Every city has its freaks and goons. And every generation has its Studio 54, where the weird and the wild mix and mingle into things sometimes scary, sometimes sublime, and often wrong. Most people are unfamiliar with “plushies” or “furries” or entire sub-cultures fascinated by sexual acts that involve grown men and women cavorting around in animal costumes. And so, it was up to yours truly to dig deep into The American Weird to find something even stranger than stuffed animal fetishes and sex with random strangers wearing Mickey Mouse heads.
Like Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain, who each week searches out great food inspired by exotic locations and cultures, I am on a mission. Only my quest is fueled for a desire to find people who aren’t sustained by cuisine served in Michelin star restaurants, but by the stuff plumbed from the depths of their basest desires. For now I’ve been satiated—by the nation’s Capitol.
Where else but Washington, DC does one go for gold standard in The American Weird? It took months of fishing Dupont Circle bars, the infamous K Street, and Capitol hot spots to find a deliciously sick sub-culture only the Beltway could create—those, the “Dirty Politicos.”
In a little bar down Pennsylvania Ave, just blocks away from the Capitol South Metro station the signal my contact mentioned jumps out at me. I was to look for old campaign buttons. There’s a lanky guy at the bar with a tiny Nixon button on his jacket. There’s a heavy-set woman sitting by herself in the corner with John Kerry’s image nestled nicely between her breasts. I pulled the Barack Obama memento from my back pocket, pinned it to my chest, and moved in for the kill. Only, like one of those deep sea angler fish with the light on its forehead, I was the prey. Before I could say a word I was snatched up and led out the door with Nixon heading up the rear. I was gently pushed into a Yellow Cab, which was instructed to go to Bethesda. A hand or two paused longer than necessary on my backside.
Somewhere along the way my new-found friends had pulled a mask from their respective purse and jacket pocket. This understandably startled the cabbie. I pulled out my wallet and slid a few large bills out just enough for his furtive glances to see green and be put at ease. No one was about to go Point Break on him on that night.
Now is the time when I come clean. The reason why it was the cab driver who was startled – and not me – was because I was expecting the masks. In fact, I had been instructed to bring my own. It was all part of the dance. And so, my Barack Obama mask, bought along the National Mall just before he was elected by some drunken vendor for five bucks, was reluctantly brought out. The nervous sweat from my forehead made it slide on with ease, as if faux-presidential foreplay was old hat.
We got to our desired location, paid the cabbie, and got out. After many twists and turns in subdivisions one would never suspect of housing the Dirty Politicos, we were there. My female companion (again, wearing a very-male John Kerry mask) led me inside. Like Eyes Wide Shut on a Congressional staffer’s salary, it was a party of semi and fully-naked individuals, each wearing a mask or a homemade costume of the pundits and talking heads on your favorite cable news show. Why was Bill Clinton feeling a lot more than George Bush’s pain? Why was that Sean Hannity lookalike fondling Nancy Pelosi like she was a young Nancy Reagan? Who was the drunken guy done up as Bill O’Reilly screaming “Do it live!” over and over again? Where does one go for a Helen Thomas mask, and what mental jujitsu must they play to stay erect in one? I took it all in, or at least tried to, until both Nixon and Kerry simultaneously made a move on me. Their antsy-hands were too much. I voted for perversion before I voted against it. Even with obscured vision, I was able to eye the bathroom down a long hallway, gave a quick “one moment” gesture to my admirers, and headed for the door.
Once inside I locked the door. Trapped. I was somewhere in Maryland, ways away from a metro station, and no way to escape without blowing my cover with Richard Nixon and big-boned John Kerry on estrogen. I contemplated a quick index finger down my throat. I assumed high decibel gagging from the bathroom at a Dirty Politico party would be enough to turn even the most seasoned freak off (but then again, maybe not). Before I could test out my theory, another reflex took over; I threw aside the shower curtain, which revealed a window I’d be able to climb through with a lot of effort and a little willingness break my surroundings. A few bent hinges and some cracked glass later, I was free. I was lost, but I was free. And after three hours, an ATM stop, and a lot of cash I was home. In bed. Alone. And it was good.
After speaking with my contact (who claims he hasn’t dabbled in plastic mask pervert parties, but “knows someone” who does), it appears my Dirty Politico infiltration and subsequent freak-out rattled the community. Security has been tightened, so that only the hard-core DC deviants can find their way in. As much as I enjoy a good story, I can’t help but think it’s better this way.
I relay my experience not because I have any grudge against people who are so partisan during the day that they have to act out fantasies where right and left battle-ram each other with their sex organs at night. I tell the tale because I want the reader to know that humans are weird. Really weird. So weird, in fact, that there is no way that all of this is an “accident.” Animals rummage around for food, fight each other, and mate. The human creative well runs so deep and with such force that it’s not enough to create iPads, paint The Last Supper, or direct Citizen Kane. We come up with things so far out there that they must mean…something. God exists. He’s real. And your unalienable rights come from Him. I didn’t need Richard Nixon and John Kerry with a vagina touching me in appropriate places to make me a believer, but some do. And if that’s you, welcome you to the club. Cut down on the kink, and perhaps I’ll see you on the other side.