"Happy Gay Day!" squeals the lit-up chick voice offering party directions at the other end of the cell phone.
Happy, maybe, but for all its red-shirted, jean-shorted, fey hands-across-America charm, the annual Gay Days celebration centers around a passive-resistance occupation of Disney's doe-eyed innocence. It's always so much more a study in what isn't than what is.
"What have you been up to all year" winks and "yeah, I've worked with Chanel, too" lies crown the empty dynamic of boys who can't decide if they like talking or drinking more. Shedding some $2,000 (on expensive "official" parties, lodging and theme-park fares), stereotypes drink and descend as if on cue into one throbbing mass of sexual submission and ornamental regret (loosely resembling unity -- although so does death), and we're all supposed to feel the better for it in the end (ahem).
Last year, my wet end swayed over the "It's a Small World" propaganda boat, with my cotton mouth mumbling some cross between the Lord's Prayer and the chirpy ride song. Too much unity, too early. And I'm a small girl, after all.
This year, with two old friends, domestic-violence situations and a wayward boyfriend problem, I wasn't about to tack on black ears for a euphoric joyride into sloppy sexual suggestiveness, or short a circuit party for an expensive gym-boy pump and grind to the latest vocoded house novelty ("How '98!" I wince). Boys are stupid, anyway. I wonder what it feels like for a girl.
Perhaps in answer to this, somehow I've found myself at the makeup party prior to the red-hot she-review Lesbo-a-Go-Go, the bawdy theme night at Southern Nights, which should be set into overdrive by this weekend's festivities. "Any time you need a hug, any of us would be glad to give you one," oozes a near-nude Victoria, welcoming me.
"I'm so glad you could make it!" sweets the show's princess MC and apparent madame, Baby Blue.
Overhead a hired DJ spins a raucous revisit to Donna Summer's "On the Radio," and I know instantly that I am where I belong. Maybe I'm even happy.
The thing about girls is that there's no violent protrusion with which to clumsily knock or penetrate the better sensibilities of a controlled social situation. I'm standing with five naked women, most not even lesbians, and it might as well be a seventh-grade slumber party. Applices are being applied, bustiers are being boosted, and nobody's eyeballs are rounding the corners of their eyes in search of prey or cynicism. I'm alarmingly at ease, which is embarrassing.
"The thing about my girls is that none of them has any tits, really," surmises Blue, with false-eyelash glue dancing in her right hand, never missing a hip-sway nuance of Miss Summer's blissed-out anthem. We've only got an hour, you see. She's multitasking.
Back in the bedroom, more multitasking as I engage the working girls in a senseless discussion of their number for the evening, "Lady Marmalade."
"I hate Pink!" I fawn.
"I was just going to say that!" pixies sprightly -- and nude -- Jen.
Then, against my better judgment and heavy Aguilera animosity, I concede.
"Y'know, Christina totally carries that song!" Blech.
Once at the club, the girls are making sardine haste, squeezed into the utility-closet dressing room. The vampy raunch of said "Moulin Rouge" remake is pumping through the door, suggesting that the dolled-up she-drags head to the stage. Me, I'm nursing my new sense of unity (and drinking the old), preening in the giant mirror. I'm better than Christina!
Alas, so is Baby Blue, who makes a jarring entry, all taffeta ballerina and tip-toe twirling, only to break form in full Aguilera slut grind. Several itchy-kitschy-ya-ya-blah-blahs later, and the sweaty troupe is back in the fish can for touch-ups. For solo numbers, Blue is doing "Let's Pretend We're Married," by that other drag queen, Prince, and layering blue lace over her bleached head. Now would be the perfect time to substitute me for her -- after all, we do look alike ("I'm the boy Blue," I slither, to no reaction) -- only by now my old unity is getting the best of me. I'll eventually settle for sneaky dress-up while nobody's looking. Always the bridesmaid.
In the DJ booth, antipathy is tempering "femme fatale" New York DJ Jackie Christie's sweetness. She's detailing a journalistic mishap.
"Vibe magazine took those horrible photos," she smile-sneers, "and wrote a horrible article to go with them."
Somehow the possibility of my writing a manifesto to challenge the national urban glossy -- y'know, for the Weekly -- comes into play. I'm halfway to being a bitchy girl publicist before I realize how stupid I sound and retreat back to the dressing room.
"Can I try this on?" I annoy.
No, I can't.
No, I can't.
At night's end, Blue returns with a "Best Little Whorehouse" Dolly flourish, sprinkling "you guys were soooo great!" on the glittered heads of her flock. I'm needling my head into the fold, pretending that maybe I did great at something.