Ryan Little did his research into the taxonomy of DC’s bear scene and “related archetypes—cubs, muscle bears, otters, chasers.” A great little fact on the “standard greeting among friends: the kiss, belly rub, and occasional ‘woof’”:
Some bears say it stems from the actress Madeline Kahn—perhaps not a gay icon, but close enough—in her role as Elizabeth in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. When the monster wordlessly propositions her, and after an initial shock, she notes the impressive bulge in his pants and exclaims, “Woof!” The same humor and insinuation underlie the term today, which is an apt fit for a bear gathering: an atypical but exciting sexual situation that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Here’s one thing I miss about DC: Bear Happy Hour at Town. It’s a bigger, better bear party than any in New York (with the possible exception of Sunday Happy Hour at RockBar.) At my age, like many bears, late nights are less and less attractive as options. But I fear whatever bear cred I ever had is disappearing. Since going gluten-free a year and a half ago, I’ve lost close to 15 pounds; and since I started the new anti-lipodystrophy drug, Egrifta, the internal fat created by HIV/meds has withered and dropped my waist line by 3 inches. I’m not bragging – I feel a little scrawny to be honest. But the great thing about Bear Culture – at least before some of the muscle bears came long – is that everyone is welcome. My favorite greeting in a bear context, by the way, is the beard rub. Or that gentle rub on the back where you can feel all that fur move under the flannel shirt.