First, some background: I first met Dan Savage in the early-mid-’90s, when he was a drag queen sex columnist and I was a bookstore employee performance artist. He started directing my shows, I started writing for his paper, and we started hanging out.
Back then, Capitol Hill’s Broadway was littered in the spring and summer with what can only be called gay jeeps, brightly colored sports vehicles driven by brutally tanned and shirtless men, whose presence and motives beguiled both Savage and me. Key to the gay jeep experience was music—huge, thumping, techno-sex beats (“Everybody’s FREEEEEEEEEE!!!!”) blasting forth from each gay jeep, while the tanned-and-shirtless drivers did their best to act oblivious to the thumping racket, seemingly pretending the music was coming from somewhere else, like a personal soundtrack provided by God to underscore their great gay existence.
The sight of these stone-faced disco jeepers totally cracked my shit up, and before long, Savage and I began indulging in some gay jeeping of our own: Cruising down Broadway in my boyfriend-at-the-time’s Pontiac van (ooh la la!), we’d roll down the windows, crank up the music, and do our best to maintain sexy stoic faces—which wasn’t easy, because I refused to blast any other song besides The Sound of Music’s “The Lonely Goatherd.”
Have you ever tried to look cool and sexy, or even just keep a straight face, while riding in a car blasting “The Lonely Goatherd”? It’s next to impossible, but we spent most of the summer trying, cruising down Broadway—and on special occassions, through Volunteer Park’s notorious “Boner Row”—to the thrilling racket of Austrian children yodelling before an orchestra. It was never not hilarious.
Now it’s eleven years later, and I don’t visit Broadway enough to know if the gay jeep culture still exists, but if it does, there’s a good chance one of the gay jeepers will soon be blasting my most cherished cruising anthem in an entirely non-ironic context, thanks to the new single by Gwen Stefani, entitled “Wind it Up”.
(Thanks to Jake for alerting me to this bizarre twist of history and pop culture, and good luck to all of you in getting that damn yodel out of your head.)