"Flying out tomorrow morning...been penned up with my parents all weekend. I see adds on here occasionally for sex at DIA...can that really happen? Love to suck cock and get sucked," writes one eager poster in the "men seeking men" section of craigslist.
"Stuck at dia in red carpet club," complains another man who's interested in joining the Mile High Club before his plane ever takes off.
"At the airport with a couple hours to kill," reports still another frequent flier. "Anyone out on the C concourse want to find a quiet spot to fool around in? J/O - maybe swap BJ's."
"Looking for my senator," proclaims a fourth man who's eager to make some kind of donation.
Craigslist and other, more graphic sex sites are full of advice on where to find action at DIA — once you're out of the security line, that is. And more than a few posts make reference to the world's most infamous bathroom attendant, Senator Larry Craig, the Republican from Idaho who was arrested in a men's room at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on June 11 in a sex-sting operation. Cited for his "wide stance," hand-under-the-stall-wall tactic and suspicious "toe-tapping," Craig initially pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
But even before that deal blew up, there was plenty of talk about how airport bathrooms are flush with sexual opportunities. At cruisingforsex.com — a gay web page with the inventive slogan "Get a load off" — readers suggest a "cruisy toilet near American Airlines departures" at DIA and another on the third floor of Concourse A, though one poster left this warning last March: "I saw security and a cop walk into this restroom. I think they are watching it."
But soon it was back to monkey business as usual. "This place is great!" another poster proclaimed. "I got a hot blowjob from a male flight attendant here and there was very little interfering traffic."
In September, a fan of DIA's bathrooms was even more pointed, if politically inaccurate: "Now that Sen. Larry Craig (R-Not Gay) is transiting through Denver instead of Minneapolis, thanks to Colorado's Republican Governor we can expect to see more safe action here."
By then, the Minneapolis airport was seeing a very different type of action: The bathroom where Craig was busted had become a mini-tourist attraction. "We did have a number of travelers who would stop and have their pictures taken," remembers Patrick Hogan, public affairs director for that airport. "Fortunately, that has slacked off in recent months."
And the Minneapolis facility isn't in a hurry to remind people of that infamous chapter. "We're not doing anything to commemorate it," Hogan says. "It's publicity we didn't seek, but it was what it was."
And now it is what Denver is. This past Sunday, the Idaho Statesman newspaper published a front-page story that laid out more allegations from men who said they'd had sex with Craig. Four of them were named; a fifth, a 46-year-old professional from Boise, had asked to remain anonymous because he travels in political circles. In fact, the man and his partner had been flying from Boise to Washington, D.C., on the same airplane as Craig back in September 2006 when they'd made a layover at DIA.
The unnamed man was in a bathroom stall when a hand came out from under the divider. "The hand was palm up," the paper reported, "as the officer in Minnesota also described, and slid toward him for two or three seconds. The man noticed unpolished, dark, lace-up shoes worn by the man in the next stall. He did not respond to the gesture." But the man did wait outside the men's room. And soon after, the shoes he'd seen beneath the stall walked out. They were on Larry Craig.
The paper did not identify the DIA bathroom that Craig walked out of. Told of the story, airport spokesman Chuck Cannon, who's just back from vacation, wonders if the websites that mention the hot DIA bathrooms "are the same sites that mention the underground prisons and alien conspiracies at DIA" ("DIA Conspiracies Take Off," August 30). But on those sites, the aliens keep their clothes on.
So did Craig in a couple of the close encounters described in the Statesman, encounters he's denied through his staffers. He issued his own denials in August, when the Minneapolis bust story first broke. "I am not gay," Craig professed at an initial news conference. "I never have been gay."
Another man who caught Craig's act on television disagreed.
Mike Jones, the male escort who late last year revealed his three-year business relationship with Ted Haggard, the founder and now former pastor of the New Life Church, recognized Craig as a one-time client. He hadn't known Craig's identity during their encounter. But then, he hadn't known Haggard's real name until he was working out at a gym in the summer of 2006 — a sometime professional trainer, Jones works out a lot — and realized that the man talking in a religious documentary was the same man who'd visited him as "Art." Jones didn't go public with his Haggard story until he decided that exposing the hypocrisy of the man who headed the National Association of Evangelicals might make a difference in the election ("On Call," November 9, 2006). And he didn't share his Craig story until he heard that the senator was withdrawing his guilty plea and might not resign on September 30, as he'd initially vowed.
That's when Jones contacted the Statesman and told a reporter about a man who'd responded to one of his massage ads back in 2004 or 2005. (The reporter later verified that Craig had been in Denver at the times Jones described.) The man had gone to Jones's studio apartment in Capitol Hill, taken off his suit coat but kept his pants, shoes and T-shirt on (he wanted Jones naked), and climbed on the massage table — the massage table Jones later tried to sell on eBay for charity. The man unzipped his own pants and masturbated while giving Jones a blow job. And then he paid him $200.
Cynics question whether there's a prominent Republican that Jones hasn't had sex with. After five minutes on cruisingforsex.com or even craigslist, though, you wonder how a plane ever takes off from DIA when everyone there seems so intent on jerking off. And as Jones himself points out, the list of gay escorts in Denver — even if its airport is an international hub — "is a pretty small selection to begin with." But while he's been hired by more than his fair share of famous faces, Jones says he's never been tempted to out them because "I haven't heard them publicly denounce homosexuality."
Haggard is now living in Phoenix with his wife, studying psychology and keeping quiet in accordance with a separation deal with the church he founded. Jones has been talking — a lot — during appearances to promote the book he wrote about his experience with Haggard. But he didn't kiss and tell to get a book deal, and he didn't talk about Craig in order to keep selling that book. He doesn't even think Craig should have been arrested for soliciting sex in a bathroom — but he does think that Craig should stop publicly denying what he knows to be true.
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Jones waited to go on the record with the Idaho reporter until other men had done so; this time, he didn't want to go it alone. And although Jones does not know any of those other men, he knows what they're going through now. "You're very vulnerable," he says. "You put yourself out there, and boy, you open yourself up to attacks."
Your name is dragged through the mud. Your reputation goes in the toilet.
You can't buy publicity like this.
And you don't want to.