Benjamin Matthews, founder of Opera Ebony, was the first elder I met at the gay hustler bar, Stella’s. Matthews, considered an expert on old Negro spirituals, had a preference for Latino dancers that were far too common in the male stripper bar in Times Square.
Matthews admitted he favored any young man willing to expose their private parts for a mere dollar, and would give up his high C vocal range for an opportunity to run his tongue across the crack of hairless Puerto Rican that night.
My new lover was Benjamin’s best friend. Although the two never claimed to have exchanged currency for sexual favors, they were quite open with one another, and Benjamin never hesitated to inform Frank about the men he had taken out of the bar and to his swanky Upper East Side home which also served as the offices and studios of Opera Ebony.
Benjamin noted that it seemed many of the old, white queens, who commonly competed with the Opera Ebony star for attention had an attraction to me, despite my own Caucasian bloodline. A recent coloring of my short hair with a bottle of Revlon Colorsilk made me look Spanish under the dim lights inside of Stella’s.
“Are you sure you are white?” Benjamin asked, rubbing my biceps and smiling at Frank, “You found yourself a good man here in Charlie Boy. And just look at that little bootie he got.” Matthews stood from the stool he was sitting on, raised his glass of rum and started to sing…
“De Lawd, He thought He’d make a man
Dese bones gwine rise again
Made ‘im outa mud an’ a han’ful o’ san
Dese bones gwine to rise again.“
Benjamin carefully sat back down, picked up his cocktail, and before drinking, carefully wiped his lips as if the singing had stained them.
“It’s true what you said about white people, Benjamin. They have tails,” Frank jokingly remarked, as if the two shared a joke that I had not yet been told.
I felt my face turn red as he made this remark, for at the base of my tailbone, just above my hairy crack, a perfect ‘V’ shape had formed upon my freckled skin– an indentation from an unusually deep end of a tail bone.
“Don’t ever come into Stella’s without me,” my new lover threatened as we left the bar that night. “These boys are dangerous and are trash. I’ll introduce you to people you’ve seen in movies if you stick with me. Remember this and don’t take it as a threat, Benjamin will tell me if he sees you in here. Do you understand?” He asked.
“Yes, very much so,” I replied wondering just how long my new romance would last and whether it was true that Benjamin Matthews knew more Black movie stars than he did young latino men…