ALEGRIA Halloween 3: Boyz and their Toyz

by Mark Thompson

EDGE Style & Travel Editor

Wednesday November 1, 2006

NEW YORK-- Well, hello. Looks like there's a new circuit tradition in town. If Sunday night was any indication, Alegria Halloween, now in its third incarnation, has become one of those must-do, gotta-get-there, gay holiday travel events. Mark your calendars.

With an earlier start than the usual Alegria-eight p.m. instead of eleven-the floor at Crobar is packed by midnight, with more ghouls and vampires pouring in by the minute. Cameras in hand, we park ourselves along the entrance hall (rechristening it Paparazzi Row) and catch the parade: drag queens and divas, the Grim Reaper and football players, courtiers and gladiators, bunny rabbits galore.

What is it our costumes say about us, about our alter egos? There's something endearing about watching boyz in costume primp for their close-ups. It's a visual world, Madge-and everyone's got an image to sell. They check their mugs on our cameras-and then ask for another shot, a second chance. More glory. Everyone's famous on Halloween.

And this club, Crobar New York, is such the perfect vamp showcase with its endless runways and grand entrance staircases. Furthermore, Crobar New York is a space so well-maintained and well-staffed that it's a paragon (Hey, Abel!) of professionalism. A club that gives nightcrawlers the respect we deserve. Hey, we're nocturnal, so what of it? Give us some place pretty to play.

And Alegria does exactly that. In a world where it sometimes seems that standards erode daily, there's something gratifying about a party which takes pride in its position at the top of the party heap. As soon as you walk in to Crobar on an Alegria night, you know you're in good hands.

Ric Sena is punctilious, not a detail overlooked. Set design, for example. Last night, there's a huge wire metal skull in phosphorescent green hanging over the dance floor, surrounded by four phosphorescent green wire skeletons swinging on swings hung from the ceiling. A skeletons' playground. And at room's far end, the Alegria Halloween cemetery with its two stone columns flanking an iron gate guarding four coffins with hinged doors. Stone crosses on the graves and the smell of incense burning. The bartenders are scarred, wrapped in bloody gauze, their faces oozing.

And Abel's on it, all over it, already. Eerie and haunting, he's got the wailing women and the clomping of men, marching. And there goes Ric, who looks like he's just narrowly survived a night with Wolverine (and now that we think about it: match made in heaven). Ghoulish scars rip across his face and chest-and yet he looks remarkably sated, ready for round two.

If you think of the circuit as an Olympic sport-and why not-then perhaps it's not so different from the luge-the stamina, the holding on, the speed, and the thrill, the rush of the crowd, the endurance required. And this is a lollapalooza of a run. The floor crowded with cowboys and ballerinas and a surfeit of Tiggerbear ears.

All of us dancing to "Relight My Fire," a song which just happens to be more than 25 years old, and yet given what Abel's doing to it right now, it's fresher than that tall, cool Asian hottie in the glasses over there. Come over here. Now. Want your picture taken?

Because we can't "Be Without You." You got to "put your hands up," boy. "Don't You (Want My Love)?" Oh, yes. Yes, we do. And here it is, that song which five years ago blew Abel up out of Miami and onto the world stage. And the boyz are still having it. Loving it, lapping it up. We are!

It's bone-shaking music as the stage is cleared and slowly the doors of the coffins rise up and open-revealing skeletons with big dicks. It's a freak show, a sexfest, and we are ready to rock.

Staring at this guy who looks like a Brokeback cowboy by way of Manchuria, and we're wondering why the hell he's shining his light right in our faces-and why he keeps on saying, "It's me. It's me." Until- of course: that flashlight. That blue beam of light: it's Joe Caro as the Asian Brokeback, and virtually unrecognizable-at least to us, at least at first.

Joe Caro has arrived; he's really here. Fresh off the six-day Atlantis Mexican cruise, followed by a cross-country flight, and a landing at JFK at eleven p.m., and into a waiting car, straight over the bridge, and right onto the dance floor. How's that for dedication? And this little hayseed cowboy ensemble is but the first of his costume changes for the night (gurl travels with steamer trunk).

It's all good now. We be dancing. It's all in the hips. Circuit boyz work those hips. Can we say "tight little transvers abdominis?" No wonder.

We're looking around at the crowd, which is a testament to how Alegria has evolved. Way more diverse, way more colorful, way better than it once was-and it was always good. So much more than just muscle, now the crowd has youthful attitude and downtown energy. And the boyz have flown in for this party: there's Rusty from D.C. and two boys we meet from Los Angeles, and of course the Atlantis Mexican cruise contingent.

And Abel's exhorting us to "Forget the past. Go outside-and have a blast." Okay. Not a problem. "Intoxication." And in front of the Alegria cemetery, we've got gladiators and bunny rabbits, all sharing the same stage. A metaphor for something: our ability to get along. We could teach the world something.

And especially given how dire the world situation seems to have become recently. Radiate good, radiate love. Do what we can. And that's when Abel mixes in "World, Hold On," maybe the anthem of the moment, which sounds particularly good right now, and maybe because Abel's left out the whistling part and heightened the yearning, the haunting hopefulness of the Bob Sinclar track. And then the nitrogen blasts and blankets us all in a white cloud and we hold on tight, hold on together.

Sated for the moment, we slip upstairs where Ric's fielding calls on his walkie-talkie. Looking forward to five a.m., he says that's when he gets a chance to play amidst the set. "I always like to play with my toys," he says.

Something resonates there: we be boyz with our toys. And there's another boy from the Alegria stable: Eddie Elias, on his customary perch in VIP, diligently studying the crowd, the music, focusing, learning, becoming. There's so much we can give each other. "Need Your Love (Baby Love)." And it's striking how gentle we are. Really. The way we move through the crowd with each other, lightly touching, smiling. Bouncing happy boyz with their toys.

And now it's bone-shaking music as the stage is cleared and slowly the doors of the coffins rise up and open-revealing skeletons. Skeletons with big dicks. Dicks encased in straps which light up with a life of their own. Ah, so here at last is the literal meaning of circuit dick. It's a "Love Sensation." It's a freak show, a sexfest, and we are ready to rock.

Hard to believe any of us are going to the office any day soon. The crowd stays thick, past five a.m., and beyond. Because this is the kind of party where five hours pass like thirty minutes and though you know you should think about leaving, at some point, you can't, you just can't-because right now, it's just too good.

So a little less sleep, just this once, because after all, it's a holiday. A gay holiday. A New York tradition. Mark your calendars. You won't want to miss it next year: Alegria Halloween, Part 4.

A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.