anderson 0:34
Hello, I am K Anderson and you are listening to Lost 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 they created there, and the people that they used to know. Bernie Hodges is a voice artist, actor, and the co host of the one, that old Queen podcast. Moving to Bristol in the early 90s, with a few mates when he was just 21 years old. He quickly built a life for himself, but struggle to find his tribe and that sense of belonging that comes with that. But that all changed when he started to go to horseplay and night that build itself as an underground and homo disco, which started in 2011. We caught up to talk about leather harnesses, what it really means to be an a gay, and dad by delta.

Bernie Hodges 2:02
The thing is, I was quite religious when I was growing up as a teenager, which is probably one of the reasons why I suppressed it so much. So and I came to the conclusion that if God didn’t want me to be gay, wouldn’t have made me like this. Because it’s not a choice.

K Anderson 2:21
So wouldn’t have made this but so perky. Yeah.

Bernie Hodges 2:27
wouldn’t have made me so cute. I mean, I’m not particularly religious now. I mean, that was just a big kind of learning curve for me as well, back then. But, uh, yeah, I decided that I was going to come out, I was going to be gay, and kind of i’d one of the campus looking very, very good looking, but quite obviously gay men in Bristol, and kind of stalked him until he dated me. And he was my first boyfriend. And I came out.

K Anderson 3:04
Okay, okay, so, I’ve got I’ve got lots of follow up questions. So the friends that you moved with. They were good friends in Kent, but you just kind of drifted apart when you got to Bristol?

Bernie Hodges 3:17
Well, they weren’t that good friends. Yeah, we thought we would go out to the pub together. They were kind of acquaintances, really. We didn’t really know each other that well. They knew each other quite well.

K Anderson 3:31
So hang on, so they just wanted a free ride.

Bernie Hodges 3:35
Well, I think I don’t think they jokingly asked me and they didn’t expect me to say Yeah. But I

K Anderson 3:44
have to get a three bed.

Bernie Hodges 3:49
So and we would very different base. Like I say, I think I had a different agenda that I mean, they’re straight. So and I’m gay. And obviously, I had a very different kind of remit. I guess is I was on this. Well, the gay agenda. Yeah, the gay agenda to come out. So we weren’t particularly go to the same places.

K Anderson 4:18
And there’s no real like, way of me saying this without sounding like a turtle deck. So apologies to everyone. But like, if you were in this point, where you were about to come out, like Okay, so what happens a lot of times, is when someone is about to come out, they’re like, I’m only really interested in masculine men. I only really want men who are a real man, I’m not a very I’m not this. I’m not this. So why did you pursue this very effeminate man?

Bernie Hodges 4:49
He was, he wasn’t a feminist. He was just obviously gay. Oh, I see. He was a very fun buoyant but also very good looking. Yeah. And I found it really attractive. But I don’t think my gaydar was that great back then. So it probably, if someone was that, if they weren’t presenting as being gay, I probably wouldn’t have thought that they were. And also, you gotta remember, I was really naive back then. So I did. But there wasn’t much gado going on. So I had to go for someone who was really obviously gay. And amazingly, so. Yeah.

K Anderson 5:29
Oh, yeah. I’m sorry. I really don’t mean to sound as though I’m putting overtly gay people down. No, I know exactly what you mean. But so how did you find like, how did you find this man?

Bernie Hodges 5:43
So back in the day, everyone used to go to the watershed. They still do is still there. The bar hasn’t changed in 30 years, which is the media centre in Bristol. But the because then it’s a it’s an art centre Media Center. So used to get a lot of gay clientele. And it used to be the place to go. Before you went out to the gay bars and gay clubs on a Friday, Saturday night.


picked up on this because obviously I would go there with straight friends.

K Anderson 6:24
And the gaydar went off. Yeah. So they

Bernie Hodges 6:31
also is working with a guy called Well, I’ll change the name so. But I was working with a gay guy, he was an obvious he was a, we used to call him claimed back then. So he had like a shaved head and a moustache. And I can’t I came out to you. Well, I told him I was bisexual, which is obviously a lie. So but how you know, is trying to ease yourself and everyone else into coming out as a gay man. And he took me to my first gay club, on a drink site after work we would get we would go out for drinks, after work during the week, at the weekends, whenever. And that’s when I first saw my first boyfriend. And then I found out that he worked behind the bar, the watershed. So at some point in the evening, on a Saturday night after drinks after work, and I was drunk enough to be brave enough, I’d wander down to the woodshed on my own and spend the rest of the evening trying to get served by him.

K Anderson 7:37
And you say when you say try?

Bernie Hodges 7:40
Well, I did by him every single time.

K Anderson 7:44
And then like, are you able to walk home? Or were you just ordering so many drinks, so you could talk to then I would walk and cry? know

Bernie Hodges 7:59
that there were other nights for that. But we went to a club, which was called van Adams, which is up on the triangle. And I used to go there to try and meet him. And it didn’t happen very often. I mean, I didn’t bump into him very often. But it was one night, I literally just went out on my own. And I decided to go to games first. And admit, son of an acquaintance just ended up chatting to them most of the evening, and then some point Mark came into the club. And I was feeling very brave. So I just went up to him and started talking and we danced and smoked and shacks. And then David, that was it.

K Anderson 8:48
So do you remember what your pickup line was? No. Is that was that no genuine? are you just saying no, because it’s so embarrassing.

Bernie Hodges 8:57
I literally don’t know what I said. I think we’ve met before. I think I must have gone up to him and said, Oh, you’re mark, aren’t you? You work at the watershed and strung up a conversation.

K Anderson 9:14
And so he was your first boyfriend?

Bernie Hodges 9:17
Yes. And he kind of introduced me to the gay scene. So back then I was a real indie kid. So I was into the Smiths

K Anderson 9:30
ride. So really gay bands.

Bernie Hodges 9:36
Well, in hindsight, there were a lot of gay guys liked those bands. I just didn’t know that they did. And I didn’t know they were gay. And so I was in that kind of indicates kind of realm and I think when I came out, Mark was very, very senior. And there was a there was a certain look and I kind of I changed who I was because I thought okay, I’m gay now. So I need to fit into this. This gay crowd. And, and I do. I mean, I’ve always liked different kinds of music. And but I was I wasn’t really indicated, but then it kind of made me express my kind of pop and disco. Yeah, that all came out

K Anderson 10:21
as well. It’s a total head fucker. Isn’t it like that whole like, oh, okay, so that’s what a gay man looks like, then, therefore, I should start doing this and start listening to this and start doing this. And then like, you kind of keep it going for a few months. And then after a while you’re like, What? What’s going on? Who am I?

Bernie Hodges 10:41
Who am I? And I think that happened for a long time. Because I wasn’t actually wasn’t that comfortable with being gay? I don’t think until my early 30s Oh, really? Yeah, I had, I had massive pain. I mean, it was a bit of a serial monogamist. So I dated mark for a year, my first boyfriend, and then moved on to someone else. quite quickly, I think we split up and then within a few months, I’d moved on to someone else. dated them for a couple of years moved in with them while I was at university. That was a nightmare relationship. Me. Me, me,

K Anderson 11:19
me moving on. Yeah, okay. line underneath.

Bernie Hodges 11:25
Well, I mean, how long? How long is your episode? And if I go through all my many, many successful relationships, we’re going to be here all night.

K Anderson 11:36
And I you know, I should let you know now I’m not trained at this, sir. The band aids off, then you’re on? Yeah.

Bernie Hodges 11:44
This is. But then yeah, just went on a series of. And I used to go out occasionally. But I was, I was kind of stuck in these relationships, we ended up being monogamous, and us living together. And then I suddenly got to the end of my 20s. And I really didn’t know who I was, because I was I was living for these relationships. And I thought that’s what

K Anderson 12:20
you did. And so were you. Were you one of those people that kind of assimilate into a relationship. So you lose yourself.

Bernie Hodges 12:30
Yeah, the relationship was more important than I was. And consequently, that was making me really unhappy. But it wasn’t necessarily the relationships fault. It was my fault. It was because I wasn’t making myself happy. And I can look back and realise that now, but at the time, I used to blame the relationship. And so consequently, I would end the relationship because I thought it wasn’t making me happy. But actually, it was the fact that I wasn’t fulfilling myself and doing the things that I wanted to do. Which I could have Looking back, I could have done within those relationships, but I didn’t. Well, then you wouldn’t have been in your 20s Oh, but yeah, and also didn’t know how to do it was I didn’t know how to do that. Or that or whether that was the thing that I needed to do. You know, again, at the time, I was still finding myself as a gay man. I don’t think I was very nice, because I would go out in because I was in a relationship, which was monogamous. If guys would come on to me, I would give them short shrift.

K Anderson 13:34
Shall we? role-play? I don’t think you want to say Okay. Hey, how you doing? Fuck off. Oh, is that?

Bernie Hodges 13:49
Pretty much? No, I would be I would be polite to a point. But if they become too persistent, I would end up just telling them to eff off.

K Anderson 13:59
And so like, would you go out with your boy? No. Okay, no, wait, why do you say it like that?

Bernie Hodges 14:06
Well, again, this is the dysfunctionality of our relationships. Because it was like, the relationship was what I had at home. But going out was something completely different. Hmm, yeah.

K Anderson 14:22
But there was still a commitment to monogamy. Yeah. Do I ask follow up questions,

Bernie Hodges 14:33
but then you didn’t have open relationships? Yeah, that wasn’t a word. Was it?

K Anderson 14:38
So it was it was an indiscretion.

Bernie Hodges 14:40
There were there were a number of expressions.

K Anderson 14:45
But you’ve just told me to fuck off.

Bernie Hodges 14:50
I don’t know what what is my problem? I was just let’s just say I was fucked up.

K Anderson 14:55
So So was it like a hate fuck kind of thing. Like you’d be so mean to them that like you’d get off on it.

Bernie Hodges 15:03
The the To be honest, I didn’t sleep with many people. I used to flirt with the idea, though, occasionally. If I fancied someone and they come on to me, we, I would smoke them. And maybe now and again, I would sleep with them, but, but it just wasn’t you either single or you’re in a relationship. No one talks about open relationships or polyamory. Okay, so

K Anderson 15:30
so when you talk about being in like, you know, these a serial monogamist, that wasn’t because you had this heteronormative idea of what a relationship would be. And you were fixated on that it was just because that was the norm. That was the norm. Okay,

Bernie Hodges 15:46
yeah, I’m probably the same thing that I had an idea in my head, that it was that, but then I but then in my late 30s, I decided to live on my own because I, I decided I need to, you know, I need to check around, I’ve never done this, I’ve spent the whole of my 20s in relationships. And while I’ve had a little bit of fun here and there, haven’t had a lot of fun. So I ended up getting in with some friends who were very, very senior gays. And I used to go out on the scene with them, which was really fun. But again, I didn’t feel like it. I kind of fitted that.

K Anderson 16:27
And so these were kind of clubs with, like, top 40 music. I sound so when I say that what is top 40 and like, you know, with like commercial dance music and yeah, and stuff

Bernie Hodges 16:40
like that your generic kind of gay, what you would imagine bars and clubs. Yeah. So it’s nothing kind of underground or alternative about them. And then I had a couple, couple more kind of relationships in my 30s, but up into my mid 30s when I’ve been single ever since. So apart from the odd one year affair, here and there. But what happened when I was single, I decided to concentrate on myself. When I was 30. I hated myself, I was like I’ve not done anything that I wanted to do with my life. So by the time I was 40, I really loved myself because I was doing everything that I wanted to do. So I started off my 30s by being a Wedding Singer and performing and from that, I got into doing some more radio because I met someone who was doing radio stuff. And I started writing an audio sitcom with them. Then I decided to do an acting for radio course because we were writing this audio sitcom realised how much I loved acting. And then did a two year refresher course for acting. And then was doing theatre and film little bits of TV got involved with people who were making micro budget queer films in Bristol. So I made a series of those with them which I ended up reducing and casting as well as being in and and so by the time I was 40 was really kind of fulfilled and off the back of that I suddenly decided that I was quite successful. Or I was on a trajectory for being quite successful. So I used to go to this thing Do you remember Jake? In London, it used to be like a posh puffs kind of night

K Anderson 18:28
where you go in working thing. Okay. Yes.

Bernie Hodges 18:30
Yeah. So they had a little offshoot in Bristol at goldbrick house, which I went along to I met some some very nice people. And I used to wear like a suit and your suit jacket and go along and and think oh yeah, this is this is my scene now. You know I’m kind of getting older I’m learning a little Did you

K Anderson 18:54
ever use the term a gay

Bernie Hodges 18:57
though someone’s called me in a gay before? Well, because also what happened was Jake turned into village drinks who then wanted to start charging everyone and what I and a couple of others decided to take it over and we created this night called members, which was for professional in inverted commas. Gay men, and and I’ve ran it with another guy for for three years and then I did four years on my own. And after seven years, I’ve realised I I’m not a professional, gay.

Good. I haven’t quite found my tribe. But in parallel with that was horseplay, which I’ve only realised this but I ended up going to the first night of horseplay. I thought I’d stumbled on it after it had been around for a few months, but actually, I went to the first night because I remember one of the guest DJs and he only ever played one night and I there when he played everywhere. So if I used to tell my friends that I was going to horseplay, everybody thought it was a kinky night. Well, I

K Anderson 20:09
have to admit, that’s what I thought.

Bernie Hodges 20:17
Well, that’s been kind of leather themed nights, which was a ball. But no, it was just like an underground underground homemade disco. That’s what they used to call it. And it was used to be at once a month at the Cavern Club in Bristol, which is like a lot of the kind of venues in the centre of Bristol, particularly the old city have like these basements, which have all these archers and stuff. And this was one of those. And you you, I would go I would have to get drunk beforehand, because I was always going on my own. So I’d have to have a bit of Dutch courage to go down there. And and then I stumbled downstairs and actually see lots of people that I know. Or, you know, acquaintance on the scene who I’ve known for different things. And and then you have a have a dance, and a snog. And if you’re lucky,

K Anderson 21:25
why are you going on your own?

Bernie Hodges 21:29
Because none of my friends wanted to go with me at that time.

K Anderson 21:32
And why is that?

Bernie Hodges 21:34
Because I think they didn’t I think they were intimidated by them because they thought it was something they thought it was like a fetish night and it wasn’t, it was it was actually a really lovely community of people. And I ended up finding some really lovely friends who are still part of my friendship group now. In fact, all the all the guys that created horseplay running are all very dear friends of mine now. And and I think what I liked about it was because it was playing music that I liked. It wasn’t the speeded up remixes of chart stuff. It was actually really nice electro dance music and classic stuff. It was a little bit more edgy, a little bit more alternative. And it wasn’t guys in tight white shirts.

K Anderson 22:37
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Bernie Hodges 22:39
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And I have a few tightwad shirts myself. But it was I I’d come from a scene which where I was going, going out on that scene, and it was all about that, or I was doing members and it was about suits. And being a professional gay, were and I didn’t feel like I fit it in there at all. Whereas suddenly, I’m in this club, where which is smoky and I can smell poppers and they’re playing all the music that I love. And it just seemed so much fun. And I felt like I haven’t had any what I had, I’ve had some fun, obviously, but I’ve just I felt like I hadn’t had fun in ages. I was trying to be something else. And actually, I went there and I just thought Yes, this this is who I am. This is what I love. And this is what I like and so it was almost felt like it was just a little bit last brick to go in place of the Bernie datum, as it were,

K Anderson 23:43
he’s a whole gay now. And so, so when you know when there’s like a night, that’s one two month and it’s like a becomes your life did did your whole social calendar revolve around when horseplay was going to be on?

Bernie Hodges 24:07
A little bit, not at the beginning. I used to be used to try and go along. And obviously I was going. I was going along on my own. I didn’t know very many people. I wasn’t that close to people that were going there. But consequently, because I was running members, and we were putting on parties with female counterpart called Indigo. And we would invite guest DJs to come in. And I would obviously reach out to the DJs of horseplay. And because they ended up being part of these bigger parties that we were put on. I consequently got to know them better. And I got to know that circle of friends better and they would come along to the parties. And yeah, we just got into a really nice posse and then I started getting dragged into doing stuff horseplay. as a performer,

K Anderson 25:07
what were you doing?

Bernie Hodges 25:08
Well, they I come out of a relationship has really broken by this relationship. And I kind of threw myself into just having fun and going out and they put on they put on a night which is I think probably one of the best nights I’ve ever gone out to, which is called horseplay goes cruising. And it was based on the film cruising Have you seen the rubber? Not rubber to the road? alpa Chino. Chino Yep, that’s it. I’m Katrina. And so that was shown at the cube cinema in the afternoon. And then that evening horseplay goes cruising was on and the dress was leather man club type. And I’ve never done anything like that before. So in the weeks running up to it, I’d started ordering ordering all this stuff off

K Anderson 26:05
eBay. expensive.

Bernie Hodges 26:07
Well, it was the costume stuff I was buying. I wasn’t buying. They were buying pleather. Right. Yeah. So at that point, oh. And I think it was about the week before I went

K Anderson 26:23
to Wait, hang on is this whole conversation I just realised I was into 11. Pretty much. Okay, Carry on, carry on. Sorry.

Bernie Hodges 26:34
But I think I’ve done something else for them before where I played an immersive character, an event called the storm. Unfortunately, my ex who we just split up with was also performing that night. So it was here tonight. For me, and I ended up going home and I didn’t really enjoy it. But host play goes cruising was next. And there was a lot of talk about it. We have a little kind of Facebook friend group. And we’re all talking about what we’re going to wear. And the great thing about that night is every I think everybody apart from two people dressed up.

K Anderson 27:11
I wouldn’t be one of those two people,

Bernie Hodges 27:13
which I tell you what, everybody else had such a ball

K Anderson 27:19
going on of it. Okay, so you were performing, what were you performing?

Bernie Hodges 27:23
And what like, the thing is that I wasn’t meant to be performing that night.

K Anderson 27:29
This is an impromptu striptease.

Bernie Hodges 27:31
Well, we’ll get there. So anyway, the week running up to this thing, I started buying this stuff and it would slowly come in. And I one night I just thought, Oh, I’m gonna just put this stuff on. Yeah, of course, see what it looks like, you know, so I had this pair of nice pair of big boots, a pair of pleather trousers, and like a crossover harness. You know, I’m not, I’m a I’m a big guy, I’m not used to taking my top off. in public. And, and a hat and some dark glasses. I put all this stuff on, and I suddenly looked at myself in the mirror, and I was like, oh, wow, I suddenly felt really empowered. And, like, I wasn’t myself, even though I was myself. But I felt like I could do all sorts of stuff dressed up like that. And that I that normal, Bernie would not do. And I’m gonna need some examples.

K Anderson 28:38
What kind of stuff?

Bernie Hodges 28:41
Well, I just didn’t think that I was the leather Queen, or into any of that kind of, into kink. But all But suddenly, I was like, this looks really good on me. This is making me feel really good. And very sexual. And I don’t normally feel like that. So this is, this is something that I need to explore.

K Anderson 29:06
So if you’d never seen like images of other men in leather and thought, I want to give that a try.

Bernie Hodges 29:13
I I’d seen other images of men in leather, but I didn’t think that was ever going to be me. What So? So it didn’t turn you on. Or you thought that that couldn’t be you because you didn’t fit that archetype? I don’t think even crossed my mind at that point. And, yeah, so then, a friend of mine came over the Sony live around the corner from the club, and we got ready. And he was meant to be a podium dancer that night, and he was a podium dancer that night. And I said, Oh, what what are you going to do? And he said, I’ve got out this massive dildo and when I’m gonna do death by delta, okay, great. I’m gonna get up there and dance, and then I’m going to kill myself with the dildo and Make all of this fake Come come all over me add like blood.

K Anderson 30:06
That’s not as bad as I thought it was gonna be.

Bernie Hodges 30:08
And I was like, okay, but that sounds great. You know? Get on Yeah. Anyway, so we go to the club, and I didn’t know what it was gonna be like I was a bit scared of taking my my jacket off. Obviously, I just have this harness. Okay, and just

K Anderson 30:25
quick side note, did you have to sit through the whole film wearing your harness?

Bernie Hodges 30:29
No. film was on in the afternoon and I already watched it a few months before so didn’t go Okay. All

K Anderson 30:35
right. Okay. All right. So you’re in the club, we’ve got your jacket.

Bernie Hodges 30:39
And it took a lot of preparation. I mean, I needed a bit of fake tan on this body for what it was, was about this time of year. So you know, there was no, yeah, like, it was a bit pasty white. So,

K Anderson 30:55
okay, so Terry, bringing my own thing to this. Don’t listen to me. So you had your jacket on you were in the cloud, you’re afraid to take it off. But

Bernie Hodges 31:03
what everybody else was taking those off. So I took mine off, and I ended up so john Thomas, he’s a porn star who we’ve had on as a guest was when the first time I met him because he was dressed up as a GIMP. And I was told to look after him by Bronco, or pony or Jim Karna, who were running the event. And were you given any more instructions in that? No, I was just, I was just looking after him for an hour or so. And he literally just had like a face mask on and not very much else. on a leash. Yeah.

K Anderson 31:42
It important I can visualise this.

Bernie Hodges 31:44
Yeah, I was just making sure he was okay. But then you’ve got to think that everybody in this club is dressed up like they’re in a leather bar in the 90s in 1970s, New York. Now, I’ve never experienced that in my life. And the thing is, because it wasn’t a fetish night. It was so much fun. Because it wasn’t, there wasn’t an overt thing that it was sexual. It was like, we’re dressed up in this kind of fetish gear. But it’s a club night. And we’re here to have fun. And it’s really it is sexual, because it’s pretty hot. And raunchy. But there’s no kind of over there’s not a dark room. There’s not people having sex on the dance floor. Well, not that I saw anyway. But it’s so it was just a real fun titillating vibe. And it was very freeing. And there were podium dancers. And it was great, but people didn’t recognise who I was. So I’m standing there in like, my leather gear and this harness. I’m like, people that I know. We’re having a conversation right in front of me and it completely ignoring me. And I would go Hello. That and they were like, Oh, it’s you? Because I don’t think anyone expected to ever see me in a dressed up as a leather man in a club at that point.

K Anderson 33:12
The other question I had sorry to just to interrupt. You said you bought sunglasses. Were you wearing them in the cloud? Yeah. How could you see anything?

Bernie Hodges 33:23
Well, I mean, yeah, my eyesight was way better than

K Anderson 33:28
maybe that’s why they didn’t recognise you as well.

Bernie Hodges 33:31
So yes, I mean, probably my friend got up and did the podium dancing. And I was dancing near him. And he grabbed me and I ended up dancing on the podium with him. And then he ended up killing me with the dildo

K Anderson 33:53
as you do,

Bernie Hodges 33:54
yeah. And then I dies. With lots of fake come all over me.

K Anderson 33:59
I come in fake tan,

Bernie Hodges 34:02
fake, fake tan was all fake that like fake leather. Then he whispers in my ear. So he gets me back up and says I’ve got 10 more minutes to do take your trousers off. So I then end up dancing on this podium just a joke.

K Anderson 34:24
Oh, I thought that was still in the story. Sorry. No, the tables I didn’t get in. Oh my god, what happened?

Bernie Hodges 34:38
just rolling it down. killing a podium, which I wasn’t expecting to be doing that night. But then the rest of the night was just so much fun. It was I remember walking into the the bar area which was like a separate dance area. And they were just playing 70s disco and it’s just full of guys in you know, harnesses and shorts and you know, jocks that it was just so much fun because it just everyone was just having a ball and dancing.

K Anderson 35:07
And let’s talk about the that feeling of liberation again. So up until this point, you hadn’t been to any like sex clubs or stuff like that where you got naked?

Bernie Hodges 35:21
Not really no. I, I’ve been to kind of I’ve been to Gran Canaria and bars where stuff went on, obviously, in dark rooms and stuff, but I never really, there wasn’t my thing I didn’t, didn’t go in and do that. So this was, yeah, it was kind of like, liberating for me sexually.

K Anderson 35:42
And so can you describe that feeling before you took care of what was going through your mind?

Bernie Hodges 35:48
I, I think I already knew what was. I knew how I was going to feel that night because I felt it already when I looked at myself in the mirror. And beforehand with the stuff on and it was just, I mean, one of the reasons, I think one of the reasons why I used to love acting was because it wasn’t very comfortable and being made. And I thought if I was somebody else, I was more comfortable playing somebody else rather than me. And this, this felt like I was playing a separate character to me. And this character could be a way freer with the their kinky side and the sexuality than I ever had done before. So it was it was quite a revelation. And obviously, I’ve incorporated that into my life ever since.

K Anderson 36:38
So Sara, like, changed you the club changed you forever. Totally, totally changed me. And so are you able to attribute that to like age or to the environment in the club? Or a third thing that I can’t think of? Or was it just like, all of these things melded together?

Bernie Hodges 37:02
Well, being an actor, I think I can do pretty much anything and you when you do after training, you end up getting your kit off at some point anyway,

K Anderson 37:10
they said that was the training, but it wasn’t the training. kit. Do I show you on Dolly where they touch? Oh, no, we shouldn’t make a check of this. Sorry.

Bernie Hodges 37:24
I’m so a lot of the stuff I was doing at that time as a performer. I mean, I was done queer movies, which had a kind of sexual aspect to it. And I’d actually played a sexual poner who was also a bit of a he was a crossdresser he liked dressing up in all sorts of gear including the rubber stuff as well.

K Anderson 37:47
Oh, inside the rubber didn’t didn’t unleash anything in you.

Bernie Hodges 37:50
The rubber didn’t know more that was more the lever or the lever that was was doing it for me. And I think I just i’d also been very say, Yeah, I was seen as this very prim proper person who who ran a professional networking night.

K Anderson 38:10
What that said, was it that you were seen as that or you saw yourself as that?

Bernie Hodges 38:15
Well, yeah, probably a bit of both, and I just wanting to break free. And be more me, which is a little bit you know. I mean, I come from a working class background, you know, and I am not prim and proper by any stretch of the imagination.

K Anderson 38:35
Isn’t that like, Isn’t that fascinating? By wearing other clothes that you wouldn’t normally wear? You become more you?

Bernie Hodges 38:46
Yeah, totally. By wearing a costume. It almost allows you to be more you I find that really fascinating. Because it’s kind of because you’re hiding behind it in a way so you feel less vulnerable. Yeah, yeah, cuz you’re kind

K Anderson 39:00
of trying yourself on Mm hmm.

Bernie Hodges 39:03
or trying a facet of yourself on which perhaps you haven’t explored before. And also I again I think I found it I think I found it quite liberating along with the leather stuff because I’ve had kind of body dysmorphia all of my life. I’ve never been I mean, I was told when I was younger that I was bigger I was ugly or this certainly other and you’re looking back I know I wasn’t but when you’re told that repeatedly, you think thin and so was never confident with my body particularly as I got older and bigger and and I think I found that quite liberating as well because obviously, I you know, I’m not comfortable in my, my own skin to a certain degree. And so I felt like I needed to do it. And that needs to kind of overcome a boundary. So yeah, so this this club, just kind of set me free in so many ways, and so many other people as well. It was just, it really built a community

K Anderson 40:09
of queer people in Bristol and friends and say the world opened up for you. You had a pleather harness your to play the hat, your dark sunglasses planted trousers, boots? And did you then go on to spend a shit ton of money on other accessories? Not a shit ton of money. But I think this is the reason that I like never get into any kinks. Because I’m always like, oh, I’ll have a look. And then like, why do you want 50 pounds? But that No, no. And then I just decided not to bother investigating. Yeah,

Bernie Hodges 40:49
well, it was kind of so I had like this kind of costume harness, which I’d bought for horseplay. And I was hooking up with guys on Grindr, and they would obviously see the picture of me in this hyner harness, and some of them would want me to wear the harness. But because it’s so flimsy, if you pull on it, it just comes off immediately. So I had to invest in about a harness. And now I think I have five

K Anderson 41:19
different coloured ones. were like, Why? Why? I don’t know. I think it’s kind of I mean, like, it’s not like one is going to be in the wash. You can just like wipe it down. Well,

Bernie Hodges 41:33
I couldn’t decide what I liked. So I ended up just buying five. That’s including the original flimsy one.

K Anderson 41:43
Once I decided I was gonna like buy a jockstrap, and then I went to the shop, and I couldn’t decide what colour so I just bought one in every colour. But I bought the wrong size. So by that I couldn’t wear I think I might still have to sell them on eBay. Oh, like soiled? Okay, well, if anyone wants to get in touch.

Bernie Hodges 42:11
You’re looking for some funding for the podcast, right?

K Anderson 42:14
Yeah, these are my Patreon perks.

Bernie Hodges 42:18
But what I think what I really want to say is that, what, what was the most fun was probably the early days when it was like 1am on a Friday, or Saturday morning. And you’re dancing to like some electro disco vibe. You can’t see anything in front of you because there’s dry ice everywhere. And it’s just fun.

K Anderson 42:47
It’s fun, because you can’t see anything or you know, that’s just like happens to be

Bernie Hodges 42:53
in the moment and dancing and it’s free. You know, you’re just part I think part of dancing in that smog of dry ice is very freeing because you’re not self conscious, because you can’t see anybody else and they can’t see you so you can just do whatever you like.

K Anderson 43:09
or you know where my mind went then?

Bernie Hodges 43:10
I’m sure there were other things that went on in that dry room.

K Anderson 43:16
I know but that is wonderful. When when the space is created in such a way that you’re not self conscious about dancing. Because you can’t say anything. Yeah,

Bernie Hodges 43:31
I think the weird thing is is dry ice has become a thing of the past I think because

K Anderson 43:35
oh what is it? Oh, is it carcinogenic? Am I gonna?

Bernie Hodges 43:38
Well, I think it just sets a fire alarms all the time, doesn’t it? Yeah, unfortunately, but I love it. I love a roomful of dry ice.

K Anderson 43:46
It does smell gross. I quite like that smell. There’s something about it that I like. It’s like they’re in the back of your throat. Like it’s no

Bernie Hodges 43:59
yeah, I think you and I are very different beasts when it comes to

when it comes to gay when it comes to being gay you

K Anderson 44:14
cuz I don’t like dry ice. Love it. You say? I’m suddenly on your shortlist

Bernie Hodges 44:20
for things, we’re only accepting of each other. I’ve just say, you know, there’s a dichotomy here on a number of subjects.

K Anderson 44:29
Oh, wait, what what else was there? You don’t like hugging? Oh, okay. Oh, yeah, yeah, we’re

Bernie Hodges 44:35
different, like dry ice. Okay, there’s a pattern appearing here. I’m getting a picture of who you are.

K Anderson 44:43
Okay. All right. Well, I think I’ve represented myself fairly this evening. Did you ever go to horseplay? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Find me on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook with the user name K Anderson music and let me know what you got up to. And if you have any photos, including pictures of Bernie on a podium, then do share them. And whilst you’re at it, go and give Bernie some love. You can find him on Twitter with the username Bernie Hodges. And on top of that, make sure you give a listen to the word battle Queen podcast, which is available on all good streaming platforms like this one you’re using right now. Let’s face it spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve 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 which is called Well Groomed Boys and is also playing underneath my talking right now on all good streaming platforms. If you liked this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told someone 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.