The daily serial fictional based on Chicago's Boystown neighborhood: Boystown series by Danny Bernardo

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1-5 Recap (Volume)

Guest writers Mike Cho, Jon Steinhagen, and Aaron Holland launch the first week of volume 8! Volume 9 launches June 10 on the GoPride Network!

1-5 Recap (Volume)
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Guest writers Mike Cho, Jon Steinhagen, and Aaron Holland launch the first week of volume 8! Volume 9 launches June 10 on the GoPride Network!

Chapter 1 - Worst Idea Ever

Bruce stared out the window from his seat at the café, sipping his Ipsento and ignoring his lunch. All the trees that lined North Wells this late-afternoon were still bare – springtime came late to Chicago. At least, it came late to River North.
His day had started on a high note about a thousand years ago, when he work up at 4 AM, screaming. Blood-curdling, psycho-killer screaming. The details of the dream were just outside his recollection – hiding in a room, a door suddenly bursting open...

His heart and mind racing, he lay there gazing at the ceiling for the next two and a half hours. Not today, he pleaded to nobody. Any day but today.
The walls of the condo were thick, but definitely not soundproof. That much he knew after all the years he had lived there with Steve. As such, there were few things Bruce could think of more awkward than running into your next door neighbor at the elevator the morning after they (probably) heard you HORROR MOVIE SCREAMING at 4AM – them, trying not to look at you; you, trying not to notice, embarrassed that they heard but also a little bit hurt that they didn't think to call the police, or to knock on your door. Surely this was not the sound of everything being A-OK in the condo next door.

Bruce ignored the sideways, possibly imaginary glances his way, pretended to straighten his tie and smooth down the front of his shirt, pausing at his troubling mid-section. Maybe I should start taking the stairs, he thought. It was only three floors. Why not? But nobody takes the stairs in Boystown. Somebody had told him that once – he couldn't remember who, couldn't even remember what it meant or was in reference to, but somehow it had stuck through the years, affecting his behavior, probably changing the course of his life. Why and how could he allow that to happen?
He didn't want to think about that. Not now, not today. Any day but today.


His phone on the table gently alerted him to an incoming text, but even before he could check it he saw Alex across the street, adorably lost, adorably unsure, so completely unlike his normal self. But as soon as he saw the café, and Bruce sitting in the window, "lost" Alex disappeared and the wall went right back up.

"OMG, Bruce," Alex whined as soon as he walked through the door, "where the hell are we? Why the hell did I allow myself to get dragged out here ON THE L? What is the deal with these curtains? And what the hell are you eating? It looks like something that came out the back of a goose. On toast."

A few of the other customers looked up, briefly amused by the intrusion. "Have a seat," Bruce sighed.

This is a bad idea, he thought.

"Look," Alex went on, "if you want all the stuff back that you gave me... well, I don't actually have all of it anymore... "

Worst idea I've ever had. "I don't care about any of that," Bruce said. "Sell it on eBay if you don't want it."

Alex threw up his hands, appalled. "I would never! I mean, it's nice stuff, is all I meant. Are you okay? You look awful. I mean, worse than usual. I mean... ah, fuck."

A thousand different responses flew through Bruce's head; his mouth chose: "I haven't been sleeping much lately."

"Well, that's understandable," Alex said, suddenly quiet. "I mean, you've gone through a lot these last few months. And then that guy Tristan got killed – you told me you knew him, right? But even before that. Your divorce. I mean, you were with the guy for twenty years. TWENTY YEARS. That's –"
Don't say it, Bruce begged silently.

"—longer than I've been alive! I mean, geez, you guys could –"

PLEASE don't say it.

"—be my parents, or something."

"Well," Bruce said after a pause, "this is pleasant."

"I don't know," Alex went on quietly, studying the pebbled glass tabletop, "like, maybe you guys are OTP... "

"Oaty... what, now?"

"OTP. One true pairing? Like those 'destiny couples' you see on TV. Chuck and Blair. Ross and Rachel. Will and Grace."

Bruce choked on his coffee. He never could tell if the young-young ones were kidding, really were that dense or simply opened their mouths and gave voice to whatever arbitrary combination of thoughts were jigsawed together in their heads at any given moment.

"When you get older," Bruce said gently, "you'll find out that there's no such thing. People in real life just move on. They forget, or at least pretend to. Once the door is shut, it stays shut."
"You sound like you're giving up. You're not doing so bad. My friend Robbie called you a GILF once."
"Ha, thanks," Bruce said. "Wait, did you just say 'GILF'?"

"Yeah. It means –"

"Thanks, I know what it means. I just don't know what it means."

"You just don't make any sense at all anymore," Alex sighed, pretending to check his Instagram for something important. "And if you're not gonna tell me why you made me come all the way out here, can I just go now? Please?"

Bruce regarded Alex silently, just a moment longer than it took for Alex to notice, thinking about the way that Alex had bullied, bribed and somehow fallen his way ass-backwards into simultaneously solving two completely unrelated crimes that, implausibly, had been committed by the same person. Some people just had that rare combination of luck, looks, stubbornness and disarming directness that was able to not only get answers, but exactly the answers that were needed.
Just like... Well, not exactly like... But almost...


"I'm parked across the street. I'll give you a ride." Bruce finished his coffee, got up and grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair.
"Cool," Alex said, standing. "But just so you know," he paused, mugged for the imaginary camera, then sang out, "we are never ever ever getting back together!"

Bruce looked back at him blankly.

"Uhmm, forget it."

I'm so going to regret this, Bruce thought.

Mike Cho lives, works, and writes in NYC. You can follow along with the adventure here.
"Nobody takes the stairs in Boystown" is a direct quote from Danny himself, so blame him for you life, your fat fuck.


Chapter 2 - Gay Abs

Brad looked at the machine with distrust. Another fellow strolled over to him and said "Is it broken?"

Brad said "No clue; haven't tried it yet." He appraised the stranger: lumberjacky and mustachioed, cut-off shorts, tube socks hiked up to the knees, not unlike the poster men seen tacked to the paneled walls of a William Higgins pre-condom classic. They still made these?

The lumberjack said "New here," and Brad said "Yup," and lumberjack said "Name's Corbin," and held out a rugged hand. Brad gave his name. They shook. Brad winced, pried his fingers apart. Corbin said, "Looking for some cardio, huh?" and Brad said "Um, yes. Sure. Actually, I really need to work on my abs," and Corbin said "What's wrong with them?" and Brad said "Well, they're sort of... ab-sent," and Corbin laughed. Brad thought, Easy crowd.

Corbin said "I don't think the treadmill is what you want," and pointed to a line of assorted torture devices along the back wall. "Want me to show you?"

Brad felt a small puddle of sweat begin to form at the base of his spine. He said "I think I'll work up to... those. Baby steps, you know? I'm just trying to not be so flabby," and Corbin said "You look fine," and Brad said "Thank you, that's very kind of you," and Corbin said "And there's nothing wrong with a little flab, there's good flab and there's bad flab, and I don't think you've got any bad flab," and Brad said "I just don't want the word ‘flab' to come up anymore in conversations, although I do note that the word ‘ab' is buried in the word ‘flab,' and wonder if ‘flab' is actually a contraction of ‘flabby abdomen,'" and Corbin said "You lost me there," and Brad said "Sorry, just running off at the mouth, as usual. Is it me or is it like a sauna in here?" and Corbin said "Strip down, no one will mind," and Brad said "What? Nude?" and Corbin said "No, take your shirt off, and change into some shorts," and Brad said "I think for now I'll just keep on the four layers I'm wearing, although I could use the extra money I'd make if I started to peel, not from people paying me to take it all off, but to put it all back on."

Corbin laughed as he moseyed away. He said "You're awful damn cute."

Brad got on the treadmill, went from a walk to a trot, hoped he didn't look like too much of a fool. This is the long road to gay abs, he thought. He noticed a woman two machines away, earbuds in, impressive breasts bouncing away to her quick rhythm. He imagined certain things about her. He gripped the rails of his machine, cursed himself, begged his mind to settle down. He wanted to run screaming into the street, crying "Hit me! Hit me!" to the Clark Street traffic.

Down he went with his first charley horse. Corbin was the first over to him, oaken hands kneeding into his calf. Brad choked back tears, hated the world. And then he got a hard-on. Great.


JON STEINHAGEN has written many stories, plays, and musicals. He's also done plenty of acting and musical direction. He can play the piano. He's been a lifelong Chicagoan.


Chapter 3. The Nose Knows

He bought the best makeup.
Spent almost 100 dollars on it.
The hair- was real of course.
And Laid to the Gods... TO THE GODS!! (You hear me?!)
The shoes took him from his cute 5' 10'
To an Amazing 6' 4". The Tallest he'd ever been.
His outfits were all top shelf- he put in extra hours to get the, after all.
Add enough glitter to choke a donkey, and he was all set!

See, this was funny.
In his Day to Day life-
He was a loud, outgoing, Brassy Bitch.
Completely Non-bootsie. Completely Non-basic.
The "Never give a fuck about a hater/ got money on my radar/ dressed like a skater"
Type dude.

But Now. Here he was 2 hours later. Staring at himself in the long mirror in the back of a club.
She was Demure.
She was Pouty. She was Pretty. I mean she looked GOOD. Sexy. Stylish.
She'd like a forty in a glass, at least.
And this Queen could WARK.
Finally She was ready to come out.
After being too afraid to do anything in his life that actually made him happy,
this was the biggest step he could take toward personal freedom.

The Bitches didn't know.
His Mama didn't know.
Errybody. di-int. know.
He breathed a sigh of relief as all his troubles went out the window.
For the next 5 or so hours he was no longer Jaison.

"OK This next bitch is Fierce and she needs to be on the show as well. I'm sayin' the nose knows talent, and I can smell it all over this bitch! She STANK WITH IT!"

Frida Lay's voice rang out over the P.A. system at Roscoe's on a finally warm Tuesday night.

"Okay, Like I was saying before the narrator interrupted my ass! I get no love- This bitch STANK WITH TALENT! Say ewwwww BITCH!"

The crowd roared with a loud "EWWWWW!!!! BITCH!"

"YES! She's a newbie to Drag Race here at Roscoe's, you're gonna love her.
Give it up for Ms. Jai Owe!"

His heart pounded and he got the bubble guts for a second when The new Janelle Monae song began to blast through the speakers.
The many in-the-know ho's in the crowd began to scream and jump with excitement.

"Just breathe, you got this."

He inhaled through his nose. When he exhaled, Jaison was gone and Ms. Jai Owe stepped on stage for the first time.


Ms. Jai Owe was just finishing her 4th congratulatory shot of JAMO when suddenly her nostrils flared and her head shot straight up. She felt like a prairie dog alla sudden. She heard That Jill Scott Song playing in her head. "Raheem, Right?" She sniffed.

She knew that smell. It was very subtle. It was chemical. It had been more than a month since Tristan's Funeral. They were through. Yet the magic still happened, Tony and Maria style. Time stopped. It could be no one else.

"Oh My Gay God. Not here. Not right now, are you kidding me?" Thoughts raced.

She turned slowly over her right shoulder.
There he was, laughing at something his dumbass boyfriend had said.
Very suddenly, He stopped. It was chemical, after all.
Bryan said the name without even turning around.


Bryan turned and came face to face with ALL of Ms. Jai Owe.

"Is that you Jaison? Well, I Didn't know you did drag! Of course you're Ms. J.O." He said it so crassly, trying to sound calm. "Congrats on winning tonight."

The Bougie Bitches Behind Bryan began to babble again without him.

Jaison froze. He actually didn't know who he was for a second. Who would answer?
Ms. Jai Owe wanted to run.
Jaison had some words and prolly a fist or two for this bold bitch.
Both were thinking about fucking him in the alley or even in the bathroom right in the back of the club.
That made the Tape between their legs get tight.

Bryan looked at the beautiful sight before him. Jaison was mesmerizing in Drag and out. Their little side fling had gotten a little too serious. That is- they both started to catch feelings. Pheromones. And he knew at all times what Jaison was thinking.
Right now their thoughts were the same.
The bathroom.


Aaron Holland is a literary manager and resident playwright at Bailiwick Chicago. Past shows include Sideways Tales from Front Street Beach, Five Mo's Named Guy! and Catharsis or The Thing You Should Have Told Me. Upcoming projects include Blacktacular!, Princess Mary Demands Your Attention, and Pauly & the Caterpillar.He is a proud AEA actor as well, having worked in and around Chicagoland for the past ten years.


Chapter 4 - Semantics

Tyler said "Jesus! That's like the eight-thousandth time you've said that! Can't you come up with anything else?" and Brad said "What?"

"Come on. Anytime we talk about us, sex, love, life, weather, sports – okay, not so much sports – money, food, etcetera etcetera and the conversation starts turning serious you say ‘I don't know what I am.' Infuriating!"

"Well, I don't. And I don't think ‘bisexual' cuts it."

"Cuts it as what?"

"As a label."

"Who's labeling you?"

"Well, you are, or at least you're trying to. The world. The world wants a label."

"The world doesn't give two shits about you!"


"I mean in the historical sense, or in the grand scheme of things. The average American – or perverted American, for that matter – is not waking up every morning wondering if Brad is gay or straight or bisexual or sixty-forty or seventy-thirty... "

"Wait – there can be percentages?"

"Uh oh. I shouldn't have said anything."

"Because if that's the case, does saying you're sixty-forty mean you're sixty percent gay and forty percent straight, or vice versa?"

"I really don't know."

"Well, if I told you I was sixty-forty, what would you think?"

"I would think you're insane."

"But would you think I'm sixty percent gay and forty percent straight, or vice versa? I'm just wondering if it's been established as to what the first number refers, gay or straight. Is it like when they take your blood pressure, and one number is systolic, the other diastolic? Although I myself don't know which is which."
"Well, all I know is my blood pressure's about to go sky-high. Look, forget it. I'm sorry I pointed out your little fail-safe phrase."

"I'm not even aware I say that. My father always used to say ‘Just shows to go you.' My grandmother always said ‘Well, the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise!'"

"Where's your family from, the Ozarks?"

"I'm just saying, people often latch onto little phrases like that and tack them onto their conversations without realizing they're doing it."

"Yeah, but not all of those little phrases are so freighted with deeper meaning like ‘I don't know what I am.'"

"Did you say ‘freighted with deeper meaning'?"

"I did."


"Meaning it's more than an unconscious reflex with you. It's a very existential thing you're saying there! Why do you get so hung up on it? So you had a relationship with Becka; fine. It's over, done with. I am NOT suggesting it didn't mean anything – it probably meant more than it was supposed to. No one's asking you to write it off as a mistake or a betrayal to your true nature, if such a thing exists. Just get on with it!"

"Back to this sixty-forty thing. I'd say that right now I'd characterize myself as an eighty-seven-twenty-three person."

"Your math is wrong. You mean eighty-seven-thirteen."


"So does that mean you think you're eighty-seven percent gay and thirteen percent straight, or vice versa?"

"Yes, to the former."

"So you're telling me there's a thirteen percent chance you'd dump me for a woman."

"I'm not saying that at all! And even if I was, that's a hell of a lot better handicap than sixty-forty!"

"We are so done with this conversation. I've got a label for you: Idiot. Now out of that Abercrombie-wannabe outfit and into the shower, I'll join you in a sec."


JON STEINHAGEN has written many stories, plays, and musicals. He's also done plenty of acting and musical direction. He can play the piano. He's been a lifelong Chicagoan.


Chapter 5 - Good Enough

"Is Tyler still out?" Charlie asked, coming into the living room as Hunter sat drawing.

"Yeah," Hunter said looking up from his sketchpad. "Him and Brad looked real serious before they left the apartment."

"God, I'm not ready for another Andy."

"Neither am I. I think they might be ok though."

"Well if they can survive an engagement breakup... "

"Young Tyler has certainly found himself in some awkward situations in his short time in Boystown."

"He's got nothing on me my first year living here."

"Me too," Hunter chuckled.

"If only Ben knew," Charlie laughed.

"Yeah and Fitz... "

"Do you think they're too good for us?"

"All the time."


"Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" Ben asked, approaching the sergeant's desk.

"My arm can be twisted," Fitz as he got up and walked Ben out the station. "What's on your mind?"

"I might be leaving Charlie."

Danny Bernardo writes BOYSTOWN. But you knew that. He does a ton of other stuff too but is mostly happy to be taking the reins back from his amazingly talented friends. Big thanks to them to lending their talents and setting up Volume 8 for some awesomeness!



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