I’ve often wondered out loud to myself while naked and submerged in the warmth of my bubbly decompression chamber, “Self, how many times does the shampoo mean when it says in somewhat uncertain terms, ‘Lather. Rinse. Repeat’?” Two times borders on half-yawned monotony. Six times starts to burn a little, while psychologically producing a mechanical sense of beauty slavery. But 17 times? That’s enough to make you old, make you lose your hair, quite possibly make you drip down the drain in a self-inflicted goo of bloody foam. Do. Not. Want.
“So how are we going to make this particular gay act of cyclical repetition in any way interesting or fun?” I pretend like this is my first drink. “I mean, 17 years of Gay Days and the numbness has leapt from my loins all the way up to that bit I too frequently shampoo.”
“Chicken. Chicken. Chicken,” Tony clucks in a bewildering, manic fashion.
He’s referring to the much-maligned twig of Project Runway rodentia set to make his own tranny hair-pearance out at Disney on Thursday night: Christian Siriano. While a potentially amusing distraction, I don’t think that chicken is on the menu tonight. I could, however, be wrong, mostly because I often am.
“OK! So that’s it,” I pour another first drink. “Tonight we’re on a chicken hunt, even though it’s Tuesday and there is no chicken on Tuesdays.”
Right. The actual event clogging the front end of this week’s excessively queer calendar is the Gay Days Kickoff party at the Orlando Science Center, a typically polite gathering intended to satiate the joint feelings of exclusion and boredom by those who live in this Gaytropolis year-round and don’t particularly enjoy the Interstate they call 4. Short of an accidental Parliament House blackout awakening later this week, this is about as close as I’ll get to wiping my handlebar mustache on my red T-shirt, thereby exposing my nipple rings. At least I hope.
One potentially penetrating bear hug from event organizer and shampoo god Gary Lambert and we’re past the threshold. But into what? Ah, why yes. It’s a circular room bordered by informational tables, booze and nibbly bits, all rattling ever so distinctly to the thumping bass of the latest Madonna record. I can’t even hear myself drink. Oh, and there are shirtless boys walking around with towels wrapped around their waists.
“Where’s Scott Maxwell?” I reflexively bleat into sexy newsbot and event MC Lauren Rowe’s approaching ear.
“Well, it sure seems like he should be here,” she winks, pointing out that her super-hot husband is also a noted friend-of-the-gays.
In fact, a lot of people that should be here don’t seem to be here this year. The mayor has bowed out of the gay, as he often does. There’s no Mike Thomas, no Michael Wanzie, no Mickey Mouse – just an odd collection of stereotypes peppered with pandering politicians, and for some reason they want to talk to me (and everybody else gay who votes).
“Keep up the good work,” comes congressional hopeful and bear-in-the-making Charlie Stuart. “You keep on rabble-rousing.”
“Rabble, rabble,” I Fraggle back.
Lauren Rowe takes the mini-stage to detail the somber leanings of fund-raising philanthropy that underpin this evening’s soiree – something about gay teens, hate crimes, days of silence in schools and sanctimony – before introducing tonight’s performers. Tellingly (or awkwardly) it’s the cast of Bathhouse: The Musical, meaning the boys in towels, and Rowe is visibly impressed that they’re taking their venereal choreography through a bunch of states, “even Canada.”
“Oh,” I grimace to Tony’s already grimaced face. “Like AIDS, then.”
Their performance of the piece’s titular number includes, but is not limited to, suggestive hip thrusts, odes to changing rooms, staying thin in the unused gym and that odd gladiatorial arm salute peculiar to exclusively male gyms that are prefaced by the word “club” and end in your city’s name. Thud.
The room looks a little uncomfortable, in that nudging, unwanted-familiarity way (“First rule: We do NOT talk about the bathhouse!” smirks Tony. “And second rule: We do NOT talk about the bathhouse!”), but none so much as Charlie Stuart. When one be-toweled twink segues into a little number about being a bear cub in search of some honey, Stuart goes pink, turns chicken and exits the room.
Orlando commissioner Patty Sheehan later takes the stage to reveal, somewhat shockingly, that she is a survivor of an Exodus-like brainwash situation and is now “as gay as the day is long!” That’s funny. This event seems to be getting as long as the day is gay.
“Have you seen chicken anywhere?” I ask a passerby who is NO LONGER ALLOWED TO TALK TO ME.
“No, but there’s sea bass over there,” comes a response. There will be no chicken.
By the time I’m faced with the inevitability of science-club survivor and Congressional candidate Alan Grayson, my drain is clogged with hair, and even though he’s newly shaven, I’m having a hard time rinsing him away.
“Stuart called me a ‘rabble-rouser,’” I cluck. “Whatcha got?”
“Let’s see, ‘rabble’ would seem to imply …” he gets more dubious by the second.
“Are you dissecting my metaphors?” I can no longer control my lather.
“Yes, I love to dissect metaphors,” he grumbles back, before going into some long story about how, just recently at a debate about new politics versus old politics, he got into some kind of audience-participation rap. Yes, a rap.
“‘Give me an N!’” he recounts himself calling out. “And nobody would.”
“Hmm, maybe you shouldn’t repeat that,” I rinse myself firstname.lastname@example.org