A Gay in the Life for Jan. 17, 2013

For Weekly SurgeJanuary 14, 2013 

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Are You a Grindr?

OK, I’m going to throw it out there and be honest. Beyoncé may have had some really good advice for all the single ladies to get a ring on it. But based on a recent survey from Stagg, two-thirds of all gay men are taking their cues from dating apps installed on their iPhones or smart phones to locate Mr. Right.

To be fair, the folks publishing this survey are indeed the researchers, marketers and technology geeks who work for Stagg. Until now, Grindr was the big name in this realm of cyber apps. You know Grindr, that impish little app that no gay man confesses to using and yet, it boasts more than four million paying members in 192 countries. Alarming, right? I suppose I am a purist when it comes to cruising. Why pay for it when I can spot at least half a dozen for free at the MAC Counter?

Guys have been seeking out other guys in one form or another for centuries. When I was a freshman in college, I often wondered if the first Librarian of Winthrop University, Ida Jane Dacus, would be pleased that the library bearing her name was host for more randy, romantic liaisons than cheap beer and wrestling matches. Those were the ‘80s though and it was a simpler time. Matriculating males were forced to enter a bathroom stall, pencil in an appointment and a well-defined offer of services and hope that someone would respond with a signal. Remember Sen. Larry Craig, that happy, foot-tapping guy from Idaho who wandered into trouble in a men’s room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport? Good times.

The explosion of technological foreplay has morphed from yesterday’s time-consuming cruising into today’s immediate gratification. Who needs the malls and the stalls when there’s an app for that? The Internet and smart phone generation has taken bounding steps in connecting gay men who are bored and looking for a diversion. After the earlier days of Yahoo and AOL chat rooms, the next step was dedicated webcam chat sites such as Webcam Now and Chat Roulette. Chat Roulette seems to still enjoy a decent amount of traffic but it has a very limited appeal. I decided to check out Chat Roulette after I heard comedian Daniel Tosh incorporate it into his standup routine. Chat Roulette gives you random screen shots of other guys who are online chatting and you decide based on about a ten second screen image if you want to continue to “chat.” I didn’t care for it because in essence, if I want to see camera shots of random dicks, I will watch “Sean Hannity’s Great American Panel.”

The next big thing to catch the attention of gay men was the Grindr application for your smart phone. This allows you to post a profile and picture and to list what type of activity you’re looking for. You can usually count on the profile pictures to be the standard sideways pose viewed-in-the-bathroom-mirror and taken with a cell phone. The uniform of the day seems to be some variation of low-slung basketball shorts, boxer briefs showing and the obligatory hat worn backwards. This allows you to send the message: “I’m hip, I’m ripped and for the right guy, I can be tipped.” Feel free to generate your own interpretation of “tipped.” All variations are correct.

Grindr allows you to locate other interested gentlemen within a specific radius from a few yards to a few miles. Needless to say, whenever you turn the Grindr App on in a Home Depot store or within 100 yards of a Pottery Barn, your risk the probability that your phone will crash due to the number of other users in your immediate proximity. “Hi, I’m in Aisle Five near cabinet hardware and I’m looking for a screw” (to attach my new drawer pulls of course).

Stagg rolled out in 2012 and it brands itself as the concierge level of e-cruising. It is brought to you by Americurious, LLC. Stagg Co-Founder Brad Brenner claims the company’s product will be suitable for the slut, the saint, and everyone else in-between. With a tag line of “know more than his location” the big hook here is to allow members to know more important things than who’s that new boy in the gayborhood. By using state-of-the-art technology, once you answer a series of questions, Stagg users are sorted into three levels of opportunities. Best Fit Scores reveal raw compatibility. I’m guessing that this means that it is imperative on this level that you make the beast with two backs immediately. A Rep System Sorting shows a “mashup” of members’ interests, likes and personality traits. In the final breakdown, Sonar Mapping will give you a constantly updated overview of the hottest local spots for mixing with guys in person. Bam! Do they offer valet parking?

While the numbers are interesting and the metrics are impressive, the latest arrival in “Homo-tech” (their words, not mine) still seems to miss the true connection required for a solid relationship. I question and even desire some real time feedback from anyone who can expand my horizons on these matters. Based on my experience, mainstream gay men desire nothing more than honesty, security and something that can evolve into a partnership or even a family. I don’t see the need to search for an app for that.

OUT & ABOUT

Friday, Feb. 15 – Club Pulse will host the Miss Heartbeat 2013 Pageant. The event will be emceed by Breonna Tenae and featuring entertainers Kristina Deevine, Jessica Blair Lords and Kelly Ray. The entry fee is $25. The prizes are: $150 and the crown for the Winner; $75 for First Runner-Up ; and $50 for Second Runner-Up. For additional information, contact Ken Phillips at 315-0019. Pulse Ultra Club is at 803 Main Street, Myrtle Beach.

Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal.

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