The Hardbody Chronicles

September 1, 2011
The Hardbody Chronicles

Back in the mid ‘90s, I was the editor of OUT&ABOUT, a travel newsletter that chronicled the emergence of gay travel as a mainstream travel niche market. It was a time when the devastation and activism of the early AIDS crisis catalyzed an enormous cultural coming out. From the founding of OUT magazine in 1992 to Ellen Degeneres’ “Yep, I’m gay” Time magazine cover in 1997, gay life was suddenly visible in new and profound ways, none more glamorous or shocking than the gay party circuit. As a travel journalist (and an eager Daddy hunter), I was on the periphery of the circuit, but my friends Jake Smyth and Luca Barbieri were very much at its epicenter. Their stories of that time are too scandalous to put in print, and too good not to tell… so they’ve written a roman á clef – a novel in which real persons or actual events figure under disguise. If you were a part of the circuit scene, you’ll no doubt recognize a few of the thinly-veiled characters, like the owners of a Chelsea club named “Jocks” where muscle guys stripped down for a shower show on the bar. Whether or not you can decipher the characters, the novel is a vivid recollection of the decadent excesses of the time (sex, muscles, drugs, and money), a titillating and touching story of life, love, loss and redemption played out on an international stage of glamorous beaches and legendary parties.

Pick up a copy of The HardBody Chronicles: a roman à clef by Jake Smyth and Luca Barbieri and you can also follow the book on facebook.

I’m glad to have been to some of those parties, known some of these characters, and gotten through the gay ‘90s relatively unscathed. How about you? Do these stories make you nostalgic? Disgusted? Sorry you missed it? Any scandalous recollections of your own?

Tags: Nightlife, circuit party
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share this
Post written by Billy Kolber (View Author Profile)
About this author: Billy Kolber is a writer, consultant and entrepreneur, living and loving in New York City. Billy blogs about Shopping, Sex, Food and Travel at
View all posts by Billy Kolber


History of gay encounters since the 60's accelerated with a bit of a reckless "life is short" idea so why not just see who is at the rest-stop and take chances. The sensual hunger doesn't necessarily even need to know anything about the guy at the rest stop or club and that could be compared to a guy eating tons of food to excess or endulging in personal cravings to extremes until there is no real concern for the people that are available for a quick fix. The need for the fix will repeat itself till its more of an uncontrollable health issue.

Ive seen a friend cry about the friends they lost in the 70's and from what I hear it was a time of acting impulsively and an awful lot of drinking and other supplemental nutritional aids helped to make it even more uncontrollable.

Having minimal experience myself makes me see that it was no big deal to have not been so active in the 70's for sure.

Please understand something. As long as gay men have been around they have had to gather in ways as to not be arrested, beaten or publicly exposed at a time when it could ruin lives. Then came the 70's and gay pride. To meet other gay men, to dance with them, to leave with one of was all new for most of us. Me? I came from a town of 5000 and moved to Houston with over 3 million at that time. It was a completely new life for me. Weekend beer busts, t-dances, wonderful beautiful men and they were all like me!! Did I go overboard, go to excess? You are damned right I did! Those that were not there cannot understand how much this meant to us. Now it is taken for granted. Yes, we partied like crazy, had sex like crazy, and we were having the time of our lives, where just a few short years before was not thought possible. So don't bo too quick to judge the actions of those that went before you.
By the way, your friend cried about those lost beginning in the 80's, not the 70's.
Also, the 'Life is short" idea was not really thought about as much as the "Life is sweet" way of thinking after decades of hiding, of being hated, of being beaten and sometimes killed, and not being accepted for being who we were/are.

Oh please! Even in those hedonistic days, when you were only as good as your next fuck, we knew there would be a price to pay; if not consciously, then subconsciously. Yes it was a reaction to our post war upbringing, when our parents had it hard and made it hard for us but at the same time and for the same reason, we knew you couldn't possibly party like that without life slapping us in the face eventually with a wet fish! Aids just proved the point and created the biggest guilt trip that gay men have ever had.
I used to use the mantra that 'sex was never meant to kill you' to excuse everything that happened to me but I suspect that most gay men over the age of 45 are going to admit that, in the middle of the party, they secretly feared that it would...after all, hadn't our parents warned us of the consequences of a reckless life? They were worried about violence and turning to crime and being morally anti-social and ending up with World War 3 but we all knew that the real danger was sex...and too much of it!

Just throwing it out there guys...don't judge me too hard.

who's to judge? We were young, naive and hormone ridden. I really don't think that we were thinking about the consequences...consciously or subconsciously. Yes, aids came about and devestated us. We changed our sex practices for the most part, but needing or wanting sex without thiniking of what may happen will always be around. Young men and women will always take chances that could change their lives forever...the number of unwed pregnant girls proves that point. I never stated our actions were right or wrong, again, who's to judge, but it's just the way it was and always will be. I have had many young men and women friends that said they wish they were born before aids came along so that they too could have sex freely without worrying about condoms and aids....right or wrong, it's just the way it is.

I am more on the side of the first writer, in that it was a reaction to not just our upbringing but also a reaction to the at times absolute hatred we faced (and God am I glad the gay and lesbian youth of today dont have to face the mass onslaught we did. I live in a small liberal country with only 4 million population (now) and even back when it was half that, I was more scared of getting the crap beaten out of me by gay bashers than of any price to pay from promiscuity (and just who defines what is promioscuous anyway? My definition is anyone who gets mnore than me in my heyday) I was three times the victim of a hate crime, once they followe dme home from a gay club, waited till I was almost asleep and then attacked. I was raped, had a compound fracture of the nose and a dislocated jaw as well as being chased with my own carving knife. When the hospital called the police they were more interested in knowing what I did to encourage the attack. The other two attacks were not as serious but for years I slept with a meat cleaver just in case. I slept around mostly because I wanted the comfort of a warm body next to me, preferring it to the lonliness and despair of reality

Poo puncher, shirt lifter, I have heard it all and even participated because I was stupid and ignorant and not aware of others, maturity has developed an inate sense of tolerance and understanding. Having lived in the 70 and while travelling to London as allot of Aussies did during that time, I knew of it and think wanted to try but didn't have the courage. Horny "as" when just of age and used the local guy "e Manual", got good strong wrists too lol
Got hit on many times in England and New York, while staying at the YMCA, who new!! I didn't and did nothing about it, think too scared to actually.
I am married and recently, well about 3 years ago when I was very lonely working away from home actually did something about my feelings. I met a young man who was aware of my inexperience and was wonderful showing me an intimate experience. Not a fan of and scene and have a few close friends, not out and plan on staying that way as I love my wife and family. I only wish I had the knowledge and devil may care attitude of the young these days. I was recently in Vegas and saw guys walking down the street holding hands, fantastic to see as they have accepted who they are and have respect for that.
Maybe in another life I will be honest, tolerant and caring and follow my feelings. Love no matter where it comes from is beautiful and I think very erotic when shown openly. it's not dirty or ugly but its life and we are only here for a limited time.

I enjoyed the book, but its universe encompasses only a small minority of gay men. Very few of us have the resources, time, body or libido to live the lives portrayed in the book. That being said, it was entertaining and a decent read.

Has anybody else read the book? It truly chronicles a unique time & places in our community's history that, do to its uniquie set of circumstances, will never occur again. We were all celebrating having survived at least a decade of loss. AIDS benefits became the circuit party phenomena. Gay men gathered as a tribe, all over the world. Some went too far and lost their way, other's grew strong from their newly formed connections.

In a world where every desire can readily be fulfilled, life is a luxurious escapade of excess and indulgence. Follow the exploits of eight gay men, who become four infamous couples, as their lives humorously intersect and tragically intertwine against the backdrop of the international gay party scene.

These four couples scheme, maneuver, and struggle their way through a star-studded world virtually unknown to those on the outside. The HardBody Chronicles captures the glamour and absurdity that enveloped it. From Miami’s stunning White Party to the inferno of naked flesh at the Black Party, from the 24-hour clubs of Ibiza to the joyous Morning Party on Fire Island, it was a time to celebrate life.

New York: Rob is a driven social climber architect and opportunist who discovers leathersex. Erik is an All-American collegiate wrestler. They are the gay couple of New York and own the most popular gay bar in the city.

Beverly Hills: Ira is a Hollywood power player whose lust and greed are legendary. His trophy boyfriend Beau, a flight attendant, is a star-struck beauty who becomes a gay icon.

South Beach: Jake is an massage therapist & escort to the rich & famous. Luca is a porn star & escort to the Industry's movers & shakers. Together they host underground sex parties exclusively for the built and beautiful.

Fort Lauderdale: Big Daddy is an overbearing Southern business tycoon/bully with more money than taste. His child-like boy-toy Bobby is a bodybuilder/drag queen.

We were there in the wild mid-1990s to witness the spark that ignited South Beach. It was a transformative moment in the evolution of the gay community, culminating with the celebration of Stonewall 25. The HardBody Chronicles is a roman à clef, a fictionalized retelling of actual events from those times.

Check out the book's reviews on AMAZON.COM - (31) 5 & 4-stars!!! THe book is availabe INTERNATIONAL in print & in Kindle formats.