It’s the crossover episode that none of you asked for (but I promise you’re going to love it!)!
If you follow me on social media (and, if you don’t, why not? I’m all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook), you will have seen earlier this week that I was a guest on the NotStalgia podcast. Now, this is a really cool show, where hosts Jess and Eric discuss an original film and then they discuss its remake, and contrast and compare the two…
The episode that I was on was a discussion about ‘Boys in the Band’, that classic queer film that was recently remade for Netflix.
So, why am I telling you this when all you want to do is hear about a lost queer space? Well, today’s episode return the favour! I was lucky enough to be joined by Eric La Febre, one of the hosts of the NotStalgia podcast, who came on to reminisce about the lost San Franciscan punk gay bar Lucky Thirteen.
Along the way I learn a lot about the fine art of cruising, we talk all about sloppy snogging in nightclub toilets, and we have a really interesting conversation about the idea versus the reality of community….
Eric La Febre 00:00
In the stall a bouncing between the walls like making too much noise, just messy, sloppy kissing, like, just rough sex generally. And it was fucking perfect.
K Anderson 00:14
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 that they created there and the people that they used to know. This week. It is the crossover episode that none of you asked for. But despite that, I promise you are going to love if you follow me on social media, and if you don’t why the hell not my profile is law spaces pod on most every platform except for tick tock because I haven’t really got the energy to try and figure that out. Then you will know that this week I was the guest on the podcast, NotStalgia. And I always say it not NOT-stalgia. Like I’m really emphasising the fact that it’s not nostalgia. It’s NotStalgia. Sorry about that. Now, this is a really cool show where the hosts Jess and Eric discuss an original film, and then discuss its remake and contrast and compare. The plot changes the direction, the colours sometimes, which always makes me feel stupid, because it’s really hardy and clever and highbrow, but they were kind enough to let me bring the tone down on the episode that I featured on, which was all about boys in the band, that classic 1970s film about a party full of the most dreadful people. And it’s 2020 remake. So do go and check that out. But why am I telling you all about this other podcast when you’ve not tuned in to listen to that podcast and you just want to hear about a lost queer space? Well, it is because I was lucky enough to be joined by Eric La Febre, who is the co host of the NotStalgia podcast. And he came on to my show to tell me all about the last San Franciscan punk bar, Lucky 13. Along the way, I learned all about the fine art of cruising, sloppy snogging and nightclub toilets. And we have this really interesting conversation about the idea versus the reality of community and one kind of fall into an existential hole and discuss what actually community means. Sorry, got a bit heavy. Let’s get into it.
K Anderson 03:14
When I see American porn that has a man having sex underneath a toilet cubicle, I’m always like, holy shit, like that toilet cubicle, like is so high off the ground? Like that can’t be real. Yes. But is that real?
Eric La Febre 03:34
It depends. Some public restrooms are they still have a high stall high? It’s pretty high. Some of them are some of them. It’s like that much. And some of them there’s no entry point, so to speak. But yeah, it completely depends on the place. And so I think that that like access and ability to possibly Cruise is where a lot of cruising spots pop up and become kind of like hotspots for it.
K Anderson 04:04
So it’s engineered by town planners, is that what you’re saying?
Eric La Febre 04:08
I think that modern public architecture is homophobic.
K Anderson 04:16
And what’s modern, like what period,
Eric La Febre 04:20
I guess, of the last 15 to 20 years of like redesigning public spaces, whether it’s restrooms or whatever, restrooms more specifically because of the recognition of the possibility of cruising, or public sex in this way, where it’s like, well, we’re going to mitigate that and close it off completely. Whenever something is redesigned, at least in my own personal viewing of sort of renovations in these public spaces. That’s what I’ve been noticing. But again, my perception and perspective is so limited in scope, where I’ve only like it’s like, oh, well what I’ve seen, but it’s like it could be coincidental that some of the newer bathrooms, the ones that I’ve seen, have And now I’m creating this sort of like, well, all bathrooms are that way based on this very small subset of like experience points.
K Anderson 05:08
It’s just so rude when they get rid of the gloryhole, isn’t it?
Eric La Febre 05:12
It really is. I’m like, That’s not hurting anybody. We’re fine. It’s great. It’s a it’s a joy. It’s a tree even.
K Anderson 05:22
Do you remember your first glory hole?
Eric La Febre 05:26
Well, it wasn’t a glory hole per se. But it was a like, under stall moment. Okay, that led to something else. And this kind of fits into the music aspect as well. I was. This was wild. I was 17 on a North American tour. With my band at the time, I think we were in like week five of a nine week tour. We were in London, Ontario. We had gotten to the venue early. And I think we had like eight hours to kill or something. So it was a national holiday. And I don’t remember which so the downtown area was pretty empty. There really wasn’t a lot going on. It was kind of like a business district. But I remember being like, I’m going to go explore the city. And I ended up in a mall. I do not remember which but I was at this mall, I was in the bathroom, obviously, like, it’s been a while I am very horny in this space. And so I was in the bathroom. And somebody cruised me in the stall next to me was just the two of us, they tap their foot, you know, the, the protocol of the tap, tap, reciprocated, tap, and then maybe a shifting of the heel to show like interest, and then maybe a hand under what have you. And that happened to me. And then the person got out and went to wash their hands. And then I learned eyes with them through the crack of the stall. And then they came back into the stall. And I was like, Oh, so this is like, happening. This is a very interested person. Okay. They ended up exiting the stall again, I exited and I followed them out of the bathroom. And this kind of still blows my mind that like I wasn’t cognisant of cruising as an idea. I thought this was like a individual standalone. Wow, what a story thing happening to me that I’ve never, I don’t know, anybody who’s ever done this. This is so exciting. So I followed him out of the bathroom through the mall, out of the mall, into the parking garage, and I followed him up with the stairs of the parking garage. And we hooked up in the stairwell at the top of the parking garage. And I remember it so clearly. And it was so exciting because it was like, I not even from here. I’m like, Who am I like who I am I this person. This is amazing. And then afterwards, he was like, hey, yeah, thanks. And just like left, and I was like, Whoa, that’s amazing. And I remember like standing on this, at the top leaning over the parking garage, and like looking out into the sort of London skyline on this gorgeous day in Ontario. And, and just thinking like, Wow, I like it almost seemed like one of those pivotal narrative moments where, like, I’ve changed. And it’s like that coming of age recognition of change where like, I’m not the same anymore. I remember going back to the venue and feeling almost like a different person. Like things had changed. And I’m suddenly like, this full fledged queer adult. I mean, granted, I was 17, which is wild. But going back into the space being like, I have changed, everything about me is different. And I’m suddenly this empowered, autonomous, powerful being of strength and sexual enlightened, there must have been some blow job. It was because I think it was the second time technically I’d ever been with a man in any capacity. And the fact that it was a stranger to I was like, whoa,
K Anderson 09:03
okay, I have follow up questions. Perfect. So this, like the time that it took to walk from the bathroom to the top of the stairs? How long was that?
Eric La Febre 09:12
Probably 10 minutes. And so you did was the most exciting. You didn’t just freak out and give up halfway through? No, I would think about that. Kind of I thought about it in the moment briefly the danger of that of like, who even is this? Where are we going? I don’t know. But to me, I was at this very sort of, I think it had also had to do with just being on tour. I had just graduated high school by the way. We left two weeks after my high school graduation to go on this crazy trip. I’m missing all of my friends my family. I’ve never been this far away from home for this long of a time before. So there was a bit of a fantastic delusion of like nothing really matters because like what even is the city who even am I in this city? Nobody I know is here for the most part. I I’m like, severely depressed, also super elated, like, it’s this weird sort of emotional mix of so many different experiences and feelings to where it kind of numbed me a little bit of like new city every day, I was just kind of like, well, I’m just here. And so the level of danger felt minimised because of that numbness to the experience. And so I did recognise that like, this could be dangerous, but I still went, and it was the most exciting, like 10 minutes.
K Anderson 10:32
I don’t know if it’s even the danger I’m focusing on. It’s the whole, like, opportunity within those 10 minutes to overthink things and to be like, Well, maybe he wasn’t that coming on to me. Maybe I’m just following him like an idiot. And he’s gonna turn around and tell me to fuck off. Like, all of those thoughts.
Eric La Febre 10:51
To me, I would have felt the same way. But there was a very clear like, hand under stall situation to give me the signal that like, he was interested. And then when we exited, there were several times he would lock eyes in the very traditional, like, look back cruising moment where
K Anderson 11:11
you’re still there. I’ve gotcha. Let’s see. Yes,
Eric La Febre 11:13
he’s locking eyes. I’m still following cool. You’re still following me. He turned a corner. Look, I’m still there. an acknowledgment of like, Oh, great. You’re still interested. Let’s go. Yeah.
K Anderson 11:25
And then the next follow up question. The thing about what am I, the thing about like being socialised as a heterosexual when you’re a child. Yeah. And being told over and over, like, you are going to meet the one you are going to save yourself. For the one you are going to, like, have this special flower forever. And then transitioning from that into the world of like casual sex or to cruising or to other things. It’s a bit of a mindfuck. Like, I know that for me, like when I started doing casual sex, I was like, Oh, I guess we’re married now. Like, you know, I guess we’re gonna start dating. I guess. That thing being your second sexual experience when he walked away? Was it a bit like, oh,
Eric La Febre 12:16
I mean, ish. So that was my second queer sexual experience. Oh, you already sweated it out? I’d had typical heterosexual sex, you’ve already given away your flower. Oh, yeah. That that notion of like saving yourself, I kind of rid myself of that very early in a way that I recognised the goodness of sex and the power it held for everybody involved, especially in like a very consensual, loving, nurturing experience. And so with that in mind, I’m like, why would I ever not do this, like that seems so it seems like such a control tactic. And I as like a young punk, I was like, I’m not going to be fucking controlled. You cannot stop me from finding this joy from from fulfilling these wonderful things with myself and people who also want to experience these things, and I am not going to be stopped by you. So there was that there was that level of thinking from like, 1314 1516. Like my teen years, it was very this very, that were like, I wasn’t really drinking. I wasn’t really doing drugs, but sex. I was like, Oh, that’s amazing and good. And I want this. But this particular situation, this particular instance of sex, was kind of enlightening, just in the casualness of it. Before this, I’d never really had an encounter that was as casual as or not even necessarily transaction, it was just very, like, yes, you want this, I want this, I don’t know your name. Fine. You’re hot. You think I’m hot? This is cool. Boom, boom, boom, five minutes later, or whatever, is that have a great day. I mean, I was
K Anderson 13:56
I said, I
Eric La Febre 13:57
was, and I was like, what, five, five weeks into a tour, like, or I’m stuck in a van with all of my friends. Like, I, it was a lot. And I mean, that’s also probably part of it to the euphoria of that release. And like the whole experience of it, and then standing there and like, taking in everything that is there in that sort of like post cum brain of like, oh, like everything is lovely. All of those endorphins, you know that you know, that just ooh, like everything changes?
K Anderson 14:26
That yeah, the risk with post-cum brain is that it can go one of two ways. It can go in that direction, where it’s like, wow, I have this brand new perspective on the world or it can go in the direction of who the fuck was that? What the hell is wrong with me? Yeah, I do that I am disgust.
Eric La Febre 14:44
And see that is actually something that I’ve struggled with, for most of my years, at least in my 20s Shame, as it stands with sex, like attaching shame to sex or feeling shame around sex. Whether that is incapacity post sex being like, Why did I do that? Or, Oh, I’m not good enough to have sex with this person or I’m not lovable enough to be desirable. I’m not. What have you like every iteration of shame in that bracket of sexual experiences? I really spent a lot of time working on that. And I’ve gotten to such a lovely place. I think what is interesting to me is that in this moment, in hindsight, not even a wince of shame came over me. And I don’t know why. Because especially at that age, I feel like that would that would have been huge. I would have been like, wide. Oh my gosh, like, I’m not this person. I mean, me doing this. Absolutely not. But in that moment, it was just like, yeah, I, that was great. And I am feeling lovely by it. And there is that same way in in Canada, when in Canada. Exactly. It’s, it’s, it’s true, true to for those Canadian boys really are very, very welcoming.
K Anderson 16:03
Um, so you’ve, you’ve had this dalliance, you’ve then gone back to the venue. Did you tell anyone or did you kind of just keep that to yourself and have a little bit of a smugness?
Eric La Febre 16:17
It was very much a secret. There was a slight smugness just in like, this uptick in optimism, I’d say, where it went from me being a little bit sultry, a little, like a little a little down in the dumps to just like, Yeah, show perfect. Let me set like, you know what I mean, I’ve just like, exactly. I was like, Oh, I’ll set up merch. Yeah, I know. You guys go have a drink. I’m gonna I’ll be in charge of merch. How does that sound? You know what I mean? The performative optimism of it. So it was pretty easy going when I got back to the venue. And I did keep it a secret, because at that time, too, I wasn’t out to my band. Nobody in the band knew that I was gay. I even though arguably the band that I was in at that time that we were toying with was a pretty like queer, subversive, our lead singer he also was an out when he also passed away several years ago, so we never really discussed his queerness to any degree. But every night in drag, full persona wig, like, just he went from Johnny to Jenny. And that was the whole thing was like, this queer subversion of a very toxically masculine music scene. And we were the band kind of showing up and destroying everything about it. Sometimes to our what is the word? Negative, negative action, that tremendous Thank you, sometimes to our detriment, because there were times where like, we would do this very overtly queer thing in these exceptionally straight spaces. And people would try to fight us on stage or after the show or whatever, they were just, they did not want it. And we said, Fuck you, we’re going to do it. And, I mean, that was the whole that was the whole deal. So but I was still even in that environment of like, understanding this averting of of straightness. I was still like, so terrified to come out. Which seems so strange to me.
K Anderson 18:21
What Yeah, like, look back on it. Do you know why that was?
Eric La Febre 18:25
I felt as though maybe because I was known as one thing that it would change people’s opinion of me. I’m not to say that like it would but the fear of the possibility was the thing I think that charged the most doubt in myself
K Anderson 18:44
the lid back on the bottle. That’s not a phrase, but yeah, but But yes, exactly.
Eric La Febre 18:49
That it’s it’s once it’s out, its out Genie. And once I’m out, I’m out genie out of the bottle. The genie you can’t put the genie back. Yes, and I am a full Robin Williams. So I,
K Anderson 19:01
um, I see you more as Will Smith in the remake.
Eric La Febre 19:06
I I’m gonna go cry in my bed.
K Anderson 19:12
That was a throwaway joke. I didn’t mean it. I didn’t
Eric La Febre 19:15
No, it’s okay. I’ve actually not seen the remake. So I can’t realistically say that that feels like a negative. But um, yeah, so that was the whole thing. I mean, I eventually I did come out to them. I think a couple years later, and it was very just like, oh, yeah, cool. Like, oh, cool. And then subsequently, our lead singer similarly was like, I think and I was like, let’s talk about it. But it was never full conversation. He was he was very, he would get into it a little bit, but then be like, actually, I don’t I don’t know anymore. Like, okay. Like, if you want to discuss it further. If you want to talk about it more we can. I’m always here, you know that and then that conversation just never ended up happening, unfortunately.
K Anderson 19:57
And so you say at this time like you weren’t aware of that. concept of cruising? No. How did you come to understand what it was? And what is it?
Eric La Febre 20:08
So the concept of cruising to me is that sort of like the excitability of the possibility of sex, oftentimes in public spaces with strangers. To me, that first experience of cruising was so intuitive, I think is the right way to phrase it. For myself, at least it just felt like, no words were exchanged, but I recognise, like, there, this person wants me and that excitement is like, Oh, I’m, I, okay, great, I’m gonna follow the sort of nonverbal cues of whatever this engagement is. And we’re gonna see how it goes. And having such an exceptional first experience with that. It kind of sparked this kink in my brain to be something that is sort of like a lifelong fascination and desire for So, cruising itself, it could be anything from like, you walk past somebody on the sidewalk, and you lock eyes and there is an instant, like Spark, you walk past them. It’s like the Double Take where you both turn if they turn and you see each other looking back at, it’s just like, oh, game on. Boom, you’re excited. I’m excited. Whoa, what a joy. It could be anything from just like that. By itself. It’s like, I would be like, Oh, I got cruise. Like that’s so fun. Or following through on something, whether it’s like fight, like literally finding a bush in the park to have sex in fun. Or it could be like going back to their place or going back to your place or even going on like a date or like, Hey, you’re like, hot, and you seem cool. Do you want to go get a coffee or something? Like, cool? Yeah, I got cruise. And then we went and had like, a lovely little afternoon. Have you actually done that? Yes. That’s actually how I met my first boyfriend. But like, we cruise each other on the train. And then we got off at the same stop and followed each other. And then he introduced himself. And I was like, Do you want to go grab a coffee? He’s like, Yeah, and then, I mean, we eventually had sex that day, which was great. But it started off as like a let’s get to know each other a little bit. Oh, wow. Yeah. So there’s, there’s all kinds of cruising I, I love, the idea of it is just so exciting to me, because it is that sort of like chance meeting. And I tend to be a very adventurous and spontaneous person. Especially if I have like, say, I have a day where nothing’s going on. And the world is my oyster, so to speak. If one of these things happens, I’m like, This is my day, exactly how it was supposed to happen. Perfect. Like, now I know what’s happening. I have no worries. Let’s just see what happens today. Like, what a treat what also what a privilege to be able to do that.
K Anderson 22:52
I guess my thing is, like, I need to gear up to having conversations with human beings. So it’s just like, hey, let’s have a chat. I’d be like, Wow, what ha. And then I just make Yeah, so
Eric La Febre 23:06
I mean, arguably, I’ve made a fool of myself many times in these instances. The excitement of it gets me a little bit tongue tied, and I get a little fumbly. But at the end of the day, I try to use that fumble-y-ness and reframe it as charming.
K Anderson 23:23
Yeah. Oh, check me out. Yeah, yeah.
Eric La Febre 23:27
Like, oh, I’m just I’m so silly. So it, I mean, oftentimes, I feel like it works to my advantage.
K Anderson 23:34
And so do you have a sharpened ability to find hiding spots,
Eric La Febre 23:40
kind of, I still am a little sceptical of a lot of like, very public sex stuff, just by nature of it being it’s exciting, but it is very dangerous, just because of the legalities of it. So for me, the excitement at least nowadays comes from the possibility of and the ignition of cruising, and not necessarily a sexual act in a public space.
K Anderson 24:09
So do you know what the legality is in the states like there’s like ality here is really weird. Like, you can’t have sex in toilets and stuff like that. So there you go. There is no law against having sex in public, but there’s laws against public indecency. So you can like have it in the park as long as no one sees you and that’s not illegal but as soon as someone sees you then it’s illegal.
Eric La Febre 24:32
Yes, I think I don’t know exactly. But I do think that that’s that’s a very similar situation here. Where it’s it’s the if somebody sees you then it is a decency violation. And you could get caught on that.
K Anderson 24:46
So is that where the saying ‘If two homosexuals fuck in the woods and no one sees them come?’
Eric La Febre 24:52
That’s actually where it comes from? Yeah. So in in the queer queer literature, you know, the standard, the standard, the inside lipidic volume volume one,
K Anderson 25:02
you have to read in order to get your licence to be a practising homosexual.
Eric La Febre 25:06
Yeah, that was actually one of the things I studied really hard on was public cruising that portion of the book. And that’s exactly where it comes from. Yeah. It For Me, the public stuff is a little bit tricky, obviously, for those reasons. So if I say were to meet somebody, and it would be like, go back to somebody’s place or what have you, I know that after that tour, I’d moved to San Francisco to go to school, I went to San Francisco State and part of that experience of moving to a very gay city, a very queer city, as a newly out person. And having just sort of discovered this flame of kink and of cruising and of everything. It was like this gorgeous little secret that I had that like absolutely made my mind flutter with good feelings. I decided to like, start, not necessarily practising, but just like, kind of practising it. And I would go to, I would take the train, take Muni, to Castro get off at Castro. And I would just kind of like, walk around and see what’s up, as they say, and those stretch between 18th and Castro, if you walk down 18th Dolores Park, Dolores Park is also famously a big cruising spot on that walk. That was where you could get a lot of glances or a good like, Hey, you, me, maybe. But the first actual place that I would start cruising was this small bookstore, a couple storefronts down from the Castro Theatre. It’s now I think, Dog Eared Page Books, but it was called something before that. And I don’t know the name of it was, but they had like a small porn section in the back as queer bookstores often do. And it would be like a lot of guys who were just cruising the bookstore, and it was, what a treat like, I’d hooked up with a couple guys who were there. Eventually, I wanted to explore other things. But that was one of my like, main stops in the walk around the Castro. But this actually brings me to the space itself, the space in question. One of the fronts that I always wanted to visit was this bar called Lucky 13. between church and Castro, it was always on my walk, when I would go cruising, or when I would just like, enjoy the city and kind of being like the sad, sad little queer punk with no friends in San Francisco. I would walk by it and it was this like little punk bar in kind of the hub of queerness in the city. And I always wondered, like, is this a gay bar? Because some people told me it was people told me it wasn’t. But the it felt like everything that I was kind of rolled into one this like, perfect punk bar, I see gay people go in, and I’d be like, Wow, I want to try this. I just want to go in and like meet people. This seems like the best place. And I mean, ultimately, like, pick people up at this bar is, is an ideal
K Anderson 28:09
way to say but how long did it take you from finding out that this bar existed until you actually first went in?
Eric La Febre 28:17
Two to three years? So yeah, I wanted this so bad. And I spent time just looking at it and being like, one day I’ll, one day I’ll go in there. And one day I’ll one day I’ll be accepted into this group. I mean, granted, I created this big idea of what the community of lucky 13 was and who these people were, it’d be it wasn’t it’s just a dive bar. I know that there were regulars, and there was community there. But to me as like a 18/19 year old, I was just creating this romanticised version of what this was because of my intersecting identities of both queerness and like subculture, this felt like my space. But yeah, it was about two to three years because I wasn’t 21. And so the times that I tried to go in with the same voice, I know, right? Okay, I would try to go in with a fake ID and they would just be like, Oh, no, this is fake. Okay. I believe
K Anderson 29:16
and let’s say then let’s just paint the picture a bit more about who you were at this time. So you’d come out? Yeah, you’d come out by the time you went to San Francisco.
Eric La Febre 29:25
The first year I was there, I was out to my friends, but not my family. And so it was after that first year that I then came out to my family and it was it was it was it was okay. I think it was it was pretty good. All things considered. I feel very lucky. In that respect. I mean, now I think initially it was a little like what, but subsequently, it’s been nothing but joy from them. So
K Anderson 29:50
it sounds like your level of personal torment. If we were going on a scale of one to 10 one is not very much 10 is a lot Where would you be landing?
Eric La Febre 30:01
Personal torment? In what? capacity? What
K Anderson 30:04
is like that kind of late teenage early adult her ability to beat yourself up and think that you’re shit?
Eric La Febre 30:14
Oh 10 1010 1010 1010
K Anderson 30:15
How much was your queerness wrapped into that?
Eric La Febre 30:20
Six. Okay, I think in hindsight 100% It is like a sort of internalised homophobic type situation. I think in the moment I tried to I trivialise that aspect of and felt like no, that’s not what it is. I’m just like, I’m just depressed and I’m worthless and whatever, come to find out later, I just have severe depression and anxiety, oh,
K Anderson 30:41
just severe depression and anxiety. Just,
Eric La Febre 30:45
yeah, just severe, but it’s like no big deal. Um, but I like being in this new city. And like discovering this new version of myself and trying to find where, like, you know, you know, that like that weird early 20s time is just so arduous and terrifying. And just so structurally flimsy, like everything changes all at once. It’s just like, such a wild time. And so that on top of dealing with undiagnosed depression and anxiety where I, I was an absolute mess, and I felt like I really just like did not like myself. So those years were really rough. And I was doing Oh, and I was also drinking a tonne. I was so so enthralled by alcohol. It was like such a nice reprieve from it. I’m currently two years sober. So I did stop drinking. Because it’s not good for me. It’s not good for my brain. At all. I realised that fairly recently that I’m like, oh, yeah, like, you’re like, the more I find out about myself and how I exist, the more I can see these patterns and recognise it like, oh, that’s why this is a problem for you. Like, let’s, let’s pull that back. Let’s maybe not do that. Maybe you aren’t somebody who this is good for? And I don’t think I am so I so I stopped.
K Anderson 32:01
And and so then getting to the city, finding yourself like in, like a rented flat or whatever. Not being able to go to bars, but being able to cruise was that how you found other people? or were there other ways in?
Eric La Febre 32:20
So kind of Yeah, I tend. I think at that time, too. I was leaning towards, I’ve always had and this is very fun for me a fascination with an attraction towards daddies and like older men. Why is that fun? Because I just love it. I’m like, obsessed with this stuff. Okay,
K Anderson 32:37
I’m like, wait, obsessed with work, the concept,
Eric La Febre 32:41
the concept of like, like, it’s not even necessarily like actual fatherhood. That’s not necessarily it. But the concept of like, having lived in having confidence in like, a like a grey beard and like this, this, like that nurturing aspect of like, everything about it is so exciting and enthralling for me in a way that like, I’ve never considered or wanted to like fetishise that kind of person. But it is something that I’ve noticed, especially in my early days, that I was exceptionally attracted to, I was just something that absolutely piqued my interest. So cruising was great for that, because I would meet random fellows who were a little bit older, and it was it was gorgeous. But at that time, not being able to drink and trying to discover that sense of community, I would take a book or take something to a coffee shop. And some some of the coffee shops around the Castro were opened late like Cafe floor, or I think Pete’s was even open a little bit later. And I would just go and sit in these spaces and try to engage the Starbucks that was down at 18 Castro also used to have a very particular design of it, before they remodelled it, you’d walk in. And to the left. If you went up, there was a small riser with tables that looked directly at the line of people who were getting copies. And then beneath that riser in front of it, more tables. So it was almost like you walk in and then everybody who’s sitting is watching you. It was almost like an intentionally, which I’m assuming it was queer design of like gazing of cruising, almost it felt like it was designed that way. So of course, little 19 year old me would absolutely go and find a little spot on on the riser and just like do a little public performance of like, Oh, I’m reading am i What are you doing? You know what I mean? It was like, I would try to find my in wherever I could, even though I tended to be very, very timid and very, very quiet. This was the one thing that I felt like I had confidence in to some degree And it was it was fun for me it was like a little game with a perfect little treat at the end.
K Anderson 35:05
And so would you start conversations with people? No, no, no. Yeah. Terrified I am strangers. This is my approach to the questioning like, what do you actually
Eric La Febre 35:16
like? So to be fair, is most of the time Yes. But sometimes it was like very few words were exchanged, which was always like, a very hot aspect to it. But more often than not, it would be like somebody would sit down or like it would, it’s very clear that we’re recognising some kind of interest. And then one of us would start a conversation with like, Oh, what are you reading? Or what are you doing? It’s like, oh, I’m on my lunch break, or I’m, whatever, whatever. And then eventually, somebody would be like, Oh, well, you’re, you’re very cute. It’s like, oh, well, so are you. And it’s like, oh, cool. What are you doing this afternoon? And then it would be like, oh, you know, nothing, just this, like, Oh, hey, do you want to come over? Or do you want to like, whatever I’d be like, Yeah, that sounds great. Actually, like, I’d love to, and then
K Anderson 36:06
it’s so great.
Eric La Febre 36:14
Yeah. Oh, it’s very exciting.
K Anderson 36:17
See, this is why I think the hanky code needs to come back. You can just then like, you know, just wave your hanky. Yeah. And then.
Eric La Febre 36:27
And then decide. I think, I think that’s, that’s the exciting part, too. Because the times where there wasn’t really much conversation, it was just like, pure sex. For me, the conversations is where I was able to, like, make friendships. Because like, we were able to talk and like, especially if, like, even if we didn’t have sex, if it was just like, we could cruise and then it’s like, we just get to talking. Suddenly, we have a lot in common. And it’s like, oh, yeah, actually, the time’s kind of slipped away. I have to go, but like, Could I get your number? Do you want to like, hang out again? I would. I really enjoyed your company. This is this is fantastic. Like, what are you doing later, we can hang out. And so I did make quite a few friends that way. Other
K Anderson 37:03
side of that coin is when you’re like, going to hook up with someone, and then you have a conversation. And suddenly you’re like, Oh my God, you’re the biggest wanker in the world. What the fuck is wrong with you? Yeah, like now? Do I just completely compromise my own morals and have sex with you anyway? Or do I just leave?
Eric La Febre 37:22
Okay, so to be fully fair, I have. I’ve run into this several times. And one time I did go, and I was like, God, I hate this. It did not feel right. Like the vibes were absolutely off. We had very little chemistry. But there have been times where like, we’re we’re walking home or like, we just chatted, and suddenly it’s like, Yeah, are you interested in that? I’m like, actually, no, I’ve only been like, very straightforward. Like, actually, no, I’m no longer interested. But I hope you have a really good day. But another time I did, like, make a phone call and be like, Oh, something came up. I really have to go. I know. I know.
K Anderson 38:03
You and your fantasy. It was it was
Eric La Febre 38:05
my it was my friend at on campus at the time of school, something came up where like, they couldn’t get into their room or like, they’re having a panic, a bit of a crisis. And they’re like, I need you to come and talk. And I was like, hey, my friends like really going through it. They just moved here and like really rough and I have to go. i Yeah, it just, it is what it is.
K Anderson 38:32
Like me, I’m just going like, Oh, I’m gonna I hate you. But I’m gonna have sex with you.
Eric La Febre 38:36
I have I have like, one time where the vibes were just like, absolutely rank. But I you know, we’re here and I
K Anderson 38:43
had great. Let’s just do it. You took me to the edge. Yeah. Like, I’m gonna have to jump.
Eric La Febre 38:47
I know. And see, that’s one of those things where I’m like, gosh, at any point I can I can. I can say no, but I understand that it’s like, okay.
K Anderson 38:59
Yeah, cuz it’s like, you’ve got your hope out, like your hope you’re one hope you get your hopes up. Like you’re like. You owe it to yourself to see it through.
Eric La Febre 39:08
Yeah, where it’s like, you know what, we’re already here. We’re already enjoying it. To some degree, like, why not just like, if anything, it’ll be a fun story. Hooray.
K Anderson 39:18
And that says like, that is the whole thing. The frustrating, horrible, annoying, but also wonderful thing about sex is that sometimes you have amazing chemistry with people who you absolutely despise. And sometimes you have no chemistry with people who you love.
Eric La Febre 39:35
Isn’t that such an unfortunate reality?
K Anderson 39:37
It’s it sucks.
Eric La Febre 39:39
Some of the best sex I’ve ever had in my life have been with men who like the sex is just phenomenal like an all night situation. And the next morning we’ll go and get like a coffee or something. And they’re absolutely like atrocious to the person who’s working at the coffee shop and it’s just like, oh my god, what? How How is that you? Oh no, this is who you are. Fuck. I guess I never have to see you again. Dammit. Or I’ll see you again and we just don’t get coffee. Because the sex is great. is so good. But the coffee situation? No, I cannot be around that. That’s rough. I’m sorry. Yeah.
K Anderson 40:21
Right. So, so lucky 13 Because I do believe that’s what we’re here to talk about.
Eric La Febre 40:28
Yes, yes, yes. So
K Anderson 40:29
eventually you got to a point where you were old enough, which is 21 in the US to go to Lucky 13 with ginger? Yeah. Was that like the first place you went to as soon as you turn 21? Or did it take a while kind
Eric La Febre 40:43
of kind of Yeah, it was sort of the day had finally come for that moment. And I and I jumped at it. I think it was like, on my birthday, or the day after I went to Lucky 13. And it was great. It was gross. It was grimy. It was like a cool assortment of like, punk people, queer people. And like, it just felt great. It was also cheap beers. And there is this like really shitty popcorn machine in the back and some pinball machines. And it was kind of like all I had hoped it to be there wasn’t this big fanfare or anything wild. But the biggest thing for me, I remember when I walked in, they have these like, really gorgeous, illustrated, like show posters, punctual posters on the wall in the back. And two of them were actually my band’s name was on these posters. Now, this band had been around for a while, and I just joined them. So these were shows that like, happened years before I joined, but it just felt so I mean, maybe that’s just local, like local music, but it felt serendipitous to walk into this space that I had kind of held at such a high standard and really romanticise to then walk in and see like, this thing that identify so strongly with my band’s name is in this gorgeous poster on the wall, not just once, but twice, like, it felt correct, if that makes sense. It felt serendipitous, I think is the most the most accurate way to describe that where any qualms or any fears that I had about this moment of being allowed in this space, were immediately squashed, they were immediately just decimated by the recognition of like, yeah, I, I feel like I belong here. I feel like, this is a space for me.
K Anderson 42:34
And you said before that you had imagined the community in there and thought about what it was like to belong. We’re How did reality live up to the fantasy?
Eric La Febre 42:48
I think it was less, again, less fanfare than I had thought not to say that. It’s like, Yay, He’s finally here. Like, that’s not you know what I mean? Like, because who am I, I’m just some, some some kid. But I kind of always hoped that like, there would be a group of people in there who immediately like latch on to or a group who I’d see frequently, and we would like get to know each other. And that didn’t really happen. It was a lot of like me after work. Because I was a bartender server for like 910 years. And so I would work late shifts, and I’d go there for a drink afterwards. And it would be me kind of by myself on one of these sort of upper landings on a barstool, looking down by myself having a beer up top.
K Anderson 43:35
And again, finding the spot to look at people. Yes, truly
Eric La Febre 43:39
finding a spot. And I think that’s like, that idea is so huge for me of being a spectator of, kind of, and maybe that dip dips into a little bit of like voyeuristic aspects of sexuality. And maybe that’s part of the kink itself. But yeah, I would always want to like find a spot to spectate and just sit in isolation, pretty much drinking my beer spectating situation, and they would always play music that I loved. So it was, even though it wasn’t necessarily this place where like, I found this gorgeous community of people who I would then have like, lifelong friendships with, or to be recognised by, I still found a space where I could just exist in a way that felt so comforting in all aspects of myself from the spectatorship from the music from the aesthetic from the queer identity. I mean, even the popcorn, I love popcorn.
K Anderson 44:37
I was not gonna bring this up. But was this like, was this a machine that you could help yourself to popcorn?
Eric La Febre 44:43
Yeah, it’s a little gross. But I know it was always fully stocked with popcorn. You could just walk in shovel in some popcorn bag and enjoy a little snack. In this little dive. Yeah, this is
K Anderson 44:56
a total segue. But do you think that buffet food is ever going to make it proper return post-COVID?
Eric La Febre 45:02
Not in the same way no the way the the unregulated absolute disgust sale way that these health IT is filthy the way that these places operated so in the same capacity Absolutely not. We lived in a lawless time before COVID When it comes to buffet style eateries it was just there’s no ladle fuck it use your hand. You want some super dig in.
K Anderson 45:29
So I can’t revive the Sizzler brand?
Eric La Febre 45:33
Yeah, no. Sizzler? I mean, arguably, sizzler was out before the pandemic. sizzler is too rash. sizzler is like,
K Anderson 45:43
Oh, hang on, just looked it up. In September 2020. Sizzler, USA filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy due to the COVID 19 pandemic hurting sales? A must. Yeah. Okay. All right. No. Okay. I mean, like, there is a hipster bar in this reimagining the buffet. How can I do this?
Eric La Febre 46:02
Well, okay, are you familiar with those taps at tables bars? Oh, yes. Yeah, I feel like that’s a similar thing. Where it’s a Help yourself to drinks. And then they just charge you for the amount that you drank where there’s like a
K Anderson 46:16
free table as a salad bar that we throw away once the people leave. Is that what you’re saying?
Eric La Febre 46:21
Maybe it’s like solo banquet. It’s, it’s like a little solo banquet.
K Anderson 46:25
Or maybe the food could fall from the ceiling. In tubes. I
Eric La Febre 46:29
Oh, my God feeding tubes each see? individualised feeding tubes. And then you press a button on your little pad on the table. And it just shoots the food down into your mouth.
K Anderson 46:38
This is getting sexual again.
Eric La Febre 46:40
I know. Bro, whenever it’s like, oh, I don’t want the homie. I just want to bite and they’ll send you like little snack pieces. down the tube. I think we got it. I mean, I’m ready to invest.
K Anderson 46:50
The chef in this kitchen is going to be run off their feet. But who cares?
Eric La Febre 46:54
No, it’s gonna be a terrible job.
K Anderson 46:56
All right, cool. I’m down. I’ll draw up a business plan. I’ll send it over. Perfect. Yeah. Wait, so popcorn, we’re moving on from popcorn. Oh, I wanted to just pick it a little more at this thing about finding community and the expectation of finding community in a place and whether or not… I struggle with the concept of community. First of all, especially when it’s around…. I don’t know why I do this show like, which is all about community spaces. But anyway, like that. I guess the myth of community, the romance of community, that we talk about community and we talk about the queer community, we talk about the gay community. But what is that? And how do you ever get to a point where you feel like you belong?
Eric La Febre 47:44
That is one of the best questions. Because I truly don’t know if there’s an answer. I agree that I think that the community as a whole and as an idea is generally a myth. Because as as young people, especially as young queer people, there is that the romanticisation of like, one day, I’ll find it one day I’ll, I’ll be invited into it. And one day I’ll, I’ll be accepted into this community. And I’ll, I’ll have found my people. I do think that there, at least for me, it came not from like communal events or communal spaces, oftentimes it came from like, hookup apps, at least, in making more of these like lifelong friendships, where they do, they stem from, like sexual experiences, but then ultimately become these platonic, respectful and loving, nurturing friendships. At least in my history with it. As far as like, a communal space. The most difficult part for me is that most of these spaces are centred around alcohol. And I think that that’s the hardest part is like there is that that sort of revelry and sort of like, inebriated bliss, of like letting go of the weak and short of shedding your skin of, of capitalism, by way of like, working and it’s Friday and Saturday, like, fuck it, I’m gonna just go off and allowing yourself to do that in a space with those who are doing the same. So I think there’s something to that. But on a personal note, those spaces have never felt, even when I was drinking, they’ve never felt like necessarily communal. They’ve always felt, how would I phrase this? They felt performative in sort of an inauthentic way, not to say that performance is authentic, because I think inherently if you’re performing, there’s an authenticity to it. But like, there is a level of inauthenticity to those spaces that has always sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Does that make sense?
K Anderson 49:55
Well, let’s, let’s just pick at it a bit more. Okay, so do you mean Like, because there’s a need or there’s a culture of posturing.
Eric La Febre 50:06
Yes. Because a lot of these spaces, it’s like, you know, you’re maybe you’re cruising a little bit in this in this small way, you’re looking for sex, you’re looking for whatever you’re like flirting you’re making out, you’re doing stuff. Like, that’s sort of the whole thing. I think there is there is a, I enjoy the aspect of like, some degree of like, peacocking. But to me, it’s more of just a sexual fashion show than it is sort of a communal, I guess. But then what is community relate like a place for connection, a place for finding like minded people and finding a place a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of, of, of unity?
K Anderson 50:47
But is it that yeah,
Eric La Febre 50:49
that’s see that’s, that’s for me the disc? Or you mean, the definition itself?
K Anderson 50:53
Yeah. Like, is that just an idealised version of what community is?
Eric La Febre 50:58
I think so. At its most ideal, yeah. Like, people would like to believe that. And again, that just ties into the romanticisation. of community that a lot of us have. And obviously, it’s different versions of it. But
K Anderson 51:12
there’s an aspiration when you talk about community of belonging. Yeah, it is, like, is belonging, a feeling or a fact? Oh, God, I’m sorry. I don’t know why. No, no, no, no, I
Eric La Febre 51:26
love I’m obsessed with this is breaking apart. Is you said, is belonging a feeling or effect? Yeah.
K Anderson 51:34
Because like, I belong to the gay community because I am gay. But do I belong to the gay community? Because I feel like I belong, like, do I? Yeah, that’s the
Eric La Febre 51:42
trickiest part, I think, I think by definition, you are affiliated by existence. But simultaneously, you could be constantly alone and are constantly like, rejected or, or constantly left out, and still belong to the community on technicality alone. So yeah, that’s it. That is a good question. Right? Like, what it what does it mean to to be embraced by to be accepted within a community that isn’t just by way of existing as a queer person?
K Anderson 52:20
Because even if you’re not like, you know, I was reading about Liberace the other day, because it was like the anniversary of his birth recently. And he always denied the fact that he was gay, or we said he wasn’t gay. So by that means, like, does he belong to the queer community, even though he rejected the queer community? Oh, like, does he just have no choice? And we’re claiming
Eric La Febre 52:45
him I think Liberace as a properly ominous probably no, no, no, no, no, true, but I would argue that the idea of Liberace has sort of been claimed by the community at large, I think the person hood of Liberace because of that sort of dismissal and sort of rebuking of said, affiliation, I would say person no idea Yes. Because with celebrity or with it, I mean, especially Liberace, there is sort of a a larger than life idea that is attached to this person. Yeah. So, so the idea of Liberace as, I would say, an embracing of things queer especially the way it’s been used within culture as, as sort of a covert way at least the last like 40 years to describe like, a feminine effeminate men or femininity at large or queerness, or gayness or what have you. It’s sort of been like, the idea of Liberace has been reappropriated to have these conversations about queerness without having conversations about queerness culture,
K Anderson 53:52
then, are you talking about queer people or straight people in order to identify others like Liberace?
Eric La Febre 53:58
I’m going to say largely straight people because of their fear of like saying terms like gay or queer or or what have you? Yes, exactly. There’s there’s the there’s the equating of like a recognition of femininity in a sort of masculine presenting person. So then they can say, oh, that’s kind of like oh, yeah, like a Liberace ask is sort of like he’s a total fag. Yeah, exactly. Right.
K Anderson 54:26
I think we’re gonna end up going in circles.
Eric La Febre 54:28
I know because I don’t I don’t know if there’s like a definitive way because it is all perspective based and it all it’s difficult. It’s a more Yeah, it’s a more it’s a more like, heady conversation because it is so like, intrinsic to one’s experience. But that the overall idea again, if you are this thing there is already like you’re already in the club. This is you, you identify that’s who you are. But then what does that mean? On the outside because it can look like so many different things and still be called the same thing.
K Anderson 55:04
Okay? You’re basically saying you’ve got no choice. If you’re deviating from heterosexuality or cisgender ism, then you’re with us behind. That’s not your experience or your reality.
Eric La Febre 55:17
I think so. I’m just in terms of like, the rebuking of sort of cisgender heteronormativity in and of itself as an act of like, queer rebellion. And I think it’s, it’s beautiful. Even if that performance itself, you you exist in a world as something other than you’re supposed to, based on the rules that have been set up in place by straight people in heteronormativity. at large, so,
K Anderson 55:44
but what if your XL whatever all of your actions are actively heteronormative? What do you mean? Well, like what is your what is a big pray the gay away person? Like what if you’ve gone through conversion therapy and you’re like, I’m heterosexual now.
Eric La Febre 56:03
But then that would still be like performative heterosexuality, right?
K Anderson 56:06
Sure. But you know, if I meet you, I don’t know that. So I can’t like through your laminated card.
Eric La Febre 56:13
I think it has to do with self acknowledgement and sort of a self identifying.
K Anderson 56:20
Eric La Febre 56:22
No, no, no, it’s true. It’s 100%. True. What if you don’t have the language for it? Yeah. I mean, then. Then how do you do that? Who who? Yeah, the
K Anderson 56:30
basically the lesson here is thinking as hard. Just don’t bother, right?
Eric La Febre 56:35
Yeah. Don’t bother just have sex. Honestly, it’s way easier.
K Anderson 56:38
Oh, that actually reminds me because I did write this down. I wanted to like about cruising. At Yeah. Do you ever get to a point where you were addicted to the thrill of cruising? And so regular sex was just like there?
Eric La Febre 56:51
I would say yes. For a short period, to me, and this is so funny. It’s funny to me. Rather, the process of having sex seemed almost like too much work.
K Anderson 57:08
Well, yeah, Duchenne. Yeah,
Eric La Febre 57:09
yeah. When it came to the filament that I needed from the act that like, the possibility of it and the cruising of it. And like, the whole experience of doing it was to me as at that time, just as exciting as having sex at times. So sometimes, I would just cruise and be like, Yeah, great. Like, I’m not even coming or anything. I’m just, yeah, that was good. I’m, I’m into this. This is perfect. And I don’t need to have sex.
K Anderson 57:36
Like, would you lead me? No,
Eric La Febre 57:39
no. Oftentimes, especially if it was a public situation, there was sort of a mutual understanding and a recognition that like, if there is active disengagement, that’s fine. At least for me, because
K Anderson 57:53
I’m just Yeah, okay. I just was like, I was imagining he had like, unzipped and started the act. And then
Eric La Febre 58:01
I would never get that far and then be like, Oh, I’m actually good. It would always be like, the courting aspect of it before any action sort of took place. The longing glances the the sort of following the, the signals the like, maybe crotch grabbing the like, all of that, like from afar like to show like, Hey, I’m excited. Whatever it was, the court ship of it was what I’m talking about, it would never get to like that point. And then I’d be like, Oh, cuz at that point, if it’s like, well, if it’s there, then I’d be like, Oh, well, Oh, yeah.
K Anderson 58:33
I’m not gonna see anorexic and not suck it.
Eric La Febre 58:36
Yes, I’m already here. This is perfect. Cool. We made it. But if at any point, it felt off, or it felt a certain level of dangerous or it felt like, instinctively bad. I would just disengage and leave and be like, Wow, that was so fun. You know? Yeah. But yeah, so
K Anderson 58:58
Did you ever do anything in Luckey 30.
Eric La Febre 59:04
I did. So this was one of those like, really pivotal and huge, Pivotal and each one of these pivotal moments for that sort of affirming of all of my longing for this space was one night I was there. Perched on my perfectly voyeuristic what is the what is the not joining? It’s a it’s like a, like a porch. But
K Anderson 59:36
upstairs, like a balcony, balcony balcony,
Eric La Febre 59:40
a balcony. Thank you. Oh, wow, I forgot that word. Perched on my perfect little indoor balcony with my beer. And this guy came in and he was like, he was so cute. And he immediately like looked at me, and like, smiled. And I was like, Oh, here we go. And was, I don’t remember how long I had been going. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t that long. And he got a beer. And he sat down beneath me and would like, occasionally look up and would like smile. And I would smile at him. And we did this little dance for about 10 minutes, he finished his beer, and I finished mine. And we ended up at the bar at the same time. And we both ordered another drink. And then we ended up sitting together for a brief moment, and we got to talking and it was very cool and nice. And he like, downed the rest of his beer and like one big gold and he’s like, I’m going to go to the bathroom. I think you should follow me. And I said, Yeah, I think I should do and so I don’t even think I finished my beer. I’ve had a lot of it. And so I was like, took another big swig, I followed him and we ended up just straight up having sex in the bathroom. And it was fantastic. It was so affirming. It was like, I mean, in hindsight, it seems cinematic, because I think the way that I romanticise it as like this, this sort of personally and positively cataclysmic event in my life that just absolutely sparked this, like, everything that I wanted from this place in this space. And the people in the idea of me and this spot, like it was it was everything I wanted. And yeah, so it was like, to me, it was like bounce it in the stall, like bouncing between the walls, like making too much noise. Just messy, sloppy kissing, like, just, like, rough sex generally. And it was fucking perfect. It was truly perfect. It was exactly what I wanted and hoped from, from the idea of this space, even though it wasn’t a like, explicitly and overtly like, I mean, there’s a rainbow flag outside, but it wasn’t like this like very, very, very, like, obviously gay space stereotypically gay space. Having sex in that bathroom was like, it was magical. And then they and then we when we finished and I don’t think we ever saw each other again, he left and I got another beer and I went back to my spot with a big smile on my face. And it was exactly right, it was exactly correct.
K Anderson 1:02:40
Do you have any memories from Lucky 13 or clubbing from your own cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories of queer clubbing, go to LA spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space. You can also reach out to me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. My profile name across all three is lost spaces part. Find out more about Eric by following him on Instagram his profile there is he left February e la FEBRE. And Eric if you’re listening to this and I keep stuffing up the pronunciation of your surname, I’m really really sorry. I’m trying trying. Also make sure that you listen to the nostalgia podcast wherever you find podcasts. Let’s bases 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 which is called well groomed boys and is playing underneath my talking right now on all good streaming platforms. If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on your podcast platform 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