Tonight, everything is in glossy shades of black and white, with only tasteful clots of red and glassy green peppered throughout to give the social illusion of healing or growing or anything, really, that can offset this fashionable, binary severity of being. Tony and I are doing what we do, huddling around our vanity bonfire between my couches and barking at stars like woebegone losers allergic to Saturday conviviality, intent on issuing life judgments out of the earshot of people who are actually still living. This sucks, that sucks. We’re not going anywhere. We’ve already been everywhere. There is no gray area.
“Well, we could go to this hair salon drag party for AIDS,” I pick at an imaginary marshmallow and imagine it a replacement tooth.
“Sure, we could.” Tony hate-thumbs another premature gay memoir on my coffee table, cursing yet another Barbra Streisand reference.
And we probably should. Sure, it’s destined to be one of those crampy, uncomfortable affairs of social caste filtration where silicone breasts brush by asymmetric shirt-shoulder patterns on some dynamic cocktail-party sojourn to this object of conspicuous consumption and that flattering wall mirror, but at least it’s not my couch, right? Last I checked, nothing life-affirming – or even life-amusing – has happened on these cushions since my little dog Josephine accidentally sat on my face. Awkward situations like that rarely come to you. You have to seek them out. Plus it’s for Hope and Help, and I could use a little of each.
“Let me just change my shirt into something intentionally distressed like everybody else will be wearing and we’ll check it out,” I shuffle into a pseudo-tux top. “We don’t have to stay. We just have to go.”
Like hairdressers on fire, we busy – busy, busy – ourselves down to the Orange Avenue antique district, where, I’ve been told, this combustion of queer stereotypes is set to explode. Soberingly, it’s atop Ethos Vegan Kitchen, which is where the Lava Lounge – home to a video bar full of overstatement of the Deborah Cox variety – once huffed and puffed. Now a new, master-cleansed ethos has set in. Salon High Gloss has upscaled itself upstairs and, in the last few hours, made itself over into something of an immaculate wet bar stocked with a hot bartender and DJ Kittybat. And that’s not all.
“I think we’ve come to the right place,” my eyes widen in Tony’s direction after bouncing around the room. “This looks just like the inside of my head! White couches, black curios, an arbitrary green vase across the room from a green plant, red blood clots in my mouth! Oh, and lots of mirrored surfaces!”
We so belong here. Better still, head hairstylist and questionable name-speller Mychael Peters has just informed us that all of the décor, in all of its polar minimalism, has been procured from the invisible showroom of JCPenney.com. Really! He directs us to a hidden room where all of the stylists’ chairs, sinks and tantrums have been clandestinely crammed in. This is the equivalent of a big gay Transformer: from purpose to a Joan Collins porpoise brooch in a matter of minutes.
Minutes later, I’m fitting in perfectly.
“Billy, have you met Allison?” Pom of Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria tilts her head in a manner that Tony compares to Rosie from M*A*S*H. (Pom defaults into the broken English of an old Asian lady with just a sprinkle of vodka.) “She’s a glamazon!”
And this is where the split occurs. Tony and Pom conspire some dowdy I Love Lucy hijinks involving him stealing food from the catering trays and throwing it in her purse, while I transform into a mock glamazon who never eats, or Allison. Allison is blond, “in fashion” and wearing a dress with hot-air balloons on it. This could never happen on my couch.
“Oh, so is that the new iPhone?” Allison notices me playing with something else glossy and white that could substitute for a tooth.
“Um, yeah,” I smirk a little.
“So you didn’t get one the first time?” she pierces down her glasses with a tone of pity and the rasp of a teenage Demi Moore. I love her.
The room has filled itself with philanthropic society accidents ranging from shiny gay cliques to nervous older couples, and Allison and I have already crafted a sort of silent Morse code with just the variances of our eye-rolls. I feel like we’re caught in a dance of bitchy exclusivity, one that I never want to leave. I want to stay in this sad model pose from a 1987 Vogue shoot forever. But, alas, there is a “show” to be had.
Host Tweeka Weed is soon manning a P.A. and stirring up the vodka-filled fishbowl with off-color commentary. There’s some reference to me, natch, and how he doesn’t understand my column, and there are a whole lot of unnecessary phrases that end with such topical banter as “It’s fun if you have AIDS.” What? Is it really? A female impersonator named Endora follows with an edgy bit of Marlene Dietrich, if Marlene Dietrich left her meringue in curlers before falling into it headfirst. Much like every night out, this one is coming to an end.
“You go to Peacock with us?” Pom Rosies, grabbing Allison’s arm.
“No, thank you,” I snap one last mental picture of a perfect moment’s death. There can be no gray area. Not firstname.lastname@example.org