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The Pleasure Pit

The aptly named gambling area at Planet Hollywood

The aptly named gambling area at Planet Hollywood

So I was with friends in Vegas recently – just for fun. One of the people in our group was having a birthday and so it was off to Vegas we go. This is the first time that I have found myself in Vegas as a single person. Ever. Woohoo! I promised myself and my friends that I was going to have some embarrassing moments. Do some stuff that I could really regret! And, you know what? I did.

The best beer I could find in Vegas.

The best beer I could find in Vegas.

Vegas. Lots of fun. Right? Drinking. Gambling. Shows. Food. Drinking. Lots of bad beer in Vegas. For real. Super hard to find any craft beer there. In fact, it was so bad that I tweeted a picture of me drinking what I had (not that I was complaining, it was supplied by a friend) and a beer distributor tweeted back that I should let them know the next time I was there and they would send me to the right places.

Yes, lots of all these things. Oh, and women. When you go to Vegas as a single person – at least this über faithful butch – all of a sudden, do you know what you see? Women. Attractive women. And, I mean everywhere. Now, I am no fool. I have now figured out that these women are, for the most part, instruments of the casino designed to part me from my money. Do you know what I mean? No? Well, perhaps you are a femme, or a gay man, or an über faithful coupled person. Everywhere we went, I saw attractive women. Most of them scantily clad. Never was this more true than at the Planet Hollywood Casino, and especially in their “The Pleasure Pit.”

A parade of distracting dealers in corsets.

A parade of distracting dealers in corsets.

Butches and straight men: STAY OUT OF THE PLEASURE PIT! You will lose money here.  You will be entertained, yes. You will have a lovely view, yes. If you are single, you will feel right at home here. But, you will lose. The casino has made a well-calculated bet on it.  How do I know this?

Because all of the dealers in The Pleasure Pit are lovely women wearing pink corsets, lacy boy shorts, and stockings. Because in between all the tables there are lots of even lovelier women in even less clothing dancing on tables. They aren’t really dancing, at least not in the way that a talented Vegas showgirl, go-go dancer, a trained pole-dancer, or a seasoned stripper dances. But, there they are, wearing next to nothing, and moving around in a dance-like motion. If you show any signs of being distracted by them, they will focus on you. Obviously, this is good for their tips – at least in my experience, but I am sure that the casino trains them. Anyone who has a large stack of chips, focus in. Anyone alone, focus in. Catch anyone staring at you? Oh, it’s on. We are taking all that sucker’s money. Word. At least Planet Hollywood doesn’t discriminate between its straight and gay patrons.

I think this is the dancer that cost me all that money!

I think this is the dancer that cost me all that money!

I am serious. My friends were like, “Butch, focus on your cards.” Seriously, focus! One friend even assisted me by turning my head towards my shrinking chip stack. But, the drinks kept coming, I blame another friend for that. Obviously, she didn’t make me drink them, but when someone (in a corset) hands me a perfectly good Jack and Diet, what am I to do? Anyway, let’s just say, combined with my wonderful friends, it was the most fun I have ever had losing money.

Please, heed my advice. Ignore me at your wallet’s peril. Enough on the distracting dealers and dancers of The Pleasure Pit. On to the really interesting story. After some of our crew has left, the rest of us were trying to decide what to do. See a show? Penn & Teller? Nah. Cirque? Amazing, but too expensive (especially after The Pleasure Pit smack down). Gamble? Out of the question for a couple of us. What to do… Umm, how about a strip club?

It’s hella butch to have fun with your friends in Vegas. Be Butch.


How Butch Are You?

Plenty of readers have asked me a variety of this question: How do I know if I am butch? How do I know if someone else is butch? Why don’t people know I am butch? Or, what about lesbians that look butch, but don’t identify as butch? “Well, she is wearing a vest, after all!” And, what about lesbians that identify as butch, but no one sees them as such? “You can’t be butch, you have a purse!”

As I am now clearly the worldwide expert on this (NOT!), I do feel compelled to try to answer. And, frankly, I am honoured (trying to appeal to my newly broadened audience with a more international spelling) that any of you would ask for my opinion. My hope is that this blog will start a lively conversation and that a LOT of you will comment on this post, adding your view and opinions to what I have to say. As I have said before, there are many ways to be butch, and there is no right way. And, it is definitely more than the clothes. That is just the wrapper on the yummy butchness inside.

It comes down to two things, IMHO

It comes down to two things, IMHO

Being butch, in my opinion, is about two things. How you see yourself and how others see you. Of course the first one is the only one that matters; but the second is important if you want to appear to the world in a way that is congruent with your view of yourself.

1.  How You See Yourself

Michelle Pfeiffer isn't butch just because you put her in a suit.

Michelle Pfeiffer isn’t butch just because you put her in a suit. And, meow!

So, how do you see yourself? Do you feel butch? Do you like the label, tag, or identification of butch? Does it feel like it fits you? That’s the crux. If you feel like a butch, but you wear dresses, good for you. If you feel like a femme, but wear only men’s suits and fantastic vests, good for you. You alone define yourself.

I spend a lot of time on my blog “defining” what it means to be butch, but this is always tongue in cheek. You can read some of these, like How to Be Butch* (http://wp.me/p27vDp-3W) and I am a Butch (http://wp.me/p27vDp-3W). I am simply defining what it means to me, and of course, trying to do it in a way that is amusing for all of you (or maybe most of you? Some of you?). For example, I don’t wear lipstick or makeup (except for eyeliner, which I call “guyliner”). I wear all men’s clothes. I have super short hair (a Mohawk, to be precise). I am bigger and taller than most of my friends, many men included. I like to be strong and want muscles. But that is just me. There are a tremendous variety of lesbians who are butch that would take exception to much of that. Again, it only matters how you see yourself. Do you feel butch?

2.  How Others See You

kd lang didn't become a femme when she put this dress on - my favorite song of hers, btw.

kd lang didn’t become a femme when she put this dress on – my favorite song of hers, btw.

As humans, we have a need to label and categorize ourselves and others. Yes, labels are bad. No one fits precisely into any one category, but don’t hate. You know it’s true. You walk down the street and you see someone, anyone, and you assess them in a split second. Safe, dangerous, attractive, ugly, straight, gay, athlete, lazy, rich, poor, smart, dumb. Translation: desirable or undesirable. Of course, the classifications are much more complex – a handsome, straight, well-educated, well-off, married man. And, so on. While you’re doing it, so is everyone else. Making judgments about you based solely on how you dress, walk, look, and talk. Most people probably see me and think, “There is a big, butch dyke.” [Note: To our ally readers, don’t use the word “dyke” unless your lesbian friend told you it was ok to use it, and then, only use it with her. It’s hate speech and with a butch, it might get you punched in the face.] I’d rather it was, “There is a handsome, dashing, well-educated, charming single butch.” We can all dream. How do people see you? Do your friends think you are butch? What does your mom think? Side note here, my 9-year old recently told a lady at Nordstrom that her mom is butch. I am lucky because the way I see myself lines up with the way others see me – as Über Butch. Whew.

The vast majority of lesbians that I know define themselves as neither butch nor femme. It is much more common to simply consider oneself a lesbian. There is a spectrum of lesbians. On one end of the spectrum are the most masculine lesbians who identify as butch – maybe 15% of the lesbian population. On the other far end of the spectrum are the most feminine lesbians – maybe 15%. But the vast majority of lesbians (70%) would fall somewhere in the middle. I am just picking numbers based on my experiences, no research or anything. This article needs citations!

I have no idea how Jillian Michaels defines herself. She might not look butch in those dresses, but her attitude and poise are hella butch. Hey girl!

I have no idea how Jillian Michaels defines herself. She might not look butch in those dresses, but her attitude and poise are hella butch. Hey girl!

3. But, Who Cares?

The bottom line is that there is no one way to be butch. For me, being butch means that I want to take care of the woman I love – to protect her. I want to be bigger and stronger. Sometimes when I am lifting, I want to pound my chest and roar (Jillian would probably approve). As dumb as that is, I want a woman who thinks it’s cute – or maybe even hot. I want to open the doors. I want her to wear heels, lipstick, dresses. But that’s just me! How about you? What makes you butch?

I would like to add that there are gobs of lesbians that are more butch than me, and I am good with that. Butches, we are good. No need to track me down in a bar, or (gulp) side street and challenge my butchness. You win! Please don’t come looking for me unless you want to grab a beer. If you are butcher than me, I will buy…

Some random blogger's shirt. Heh!

Some random blogger’s shirt. Heh!

I would also like to add that if any of you think you might be a femme, but aren’t sure and would like help figuring it out, come looking for me! I am available for consultations, including door opening, and roaring. We will get you through this – together.

It’s butch to define yourself. Be Butch.


The Femme Faux Pas

Let’s talk about something light and fluffy on this Tuesday. The femme faux pas. What I am referring to here are things that our femmes do that are similar to our own butch fails (Butch Fails). But, since they are femmes, we would never call them that. They are femmes, after all, the kinder and gentler of our species. Dare I say that they never fail at anything? Femme faux pas seems better, though it’s hard to know what the plural is. So let’s just use “FFP.”

  1. Shy Cleavage: Not all femmes have cleavage in spades, but if you do and you don’t ever show it, that is a FFP. We need to see it sometimes. Actually, we probably want to see it all the time, but we don’t necessarily want you to show other people – so some discretion is required. It’s a tough balance. We get that.

    Wear this…

  2. Overlooking Quick Bow Tie Tying: Some of us butches take special pride in our bow ties, and for those of us who tie them ourselves (ahem), if we tie that perfect tie in a matter of seconds, you must notice. Not every time, of course, but often enough that we know you appreciate just how very butch we are.
  3. No Smokey Eye Makeup: We need you to wear that makeup proudly and generally try to keep up with the latest trends. The smokey eye is particularly sexy, I would go so far as to say, on every femme. Please learn how to do it, and please do it sometimes. It is super hot. No need to wear this or any make up every day, of course, but sometimes break out the special dark and stormy sexy look. But Butch, I don’t know how to do smokey eyes! You can find lots of instructional videos on YouTube; here’s one for beginners, for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aqWD_9gH8. Or, go to Sephora. They will show you how. Butches, you are welcome.

    …Not this

  4. Granny Panties: Really? Nothing more needed here. FFP
  5. No Purse: We are happy to carry your stuff most of the time, in our ample pockets, but on special occasions, please carry a purse. Then, you can carry our stuff! There is a special exception here for Sporty Spice Femmes. We know that you will never or rarely carry a purse, and we will adjust. Can we at least borrow your chap stick sometimes?
  6. No Pre-Lipstick Kiss: Right, butches? She is getting ready in the morning, or before going out, and once the lipstick is applied, there is no chance in hell of getting a good kiss. “Butch, you’ll ruin my lipstick!”  So, the procedure should be, your femme gets ready, and then the last thing she does is apply that lovely lip lacquer. Just before doing so, she calls out to you (you are on the bed fully dressed, waiting for her, and killing time on Facebook or Twitter) to come and get a “pre-lipstick kiss.” You come bounding over like a giant Sheep Dog. If this does not happen and the lipstick is already on, it will be a while before you get a good kiss. Please don’t forget, femmes.

    No way you are getting anywhere near these lips until the end of the evening.

  7. Wrong Bra: This could really be anything related to the bra – ill fitting, old, sports bra, etc. We butches care a great deal about this particular part of your bodies, and so we also care a lot about the piece of magical clothing that protects this part of you. Please make sure that it fits you well, is flattering, is not old and gray, and is perhaps a sexy, lacy/satiny/cute cottony type number. You know, not something we would wear.
  8. Never Wearing Heels: Now, I am not a Neanderthal. No, I am an evolved butch, so I am not stupid, and I know that heels are torture devices. They hurt and are not easy to walk in. I get that heels are to be saved for special occasions for many femmes. No problem. But when those special occasions come around, will you please think about wearing them? If not, please wear them at home for us – even just for a short while…

    Image

    How about these?

  9. Too Many Pants: Pants are lovely. Pants are great for evolved women. Pants are practical. Pants can be flattering. Pants are perfect for every day wear. But, we butches would love to see you in a dress or skirt every now and then. Would that be alright?

So, even in pointing out – in a light and fluffy way – some of the shortcomings of a femme, I am left singing their praises. Ahh, the femme.  How about you, dear readers, can you think of any FFPs?

It is very butch to love your femme. Be butch.


Butchscaping among the Gorillas

Dian Fossey, courtesy of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

I am Dian Fossey, sneaking up to a circle of gorillas. The gorillas are foreign to me, and I seem alien to them, not of their kind. These gorillas are straights, and I’m observing them in their natural habitat, in the midst of where they perform their beauty rituals. A nail salon. Will I be accepted as one of them? Will they share their customs and nail polish with me? Or will they hiss at me from their comfortable, reclined, vibrating chairs, sending me running for my life, without my much-needed pedicure?

Before you get all “But Butch, men and butches do get pedicures,” let me remind you that while of course it is allowed, we aren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. The gorillas were okay with Dian Fossey watching from a distance (i.e., us butches and men waiting by the door to pick up our girls after their nails are done), but they weren’t exactly waving her over to pick nits off of her – not at first anyway. It took them months to let her into their circle and share nail polish. I don’t have that kind of time. My feet and toenails look like crap and I need a pedicure stat.

When I walk in, odd silence. From the ladies who work there: Is he in the wrong place? Looking for his wife? Ohhh, he’s here for a pedicure. Hmmm. Wait, I think that’s a woman (all in Vietnamese, of course). The women in the chairs look up from their magazines and iPhones, the same thoughts going through their minds. But no hissing. No bearing of teeth. Maybe they won’t attack if I stand still by the door for a while and let them acclimate to my presence. Which is exactly what I do until the salon owner says, “What do you want, honey?” I answer boldly – trying not to show fear to the gorillas – “I want a mani/pedi.” I figure, why not? Might as well have my hands done, too. Buff, of course (meaning no polish, just shiny, clean nails). Sometimes, I get my finger nails painted black for a slightly edgy rock star butch look (albeit an older, more  has-been rock star). Not today, though, just buff for the fingers. “Sit down, honey. Tina will be right with you.”

I sit down, wait my turn, and avoid eye contact with the other women waiting. There’s the young hipster who is neither surprised nor interested in me. Excellent. There is the older grandmother who looks at me oddly, but not meanly. Then there is the woman with huge boobs and a Gerber baby. I dig babies and like to make faces at them and make them smile. Make friends with the baby gorilla, and the mom will accept you, right? Straight women don’t expect this from a dude, or from me, so they think I’m cute. Now the grandmother thinks I’m the cat’s pajamas because I’m a dude who likes babies. She has no idea I’m a butch. So far, so good.

After waiting for a few minutes, Tina takes me to my seat. The gorillas are calm and seem unphased, so I make it to my station unscathed, except for a few quick glances. I sit down and because I am so tall I have to move my seat all the way back. I look like a professional basketball player stuffed into a tiny Fiat; my feet are in the water and my knees almost hit me in the face. Very graceful. I’m not exactly blending in.

I spaced like a rookie and forgot to “pick a color” for my toes, so I jump up to grab one. I startle the gorillas with my jerky movement, but I’m still allowed to move freely. I feel confident, so decide to branch out from my comfort zone of butch colors (black and navy) and go all street-walker with “Romeo & Juliet,” a deep, and no doubt tragic, maroon polish. So young. So sad.

See the gross CVS carpet in the background? This is where we fled for new flip-flops.

Here is a picture of my Romeo & Juliet toes. I’m Romeo, of course.

Butches, if you think that manicures and pedicures are for girls, generally you’re right, but get over that. You can’t walk around with huge calluses on your feet and gnarly, long toenails. You can have clean, buffed fingernails and still have outrageously strong, (and in my case, big) hands. Nothing wrong with a pedicure, and a manicure doesn’t take away your butchness.  It makes you more appealing. Think about all the things you do that involve your hands… You don’t actually want to sand your femme’s face, do you?

Clean yourself up. Keep it together. Manscaping isn’t right for us, but how about Butchscaping?  Don’t you want to be the well-groomed butch?  Don’t you want your femme to stare at your hands and imagine you touching her? Femmes, which do you prefer, well-groomed or beastly?

As for my trip today among the gorillas and their beauty rituals, it turns out the gorillas are okay. They accept me into their circle, and my feet look tight. One note on pedicures. Don’t wear your tennis shoes into the salon. If you do, you will be forced to walk out with these stupid little throw away flip-flops that they have for you. This could be ok, or you could end up being given a pink pair, as happened to me today.  Ugh.

Beware the dreaded pink flip-flops & bring your own!

Because we were going out to lunch, we had to fix this. We went straight to CVS to buy a different pair of crappy flip-flops that were more to my butch liking. No self-respecting butch can walk into an establishment, let alone one in the Gayborhood, wearing the shoes in this picture. Plan ahead and this won’t be a problem.

It’s butch to get manicures and pedicures. Be butch.


Tie One On

As many good butches, I love ties. Bow ties, long ties, skinny ties, fat ties – I love them all.  For a butch, a tie is a major fashion statement. It dresses an outfit up.  It makes an outfit cool.  It can add a bit of uber-geek nerdiness to an urban sheik outfit – for the perfect balance.  I just love the look.  Put a bow tie on with jeans, a cardigan, and dress shoes – watch out.  Add a skinny tie to slacks, a vest, and big boots.  See what happens.  It is about making a strong statement. Yes, I am a woman.  Yes, I am wearing a tie.  And?

By the way, while I have your attention, please think patterns and colors.  Plain ties are very rarely the right choice for me.   Possibly, for you either.  I like to wear bold dress shirts.  Lots of colors and patterns.  If a shirt is a solid color (like my favorite Thomas Pink shirt that is actually just pink), it still has texture.  There is nothing working if you have on a plain, flat white oxford and a plain black tie.  A plain black tie needs a tuxedo jacket and a traditional, ribbed tux shirt.  A white oxford or dress shirt, on the other hand, is game on.  You can do anything with a white dress shirt.  Put it with a blazer.  Put it with a sweater vest.  Put it with a cardigan or shawl collar sweater.  Put it with a suit vest.  If you are skinny enough, pair it with a thin shirt.  Almost anything covering your legs will do – as long as the tie compliments or ties together the shirt and the blazer, sweater vest, cardigan, suit vest, or thin shirt.

Come on, butches!  This is your chance!  Grab it.  Your femmes want you to, I promise.  I am so tired of seeing sloppy or lazy butches out there.  Now, I am not talking about at the grocery store or in a doctor’s waiting room. Be comfortable, fair enough. But out to dinner?  At a show, concert, or a movie?  At a club?  REPRESENT.  Does it not turn you on when your femme has on sexy panties that match her bra?  When she wears make up? Heels?  Do you want to see her in sweats and a t-shirt out and about?

I have thought about this and I think the problem is that as butches we are “other.”  Many of us have not yet found our niche – come into our own.  Where do we fit in?  What is our fahion?  Until you accept that you do to have to shop in the ladies’ section, you might be uncomfortabe.  Trust me.  I know.  My fiance and friends could show you pictures of me then and now and you would be shocked.  Is that the same person?  The answer is quite frankly, no, it is not the same person.  In the old pictures, I had not yet appreciated that I was a butch.  I was wearing all women’s clothes.  Can you imagine?!?  I cannot remember the last item of clothing I bought that was women’s (other than my sports bras).  So, what will it take for you to find your style and, maybe, just maybe, sport a dashing tie?

Head over to Nordstrom’s men’s section where they will treat you well as a butch.  Want to ease into it?  Go to Banana and get yourself a nice dress shirt and a tie.  Have the cute sales lady help you pick it out. Then, see how you feel when you wear it.  If you feel comfortable, you will have found your butch style and you will be hooked!

But, say you trust me and take that shopping trip.  Say you are brave enough to buy that tie.  WHO WILL TIE IT FOR YOU?  This is a real problem.  Unless you grew up with brothers (which I did not), or your girl knows how to tie a bow tie (mine does not), or you worked your way through school in a men’s clothing store (strike 3 for me), you do not know shit about tying a tie – straight or bow.  Ugh.

My dad did not teach me how to tie a tie when I was little.  It is not his fault.  I was wearing dresses then – don’t think about that too long.  How could he have known that I would need to know how to tie a tie?  It would be so different if I could go back now and have my dad teach me all of the things that he would have taught me if I was a boy.  But, alas, it is too late for me to have the proper upbringing in all things butch.  I , probably like you, am left to educate, myself in this world.  So that leads us to the sales lady or guy at Nordstrom (they will send you home with a perfectly tied tie and a book on how to do it), or the internet.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been getting ready and tying my bow tie has been a 10-minute ordeal.  I used to always turn to my smartphone for a how-to diagram or video, and only then was I able to get it tied.  The good news is that, inexplicably, recently, I have nailed the bow tie.  The secret or hidden loop in the back is easily in my radar and I can tie the perfect bow tie in seconds.  Huzzah!  My fiance finds this very sexy, by the way, so there should be some incentive for you to try it.

Find your style, butches. It is not in the ladies’ section. Embrace your hotness. Don a bow tie. See what happens.

Be butch.


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