Posted by Madam Bubby


We’ve been seeing the word pandemic as we encounter at varying levels one throughout the world. A Greek root in the word, “pan,” means all.

It’s interesting how we have created many words with this root. The most famous example is pandemonium, a word the poet John Milton created in his epic Paradise Lost. It is the name of Lucifer’s city in Hell:

“Pandemonium, the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built of the deep: the infernal peers there sit in council.”


Pandemonium, Illustration by Gustav Dore for Paradise Lost
Pandemonium - Source: Gustav Dore, illustrations for Paradise Lost


Based on its characteristics, one of its definitions has evolved into meaning a noisy cacophony, or an overall chaotic situation or experience, even though, analyzing the Greek, it literally means something like “all or every little demon.” Whose idea was it to build the city? In Milton’s universe, the figure of Mammon, who represents the greedy pursuit of material gain.

Geologists named the original supercontinent on Earth before it split up Pangaea, and related to the above, specifically, Mammon, a notoriously corrupt real estate company in Chicago is called Pangea (go to Yelp to find out more).


Pangaea - Source: most-recent.html


The word pansexual has become popular in today’s nomenclature as cultural norms about sexuality become more flexible, and some have even defined it as being attracted to the personality of a partner rather than that person’s gender identiity.

But there’s another Pan, and his name doesn’t literally correspond to the root discussed above. He’s that Greek god everyone recognized as a goat man who plays pipes.

But there’s more to him than the clichéd figure of the satyr. I found out via Wikepedia that, according to some myths, his father Hermes (associated with large phalluses), taught him how to masturbate. Pan liked to “chase girls” (yes, he was definitely a predator), but women devotees of his cult were sometimes called “pan girls.”


The god Pan
Pan - Source:


I don’t know if he had sexual encounters with males, but adding to the sexual elements of his personality and cult, his half-brother was Hermaphroditus, the intersex son of his father Hermes and the goddess Aphrodite.

The word panic actually comes from the story that Pan, possessed of a deep, authoritative voice, could create fear among humans by shouting, and he even was able to control a horde of giants attacking the gods by shouting. I assume he made a sound like that during his frequent sexual encounters.

Going back to the first meaning of pan, I like to think of what we sell at Bijou Video as “pan-porn.” Yes, the content is primarily gay male, but our products reveal a variety of bodies, personalities, identities, sexualities.

I think we need to remember that the “all” of human experience isn’t monolithic; many parts interact within that all; thus every day, if we keep our minds and hearts open, we discover what we thought was the “all” is something new and, in these days of fear, a matter of preserving life.

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Stonewall 50 Is Here, But I Remember Stonewall 25!

posted by Madame Bubby

In 1994, I attended the Stonewall 25 celebrations in New York City. And, most significantly, it was my first visit to New York City. And even more significantly, it was the beginning of my intense journey into the world of BDSM relationships.

New York City, 1994

That year, I had pretty much abandoned the more “vanilla” activities of the LGBTQ world. My forays into, for example, singing in the choirs of Dignity and with the Windy City Gay Chorus were socially and artistically disappointing. I had been to IML a couple of times, and because I was working at a mundane office job that was not demanding outside the actual hours I had to suffer there (I should have been attempting to complete my academic ambitions, but that's another story), I spent much time on the weekends in bars. One might say, I was in my “slut” period. I was really looking for kink and romance, but that goal proved to be elusive.

Thus, looking for some excitement and still longing for connections in the LGBTQ community, I jumped at the opportunity when a couple of friends on the gay choral circuit invited me to go with them to New York. I worked some overtime so we could split one room four ways in Midtown Manhattan.

Upon arrival, in keeping with my life's trajectory at that point, I pretty much abandoned my friends' events (seeing Barbra Streisand, no thank you). The first night in New York City, I took the subway by myself down to Chelsea. I walked into a bar called Rawhide. Several persons in that bar lusted after me in my tight Levis and snakeskin cowboy boots. I smoked a joint with a guy I met outside. Yes, That Boy had arrived. Admittedly, the city was in a feverish celebratory mood, and perhaps what happened to me was a product of that feeling, but as usual, I never received such attention in my hometown.

Rawhide bar, NYC
Rawhide bar, NYC

I ended up at the Eagle and arrived back at the hotel room at 4 a.m., much to the consternation of one of my friends, who had previously decided I was on the path to gay perdition because I was into leather and did not like Judy Garland or Barbra Streisand. (At least I liked opera, but he did not think I loved La Divina aka Maria Callas enough.)

The next days were frenetic, but in a good way, as I, like Agnes Gooch the sponge of Auntie Mame, lived, lived, lived. Impressions: Chinatown, the fish on the streets. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a wonderland of the Old Masters (I had to show my friends how to get there, as I figured out the subway they were so scared of pretty quickly). Bodegas, fruits, flowers on the street. Buying food at D'Agostino's. People, people, so many on the sidewalk like in the movies. Vibrant, no one cared who you were or what you did. Little evidence of the segregation and compartmentalization I experienced in Chicago.

The Saturday night before the big parade the next day (we marched with the Illinois contingent), I said, I am going to go that Leather Ball in the Armory, by myself, and I don't care how much it costs. Let my roommates go to their vanilla choral concert. I put on my chaps, paid at the door an astronomical fee to get in because I had not reserved in advance, and entered a vast space of pounding house music and surprisingly, perhaps because I had arrived early, lots of space between bodies.

Lexington Avenue Armory
Lexington Avenue Armory

After about a half an hour, I saw him. He had been looking at me, and I at him. He certainly was no party boy, faux leather type. African-American, mature, bearded, glasses. Holding a rope. Cut off jean shorts. Worn beige work boots. Not exactly a Tom of Finland look or outfit. Perhaps that was the appeal. In less than fifteen minutes, I was tied to that rope. Yes, some enchanted evening does happen.

I spend the rest of the evening on that rope and at the boots. It was kinky, but also romantic. Lots of smiling at each other and at the straight BDSM couple at the ball (the girl was on a rope like me). At about 2 a.m., he took me to a pansexual sex party in an apartment with orange and green walls. I felt like I was in a Fellini movie. An orgy of naked grungy bodies in one corner, a coked up guy who was supposed to be guarding the door, an extremely large woman on a folding chair.

I arrived back at the hotel room at 5 a.m., much to the consternation of the friend mentioned above.

Giant rainbow banner, Pride/Stonewall 25 parade, NYC
Stonewall 25 banner

After all the above activities, and the massive parade (which I managed to walk in cowboy boots) the next day, the return to Chicago was extremely disappointing. The physical space of my hometown seemed to me flat, with too much arid space between buildings, and a ramshackle public transit system. Provincial, I kept saying.

New York had called because the man, the first master, was there. And I would return there, and he would come to me. My ritual initiation into serious BDSM. The scouring of body and soul. We were the one to each other.

I often dreamed of living there, but for practical reasons, mostly financial, that never occurred, but for a few years I could enjoy a world that for me resembled one I had only seen in movies. New York and Stonewall 25 were an escape, but also the beginning of a real life which showed me, contrary to what I was hearing from so many persons I knew at that time, that romantic love and BDSM can exist together in the diverse spectrum of human relationships.

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