Christine just seems to attract gay friends. I‘m not sure what it is in my housemate’s personality but they just appear or morph into gayness. She has new a gay friend these days. A friend for her and Victor, her other gay friend. He revealed himself slowly. The other week, we went to ‘homo hill’, the slang name for the Itaewon street parallel to ‘hooker hill.’ You can guess what happens where. Victor was taking us and some of his teachers to his favourite gay haunt after an evening of me watching grown men kick the shit out of each other. I had never been to homo hill. Not much safer but decent fun.
As we turned the corner, the visage changed completely. No more ladyboys, trannies, hip hop-styled soldiers, drunk teachers. Muscular men from hooker hill were now shrunk into tight T-shirts and sultry, attitude-loaded looks, hands grooming the side of their boyfriend’s moisturised face. Things had changed. Considerably. I tried to look unsurprised as we strode towards G-Spot, Victor’s place.
Descending the stairs, the red-tinged club opened up and drifted round the corner for us. Admission raised my eyebrow but it was paid with two free drinks in tow. The crowds hit me immediately. Sidling through the lines of men (for there were not many women here), I was amazed that the place was full of Korean men, sunglassed-up, moving with the pumping, naff house music. I gingered my way through the looks and got myself a bottle of beer, something to hold on to, something I could trust and abuse without consequence.
Soon the heat necessitated my return to the bar for another beer and gave me a chance to scan my fellow clubbers. The vast majority were Koreans, with a few typical Westerners inter-mingled; the gym-monkey guys, the sloth like oafs, the nervous “I’m not really here” teachers and the exhibitionists, dancing on the podium sunglasses-upped. The music was relentless and after an hour I felt I couldn’t stay much longer. Like a good woman, Christine shouted in my ear with the resonance of a whisper, “No one will notice, let’s go.” Thank the Lord. Victor or the other teachers were nowhere in sight so we left sharpish and headed to the well known climbs of Hollywoods and Friends, those familiar gringo infested hubs for a beer, followed by an egg-sandwich.
But a few weeks later, with Victor and Christine again, having been to my choice on the main walk, we headed to up homo hill, stormed past G-Spot like a spurned lover and calmly walked into Soho, a bar customised by a relaxed clientle who casually smoked, petted their dogs, glanced at the sky while engaging in conversation about the world and its funny points. There, we enjoyed a few beers at a reasonable price, unfettered and bothered by the flower ladies, discussing our thoughts in a smartly deco-ed bar, the sort of bar that Itaewon lacks in general. Away from the starkness of Scrooges, the naffness of Hollywoods and Geckos, the strident ageing blandness of 3 Alleys Bar and the soulessness of Bless U. Soho has proved to be what Brixs could be if you believed in the place.
I have been taken by Soho, a bar with class and atmosphere, a place where you can just sit and not be gay or pretentious. More bars like it are needed in Itaewon, good looking bars that don’t cater to the drunk groups of nationalities or the snobby sensibilities of the professionals. Seoul is not a place for going out in, let’s not kid ourselves but there are few gems in Itaewon. I’ve even worn the T-shirt Christine bought me in Japan which I thought looked gay on me, now actually looks good. One of the customers politely asked me if “I’d fuck him next time?” I politely declined. What more could I do? A direct offer like that from a beautiful Korean girl would be fawned over but alas, let’s not get out of control, this is Korea after all.