I grew up on a farm in northern Alberta, Canada; talk about lonely and hostile territory for a sensitive artistic blonde gay boy in training. My solace was the Columbia House Record Club, where every month I could order new records that would come in the mail, and I would listen to Fleetwood Mac, the Carpenters, Heart and Supertramp on the headphones for hours and hours, holding the sleeves in my hand, reading the credits, looking at the pictures.
When I turned 16 I could drive, my Dad bought me a 1966 powder blue Ford Fairlaine; it was embarrasing because it was kind of dorky and almost as old as me, but I installed a cassette sound system that was surely worth more than the car itself, and I started going to an academic high school in the big city of Edmonton, and I got a part time job at my favorite record store. It was called Mister Sound at that time, now it is (or was?) called HMV. Eventually, due to my complete lack of interest in school, school became part time and the record store job that I loved became full time.
One night after work, I had just graduated from high school, and just turned 18, and it was the long weekend around the first of July. My manager from the record store took me downtown to this gay bar called The Roost. I had never seen such a thing. Being a small town, everyone was there. I mean drag queens, leather men, jocks, farmers. All in the same room. All dancing to the same music. With each other. It was like stepping into a new, spectacular and colorful world.
And the sound! I had grown up in the disco era, I had all the records by Donna Summer, Chic, Patrick Hernandez, Santa Esmeralda, Boney M, KC & the Sunshine Band, Sister Sledge, the Bee Gees, ABBA of course. But I had never heard music this amazing, and this LOUD, on what was reputedly a $10,000 sound system. All sorts of new music, like Tantra, Boystown Gang, Sharon Redd, Grace Jones, Sylvester. I adored electro disco like Patrick Cowley, Bobby O, Cerrone, the Flirts.
This was also the place I first heard Duran Duran, the song was "Planet Earth", they had a 12" single import from the UK. Duran Duran would come to be one of my all time favorite bands. To this day whenever I hear the 12" Night Version of 'Planet Earth' I am back in that night club.
But the song that I identify most with from that very specific time and place, is "Feels Like I'm In Love" by Kelly Marie. She sings, "My head is in a spin, my feet don't touch the ground," which describes exactly how I felt. God, I loved that song. And still do, now nearly thirty years later!
When I was still in school there was a very rogue band from Toronto called Rough Trade. The lead singer was a woman named Carole Pope, their music was so out there, so sexual, so provocative. Rumour around school was that Carole was a transexual. It later turned out that she was simply a lesbian (and was Dusty Springfield's girlfriend at the time), but either way, for us high school kids in 1980 it was a VERY big deal.
Their hit single at the time was "High School Confidential" and it was very vivid, and very sexual. Carole sang about a high school vamp, teasing all the boys, and there is a line in the song where she says, "she makes me cream my jeans when she comes my way." That was VERY titillating for us, and the radio version bleeped out the word "creamed" LOL.
The first drag show I saw, there was this guy who did that song and it blew my mind. He (she) was so amazing, so perfect, so sexual, so ambiguous! This was a couple years before Annie Lennox hit big. When I finally saw Rough Trade perform the song a couple years later it was actually disappointing! The drag queen was better than the real thing! But I bought all Rough Trade's albums and Carole Pope's solo albums and still love them. I wish there were more of them.
I still remember the first guy I went home with, that fateful evening, but how could I not! His name was Robbie, he had beautiful eyes, dark hair and stubble, and a hairy chest (and a huge dick) and he was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. The next day all my friends from school were calling me on the phone to get the scoop. Yep, I'm gay! (no cover of Time magazine for me, though).