Josh Play Gay motss.con.viii (Washington, DC): Experiences and Memories

(Oct10/95 15:37:44 GMT)

Well, I'm home. I had a great time, except for the hotel's problems and one communications problem unrelated to the con. This posting will be very long (over 380 lines), as I'm writing it stream-of-consciousness style. I'll tell the stories I feel comfortable telling (or summarizing), and leave tantalizing hints and references to other peoples' stories. (While I may be the SMC Archivist, I'm not the SMC Editor. :-) )

First, the good events (in more or less itinerary format). You can take it as read that the people — well, the soc.motsseurs and their guests, at any rate — were all "good" or better, so I won't list all the attendees under "the good of the con." Then, the not-so-good events and issues.

The Good Events

Thursday, October 5th

Arrived in the early afternoon (about 2:30), got my baggage from the claim area (did you know that leather restraints can be carried onto a plane, but handcuffs cannot, even though both perform the same basic function?), and was met by Dan (Benfield) and Marina. We hiked to the airport Metro, then from the remote station to Dan's apartment. After killing some time waiting for the hotel's (reported) 4pm check-in time, we (eight of us, all told) caught two cabs over to the hotel, checked in, and wound up hiking off to the Metro station (in the rain) to get to Chinatown for the "Welcome!" dinner at Tony Cheng's Mongolian Restaurant. Faaabulous. And the Georgia Muscadyne (is that the right spelling?) that Danny (Ingram) brought was good, the comment about "The last time I saw a sample like this, they had to shoot the horse" notwithstanding. :-)

After a long dinner, to bed. After a bit of discussion and socialization in the hotel lobby/bar area, of course. We were to take over a large portion of the bar and/or lobby virtually every night during our stay, making it the de facto con.central.

Friday, October 6th

There was a call for 8 and a call for 9, both for breakfast. I chose the call for 9. When I got there — at 9 — the 8 and 9 contingents were getting together for a big breakfast bunch. Afterwards, I went back to the hotel with Marina, to meet up with Sammie and Barbara, who were supposedly arriving at National at 10am. (We remembered we "were maybe gonna meet" them at the airport at about 5 to 10, while at breakfast. Oops.) But when they weren't at he hotel by 11, we — Marina and I, with Mike and Aric and FJ!! and Fred and Frank — took off for the steps of the Capitol to meet up with everybody else.

We were a little late — let's face it, it's no short walk from 14th and M to the Capitol Building via the Washington Monument — so we missed the group. So instead, we had lunch at the Art Museum and then split up — some of us did museums, some of us hunted for other motsseurs, and after a while we all ended up back at the hotel to congregate for the Dupont Circle dinner and mini-munch. (The fact that our feet hurt probably had something to do with spending a lot of time at the hotel.)

Dinner for me was large slab o' dead animal flesh (specifically, a prime rib of beef), shared (in company) with Tripp, Fred, Frank, and Tom. Was a very nice dinner. I elected to skip the piercing portion of the mini-munch, but caught up with that group at Pleasure Place (toy store) and the Leather Rack later that evening. Around 11, headed back to the hotel for more socializing in the lobby.

Saturday, October 7th

Today's the day of the White House tour! So we leave around 9-9:30ish and walk to the White House tour line. And wait, and wait, and wait. About 90 minutes after we got in line, we're inside the gates, and it's time to put those fiendish plans into motion.

Y'see, on the way to Bill & Hil's Presidential Pad on Pennsylvania Avenue, we stopped off to buy a couple boxes of gloves. (After all, etiquette demands that one be well dressed at all times. And what's more well-dressed than a couple of dozen faggots and dykes and queers in latex gloves touring the White House?) I'm given to understand that the guards on the tour noticed and were... less than pleased. They tried to talk to Scott about what was going on, apparently worried (panicking?) that we were going to throw blood products around or some such. (Never! That'd be rude, and soc.motsseurs are never rude. (In person. (Unless provoked; see below.)))

After we all got out, much amused, we posed for a group picture, still wearing gloves. A very nice Asian (non-motsseur) woman volunteered to take some shots, and did (with our cameras); then, handing her own camera to her (we assume) husband, she came over to us and asked if she could pose with us. We assented (but neglected to suggest giving her a pair). I can hear them at their vacation slide show now — "Here we are with a bunch of gay activists at the White House, all in rubber [sic] gloves."

Onwards to lunch; we took over a food court at a nearby minimall in a converted post office. Some people went thence to museums, or monuments, or the hotel; I chose the hotel. We went swimming (as the pool was finally open), and eventually performed the soc.motss water ballet starring Ned Deily as the Centerpiece de Resistance, and Ann Burlingham, Ayana Craven, Morpheus, Jeff, myself, and (yikes! I'm blanking on the other two involved! please don't shoot me!) as the Motss Family Dancers. (For those of you who could not attend — either the con or the pool party — I believe that Scott got the second version videotaped (without sound, however), and will be putting it up as a QuickTime-format movie sometime Real Soon Now.)

(Pictures are available: A static picture, another static picture, as well as the movie.)

After drying off (since we were definitely all wet), we congregated in the lobby to go to Dupont Circle for a book signing and reading at Lambda Rising and then dinner. Thirteen of us wound up (at three disparate tables) at Cafe Luna; a grand time was apparently had by all. (Good food, slow service; "Nicole" presented an autographed picture of herself to our waiter at the end of the meal — but I'll let someone else tell that story.) After dinner, we went back to the hotel, chatted in the lobby for a while, and then Jeff and Derek came back from their dinner groups and The Party in the Wong Fu Suite began.

Oh, the suite? Well, Jeff had decided that since they had a large room (one of the largest guest rooms in the hotel, apparently) with a wet bar (and a refrigerator that didn't make ice), and simply faaabulous extra wardrobe and accessories, to decorate and share. So, just as in the movie, they "Wong Fu'd" the room, tossing various acoutrements such as boas and scarves and dresses and so forth around, covering lamps and furniture and barren walls. And they invited us all up for a biiig party in their suite.

We made the mistake of sending Sammie — with Aric and Danny, no less! — to get more booze as the liquor stores in DC were closing. So, like any good motsseurs in search of booze, they went to Maryland. Came back with about $150 in booze and a $36 plus tip cab bill. I think that one of them should tell the Story of the Cab Driver, though.

I left around 12:30 or so to go to bed, though I understand the party went on until 2 or 3 or 4 ish. Someone want to describe what happened there?

Sunday, October 8th

This was not a good day for me. This isn't the fault of anyone at the con, though, but my attitude by dinnertime was positively evil. If I managed to rub anyone the wrong way on Sunday, my apologies.

The plans were for brunch, then to meet up around 2-3-4-ish at the Mall for frisbee and so on. I said goodbyes to those who'd be leaving from brunch (Emily) and those not going (Mara, Marty) and waited for friends to show up. The friends who, as of Friday evening, had promised to come by to take me to lunch. The friends I'd not seen in a year or more (since before either of them moved to DC). Apparently, however, the friends didn't realize that we had agreed to meet — or I didn't realize that we hadn't, I'm still not sure which — so we didn't. And thanks to a spectacular fuck up by the hotel — more on which later — I never got my friends' voice mail messages until after it was too late to do anything about it. So upset at the miscommunication with my friends and FURIOUS with the hotel for Yet Another Spectacular Mistake on their part, I headed off to find motsseurs on the Mall. Got there around 2, did some running around in the Air & Space Museum and around the Mall a couple of times, and finally found Shane and Ron around 4, who told me the plans for dinner (1900 hours at 1919, the restaurant in a hotel at Connecticut and 19th Avenues). Thence to the con.hotel to congregate for the walk to the restaurant.hotel, and to dinner. Dinner was... um. The conversation was superb, the food was fair to good, the ambience was semiformal to formal, the service reasonable for a group our size but not superb, and the pricing was... confused. At first, we were assured it was a $35-including-everything meal, but that would've been too pricey, so everything on the limited menu was a la carte, except the price list they passed around (after the meal, when it was too late to think budget) didn't mention drinks (coffee, tea, the N bottles of wine we went through) and our table came up anywhere from $80 to $120 short on the tab. Thanks very much to the motsseur (who may or may not want me to identify himself or herself explicitly, so I'll refrain) who covered the difference. (The chocolate mousse with raspberries were to die for, though.)

Back at the hotel, time for more conversations and socializing in the lobby and bar area.

Monday, October 9th

Stragglers breakfast, 8:00am. Believe it or not, most of us managed to get up in time for it, and we traipsed off to Herb's for breakfast. I, getting ready for my meeting with the hotel manager after breakfast (see below), was in... a dangerous mood. Luckily, I didn't have to eviscerate the wait staff or bus staff — though when the waitroid dropped that plate of waffles-and-sausage behind me, he's just damned lucky it missed me and my sweatshirt (hanging on the chair back). Nobody on motss has ever seen me completely furious — and that was most likely the next emotion to be revealed. (It's not pretty. You don't want to see it. Trust me.)

So, from breakfast, back to the hotel. Meet with the on-duty manager (see below), who says she'll address the issues raised with her staff. Sure. Then checking out and mingling in the lobby saying goodbye to those leaving — not much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but definitely a lot of hugging and kissing and smooching and kissing and hugging and a little more PDAs and so on. Then the security bimbo from hell came by. I was inclined to be polite, make her happy, get rid of her, and ignore her comments, but the stoopid(tm) cow had to go say something about the inappropriateness of men kissing men (with a "what if little kids saw it and didn't understand" with the obvious subtext of "that it's bad and wrong and icky for men to kiss men" there) in the lobby. Tom F and Mike T both took her to task for it, and we have obtained her name and her supervisor's name for later action.

Leaving the hotel ("You don't want us kissing in your lobby? OK. We'll have a kiss-in on your driveway"), we wound up getting me to the airport in plenty of time for my flight. More or less uneventful flight home — got moved up to get a whole row (still in coach, bummer) to myself, AND my one checked bag was the FIRST on the conveyor belt in baggage claim!! — and here we are.

The Not-So-Good

That was the good times. Now, for the hotel. Oi, the hotel. I know that at every con, someone's going to get a crappy room. And at any hotel, something is going to go wrong sometimes. Entropy is all, y'know. But.

This was absofuckinglutely insane.

The following is a brief list of what was wrong with this hotel. Issues specific to a single room are so marked (by room number); issues applying to more than one room are not marked. These were all (except the last one) brought to Management's attention; the manager on duty, Jutta Whitfield, made a photocopy of the (Ramada letterhead) paper I'd written the comments on and said she'd address these issues at the next staff meeting. We'll see what happens; I'm not hopeful. I do plan on writing it up a bit more formally and sending it to her (for her records), to the owner/franchisee of the Ramada Plaza Hotel, to the appropriate VP at Ramada International, to the Washington DC Better Business Bureau, and (as below) to soc.motss. While any one of these going wrong is not terribly horrible in and of itself, taken all together it's completely unacceptable in any national hotel chain.

Twenty-eight. One's understandable. Three to five, on a bad day. Maybe even ten or twelve in a big hotel on a really bad day, I'll believe. But twenty-eight?? In a moderate-sized national-chain hotel?? They should be on their knees grovelling for our forgiveness for the crap they put us through. (Nine of the twenty-eight problems apply to the hotel and facilities in general; twelve more applied to my room. Completely unacceptable. I'm tempted to tell VISA that the payment for the hotel bill is in dispute just to keep the hotel from getting any of my money. I probably won't, but still...)

[Hint to next year's con.proposal winner: Use this experience to leverage really cheap Ramada hotel rates as a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of over a hundred thousand computer-savvy, disposable-income-spending, well- tipping, wonderfully stylish individuals.]


So that was my weekend. Except for Sunday late morning/early afternoon and the hotel, it was absolutely wonderful (bet you thought I was gonna say "fabulous," didn't you sweetie darling?). Was great seeing the folks I had met before, and was great to meet those I hadn't met previously. I won't try to list everybody; y'all know who you are. (And if you don't, well, I mean you too, silly!)

This was my fourth motss.con (Boston 89, Portland 92, Vegas 94, DC 95), and I enjoyed it very much. Yes, there was some male-male fuckfesting, but there was also (so I understand) some female-female fuckfesting; I don't know if there was any mixed-gender fuckfesting (from the heterosexual and bisexual members), but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if there was. But as should be obvious from the preceding 350+ lines, there's a LOT more to the cons than sex. Meeting people — be it for the first time or not — is one of the big reasons why I go to these things, and why I manage to enjoy myself even with spectacular fuck-ups by the hotel.

Come to a con. You'll be glad you did!

-j, thinking about Chicago 96, Atlanta 97, and Amsterdam 98 (thanks, Sammie and Marina!)