Saturday, 23 July 2011

Look what I've found - dredged up from the past.

After many years regretting that I didn't have a single decent photo of myself from my 'Afro era' to show around, just this very morning, quite  by accident, I find this one.
    Amsterdam 1980 - my very first of what was to turn out to be no less than 35 visits over the following 11 years. (Don't ask. You'd be right.) And looking as though I'd just wandered off the set of the original 'Starsky & Hutch' TV series. Oh, get those trendy shoes!
   Can't recall who took the photo for me. That first time I went alone so it was probably a guy staying at the same hotel whom I must have wandered around with. Pity I didn't take one of him, which must have been rather rude. But maybe he'd refused, I just can't remember.
   On all my 'gay-discovery' hols around this period I was often plagued by approaches and even passes from guys whom I didn't really fancy myself - so many of then being blonde and clean-shaven. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but my own attraction was, and still is, towards darker, hairy types. With the distance and wisdom (I hope) of passing years, seeing myself then as almost a different person from what I am now, I can just about  comprehend now that they were probably looking for someone in marked contrast to their own physical selves ( a kind of night and day scenario?), whereas I was going for a near-mirror image. The truth is probably that my attitude betrayed an arrogance and vanity about my own looks - or was it a case of looking for a 'comfort-zone' in what I was familiar with? Anyway, too late to worry about all that now. Self psycho-analysis is such a fruitless exercise.
     So 1991 was the last time I was in Amsterdam. Love to go back but no doubt it has changed a lot. I know for a fact that my regular gay hotel has long since been handed over to new owners who cater for the male clients of 'ladies-of-the-night', so not much fun there then! Besides I don't have the energy any more to go traipsing around, making a tour of those magnificently sleazy leather bars with their dark rooms and glory holes, until 5 in the morning - or, if not that, then disco-dancing till the same early hours. Of course this was all just before the 'Big A' took hold and scared the bejeesus out of us. Every single new European friend I made in that decade bar one, who still lives in Munich, was taken, as were most of my small circle of English pals. But I don't have to make out that I was worse affected than others. Some of you reading this blog will have lost many more in total than I did.
However, just for old times' sake, I would dearly love to go back - and I shall -  just to poignantly re-live those memories on where it all happened - and, boy oh boy, there was so much of it!


  1. Such an dark and exciting history. My first time in Amsterdam was in the early '70s, and I was too much an innocent for my own good. Love the afro! It's so much fun to find these photos, isn't it?

  2. (Mitch, I see we've been criss-crossing each other's blogs. I've just come from yours with your magnificent news and views.)

    Yes, Amsterdam in those heady days was beyond belief - and yes, it took me some time too to work up the courage to do it all. But once started I was hooked.
    Finding this photo was a serendipitous discovery. I was loading some pics I'd taken on my one and only visit to Copenhagen the year previously (1979) to send to my brother who'd just returned from there, for him to make comparisons between now and 32 years ago - and this dropped out, misfiled. Hope there's some more somewhere.

  3. The longer you stayed in my favourite bar the more genever you got with your 7 up. I suppose it helped that we were younger and, maybe, a trifle better looking then!

    Actually your pic really seriously reminds me of someone - now who the heck is it?

  4. You trollop you!
    But yes those 70's days were quite the time weren't they?
    Truth be told, Amsterdam scared me as it was all just so... available. Does that sound odd?
    You look lovely in that photo - I can see why you were so sought after by blonde demi Gods. I wish that was the case with me!
    And yes, Clive and I lost most of our friends from that era. A couple in Kent are our oldest friends and like us, miraculously escaped the plague for some reason. But us 4 are about it... funny that it was two couples... but maybe that was exactly why we escaped.

  5. Micky, your final sentence has got my mind whirling. It hasn't yet come up with any Mickies, Micks, Mikes or even Michaels from around this time, but perhaps you were known by another name? Maybe you weren't being so literal. Your comment does intrigue me though.
    Ah, Jenever ice! The very thing that loosened one up enough to go on the prowl!

    Well, Craig - when in Rome etc etc.
    No, it doesn't sound odd to describe the place as scary. It must have taken me about 7 or 8 visits before I dared venture into a sauna. The whole gay scene was most intimidating, and I could never have brought myself to act without the assistance of alcohol. But after one had tried a particular venue the first time, it gradually became easier and I needed less support from drink.
    You express admiration for that figure in the pic, for which I thank you. I do also have a few shots of me in my leathers (post Afro), trying to project a 'hard guy' image, whilst retaining my powder-puff self underneath, Not an easy act to keep up for long!
    I actually met a couple from Kent around this time whom I lost contact with, though I did meet them again briefly in Brighton just before I moved there myself in 1993. They were both older than me. Let me see.....Your friends weren't/aren't from Tunbridge Wells were they?

  6. Hi Ray - Near Sevenoaks, Roger and Geoff. That would be a coincidence!

  7. Too much of one, alas, Craig. No, not the same couple. Pity in a way.

  8. I would just like to go once!
    Please do go back, but when you do try to be in the present so as not to feel disappointed nothing stayed as you wanted it to be.

  9. Wise words, Spo. Nothing ever remains the same, however we might wish it did. And such a large part of the memories is about the ones we met or were acquainted with at the time, all of whom will have moved on, in one way or another.
    I certainly SHALL go back, but as with my all my intended travels, it's lack of finance which prevents that happening.

  10. Ray, nothing would make me happier than to take a trip with you down memory lane. I for one would love to hear about your experiences from the 70s and 80s. I'm not talking about dirty sex stories. I mean the overall experience of it all -- gay life in some wonderfully gay cities.

    As for finances, after I win the lottery I plan on spending a month or two in England. Maybe you and I can meet up and take a side-trip to Amsterdam. How crazy cool would that be?

  11. Cubby - memories of the 80s? Might do just that, though a lot of it is painfully poignant. But there's been a lot of water under the bridge since those days so if I don't do it quite soon it'll be lost for ever.
    As for taking a trip with you to Amsterdam, just the thought of it makes me tingle all over - more especially in certain physical parts.