Hanging out with male prostitutes is just like climbing Mount Everest

The Dracula joke didn't go over with him, either, but he sort of asked for it when he said his name was Angel, my favorite prime-time vampire. He politely said good night and told us to enjoy ourselves inside.

We saddled up to the bar and ordered two Bass ales, sipping them to the backdrop of Nena's "99 Luftballons" and a subtitled Turner & Hooch on the overhead TV. The Rendezvous is long and dark, like most good bars, with a tiny stage on the south wall that is used biweekly for the club's amateur strip night. The bartender was kind enough to unlock the rarely used girls' restroom for us, noting that it was "nice, clean, and needle-free."

It didn't take long for us to be approached by two guys, one who looked exactly like Gerardo of "Rico Suave" fame, and his pal with a big nose and tattoos. "Hello," said Gerardo, "what are you ladies up to tonight?" We replied that we were keeping two seats warm for them, that was what we were up to. "Ho ho!" he gasped at his good fortune, and pulled up a seat. He first introduced his friend, Rich, and then himself, Rico. No shit, Gerardo's real name was Rico. Never mind that Rico is Spanish for Rich, so in essence we were sitting next to Daryl and his other brother, Daryl.

"So, what are you ladies up to tonight?" he asked again, one of many times throughout our conversation. He seemed to be waiting for the right answer to his question, like, "Well, we were thinking of blowing you guys," or, "Um, I dunno ... bukkake?"

An ad for hot tubs came on the TV, and Rico pointed at it. "That looks fun," he said. I informed him that most hot tub places in S.F. are disgusting cesspools of spent spooge. "Well, you don't need to go in the tub," he replied. "You can do it on the floor."

This was apparently supposed to be a sensual comment that would entice us into partaking of his nectars, but it reminded me why I hadn't been back here for a while. Occasionally what sounds like a fun idea -- "Hey, let's hang out with homeless hustlers!" Or, "Hey, let's climb 29,000 feet with no supplemental oxygen!" -- can turn into a somewhat depressing jaunt into a world in which few people really should be treading. Sometimes these boys have asked if they can come home to live with me. Sometimes they have asked me to listen to the story of their breakup or their mother's death. Sometimes they have asked if I wanted to be fucked on the floor of a seedy hot tub place. Yet I keep coming here. Maybe it's out of some morbid curiosity mixed with a genuine esteem for people who are hard-luck outsiders. Or maybe it's just because it was there.

When it became apparent that us gals weren't looking to buy his goods, Rico kindly said good night to pursue what he described as "bad boy stuff," i.e., drugs.

"You know all that stuff does is deprive your brain of oxygen," I replied, helping him with his coat.

"Is that so?" he answered, bemused.

"Yeah," I continued after a glug of beer, "it kills brain cells."

"Well," he joked back, "I like to live on the edge." -- Katy St. Clair

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