Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Yesterday was lively. Many in the St. Louis bar scene are still livid about my exit interview with former Rehab owner Jim Weckmann-- particularly the part where he said he didn't like a certain drag queen because she always has something hateful to say (her name is no secret, nor is her proclivity for negative posts. I'm just tired of seeing and hearing the name right now).
I've noticed the people most upset tend to be under thirty, while those who don't understand what the fuss is about skew older. I'll give more thought to that in the coming days, but my initial theory is older gays are simply more thick-skinned and used to sparring. Back when there was no place to be yourself other than a gay bar, people often found themselves in the same stagnant ponds week in and week out, and those ponds were filled with cutting wit and cattiness. It took a lot to rattle people.
As someone who's so taken by the drama and theatre of St. Louis that I wrote a book about it, the current turmoil is certainly interesting, and despite my low opinion of the negative queen, I can't help but be somewhat impressed with how she managed to make a sprawling piece critical of so many -- even the magazine that published it, all about her. I'm not being facetious. She's an entertainer, and as such it's entirely appropriate to take command of the stage. Kudos.
Back to Jim Weckmann. What's been missing in all the hysteria around the interview is context. Jim is someone who is well-known for always expressing an opinion about something (and sometimes walking it back a bit), and is also known for being completely okay with friends disagreeing with him. The fact such an outspoken man was so full of pent-up thoughts was something I found surprising and amusing. The fact that he had strong opinions, however, should have come as a surprise to nobody in St. Louis.
Another bit of context is that the queen in question has also been on the roster of a local media organization and has always felt free to express her opinions, particularly when heckling Vital Voice over Facebook, or giving static to people she doesn't like while working the door at the bar.
Mikey, the city's serial domestic abuser whose own mother has a protective order against him, has championed the cause of keeping the controversy going, which is the saddest part of all this. Despite the fact Mikey stole from Weckmann while an employee, Jim seemed to feel like a father-figure to him and was often angered at me for writing about the abuse of his mother and boyfriends.
In time we all learn that not all of our investments bear fruit, sometimes our loyalty doesn't pay off, and you also learn the hard way that people will kick you when you're down (or when they perceive you're down).
Surprisingly Colin Murphy, who I've had a strained relationship with for several years, called people out for their duplicity in promoting my book one minute and calling for my head the next.
In addition to Murphy's comment, many friends came to my defense including Desmond Johnson, the man the city believed was dead for three years.
Thanks to all who've checked in on me, I'm completely fine other than feeling sincere regret for not either editing Weckmann's interview way back, holding it until after he was safely in the country, or both. I knew it would be explosive, but didn't realize it would drive people to the point of threatening to hurt him. Jim is a good man and a loyal friend -- qualities hard to find.
But for me personally, I've weathered storms so much bigger than this in San Francisco, and for me this was nothing more than making sure I wasn't a liability for my friends at Vital Voice. I've got a book to promote, an audible to record, and other goals to pursue.
Thanks for reading.
Posted by Chris Andoe at 5:10 AM