‘Looking’ Season 1 Episode 4 Recap: “Looking for $220/Hour”


Cue the fisting jokes and the self-satisfied observations that “assless chaps” is a redundant phrase: this week on Looking, we’re going to the Folsom Street Fair! This will come as a blessing and a curse to the straight men who forgot to change the channel after Girls and assumed this has something to do with Johnny Cash. Folsom Street Fair is an annual celebration of leather and bondage and all of that kinky shit that has been associated with gay men, so naturally this gives our pals Patrick and Company a perfect opportunity to try to immerse themselves into the sexual culture that gained visibility at the height of the gay sexual revolution of the ‘70s while still tittering about because they just don’t fit in with these gay guys and, gosh, can’t we see more normal gay guys who don’t stretch the assholes of other men while wearing leather straps because they like playing video games and wearing hoodies and normal things? (Disclosure: I’m proudly of the anti-fisting variety of gay men because Crisco is for Southern cooking, but I’m fully prepared to write a think-piece on how sex-negative this episode is if you need me to. I’m doing this for you, kids.)

Anyway, while all of San Francisco is outside masturbating on the street or carrying their recently purchased sex toys in canvas tote bags because they’re so environmentally conscious, Patrick and his new boss, the British and chin-strapped Kevin, hang out in the office. Like, literally hang from some dumb hanging chairs that do not inspire confidence that the tech boom bubble isn’t getting pretttty big, considering this company’s claim to fame as we know it is a video game that allows you to arm wrestle other people on TV rather than in real life. Between renting out the aircraft carrier for an office party and the likely overpriced and pretty uncomfortable-looking modern furniture, it looks like the proprietors of Naval Assault have a hubristic way of spending money.

But then again, Patrick and Kevin sit inside dangling from the ceiling talking about the complicated nature of interpersonal connections and relationships while men are presumably getting fucked in slings outside on the street, so I suppose this is all meant to be incredibly ironic. But it’s cut short when Kevin’s boyfriend calls and is like, “Why are you hanging out with your one gay coworker in your office on a Sunday, that is weird,” and Kevin goes home, leaving Patrick with blue balls yet again.

Patrick’s office’s close proximity to Folsom means he can hop right out to meet Agustín and, weirdly, Dom’s roommate Doris, at the Leather Mart. You’d think Doris had died and gone to Heaven: finally, a day just for her, when she can surround herself with even more gay men who want nothing to do with her but listen to her be mean to them. Let me reiterate: Doris’ entire existence is based around the fact that she’s a gay man’s single female roommate who also is a pediatric nurse. I bet she has a ton of fulfilling conversations about her awesome life and all of the interesting connections she makes with men who don’t want to touch her and the sick children who probably can’t express themselves to her.

Agustín, decked out in a leather fedora and a Sid Vicious-esque padlock choker, as one does, convinces Patrick to cut loose and buy a leather vest. So Patrick pulls off his polo shirt, revealing his perfectly sculpted body, which he then desperately tries to hide by spending the rest of the day pushing his shoulders forward to make himself look slighter, because god forbid he accept that he looks like his first job was in a solo video for Sean Cody. (Meanwhile, Doris buys a leather corset, and the white wine will be rolling off it later when all of the men in her life leave her alone so they can go have sex with strangers.)

Meanwhile, Dom, who is the only character on this show with appropriate facial hair for Folsom, wanders over to his new pal Scott Bakula’s flower shop, where he discovers a black man behind the counter. Have we even seen a black person on the show yet?! It turns out this guy is Scott Bakula’s partner (not like that). Dom asks Scott Bakula for lunch, and his partner is like, “Get it, girl.” Dom and Scott Bakula go to a diner where Dom talks about his dead dad, who owned a Portuguese chicken restaurant. See the connection? Dom wants to open a restaurant, and he tells Scott Bakula that he wants some business advice. “Oh, so this isn’t a date?” Scott Bakula asks, looking like a sad gay Alf doll. By the way, the idea that you can be asking “Oh, this isn’t a date” at Scott Bakula’s age makes me officially want to kill myself now and get it all over with.

While Patrick tries to cover his beautiful abs with his leather vest, Agustín teases him about his “dot com butt boy.” Patrick gets flustered, not realizing it’s completely obvious that he wants to have sex with his boss, because Patrick doesn’t know how clear it is that he wants to have sex with every gay man with whom he is in close proximity. But then Agustín has a surprise: he’s going to become a sex worker!!! They walk over to the rentboy.com booth where the guy from last week’s coffee shop, CJ, is signing autographs, because that’s a thing that prostitutes do? Agustín is like, “Do you think I have what it takes to be an escort? And do you like my gorgeous blouse?”

The guys take CJ out for Mexican food, because nothing sounds like a better combination than leather chaps and taco farts. CJ tells them all about his clients. “One guy just makes me watch TV with him,” CJ says, “while I jerk him off and call him a faggot.” Fun life! It’s all so appealing to Agustín, who cracks the sex worker code and realizes that it’s all about intimacy. “You actually know these guys better than anyone else does! Like a therapist!” There wasn’t a camera pointed at me when I nearly fell off a couch from rolling my eyes at what has become one of the more clichéd and forced sex work metaphors, so let this .GIF go ahead and give you an idea of how I feel about that line:

Agustín is a vegetarian, but he’s got such a boner for CJ that he lets him feed him meat. Agustín tells him he’s an artist and wants to work with CJ, and CJ is like, “Yeah, yeah, that’s what all the artists say because they just want to fuck me,” and suddenly Agustín has hired himself an escort for the night, which is a reasonable thing for an unemployed failed artist to spend a lot of money on. (His rate, if you haven’t forgotten — don’t worry, the writers reminded you with this episode’s title — is $220/hour.)

Patrick expresses concern that Agustín’s life is spiraling out of control, but Agustín ignores him because that one fork of meat has kickstarted some intense GTI problems. In a panic, Agustín demands Patrick take him back to his office so he can take care of his explosive diarrhea. Looks like that meat was a misteak. (Nailed it!) (Don’t blame me, I stole that pun from my friend.) While Doris and some dude she’s friends with wander around the office, gaping at how hip and cool the furniture is, Patrick walks into the bathroom to check in on Agustín. Man, if I had a nickel for every time I stood outside of a toilet stall while my friend took a smelly dump, I would have a ton of nickels and also be an imaginary person, because in no way does that ever happen. Anyway, Agustín admits that he wants to follow CJ around because of the intimacy. “It’s about how paying someone allows you to truly be yourself,” he gaysplains to Patrick, because he’s the kind of person whose brain explodes at that RuPaul quote about how “we’re all really in drag,” or whatever. (This is probably why he’s not very good at making art.)

Kevin comes back to the office to discover Patrick and his pals in various states of leather outfits playing Naval Destroyer or whatever, and they leave awkwardly, heading to the Stud. Patrick, meanwhile, clutches his vest even harder lest his coupled-off work crush see his flat stomach. He throws on another polo shirt and his glasses, and the two do a cute little routine about how Kevin designed a “sexy troll” character, leaving me completely baffled at what kind of video game they’re making now. Patrick gets bored and leaves to join his friends on the set of Cruising, where he busts out that leather vest and pines away while a Sade impersonator sings from the stage.

Agustín’s boyfriend shows up and jumps for joy when he learns that his boo successfully hired CJ for sexing. Then he stares at Doris’s breasts practically squeezing out of her leather corset like yogurt from a tube and says to her, “Look at you! I could cut your face!” She replies, “Ugh! I could douse you in gasoline and light you on fire!” Charming pair, these two. (Fun fact: the word “faggot” comes from the kindling used to burn homosexuals!) “Are we here to talk or are we here to daaaance,” Doris yells, mistaking the scene for an audition for A Chorus Line.

Even Patrick is having a good time until he looks across the crowded bar and spots Richie, his Señor Grande. He walks over to him to say hello, and Richie is cold and distant because the last time they saw each other Patrick was so incredibly rude in the way that he focused most of his attention on his otherness and the possibility of his uncircumcised penis. “Still cut!” Richie tells him, and Patrick gets mopey and says, “Look, that wasn’t me the other night. What you thought I was trying to go for? I’m not looking” — DRINK! — “for that kind of thing.” Naturally, Richie can’t hear him, but sees Patrick’s pretty puppy dog eyes and his perfect body and is like, “OK, let’s slow dance and rub our noses together.”