Rick Moody and the Times Square trannies

Rick Moody's Black Veil is a pretty standard nonfiction novel memoir travel book literary critical recovery tome. (Yes, that's his description. More interesting than the Ice Storm author's struggle with alcohol: what he didn't publish). A description of a trip to a tranny bar didn't make it past the publishers. Don't worry: Moody, the envy of his peers after two books were made into movies, has posted the deleted account to the Five Chapters website. The author's preamble: "I asked a writer friend who is an expert on the subject if he would take me to a tranny bar in New York City, and off we went," he says. (Yes, that's what they all say!) "I really liked this passage, still do, but I think my publishers were genuinely uncomfortable about it, as if it suggested a genuine inner disturbance of some kind." The girls, and their residuary knobs, after the jump.

The guys, many of whom were no doubt wearing wedding rings, fashioned disguises of routine heterosexuality, paid their taxes like anyone else, made sure to brush their teeth, to recycle beer cans, but their girls were concealing that extra special surprise underneath. Subsequent researches into the rhetoric of the tranny chaser always turned up variations on this particular turn of phrase, so I use it advisedly: I'm looking for a girl with a little something extra...

Dean was a frequenter of the old Times Square bars, Sally's, Edelweiss, the vanished demimondes of transsexual hookers, and he constructed a forceful argument about the inferiority of this club — there were regulations now, in the Giuliani administration, on how decadent a business of this kind could really be, and so there was an abridgement of the pure expression of transgender madness...

We stood around watching, as the bouncer stood around watching, as the pool of available men stood around watching. There was no privacy to be had. We watched as the girls peeled back layers, hiked up miniskirts, flung halter tops on the floor, so that you could see their boys' hips and the residuary knob in their thongs that no amount of female hormones had yet been able to obliviate. One guy in the corner was desperately trying to achieve satisfaction, such that his Asian girl, weighing in at about ninety-three pounds, was athletically cycling through a half-dozen different poses. Abrading the front of him. What would happen to this pair? Dean, with his slightly weary brand of curiosity offered a guess: They'll negotiate some price for going back to a hotel. Or she'll take him to her room.

...I thought I had learned everything I needed to know, and I was downstairs getting ready to take leave when we beheld, across a crowded room, the Radcliffe Girl. Her ambitions were far more interesting than the post of receptionist. She didn't simply want to be in the bar, she wanted to own the bar, or maybe she wanted to replace Anna Wintour at Vogue, or Tina Brown at Talk, and, along the way, she wanted to make men yearn and suffer. Her chestnut hair, just a bit shorter than shoulder length, was pulled back, and she wore a black sheath minidress, black fuck-me pumps. No stockings. A discreet lipstick, very little makeup. Her demeanor was both insouciant and resolutely aristocratic, as if, after she had danced a few lap dances, the driver might pull around front with the Mercedes, and she would head home for a nightcap. And in the morning, there would be her squash lessons over at the club.

The attraction was tribal. I mean, I could have easily seen her in Connecticut — she was very Greenwich — or perhaps at my boarding school class reunion; in fact, she looked a little like my famous classmate, the failed actress, Catherine Oxenberg. Except that this Oxenberg imposter would more likely incline toward restraints.