Ever wonder what debauchery unfolds in Metro Times' very own Wildside? Consider the ad titled "Love Slave," sandwiched between "Seeking Hermaphrodite" and "Tongue Lashing." The simple piece reads, "SWM, 40, good-looking, tall, slim, oral, well hung. In search of women or couples to be their discreet love slave."
Tonight we get the inside scoop from the author of said classified, a towering transvestite who goes by Niki. She wears a tight, baby-blue flowered slip dress, strands of pearls, a white clutch, shoulder-length blond curls, blue eye shadow and sparkles on her cheeks. The greatest fantasy of this 10-year Wildsider is to be "orally bi" with another couple. She seeks to accommodate.
Niki's best caller yet? One woman curious if this love slave really was hung. Need she even ask? The woman turned out to be, Niki says, a "brilliant doctor girl" and things got steamy. But not all callers are winners.
"I blew one couple off," Niki admits, hairy fingers swirling in her vodka cran. "They were real fat."
We meet Niki on a Thursday night at Menjo's dance club, which sits on Six Mile between Woodward and Livernois in Detroit. I'm with my trusty sidekick Nikole, a boy-crazy fashion designer from San Francisco, a city where she assumes "men are gay unless proven otherwise."
The place is packed to the gills with gorgeous gay men a glowstick-toting, beer-guzzling, all-age brigade of chiseled torsos, tan faces and strong features. There are a fair number of girls here, but unless you're a fan of butterball babes, Menjo's might not be the place to pick up chicks.
Escaping obnoxious house music mash-ups, we sneak outside. It smells like the cologne counter at Saks. Brick walls cloaked in ivy transform the terrace into an enchanting European-style hideout. Lush, colossal-leaved palms and vermillion flowers lend an exotic feel. The massive trees outside on McNichols create an illusion that the patio sits below ground level. Menjo's mojo is exemplified by the gargantuan golden cock basking in the center of the courtyard. Most of our new mates will sprawl across this adult playground apparatus at some point in the evening. The patio is a perfect summer oasis.
"A drag queen just tried to cop a feel," coos Jason Tiede, who's emerging to seek refuge in the courtyard. Jason is a professional cheerleader who recently performed in the World Cheerleading Competition in Orlando, Fla. With baby-soft skin and bright eyes, Jason could model for Clean and Clear. After a half-dozen vodka sevens, this frisky, freckle-nosed 21-year-old chirps that he's "on the prowl." He estimates that all but 5 percent of the men at Menjo's are gay. "Damn," Nikole moans.
Jason's favorite acrobatic move? A "kick-double." In cheerspeak, this is a superhuman, no-handed flip with one leg kicked in the air, then twisting twice for a total of about 720 degrees, and topped off by landing on foot.
We're about to ask Jason for a show but our interest wanes when we spot a young waiter counting bills in a dark corner. Mo-mulleted Albert exudes everything Euro: scrawny, shirtless, dark-haired, dressed in only shrink-wrapped black jeans and cowboy boots. His sideburns and facial hair add wolfmanish appeal. We soon discover that his boyfriend is Levon, the fashion designer and cocooned clubber I met last month at the Eagle. Levon, you're a lucky man.
Resisting urges to stalk Albert, we have a drink with Chris Mercure, a St. Clair County resident who rocks a real mullet pony, magenta T, work boots and ass-ridin' cut-offs. Chris tells us Menjo's is a worthy trek because his town is "full of redneck bars and lossa hillbillies." He roars, "You don't run around in shorts like these!" When we underestimate Mr. Mercure's age by 20 years, he cries "sheeet!" with a tug at the waist of his "gardening" shorts.
"Uh, nice suntan ..." we stutter after Chris reveals a black thong, his personal emblem of youth. Behind him, a tripledecker manwich parades across the TV screen footage from San Francisco's pride week. "Do you always wear such sexy undies?" I ask.
"Aww, you can have me in construction boots, a thong, boxers, I'm real ver-sa-tile. ..." Inspired by the compliment, Chris rips off his T a good excuse to parade around the bar shirtless all evening. "Watch this!" he yelps, and dazzles us by pulsing his chest muscles to the music. "I used to tell people I'm a stripper," he cries.
Who'd get my vote in a gay stripper dance-off? That'd be studly stage pro Nikolai Kosili. He's on the patio surrounded by suitors who brag that Nikolai recently won a strip contest at another bar. You can find this year's "Mr. Male Box" dancing regularly at Gigi's and Gold Coast.
Nikolai wears baggy jeans, a buzz cut, pierced eyebrow and a perpetual grin. He's slight, carefree and charismatic. That Nikolai looks barely old enough to drive is a sex appeal bonus for his mostly older patrons.
As we chat, a dozen rather possessive admirers of all ages approach him to eavesdrop, talk, kiss, hug; little Nikolai rolls his eyes and turns most away. Though he has only been stripping for a year, he's something of a local celeb in the gay circuit. "Everyone here loves you," I yell over some terrible Top 40 hit.
"I'm just a big ol' bottom," he laughs modestly, straddling the golden shaft.
"Versatile bottom," someone hisses over his shoulder, and Nikolai relishes in a devilish grin.
When pressed about his profession Nikolai shrugs, "I get paid to party." A whiskey-breathing stranger overhears and lisps, "Nikolai has this move he does with his belt. ..."
"Does your family know you're a stripper?" I inquire, momentarily distracted as Albert struts by with his tray of florescent, phallic-shaped tube shots.
"Yeah ... My grandma came to see me once," the dancer responds, breaking into a bashful smile. "She had a couple of margaritas Grandma was impressed, and proud." He stops talking and asks me to secure his glow bracelet. "It's from an admirer," he sighs, "I don't remember who." Nikolai then fake humps Nikole, breaks a glass, and shoos off a middle-aged admirer. Trouble in a hand basket, we think.
I ask Nikolai for a guilty secret and a fantasy. As for the former, Nikolai tells us he never wears socks more than once. He restocks every week, and wears only cushioned, low-cut Hanes. Fantasies? Nikolai is a huge advocate of threesomes.
"Have you had many?"
Nikolai smiles as though eternally savoring a private joke. "I have, actually," he says slyly. Nikolai takes a swig of beer and before he can elaborate, a bespectacled frizzy-haired girl appears for the third time.
"Who's that?" I ask, annoyed at the interruption.
"Hell if I know. It's hard to keep track of them."
Later, as we're herded off the patio after last call, I denounce every gay stereotype I've ever internalized. Menjo's men don't "look gay," they don't necessarily dress well, and I only heard one lisp. This boisterous boystown is one of the most welcoming clubs I've set foot in gay or straight.
We engage in elaborate cheek-kiss goodbyes with our new friends, and regulars invite us to the club's Sunday barbecue. Nikolai sets down his beer and begs us to come watch him dance at his birthday bash. Menjo's folk, it appears, are polite as princes.