Something horrible happened.
The promo package, marked Special, arrived on my desk in May from Ultra Records in New York City. Hastily, I tore the envelope open and yanked out the CD within, letting squiggles of packing confetti fall where they may. A bronze and glistening, near-naked, possibly underage Brazilian boy stared fiercely from the cover. His bulging genitalia were not quite stuffed into a Gummi-red Speedo. His hair dripped with viscous product. Posed stiffly against a seaside shack the color of processed cheddar, he looked like he was about to either blow me or feast on my liver. The text across his sculpted, slightly veiny torso read DJ Ricardo! Presents Out Anthems 2.
Oh, good lord. If there's anything that turns me off more than DJs with exclamation points appended to their monikers OMG! The '90s! Low carb! Wow! it's some gay fool from Ultra Records in New York City trying to tell me what my "out anthems" are. Sorry, but tin-eared "Don't Want No Short Dick Man" remixes, spacey-diva "Deeper Love" covers, mindless melodramatic thumpers, and obnoxious washes of sizzle and screech don't quite sum up my raggedy, faggoty lifestyle or speak to my proud, if occasionally morally compromised, experience.
I adore dance music it's my life. Any packed dance floor is a good thing in my book. But I also have some taste, and this was the apogee of cheesiness. The presumption that these bland corporate farts are the tunes of my loony-queer times crosses a clear homo-to-homo line in the shimmering sands. (For the record, Ultra Records, my current personal out anthems are the Cinematics' "Keep Forgetting," Shazzy's "Giggahoe," and Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Love Is Always on Your Mind." Go mix that.)
Listen, I can ride with the tsunami of cheap and sleazy DJ dance compilations that has flooded various music stores, in-boxes, and jittery Wal-Marts for the past decade or so, featuring tightly clenched glutes, toxic tans, and spandex-stretching silicone explosions. (And that's just the music. Someone should really publish a picture book of all of the blindingly awful, grinding-Barbie-in-headphones cover designs. Title suggestion: Writhe the Ibiza Abysmal. Or how about just Champagne and Crap?) There's definitely a market out there for pulsating pabulum, and I dug my own grave with two coke spoons and a mirror ball when I became a nightlife critic. I was even OK with the knowledge that because I had Out Anthems 2 grasped shakily in my hot little palm, it meant that somewhere out there an Out Anthems 1 must exist. You go, DJ Ricardo!! Work it however you can. No, that wasn't the horrible part.
SPLICING THE MONOLITH
The horrible part was this: I actually kind of liked it.
Bursting with a weird glee that's unique to our media-saturated moment "Holy shit, you've got to hear-see-watch this, it's the most horrifying thing ever!" I had rushed the CD over to my boyfriend Hunky Beau's house before listening to it, eager for us to put it on and tear it a new one together. That's our modern gay love.
Yet once I'd slipped the disc into Hunky's Mac and readied myself a hot shot of schadenfreude, I realized I don't hear this sort of heinous stuff when I'm out and about as much as I used to. The once-omnipresent, thousand-nostriled behemoth of overbearing, poorly produced circuit and "progressive house" music has been somewhat tamed.