Portrait of Rembrandt Duran by George Mott
From watching Rembrandt Duran in person, it's little wonder the former accessories designer has such an extensive group of friends. At a queer-friendly party in Brooklyn called Fight Club this Saturday, his charm was on full display as he drifted from circle to circle, laughing alongside and embracing both guys and girls. At one point, he nuzzled into the back of a guy's neck, but he'd flirted with plenty of women, too. By the end of the night, he had made out with five different people.
"Last night was tame," he said on Sunday, before heading to a monthly party called Holy Mountain. "Tonight will be a little more intense."Before he got lost in the crowd of club kids, eventually ending up sandwiched between a gyrating married gay couple, he pointed to a bartender. "He's on my list!" Duran said. "He's one of my favorite tops, but I don't really talk to him about that while he's working. This is work."Duran (known as Remy to friends) was referring to a digital black book of sorts that he uses to catalog the men he's had sex with. Since coming out as bisexual in 2013, the 25-year-old has compiled a list of more than 550 men from countless hookups. The "list" has turned him into a bit of a sexual matchmaker for New York City gay and queer men—Remy uses it to connect guys he thinks will be especially compatible in bed, as a public service to the New York queer community. Having worked as a stripper, naked bartender, and coat checker for parties throughout the city, as well as having put in serious mileage on gay dating and hookup platforms like Grindr, Scruff, and Adam4Adam, the list is as extensive as it is varied."[The list] came from me not ever being able to host, because I live with my family," Remy explained. And as a young queer person in the city, Remy began cataloging his dalliances for practicality's sake, organizing his growing list by what those on it were into.
As time passed, Remy began to take note of who could host, who couldn't, who was into group sex, who was a top, who was a bottom, who had what sort of fetish. "I have lists of tops and bottoms, videos of guys, and a list of favorites who are more accommodating. And then those who have strict rules," Remy continued. "Like, Larry can only host at his place, and he has one type of boy that he likes, and he's really dominant, so I have to cut down who I can introduce him to as opposed to, say, another guy who is just this big slutty bottom and doesn't really care what they look like as long as they have big penises," he said. Over time, people began to notice his attention to detail and the size of his network and began asking for recommendations. Remy was happy to oblige.Today, the list has been responsible for more than one-off flings. While most of Remy's matches don't go much further than the carnal, a few have dated or are currently dating, and one pair have even become best friends. (No marriages, yet, but he predicts it's on the cards.)
"I like connecting people, it makes me feel good," Remy said. "It kind of turns me on to know that I fostered this relationship." Little qualifies him for his role as a sex connector, he said, other than being carefree and accepting and sexually open.That willingness to take risks has resulted in misadventures, to be sure, but it's also given him the opportunity to meet and connect a wide variety of queer guys in a way apps like Grindr never could. As gay bars continue their slow decline and modern gay dating, for the most part, remains as problematic and unsatisfying as ever, Remy might just be pioneering a new model of gay networking. After all, you can tell someone you're a dom top on Grindr, but Remy knows exactly what you mean by that—and what kind of sub bottom might be best for you.
Remy said he made it all happen by keeping an open mind. "Just by being friendly to these guys I've met, it allowed them to be more comfortable and open up with their sexuality and their desires and their wants—to try different things out," he said. That willingness to be vulnerable around him gave him a deeper understanding of their sexuality than a random hookup might. "And it's honestly because I didn't treat them just like sex objects," he added. "People don't want to hit up two strangers and ask them if they want to DP [be double penetrated] because people don't want to kink shamed," Duran said. "But with me it's a very friendly very fun experience." His Rolodex likely includes an entry or two that pertain to almost any fetish.That approach—being an open book when it comes to sex—is reflected in his social media persona, which includes a private Instagram feed of nudes and videos from his 200 closest friends. He also uses his online presence to discuss sex and sexuality as frequently and candidly as he wants. For Remy, it's an attempt to help destigmatize gay sex."We're finally being able to talk about [gay sex] publicly. Like, it's not just two guys kissing anymore—it's full-on gay sex scenes in shows like How to Get Away with Murder," Remy said. "Sex parties are a thing again; clubs are doing backrooms again, and police aren't doing raids anymore."But until it's as easy for anyone to casually bring up fisting in a Grindr conversation as it is to talk about a hookup in general, Remy's bespoke services are likely to stay in high demand.Follow Mikelle Street on Twitter.