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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Calendar Boy in Motion

By Steve Charing ©2006

If you celebrated New Year’s Eve at the Hippo, you couldn’t help but notice the gyrating, shirtless, blond dancer atop the northeast speaker of the club’s famous dance floor. As a matter of fact, if you were there at around 11 p.m. and decided to step out for whatever reason and re-entered the Hippo at 1 a.m., you would have still seen this dude dancing at the same fast-paced, high energy level as when he started two hours earlier.

Even when the track slowed at times to a near standstill, which can suck the energy right out of the floor, he continued to squat, bend, twist and spin with arms flailing and flexing at a frenetic tempo.

His New Year’s performance spanned the years 2005 and 2006 without once stepping down, or stopping period. I mean for two hours straight, pardon the term! My Goodness, I get tired after driving for two hours, and I like to think I’m in good shape.

Just below the eardrum-splitting, vibrating speaker as well as the area of the Hippo’s promenade immediately adjacent to it where this guy was in perpetual motion, stood a cluster of ogling fans, friends and admirers—male and female. At various times they smiled at him, shook hands, hugged, toasted the New Year and hopped on the speaker box to join this marathon dancer. And he was friendly to all, whether he knew them or not.

He had the strength and endurance to continue dancing beyond the two hours except for that pesky, ill-timed nature break. He finally stepped down from his small stage, revealing his glistening, cut torso amidst the remnants of the colorful balloons, confetti and glitter that the
Hippo unleashed upon the revelers from the ceiling at midnight.

This guy with the Energizer bunny-type stamina is Paul Hummel, a familiar figure among Mt. Vernon’s clubs, particularly the Hippo. There he occasionally works as a dancer on the club’s catwalk at special events, such as Pride or at the Jeanie Tracy Show, or simply as a patron mixing it up on the crowded dance floor. Or you may catch him singing at Karaoke. And all the while he shows skin.

Paul is known almost as much for taking his shirt off as the Washington Wizzards' guard Gilbert Arenas. Because once that shirt comes off, you can expect this diminutive, boyish bundle of animation to let it rip.

And that’s not a stretch, because Paul is ripped, but in the good meaning of the word. He displays chiseled pecs and the all-too-elusive (for us mortals) stone-solid 6-pack. And when his hands are held behind his head, arms stretched out, as he frequently does as part of his dance routine, his peaked biceps pop up like two hard tennis balls.

Paul’s well-defined and proportioned physique that fuels his obvious aerobic skills coupled with his youthful surfer looks and his friendly, outgoing personality made him a slam-dunk selection to be included in the 2006 edition of The Men of Mt. Vernon calendar. He was voted in by a combination of the contest judges’ tallies and the applause of the Grand Central patrons.

The calendar is an artistically crafted black and white work by photographer Scott Henrichsen, whose proceeds benefit Baltimore Pride. The models were photographed bare-chested from the waist up.

"Last year many people suggested I enter the contest, but I was busy dating," said Paul, who is single. "This year more people encouraged me, so I decided to try."

And if you want to get past winter, as most people do, head right to March (no offense to Mr. January or Mr. February or any other of the months’ fine representatives). You will see Paul in a series of provocative, but tasteful, photos that highlight the defined, linear contours of his gymnast-type torso.

"I really enjoyed being in the contest," Paul says beaming. "It was a lot of fun, I’m meeting new people as a result of it, and it’s for a worthy cause. I really want people to buy the calendar." Indeed, The Men of Mt. Vernon Calendar is available for $10 at Lambda Rising bookstore, or you can order it online at www.menofmtvernon.com.

Paul’s appearance belies his age. At 32, which does not exactly make him a Centrum Silver candidate, one can easily reverse the numbers and assume he’s 23. The Baltimore County native is the perfect antidote to the adage "size matters." Although he is 5’7" and weighs only 125 pounds, he is well sculpted.

And no wonder. Paul has been working out continually since he was 13. He currently spends 12-14 hours a week at Gold’s Gym. His body is reflective of a guy that clearly pays attention to the regimen in the weight room with a body fat percentage in the low single digits.

In addition to intensive weightlifting to build muscle mass, there is also a focus on working to "cut up." Paul is a big proponent of the elliptical equipment, which is used for cardio as well as to build strong leg muscles that burn calories. This helps keeps the body fat percentage low and increases definition. His prolonged dance sets don’t hurt either.

Some folks fail to recognize that his physical achievements are a derivative of his work ethic and commitment. He occasionally gets perturbed when people assume his physique is a result of genetics and high metabolism. "No, I work my butt off in the gym," he asserts.

Between his regular job, working out, and his social life, Paul manages to find time helping the lgbt community. The Towson University graduate with a degree in mass communications is a member of the Human Rights Campaign and has recently joined Equality Maryland as a volunteer. "Equality Maryland focuses on local issues, and that’s how our rights will be won—state-by-state," he explains. He believes that lgbt organizations must try to counter the apathy that exists within the community. "Gays need to get involved more. They have to."

Frequently this calendar boy is asked to take off his shirt at his Karaoke performances, which, of course, is by no means a problem for Paul. "I’m flattered that they ask," he says. "It’s fun for me." He loves all kinds of music with his clear faves being Madonna and Van Halen, but he likes to perform Queen and other rock music at Karaoke.

Paul enjoys meeting a variety people when dancing and singing and during his occasional stints of selling shooters at the Hippo—often shirtless, sometimes clad only in briefs that showcases his slim but muscular legs.

Although he would prefer the Baltimore scene to be bigger, its smallness has an appeal. He explains, "It’s easier to know a different variety of people. It’s more personal."

"Mr. March" is not concerned that some may perceive him as a show-off or conceited, as Paul is quick to dismiss such characterizations. "If people talk to me, they will see I’m far from that." In fact, he appears quite modest regarding his appeal.

Showing off the many years of hard work that he put into his body doesn’t make him conceited. It simply makes him proud. And as they say, if you got it, flaunt it!

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