And now for something completely different, yet somehow exactly the same.
"Ready to see how much fun we won't be having tonight?" I fizz as Tony plop-plops into the passenger seat.
OK, so down to business then. In a frightening (or fabulous) trend rooted somewhere between Brokeback and boredom, Tuesdays are the new gay days in Orlando, Club Paris and Southern Nights both recently having themed the worst day of the week, to the joy of at least three gay crickets. Tonight's excessively groomed and feather-plumed obstacle course comes in the pink-puddled form of something called "Rise," an upstart promotion of the weekly variety at the little-known and oddly obscured downtown haunt Screamers. And while I hate the name "Screamers," I'm willing to give this whole thing a chance. Screamers used to be Heaven, an after-hours stumbling block on the path to overdose. I might or might not have been there before.
In order to sink a little before the Rise, Tony and I pit-stop at my house, which is sort of its own gay bar: hair products in the bathroom, minus all that pesky across-the-room glaring. Unfortunately, it also has a television on, and on that television is the unfortunate Larry King unfortunately bemoaning the fortunes of the Brokeback wave with a panel that includes Z-lister Chad Allen, along with a few other people with unfortunate doctorates and even more unfortunate Washington hair. In effect, it's the perfect gay night foreplay, if only because it makes us say things like "I'm tired of being gay" and "I've decided to accept the Lord Jesus Christ into my life this year." Ave, Mary.
Four splashes of vodka communion and a back-headed splash into the holy hair goo later, we're off into the midnight mystic. A few jokes percolate about a gay night in what is effectively a bank parking lot, but then breeze quickly out the sunroof due to their lack of any weight whatsoever. This is a Tuesday, after all. Nothing is fun on Tuesdays.
Except Rise sort of is. By virtue of the fact that it's not (con)descending down the Dynasty stairs of a dumb blonde's vanity palace (or my house), the night succeeds mostly in the area of maintaining a humble duality. One room is a red-walled couchy lounge bar, while the other is a fair-sized bouncing smoke-machine situation of more than five disco balls.
"Yeah, we just added the disco balls," Rise promoter Shaun smirks from an age that didn't know disco balls before irony or "Groove Is in the Heart."
"Yeah?" I grow another crow's foot. "What did you do before this? I mean you, personally."
"Nothing much," he wheelbarrows me over the hill. "I don't know if you remember, but I was one of the people trying out to sing the national anthem at Disney's Wide World of Sports when you wrote your column about that."
Shaun and I are wearing virtually the same Ben Sherman shirt. His collar is playfully perched up, while mine, slightly faded, points way, way wrinkle-down. I, ladies and gentlemen, am the "after" picture on some elementary school laminated poster decrying the hazards of smoking and drinking and not acting your age.
Heading back toward the more age-friendly couches, I realize that I'm walking next to a mirror wall almost too late, losing most of my equilibrium like so many baggies of ambition.
"Um, I almost walked into the mirror," I say, a statement that I find philosophical, but Tony and I later agree sounds like a vaguely gay reference to cocaine. We giggle, because that's what we do, and then lay into our standard conversation about husbands, aging and ridiculous turns of phrase.
"I woke up this morning with the buzz-buzz-buzzing of a recurring sentence in my head, something like ‘I feel like a lone pea and two tiny slices of ham congealing atop a pile of psychological fettuccine,'" I blather.
"That's brilliant!" It isn't.
"I think I finally know what the ‘linguini incident' is all about."
Whatever. I'm tired of being gay. Jesus?
In an odd twist bordering on credibility or cross-promotion, tonight's DJ spinning and spouting (provided in part by Shaun's boyfriend Jason) is being simulcast on something called Gay Internet Radio Live … or GIRL, sadly. One of its hosts, a girl named Kris (or Krispy, as I swear I hear her say), approaches the couch and asks if my name is Billy, which it is. She then asks if she can interview me on her show. I'm both flattered and a shitty bitch when I turn to Tony and blurt, "I'm fuckin' Truman Capote in this joint." The night, I'm afraid, must end soon.
By the time the obligatory drag entertainment (most notably Nazhoni, who is performing dual duties with Club Paris tonight) hits the stage, I'm basically staring blankly at the cigarette butts on the floor — fuck the forest, what about the trees?
"Everybody say sheeeeeeyot! Everybody say beeeeeyotch!" the possibly inebriated impersonation artist squawks as she/it rips off her/its wig.
There are only about 20 people left and their collective slurred response is barely audible over the PA system. I start to think that maybe if Rise could rise above the circuit/break(z)/drag beat, it could succeed.
Maybe I am tired of being gay. Or maybe gay is just firstname.lastname@example.org