An asexy neon sign flickers outside a bar downtown?
Okay, I usually just post pictures, and this one’s a little odd and a lot long, but hear me out. I can’t get my thoughts together and I need opinions that aren’t mine.
I have some quotes:
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see a rash of asexual non-dating bars opening on the First Avenue and the waterfront in the near future – places where people of different asexual persuasions stare at each other and keep their rocks on.”
’Asexuality: Everybody’s Not Doing It’
Arthur Bell, January 25, 1978, the Village Voice
“Not long ago a man told me of a woman who went to an “asexual bar” to pick up men because she could be sure there was no risk of any human involvement. I thought he was joking, but now it seems entirely probable that “asexual bars” will sprout in cities to accomodate the growing demand for places where people who want to be alone can do so with people like themselves.”
’A Nation Drifts Into Loneliness’
Russell Baker, May 13, 1978, New York Times
“Q- I suppose you A’s tend to hang around together?
A- Naturally. There’s hardly a community in the land these days that doesn’t have its A restaurants, A bars and A motels.
Q- And what do you do in these places?
A- Eat, drink and sleep.”
Art Hoppe, November 10, 1979, Spokane Daily Chronicle
“it was abroad, probably 44th Street in New York, the bar for asexuals, to which one of Zachler’s secretaries had dragged me since at that time it was brand new and you just had to have seen it — men and women who somehow had it behind them and were sociably relaxing from each other. It was already a favourite meeting-place and the room was full to bursting.”
Botho Strauß, 1980 (translated from German by Michael Hulse: Tumult, 1984)
“With the Herpes Holocaust under way, “asexual” bars are popular. Here you can pick up partner who wants a platonic relationship. (From the eyebrows up.) Suitable topics of conversation include your cholesterol level, clitoral alienation, cat collection, earlobe droop, ego income and repressed hostility.”
’They All Say It - If Only They Meant It’
Kathy Lette, January 21, 1983, Sydney Morning Herald
What do these quotes have in common? They are all from the 70s-80s and they all reference/satirize the idea of a bar for asexual people. And they are all - with the exception of the fictional interview by Art Hoppe which does not focus on any one location - place these bars in New York City. This includes the one from the Sydney Morning Herald, which is an article about visiting NYC, and the one in a German novel, which is just a casual mention in case you were adding it to your reading list.
I’ll level with you. I don’t actually believe there was an asexual bar in New York in the late seventies, and I will not believe otherwise unless presented with some pretty strong evidence. The present asexual identity didn’t really exist then, so we’d be talking about something a little foreign to us anyway. Who knows why all these different people honed in on this idea at this time? Did one of them inspire all the others, or was the timing somehow right? The sexual revolution was in full swing… and the AIDS epidemic wasn’t recognized until 1981. (I bring up the threat of AIDS because it does come up in the context of choosing celibacy, and celibacy by choice has often been conflated with asexuality, especially in a pre-asexual identity world, although you can be one, the other, or both (or obviously neither). The “Herpes Holocaust” mentioned above has this same trend, as the 70-80s was a time when herpes became more widely spread and stigmatized. Diseases have a significant cultural impact.)
Is it possible that there was a bar in New York for people who didn’t want to be picked up by other people? I don’t see why not, but that doesn’t make it an asexual bar per se. Closer to the Diogenes Club, really. Well not really really, I just wanted to say that. But you get my meaning: some asexual people date, cuddle, have sex, and so on, so a “non-dating bar” isn’t accurately an ace bar.
My question is, is it so ludicrous, an asexual bar? I mean, I get it, “oh ha ha, the repressed virgins are going to get together and talk about their cats”, well done, truly the pinnacle of humour, but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Forget the 1% numbers game for a moment, and look at it from a theoretical point of view. I think I would like bars more if I wasn’t likely to be hit on with intent, but that is probably more the quirky aromantic in me talking. Because. Shit. Does this make me terrible? I like those dynamic-chemistry-battle-of-wits moments, but I guess this is read as flirting and I loathe leading people on. So I generally don’t ‘flirt’ at all, I’m quite cagey, and I need a better strategy than avoiding the issue.
That and the fact that it doesn’t take someone exactly like me to want to go to a bar or a club or a pub to just be social without taking it further. There are lots of people who like to do this for assorted reasons; aceness isn’t the only factor here. I’m not looking to hang out with aces only, I just dream of any sort of space where my orientation isn’t virtually unknown or misunderstood.
Anyway, I’ll leave you with this last quote because it is flamingly ace, and New York is clearly the heart of the asexual empire:
“When my studies took me to New York, I got more involved with the asexual community there. I posted messages on their website and there were regular meet-ups in a little pink tea shop in the East Village - I guess you could call it the asexual equivalent of a gay bar.”
’We’re married, we just don’t have sex’
Paul Cox, September 8, 2008, The Guardian
So tell me: would an asexual bar or café or tea shop mean anything to you, or are things good for you the way they are?