Both Sides Now
Handsome, clean-cut, in shape but not a muscle head, Michael Page could easily attract women or men. Or both. Not bad if you're bisexual, which the Fort Lauderdale airline pilot decidedly is. The only problem is that historically there has been no place for bisexuals to socialize -- even in heavily gay- and lesbian-populated South Florida.
In fact, as a bi man in a gay club like the popular Copa, Page has encountered problems. "If I go over there and I happen to meet a girl and we're dancing, having a good time -- this did happen, by the way -- the gays do not like that at all. I was getting dirty looks. People who I thought were my friends were starting to confront me with, 'Well, you have to make a choice: either women or men.' I said, 'No, I don't have to make a choice.'"
Instead Page wants to have it both ways. He runs a members-only Website -- bicafe.com -- on which bis can view photos and read bios of other bisexuals. Page also facilitates a bisexual support group at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Fort Lauderdale.
Still, there was no place with a purely bi-friendly atmosphere at which to socialize. At least there wasn't until a couple months ago.
In February Gypsy's Cabaret owner Paul Pavone and partner Tony DeLuise kicked off Bi/Bi-Curious Saturdays, which is sponsored by Page's Website. Located in a nondescript strip mall just east of the Intracoastal on Oakland Park Boulevard, Gypsy's operated for its first 20 years as the Whale and Porpoise, a private "gentlemen's club." Four years ago Pavone bought it and kept the name but turned it into an alternative-lifestyles nightclub, which he ran for three years before selling it. The space was a lesbian club for only ten months before Pavone had to foreclose on the new owners. He reopened the spacious club as an afternoon dinner theater, presenting cabaret performances to busloads of seniors.
Those shows still take place, but Pavone has added themed club nights. Wednesdays feature the Love Jones poetry slam, formerly held at Krystal's. Lesbians gather on Fridays at a party called Women For Womyn. On Saturdays the place belongs to the bisexual crowd.
And unlike private swingers' clubs -- where bis could certainly hook up for random, multigender sexual encounters -- Gypsy's is a social setting. "Here they can meet someone, have a cocktail with someone they met on the Web," says Pavone.
"The Internet is perfect for a point of contact," Page agrees, "but now if you want to meet someone face to face, there's someplace to go. There are a lot of bis just sitting at home, who have become isolated, and it's a real damn shame."
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