Brooklyn-based writer David Boyer's first book, Kings and Queens, cast a queer eye on the sometimes great, sometimes awfulbut always memorableexperiences of gay men and women at their high school prom. Though not exactly a follow-up, Boyer's second book examines no less a time-honored and typically heterosexual tradition: the bachelor party. Out.com spoke to Boyer about his latest oral history, Bachelor Party Confidential: A Real-Life Peek Behind the Closed-Door Tradition, and what his research revealed. Are these parties really all about hookers and blow?
Why bachelor parties?
Im totally fascinated by rituals, especially ones that have a certain
inherent tensionlike queers and prom, marriage and bachelor parties. And while it might not seem like it, queers and prom, and heterosexual men and bachelor parties have a lot in common. Both rituals cross generational, geographic, racial and class lines, both have this hard-to-live-up-to mythology, and neither topics had been fully explored in print before I dug in.
Did you attend the bachelor parties of men you didn't know as part of your research? If so, how did you gain access?
Most of the stories in Bachelor Party Confidential are based on interviews with men who had already attended bachelor partiesits their memories of the parties. But I did travel to Vegas with two straight friends with the idea of infiltrating a bachelor party. These two men were my hetero beards and, in fact, they helped me spot a group of guys mid-party around the pool at the Bellagio. This group of about six, all in their early thirties, were recovering from the night before while psyching themselves up for the next evening. They were hysterical and their story proved pivotal in my understanding of the dramatic difference between the groom and his friends. Essentially, the groom is like a deer caught in the headlights, and he wants to do the right thing. The friends, especially the married ones, were looking to get into trouble and push the envelope. The party was really about them not the guy getting married.
You document both gay and straight bachelor parties in your book. What was the biggest difference between the two?
Well, for queer folk the bachelor party is not mandatory. I spoke with
several wedding planners in Provincetown and they said that most of their clients skipped the bachelor party altogether. I did talk to one gay male couple who had separate bachelor parties. And, I know this will sound terrible, but their bachelor parties seemed to have more in common with bachelorette parties than bachelor parties, including the appearance of that bachelorette staple: the penis veil.
What was the most homoerotic display you encountered (at a straight man's bachelor party)?
I went to one bachelor party where everyone was asked to dress up like
sailors for a Captains Happy Hour. I tell you, it was incredibly sexy.It was like we a bunch of sailors on leave. Also, one guy I interviewed told me about a party he attended where one of the guys had sex with a stripper while two guys jerked off to what he termed live porn. H-O-T. One guy told me about a party that took place 30 years ago. It was group of Italian men and the best man hired a stripper who, after she gave a bunch of lap dances, revealed herself to be a him. The crowd, according to this guy, went crazy because they felt duped and the stripper had to be escorted out in order to escape bodily harm. There was another party I was told about that ended up with the bachelor in a cast from his ankle to his hip. One problem: he didnt actually break his leg; he passed out and his friends, including a doctor from a nearby hospital, decided to play a trick on the groom-to-be. They had a cast put on him after he passed out and didnt tell him his leg was not broken until after his wedding and honeymoon in Fiji. His wife is still pissed at the friends.
Bachelor Party Confidential is published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, a division of Simon & Schuster and is in stores now.