Diaries 1

Diaries 2

Diaries 3

Diaries 4

Diaries 5

Diaries 6

Diaries 7

99' Top Picks


It was sometime last Spring that I left the message on Buc's answering machine, asking about his upcoming playdates for "the season" on Fire Island. And of course I got his standard outgoing message. "This is Buc," he would begin, with that hard emphasis on his name.  The first few times I ever called him, I remember being intimidated by that greeting.  He sounded so tough, even as he apologized for his prolonged delays in getting back to people.  But once I got to know him, I actually looked forward to calling and hearing that reassuringly familiar opening.  And I always got to hear it because Buc adamantly resisted email and the internet.  And in my experience, he never picked up the phone.  

The evening after leaving my message I came home to one of Buc's long rambling voicemails, one that had to be carried over to a second call when my machine finally cut him off.  He explained that he would be playing a tea dance at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove over one holiday weekend and an afternoon party (which he had been playing for many years) the day after "the big beach party" in the Pines. He indicated they would be very different parties, with very different venues and crowds.  And so if I ended up coming, I should make my choice accordingly.

I had never been to Fire Island, and I had a lot of mixed feelings about doing so.  But I knew that Susan Morabito would likely be playing most of the big weekends.  And that Michael Fierman was not playing nearly as much as he used to.  And to me Fire Island was all about the classics, so I wanted to pick the week when I could hear the greatest number of my favorite old school dj's.  I confirmed my hunch that the "big beach party" was the Pines Party that had replaced the GMHC Morning Party.  I had heard a recording of Robbie Leslie's Pines Party 2000 performance and thought it was quite wonderful.  And I discovered that Pines Party 2001 would be dj'd by Warren Gluck, who I thought had just given one of those performances of a lifetime at the Saint-at-Large Black Party.  I sent Robbie Leslie an email asking if he would be playing in 2001.  He sent back an email indicating probably not, but he strongly encouraged me to go.

I decided I would do so and immediately booked the flight.  Then, after reviewing the "accommodations" listings in the gay travel guides at A Different Light bookstore, I booked a room at the Cherry Grove Beach Hotel.  It sounded unpretentious, and I discovered that other than very expensive private house rentals, there were not a lot of commercial lodgings in gay Fire Island.  I also saw where the hotel was connected to the Ice Palace, which I knew as not only a famous disco from the 1970s, but also as the place where Buc told me he had played a very rousing and successful closing party to the previous summer's Fire Island season. It all seemed perfect.  As a marginal Jew, I had never been to Israel. But as a devoted gay dance partier, I would at last make my pilgrimage to the gay Promised Land.

Buc had given me a phone number of the organization I needed to call in order to get tickets to his party.  I called, and it was a non-profit group in the City.  The guy who answered the phone was very polite, but explained that the party was a private benefit and only hosts - major donors to the charity - could get tickets.  I said I was a friend of Buc's and that Buc had told me to call.  The guy took down my information and said they would need to check with Buc and get back to me.  After not hearing anything for about a week or so, I called back and told my story to a different (and also very friendly) guy, who said he didn't know anything about it.  But he suggested that I call Buc and ask him to directly call the foundation and request that I be allowed to buy tickets.

When I called Buc's machine the next morning, the message said he was in DC, but to leave word and he would get back.  My message went something like this:  "Hey, Buc, this is kind of embarrassing.  Here I am at 44 still trying to wrangle tickets to gay dance parties where I suspect I am really not wanted.  But why quit now."  Then I quickly explained my situation and asked if he could help.

That same day I got a voicemail from Buc in DC.  I was comforted by his hearty laugh, and he said he was amused at my predicament.  Then he told me who to call and assured me it would be no problem getting tickets.  "It's really quite simple," he said.  "When I am the dj, they let my friends come to the party.  And if they don't, then guess what?  I don't play.  Why, you ask?  Because I can...."

The next day I got my tickets.  And that was that.


As I always like to do, I arrived in New York City a few days before the main event.  That allows me to exalt once again in the wonderful sensations that only New York City can provide.  And it gives me time for the only form of shopping I truly adore - hitting the record stores, specifically Heartbeat.  

Friday afternoon my dancing buddy and I joined the other clearly identifiable revelers at a jam-packed Penn Station.  New York had just had an excruciating heat wave, and I had never experienced that sensation of the City just completely disgorging its population for a summer weekend.  It seemed everyone who could flee was doing so.  But I heard that a summer storm was headed our way.  Sure enough, when we disembarked from the train it was raining.  And by the time the ferry started heading out over the bay, it was a full on downpour with thunder and lightening.  I insisted on sitting in the front of the boat facing forward, so I could turn my back on civilization as we headed out to the Island.  But when we reached the dock at Cherry Grove, I found we got more than I bargained for.  The power in town had just gone completely out.  So my dancing buddy and I did the only logical thing - we headed straight for the nearest bar, where we drank as fast we could before the beer got warm.

Cherry Grove was in a state of chaos.  We were cold and wet.  Nothing was working, and everyone was running around carrying flickering candles.  And the bar was filled with a motley crew of heavy drinking older gay men and lesbians, laughing in that way that people do when they have had a few too many.  The whole Fire Island experience was just not getting off to a good start at all.  We weren't sure what to do.  Then we overhead somebody say, "I hear they have power in the Pines."  And when on further inquiry we learned that there might also be a tea dance in the Pines, I figured, "Bingo!"  Moreover, my purchase of a host package of tickets to Buc's party entitled us to attend a private welcome party at what sounded like an exclusive Pines residence.  My dancing buddy needed to stay in the Grove to meet his boyfriend, who was coming out on the last ferry.  So we decided that I would go to the Pines and we would meet up in front of the Pavilion at a designated hour.

I enjoyed my first water taxi just like a kid on his maiden voyage to Disneyland. As the boat sped out into the ocean, the trip to Fire Island seemed full of renewed promise.  But as we started coming into the Pines Harbor, I found myself feeling a growing anxiety.  Oceanfront mansions, yachts, a meatrack of wall-to-wall muscleboys.  My long-romanticized Jerusalem suddenly appeared to be nothing more than another gay Babylon devoted to Youth, Money and Sex.  Not that Babylon doesn't have its good points.  It was just not at all what I had expected.  Or come for.

As it turned out, the tea dance had just ended, and the crowd was moving over en masse to the Pavilion for cocktails.  This became my introductory lesson to the fine distinctions between "high tea" and "low tea." Meanwhile, armies of young men were pushing wagons loaded to capacity with very expensive foods from the gourmet cantina.  The whole scene was just too much for me.  So I crossed over to the ocean side, walked along the sand dunes and listened to the Sea.  I stayed there for well over an hour until it was time to meet up with my friends back at the Pavilion.  "You let David go to the Pines alone!" was apparently the scolding my dancing buddy received from his boyfriend.  In any case I was in no mood to brave the exclusive "host welcome party" and we returned to the Grove.  Where the lights had returned.

Despite the setbacks, I remained hopeful for the weekend.  I had come for the music and at the Pines Harbor I found a flyer announcing that in addition to the parties I already knew about (Gluck on Saturday night; Buc on Sunday; Susan Tuesday night), Michael  Fierman and Robbie Leslie would both be playing t-dances.  I was stunned.  Here I was, my first trip to Fire Island, and I was going to get to hear all five of the dj's I considered the founders of the modern gay dance Circuit. 

And sure enough, Saturday night things started to turn around.  Michael Fierman played one of the most incredible 3-hour sets of tea dance music I have ever heard.  There was scarcely a crowd for the first hour, but by the final hour the scene inside the restaurant/bar was near pandemonium.  All hands were waving in the air.  People were dancing atop chairs.  It was, quite simply, a Disco Riot.  I was in heaven.  And that night was more of the same.  It was Playful Warren Gluck, as opposed to the Maestro Warren Gluck from the Black Party.  And playful worked for me, seeing as how I was in a 16-year old girl's silver sparkled stretch bikini, trying to dance while balancing an enormous disco ball on my head.  Fortunately, we left around 3 in the morning, so we could get some sleep.  And be ready for Buc's party the next day.

Buc had told me to be sure to come to his party early.  But not that he needed to.  My favorite parts of a dance party are frequently the beginning and the end.  I have never felt any need to arrive socially late.  To the contrary, if one of my favorite artists is at the turntables, I like, whenever possible, to hear the first and final notes.

And in Buc's case it was much more than that.  For Buc, in a way that was not true of anyone else I had ever met on the gay dance party scene, had become a friend.  I am not sure how that happened.  I am pretty shy to begin with.  And then I have a tendency to put people I admire on a pedestal, which tends to become an obstacle to intimacy.  But I think what happened in Buc's case was that he decided he liked me. And while he had a very healthy ego and pride, he wasn't much interested in being on any pedestal.  And so in his very forthright manner, starting when I met him at the Palm Springs White Party in 1999, he instead offered what, for me, is that most wonderful and elusive of gifts:  genuine adult male friendship.

We were among the first to arrive at Buc's party.  It was at Jim Pepper's huge compound.  And I had to go exploring to find Buc.  But when I did, I was greeted by that wonderful huge smile.  And that salutation I often get from guys who genuinely like me.  I've never had a nickname, but what guys do is combine my first and last name into one word.  "Hi, Davidkarnes!" boomed Buc.  And there he was.  The Music Man, swaying to the beat of his own tunes.  Happy as a clam.  Even though almost nobody was there yet.  And the weather was being most uncooperative.  But it was Buc's party.  And he was having a time of it.

I must confess the party was a bit of a disappointment for me.  The music was lush and gorgeous and filled with layered beauty one rarely hears on the Circuit.  It would have been perfect for a lazy and sultry Fire Island sunny afternoon.  But it was cold and rainy.  And quite apart from that, I was distracted by my own personal issues relating to Fire Island, my friends, a lot of stuff that had nothing to do with the music or the party.  I usually try to always say goodbye to my favorite dj's.  But while I stayed to the end of the party, I think I only made the most cursory of farewells to Buc.  Buc's party had been the centerpiece of my first visit to Fire Island, but I remember feeling in a funk when it was over.


The next 48 hours of my Fire Island visit - Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday afternoon - remain a blur. Robbie Leslie's tea dance was also sabotaged by the weather.  But Robbie made the most of it, playing "Here Comes the Rain Again" at the most appropriate moment.  Other than that, what I mostly remember is constantly walking back and forth between the Ocean and the Bay in the Pines, trying to get a sense of the place.  Trying to connect.  But failing.  I was enchanted by the trees, the absence of cars, and that incredible system of suspended wooden walkways.  But the "community" seemed to me like one of those rich gated Southern California housing developments transported to a rustic pine tree setting.  "Rolling Hills Estates meets Lake Arrowhead, with a twist of Laguna Beach," as they might say at a Hollywood pitch meeting.  I just couldn't see the attraction.  And compounding matters was my decision to re-read Andrew Holleran's "Dancer From the Dance."  I had read it when first published in 1978, but had found it very upsetting, although I never really remembered why. Now I remembered.  I happen to think Holleran is our best contemporary gay writer, and the book a work of genius.  Nonetheless, this celebrated classic of gay fiction essentially used its protagonist, Malone, to chronicle the empty shallowness and superficiality of urban gay life.  I was absolutely astounded to read the verdict in the final pages:  Malone was "in the end a circuit queen."  I had no idea we even had that expression in 1978.  But there it was, in black and white.  And here I was on Fire Island more than 20 years later.  And it seemed like nothing had changed at all.   

I figured I had another opportunity to salvage my Fire Island visit with Susan Morabito's Tuesday night party at the Pavilion.  Susan often has a very classical three-act dramatic approach to her performances.  In this case, the first act was a very spirited warm up with a lot of rousing disco-flavored house classics.  Her middle act was filled with a lot of current hits and crowd-pleasers.  But her third act is usually the wild card.  And that night Susan decided to take the crowd on an extended down trip that I found quite beautiful. It was the kind of journey that I wanted from Fire Island.  And I had planned it as my one night of being out dancing until dawn.  My dancing buddy had to get back to the city, so he caught the first ferry back to the mainland (his boyfriend had returned on Sunday).  So starting around 5:30 am I was for the first time alone on Fire Island.  Just me and the other hard core dancers, and Susan playing a deep morning groove as the sun was rising.  

Around 6:00 a.m. Susan surprised us all by suddenly announcing that she was being required to shut the party down.  I was totally amazed.  I had noticed they had closed the bar, even though there was a good-sized number of people still dancing in the club.  And it had seemed to me that the party was just at a point where Susan might be ready to suddenly brighten the floor with some Fire Island morning music classics.  But to my horror, the music suddenly stopped.  I was at my first all night party at the Pavilion, which I considered the last remaining Mother Ship of the classical all-night gay dance party in general, and of the morning music tradition in particular.  But when all was said and done, it was just another for-profit club, whose policy was to close up shop once the bar revenue dwindled and the staff anxious to get home.

At one point early in the party I noticed that Buc was visiting with Susan in the booth.  But I didn't think any more of it.  When the party was over, I felt lonely and sad and retreated to a far bench in the courtyard outside the Pavilion.  From there I watched the various dancers exit. Some to go back to their rentals. Some to await the next ferry.  Some just high with no destination at all.  I must have been sitting there for a good 45 minutes when all of a sudden Buc came out.  He came down the stairs, chatted with some friends, and then came over and sat down next to me.

We chatted.  He said that some dj's were getting together at somebody's house, but that he was instead going to go over to a friend's place for morning coffee.  I asked if I could be his date, and, as an answer, he gave me one of his big glorious smiles.  A couple of other people he knew joined us and we journeyed to one of the far ends of Fire Island Pines.  After a few false starts we found the house of his friend.

Buc's friend was a 50-ish gay man, who said he had inherited the house many years before when his lover died. The sun was finally fully out and shining brightly into every room.  And every room was filled with the most wonderful bouquets of fresh flowers.  We all drank coffee and ate some light snacks and talked about nothing.  And it was really quite wonderful.  I remember voicing some of my more distressing impressions of Fire Island Pines.  And I remember our host, who seemed a very kind and gentle man, giving me the sweetest smile.  A smile that said, "I understand what you're saying; but there is more to the story than that; you need to push yourself to see beyond it."  I remember telling our host how beautiful I found his home. And I remember specifically telling him that I felt his home had a most wonderful spirit that I couldn't quite describe.  At which point he looked me straight in the eye and said, "It's not the house.  It's the spirit of all of the wonderful people who come here and pass through.  Just like you.  And that's why you're always a guest in my home.  Stop by anytime you come to Fire Island."

Buc was a center of attention, and so I kept my distance during the coffee.  But after a couple of hours or so, Buc said it was time for him to leave.  And then he came over to me and asked if I would like to go for a walk.  I said sure.

I thought I had crossed back and forth over every walk way in the Pines at least three or four times.  But Buc somehow managed to take me into some nooks and crannies and dead ends that I had  missed.  And they were the most incredible places.  What Buc showed me were homes that had the most beautiful gardens.  Japanese gardens.  Ponds with lily pads.  Rich flower beds.  The master work of gay men using their incredible talents to combine Art with Nature.  Buc loved nature, and he loved to photograph it.  He told me on a couple of different occasions that he was very proud of his photography and wanted to do exhibits and be considered a serious photographer.  And he told me that his photographs were almost always of nature, rarely of people.  I had obtained some music sets from him which featured (as cover art) some of the most gorgeous of his photographs.  They were almost always of flowers.  In the fullest of bloom.

Buc made me see Fire Island in a way that I never otherwise would have.  He was fearless.  He would just open the gate to the most expensive private estates, and we would tromp on in, as he pointed out this tree and that flower bed.  "We'll just say, 'Oh, guess we got the wrong house' in case we run into anybody," he explained, with a shrug.  But we didn't run into a soul.  Toward the end of the tour he took me to a very large modern house on an enormous lot.  "And this is where Michael Fierman and his crew stayed every summer up until this year," he explained.  He showed me the pool area, recounted some of the great parties that had taken place there, and then exclaimed, "But oh my God, with all that glass, it got so unbelievably hot in that house during the summer.  It could really be unbearable!"

And then my tour was over.  Buc said he needed to pack up, and asked if I wanted to walk him back to the Pepper compound.  I said sure.  And then we went back to his room and for the next couple of hours talked intensely and non-stop.  About music, of course.

I am obsessed with dance music, but rarely have anybody to talk to about it.  And so Buc was my perfect partner, because he was a great conversationalist who knew everything about music.  Or at least all of the music about which I cared.  And Buc was always completely engaged, especially that morning.  When I said I was getting into 80s music, he wanted specifics.  And when I said Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys, he wanted to know which songs, which mixes.  When I said I was mostly buying classic disco, he grilled me.  "Which records?"  I said I had fallen in love with Suzi Lane's "Harmony."  "Oh, that incredible pink LP where she has her arms draped around herself?"  Yes, I confirmed, and he beamed with approval.  When I said that through the influence of Robbie Leslie's tape club I was getting particularly hooked on 70's disco/soul, he again pressed for specifics.  Hodges, James & Smith got a complete vote of approval.  And when I told him that I was especially smitten with one of Robbie's compilations that included a rare extended mix of Diana Ross' "I Ain't Been Licked Yet," Buc perked up.  "I love that record...Extended mix...I would very much like to hear that!" And I told him I would make him a copy.  Best of all, when I told him I would be dj'ing my first party (for a friend's opening of her backyard patio in LA), he didn't say a word.  He just smiled ever so warmly with a grin that said, without being the least bit campy:  "You, go girl!"

Just as Buc always wanted my opinions, he was always very candid and straightforward about expressing his own.  About music.  About other dj's.  About the Circuit.  More than any other dj I followed, it was always my sense that Buc was the most uncompromising.  I know that dj's have to please the crowd.  But it always seemed to me that Buc only played music he really believed in.  And he always had very strong beliefs.  And he expected me to have my own, even when we differed.  He would agree with me, for example, that almost all dj's were fools in not realizing that Sylvester's "Don't Stop" and "Can't Stop Dancing" are much better records than "Do You Wanna Funk?"  But then he would go on to sternly advise that "I Who Have Nothing" was nonetheless Sylvester's best.  And when I hinted that I was having a hard time getting into the whole "Body & Soul" thing that he so adored, he seemed sympathetic.  He told me specifically which compilations to get.  And insisted that I check out "Body & Soul" the next time I was in New York on a Sunday night, reeling off a whole of list of dj's he admired who were connected to that scene.  "You know, the best dj's are not all gay," he admonished with raised eyebrows.

Emboldened by our discussion of "Body & Soul," I took the opportunity to talk about House music, and confessed the fact that when I first rediscovered dance music in the early 90's, and identified myself with High Energy, I actually thought "House was the enemy."  I named some house styles in particular to which I had objected. "That music's not House," Buc scoffed, "it's just obnoxious."  And then I recounted how I had slowly moved beyond my "High Energy" identity.  Under Leslie I was becoming a student of classic disco.  And from Fierman I had learned Progressive sounds.   And I explained that it was Buc's music and parties that had shown me the incredible beauty and uplifting spirit of House, and made me realize how wonderfully it could be integrated with other styles that I liked.  "I'm really glad to hear that," he said, with a very soft smile.

That morning on Fire Island was one of only a few occasions where I got to spend a large amount of time with Buc.  But each of those occasions was an incredibly special experience - an opportunity to discuss the canon with one of its high priests.  And in particular with a priest who was so gracious, had such integrity and treated me like an equal.  It was very much part of Buc's magic that when I was with him he made me feel like I was the most important person in the world.  "No, I think I am going to stay put, I am here with my friend Davidkarnes," he said in response to more than one of that morning's phone callers, who were inviting him to visit at some undoubtedly fabulous house in the Pines.  And each time he gave me a smile as he said it.  And when I was with Buc in those situations I always felt like I was a safe protected cub in a den in which his magnificent presence and spirit just filled the room.  "I know all these other dj's are also Leos," he told me that morning, "but I am a real Leo, a real Lion."  And he was right.  Because if he liked you, even his roar made you feel good and safe. All warm and fuzzy with the King of the Forest.

Finally, Buc said he really needed to pack.  His ferry was leaving in just a couple of hours. He was so gracious and gentle in letting me know it was time for me to go.  And so we hugged and said goodbye.
But I couldn't get Buc off my mind.  Our time together -- talking, visiting with his friend, sharing in the gorgeous beauty of Fire Island -- had deeply moved me.  I had bought a disposable camera in the Grove in order to get some photographs of me in my Pines Party regalia for my 2001 year-end Holiday card.  The prior year I had sent out a scandalous card and wanted to maintain the tradition.  My dancing buddy's boyfriend had snapped quite a few pictures of me in advance of the Saturday night party, but I knew I had some frames left.  So I returned to the Grove, grabbed my camera, and headed back to the Pines.

I retraced the steps of my tour with Buc and took pictures of the key places.  Mostly of flowers.  When I was down to my last few frames I realized that it was only minutes away from the departure of Buc's ferry. And so I decided to go down to the Pines Harbor and see him off.  There was a large crowd of people leaving (I think many people had stayed for Susan's party).  And so it was easy to keep myself hidden in the throng.  That way I, like a commando paparazzo, could surprise Buc with a no-notice snapshot.

At long last I saw Buc heading toward the waiting area, carrying his bags and records.  A lot of people knew him and said hello.  And just as I was about to take his picture, a shirtless tattooed guy with his own camera seemed to have the same idea.  But I decided that was my moment.  I tapped Buc from behind, and as he was looking back over his shoulder, I bellowed, "Buc, what a photo opportunity!" and received one of those wonderful smiles, just as I snapped the picture.  "I enjoyed our morning together, Davidkarnes!" he laughed loudly.  And this time we really said goodbye.
I had one more day on Fire Island, and it was so pleasant.  The sun was now fully out, and my half-day with Buc and his friends had changed my entire attitude toward the place.  When I was in LA I had told a major A-list circuit boy that I was going to spend 6 days on Fire Island. "That is probably a couple of days too many," he glibly responded.  But he couldn't have been more wrong.  It was only in those last two days - after the parties had ended - that I got to really feel the magic of the place.

Then the hour came to head home.  This time around I picked a seat on the ferry so that I could face backwards.  I wanted to savor every last moment as I watched Fire Island fade into the sea, resisting until the last possible moment my destination - the mainland and workaday world.  But as we left the dock I realized that I had miscalculated.  I was facing the wrong way.  My back was to the island.  I considered switching positions. Then I decided it was just as well.  Time to leave it all behind.  My Fire Island journey was over.


When I got back to LA I had my roll of film developed.  I found that my nature pictures came out very average and uninspired.  But my picture of Buc was very special.  His face and spirit filled the frame.  But it turned out that the picture was actually the last one on the roll, and not only was it over-exposed on that bright sunny day, but the whole right side of it was burned.  I decided that for Christmas I would try to get it cropped and re-developed so that I could send it to Buc as a gift.

During the fall I traded a couple of voicemails with Buc.  For well over a year he had been trying to locate the negative of a picture taken from the dj booth of his "Sweet 16" GMHC Fire Island Morning Party in 1998.  I had seen a copy of that picture and very much wanted to blow it up poster-size so I could frame it on my living room wall.  Around late September Buc left word on my machine that he had at last found it and wanted to know what size I needed and how much I was willing to spend on the print.  Meanwhile, I had sent him a cd of my Robbie Leslie recording with Diana Ross's "I Ain't Been Licked Yet."  As expected, he loved it. But the cd I sent didn't have track markings, and so in his message he asked if I could make another cd with just that one song.  I tried a couple of times, but couldn't get the equipment to work.  I left Buc a message some time in October that I wasn't having much luck, but would keep at it.

And that was my last contact with Buc.  I am on the "partylist" email distribution, and I remember thinking about Buc when I saw the listing for him playing the Toronto Leather ball in late November.  He told me several times that he really liked playing for the older leather crowd.  He had loved the time he played Jito Garcia's "Magnitude" party in San Francisco.  And he said that he always used to love playing at the old Probe in LA because it was filled with what he considered the most stellar collection of "big manly men."

Meanwhile, because of "September 11" among other reasons, the party that was supposed to be my first dj gig was canceled.  And so I decided to make a cd set instead.  I called it "the Recovery Party" and made the decision that I would devote it to classic disco.  All year Robbie Leslie's tape club had been introducing me to new songs from that era.  And I was especially influenced from recordings I heard of Robbie's first and last performances at the old 12 West club in New York City.  I came to believe that the crucial period spanned by those performances - 1979 through the end of 1980, the years when I had first come out and discovered the dancefloor - was somehow very important in integrating the 70's disco/soul sound with a new Euro-influenced sensibility.  And in my cd set - particularly the middle of it - I very much wanted to pay tribute to that era and that music.  Making mix tapes, however, is hard for me, seeing as how I don't know how to count, much less match, the beats.  Every dj has told me that the basic techniques of mixing are really quite easy.  And every dj has resorted to the same metaphor in making the point:  "It's just like riding a bicycle; as soon as you get the hang of it, you never forget."  But I have never gotten that hang, so my project became very all-consuming.  

In December it was announced that my company was being sold.  I am a lawyer, so that meant a lot of work.  Between the cd set and my job, I was very preoccupied.  But just before Christmas I went to my local West Hollywood photo shop to develop my Holiday card and my re-done photo of Buc.   The Holiday card came out great.  But Buc's print came out badly.  The cropping was fine.  But because the picture was over-exposed, the lab over-compensated by making it very dark.  All the shine and sparkle from Buc's face disappeared.  So I took it back for a second time.  And the result was the same.  And now Christmas was past and New Year's right around the corner.  So I went back to the shop and explained the whole saga, my whole trip to Fire Island, the importance of this photo, and why it needed to be right and bright.  The guy at the counter smiled and said he would see what he could do.  My picture should be ready right after the first of the year.

For New Year's I had decided to just go to one party - Susan Morabito and Eddie X at the Mayan.  The Mayan is my favorite venue in Los Angeles, and I actually liked the idea of the big party not being on New Year's Eve itself.  And I was also very excited that I had persuaded a couple of gay women to join me. When I came out in San Francisco I always danced and partied in gender-mixed groups, and I have always thought that mix makes parties more fun.  But these women had not been to a major gay male circuit party, and I was very apprehensive.  "Will there be any women there?" they asked. "The dj," I said.  But they ended up having an incredible time.  As did I.

The next day was New Year's eve.  I had asked my one good friend from work to come over in the afternoon to listen to part of my "Recovery Party."  She was my LA music buddy who had "co-produced" my "Disco Saves" contingent at San Francisco Gay Pride 2000.  And even though her tastes tended more toward rap and hip-hop, I had great respect for her admiration of all good music.  I decided that if she gave the "Recovery Party" her stamp of approval, it would be ready to "go to print."  I played for her the last two segments - the down-trip, which I considered the most important - and she loved it.  So that was that.  I was so content, and so tired, that I went to bed around 10:30, awakened only briefly by the horns and sirens at midnight.  

New Year's Day seemed very inexplicably spiritual to me.  I mostly stayed at home.  And I spent several hours going through my music collection and for the first time ever "weeding it out."  I must have picked out at least 50 12" records, all purchased in the last couple of years, most with 135+ BPMs, that I realized I just truly didn't want.  I am a collector and am very compulsive about my collection.  And in the past whenever I have wanted to improve it, I go out and try to find more good music.  But this time I realized that the best way to improve my collection was not to add to it, but rather to discard.  To get rid of the music I didn't really believe in.  Consistent with my "Recovery Party," I determined that my record collection should only consist of music that liberated, that healed, that inspired. It was like pruning a rose bush or thinning out a flower bed.  

And as for flower beds, my New Year's was also dominated by the most extraordinary display of flowers I have ever had in my home.  I only get fresh cut flowers when family or good friends are coming over, and so I had selected a very verdant display on the day that my lesbian friends arrived.  And they, like I, were absolutely amazed at how intensely the blooms opened as soon as the stems were cut and they landed in fresh water.  By the next day, when my music buddy joined me, the flowers were even more intense, like nothing either of us had ever seen.  And I remember thinking, that last day of the year, that if Buc was there, he would have taken a picture.    


After New Year's it was back to the grind.  And at lunch on Wednesday I went to the shop to see if the latest version of Buc's photograph had come out any better.  To my incredible surprise and delight, I discovered that it had turned out perfectly.  Finally, the photograph captured the beauty of Buc's spirit, as well as that fine summer day when the sun finally decided to come out full force and warm up Fire Island Pines just as it should be warmed.

I had already hunted down the right frame for my present, and so Thursday morning I brought it into work for mailing.  Buc was the only person to whom I had not yet sent my Holiday card, so I enclosed one of those as well.  And then I wrote him a note, wishing him a Happy New Year, enclosing the playlist to my Recovery Party (which I couldn't wait for him to hear), and assuring him that I was still working on getting him the Diana Ross single.  "We Ain't Licked Yet!" I promised.

But just as I was about to seal the package I noticed that under the glass there was a very noticeable dent in the middle of the photograph.  I couldn't believe it.  I had been through so much with this picture, and I didn't understand how it could have gotten there.  And I so wanted it to be perfect.  I was so frustrated that I considered just sending it off.  But then I thought, no, I had a second print at home.  After all of this time, what difference could one more day make.  And then I went to lunch.

When I returned from lunch I had an "urgent" message alerting me to news "regarding a friend."  And that's when I found out that Buc had passed on New Year's Eve.  He had died on that very afternoon while me and my friend had been lost in wonderment at the beauty of flowers and music.  Nature and Art.

Everyone insists that the New York skyline is forever changed, a break that cannot be mended.  I understand the sentiment, but I have not been able to fully relate.  The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, the Statute of Liberty -- that is my New York skyline.  And they remain.  

But in my own private firmament of the heavens -- my celestial skyline -- where great spirits spin the tunes that keep us all in balance, and keep the earth connected to the stars, there is indeed now a void.  One that I don't think can ever be filled.  That is how I feel about Buc's passing.

I am sorry to say that I have, of necessity, fortified my heart over the past decade or so.  The Entertainment Industry.  West Hollywood.  The gay Circuit scene.  These are not arenas for the sensitive or soft-hearted. And over the past several years I have often thought I might actually be forgetting how to cry.  I of course know that tears come naturally to the young, but I had come to believe that by middle age, if you don't use the plumbing, the pipes just kind of rust over.  

These past few days I discovered I was wrong.  

Crying, it seems, even for adults, is just like riding a bicycle.

And life is really very basic.  Buc was our Music Man.  Our Lion.  One of the Founders. 

But he was also my friend.  And he played beautiful, wonderful music.  And treated me with tenderness and respect.  

I am going to miss him terribly.

The only way I can even hope to make it right is to renew more than ever my commitment to all that is best in our Music and our Party.  And that is how I shall try to heal the loss.  And honor that most wonderful of men.  

That shall be my Resolution for 2002.

Los Angeles,

January 7, 2002

Discosound Recovery Party


Dionne Warwicke & The Spinners, Then Came You (Atlantic, 1974)
MFSB, MFSB (CBS, 1975)
Beautiful Bend, Make That Feeling Come Again (T.K., 1978)
Suzi Lane, Harmony (Elektra/Asylum, 1979)
Donna Summer, Dim All the Lights (Casablanca, 1979)
Barry White, Ecstasy (20th Century, 1977)
Ashford & Simpson, Solid (Francois Kevorkian Club)(Capitol, 1984)
Whitney Houston, I Wanna Dance With Somebody (12")(Arista, 1987)
Donna Summer, This Time I Know It's for Real (Atlantic, 1989)
Sharon Redd, In the Name of Love (Prelude, 1982)
The Brothers Johnson, Stomp (A&M, 1980)


Shalamar, The Second Time Around (Solar, 1979)
Loleatta Holloway, Love Sensation (Tom Moulton) (Salsoul, 1980)
Bionic Boogie, Risky Changes (Polydor, 1977)
La Flavour, Mandalay (Sweet City, 1979)
Boris Midney's Evita (RSO, 1979)
The Trammps, That's Where the Happy People Go (Atlantic, 1976)
Technique, Can We Try Again (white label)
Barry White, Let The Music Play (white label)
Sylvester, Don't Stop (Megatone, 1983)
ABC, The Look of Love, Parts III & IV (Phonogram, 1982)


Westside Strutters, Gershwin '79/Rhapsody in Blue (Parachute, 1979)
Salsoul Orchestra, Salsoul: 3001-Introduction (Salsoul, 1978)
Venus Dodson, Night Rider (Jim Burgess)(Warner, 1979)
Brainstorm, Lovin' Is Really My Game (Tabu, 1977)
Three Degrees, Jump the Gun (Ariola, 1980)
Sylvia Love, Extraterrestrial Lover (RCA, 1979)
France Joli, Come to Me (Prelude, 1979)
Gino Soccio, Dancer (Warner, 1979)
Trixie, Electricity (H. Csaznik & E. Sierra)(Brasilia, 1980)
Deborah Washington, Love Shadow (Randy Sills)(Ariola, 1978)
Two Tons of Fun, Earth Can Be Just Like Heaven (Fantasy, 1980)
The Four Seasons, Who Loves You (Warner, 1975)
Cerrone, Love Is Here (Warner, 1977)
Love Unlimited Orchestra, Love's Theme (20th, 1974)


Salsoul Orchestra, Magic Bird of Fire (Salsoul, 1977)
Madonna, Open Your Heart (Extended)(Sire, 1986)
Stevie Wonder, All I Do (white label)
Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, The Love I Lost (DMC, 1997)
Donna Summer, Carry On (Outta Control)(Interhit, 1997)
Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror (Epic, 1987)
Alphaville, Forever Young (Special Extended)(Warner, 1988)
Nightlife Unlimited, Love Is In You (Casablanca, 1979)
Diana Ross, The Boss (J.Simpson & M. Hutchinson)(Motown, 1979)
Lionel Richie, All Night Long (Motown, 1983)
Dolly Parton, Peace Train (Holy Roller)(Flip It, 1997)
Marvin Gaye, Sexual Healing (Club)(CBS, 1982)


The Dream Academy, The Love Parade (12")(Blanco Y Negro, 1985)
Our Tribe, Love Come Home (Dignity Piano)(Atlantic, 1994)
Cyndi Lauper, What's Going On (Long Version)(CBS, 1987)
Etta James, Blowin' in the Wind (Ringwald/Schott)(Disconet, 1983)
Nicolette Larson, Lotta Love (Jim Burgess)(WB, 1978)
Mama Cass, Make Your Own Kind of Music (Yum Club)(MCA, 1997)
Sting, When We Dance (A&M, 1994)
Rose Laurens, American Love (Passion Remix, 1987)
Secret Life, Love So Strong (Original)(Cowboy, 1993)
Deniece Williams, Free (CBS, 1976)
Frankie Knuckles, The Whistle Song (Paul Shapiro)(Virgin, 1991)
Thelma Houston, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning (Motown, 1979)
Carole King, Beautiful (A&M, 1971)