May Day 2017
I am the Poster Boy for the “Opposites Attract” Theory.
Entering this world with dark eyes, dark hair, and a Mediterranean complexion. I was raised among Italian American boys who, like myself, had dark eyes, dark hair, and olive skin.
That explains why I have always considered boys and men with looks similar to my own as being plain, “a dollar a dozen,” and so I considered them, and myself, as being inherently unattractive and undesirable.
On the other hand, I defied blonds and redheads, especially those with smooth skin and light eyes, believing them to be the gods who walk among us.
So, during my dating years, the best way to capture my interest was to look not one iota like me.
In my mid twenties, a national print magazine assigned me to interview the openly gay star of a Sunset Strip rock musical, at the legendary Roxy Theater.
I first saw Paul Gillespie in rehearsal for the musical.
Just one look; that’s all it took. My jaw dropped, but everything else stood at attention. Paul embodied my physical ideal: blond, near platinum hair, outrageous sky blue eyes, a physique that was a lean, smooth chord of muscles.
I was not surprised to learn that before being cast in this rock musical, he had been playing Prince Charming at Disney World in Florida.
My first thought was: I must have him! It was quickly followed by this one: It will never happen. He is too far above me.
After our initial meeting, Paul and I set the day, time, and place for the interview. The deed would be done in my smart West Hollywood view apartment, the following Monday.
As always, in advent of the interview, I researched my subject thoroughly. At twenty-two, Paul had done a lot of living. Even before this rock musical, and prior to his stint as Prince Charming, there had been starring roles in community theater and high school musicals.
I am always anxious around beautiful people. You should have seen how I shook when, as a teenager, I met Elizabeth Taylor. Not surprisingly, in the hours before Paul’s arrival, I was as edgy as a rooster in heat. When my doorbell rang, a rivulet of nervous perspiration race down my neck.
I opened the door to find him standing on the other side. If possible, he looked even sexier than when I met him at the Roxy: His tight white Tee fought to contain the muscles that strained against the shirt’s thin fabric. His dress shorts revealed the strong, shapely legs that had been covered at the theater.
Paul extended his hand and I shook it, noting how his muscles danced up and down his smooth arm. After giving him a quick tour of my apartment, including a city view that extended all of the way to the Pacific, we sat in the living room, facing one another, and the interview commenced.
It took every last iota of my personal discipline and professionalism to keep my hands off of this platinum-haired god.
As the tape recorder captured the young star’s every word, we talked about his childhood, the early discovery of his sexual orientation, his role in the rock musical, and about playing Prince Charming at Disney World.
Ninety minutes later, the interview was winding down. Among other things, I had learned that Paul was single. Before leaving Orlando for Hollywood, he had ended a brief relationship.
And so, I asked one last question, “What kind of guy do you find most attractive?”
As the question left my lips, Paul leaned into me, his hand coming to rest lightly on my knee. “One exactly like you,” he said – his voice warm.
Surprisingly, I did not fall off of my chair. That’s because I was certain he must be joking. I’m thinking, In what world could a blue-eyed, god such as Paul be romantically interested in a six-foot, Italian-American string bean like me? But searching his sky-blues, I saw that desire and sincerity filled them. What’s more, while I was gazing into Paul’s eyes, his hand had traveled north to my upper thigh.
And so it began. That weekend, we had our first date at a Hollywood Italian restaurant – an early meal before Paul high-tailed it to the theater. We would have many such early dinners.
And then there was a weekend getaway: a gay resort in Palm Springs. Paul’s absence from The Roxy gave his talented understudy an opportunity to shine, and I had the sexy time of my life.
The reality of dating Paul was as exciting as my fantasy had been. What’s more, when I was with Paul, he made me feel less ordinary and plain.
Meantime the publication for which I had interviewed Paul put him on the magazine’s cover. He was not simply a cover element: his was the sole cover image.
Thereafter, whenever I visited the publication’s office, someone or another would joke: “I guess you know what it takes around here to get on the cover.” Then indicating me, the joker would throw his punch. “You must crawl between the sheets with that one.”
The joke was crude, and at my expense, but I loved it. I laughed as heartily as everyone else. Having bedded this young star substantially increased my cachet.
Paul and I loved our fling. But the deeper feelings necessary to morph a fling into something more meaningful and permanent were not present. What’s more, an actor spouse was not for me. I did not want to partner with someone whose career frequently took him away from hearth and home – often for long periods of time.
When our fling ended, there were no regrets or sadness. Our fling had simply run its course. It had been well flung.
And I’m giving the last words to the legendary Broadway composer, Bob Merrill, and his lyrics for “Flings” from New Girl in Town, the musical version of “Anna Christie.”
“Flings. Flings is wonderful things. But they have got to be flung by the young.”