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23 Reasons to Love My Readers

Today on Alphabet City: As the countdown to the new Poptimistic blog begins, Jon Paul looks back at the 23 Most Popular Alphabet City Posts of 2010.

Thank you to the thousands of readers from around the globe who have spent time in Alphabet City.  You’re a diverse bunch with varied tastes—from eco-friendly travel to gay hook-up apps—there’s been a little bit of something for everyone in 2010.  And you’re always surprising me—I mean who knew there were so many Glee fans in Brunei?  In case you’ve missed some of the favorites, I’ve pulled together the Top 23 for you—a little primer on what your fellow Alphabet Citizens have enjoyed.  Why 23?  Because it’s a funny number.  Let me know—did your favorites make the cut?

#1 40, Love: Glee Bargain I’d like to think that my take on Fox TV’s hit show Glee and the producer’s difficulty in portraying Kurt in a more realistic light hit a nerve with the blog-o-sphere.  But judging from the Google searches that linked to the post, I honestly think folks were searching for pictures of cute gay high school student Blaine.  Maybe a channel dedicated to my thoughts on the show is in order?  I think I’d call it KurtiousGLEE.

#2 40, Love: Hello, Meat Grindr No surprise that sex sells, especially to gay boys on the prowl.  My humorous take using the hook-up site during jury duty is one of ABCityblog’s perennial favorites.

A chance encounter with photographer Jamie Beck lead to my favorite Alphabet City publicity shot!

#3 BizSavvyBlogger’s Peek-A-Blog: From Me To You Out of a chance encounter in the blogosphere—courtesy of Whole Foods—blossomed a fun friendship with phenomenal photographer.  The result has been spectacular pictures of me, Chef and our home.  This post gives a peek behind her stylish blog.

#4 Alphabet City’s Episode 1: Whoopi A crazy cat and a mishap with her Oscar, make my encounter with Whoopi a perennial favorite—and the perfect opening to Alphabet City.

#5 BizSavvyBlogger’s Peek-A-Blog: PerrinPost.truth.travel For years travelers have been religiously following the advice of Condé Nast Traveler’s Wendy Perrin.  In this post, I get my longtime friend to dish about how her print job keeps her from blogging 24/7 and what that means for PR folks.

Another Jamie Beck captured moment

#6 40, Love: Tattoo Police I’m an exhibitionist at heart, so I take every chance to show off my tattoos—even on the blog.  According to Google, many people are worried about being “booked” in this tattoo database.

#7 Alphabet City’s: One Night in Bangkok Okay, I’ll admit that I was pandering to my readers with, shall we say, more prurient interests by posting this scandalous excerpt from Alphabet City about a gay sex palace in Bangkok.  But it has one of my favorite comic lines, ever.

#8 Green Globe Trekker: Blue Bahama Mama Thankfully, my readers have rather diverse tastes—especially for eco-travel.  In advance of my panel at Condé Nast Traveler’s World Savers Congress in Singapore, I get the green scoop on The Atlantis.

#9 Kitchen Knightmares: Something Fishy Moroccan Halibut and Carrots from a Bon Appétit recipe is the star of this post—the top viewed recipe related story.

#10 Alphabet City’s Alpha-Beltway This entry is the most-read post related to the Alphabet City Book Tour. While in DC, I get an insider perspective courtesy of old friends, have nauseating John Boehner sighting, and wonder what happened to my favorite Rosalynn Carter outfit.

#11(tie) Tex and the City: Lela & BA Café MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts makes a guest appearance in this post, sharing a picture of his taxi driver’s name Ram Amandeep.  Read it aloud.  That name has become the #2 Google search directing traffic my way.  The first?  “Glee Blaine.”  There’s a joke there, but for now, I’m going to refrain.


40, Love: Virgin Queen My first time with a woman—first time getting a tattoo, of course.  Next to sex, tattoos sells.  I guess they are related in a way.

#13 Kitchen Knightmares: Kiss My Grits After meeting Chef Marcus Samuelsson at a Kraft-sponsored event, I’ll admit developing a little crush.  Will his next restaurant be in Washington Heights?

#14(tie) Alphabet City’s Even Jesus Had a Publicist A rejection from a literary agent who thinks the general public won’t know what a “publicist” does provides an opportunity to excerpt from Alphabet City.


Alphabet City’s Episode 4: Tyra, And Nothing But the Truth Before she was America’s next top media mogul, she was grazing the breakfast buffet and quizzing me about my sexuality.

#16 Alphabet City’s First Excerpt from Episode 13: Happy Soul The online encounter that changed my life.

#17 40, Love: Justice Jo(h)n Paul Unearthing a letter from his father’s papers, I pay tribute to Supreme Court Justice John Paul.

#18 Alphabet City’s First Excerpt from Episode 14: And Baby Makes Three A heartbreaking farewell to a special cast member.  Pet lovers won’t be able to read without crying.

Outside Hanoi's Golden Cock

#19 Green Globe Trekker: iPho Vietnam—Motorbikes & Golden Cock While I’d like to think it’s my lovely description of Viet Nam that makes this post a standout, I believe the name of Hanoi’s gay bar is what calls out to many in their Google searches.

#20(tie) 40, Love: Share, and Cher alike AND Kitchen Knightmares: The Premiere The launch of my cooking show with a nightmare of rancid pork is as compelling to readers as my fighting with neighbors and their kids at the local CSA food pick-up spot.

#22 Tex and the City: The Parent Trap Confronting the question of “are you guys going to have kids?,” I turn to theater reviews for help.

#23 Green Globe Trekker: Costa Rican Eco-Luxe Many of the travel industry’s most pressing sustainability questions have been answered by the Costa Rican trendsetting company Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality.

Jicaro property

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Green Globe Trekker: Gayer in Amsterdam (Part 2)

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul reveals the gayest spots in Amsterdam to be mary—Shop, Drink, Party, Sex.  Viewer Discretion Advised.

If you read Gayer in Amsterdam Part 1, you’ll probably remember that after three nights in the canal city courtesy of the Holland Tourist Board, I returned gayer than ever.  Well, buckle your KLM seatbelts because this post takes it up a queer notch.  Here is Part 2 of my travel tips—for both gays-by-nature and gays-in-spirit: Be Mary—Shop, Drink, Party, Sex.

For Stay, Move, Eat, See—visit Part 1.

Shop.  Thanks to the Inside Design Amsterdam 2010 fair sponsored by Elle Won happening at my groovy green hotel Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy, I got a preview of H&M’s newest home store concept that will debut in Amsterdam’s Dam Square this Fall.  Instead of loading up a shopping cart with shower curtains and pillows, customers grab a magnet with an image corresponding to their chosen item and attach to their hand held magnetic shopping cart.  At checkout, the magnets are traded for the actual items.  The result is a streamlined shop that is greener in that it doesn’t require wasted floor space and unnecessary packaging.  Also courtesy of the design show, I was introduced to Holland’s leading eco-luxe blogger Annouck Post of Hiphonest.com.  Check out her blog before heading to Amsterdam for her recommendations on designers and shops that blend luxury and sustainability, like the don’t miss store Charlie + Mary.  For those with a little darker, heavier tastes with a splash of fetish, head to Mr. B flagship leather store on busy Warmoesstraat near the Red Light district.  No need to be embarrassed if you’re like me and just indulge in fantasy from time to time, the staff was incredibly friendly in helping me choose and fit my newest harness.  Hey, I’ve lost weight and pumped up my chest, so a girl’s got to look good at The Eagle, right?

Drink.  Escape the madness of the nearby Red Light District and duck into The Queen’s Head for a drink and a friendly chat with owners Don and Arjan—who celebrated quite the gay wedding recently.  The lush red interior with palm plants and disco balls has a view out to a canal, and had an easy mix of gay and lesbian locals and tourists.

Party.  Curiously for such a rocking city, Amsterdam lacks big dance clubs.  But one gay hotspot that is packing them in to a rather small venue is Club Church.  The only worshipping going on here is of the male form—besides the dance floor there are several dark areas where the boys are getting busy.  Check the website for theme nights—the underwear party I went to on Friday was packed, in multiple ways.

Colin Farrel as Oliver Stone's "Alexander" with Jared Leto playing gay lover

See.  While the ad campaign may be true that Everyone’s Gay in Amsterdam, someone forgot to tip off city’s branch of the Hermitage Museum.  Their exhaustive exhibit of artifacts related to Alexander the Great—one of the world’s most successful arguments against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy—there’s not one word scrawled about the famous warriors longtime male lovers Bagoas or Hephaestion.  I couldn’t help thinking the omission was related to homophobia in Russia—where the original Hermitage is based.  Still, the building itself is

Amstelhof's restored kitchens

worth a look for its historic importance.  Built in the late 1600s, the enormous complex served over the years as a home for the old, infirm, and finally a nursing and medical home known as Amstelhof.  After two years of renovations, the building reopened in June 2009 as a branch of the famed Russian museum, and separate from the exhibits, guests can get a glimpse of the old kitchens and restored church hall.

the airline fit for a queen

Go.  I think it’s fun to fly the international carrier of the country you’re visiting—so the journey begins even before arrival.  Well, I’ll admit to some exceptions for a few countries in the Asia-Pacific regions and Africa (not mentioning names).  But I was in luck flying to Amsterdam on KLM.  The extra 80 Euro I paid to sit in their Premium Coach area with extra legroom and bigger seat pitch was definitely worth it.  The on-demand in-flight entertainment system kept me happily occupied coming and going watching the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove (run, don’t walk your fingers over to your Netflix cue to order this gem—I’ll be meeting the director Louie Psihoyos at this month’s Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Congress in Singapore).  J. Lo’s Back-up Plan was entertaining only from the perspective of marveling at how the filmmaker stretched a razor thin plot into 90 minutes of froth mostly by requiring Alex O’Loughlin to remove his shirt.  And I’m not sure I should even begin to discuss what possessed me to sign up for the two and half hours known as Sex and the City 2.  All I have left to say is Really?

For You Gays Only.  Speaking of sex in the gay city, let’s get down and a little dirty.  So if you’re just gay-in-sprit and offended, then move on.  But if you’re titillated, then by all means, read on.  For the most part, this is not a city where gays are going to find it hard to hook-up.  Many of the bars and clubs have back rooms for sexy encounters (see Club Church, above).  A bevy of international gays descend on Thermos Sauna—one of the nicest, cleanest, and most happening gay sex palaces I’ve had the pleasure of visiting around the world.  In addition to the usual set-up of steam room, sauna, dark room, private cabins, porn theater, there’s a bar and restaurant, clothing shop and beauty salon.  Clearly, the Dutch have a welcoming and unshameful attitude when it comes to gay sex.  Except, oddly, if you’re staying at Lloyd Hotel.  Weirdly, the hotel’s Internet provider blocks access to popular hook-up sites Manhunt and Adam4Adam.  So if that’s your chosen method of meeting locals, you might just want to check with your hotel in advance about their policies.  For the most part, Grindr worked fine, although occasionally it would tell me that every horny boy in Amsterdam was 0 feet away.

Well, on second thought, maybe that was true.  After all, Everyone’s Gay (and green) in Amsterdam.

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Love in the Time of Grindr

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul welcomes Gay.com readers with a taste of Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life, adapted from Episode 14: Happy Soul.  If you like what you read—purchase the book!

Because my partner and I “met cute” online at Gay.com nearly ten years, I’ve always been a fan of technology’s romantic possibilities.  My current sex-tual infatuation is with an iPhone hook-up app called Grindr.  For many gay boys, Grindr is a cruising dream come true—a GPS-based service that locates nearby men nearby who are ready for action, serving up provocative pictures with a note of proximity—usually just feet away.

Grindr Screenshot - I'm not here...

With Grindr, you cannot only find Mr. Right Now, but Mr. Right Next Door.  As much as I marvel at the app’s clever name, niche and possibilities, I know that if today I were using it to find love, I would never have met my boyfriend.  My problem is simple: I’m geographically narrow-minded.  In 1999, I was a transplanted Texan posing as an East Village snob, and lucky that rudimentary Internet dating protocols withheld a key fact about my future lover—he lived on Wall Street.

At the time, as I write in Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life, I thought of myself as a gay Mary Tyler Moore looking for a fresh start—and a new boyfriend—in the big city.  But my globetrotting job as a publicist for Condé Nast Traveler left me exhausted at the thought of spending precious free time in bars on the prowl.  A few years on the other side of 30, and the loneliness was wearing on me.  So when the Internet as hook up engine burst onto the gay scene at the turn of the century, I signed up enthusiastically hoping that online matchmaking would prove superior to suggestive winks in disco infernos.  Convinced that Gay.com might expand my dating horizons, I fished in its online pond as NYCBUCKY.

At first, real time meetings with online flirtations didn’t go well.  It took several painful dinner first-dates to learn that chances were good the guy in real life would be the opposite of his description.  DowntownHUNG was actually from the suburbs and had a widely inflated sense of himself.  STUDMuffin69 needed to lay off the pastries.  Hard4U spoke about his member non-stop—two hours of dirty talk over noodles proved too hard for me.

Some guys would have given up on the online thing altogether.  But I couldn’t resist the Internet temptation—the gigantic desktop computer in my basement living room stared me down with the possibility that Prince Charming was waiting for my charming banter in the NYC chat room.  The sound of static as the modem connected always sent a shiver of anticipation through me—Pavlov’s gay dog.

One night, as I scanned through the typical assortment of evocative screen names, one caught my eye—STARBSTRD.  Nothing particularly sexual about that.  Bastard?  A little bit off putting really.  Was that some kind of kinky sexual thing?  But his description was tantalizing, endearing and funny: “Happy soul, well endowed.” STARBSTRD seemed different.  I fretted over a good opening line for at least 30 seconds—an online eternity.  He could be deeply involved with someone else by the time I finally messaged him.

NYCBUCKY: Are you a happy soul because you’re well endowed?

Few second pause.  No reply.  I must have lost him.  Then POP—a reply.

STARBSTRD: Funny 😉  I never connected the 2.

NYCBUCKY: Really?  Most gay boys would!

And we were off.  Over the course of the next 73 chat screens, I uncovered that he was:

30 years old—finally a boy my age!

Worked as an economist—I’d never dated a banker!

From Mexico City—I loved Latinos!

Enjoyed dancing, food, yoga, rollerblading—I loved two of those things!

STARBSTRD: What’s ur name?


STARBSTRD: That’s funny!

Why was that funny?  People making jokes about my name exhausted me.  The next line was usually, “Oh, like John Paul Jones?”  Or John Paul Sartre.  While John Paul Stevens was one thing, I cringed at John Paul George and Ringo.  Or God forbid, the Pope.  It’s just one of those things I’ve heard my whole life and am prickly about.  The chat had derailed and I was ready to end it over the name game.

STARBSTRD: Wanna come over and cuddle?

NYCBUCKY: Gimme a break.

Cuddle?  What self-pronounced well-endowed gay guy thinks I’m going to believe that?  Besides, if I did drag myself all the way to his apartment, I certainly hoped we would do more than just cuddle if he lived up to proclamations.

STABRSTRD: Want to go on a date, then?

NYCBUCKY: Not really.  I don’t even know your name.

STARBSTRD: Juan Pablo.

NYCBUCKY: Not funny.

On the one hand, I gave him points for being clever—translating my name into Spanish.  English Jon Paul became Spanish Juan Pablo.  On the other, he had taken the name thing too far, and was living up to his screen name, acting like a bastard.  I was tiring of this seemingly endless banter; it was hard to stay witty and disinterested at the same time.  I was thinking of a nice way to shut down the chat, and then Pop Pop Pop—three screens in a row.

STARBSTRD: No, I’m not kidding.

STARBSTRD: We have the same name.

STARBSTRD: That’s why I thought you were kidding.

What were the chances? We had the same name—my Texan Jon Paul to his Mexican Juan Pablo. Of all the horny gay boy gin joint chat rooms in the world he had to log on to this one.

How could I not go out on a date with someone who had my same name?  So I gave him my number and he phoned immediately to make plans for the next day.  His voice was a surprise—no rolled “R’s” or deep Latin baritone; instead his speech was slightly high pitched with an odd Pan-European accent we’ve come to associate with Madonna.

“How about a stroll around Wall Street?” he asked.

As an Alphabet City hipster, I thought of the Financial District as a wasteland located across the DMZ of Canal Street.  Had he revealed his geographically undesirable locale any earlier, love on the information superhighway might have hit a speed bump.  But now, he already had me hooked, and despite my distaste for Wall Street, I was intrigued.  Besides, “a stroll?”  He sounded positively Parisian, a flaneur.  In the hustle of New York City, I rarely just wandered aimlessly, but Happy Soul (well-endowed) sounded like he had a plan.  And so I agreed to expand my neighborhood boundaries.

The next day, ten minutes before the appointed hour, I sat on a bench in the World Financial Center filled with Chinese brides in wedding dresses with bright pumps trailed by photographers.  I was worried that I wouldn’t recognize Juan Pablo from the picture he had emailed.  He said it was of him on a recent trip to Thailand, which I expected would be him in a Speedo on a sandy beach.  But the jpeg was a close shot of his sweaty smiling face next to a plate of glassy noodles with red peppers. What an odd choice.  As his publicist, I’d counsel him to get a more flattering headshot.

“Hey Bucky, sorry, yoga ran long.”

STARBSTRD was 15 minutes late, glistening from his workout.  He was dressed in some last season baggy clam diggers from the GAP, an ill-fitting graphic t-shirt from French Connection, and an orange fisherman’s hat from God knows where.  I tried shaking off my snobby Condé Nast fashion sense.

“Oh hey, that’s fine.  I just got here, really,” I lied.

I stood up and we smiled at each other, relieved that our real selves lived up to the online potential we advertised.  As I looked past the clothes, he was handsome in an offbeat way, with brown eyes and an oversize nose punctuating a broad smile that bared his happy soul—think sweet face of Sean Astin with the sexy spirit of Gael Garcia Bernal.  I was pretty charmed.

We hugged hello in that awkward way that comes when you have never met a guy in person but nonetheless know a little too much about him—like his preference for top or bottom.  Truthfully, I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t the darker skinned Latino that I imagined.

“You’re whiter than I am.  How are you from Mexico?” I blurted out.

“Thanks.  I work at this color.  My religion is sun block.”

I laughed, not knowing if he was intentionally cracking a joke, or if English as a Second Language was going to be more of a problem—or benefit—than I bargained for.  We strolled and chatted and teased about all the things you over-share on a first date in New York City—your job, your apartment, your previous life discarded to live in the center ring of the Big Apple circus.  We ambled for two hours on a walk that should have taken twenty minutes.  Proud of myself for overcoming my geographic xenophobia, I suddenly felt something funny inside—a sense that this online dating possibility was about to become an important co-star in my life.

Ten years later, I am still the Tex to his Mex, and we continue to push each other’s buttons—and boundaries.  Like many long-term partners, we face the challenge of keeping the bedroom rocking long after the novelty wears off.  Perhaps because we met under such provocative circumstances, we have always been open to exploration.  Which must be why Juan Pablo encourages my use of sex toys like Grindr.  At dull parties in Chelsea, he laughs when I pull it out, log on, and pass it around—soon even the most boring guests are transformed into tantalized voyeurs.  During flight delays at Newark, we’ve amused ourselves with surreptitious glances at Grindr.  In a romantic Montreal bistro, we challenged each other to a Grindr Duel: seeing whose iPhone pulled up the hunkier guys—there’s a quirk in the system that doesn’t necessarily duplicate the same hotties.

Despite all the titillating fun and groundbreaking advances in dating technology, I am still glad Juan Pablo and I met in simpler online times—back when screen names were mysterious and your location was closeted.  Today, I might not be adventurous enough to venture outside my comfort zone and find out if STARBSTRD comes as advertised—happy soul and all.

Click here to purchase Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life.

Below is a flipcam video of JP reading from this chapter at a book party at Kimpton’s Nine Zero hotel in Boston:

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Tangled Web

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul considers Glee-ifying potential Alphabet City sponsors.

Happily getting my hands dirty with the Sunday NYT

Some days I long for the simplicity of yesteryear—when I was comforted by printed advertisements in newspapers.  It’s one of the reasons that despite training myself to digitally read the New York Times during the week, I insist on subscribing to the printed weekend edition of the Gray Lady.  I actually look forward to getting my hands dirty opening up the Sunday Arts & Leisure section for a clue from the advertising as to what Broadway hits/flops are headed my way, or which ‘70s TV star has a cabaret career courtesy of Feinstein’s at the Regency.  The ads themselves become part of my pop-culture fact-finding mission.

Promos online just don’t give me the same sense of satisfaction.  The great benefit of Internet advertising is supposedly targeting products directly to interested readers thanks to a generous helping of cookies profiling users’ behaviors.  Sometimes, I feel like there’s a mad baker behind the scenes who is just throwing tracking confections at me non-stop.  On Facebook, an ad for “Bichon T-shirts” seems like it has become a permanent part of my home page thanks to missives about my foofy dog Frida.  On Statcounter, I site a I use to track statistics for my own blog, I’ve been getting ads for the gay hook-up site Manhunt 24/7.  Okay, I get it.  I wrote about your competitor Grindr a couple of times on the blog.  Just don’t tell anyone I’ve checked out your site, too.

Things get a little more awkward over at NYTimes.com.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to escape the “Portraits of Peninsula” ad campaign from the luxury hotel company.  The black and white portrait features a multi-ethnic cross section of employees—it should give me a good feeling about the inclusiveness and diversity of the company.  But when it popped up next to a story about Arizona’s draconian immigration initiatives, the ad took an unexpected and appreciated political tone.  One click later, and it was next to a story on the continued waste and despair in Haiti.  Boy, that makes you rethink the meaning of luxury—and not in the way I imagine the Peninsula folks intended.

41 years of a Glee-ified existence

Like many bloggers, I am tackling how to incorporate advertisers and sponsors into my site that does not distract from the user experience—but enhances my bottom line.  Today’s NYT’s advertising column by my friend Stuart Elliott, Serving Up Musical Comfort Foodgives me hope.  Marketers are turning to songs from classic musicals like “South Pacific,” “The King and I,” and “Sound of Music” to advertise everything from Hyundai cars to Dove hair care.  The experts interviewed say the songs are like “comfort food” for folks during a recession.  I don’t know about that.  I think it’s the Glee-ification of America that suddenly makes show queens like me popular again.  When Oprah devotes an entire gushing hour to the corny, must see mega-hit show, you know America’s at a musical theater tipping point.  Incidentally, the ads that popped up next to Stuart’s piece?  Bonus miles for cross-country travel on American Airlines and an investment conference in Kazakhstan.  Clearly, the web cookie bakers know about my upcoming book tour.

So don’t be surprised in the next few months when you check out ABCitblog.com and you hear me singing some musical jingles authentically integrating sponsors into the site.  I’m thinking for my insurance company of choice crooning a show-stopping number as Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors… “Suddenly State Farm, is standing beside you…”

Other suggestions?

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Careful What You Search For

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul is flummoxed by some odd Google search results pointing towards the blog.

Allow me add a new dimension to the recent hysteria over Internet privacy—bloggers like me are watching your Google habits.  There’s a nifty little feature that allows me to see what words surfers are searching and click through to my blog. It’s sort of like reverse engineering Googling your own name—the results are revealing, and sometimes not pretty.  The search string someone used recently and found Alphabet City is “ugly gay guy with bichon frise.”  Ouch!

My publicist training tells me that all traffic is good traffic, but honestly “ugly gay guy” left me a little wounded.  Is someone out there critiquing my photos on the cover of Alphabet City?  So I decided to take matters into my own hands and Google those search words myself—to see exactly how this blog matches some of the more amusing terms I’ve been seeing.

Turns out, I’ve randomly used all of those words—ugly, gay, Bichon—in various postings on the blog.  So, it wasn’t necessarily a slam at me.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself.  From the search results it was more likely the person was looking for a YouTube video where a Bichon does something cute until an “ugly gay guy” appears.  Still, pretty mean if you’re that unknown guy in the video.

Some of the other search results were more obvious to me.  Lots of people find me because I’ve mentioned the gay hook-up iPhone app Grindr a couple of times—now there will be more.  “Gay sex and massage baybylon in bankok” (sic) drives traffic from across the globe to read an excerpt from the book about my exploits in Thailand—nice to see interest sex palace is still going strong, especially in the Middle East.

Some search returns left me mystified.  “Book about the letter o being removed fr” completely flummoxed me.  “Hanging pictures over couch” returned hundreds of pages of DIY advice websites.  Why that person chose to click through to ABCityblog as a resource I’m still not sure.  Maybe something to do with my mention of my Dad’s LeRoy Neiman monstrosities in our living room?

Some search results delighted me.  How sexy to be singled out for “police tattoos,” and what a queen I am to practically pee my pants as the second result of “erica’s modeling mentor on amc.”  Erica Kane and All My Children just keep delivering.

Finally, some search results will just continue to embarrass Chef.  In between links to LA Dragnet and Showtime’s Hung, an episode of Alphabet City is getting traction from “episode” “well endowed.”  Which brings me to the final search observation—this blog is the top result for “you’re my foil.”

And so, once again, it’s true—Chef ends a post as my foil.

PS: I’m not the only one watching.  Check out this USAToday story about my friend Stephen Marsh’s software that helps companies keep track of employee surfing habits.

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Sex in the City

Today on Alphabet City:  Jon Paul makes a pass at a pop-star’s husband. Guest stars: Gloria Estefan, Teri Hatcher.

Thank God for Publicists.  PR professionals enjoyed Even Jesus Had a Publicist enough to catapult that post’s popularity ahead of the two sex-related stories One Night in Bangkok and Hello, Meat Grindr.  Until then, I was beginning to think that only the most prurient details of my life might be enticing to readers.

As a relative newbie to the blogosphere, I wasn’t aware of how much global traffic would be driven to a relatively innocent story about a gay bathhouse in Bangkok.  Hopefully, the readers from Taiwan, Bangladesh, Mumbai, Russia and the Middle East who found Alphabet City by googling “Bangkok massage” enjoyed some of the tamer episodes.

It’s not just the Internet where sex seems to be a connector.  Live sex tales seem to be popular as well as I discovered on Thursday night when I headed back to one of The Moth’s storytelling nights.  Having learned from my disappointing experience in Like Moths to a Flame, this time my friend Shannon and I stood in line outside SoHo’s Housing Works Bookstore & Café starting at 6pm for doors that opened at 7pm.  Theme of the night was “Lost”—and I don’t mean the TV show.  The host of the night, author Dan Kennedy, began the show by saying, “I don’t know why we bother to give the night a theme, because somehow you will turn it into a story about sex.”

And 4 out of 5 storytellers agreed—the first ones up all related their tales to something sexual.  First up was a guy who lusted after his friend’s girlfriend, followed by the guy who last week nearly caused a riot outside Nuyorican Poets Café with his vigilante storytelling.  He spun a tale of unrequited love/sex in the aisles of a Virginia Food Lion.  Then there was a zany story of a religious cult leader deflowering the storyteller when she was 14.  Although intriguing, her tale was much longer than required 5 minutes and at one point included the line “to make a long story short…”  Isn’t that generally the point of time limits and editing?  And I’m still not sure what to make of the nut case whose story included a long riff on the power of being a virus in the Matrix (originality?), and a ski trip to Aspen with a cougar girlfriend whom he volunteers to have sex with an actor/author with whom I was not familiar.  He ended with a lecture about how friends hold you back.  In this case, I wish they had.

While the night was odd, I’m glad I went because now I have a clear strategy.  The next Moth StorySlam theme is “Nerve,” and I was thinking about telling the Whoopi Goldberg Oscar story—I had the “nerve” to pick it up.  But now I’m rethinking.  Maybe a story with a little bit of a sexual angle—like the time I had the nerve to make a pass at Gloria Estefan’s husband while escorting Teri Hatcher to VH-1’s Divas LiveCLICK HERE to enjoy this excerpt from Alphabet City’s Episode 6: Sex in the City and let me know what you think.


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All Rise

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s reign as Jury Queen comes to a confrontational end with the plaintiff

All rise for the Jury Queen—the verdict is in, which means my two weeks of service ended yesterday.  For legal reasons, I have not been able to blog about the case about a woman alleging to have an accident on the subway in February 2004.  Like many, you probably don’t love the MTA New York Subway system, and you are also probably suspicious of personal injury claims like this one.  But as you might remember from Jury Queen posting, I am happy to do my civic duty and suspend any judgment until I have heard the facts.  Plus, the setting was perfect for a dramatic turn in my sitcom—walking up the steps of the famous courthouse at 60 Centre Street featured on every episode of Law&Order.

Dramatic courthouse setting for Jury Queen episodes

By now, you can probably tell that I am able to find humor in most situations.  After all, I’m the star of my sitcom.  Trial was no exception.  At times, the plaintiff’s attorney Miss Blank (actually her name) almost made me laugh out loud with her well-constructed distractions during her opposing counsel’s arguments: eye rolling, alternating with fake napping, alternating with loud paper shuffling.  I also kept myself occupied wondering why the attorney for the MTA insisted on wearing the same red strappy sandal heels with black tights every single day for two weeks.  And of course there were the jury room characters, including the all tweed-clad older man with unruly hair and baggy eyes who every day read a George Orwell book and the New York Review of Books.  He looked like he stepped off the set of 12 Angry Men, so we immediately elected him foreman.

The details of the accident are murky and confusing.  This was a messy case all around, with evidence on both sides lacking credibility.  But the 6 of us on this petit (small, not petty) civil jury trial took our duties extremely seriously.  The passion in the deliberations boiled over at one point—two men got into a screaming argument that almost came to fistacuffs.  Continue reading

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40, Love: Hello, Meat Grindr

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul comes clean about his latest sex-tech obsession, and reveals how he met Juan Pablo.  Viewer Discretion Advised.

While on jury duty recently, I discovered a complication with my latest sex/tech-obsession.  To pass the time, I logged onto one of my favorite iPhone apps—Grindr, a GPS based service that locates other guys nearby who are ready and willing, and serves up their pictures with a note indicating their distance from you.  With Grindr, you cannot only find Mr. Right Now, but Mr. Right Next Door.  And chat with him real time!  The problem for me that day was that as I logged on, up popped Juror #17, who on my little screen was displaying his well-defined pecs and this description: “29, Latino, Lookin’ for NSA fun, 0 feet away.”  Literally.  He was sitting directly behind me.  Yikes.  What if we ended up on a jury together?  Was that hot?  Or awkward?


Grindr Screenshot - I'm not here...

Since I met my partner Chef Juan Pablo on Gay.com over nine years ago, I’m generally a forceful advocate for technology’s power as a matchmaker.  And as much as I marvel at Grindr’s name and niche—connecting horny boys with nearby potentials—I wonder if I would have ever met my boyfriend using it.  On Grindr, he would have never been offered to me as a potential.  Only after I agreed to go out with Juan Pablo (mostly because we had the same name), did I find out he lived down on Wall Street, a wasteland located across my personal DMZ of Canal Street.  Boy, I’m glad I overcame my geographic snobbery.  (CLICK HERE TO READ EXCERPT ABOUT OUR MEETING FROM ALPHABET CITY).

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy Grindr’s potential enormously, and it has become my go-to “conversation starter” app.  Continue reading


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