Chapter Five

Third Time’s the Charm

Gold's Gym exists in the heart of the gay district, where pre-pubescent bodies of Greek Gods come together in one place. Some more muscular than others from pumping a little bit too much steroids. Gold’s Gym is split into two floors. The first floor houses both male and female locker rooms, an abdominal room where people can either do sit-ups or yoga, and an exercise floor lattered with machines. The larger exercise machines were on the second floor where echoes of Celine Dion techno oldies ring through the room and young men leer at each other in between sets. Also on this floor was a larger exercise room.


Ryoga Hibiki was trying out his new job as a kempo trainer. Ever since a series of post-club bashings, self-defense classes became extremely popular. At first, Ryoga was extremely shocked that the class was crowded. But he relaxed as he returned to the familiar martial arts that presided over his life in Japan. Of course, he couldn’t teach them how to throw razor bandanas or break stones with the push of a button. But he did know a lot about self-defense katas and grappling…both techniques he practiced with Ranma


"Okay," Ryoga bowed politely to his new class of young physically fit men. "Please practice the kata that you learned from the class tonight and next week, I'll teach you a brand new one next week."


“I have a question,” the Chinese guy said. “So if a homophobic bully has got me in lockjaw grip…”


“Simply use your legs to elbow him in the testicle area,” Ryoga replied. “But only as a last-ditch case. Hopefully you won’t have to face that tonight."


"Just in case," the fey Chinese guy looked down shyly. "You make it look so easy."


“Ming, are you ready to go?” Ryoga heard a deep voice say behind him. Ryoga turned around and his jaw dropped. The Korean guy reminded Ryoga of Ranma. Well, if Ranma had decided to cut off that ponytail and spiked his smooth hair. Like other Asian guys, his eyes were also slanty. But the guy’s high cheekbones and smooth body figures accented his thin yet piercing eyes. He also had a cute smirk, barely showing all of his teeth at times. Ryoga wanted to just lick those lips. He also felt something else going on in his pants as well.


“Omigod, K, this guy is so amazing!” Ming said happily to the clean-cut yet gruff Korean guy. “Keep up the good work,” the Korean guy’s deep voice continued. He took the arm of the Chinese guy’s. “Thanks for training my dancers,” he looked at Ryoga and smirked slyly towards him.



Lunch at Café Flore with Martin and Devin was eventually becoming a routine for Ryoga who enjoyed hanging out with his new group of friends during his breaks. And of course, Ryoga told Martin about the drop dead gorgeous Korean guy that he met at the gym.


“Finally, you’re moving on from Tyler!” Martin said happily.


“There’s just one thing that bugs me,” Ryoga looked down at his ham sandwich. “Like I’m attracted to him but I just can’t tell if he is, you know, attracted to men.”


“Omigod,” Martin exclaimed. “You don’t have gaydar*!” Martin snapped his fingers. “Don’t worry, we’ll fix that!” Martin licked his lips. “Look at that guy.” He motioned to an attractive Asian man picking up a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich at the front desk. “Is he downe?”


Ryoga looked confused. “I think he’s standing up?”


Martin groaned. “No!” he said. “Is he family?”


“Does he like dick?” Tyler stated as-a-matter-of-factly. Ryoga still looked confused.


“Look at the pants,” Martin snapped. “Is he selling?” Ryoga took a closer look at the pants and realized what Martin knew by ‘selling.’ The designer jeans were extremely tight on the Asian model’s sleek body and enhanced his well-defined derriere. Ryoga felt like drooling too but instead he replied gruffly, “Yeah, he’s ‘selling’!”


“Excellent!” Martin applauded. “The guy’s a queen but we need a second clue.” Devin looked the young guy over and over again. “The hair,” he said finally. “It looks too stylish for a second-day dry down! Because only gay men know that the natural oils of the hair look better on the second day. And we got that one from- ”


QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY!” Martin chimed in. The young guy almost turned around to see the ruckus. “Fantastic!” Martin grinned. Ryoga looked puzzled.


            “Or you could just show him your dick and see how he reacts,” another voice smirked.


            It was the muscular Korean guy again. This time, he was wearing a white tanktop and blue jogging pants. Ryoga now understood the second-day dry down. The Korean guy’s spiky hair was surprisingly styled and soft at the same time. Ryoga started to wonder how many times a week gay men were supposed to take showers.


Martin rolled his eyes. “Oh, hello Kerry.” Ryoga smiled a little bit. The handsome man standing next to him had a name!  “Ryoga, this is Kerry Kwok, the Cyrano of the Castro.”


“We’ve met,” Kerry’s deep voice continued. He looked directly at Ryoga with a smile. Ryoga worried that he was blushing.


“Kerry’s a dancer at Club Earth by night,” Martin continued. “And by day…”


“I do advertising,” Kerry finished Martin’s sentence. “See that billboard over there? Kerry motioned to a Motorola cell phone billboard that stood above the Gold’s Gym building. It was a topless Asian guy with a smooth and oiled up body holding a cell phone and getting splashed by a jet of water from a hose from the side.  “That’s mine.”


“Guys like John Travolta and John Claude-van Damme are old school,” Kerry continued. “Abercrombie and Fitch is yesterday’s news. Gay men aren’t into the overly muscular, vapid, fake white bodies. Asian men are selling in the gay market because they are…lean, defined, smooth…sexy.” Sexy. Kerry looked directly at Ryoga when he said that. His soft, piercing gray eyes looked directly into Ryoga’s as if directing the adjective to Ryoga. And the way the word rolled off Kerry’s smooth lips made Ryoga’s heart beat a little bit faster.


“Are you done with that sticky-rice bullshit?” Martin muttered as he stuffed another piece of salad into his face. Devin snickered as he watched Ryoga turn into a soft puddle of shyness.


            “Susmariose,” Martin grumbled. “That stupid asshole thinks he can still step into this café like he’s king of the world.”


            “What’s wrong with him?” Ryoga asked while his mind was still dazed on the vision of Kerry’s buttocks from his clingy jogging pants.


            “Watch out for Kerry Kwok,” Martin looked dead into Ryoga’s eyes. “He will fuck you over worse than a double-headed dildo.” Ryoga felt his balloon pop. Martin became extremely serious. “Kerry’s sticky rice,” Martin said as-a-matter-of-factly. “He’s Asian for Asian. Dates only Asian men. And dumps Asian men.”


At least now you know he’s gay, Ryoga told himself quietly.


“Speaking of Asian for Asian,” Devin grinned. “Is that what you are going to wear on your first date with Luke?”


Ryoga was busy staring dreamily at Kerry that he didn’t realize how dashing Martin looked. Martin was wearing a neat grey dress shirt and black dress pants. “I just wanted to look a little bit…sophisticated,” Martin said nervously. “He’s a working boy remember/”


"You look like your first date is City Hall," Devin snickered. “If Gavin Newsom is going to preside over the ceremony, can I be your maid of honor?”


            “Omigod,” Martin exclaimed. “You’re right! I don’t want to scare him! I can probably go home and get changed.”


            Ryoga excused himself before Martin could shimmy away and walked out toward Crepeville. As Ryoga walked out onto the street, he noticed how many of Castro’s civilians had Motorola cell phones. It was almost everyone. Ryoga pulled out his own as he headed for work.



On the other side of town, Ranko was getting fitted into her gown for her upcoming wedding at Macy’s in Union Square. She was trying on a pure white crepe lame gown. Ryan sat on the side, wearing his wine red dress shirt and black business pants.


"I look fat," Ranko looked down at her waist with disdain. "I feel like I'm a walking white frosted cupcake."


"You're not fat," Ryan muttered objectively. "You look gorgeous."


            “All lies!” Ranko muttered as she fluffed the dress lightly. “How much did I pay you not be the catty queen you normally are?"


            “Well, at least you can get married,” Ryan muttered. For some reason, the idea of marriage hit very close to home.


"Crap," Ranko muttered and turned around, facing Ryan. "I told you this wasn't my fault.  Bret's parents are coming all the way from Massachusetts to come see him get married and they already put in so much money for the wedding." Ryan rolled his eyes.


"My brother married his wife because he had no choice,” Ranko squatted down next to Ryan. “I chose this man and I fell in love with him." Ryan looked away. "That's all. I'm not doing this because I'm executing my so-called privileges as a heterosexual female." Ryan just pouted frustratingly and it hurt Ranko to see Ryan so solemn.


"You know what you need?" Ranko started to grin stupidly. "We need to jamba."


Ryan looked up. "Oh dear, we haven't jamba-d since my last boyfriend."


"Then isn't this the perfect time?" Ranko smiled. “Now help me get out of this lacy mess I feel like a walking duck.”



Ranko and Ryan walked out of the small Jamba Juice at the corner of Market Street. They sat down in front of the nearby church, which happened to be the dauntingly huge St Mary’s Cathedral. The bell chimed five times, announcing the lateness of the day.


Ranko licked her lips as she sipped her smoothie. “Bleh,” she said finally. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a big fan of Passionfruit Bonanza. It’s way too fruity.”


“If you put a protein boost,” Ryan laughed. “It tastes a lot better.” Ranko laughed sarcastically. “I get enough of my protein boost from Bret, if you know what I mean!” She quickly changed the subject, a little bit shocked about the innuendo of her comments. “So let me get this straight, this guy that you met was a pig at first and magically turned into a really hot Asian man.”


"In the most unbelievably way in the world," Ryan said. "Yes."


Ranko rolled her eyes. “I don’t know what you’ve been smoking lately but I would definitely like some!”


“It’s like this,” Ryan grumbled. “I’m 30 and I know it. I see guys my age getting domestic partners and raising families, not chasing around 18-year-old club twinks around Castro!”


“And Martin?” Ranko looked endearing.

“Okay, there are exceptions,” Ryan grinned. “But seriously, I want to just, you know, settle down and be with someone who loves me and adopt a kid and that white-house on a picket fence crap.”

“Oh poor idealistic Ryan,” Ranko replied, rolling her eyes. “In the real world, it doesn’t happen that way.”

“I could buy a house with a white picket fence,” Ryan replied. “With my salary at the Chronicle, I could if I really wanted to.” Ranko gave Ryan her what-the-fuck look. “No, stupid,” Ranko smiled jokingly. “As in falling in love.”


            “So, how do heterosexuals fall in love?” Ryan asked sarcastically. “Since I clearly don’t know how that happens.”


            “We just do,” Ranko looked away. “I just can’t describe how it happens but with time, it just happens and then, poof, you’re married with two-point-five children in this little perfect American society.” Ranko sipped her smoothie a little bit more. “But that’s not only limited to heterosexuals and you should know better. We’re far from the days when the word ‘gay’ was barely mentioned. Now it’s everywhere. And guys aren’t scared of coming out anymore. And finding each other for love, for friendship, and for fucking. Even you will someday.” As a fruit fly, Ranko had surely done her homework.


            “I hope soon,” Ryan laughed. “I’m starting to see my hair turn gray.”


            “It can only get better,” Ranko said. “Like that Queer Eye theme song. By the way, Bret taped the last episode if you still want to watch it.”


After work, Ryan started to drive home. Maybe Ranko was right. All things are getting better. Ryan smiled. And he was about to miss Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Ryan drove back to his house and opened the door. A sense of loneliness filled the room.



“Yeah, I changed,” Martin spoke to Devin on his Motorola cellphone. “Of course, I’m not all Cary Grant right now.” Martin was now wearing blue jogging pants and a tight black shirt. “Okay, I’m close to his place. Can I call you later?” Martin rang the doorbell.


His jaw dropped. Luke looked more dashing than ever. He was wearing a black dress jacket and a silver tie, as well as black dress pants. For a second, Martin thought he was dating a dreamy Asian Catholic schoolboy. Martin could also smell the strong phernones from Luke’s cologne which made him fantasize ripping the hot, well-dressed man’s shirt off.


"I guess I overdressed," Luke muttered nervously with his soft lisp and started to turn back to his apartment building.


"It's not your fault," Martin stammered. "It's because I was listening to those kulits* telling me how to dress. I should’ve known better.” Martin fidgeted. “You…you just take my breath away." Luke smiled that same coy smile that drove Martin crazy. He took Martin’s hand shyly and they walked out to the car.



            Ryoga started cleaning up another table when his manager, Brian, a dashingly attractive white guy with blonde curly hair and blue eyes came up to him. “Jason just called in sick so can you take care of his table?” Brian asked, his blue eyes shimmered like sapphire. “I promise I’ll pay you extra.” Ryoga put another used cup onto his tray of dirty dishes. “Sure,” he smiled. “And then I’ll go finish cleaning this up.” Brian nodded and went back to his managerial duties.


            It was Kerry. But he wasn’t alone. Ryoga felt his eyes scope Kerry out, looking for any other second-hand evidence of queer identity. Kerry was wearing a black Banana Republic shirt that grazed his muscular body and pinstripe black pants. He gave Ryoga a look over and Ryoga felt his heart beating faster.


            “Hey cutie,” Kerry grinned stupidly. “What’s up…other than the usual?”


            Kerry’s “date,” a skinny Thai guy rolled his eyes. “I’ll have a Pesto Chicken crepe,” he looked up threateningly to Ryoga. “Okay,” Ryoga looked down at his paper writing furiously and then looked to Kerry. “And what would you like?”


"I am feeling a little bit wild tonight," Kerry licked his lips. "Is there anything that you can...recommend for me?"


Ryoga grinned nervously. "Well, our specialty tonight is the habanero crepe," he said. "It's very hot." Ryoga felt kicking himself for his cheesy pick-up line.


"That sounds tempting," Kerry's soothing voice replied. "I'll have one of those."


Ryoga had just enjoyed watching Kerry’s mouth water as he munched into his spicy crepe because he had forgotten to mention just exactly how spicy it was. Just as Ryoga started to clean up Kerry’s table, he noticed that Kerry had left his important Visa card sitting idly on the table. Knowing his own irresponsibilities, Ryoga ran outside to make sure he caught Kerry before it was too late.


“Mister,” Ryoga ran out frantically. “You forgot your credit card.” It was only then that he knew it was rigged. Kerry stood in the street, date-less and smiling at Ryoga.


“I just had to see you again,” Kerry said coyly. Ryoga blushed furiously. “Despite the possible indigestion this crepe is going to cause.”


Ryoga grinned. “Well, I’m here.” Kerry drew him closer and Ryoga could feel Kerry’s warm arms around him. “Do you have a place to go?” Kerry whispered. The echoes of his voice on Ryoga’s ears brought feverous tremours within Ryoga’s thighs.



Squat and Gobble had just closed and tonight was Ryoga's turn to lock up. But this time, he  wasn't the only one. Kerry was now pushing him into the kitchen wall and he could feel his body melting into ice cold surface. Wordlessly, they moved ferverently. Hands traveling everywhere, around face, around hair, around chests. Ryoga could feel Kerry's body push itself on him, the toned landscape placing pressure on him.


With quick ease, Kerry unbuttoned Ryoga’s black shirt. He lifted up his own, revealing his well-defined and smooth abdominal muscles. They pushed their bodies together skin on skin. The heat made Ryoga’s mind swim in ecstasy. Kerry continued his assault on Ryoga’s lips with his tongue exploring Ryoga’s entire mouth. Ryoga could only hold on barely to Kerry’s strong shoulders, feeling the smooth cotton of his striped blue dress shirt. Ryoga closed his eyes as he felt Kerry’s fingers fumble with Ryoga's zipper, slipping his hands onto Ryoga’s crotch. He started stroking Ryoga's now quivering and moist member giving Ryoga minor pangs of pleasure with every touch. "You've got a nice cock," Kerry said finally. "Thank you," Ryoga gasped as he felt Kerry's smooth hands run up and down the shaft.


"Once I go down, you can't go back up," Kerry displayed that sexy little smirk again. Ryoga groaned. Kerry sank down to his destination. He could feel Kerry's warm and wet mouth start to envelope his throbbing member. Ryoga surrendered to the throes of pleasure as he sunk down the wall.


I’m not the Queer’s Almanac but here goes some definitions. Gaydar, as defined on VH1’s Totally Gay, is the ability to sense a person’s sexuality by seeing how much they can conform to queer culture. Downe is a queers-of-color code word and comes from the Web site It’s an alternative word for asking if someone is gay. My favorite code word is family which is the last term that Martin uses to describe gay. Post Stonewall, queer people lost their consanguineal family when they came out and had to form their own “family” through friendship and support of other queers.

Sticky rice is a term that becomes very important as this story goes on. It is when an Asian person dates only another Asian person. There are terms for other races too- chocolate, potato, burrito, buffet. Like I said, this story focuses a lot on race and how it intersects with queer identity and I believe that the specific people we choose to go out with or that we find attractive are based on pre-established structures that enforce those images.

Kulit is Tagalog for “crazy” or “idiot.”

Jamba is a TOTC ½ term that I dedicate to my friend Jeff Lagasca. It is when two fighting parties settle their differences by going to Jamba Juice and spending lots of money on smoothies that can also supplement for meals at times. Talk about being cheap in the city.

I am honored to introduce Kerry Kwok. He is a character I’ve been thinking about for such a long time. He emerges from a combination of the predatory Brian Kinney of Queer As Folk and Marina Ferrer from The L-Word. He has the brash sexuality of Brian Kinney from Queer As Folk that enable Brian to get laid everyday. However, he displays the eruditic sensuality that makes Jenny Schecter fall for Marina Ferrer in The L-Word. I just wanted to create a predatory character for Queer As Folk who would also play on his racial identity to re-enforce his own sensuality.

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