Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Look Who's Talking

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Look Who's Talking

Article excerpt

What happened at the hotel Honolulu will not go down in the history books. It won't have to, because the guests have already written the books. And what they've written is a diary of gay life over the past 15 years. If you cruise the back pages of this publication, you've probably seen the ads for the hotel -- the only open, avowed, self-confessed, acknowledged homo hostelry on Oahu (or Oa'hu, as it is now known; the Hawaiians are trying to revive their language by bringing back all the slashes, dashes, and umlauts they gave up to the white devil).

Oa'hu means "gathering place," and Honolulu means "fair harbor," and for some time now the hotel has functioned as the former for the latter, especially if you add a y to fair. Coupled with the legendary Hula's Bar and Lei Stand, whose double entendre never fails to pulverize malihinis (that's "newcomers"), this square block in the middle of Waikiki has served as a mid-Pacific mecca for years. This may all change soon, as the Asian tourist boom that has turned nearby Kalakaua Avenue into a glass canyon of high-rises and shopping malls threatens to engulf and devour everything in its path. Already the faux-deco Polynesian movie palace, the Kuhio (where Bette Midler worked as an usherette) is gone, to be replaced by Nike Town. The hotel can't be far behind.

But if the place does go, its secrets will not die with it. Management has seen to that. When you check into the Hotel Honolulu, in addition to the rattan furniture and ceiling fans you get a strange, shaded lanai-balcony-patio arrangement outside your front door. There's a chair out there and a writing table. And on the writing table is one of those black- and white-patterned composition books they used to have in grade schools (by now they must have composition computers). Hmm, you think, the last guest must have left this. Indeed he did. He left it for you. And so did the guest before him, and the guest before him, all the way back to guest zero.

Since 1983, guests have been jotting down their impressions, their adventures, their complaints, their worldviews, and, occasionally, their phone numbers on the mainland. The entries are astonishingly dense, written in longhand, often above, below, and around dark stains of unknown origin. …

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