Steve Gobie says: "When I play pool I am planning six shots ahead. It's that way with everything."

He says: "I always had a knack of associating myself with very good people."

He says: "I am not going to let something happen to me without making something good out of it."

Gobie is not supposed to be talking. Penthouse magazine has purchased the rights to his stories for an undisclosed sum of money that, judging from his current digs and a pair of previous evictions, he can ill afford to lose. So, while he won't sit down for an interview, he feels so aggrieved by the media's coverage of his role in the Barney Frank scandal that sometimes he just can't stop himself.

Gobie is a short, not quite muscular man of 33. His complexion is sallow. He parts his slowly thinning blond hair in the middle above lively, light blue eyes that are his most striking feature. In conversation he affects a series of studied, but not quite convincing poses, each involving a Camel filter and a gaze fixed on the middle distance.

He says: "I don't recognize the person they portray as me in the media."

It bothers him, for instance, that he is referred to in most reports as a prostitute, because, while he admits that he's turned a few tricks, he says he has spent most of his time running escort services. He objects to being characterized as an opportunist, willing to capitalize on the misfortunes of his famous patron, and points out that his relationship with Frank had been over for two years before he made any public disclosures.

In fact, he sees himself as a man of genuine restraint.

"I don't know if you understand, or if anybody understands what it is like to sit on a $1 million story," he says. "Or a half million dollar story." If published speculation on his Penthouse deal is correct, he understands only 10 percent of that feeling himself.

Beginning in late August, through much of September, it was difficult to pick up a newspaper without finding disclosures about Steve Gobie and his relationships with Frank and Montgomery County elementary school principal Gabriel Massaro.

Frank has acknowledged paying Gobie $80 for an initial sexual encounter, but says they quickly became friends and that he offered Gobie, who was on probation, a job as a personal aide, housekeeper and driver. Frank says he knew that Gobie continued to work as a prostitute, but that he hoped to reform him. Gobie contends that Frank was not only aware of his activities but knew he was entertaining clients in the congressman's Capitol Hill home.

Frank's difficulties overshadowed the professional demise of Massaro, the popular former principal of Chevy Chase Elementary who resigned after a school district investigation concluded he had allowed Gobie after-hours access to a guidance counselor's office from which Gobie ran his escort service. Gobie said that on one occasion one of his "associates" had sex with a client at the school.

It is easy enough to dismiss Gobie as a small-time hustler, but his revelations have rekindled the debate about the role of gays in public life. In May 1987, when Frank publicly acknowledged his homosexuality, he became a standard-bearer for the gay rights movement as well as a target for right-wing moralists. The continued support of his constituents and respect of his colleagues indicated that Frank had won a battle in the fight for gay rights. Gobie's revelations jeopardize not only Frank's career, they jeopardize his victory.

While Massaro and his wife went into seclusion and Frank and his allies worked to minimize the political damage, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct began an investigation. Neither man would agree to be interviewed for this story. Gobie, meanwhile, discussed his relationship with the Massachusetts congressman on "Geraldo," announced that he was writing a book and then sold his story to Penthouse. Yet Gobie feels he is also a victim of the storm his revelations generated.

He says: "I have not gone unscathed throughout this whole thing. A lot of people who call me this, call me that, have never even met me."

He says: "People who are close to me who know me and love me," then reconsiders. "I didn't get to where I was and wasn't as successful as I was by being a bad person. There had to be some positives there."

Gobie likes to portray himself as crafty enough to hide in plain sight or, better, able to make himself invisible in exceedingly public places. He would not allow himself to be photographed last summer when news of his relationship with Frank broke in the Washington Times. But, knowing that photos would surface sooner or later, he agreed, after a few days, to pose for the moody, stylized shots the newspaper ran. He was confident, he said, that with interest in the story waning a bit, he could go out in public without being recognized.

To test his theory, Gobie says, he bought a copy of the Times, boarded the Metro and sat beside a man who was reading the same newspaper. Gobie began chatting with the man about the Frank affair and gradually turned the conversation to the fellow in the photograph.

First he asked his companion whether he would be likely to recognize the fellow in the photo if he saw him on the street. The man glanced at the picture and said he didn't know.

Then Gobie asked whether he would recognize the fellow if he were riding in the same subway car. Again, the man said he didn't know.

Finally Gobie asked if he would recognize the fellow if he were sitting right beside him. The man studied the picture, then looked up at Gobie, eyes wide with amazement.

Gobie tells this story with obvious relish. He enjoys putting one over on you even as he lets you know that he's putting one over on you. He fashions himself a man who works behind the scenes, yet he keeps moving the scenery to give everyone a better view.

Gobie has often said that he fancies himself a male version of the Mayflower Madam, a man with whom the powerful share their most intimate secrets.

He says: "If a book ever does come out of this it will be called 'Capitol Offenses: The End of the Innocence.' "

He says: "Other people in Washington don't know the extent of my activities in the business. My activities weren't limited to my own services. I had access to the Rolodex of other services. That's how I know some of the things I know."

But, assuming Gobie knows secrets, he seems determined to keep them. An advance copy of the Penthouse article contains no new revelations about Frank or about the sexual proclivities of other Washingtonians. The most recent allegations -- that Frank once lusted after Rep. Joseph Kennedy, for example -- are titillating, but not much more.

The piece, written by Art Harris, who writes frequently for The Washington Post, and Rudy Maxa of Washingtonian magazine, depicts Gobie as supremely self-confident, "a pricey cupid for hire" catering to "the politically powerful and well-connected who prowl Washington's sexual demimonde." While the story of his relationship with Frank and Massaro might lend itself to that sort of treatment, the story of his August 1984 encounter with a professional-school student who lived in Gobie's neighborhood reveals a different side of his personality.

This woman spoke with The Washington Post on the condition that her name not be printed. She says she met Gobie while both were exercising near his Palisades neighborhood in Northwest Washington. He invited her to his house for a drink and she went along.

She recalls Gobie saying, "My social life is the pits." He fixed her a drink and told her about an unhappy childhood, the woman says.

"He was really hung up on his parents. He meets me, a stranger, and his father came into the conversation very early on," she says. "His father being so militaristic seemed to bother him a lot."

The woman says Gobie told her that his mother had been an actress, that his father would not allow her to work and that she had been killed, along with his two brothers, in 1977 when two Pan Am planes collided on a runway in the Canary Islands.

He also told her he squandered the insurance settlement from his mother's death on drinking and gambling. She remembers him saying, "I am a citizen of the world," and trying "with every breath to make sure I was impressed."

Keith Richburg, a Washington Post reporter in whose group house Gobie briefly resided, says Gobie told him a similar story and that he carried a newspaper clipping about the crash in his wallet. In reality, Gobie's parents, who divorced in 1979, are still alive, as are an older sister and two younger brothers. Most of the Gobies still live in the Washington area, but none would agree to be interviewed for this story. Gobie says he has had no contact with them in 10 years.

However, in August 1984, the woman says, his family dominated Gobie's conversation. She says he kept a bust of John F. Kennedy in his bedroom emblazoned with the words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

"I said, 'You've got to be kidding,' " she says.

"He said, 'What it says is how I was brought up.' "

Richburg, who had been studying in London when Gobie moved into his group house, says the new tenant left on short notice in November 1984, owing two months in back rent. Not long after Gobie moved, the Washington Blade returned an advertisement he had submitted to its adult services column along with his bounced check. Promising "hot buns" and a "thick endowment" it was similar to the ad Barney Frank would answer five months later.

Some of the story Gobie told the neighborhood woman had the virtue of being true.

He was born Sept. 4, 1956, in Boston and grew up on Marine bases around the country. His father, Gerald, was a Marine sergeant with at least one degree in economics. His mother, the former Valerie Marie Davis, was a native of Evesham, England, who studied at the London Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

In an extensive interview with the Times, Gobie says he was a "star child" and "model citizen" until the age of 13 and that he felt himself "destined for some kind of greatness" until he saw the first "B" on his report card and lost his self-confidence.

His family settled in Northern Virginia in 1969 when his father went to work as a budget analyst at the Pentagon. In his freshman year in high school, Gobie began to spend weekends away from home, refusing to return after West Springfield High classes were dismissed on Friday afternoons.

Probation records in the files of circuit court in Alexandria describe a troubled relationship with this father whose discipline Gobie found too rigid. His relationship with his mother was much warmer, the records say, though both parents are described as strong-willed people who fought often.

Fairfax County juvenile authorities labeled Gobie "incorrigible" at the age of 14 and, according to the Times, he spent his sophomore year at a private school in southwestern Virginia. He returned to West Springfield as a junior, but was expelled the following year. Faculty members and school officials, who asked not to be named, say they have no strong memories of Gobie, other than that he seemed "quiet." His picture appears only in his freshman yearbook, and there is no record of his participating in any school activities.

Gobie took a job as a maintenance worker for the Fairfax County government in 1975, and his brushes with the law began almost immediately. He was convicted of selling marijuana in Washington and cocaine in Fairfax that same year. He later told court officers in Alexandria that after earning his GED, he attended Chowan College in North Carolina, where he began to experiment with heroin, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines and barbiturates.

Gobie's accounts of the key incidents in his life are occasionally contradictory, and that is the case with his story of his introduction to the escort business. He told the Washington Times that it occurred in 1977 after an unnamed older woman spotted him trying on a suit at Hecht's, asked him if he had ever done any modeling and took him "under her wing."

But, by another of his accounts, Gobie was at Chowan College during those years. Whatever the case, Gobie, who says he is heterosexual and told the Times he has fathered a child, began appearing in gay publications in the late '70s. In 1979, he became the first Mr. Rascals, mascot of a popular gay club off Dupont Circle. He also appeared shirtless in an advertisement for "Paradise," a gay guest house in Rehoboth Beach.

Gobie moved frequently during these years, often living with girlfriends. When he was tried in Fairfax County court for driving without a license, his affidavit of indigency listed a girlfriend as his principal means of support. His most serious legal problem began on Jan. 9, 1982, at the Towers Motel in Alexandria. Gobie, who was living at the hotel at the time, had a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl and took nude photos of the girl. The girl reported the encounter to her mother, who summoned the police. On June 4, 1982, he was convicted of oral sodomy, manufacturing an obscene item with a minor, possession of an obscene item and possession of cocaine.

He received a three-year sentence, but served less than four months before being released on probation. His performance on probation was poor, marked by missed appointments and drug tests that indicated he was smoking marijuana. A probation officer wrote that he was "a bright individual who never realized his full potential" due to a "rebellious nature" and a "lack of self-discipline."

Gobie says he was working at local hotels during this period to cover his activities as an escort. His probation reports began to improve after he went to work for Frank in the spring of 1985. A report the following year indicates he was making progress, and his probation was terminated in April 1987, four months before he and Frank parted ways.

Frank says he threw Gobie out after his landlords told him Gobie was using the house for prostitution. Gobie says it was he who broke off the relationship because of Frank's sexual and emotional demands. He acknowledges, however, that he and Frank did argue after the landlords learned of Gobie's activities.

Gobie told Penthouse that during the argument he raised the possibility of starting an escort service on Florida's Gold Coast. He says that Frank offered him between $10,000 and $12,000 for this venture but that he turned it down, saying $3,000 would be enough. Gobie did not say whether he actually received any money.

If the story is true, Gobie's refusal was particularly selfless because he was headed for hard financial times.

In the summer of 1987, after his break with Frank, Gobie moved into his girlfriend's apartment in the 1700 block of P Street NW. According to a source familiar with the transactions that followed, the woman asked her landlord to put Gobie's name on the lease and the landlord agreed. Not long afterward, the woman asked if the lease could be written for Gobie alone. She told the landlord that she was going back to her native Puerto Rico for three months and that when she returned, she and Gobie would be married. The landlord agreed.

Meanwhile, the source says, Gobie's neighbors began to complain about him, saying that he was interviewing prospective prostitutes in the apartment. When he was confronted with these allegations, Gobie said he was running "a police sting operation," the source adds.

Gobie's girlfriend never returned from Puerto Rico. He stopped paying rent in October. The landlord began eviction proceedings, but Gobie moved out in early December before the proceedings were completed.

His next address was 1330 Park St. NW. Henry C. Williams, his new landlord, says he was suspicious of Gobie and somewhat frightened for him. "That was an open air {drug} market up there at the time," he says. "I'd go up there in the daytime and see people all over the place."

Williams says he called Massaro, whom Gobie had listed as a reference. "I said, 'I think you ought to get this guy out of there.' He said, 'I've done all I can for him,' " Williams remembers. "This didn't look like the likeliest place {for Gobie} to survive."

Soon there were complaints from the neighbors. "People going in all times of night, smoking in the hallways," says William Wilson, the building superintendent.

Gobie also got behind on his rent again. Documents in tenant-landlord court show that he stopped paying rent after a few months; that, coupled with complaints from other tenants in the building, led to a confrontation with Williams in April 1988.

Williams says he went to the apartment, knocked on the door and no one answered.

"I put my foot on the door and busted it," he says. "The door nearly hit him. He was standing right behind it when it opened. I said, 'You've got 30 minutes to get out of here.' "

Not long after that confrontation, Williams began eviction proceedings and Gobie left the apartment in early May.

At roughly the same time, he was convicted of shoplifting food from a Safeway and was eventually jailed after a poor probation performance a year later.

Last August, when he went public with the news of his relationships with Frank and Massaro, Gobie was living in a small apartment just off Route 395 in Alexandria. His ad for "full body massage" was still running in the City Paper even after his name was appearing on front pages around the country.

He says now that it was never his intention to betray Barney Frank. But when the Times began reporting on a police investigation of a call-boy ring run out of a house in Northwest D.C. he knew that he would be tracked down sooner or later. In an effort to exercise a little spin control, Gobie contacted a Washington Times reporter who, he said, was "nipping at his heels." But after his first contact with the Times, Gobie also contacted a Washington Post reporter saying that he hoped to start a "bidding war" for what he promised would be a big story. Editors at The Post and the Times say their papers never paid Gobie any money. He eventually told his story to the Times.

Gobie says he is retired now, but that he left his mark on the business. For instance, he says it was his advertising that led the City Paper to establish its adult services column. But after the Penthouse article hits the newsstands this week, and after he does his public relations turn in New York, Washington and Boston, he plans to start a new career.

He says: "I can think of a lot easier, more fun ways to make money."

He'll regrow his mustache, he says, change his name. But first he plans to get away, some place warm. Maybe while he is gone the ethics committee will announce whether it plans disciplinary action against Barney Frank.

It was a great boon to Gobie and to Penthouse that the committee was not able to produce its report before the article appeared. Gobie -- who gave a deposition before the committee's co-chairmen -- likes to think his cagey unavailability had something to do with that. From a publicity standpoint, things went just the way he wanted them to. But so many other factors influenced the pace of the investigation that he can't claim full credit.

He says: "Nobody's that smart. Not even me.

"Or am I?"