The following interview was conducted by pop-culture poster boy, freelance blogger, and executive editor of Gunpowder & Gold Alexander Mayfair. It originally appeared on Washington, D.C.-based online magazine Brightest Young Gays.
I’m shivering, I’m exhausted, and the last thing I want to do is trek halfway across town.
OK, granted, Union Station is only five stops away and takes approximately 10 minutes to get to. But today is just not the day. It’s after 6 on Monday, and I can still feel the repercussions of my Easter Day antics from the day before. What I could really go for is a good PJ, couch and take-out session accompanied by tonight’s episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Instead, I find myself here on the metro, seated on a cold, dirty pleather seat, next to someone who either spent his day in a sauna fully dressed or has a deathly aversion to water.
Gawddamn, I’m being bitchy. I walk out of Union Station and text today’s interviewee, DCNittanyLion, to find out the specifics about this bar. My phone vibrates a couple seconds later, as I get a text that says, “Yep, 2nd & F … it’s called Ebenezer.”
Second? Great — just great. We’re supposed to be meeting in five minutes, and according to my calculations, I have a good 12 blocks to walk. I hurry up to the approaching intersection to find out where the hell I am, all the while, cursing his name. I roll my eyes and look up at the street sign. I’m at 2nd and F. Oh — I’m actually directly across the street from Ebenezer. I walk in and immediately spot him. In person, his looks are striking. Suddenly, my spirits are miraculously lifted. We grab coffees and sit outside, enjoying the fading heat of the low sun.
Alexander: Given that patio season has just started, this question seems incredibly time-appropriate. Let’s say you were stuck on an island and you could only drink one cocktail for the rest of your life. What would it be and why?
DCNittanyLion: Well, if it was a tropical island, it would be a Plymouth Gin and Tonic. I was just in India, and they told me that you really don’t need to take the malaria pills. You just need to drink lots of Gin and Tonics because the quinine in the tonic is actually a good buffer against the malaria that mosquitoes carry, so it has a lot of benefits when you’re stuck on an island. You’re warding off mosquitoes while getting blissed on a regular basis.
Now if it was an island off a Norwegian fjord, it’s got to be scotch or bourbon — that’s dark liquor territory. It would help you stay warmer. I would lean towards something like Basil Hayden.
Alexander: Basil Hayden?
DCNittanyLion: It’s a bourbon — makes terrific Manhattans. For simplicity’s sake, though, just straight — no need for any other mixers or accoutrements.
Alexander: Gin and Tonic for its antimalarial properties — how Bear Grylls of you. What if you were a music genre, what would you be?
DCNittanyLion: Absolutely straightforward hard rock, a little bit of punk and a little bit of melodic elements as well. My favorite music is simple: two guitars, bass and drum. It’s amazing how much power that basic arrangement can carry. You can just plug your guitar into GarageBand and, well, at least make noise. I can’t play like Jimi Hendrix by any means, but you can sound like James Taylor in one song, Led Zeppelin in another, and Nirvana in even another. I would just be pure rock ‘n’ roll.
Alexander: Bourbon and classic rock … always a winning combo in my book. Specifically, though, what’s your song du jour? What song on your iPod has been stuck on repeat?
DCNittanyLion: There’s a song called “For Real” by Tricky. I’m not really sure what album it was originally on, but it’s on a collections album I got recently on iTunes. The song is a commentary on gangster culture and how a lot of hip hop artists kind of appropriate violent imagery in their appearance and in their lyrics. It has a kick-ass video, and it just has this groove and execution that kind of gets into your skull and doesn’t let go.
Alexander: Let’s talk dance icons. Who’s yours?
DCNittanyLion: Frankenstein. Yeah … because I basically dance by stumbling around when I’m drunk. That’s basically it. That or one of those zombies from “Night of the Living Dead.” Pretty much.
Alexander: [laughing] That just may be my favorite answer so far. Speaking of awkward, let’s talk first dates. What was your most awkward first date?
DCNittanyLion: The only thing that really comes to mind is the first time I kissed a guy. It was my first year as a grad student at Penn State, and a group of us were out getting completely sh*tfaced one night, including this one guy that used to be in my dorm. We were leaving the bar, and it was pouring. We got up to the major intersection and most of my friends turned right, and then he and I turned left because he lived in the direction of my apartment. We got to his place, and he invited me up. Once inside, he puts on an REM album. I picked up the CD booklet and started flipping through it. It was one of these collections from REM that had a lot of their B sides, and there’s a picture of Michael Stipe in it when he actually had hair. This photo’s probably from 1984/85, and he just looks adorable in it. I said to Joe, “Michael Stipe looks so cute in this picture,” and he agreed.
Alexander: And you guys had never talked about being gay?
DCNittanyLion: No, but it’s been a legendary experience ever since [chuckles]! I guess it was awkward in the sense that I had a feeling that something was going to happen, but I wasn’t really sure. I wasn’t really sure what to do or say, but I guess I figured it out.
Alexander: So, awkward in the sense of first-kiss awkward?
DCNittanyLion: Yeah … [flashes a crooked grin]
Alexander: Well, don’t worry. If it makes you feel any better, my teeth started chattering after my first kiss — real smooth. Keeping on the romantic wavelength, answer me this … Who would you rather: David Bowie or Iggy Pop?
DCNittanyLion: David Bowie. I have half of my back covered in a tattoo that is based on his song “Ashes to Ashes.” It also has the lightning bolt motif from his 1973 album “Aladdin Sane.” I did this because when I was around 10 or 11, I was going through my sister’s stuff, and I came across a book that had the dimensions of an LP. It was based on Bowie’s work from 1969 to 1980, and every chapter was an album. I remember flipping through it and stopping on the chapter for “Aladdin Sane,” where you saw that very androgynous, alien appearance. I had never seen anything like it. It just resonated with me in a very powerful way. I wasn’t even thinking about sex or sexuality at that age, but there was something about his appearance that was foreshadowing of my own development and my own sexuality that was really significant.
Alexander: I would love to have your memory. I can’t even remember what I did yesterday. Moving forward, let’s skip ahead 15, 20 years. You’ve just been elected president. What’s the first law you pass?
DCNittanyLion: I would sell the country to Norway because that’s the only way we’re going to save our asses. I mean, you’re a young guy; there’s no way you’re going to be able to retire. Our country is so broke, so far down the sh*tter. We don’t have our priorities straight. We’re just a very greedy, materialistic culture that spends money on violence and war. For what purpose? We’re at a point where we’re arguing about things that people didn’t argue about before, like education. So yeah, I’d sell the country to Norway and hoist the Norwegian flag in front of the White House because that’s a society that cares about its people and their welfare. Thirty years from now, I’ll be having margaritas on the Fjords. If there’s one benefit to climate change, it’s that it’ll be a hell of a lot hotter there [laughs].
Alexander: Now that’s what you would call an aggressive domestic policy. Fill in the blank for me: _______ makes my mouth water.
DCNittanyLion: An unopened bottle of Plymouth Gin [chuckles]. Sad but true.
Despite the cool evening breeze, I decide to walk home. I pop in my headphones and get lost in thought. Like with every interview, I walk away truly impressed with the wide variety of people I get to meet.
To think, while I’m sipping on cocktails, hairspraying the highest pompadour possible, getting ready to see whatever DJ is spinning at UHall on Friday night; other people are at the National Stadium, watching baseball, and drinking beer. I’m not even sure under what other conditions our paths might ever cross, but I’m thankful for it. Had it not been for tonight, I might never discover what Basil Hayden is, listen to Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane,” or most importantly, realize how much I underutilize the word “fjord.”