RECOMMENDED:

Eclectic Bistro Bar
1425 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta, GA 30309
404-426-7728, www.facebook.com/eclecticbistrobar

Good choices: a starter of Portuguese clams with chorizo, tomatoes and garlic croutons; Greek moussaka; and Italian veal marsala with Portobello mushrooms, roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach

But he had gotten a few dates with “imperfect men,” as his good friend Janet called them sarcastically. Robert was infamous for finding flaws in every man who was attracted to him more than sexually.

Janet dinged her water glass with a spoon to get everyone’s attention. Most of the diners came early for cocktails at the startlingly long bar the new restaurant added to the dining room. So, conversation was already running freely. But Janet had suggested to Robert that the dinners feature a conversation theme to get things started.

“As you know,” Janet began, “we thought it might be interesting to talk a little about pornography this month. I know a lot of people remain confused about the term ‘food porn.’ It’s a common phrase foodies use to describe intensely sensual representation of food. But we were interested in a more general discussion.”

Robert explained that as a professor at Georgia State, specializing in queer theory, he had written a good bit about gay porn.

“What I find most interesting,” he said, “is the way gay men often watch heterosexual porn and straight men watch gay porn.”

A woman with close-cropped blonde hair, Beth, spoke up.

“Ain’t that the truth? Lesbian porn has historically been more directed to men than lesbians, so it can feel yuckily exploitative. And, weirdly, some lesbians get off watching gay male porn, I guess because it’s not made for straight men. I have no idea.”

“And then gay men often enjoy straight porn,” Robert replied.

“I know I do,” a young guy about 30 blurted. “I don’t like twinks and over-muscled pretty boys and I think it’s hot to watch the way the man takes control of the woman. I guess that’s exactly what Beth doesn’t like about it. Sorry, Beth.”

“It’s all about power relations and gender,” Robert said. “But porn is also about the natural variation of sexual desire. True story. Y’all remember Jerry Falwell, right? He was one of the most mean-spirited, homophobic evangelical leaders ever.

“His most successful fundraiser one year was sending people who made donations a video made with a hidden camera at the Folsom Street Fair. He said it was to provide evidence of how sick we are.

“But it was really gay porn for good Christians. They watched it, shocked and praying, while hiding their erections under Bibles. That’s what sexual oppression is all about – hiding your own taboo desire. ”

Most at the table laughed. Appetizers were arriving and the conversation turned to chatter. Robert reached for a clam and just as he did so, a man came to the table. “I’m sorry to be late,” he said.

Robert looked up and was astonished. If ever an outwardly perfect man had entered his vision, this was him.

“I’m Lee,” the stranger said extending his hand.

 


Food Porn is a fictional series by longtime Atlanta food critic Cliff Bostock. Set in real Atlanta restaurants, it chronicles the adventures of Robert, a gay man in search of a husband — or at least a good meal. Read the whole series here.

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