When I got to Provincetown, I put my bags down at my friend’s house, and rode a bike into town past everyone’s front yard gardens in full bloom. It was the recent intense August before our apocalyptic fall: clear and bright and blue. I drove down Commercial Street, the main street, and the first person I recognized was an actor friend, Bennet, who introduced me to his new boyfriend, Jeff. They both wore tight white tank tops. They had just become boyfriends and were very breathy with each other. We went to Jeff’s place a little rental off of Commercial Street, sat on old couches and listened to Melanie C. They were on Ecstasy, eyes wide, jaws grinding. Jeff made a long pot pipe out of tin foil, and Bennet darted into the other room and came back with a Ziploc bag filled at the bottom seam with little orange balls, like mini-Skittles: Marinol, THC pills. He gave me five, I smoked some pot off the pipe, and sunk into the couch, which soon became part of my backside. Then Jeff led us all into the bedroom and we sucked each other off in a circle.
In the morning I lay there as they slept, between them on the dirty bed in a wood paneled room. I figured I had not been there twelve hours yet and already I was involved in a complicated threeway.
This is not uncommon here in Provincetown, the gay Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood at the poetic curved end of Cape Cod. You come here and become part of some tangled series of affairs within minutes. It’s why some people call it Problemstown. Here men walk about in vacation mode, tanned and drunk and driven to get their rocks off before they leave.
The connected lines between gay guys are always very intricate you have sex with a guy you meet and then discover he had or is having sex with someone you know and on and on until you are looking at a dizzying net of lines, like those on a leaf. Here the net is a little easier to perceive. Since they’re in a small town, guys can’t rely on the ruthless invisibility available in cities where men have the ability to escape after one night stands to their apartments, saying “I’ll call you!” Here, in Provincetown, gay guys are almost damned to treat each other differently. Desire flies around like a breeze. Ptown is like no place I have ever been, so sexually charged yet neighborly, erotic yet touristy. It’s like Pleasantville with butt sex.
Ride your bike around for a week, and you will have made enough friends that you will be saying hi almost every few yards. Hello, Ben the swimsuit-store owner with the inch-long nipples! Hello, drag queens with shaved eyebrows, little clavicles and moon-pale skin dodging the sun! Hi, scrubby kid giving me henna tattoos!
Homosex is the mainstream here. Seeing a heterosexual couple holding hands is strange. Along with your old-time taffy and lobster shops, there are stores with rainbow merchandise, magical womyn shops, a sex shop, a store called Gay Mart, and countless bed and breakfasts catering to gays with incomes.
But beyond the rainbow-colored boutique surface, Ptown remains a candyland for the horny homosexual. It has a candy cane forest: the long reedy grasses in the tidal basin where men wind their way through wet pathways for spontaneous orgies. There is a gumdrop valley: the dunes of Herring Cove, where men amble around on pathways and jerk each other off. And there is definitely a molasses swamp: the Dick Dock, the dark underside of a hotel patio, active only at night.
Of course there is a downside to this Shangri-La. Leave it to my gay brothers to push themselves and party too hard. People take Ecstasy, Special K, GHB or all three and lose control of their bodily functions. Last summer I saw three people have seizures on the street. After a simple week here, the headless hedonism can begin to make you feel like nothing is real.