The queers come; they go. All kinds. Tall, dark, fat, thin, manic, depressive, we get ’em. Gay men in shaky relationships. Bisexuals solidly celibate. Lesbians with incest memories. Lesbians sick of listening to incest memories. Trannies sick of hearing from gay people, “I don’t understand. . . .” They all been cutting slack, stepping back, taking crap, giving in. They all want to get for a change. Whew. People got a lot of needs, you know? But queers need the most, if you ask me.
Me? I’m a working girl. Down near I-95 at the Queer Cuddle Brothel. I’m what you might call your “happy hugger.” Cuddling, see, is today’s dirty little secret. People don’t look twice anymore at torture, car wrecks, burning buildings, sexual attacks, genocide — but cuddling is the act that dare not speak its name. It’s clean, it’s safe, and it’s totally shameful — the ideal 21st Century turn-on. We got this blinking rainbow sign out front of the house that says in big, neon letters: “Unconditional Luv 4 Sale.” Draws ’em like flies, too. I got three kids to feed, and these queers are paying my bills.
Let’s say a bunch of upwardly mobile corporate dykes comes in here, fresh from their 9-to-5’s. They look slick and fine in their power suits, and they’re oh so liberated when it comes to newspaper Personals, the bars, and cordless appliances. But inside, they feel sliced up and alone, because, really, how much can you tell your vibrator? It doesn’t have the wherewithal to empathize when you just lost your job and need to clear out of your condo. None of our clientele will look at us in broad daylight, but at night they come here. Just to be held, just to be heard.
And baby, they want us. Even in this “economic downturn,” they want us bad. They spot us nice old lumpy dames, all available and snuggly like Ma shoulda been, hanging out around the upright piano in the parlor. We’re tricked out in our fuzzy bathrobes and floppy slippers, see, hoisting our mugs of cocoa, some of us with curlers in our hair. Couple of us are knitting maybe, or chuckling warmly at Garfield in the funny paper. Me, I got my leg up on the coffee table, reading People magazine and giving my varicose veins some downtime. With my support hose unhooked, I exude comfort. Hot, steamy, forbidden comfort. They all want raw intimacy with a matron.
One by one, they pick us out. I get one of my favorites, a little activist dude from something called Queers for Economic Justice. We go upstairs to the rooms with them. We loosen our robes, open up our arms, and let the queers inside. No sex; no therapy. We just cuddle and listen. We witness the fact that they survive. And hold them. “There, there,” we occasionally say, “There, there.” In a rocking chair, humming “What a Wonderful World” or “Stand By Me,” I can project a hell of a lot of warmth, for the right price.
Oh, you hear the stories, the reasons why they come around. “My girlfriend doesn’t satisfy me,” says one lesbo, pointing to her heart, “down here.” Somebody else tells me he wants to die because the gay movement won’t take a stand on what’s happening in Gaza. I may not understand it all, but yeah, I hear it all. They cry, they sob, then they quiet down and listen to our hearts beating patiently through the terrycloth of our bathrobes. And pay by the hour. We also get Union benefits. A health plan. Dental.
Some of them lesbians from the socialist 1970s have been at us to use a “sliding fee scale.” They’re the ones with the dumb “special requests,” like asking us to dress up as famous historical “nurturers.” Eleanor Roosevelt, Emma Goldman, Sojourner Truth, they’re standard. The needier ones want to see Yemaya the Ocean Goddess or Melissa Etheridge. But we gotta draw Lines: no Virgin Mary impersonating, and no cuddling cops for free. We run a clean house.
Actually, business has never been better since Barack Obama asked that Rick Warren dude to do the invocation at the presidential Inauguration. That really upset the queers. Seems lots of our clientele have “trust issues” about having supported somebody who said he was “all for our rights, except the right to get married, and now look what he’s blah-blah-blah.” Those queers would never make it in this business. They don’t understand the basics. You want Trust? You got to pay for it.
Someday, when I save up enough, I’m going to get out of this one-horse town, take the kids, and open up cuddle franchises all over the map. Later, after I graduate college, I plan to design the first-ever virtual intimacy machine. Then I’ll be able to lay off most of my staff, attract all the major investors, and save the whole goddamn economy. What can I say, it ain’t a perfect world, you know? Not just queers — people everywhere are begging to be touched. You just gotta watch they don’t screw you, is all.
Susie Day lives in New York City where she writes a humor column for feminist and gay publications. She has also written on U.S. political prisoners and labor issues and thinks her girlfriend, Laura Whitehorn, is hot stuff. Can’t get enough of Susie? Read other pieces by Susie Day in MRZine: Susie Day, “Fugitive Offers Reward for Rumsfeld’s Capture” (22 July 2005); “Street Life of a Mad Activist” (28 July 2005); “Waiting for Karl Rove” (9 August 2005); “A Child’s Primer of Intelligent Design” (24 August 2005); “The Flood This Time” (19 September 2005); “Things That Rise Up in the Night: A Howl-oween Treat” (18 October 2005); “President Salutes Anonymous Red-Baiter” (14 November 2005); “Conspicuous Consumption of a Mad Activist” (11 December 2005); “2006: The Year in Horrorscopes” (9 January 2006); “Visiting Herman” (7 February 2006); “Savior Self” (6 March 2006); “Pinko Plague Panics President” (4 April 2006); “Seymour Hersh and the American Brain” (2 May 2006); “Identity, Class, and Bite Me, David Horowitz” (30 May 2006); “Bugging Hillary” (19 June 2006); “Back in the USSA” (24 July 2006); “News from the Back of the Front” (21 August 2006); “Barbie at the Barricades” (20 September 2006); “How to Stay Out of Gitmo” (18 October 2006); “Ted Haggard and the Church of the Down-Low” (13 November 2006); “Police Gun Down Another Rich White Man” (11 December 2006); “Consuming Karl” (6 February 2007); “Anna Nicole Smith Bombs Iran” (6 March 2007); “Peter Pace Porks a Peck of Pinko Perverts” (2 April 2007); “Jesus Christ Weds Pat Robertson” (30 April 2007); “U.S. Troops Out of . . . ME” (30 May 2007); “Killer Lesbians Mauled by Killer Court, Media Wolf Pack” (27 June 2006); “Apartheid Americana” (23 July 2007); “Peace Movement Overthrows Government, Cheney Dies” (20 August 2007); “Honey, I Shrank the Military (Or, Who Put the ‘Pet’ in ‘Petraeus’?)” (21 September 2007); “Poppin’ Fresh Declares Martial Law” (13 November 2007); “Miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue: Santa Confirmed as FBI Head” (10 December 2007); “Croakin’ on Hudson” (7 January 2008); “Our Blob in the White House” (4 February 2008); “The Revolution Will Not Be Workshopped” (3 March 2008); “Ask Ms. Liberty: Advice for the War-Torn” (1 April 2008); “Gone with the ‘W'” (27 May 2008); “Sex sans the City (A Post-Marxist Preview)” (23 June 2008); “Jesse Helms and the Theater of the Depraved” (27 July 2008); “Pre-Election Attack of the Pro-Life Killer Fetus!” (15 September 2008); “The Mad Activist’s Declaration of Codependence” (13 October 2008); “Obama Picks Bill Ayers as Secretary of Defense!” (10 November 2008); and “Proposition 1984” (8 December 2008).