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Queer Town: Good Fun at the Cock Ring Toss

It is six o'clock on a warm Saturday evening, and the Christopher Street West Gay Pride Festival on San Vicente Boulevard is jammed. Nothing much is happening at the Rogaine booth, but free ID Lube is a big hit. At the Circuit Dance tent, revelers move to their own peculiar, inner beat, regardless of what's playing over the sound system. It is a time to let loose, and possibly win a gift certificate at the Cock Ring Toss.

"How much does it cost?" asks an LA County Sheriff's deputy, dressed in full uniform with his gun and handcuffs hanging from his belt.

"Two rings for a dollar, or six for two dollars," says Sergio Pacheco, a friendly man with a quick smile who works the booth.

"Give me six," says the deputy, holding out two wrinkled dollar bills.

Pacheco takes the cash and hands over the black rings. The deputy sizes up his targets--three rows of five erect penises, 15 penises in all.

"You have any tips?" asks the deputy with a straight face.

"Just throw them over the cocks," Pacheco says, "but it's not as easy as it looks."

"Don't worry," says the deputy, "I'm a professional at this."

He doesn't explain any further.

His first toss misses everything. So do the next five throws.

"Damn," says the deputy.

A $10 gift certificate for the Pleasure Chest, a West Hollywood sex toy store, will not be his.

"The Pleasure Chest donated the dildos," Pacheco explains, "and we set up the booth. It was a joint effort."

That effort is to raise money for the Van Ness Recovery House in Hollywood. The Pleasure Chest and Pacheco's employer, the Midtowne Spa in downtown LA, are not making a dime.

"People need help," Pacheco says, "so it's important to contribute in some way."

For his regular job, Pacheco manages the Midtowne Spa at Kohler Street. It is a gay bathhouse that features half off Tuesdays, when private rooms only cost $14.50 for 8 hours.

"It's always our busiest time," Pacheco says. "We get between 500 and 600 customers."

Another festival goer buys six rings from Pacheco. He's a young, skinny lad with sunglasses and no shirt. On his second toss, the ring goes over one of the cocks.

"We have a winner," says Pacheco, and soon hands over the gift certificate.

"What's the Pleasure Chest?" the young man asks his older friend.

"It's a sex shop," the friend says.

The young man smiles, and Pacheco watches him walk off.

"We always card everyone who comes to the spa," he says. "You must be 18 years old or older."

Pacheco isn't sure how much money they've raised so far, but the Cock Ring Toss will be there for the rest of weekend. He expects to do good business.