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  • My friend as fate had willed. The first years of friendship

    1. Discos in "Leningrad"

    My first meeting with Ed took place at the disco in the cinema "Leningrad". But I began to visit this disco a month before it. As ever in that time my first visits there were with my dancing partner Igor. In that time my friend by correspondence from East Germany Kurt came to me by invitation. He was not quite young but nice man with bald spot. Before it he sent me his picture, where it was possible to see his large and not attractive instrument. But we were friends, and I showed him everything in Moscow. First of all I invited him to our gay beach.

    In the time, when I was in water and swamp, the young student of Moscow University managed to acquaint with him. One of them, who were deaf, became his friend and even visited him in Germany. But in Moscow they tried to conceal it from me but finally they began to have meeting in the University dormitory, where this deaf man lived. Kurt asked me also to show him the traditional places and gay cruises in city. Once we came in evening in the garden with a fountain near Bolshoi Theater. At the bench, where we sat, there was an attractive young guy. After some time he told me that he was a student of one Moscow Theater school. I was astonished that many young and good gays began to visit this place known due to its bad reputation. But the reputation was the reputation, and it was confirmed soon.

    Kurt began to come at this place alone in the late time. He called these trips as "Spazierungen" to "Strich" (the German words for walks on cruise). Once he didn't come home at all and I waited for him all the night. I hoped that as in the previous night he decided to stay with his student. He appeared only in morning and was totally beaten. With great efforts he explained me the accident occurred with him. One local gay (quite attractive and young) invited him to walk together in the nearby courtyard.

    When Kurt released his huge cock from trousers, another five monsters appeared in the courtyard unexpectedly for Kurt (but not for his new acquainted guy) and demanded him to give them all his money. Kurt was a strong and hard man and began to protect himself, however the strength were not equal, and they began used not adopted technique and beat him by legs, even when he laid on asphalt and tried to strike a head. Therefore when he came home with the head reminding the pork chop before preparation, he first request was a payment to driver, which waited for money downstairs. He was happy that somebody agreed to take him with the broken head and broken dress. Of coarse I carried money to the driver at once and thanked him.

    I said that Kurt was a strong man, because in three days we were together in the cinema "Leningrad", where Roman organized the regular disco. It was strange to look at Kurt, whose half of face was dark-blue after "friendly" meeting with gays near our Bolshoi. Surely Kurt couldn't dance: his legs were also injured but he could drink beer with "my Igor". I was glad that both of them were busy one with other and I could be a little free. In "Leningrad" I liked to dance alone and with everybody in great dancing hall. I keep a photo, where I was in this evening together with Vlad and a Japanese postgraduate in music, whom I met at beach. The spirit of first discos was really good and bright. But when Kurt, Igor and I left the hall, I've seen the young nice boy laying on the stone floor and closing the face by hands, because the older man tried to beat him. I approached and said:

    "You don't use the legs as the guys that had beaten my German friend, but anyway there is the Russian proverb: It is not good to hit a man when he is down".

    The reaction on my words was similar to the cold shower and the older man stopped to beat the younger one, who in the last moment managed to stand up and to run away.

    "He betrayed me, he stopped to love me, he is a traitor", - began to cry the older man and went in a side, where his former lover ran.

    I thought that it was great that I've never been in such situations. I couldn't imagine that it was prescribed for me to occur in the similar situation in a couple of years.

    "If you want, you will find it"' - says another Russian proverb. I was looking for my fate.

    Soon after Kurt's visit to me, another friend by correspondence Olivier came to me. He was really the first my correspondent after ad in Danish newspaper "PAN". We visited the beach and some other places together. He liked bazaars where it was possible to buy many "kitsch" things, Russian souvenirs and military dress. But the central event was as before the visit to disco in "Leningrad", where I had already known many people and friends. Olivier carried the navy form of Soviet General and was happy from it.

    After it he began to do the same at all discos in Cannes, where he lived. Indeed he home was in the few kilometers from it in the small city Cannes la Bocca. When I visited the solar conference in Nice, I visited the flat of Olivier and all his area. He introduced me to many young gays and lesbians, who organized the grandiose all-European discos with transvestites in their place. But at disco in Leningrad I was again with Igor. And it was our last dancing evening together. Igor invited me at his flat, where we drank a tea, then in the house of his friends, when all of them waited that I should buy vodka for them (by regret I had no money this time).

    We had only two another meetings with him at discos and when I had been already with Edward. The first time we only said hello one to another, and I've seen the pain and horror in his eyes. During the last our meeting he approached to me, when I danced with Ed, and kissed me in cheek. I didn't know up to now what he wanted to express. Was it his last farewell or did he want to spoil my relations with Ed? Before it he was so kind, polite and nice with me, and he was really my first and excellent dancing partner. Finally it is so difficult to lose any partner, and to find a partner for dance is more difficult than to find the sexual partner. Are you agreeing with this rule of people from my skating rink?

    But I was as a drunken man, when I was then with Ed, and I forget about all logical, natural and right acts and actions, because I was with him at the seventh sky. Igor went to his mother at Kamchatka Peninsula, as our common friend and doctor Guena said, and I've never seen him anymore.

    2. Our first meeting and what was the seventh sky

    Olivier finally left Moscow and flew in his Cannes, while I continued to visit Roman's discos in "Leningrad" alone, because I had there many friends, and all of them invited me to join to them. It was the last disco evening in July. I liked to dance in the middle of dancing hall, near the stage and everywhere, however I preferred not the best right corner near the stage, where there was the exit to the stirs and toilet. I passed from one dancing place to another and finally I found myself in the mentioned corner.

    I danced in the group with Oleg and his wife (lady). In a few years Oleg became a manager of company for gay acquaintances and exchange of gay films. He was soon divorced, and as he said by means of his ass hole he managed to gain much money and to buy a few flats in Moscow. Recently he had some problems, because he tried to take the pictures with young boys. But we were friends in dancing place, had a good mood and were excited. It was warm in the hall and I took off my shirt and was semi-nude. In summer I visited often our gay beach and was very sunburned (almost brown).

    Somebody, who was not so tall as me, approached to me asked very politely to dance together. I tried to be independent and alone at disco, and nobody invited me in such manner before to dance. I agreed at one, we embraced one to another and began our long dance. He put he head on my breast near heart. I hadn't seen him, and I asked God, why he didn't give me this guy before. The time stopped and I felt that we were together for centuries.

    In that time somebody opened the safety balloon with terrible gas, and the eyes were filled with tears. We stopped dancing but I was afraid to lose something most important in this life and therefore I even didn't see at my partner. I was afraid of losing my fate. I said:

    "Please, wait me for a moment".

    I went to the rest room and washed my eyes in water. There were many typical gays, and they're waiting for quick sex. I was afraid to lose my happiness and left the place quickly. I came at the same place, where my shirt laid on the floor, and tried to see finally this extraordinary man. I recognized him at once. He sat at the bench near the wall and also looked at me with expectation. I didn't know why, but all his former and our future life as in an accelerated film flashed by my inner eyes. I've seen how many suffers Ed had in his former life, that he was a favorite son of his parents and had a sister, which was alder than he and tried to help and to hurt him. And I've seen the very long and happy my time with him and any terrible not understandable finish of our relations in future. I didn't know why but I believed in this scenario, which nobody wrote me and that was as a strike or dream. But I knew without any hesitations that it was my fate and I should follow it. And I approached to him.

    I suggested drinking something and he promised to wait for me. I went to snack bar and bought something. The known people and friends asked, why I forget about them. I forget really about everything in this moment and for some next years too. Edward (that was his name) told me, that he wanted to invite me for dancing one hour before in other place of hall, but I was as if enclosed by myself in the savage and finally relaxed dance.

    "You are so clever and even genius that you decided to do it once me", - told I.

    "But couldn't not to do it", - answered Ed.

    We were really happy to be together. It seemed that there was no strength, which could tear us one from another. We had both such feeling that all our previous life was only the introduction to this meeting and union. The rest part of night we stood hugged or dance together and nothing could divide us. Somebody told us that some straight homophobian hooligans attacked the building of cinema, where the disco took place, and many police cars came. Some friends again and again approached us and told us something. We were really at the seventh sky from this moment and I lived with this feeling for seven years.

    When we left the cinema building through the specially guarded exit, everything was already calm and nice in the morning Moscow. Of coarse, I get dressed before leaving "Leningrad". I told Ed about my life and family, while he informed me, that he was living near Moscow with his parents and had a married older sister. I remembered about my mind strike in this moment, but I didn't tell him what would be our common relations, life and final result in future. I felt also that Ed was a very spoiled child in family, and again my premonitions didn't fail to live up to. But how I could regret about it if he was my favorite boy in life.

    After the first our meeting and night in "Leningrad" Edward visited me in my home. We had everything but he left me always before the night. Though he was quite young, he was very experienced in sex. But not this was important. Our different relations were very harmonious not to the different types of sex, but first of all because they had as the bases the very deep and tender feelings. Soon I left Ed for a week. I went to the OT (Organization of Transformation) conference that took place on the Baltic Sea (Gulf of Finland) near St. Petersburg.

    3. Gay conference organized by Vlad and Swedes

    I want to confess that I wanted to meet there Dima, as we agreed with him to do beforehand. Of coarse I understood that any sexual relations wit him became impossible now. This impossibility of other relations of such type became the rule for me in some next years in all my affairs and trips. But Dima came in Moscow himself. Therefore I didn't see him in Leningrad, while one Dutch gay Ton from OT conference decided to visit the gay conference in Moscow.

    Vlad organized this international conference together with some Swedish gay organizations. The different problems of gay and lesbian community were discussed at the conference. Vlad asked me to make a report about role of music on our gay life. But the topics of other speeches were devoted to the more general questions. The doctor from Center at Malomoskovskay (just he wrote then the dissertation with the "bad" things about gays, as my friend Pavel told me) spoke about the psychological problems, another psychologist told about suicides in our community, Dima Lichev informed about AIDS problems in Russia and so on.

    My Dutch friend Ton told about situation in their family, where he and his two youngest brothers were gays, while the oldest fourth brother was the straight one. One of the brothers was HIV-infected. He said that their parents (I knew them quite well personally by the OT Conference in Hungary) were very tolerant to all their sons and supported all of them. Ton said that it was not so simple process even for their clever and kind parents to adopt the gay nature of their sons. I was in Amsterdam and understood that the problem of interrelations with parents was still real for many gays even there. In my mind Amsterdam is the second capital of gay world after San Francisco, if to forget about such gay colossus as New York or London. We can be proud that our Moscow is also not behind the entire Planet.

    At Vlad's Conference I translated the speech of Ton from English into Russian and was astonished, why the facts which were given by Ton, summoned the smiles or laugh of some people in the hall. Our problems were still quite different, though finally they were the same. I translated some other speeches of another Scandinavian people too.

    When Ton decided to leave OT conference with me earlier by two days before its completion. We informed the best our friends that we should go at Moscow gay conference. Of coarse everybody knew about it. They asked me: "Do you want to do the same translating work there for the sexual minorities?"

    "Yes, I shall do, because I am devoted to them", - answered I.

    For some of people there, especially for Russian ones it was similar to explosion. Anyway it was my first step or rehearsal before my full opening of my nature in family and another OT conference that took place in two years in English City Pool ("Gaunts House"). One brother of Ton was at this conference with his German boy friend and they were as a couple. Much later I've read in Russian newspapers as Boris Moiseyev and Andrei Cherkisov (a man from organizational meeting of "Rainbow" and a commentator at "Echo of Moscow") made the same step too. I want to note that in both publications (by Boris and by Adrei) they spoke about their great love to San Francisco. I was extremely happy to read it, because me relation to this gay city is perfectly the same.

    I met Ed before the conference in underground. It was many years ago, but I remember quite well his gray costume and his luminous happy face, when we met. In general Ed was together with me at the conference the most part of time. It was a time, when it was difficult for us not to be together even when I had my speech or translated. In the intervals we picked up at the second floor of building and made the love on the soft sofas. Ed was also astonished, when I tried to put my fingers in his ass hole": he liked long time before me to feel there the real instrument. That was a problem for us, which we should solve after the conference.

    Ed helped me to prepare this speech at home. Indeed we prepared together the musical illustrations of my report, and it was the first and very positive experience of our common work together, which we repeated successfully many times in future in many directions. Both of us liked to fulfill the work with pleasure and in harmony one with another. I felt that Ed was quite well informed about modern music especially pop music and help and knowledge helped us to prepare the excellent illustrations (gay chorus from Los Angeles, songs of A.Pugacheva and A.Rosenbaum, Elton John and other gay singers and groups from abroad).

    By regret my report was the last in conference and some people were already tired and anyway my musical illustrations (I took with me my own recorder) collected in hall all participants of conference though it was a time to be prepared for the supper or banquet. I wanted to see Dima in hall, when I spoke, because I wanted to stand out "in all my splendor" before him, but he was absent in hall, and it spoilt a little my mood and spirit of my talking. But I felt the Ed's support and it was a nice feeling.

    Vlad also tried to be kind with me and finally invited Ed and me at the final banquet or reception in honor of closing the so successful conference. We were one of the firsts at banquet and managed to have a good food and drinking. Everybody, who came later, missed it. After all, the dances were begun and we danced happy with Ed. Suddenly the current flew through me: I noticed Dima approaching to me. He kissed me and was very merry. Ed became very gloomy; he invited me in the lobby and asked to behave in the proper way.

    Our clarification of relations was very loud and Dima, who passed a few times by us, didn't decide to approach me once more. Soon Ed suggested me to leave at all explaining it by his long way home. Near the exit I've seen Dima leaving the rest room and one of his Moscow friends, whom I wanted to see so eagerly before it. They hugged one to another, and this friend told Dima that he loved him and admired of his knowledge of German (Dima really knows German well). It was specially "intended" for me. I understood that these friends to help Dima always to have a winning game with me, and I hated this game. Both of us - Ed and I left this building quickly and tried to forget about this accident, Dima and his friends.

    4. To keep relations is not easier than to install them

    What was wrong in my relations with Ed? I had many different trips. Probably it was a reason of some jealousy and betrayals of Ed, probably his nature. But just after my first monthly trip in England in the beginning of our relations Ed confessed that he betrayed me. In this time and further it created much pain and suffering for me. I wrote many verses (as in the case of Sasha from Ivanovo) connected with my feelings and problems during my contacts with Ed. Many of them I gave him. He asked me: "If you write about me in such way, what can be attractive for you in me?"

    "My love and devotion to you", - answered I. But really sometimes it was strange even for my self, how could I forgive him.

    We had two trips abroad together: in Hungary - for the international meeting of European men, and in Germany - by invitation of our common friend Carol. In Germany we visited many other my friends. Near Berlin we visited my long-time friend by correspondence Bernd, who lived near Brandenburg. Bernd met us at the railway station and by old GDR-car took us to his home. He gave us the food and showed everything inside his house. Then he asked me to fuck him. I told Ed that I couldn't do it, especially because he was nearby. "I can do it instead of you", - suggested Ed. I was shocked and nothing was said in answer - I was paralyzed.

    When he done it, Ed understood, what was done, and he asked to excuse him. He hugged and kissed me and we made such sex in the presence of Berndt as if it was our first case. Frankly I couldn't forget and forgive Ed for a long time, and we never remembered that case.

    Many things in my relation with Ed were painful and even terrible for me, because he was probably the only one in this world, whom I loved both in life and sex. Just my meeting with him and the years of my life with him showed me as nothing else my gay nature and belonging to our gay world and community. I am thankful to him probably due to it in spite of the ache and tortures to those I was subjected by him. I don't mean here S&M, but indeed Ed had somewhat a sadistic nature and the affording of pain to other people gave him some enjoyment or satisfaction.

    My trip in London took place in December. After my coming back Ed and I had so frequent meetings and visits to discos. At one of disco we danced and some usual couple approached to us and said:

    "We had never seen two people, who loved one to another in such way". They made this conclusion only seeing how we danced.

    Ed was afraid to invite me in his home. Early in Spring I conducted him in late time to his city Zhukovsky. He didn't want to leave me and I didn't want to leave him. We walked along the sleeping streets of Night City. Both of us had the quite light not so warm cloth. But the heat was inside of us and it was warm. It was the last case before my visit to his house, where his mother met us with hospitality.

    So, my often visits to their house were begun. They occurred with one condition: I could go to Ed only when his father was on night duty at his work. I stayed there for the total nights, and it was so strange and deadly for my family, because never before there was a case, when I didn't sleep at home. But they felt that I was in the extraordinary state and kept silence.

    Ed and I began to work together in one advertising company. It was necessary to call often in the different places as well as to visit them. Ed came to my real work and used telephone there, while we managed to go in the different organizations together. We liked to be together, and we were practically all the time together. It seemed to be so that we could never get tired or bored one wit other. Often we visited the different discos together and e was always with me, when some friends by correspondence came, and we showed then everything in Moscow. I mentioned about our time with Ray, Olivier and the group of square dances from the United States.

    We both agreed to take by three dancers for a couple nights. By regret Ed couldn't do it in the first day, and all six American were in my flat and really in one its room. Next day Ed took "his" people to his place. I was very jealous, when I've seen Ed dancing with his guys at the disco, where all Americans were invited and we were with them. It was again Roman's disco, but in another cinema - now "Mir". We visited also the performance of dances, when they invited us also to take part in their dances. Here I had again the same feelings. In the interval Ed paid his attention (and mine too) to the group of young gays with their old "sugar daddy". It was new for both of us. It was clear that the "daddy" was rich and with money and he practically bought the boys. It was strange to see that the boys were quite pleased with this situation. Then I met often the same situation in the United States, where I went in autumn.

    Therefore the first difficulties appeared in our relations very quickly. But I was than as a blind man and didn't paid attention to them. In the end of the first year that I called "A flash" I wrote to Ed the following words:

    The fire that burned all my soul,

    The love that became as present

    I bring, and I feel deeply so:

    Till end I shall try to receipt.

    Where have you been, my darling,

    When I was covered by smoke,

    When so greatly vulnerable,

    I drew this so heavy yoke.

    When I was so alone,

    When I was covered by shade,

    When had the fractures in bones,

    The ache had the terrible spread.

    You found the keys so quickly,

    You came, when I've finished to ride

    You managed to save twisted trunk,

    Which was so sunk to one-side.

    And I am again rebelling,

    And certainly I want to see,

    How you will try hardly to handle

    And how could find the key. It's seen that we are similar so,

    And Fate tried us both to shake,

    In hearts and on skin made incisions,

    Combined us for Heaven's sake.

    Our meeting was natural so,

    The year was really full,

    And love will be so essential,

    We will swim in happiness pool.

    My faithful, intimate, considerate!

    Let sprouts will grow as a trunk,

    Become not so short, while so straight,

    And thoughts will be really light.

    Let's feel, what for us is the main,

    And Fate will be kind to us.

    And God makes it really vain

    To change Paradise in Chaos.

    5. My visits behind the ocean to friends

    After his coming in Moscow my American friend by correspondence Ray wrote an article about his trip to Moscow. He described in details the entire places and people, which I showed or introduced to him. I was a little proud of being a good guide, when I read the article. Anyway I felt that I could do it even better, because I knew such things, which he couldn't even guess. Anyway he invited me as well as the editors of gay publications, when they were in my home, to visit the United States. I had an idea in my turn to write something about the USA and would astonish the American readers. By that time I managed to publish some articles in magazine "Our World" and hoped that my materials about USA would appear there too. And it was really so.

    As I mentioned, Ray couldn't manage to collect money from American gays, and finally I went to America by invitation of another friend by correspondence Robin from a small City Vancouver, state Washington. I was leaving Moscow in days of known October events, when Edward and I could see the fire of White House and the bullets traces in air over Moskva River from my balcony.

    Edward helped me to collect things, and we were ready finally to go in Airport. The events made, of coarse, uneasy and seemingly dimming my prospects of ever seeing this far (in all respects) country. Anyway we left my house, used the underground and a bus and reached the airport. I felt Ed nearby, and it increased my strength and resoluteness. We hugged one to another before customer formalities and said good-buy. Ed wished me the good flight, time and return to Moscow and he promised to wait for me.

    The flights to San Francisco were organized in that time from Sheremetievo-1. At the passport control the man asked me in addition to passport to show him the invitation. Usually the invitation was important only for embassy that gave you a visa. I put it in my luggage. It was strange that I was permitted to go to the luggage, which had been yet not sent to airplane and was luckily at place. I found the necessary papers with great difficulties (I had so many things in luggage) and showed them to the controlling man. There were no any other problems. And my flight by Aeroflot through the Northern Pole was begun.

    The team of stewards at airplane was not young in age, though they were kind and courteous and it was a little strange after so stressed atmosphere in Moscow. Crossing the Northern Pole was really important for me but some people in plane even didn't pay attention to it. In city Auckrage at Alaska we had only the short stop, it was important for me, as in the first time in my life I felt myself in America. There was also a change of airplane team, and the young stewards came inside instead the old ones. It was such feeling as if the same people became younger by 20-30 years. I understood that even in this not very important thing our country tried to have the noble or better face. These Russian contradictions are so evident everywhere as if somebody wants to create the "Potjomkin village" of Russia and the real Russia. What is better, I don't know, but it is really so Russian style; though nobody in the world wants finally to represent himself from the "bad" side.

    Though Ed tried to improve my mood and to smooth the defects and tensions of GPCh reality, I left Russia a little nervous but changed my outlook immediately on arriving in San Francisco. Practically all the gays from square dance group living in this city came to the airport to meet me with the slogan: "Vladimir, we love you!"

    Robin, who invited me in the USA, was a little astonished, why so many gays knew me beforehand. I told him shortly a story how I helped them with sightseeing and that several staying with me. We said to my dancing friend good-buy and agreed that I would visit them after the trips with Robin around other places and my visits to New Orleans and Denver, because my departure in Moscow should be again from San Francisco. And really after coming back in San Francisco my friends threw a wonderful party for me showing a film recounting their trip to Moscow. I was also invited to dance rehearsals, meetings and disco evenings.

    But what took place before it? Robin tried besides many sightseeing to organize our visits to different discos in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. I want to say at once, that after my visits in such clubs of London (England) and Basel (Switzeland) I found surprisingly all of them very similar, scarcely differing from our Moscow discos, usually packed with a few hundreds gay men and lesbians. And if nothing else is universal about bars and clubs, they all offer too-loud music and non-stop smoking. But I like it.

    The dances in discos of the United States were much bettered organized. The square or country dances are especially good for gays and lesbians dancing in couples. Usually the dances at Russian Discos are not for couples and everybody makes in dance what he wants. The dancing club that was not so far from our hotel at the central street of San Francisco (Market Street) was popular just to its square and similar dances. There was a special man or coach, who showed the dances and was a manager of this entire event. I danced with many gays and Robin and was happy. I managed to meet one guy, who worked in Russia and I met him finally in Moscow at one of our discos.

    San Francisco astonished me with its openness and fine architecture, the huge long bridges, the excellent parks, the hills or mountains, at which the city is located, and especially by the Capital of gay life - Castro area with so cozy streets and corners, where I felt myself as a fish in water. We visited here the nice restaurants intended specially for gay people and I was really happy to be in so friendly places. The existence of separate parts of Korean, Chinese, Italian, Russian etc. San Francisco was wonderful. Frankly when I felt it, I was in envy: the gays here as well as everywhere in States could find the different figures, white, yellow and black faces and cocks, which they most liked. We had before some similar situation it the former Soviet Union, and my trips and impressions about it in "My Spartacus 1 and 2" for Russia and the former Soviet Republics will confirm it when you read this part in the former "Manevr".

    I couldn't understand the humor of the performance "Beach, Blanket Babilon" in the Italian part of San Francisco in the beginning, but gradually I "cut' their way of joking and laughed till I was about to drop from the table (all spectators were sitting around tables with snack and drinking).

    What was especially wonderful for me on my excursions to Portland and Seattle was the " marriage" of natural open spaces and high-rise cities. I visited the Timberline Club in Seattle enjoying again the square (country) dances so popular everywhere in the U.S. Some dances were performed on such good level that I felt myself being at the ballet of good theater.

    In Portland I was taken to see "A chorus Line", a most unusual musical play with some heroes-gays. I sampled here also the exclusively gay restaurant "Cascades", where Robin organized an unforgettable evenings of introductions to the gay and lesbian community. It was so that some friends of Ray were also at these meetings. Robin organized then another three meetings with different gay friends in other parts or restaurants of city. On Sunday I was very moved by a meeting with the congregation of the Metropolitan Community Church where I spoke on the positive changes in Russia and the formation of the Russian Triangle Association.

    In my second visit to Portland after a year the Church had another priest. Robin said that the first one was not neutral sexually to some gays visiting the Church and was dismissed. In evening Robin and I visited the rolling-skating rink of city. One evening a week this rink was given to gays and lesbians. It was a happiness to skate among gays on the excellent parquet of hall that was initially intended for country-dances. In five minutes I began to skate without fear. Of coarse I've fallen on floor, hurt one knee and tore the trousers open on this place. But I continued to skate as well as Robin with great pleasure. Many gays skated in couples. I thought: "Where is my Ed?" Finally I decided to invite the tall, slim and handsome guy standing near the wall. He told me:

    "Vladimir, you have seen me today in the church. I decided to come for seeing how my parishioners enjoy their free time and sport".

    Only then I recognized that it was a new priest of MCC church, with whom we became further also the friends by correspondence.

    I was most expressed with my stop during rehearsals of the Seattle Gay Chorus, that was organized by Kevin, who had visited me in Moscow and with whom we visited the flat of Masha and met Genie. My story for chorus about our Russian gay situation was heard with interest in the interval of rehearsal. Kevin helped me too to visit the excellent evening- meeting with known actor and writer Quentin Crisp. Guentin gave the excellent one-man show "An Evening with Quentin Crisp". Just now I remember his wise answer to my question:

    "What are you thinking about gay revolution in Russia?"

    He said: "It is better not to have any new revolutions in Russia at all".

    I loved him as actor when I have seen this great actor in Moscow in

    the film "Orlando" (he played the queen Elizabeth), and both of us Ed and I admired him. But I couldn't imagine that so many gays in the USA loved him too. Due to my Danish Friends Bjarne and Miro from Herning I've seen later some other films with his participation, and in the next part you will find my reaction on the film about his young years in London, where another actor played his role. I've read also his clever books. Quentin was a man, whom it is impossible not to love, because he was the Great Man and Gay and he made so much for all of us in the former XX century. We should often

    remember his humor, ideas, advises.

    While in the North East of U.S. I was able owing to Robin to make short trips through the beautiful countryside and along the picturesque Pacific coast, visiting the Columbia River Gorge with its huge stone prick and the gay beach that reminded me the Moscow's Swan Beach. The same thoughts I had in the Rose Garden of Portland, where the upper part was the garden of "fruits (gays)" laying there perfectly nude and showing the interest to the newcomers or cars driving nearby. The behavior of gays was perfectly the same as in our Moscow and everywhere.

    We traveled north into British Columbia, Canada, where Robin and I toured the dynamic city of Vancouver and the very British Island of Victoria. Never before have I seen such an attractive, hospital, and clean city as Victoria. I remembered forever the local chocolate shop. In general it seems as if the original settlers brought with them the very best of their homeland's architecture and culture. In the unrepeatable Butchards Garden in some kilometers from Victoria we were for some hours among beautiful fountains and thousand flowers. The garden was so picturesque, harmonic and spiritual that it was impossible to find the better place for relaxation, inspiration and unity with nature that here.

    In Vancouver we stopped by two Sisters Bookshop (the details - in the next part of book) where I met the very charming sisters-owners of shops who recommended several interesting gay publications that almost doubled my luggage weight! When the gays from Square Dance Group visited me in Moscow I was astonished with the sizes of their suitcases and luggage. I am perfectly the same and when I am traveling I have the same problem. It is so difficult not to take extra things and it is so typical for all gays!

    I discovered in Vancouver a pleasant bar, Papa's place, where many gays relax after work and to drink a bottle of beer. With two nice local gays I had after it a long friendly correspondence. I also had a very warm and informative meeting in the offices of local gay newspaper, "Angels". After my departure from America they published my long story to them about Russian Gay problems. In all gay cafes or restaurants of USA and Canada you can find free of charge the local gay publications and other current information about the life of our community.

    In hotel "Dafferney", where we stayed with Robin, I've seen down in cafe the striptease dance of very sportive and handsome guy with long golden hairs. Frankly speaking I've never seen in my life the man with so beautiful, long and proportional prick as this dancer had. Robin left soon, while I saw all the performance till final end. It was really expressive and the dancer made everything without a shadow of pettiness. I could understand the people surrounding the scene: after dance they were directed to scene trying to touch this dancer and his tremendous treasure.

    The quality of service in hotels and restaurants in North America was really good. The gay men and lesbians working in the service industry throughout my trip were very warm and helpful, making me feel quite at home. I must emphasize that the level of service was everywhere extraordinary. I can't imagine a waiter in any Russian city inquiring repeatedly about the quality of food and service.

    From Portland I flew through Saint Louis to New Orleans, a completely different city from any other in the U.S. To actually be where William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams had lived and created great books had always been a goal of mine. I stood awed in front of the "streetcar named desire," plied the mighty Mississippi on an authentic steamboat, walked the Garden District with its magnificent mansions and soaked in the atmosphere of the French Quarter.

    Ray met in the airport and looked at my warm clothing with astonishment and at once suggested taking off everything up to T-shirt. I've never before met such heat in October and such cold weather, with which New Orleans conducted me. For the short two weeks I met here so many kind, heartily and sympathetic people that I couldn't imagine before coming here.

    "The Quarter" is a living museum, where visitors become absorbed in the ceaseless festive atmosphere. The gay bars were especially welcoming, and actually remain open 24 hours every day. For those who search for pleasure and relaxation, the Quarter is the place to be!

    While in this exceptional city a friend Ben, one of the many Americans with whom I have corresponded and who knew my country during the dark days of Soviet rules, combined the business trip with the opportunity to meet with me. He stayed at one of the tidy atmospheric gay hotels. I was struck again by the lack of rules and regulations, even in guesthouses. We are in Russia only beginning to experiment with this open lifestyle. I was pleased to see semi-nude people on the inner balconies of building, to visit the comfortable room of Ben, where we could realized some our hidden dreams and desires of many-years. Ben acquainted me with a semi-Hungarian - semi-German - semi-Jewish Austrian gay, who had a desire to visit and to see Moscow.

    I was wined and dined at some of the city's fine restaurants such as Sisters and Cafe du Monde, where Ben invited me. If I had to pick a favorite from all of the exceptional restaurants I was fortunate enough to sample, it would be Cafe Sterling where Ray took me for a special evening and where I met a waiter reminding me my Moscow dancing friend Igor.

    I also had the opportunity to see a fascinating film on the life of Gertrude Stein and meet the members of Third Thursday and Lavender Moon, local gay and lesbian business groups. What a joy to make contact with such cultured and kindhearted people. New Orleans is a city, where many old gays (sugar daddies) with their young lovers are coming. A few such happy and unusual couples I met during my being at this evening and in New Orleans at all.

    Continuing my "education" we stopped by the popular Good Friends, later moving on to a strip show club where I was enthralled by five dancers on special stages. They represented the types of main races living in the USA, but a slim black dancer especially attracted me. He was extremely beautiful and a long prick that paralyzed me. One Russian prejudice I found hard to overcome though was the idea that these young men (one was better than another) were performing for money that patrons were waving about. The black dancer felt my feelings to him, approached to me and gave me a possibility to touch his great penis. My friends put money for me in his conditional shorts. After it other local friends invited me to bars with similar shows that, I am afraid, appeared most unseemly to me: the black angel stood for a long time before my eyes and the "burn" of my hand from the fire of his tremendous organ was still burning. And the dancers here reminded me the habitues of the garden near Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.

    Again, my greatest pleasure was meeting the wonderful hospitable men and lesbians, and straight people, whom I will never forget. Ray's friends were so charming and receptive. I was particularly taken with Steve and Mel and a gay couple who had been together for over 30 years, a situation rare in my country. I remember quite well their clean as museum house-paradise of this couple with many souvenirs and subjects of their hobbies, their small and clever dogs, and I keep the descriptions of their scientific results - both of them were the good medical specialists on kidneys.

    A visit to Ray's grandmother's 92nd birthday gave me insight into a real American get together. Listening to the "strange" accents, the conversations and watching people's interactions were most entertaining for me. It was also the very first time many of Ray's relatives (there were more than hundred of them) had met a "real" Russian. They even touched me. The birthday was remarked at the shore of lake, where we came through the bridge longest in the world. Not far from this place there were the houses of Ray's mother and Ray's sister. The former friend of Ray Frank was living with his mother and helps her. The fact that the men were working in U.S. as a housemaid was a little strange for me: if in Russia women make many hard works, in the USA everything is vice versa.

    My visit to New Orleans coincided with the annual Halloween celebration, an unbelievable affair. Although planned and programmed ahead, the spontaneity and improvisation was extraordinary and the participants' dress impressed me immensely. What inventiveness and inspiration you have to create these colorful costumes and the unending dancing and merriment. An attending Tsar and Tsaritza, not to mention the completed uninhibited almost nude men and women in skimpy yet dramatic attire especially impressed me.

    This wonderful event was preceded and followed by two special parties. One (before) was a very elegant formal affair held in a magnificent "palace" of "former black-slave owners" and the other (after), a disco, was organized on two floors of a large building near the Mississippi river. The celebration spilled out and up to Bourbon Street with masses of people enjoying life. I remember one joke of a gay from the marchers. He asked somebody from the greeting people not to say his mother that they had seen him among gays. I wondered what friends of mine in Moscow would think of me involved in this whirl of unrestrained gaiety! I was overcome with a feeling of gay pride and mused about probably being the first Russian ever to experience this event. This was the perfect ending to my visit to a one of a kind city.

    A few days later I was on the plane to Denver to meet with specialists in solar energy, my field of work, and of course, members of local and Lesbian Community. Denver was somewhat of a culture shock after New Orleans. A nicely laid out city. I was most expressed by the Capital Hill section with its many gay shops and gay crises on cars in Washington park. My stop at the editorial offices of Out Front, the gay paper, was productive, and I was able to learn first hand about Colorado boycott. I met Denis, who was in my Moscow place with the square dances' group, and his partner Carl. They invited me at the excellent birthday party of a girl, who collected a dozen excellent gays. They also treated me to the Casa Bonita restaurant where I savored Mexican food and was astonished with the size of practically Mexican village under roof and artificial waterfall.

    I was fascinated by the by excursion to the old mining towns that Denis organized for my by his car. The mountains reminded me the beautiful volcano hills on Kamchatka Peninsula that I had seen about ten years before it. Rocky Mountains were the place, where there were the known events of "golden fever". In one city here I had the confident feeling that I was here before. I could even to call to Denis what was after unknown corners of streets. Both of us were astonished. Probably I've seen something in films. Anyway it was a strange coincidence. In the same mining town I "lost my shirt" in my first ever casino, where there were real native American Indians playing with automates. But the "lost" didn't spoil my impressions from the magnificent Rocky Mountains being around with the US pearl - a national park "Golden Gates".

    6. American impressions from the windows of cars and a Peter's day

    I wrote about gay cruise in Denver, which was intended for the gays in cars and about my travels with Robin along the pacific coast of West -East part of United States and with Denis in Rocky Mountains. (Denis died of AIDS next year after my visit). I managed to see so much from the windows of cars. Robin also took me in Canada (in Victoria and Vancouver) by car from Seattle. In New Orleans Ray took me by car to his mother, sister and grandmother celebration, and it was the long and so interesting ways, for example, through the mentioned bridge. But I want to remember also the other riding. I begin from New Orleans, when we drove along different areas of city. It was a little strange for me to hear the explanations and recommendations of Ray or his friends. When we drove one street Ray explained me that to the right there was the hospital for alcoholic women. "Please, don't look in their side, they don't like it", -told he to me.

    Then we crossed the center for preventive measures against AIDS and fighting with AIDS. "It is better not to see: the AIDS infected are suffering of it", -said Ray.

    The same comments concerned the windows of cafe for lesbians.

    We continued our way in the district, where the black people lived. "Don't look at them attentively, because they could understand you not friendly with them", -repeated Ray. And really in some cheap shops for black people that Ray recommended to me the reaction of these people was in the beginning strange and cautious. So, I didn't know in what direction it was possible to look. Some compensation for me was a reaction of one pretty gay when I looked at him attentively and unequivocally. He said: "You want to play, please, pay!" At least, it was possible to look at him.

    The roads in New Orleans spoilt a little this green and unusual city located lower than a sea level. The Ray's friend Mel showed me the large areas with shops in city center and far from it, which were convenient for purchases. But I understood once more that the most interesting part of New Orleans was its French Quarter, where both of them - Ray and Mel were living and where it was better to move on foot.

    With my own foot I reached the gay sauna of New Orleans, where in the beginning Ray bought me a souvenir - a dildo of their known gay film star Striker and the pass for coming inside. The sauna didn't differ from the similar places in Europe (the same long corridors with absorb lights, the small rooms with TV, beds and black walls and the same gays with the same behavior). As in the strip bars of New Orleans, I found here many types and colors of skin, bodies and different pricks. There were many nice black and Southeast Asian gays. The Chinese guys liked me more that other visitors of this place. I can't agree with judgments of some Russian friends about sizes and hardness of Chinese pricks - they were really hard as stones and looked as the ripe fruits.

    After New Orleans and Denver I returned in San Francisco, where I came as well during another my two visits to the United States. I left my heart in this city not only because it was a place dear to all gay men and lesbians. I found and have there many good and reliable friends. Every time there was some "fighting" between them how to divide me and my time and how to show me the most interesting things. I may to write about them much without stopping. All of them drove me by cars and I want now to remember these trips by cars in San Francisco. Therefore I should remember such new things as sling, S&M and a club of suckers, about which I knew there and which were really new for me. Don't think, please that tried out them, but now I know what they mean.

    The most reliable and good my friend in San Francisco is Mike, who was among the gays lived in my home. Usually Mike invited and conducted me with his car in airport. Every time I stayed in his hospital house with Siamese cats on the hill over Castro district. The manner, in which h e drove his car along steep slopes and turns of streets, astonished me always. Once I went with Mike along the central part of San Francisco, and he showed me on the way the places, where before the AIDS epidemic there were the elite gay clubs closed later on.

    Remembering my genuine interest and even shock, when I've seen the sling with its leather river bed, chains and whips as well as the films with S&M, which he and his boy friend John showed me in the unlimited amount, Mike said that the similar sling stood usually somewhere near the entrance in many such clubs and practically everybody rarely walked past it, because the man with the surprisingly beautiful legs and a structure of ass hole laid usually there.

    "At least 15-20 people per night didn't neglect this wonderful total arrangement", - said Mike.

    "Why is it so little, if the Russian gay were laying there, his carrying capacity could constitute up to 30 clients", - note I with a joke containing some share of my believe in the truth of this judgment.

    "But how could the newcomers perceive it, when they knew that so many people used this ass hole before them?" - asked I.

    Mike softly answered that many of them were sure that they were first and single. In that time I remembered my Russian experience in the bath with showers near Donskoi crematorium as well as my visits to saunas in Copenhagen, West Berlin, Basel and here in the United States in New Orleans. Everything is similar or the same everywhere - there are the cabins, where the quite sweet and pleasant man could wait for you, and often you couldn't even imagine how many people liked (or fucked) him only today before you. Such things astonished me especially in the United States, where their sad experience seemed to study the people to be careful, while in the reality everything took place in the same manner as in my Russian saunas and clubs and another similar place of the world. And again and again I make sure how similar is everywhere our gay world, which is living under all conditions, systems and times with the same laws and customs that are subject only to it.

    Nevertheless Mike underlined the many such clubs were closed after the death of many "stars' of sling. I knew about the fact, that such clubs was partially remained in the USA, only during my second and third visits to States, and I managed even to visit some of them. Another my friend by square dances group and a comrade by profession Peter managed to show me in San Francisco in one day so much for somebody it could be impossible for the total life. I shall try to remember now this sunny Sunday April day. Similar to Mike with his John, Peter with two his gay-partners lived then in separate tree-floor house also not so far from Castro district and park "Golden Gate". Just in Castro district there was the excellent hall, where the dancers from the group coached their dances with the excellent bearded coach. Here mike invited me a few times during my visits in States and I liked all their dances and of course all these nice dancers - gays and lesbians. Many of them were living near or inside Castro district and as they tried to take me for 3-4 days, I managed to feel or to see this Castro from the different sides and all of them drove me by their cars.

    As to Peter, he and two his friends lived together in all aspects. I astonished every time how it was possible. Now this artificial union was over, they divided the common property and Peter has another boy friend. But in the described time they were together and all were glad to meet me. The oldest friend of Peter was an inspector on supporting the old people and pensioners. He liked to visit the sports hall for gays, where he found the third partner, and what was friendly accepted in the beginning. I want to repeat that all three were very kind with me. But Peter decided to show me "his" San Francisco alone.

    In the morning his partners went for long ride by bicycles. I liked in the United States that many gays were so sportive. Just there they have many corresponding competitions and even the Olympic games. I was astonished how they could ride by bicycles in San Francisco itself with its hills, deep slopes and rises. Every time even after a half-hour driving in city by car with friends I had the same state as after 11-hours flight Moscow-San Francisco. So the guys left and Peter and I went on the hill located not so far, from where we could see the considerable part of city. Every time the cite seemed to be beautiful, mysterious and dear, light and rectangular, green and blue, because it was possible to see the ocean and the gay spirit of Castor hanged over. Because of my delight and really wonderful gentle Sun, transparent air and other kind and not numerous visitors, Peter decided to prolong a little our planned time at hill. I didn't know then that Peter planned the schedule of trip in minutes.

    After hill we drove by car to the city center in the direction of Fisher embankment. We visited the huge department store. Peter as well as another visitors had the membership, paid pass that allowed to buy here with the highly reduced prices. I've bought some souvenirs (dry mushrooms, sweats, honey etc.) for my relatives including the Ed's family.

    After it we drove to the gay theater. Today they showed for us "Camellia", the play written by novel A.Duma. All accents were shifted in the play: the prostitute Camellia tried deviating the honest young men from the right way. The roles of men were played by evident gays with special emphasizing of gay manners and style of speaking. I was astonished still keeping the sympathy to the ill Camellia, which was played by a little stern actress with a large sense of humor. All the performance was full of merriment and humor and finally all pleased spectators including me accompanied the actors with long applaud. Leaving the theater and looking at the photos from other performances, I felt that the cultural gay life in San Francisco was so rich and interesting. Just here the largest festivals of g/l films takes place, and I was happy to see the retrospective show of them in Moscow, Paris and Copenhagen.

    I knew that there were another gay theaters in city, but Peter took me in car and asked me to change the cloth and to put a leather jacket and cap, which he tried on me still at home. I put also the black glasses. We left our car and went to the Sunday meeting of lovers of "leather things" including Sling and S&M. Inside of large court there was a crowd of guys dressed in leather things. Many of them had the hole in dress opening their ass. Many had the holes on breast, while some of them had entirely nude upper part showing the muscles and biceps. It was obligatory that something would be open and unforeseen and it should wonder, intrigue and amuse. All people had the good and merry mood, drank beer and received some food included in the price of ticket for coming.

    Peter stayed me alone allowing to evaluate all delight or charm of situation, communication, mystery and desire. In addition to many gays getting on in years, who couldn't feel or understand their age, there were some young and pleasant men, many of which came here or found already the friend or standing independently in side. I feel that I am alone first of all not due to my appearance by also by the fact that I was perfectly new here, while another people knew one to another or at least they have seen another gays before. Anyway somebody touched me and strikes my most sensitive place. I saw a high pleasing blond with open breast.

    But Peter approached to me and my Brownian motion in the leather club was over. We were in hurry on other place - MCC church at Castro. I changed again my cloth and soon I was introduced to some visitors including a couple of young gay and his older friend. They reminded me at once Ed and me. It was so that just this older man should tell about his new book in church.

    In the beginning there was a church service, which was so democratic in this MCC church and I liked it. The church was totally full; there were invalids and quite handsome young gays attracting my attention at once. I feel that they came here for service, though I remembered that my friend Robin found his Fernando just in such church of Portland. Now the priest was ill and somebody read for him the text of prayers, which are always new and modern in MCC taking of course the canons of Christianity. Somebody from invalids cried and another people consoled him.

    At last it was a turn of the older man to speak. He was before the agent of FBI and informed us about his life and fate, how his parents and relatives met his inversion, gay nature and behavior. All of them, especially his mother were above prejudices and rumors and accepted him as he was. By regret, it was completely not understood in his secret organization FBI, where he worked. I tried during his story to find the analogies and differences with Russian experience and my own story especially concerning the reaction of parents and relatives. As to this gay, he had to leave his working place after some years of successful and conscientious work. Now he met his young and reliable friend. After the presentation of book I came to this young boy and told him about my relations with Ed.

    Then we had coffee and some dessert that was brought by parishioners. After it Peter and I returned home and after a short relax went at the evening of guitar music and then - to the sex-club. At the musical meeting that took place in the usual house we found a large amount of good Peter friends. Therefore they accepted me very warmly. The music and atmosphere reminded me the spirit of my excellent music club in Moscow. The people were collected both for music and mutual spiritual contacts. By regret the extremely good impression of this evening was exceeded by the subsequent event.

    After music we went by car at once to the club, the place of which I didn't remember. We stayed the car behind overpass and approached the usual door in house. Of course I couldn't come, because I had no club pass. Peter paid 40 $ and I received the card of club member, which would allow me to visit club for a quite long time. We came inside and as ever Peter left at once after control on my own to make acquaintance and to probe in all taken place there. The first thing that I want to remark consists of the fact that nobody there did use any preservatives in spite of AIDS. That was the club of suckers and only such sex was practiced in all corners of club. It is known that AIDS isn't transferred with such sex. Probably it is true.

    There were so many different holes on the different levels of walls between real and conditional rooms. I was a little astonished that many of them reminded me perfectly the same hole in toilets of our Moscow, Kiev or Poltava (now they are the cities of different states). The holes were mainly on the same height and with the same sizes as in my homeland that allowed me a little to relax. As in gay saunas there were here the small way for "cruising", their own nooks and cabins. Some dozens of nude gays walked along them, tried to find and found partners, sucked and were sucked.

    I had only one thought in my head: what could be my Ed's behavior, if he were here. In future I shall know that he is perfectly the same as others. But then I approached to one place, where the wholes were at the different levels, and the observation of occurring things digressed me entirely from these thoughts and problems. As the future showed, my worries about Ed were quite real, while in this time Ed really took "revenge" on my being in USA, or probably it was his nature, to which he was faithful - the nature of real gay.

    With great sorrow that I couldn't do the same I looked at the couples in the different poses and with so different actions (the real actions but not the actions from porno films, which were in my mind) and at the intensive use of different holes. However after some quite long experience (without hole and it was better) with a tall well-built man of average age but with the extremely huge prick, which hardly went in my mouth, I forget about everything. This man knew how to make the extraordinary and long enjoyment for both of us. He was polite and also swallowed my prick. We changed our positions a few (better to say - many) times. Finally his fantastic Dick went again in my mouth and after the infinite immersions up to my throat, which together with tongue and lips gradually became quite well adjusted to this enormous size, we finished both perfectly in the same time.

    Finally I was exhausted and relaxed, but Peter approached to me and said that the obtained impressions were probably enough for my and for today. In the beginning I didn't want to leave, but when I've seen that we were in the club of suckers more than three hours, I agreed to drive in car to home all the more so, because I should be busy at the next day (probably as another members of club, which nevertheless had no any desire to leave) to go early by bus in Sacramento for visiting some U.S. companies dealing with the creation of different solar plants. The black lady-driver in bus managed to switch my attention a little from the impressions of yesterday club, which was the last event in the Peter's one-day program for me.

    The known modern Russian writer A.I.Solzhenitsin became known after publication of story "One day of Ivan Denisovich". As a joke I called the mentioned day in San Francisco "One day of Peter Denisovich". In two year after it I came in the USA for the solar conference in Washington. The friend from square dances group and first of all John and Chip helped me again to visit San Francisco, and again I had the marvelous time with all of them divided my time on being in their different places. Of course I decided to visit the Club, but by regret the time of pass card was over. Could you imagine my disenchantment?

    7. In the world of books' kingdom

    I've written already how the total library of gay books was fallen in my hands. The owner of these books was afraid to keep them at home. So I received the books, about which I was completely not informed before. So I knew about this excellent and new for me literature describing the fates and tragedies of gays, their relations and places of their meeting, their settling of Hollywood and cruises in the different US cities, the tragedy of age, their trips to another countries etc. These books contained the unusual real stories and the fictions, sometimes with realization of concealed dreams of author or readers.

    After reading all these books, among which there were the descriptions of gays history and stories, legislation and medical or psychological questions, I suggested to my gay friends, who knew surely English, to read them. Sometimes they took them and gradually some books disappeared forever: the gays are not very obligatory people in this (and other) case. Anyway due to these books I knew myself about so interesting part of literature - the books about gays and for gays. Surely I may speak much about each book, but I have no intention here even to remind their names, because in such way I will never stop.

    Finally one of the first questions to my friend Robin, when I appeared in the United States, was a question, where there were the shops with such books, if they existed at all. I didn't know then, what a wonderful world - the world of gay books' kingdom - would open up before my eyes.

    However in the first bookstore, which I've seen in Seattle in the basement of old building, I didn't get rid yet of my Russian fears: I retired trying ASAP to scramble out to the surface and even not seeing at the books, which stood on the shelves.

    Therefore my first immersion in the so varied world of gay literature took place in Canadian city Vancouver, where there was one of the best in my mind (if not the best at all) shop of such type "Two sisters". Here I was bolder. And how many different books appeared before me! Though a time of my being in the beautiful Vancouver was limited, but at any spare time my foot carried me themselves to this shop, where you could find the well-designed biographies and even autobiographies of known gays and lesbians, fictions, novels, and collections of nice stories published regularly (as in the monthly or quarterly literature magazines in Russia).

    By the way, finally I didn't find in this "our literature" something extraordinary and different in a quality from the other "normal, or straight" literature: simply it was devoted to our people and our life and as a usual literature it could be good or bad.

    On the shelves of "Two sisters", where I found just much "good" literature (in its content), there were the books with excellent designing, graphics, good paper, drawings or photographs. Looking at my genuine interest and ecstasy, one of sisters-the owners of bookstore presented me, in addition to some books bought by my friend Robin (for me) and myself, some marvelous copies, which I kept at home carefully. Could you imagine, what weight of luggage I had, when I left the States finally after a happy month of being there?

    Of coarse, I visited some other bookstores, in particular, in Denver and San Francisco. The bookstore in San Francisco was also huge and excellent. I note here, as everywhere in gay bookstores, which I visited later on, for example, in Basel, Paris or Berlin, there were only friendly and kind sellers wishing always to assist you. But let us come together in shop on Castro. Some years before I sent my verses, which I translated myself in English, in the "Sunshine publishing house" in San Francisco. One my friend by correspondence wrote me from Berlin (he came there from the States for working and looking for a new gay world), that he read my verses and liked them very much. Surely I wanted to find their publication at Castro.

    I found the poetry section in the end of the shop. But the guy on the duty told me in the shop, that there was not such publishing house anymore, while to look over all numerous books with poetry was simply impossible. It is true, that our gay publishing houses or regular publications are often so short-lived. In the same time the high quality of printing, not a small number of copies printed and the good condition of books testify, that the gay book business is a rather profitable and reliable business. "Our people" buy such books and literature with pleasure even in spite of a little expansive price.

    Being in the shop at Castro Street I passed to another departments quickly forgetting about some failure with poetry and stumbling with the unexpected stairs steps (please, take care in Castro shop!). What can you find there? - Everything! Incidentally in the special department I found the numerous gay magazines including "Our world", which was quite well bought up even in the short time, that I was there.

    The owner of bookstore (he and his friend were in that time also the owners of shops in New York and somewhere else) advise me to write a book about myself, because there was not mush literature about gay Russia at all; by regret I made it only now. I was involved in a "thousand" of different matters, and sometimes I didn't feel, what was more important.

    The owner asked me too to bring some Russian gay publication, that I made gladly in the next my visit in the USA, and all main Russian publishers (Vlad Ortanov, Dima Lychiev and Dima Kuzmin) gave me some their publications (the magazines "Argo", "Dimka", newspapers "1/10", "Risk"). Though we have no a special gay bookshop in Moscow (such publications can be bought only in the sex shops), a number of such publications is in Russia constantly grown. For example, the new "GL" (Gay Life) magazine is published. V.Ortanov prepared and published a collection of the best (in his words) stories appeared during some last years, and the stories are really good.

    I visited in the USA another two shops. The bookshop in Washington DC was located near the gay city place at Dupone Circle. I found in shop the very wide range of so different books including the cheap ones and those, which have been read and brought again in the shop for the second sale. I found also there the different subjects for the safe sex and much special medical and psychological literature, in particular, about AIDS. The whole department of this shop was devoted to the perfectly new publications.

    Just the similar sections astonished me in gay bookstore in London, and it concerned especially the new beautiful books: about Liz Taylor, Boy George, Derek Jarman (English film producer and writer) and a writer Quentin Crisp. I wrote in the previous part how I visited the unique concert-meeting with Quentin Crisp in Seattle, and then in Denmark my friends showed me the TV feature film about Crisp's life. Up to now I can't forget the dignity, with which he behaved, and the humor, with which he - the excellent writer and actor - answered the questions.

    My good friend Ray showed me in New Orleans the small and cozy gay bookshop. I visited it many times during staying in his hospital house (now the excellent modern gay hotel) of Ray on Dauphine Street. But everything in New Orleans was so hospitable including this bookshop with the friendly master, all gay cafes, bars, restaurants, streets and the places connected with my favorite dramatist Tennessee Williams. And I was so happy to be in New Orleans during Halloween.

    On the whole all American and European gay bookshop represent the unusual tale world of books, which is very desirable for visiting, because there is something specific in every separate place. For example, you may find the last films about gays and for gays (not pornography) in the gay shop of Paris, and just in Paris I was lucky to visit the excellent international festival of gay and lesbian films.

    And anyway the most bright and strongest impression on me in this world was from the excellent library of gay literature in Copenhagen. Although a few years ago the library changed its address, it still keeps the same fairy-tale spirit, that I felt here in the first time and that was similar to the feelings, which I had during reading the tales of H.C.Andersen.

    There are a great number of Danish gay books in this library, and by regret many of them haven't yet translated in English or Russian. The guys on duty in library and other Danish friends told me that they were really interesting and were written by good Danish authors. Surely there are also many books in other languages. The Danish gay and lesbians were the first in the world in many questions of fighting for rights and our freedom in this world and their library is the library of the first developers and winners and corresponds to this level.

    In the house of library (on the last floor) you may find the editing office of Danish gay newspaper "PAN" and downstairs, on the ground floor the cozy cafe, which is used for the nice pastime and the different meetings of activists of gay and lesbian movement. In the library they are happy to any new comer, and besides the exhibition of new magazines and publications from the total world and in many languages you could find here the so smart and sympathetic guys on duty. With one of them - Frank Moller - I was in correspondence for many years. The local staff working free of charge would recommend you, what to read and where to find "your" book.

    Nowhere as here I have seen such a large number of Oscar Wild books. There is also here the collection of all the books and magazines, that I have seen before in the different bookshops of different countries mentioned above.

    I advise to everybody to visit this gay library during being in lovely Copenhagen, because I put it on the first place in the row of numerous GAY points of interest not only in Copenhagen, but in all Denmark, Europe and the world. Just here it's possible to be plunged into the specific book world forming the KINGDOM, where you are the King and the Slave and can live and feel all rainbow of feelings, acts and submersions, about which it is impossible even to dream beforehand.

    Vladimir Kabakov

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