The patio boys: Cuppy, Ti-Boi, and Cairo Callen

(Distantly about plants, but mostly about the social and sexual worlds of gay men. Not for everyone.)

The bronze-leaved ti plant I got yesterday (see “Festival Burgundy”) has now been potted up to an appropriate-sized container, to join with two other notable plants, an apricot-peach cymbidium and a purple calla lily (plus a geranium — well, pelargonium — and ivy climbing all over the place):

(#1) In back, Cuppy and Ti-Boi; in front, Cairo Callen

Yeah, they’re all guys, and they’re sexy, and they have names. Hey, it’s my patio.

Cuppy. From a 4/17 posting “Cuppy and his cub” (peach / apricot cymbidiums), in verse, with an etymology:

He was a big man, Cuppy, with
Florid, juicy sexual parts and a
Passion for ripe peaches and
Apricots. His drag name was

(cymbidium < Greek kumbē ‘cup’)

Ti-Boi. He’s young — not actually a boy child, but a gay youngman, a boi (a posting on daddies and bois is in the works) — and he’s already an experienced t-room queen.

From my 4/9 posting “The gay world of Yvon Goulet”, a section about

the N + N compound t-room queen ‘man who cruises public restrooms for sex with men’.  It’s notably non-subsective: t-room queens are not in general (effeminate) queens, but just enthusiasts for t-room mansex.

A serious moment. High school boys are among the usual denizens of t-rooms Much t-room sex is facelessly anonymous, so the age of your sexual partner might not be obvious, but back in my own wild days I sometimes got a chance to talk to other t-room queens, and they included older teenagers for whom a t-room was the only place they could find for sexual connection; in their adolescent social worlds, being out at all was out of the question in those days, and so was dating, not to mention actual sex with guys from their everyday public lives.

T-room social life includes a fair amount of face-to-face interaction, which gave me opportunity to chat up some of the t-toom bois (I deftly avoided them as sexual partners; two of them turned out to be sons of colleagues, which was way too creepy). Some were warily anxious to talk to an older, approachable, more experienced man. They were sweet, but miserable in their daily lives.

Ti-Boi, however, is flamboyant, with the

bold brassiness of a
burgundy, bronzed

Cairo Callen. On 4/19/17 in “Calla, calla, calla, California”, we met this purple wonder:


For some time I feared that Cairo Callen (which, in the tradition of its kind, had died to the ground last summer) had been a victim of murderously excavatory squirrels, but it was just late in returning from dormancy. Then the shoots apeared and, alarmingly, grew about an inch a day, until they bulged out with new leaves; flowers are soon to follow.

Oh, yes, the name. A double tribute, to the delightful Woody Allen film The Purple Rose of Cairo and to Michael Callen, of the Flirtations and AIDS activism.

On the former, see my 10/8/16 posting “Film fantasy”.

On the latter, there’s Wikipedia:

Michael Callen (April 11, 1955 – December 27, 1993) was an American singer, songwriter, composer, author, and AIDS activist. He was a significant architect of the response to the AIDS crisis in the United States.

(#3) Callen on the left

… He was a founding member of the gay male a cappella singing group The Flirtations, with whom he recorded two albums. He also had a solo album, Purple Heart [(1988)], which a review in The Advocate called “the most remarkable gay independent release of the past decade.”

You can watch a performance here of “Everything Possible” at NYC Gay Pride in 1991: perhaps the Flirtations’ most popular number, written by Fred Small. Michael Callen, Aurelio Font, Cliff Townsend, Jimmy Rutland, and Jon Arterton, in New York’s Union Square.

With Purple Heart, more purple, of course. The direct allusion is to:

(Purple Heart) (in the US) a military decoration for those wounded or killed in action, established in 1782 and re-established in 1932. (NOAD)

Callen saw himself as wounded in action and at war with AIDS; he was first diagnosed with “Gay related immune deficiency” (GRID) in 1982 and quickly became a leader in the response to the epidemic.

And he faced the purple scourge of Kaposi’s Sarcoma. From Wikipedia:

Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer that can form in the skin, lymph nodes, or other organs. The skin lesions are usually purple in color.

… The condition is relatively common in people with HIV/AIDS and following organ transplant … It became more widely known as one of the AIDS-defining illnesses in the 1980s.

Purple, a color of nobility and also of homosexuality. And, sometimes, of death.

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