Stella’s is more than a pool hall. It’s a place of worship– a hustler bar where beautiful men in New York City can go when Con Edison is threatening to cut off the electricity.
The owners keep the lights on into the early hours of the morning for the convenience of the hundreds of young protestant men exploring their sexuality, trying to survive in a town of trust funds and false prophets.
The bar is one of the best watering holes in the Big Apple. The drinks are strong and after having a few, one is sure to get caught up in the loads of testosterone that fill the place like a martini in a V-shaped glass.
Stellas has a pool table, a jukebox and Latino waiters who are not afraid to work for a tip. Guys strut around in g-strings and welcome customers, both gay and straight, male and female, to “touch it” for a mere dollar. The waiters make a good living at Stellas. I made a fortune there.
Mayor Gulliani and Governor Spitzer toned the place down. In the days when our mayor was Black, Latino street thugs pulled eleven inch snakes from their caged g-strings for a mere dollar. The government’s no tolerance approach to dealing with the trade without tax service industry has dimmed the lights at Stellas bar, but smart businessmen can still turn coin there.
The hustlers who play pool at Stella’s have dicks like pool cues and screw girls when they don’t need cash. They are not gay, but the lure of easy cash is too tempting to pass by, especially when men with prison records can’t find real jobs. They’ll screw anything for a few beers and bucks. They need some kind of income. Child support is a bitch.
I had just broken- up with a lover when I discovered Stellas. I had no idea what went on in the place. I like to play pool with real men, so the place seemed harmless, inviting and the perfect place to mend my broken heart.
I was desperate and needed not only a new apartment but a two- month security deposit, new clothing and almost every commodity available to modern gay man. I lost everything, including my Gillette Mach Four razor blade set in a recent gay divorce. I was out for blood and cold hard cash.
“Who cares?” I said to my Jewish friend, Joan McElroy who tried to get me to work as a fluffer for the porn industry instead.
“Don’t go to Stellas and be a whore, Charles. I know lots of men who will take care of you. Just promise to become their lover.”
“Now that’s being a real whore, Joan! Why would I want to be tied down like a married man? No thanks. I’m going to Stellas tonight. I need to make a grand and I don’t want to have to beg a husband for access to his bank account. I made my way to the bar on Eighth Avenue and 44th Street.
“Damn boy– who taught you how to shoot pool like that?” A Puerto Rican named Jose asked after I won my first game at Stellas and gained control of the pool table.
“Wassup! You want some of this? You wanna play me? Come on, rack-em up sweet cheeks. I can show you some shots you never even imagined possible.”
“You hustlin’?” He asked.
“You know— do you sleep with these old fuckers for cash? What’s a clean-cut whiteboy like you doing in here? I’m not gay, you know. Hey listen, you and I workin’ as a team would rack their nerves. If I make the connection for some quick cash, will you work for me?”
“Five hundred, and I only swallow if I’m turned on.” I offered.
“Stay right here…”
I was hurt after being dumped and thrown in prison for shredding my ex-lover’s clothing. The attention I was getting from Jose was hard to turn down. He was gorgeous. I looked at the job as an opportunity to sleep with him. I couldn’t believe old men would pay hundreds of dollars just to watch me take Jose like a pro.
There were not many white hustlers in Stella’s who could pull off the role of ‘rough trade’ for a such a selective audience, but I did. I was just as masculine as the ghetto dudes who ruled the joint. I was in the military and managed to keep my hardcore, rough-trade image despite the fact that I was an out- of- the- closet bottom.
Because I was white, I had an advantage over the ethnic whores there. Johns felt more comfortable taking me home. My Opie Taylor face put them at ease. Jose invited me to join him as a ‘tag-team’ partner every night I went there. Eventually, I realized he was falling in love with me. The last thing on Earth I wanted was another lover. There was too much cash to make.
I felt guilty by taking money from the old queens who paid me to undress in front of them. They all promised that if I would settle down with them, they would offer me the world.
“No thanks, man. I don’t need another lover– I need some cash. Now where’s the $500?”
“Did I promise you $500? Wow, that was a lot.”
Oh well, I’m leaving then. Goodbye.”
Their hands started to tremble and they pulled that wad of cash out as I started to put on my coat.
“Do you take credit cards?” They asked.
“Only if my name is on the card,” I explained.
“That can be arranged.”
“But not tonight.”
The hustlers taught me well– always get the cash first, do not fall in love, and never ask for more cash than can be spent in one night.