"Surely we could find a red pubic hair here," my friend John regurgitates my now thrice-plucked column premise.
"Or a blonde one with roots and maybe a small splattering of hair glue," I engage, without feeling.
Or any color, really. John and I have just survived the gay/Christian allegory that is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Bob Carr, and while we should be fuzzily lit members of ABBA by now, or at least menopausal framers of the Playbill, we're scratching our crotches, pretending they're our heads, and coughing. It's Club Paris we're approaching, for no more valid reason than that we are gay, and no, I probably shouldn't link Andrew Lloyd Webber's queer coat with a night in Paris' pink-and-white swirly one.
Tuesdays are to be the club's shark-jumping. Duckily coined "Pretty in Pink," it's the obligatory gay nightclub come-out foray that often signals the end of everything. Now I'm totally up for parading as cousin Oliver on The Brady Bunch when it's for a good cause, but seeing as I'm pretty sure that Club Paris will ultimately see its demise with or without my finger-fed venom, I'm treating my walk-on cameo with anonymity. I'm not on the guest list. I'm wearing pink to get in for free.
"I know you," burls a burly doorman near Paris' pink entry. "You're famous."
And if I'm famous, this must be Orlando (not a good thing, scorekeepers). As nights out standing drunk and pretending that something, anything, matters here in our great cultural vacancy go, Tuesday at Club Paris doesn't really disappoint. In fact, there's a relatively wide spectrum of misfits present: everything from your low-rise ratty rhinestone jeans to your high-rise campy beehives. On paper, it might appear as an all-inclusive free-for-all of lifestyle choice, but in reality it's more like an awkward collision of wood-paneled trailer into white-powdered Windermere tiling. And guess who has the insurance.
"You know what I want to have done?" lifts one Abercrombie in the mirror, before launching into a wax-penciled map of face-lift ambition to anyone in the urinal area.
Paris would be so proud.
Suitably nipped and tucked, we get on to the evening at hand: existing in blurry disappointment at a gay bar to the unforgiving soundtrack of oonce-oonce-oonce. Were I not such a cynical bitch with a history of poppers under strobe lights, I might actually enjoy this. There are just enough cute people in attendance to make accidental shoulder brushes resemble upward mobility, and the drinks are totally gay-bar stiff. In effect, it's a prosthetic extension of the Parliament House's potent penis into downtown — even an attractive collection of PH workers are here ("I feel like I'm cheating," one cheats) — and the collective face of the crowd almost belies its pie-eyes with its tentative smile. Alas, it's all a masquerade — this weekend the stained slip-dresses will return — but for now, it's not all bad.
"Dude, can I have a cigarette?"
"You guys from here?"
"You ever been to Georgia? I'm in town doing construction, but I love Atlanta. You ever been to Masquerade?'
"This is like purgatory. Y'know, the second floor between heaven and hell."
Is it ever. Drew is a tattooed portrait of rough-trade thickness, and he's pushed himself into my tiny anti-social circle, directing me with startling regularity to lean in and hear what he has to say. He prefers chewing tobacco to cigarettes, apparently, and really misses his kids (kids!) back in the Peach State. Frankly, I'm scared of him. His tattoo sleeves reek of a prison sentence, and his desire to stand here, against the wall in my personal space of disaffected observation, totally implies serial killer.
"Why don't you go get me a drink?" he asks the wrong question.
"Why don't you find yourself a waitress," I kiss my grits.
And when I catch him almost copping a feel off a misplaced straight girl in mid-booty shake, I finally pop the question.
"You aren't even gay, are you?"
His head shakes, unconvincingly, and his eyes seem to roll back into his head. These are three minutes I'll never get back, but the rest of my life I'm interested, at least for now, in sustaining. So I throw my friends into Sally Field rescue mode, and we slowly back away from the wall, placing ourselves somewhere in the middle of the Bette Midler and Cher-off dragging on upon the dance floor. We're comfortable in our stereotypes; they're comfortable in their wigs.
Somebody asks me if I work at the Enzian and reminds me that I'm a bottom (see last week), and both the fear and the magic are drifting away like so much pyrotechnic pixie dust in a big, gay musical finale. Somebody else says something like "that's hot," and a little piece of everybody dies. And somehow, within the course of four hours, I've once again traveled the distance between the Garden of Eden (or at least a coat you might wear there) and Sodom and Gomorrah (assuming Paris Hilton takes it in the backside).
I am happy. And pretty. In firstname.lastname@example.org