Wednesday, June 8

O Street Write-Off

On the front page today, the WaPo offers an explainer of sorts on the endangered status of D.C.'s gay "adult entertainment district." For the straight community, it's probably the first they've heard of Ziegfields, Follies, Secrets and other establishments which lie in the footprint of the coming baseball stadium. The article seems to go out of its way to highlight the seedy nature of these business, calling O Street SE

a kind of 24-hour mini-mall of prurience, where some members of the gay community buy X-rated magazines, videos and sexual paraphernalia, watch nude dancing, visit the city's longest-surviving bathhouse or meet other men, at times for sex.

It's the last item that really captures the reporter's attention, and he paints a lurid picture. True, men (mostly 40 or older) are quoted trying to explain how the area has long provided a haven from the strictures of a sometimes intolerant world, but mostly the article delves into which locations offer an opportunity for backroom sex.

The more innocuous diversions -- such as drag shows and nationally-known clubs that uphold Washington's unique status for permitting nude male dancing where alcohol is served -- get short shrift. There's also only limited discussion about how affected proprietors might relocate, without many specifics. (I did love, however, the fiery quote about not giving in to "the bluenoses and the busybodies and the not-in-my-back-yarders." Has there ever been a more succinct description of your typical ANC meeting?)

If the Post's attitude reflects public opinion, then I guess the paper might as well be writing a "good riddance" obituary for a vanishing scene. Bring on the lifestyle centers and upscale mixed-use developments, yeah!

P.S. Oh, speaking of the Nats -- check out Ryan Zimmerman the cutie third baseman whom the Nationals just drafted out of UVa.