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It's Saturday night, and per usual, the boys are out in full force on Himmarshee. The air in front of E Bar vibrates to the singular sounds of the favored local, frost-tipped acoustic duo that even has its own neon sign in the bar, Latino Fire. How's that for a house band?
Past the horde at the front of the long narrow bar, the crowd thins out. All sway to the sound of "Gasolina," a popular song. I fuel the pale party fire with Captain and Diet. That's all a girl needs. But word going round is that these days, boys need a little more. They are popping Daddy's pills.
"I've done [Viagra] seven times. It's the shit," replies 21-year-old Mark, a chin-bearded, stocky man in a white T-shirt and thin-framed glasses. "My girl could not hold on to it."
A 21-year-old Latin lover on Viagra. That's like juicing up a bull, putting on a red dress, and stepping into the estadio vagina first.
How does Viagra fit into a youngster's party schedule, I ask Mark.
"At the end of the night, less than half an hour before I want to have sex."
How does your girlfriend feel about it?
"She likes it. She falls asleep satisfied."
Here's the rub: "You wake up in the morning and you're still hard and horny as fuck," he says. "After the first time, it gets harder. Second and third time, it gets better and better."
Does he really need it?
"If it makes it better," he replies, "I'm all for it."
His 26-year-old friend Joey has also partaken of the pill. "I did Viagra four months ago, and my girlfriend didn't notice the difference. I didn't even tell her. I felt kind of funny," he says, gesturing toward his chest. "It keeps you hard, but it didn't wake me up horny. Ecstasy is better. It always makes me horny when it's wearing off. One time I had a double triple orgasm."
What exactly is that? Was it double or triple?
"I came three times."
I inform Joey that his friend Mark says he can do it three times in one night with Viagra.
"I guess that's not normal for him," he cracks.
How do you get Viagra?
"People steal it from their dads and sell it for $20 to $25. Mostly," he adds, then reiterates Something About Marywisdom: "Guys just jerk off before they go out so that they can last longer."
Mark and Joey's 30-year-old friend, MG, simply says, "I felt no effect when I took it. Young guys have no trouble maintaining an erection."
He scribbles on my notepad, "Just toke for fun!"
Guys like these are using Viagra more and more. Prescriptions for the 18 to 45 set tripled from 1998 to 2002, one recent study showed. That doesn't even include the black market. And a third of gay men who engage in risky sexual behavior, another study says, use the drug without scrips.
Sunday night took me to "Life's a Drag" at VooDoo Lounge, where the gay-straight mix made for an exuberant crowd. A drag queen on stage was dancing to a diva ballad when two patrons in long-sleeved shirts jumped up next to her, dropped their hands on their knees, and started gyrating their asses, dropping them to the ground as only the most provocative booty queens can. The drag queen removed her brunet wig to reveal a head of short blond hair and put it on one of the patrons. "These boys are trying to steal my purse," she commented into the mic. "We have to give you a drag name," she said to one of them. "I've always liked Summer Clearance, personally."
Between the main dance floor and the open-air hip-hop room, there is a lounge with couches. I hit up a bouncy brunet cutester, 21-year-old Vinny, who gave me the lowdown on the Ecstasy-Viagra cocktail. "Partiers who use heavy drugs do not get an erection. What men do is pop Viagra in between doses, and they're longer and harder. They usually use a cock ring -- sorry to be blunt -- and you have sex for hours, and it stays hard. On extra drugs, you have more orgasms and it takes longer to have them. These guys are between 20 and 25 years old."
Do you take it, Vinny?
"No, I don't. My mother says, 'Don't fix it if it's not broken.' "
But, really, how do you get a boy not to experiment with his penis?
I took the question to Cathode Ray and bumped into Don, a slight, attractive 30-year-old man.
Have you ever taken Viagra?
On a night of partying?
How do you take it?
Do a lot of people take Viagra with ecstasy to counterbalance the effects of ecstasy?"
Don and his friend, John, broke into laughter and he answered, "There you go."
He explained the way ecstasy affects his libido: "I get horny when I first take ecstasy, and when it's leaving, I get horny. So, two times in the night, I'm horny.
"I know what the effects are going to be, so if I'm going to take it, I take it simultaneously with the X."
What's the benefit? What would you not be able to do without it, that, as a 30-year-old man, you can do with it?
"I've tried it twice. The first time, I think it was a placebo. The second time, I think it was just to experience it. The third time I took it, I told the person that I was with that I'd taken X, and in turn, he gave me half a Viagra."
Is sex better on Viagra?
"I don't think so."
His friend, 31-year-old John, a tall man with light brown hair, glasses, and a goatee explained that Viagra is a remedy for another common limp-penis inducing party product: alcohol. "People get drunk, and then they can't 'cause they're drunk. They take a Viagra 'cause they're drunk.
"You know what's hysterical," he continued, "is I was dating somebody who was a doctor and could have Viagra whenever he wanted. He said, 'Take one.' I said, 'Well, what's that?' He said, 'It's a little bit of Viagra.'
"It came on right after the alcohol. Big time."
Don cuts in. "With X, the hard-on goes up, it goes down..." He put his hands out and yelled down as if he were arguing with his penis.
Don laughed. John laughed too.
One more question: Can people you have sex with be less attractive now that it's easier to get a hard on?
Their replies were telling about their characters:
Don said, "I don't have sex with people just because I have a hard on -- because sex for me takes a lot of work."
John added: "No, even on Viagra you have to be stimulated to get that hard on.