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Could It Have Been Gayer?

Probably not.

Last night’s show was a riot. Drag racing road kill, Funny Lady (you should’ve kept in the Roddy McDowell line), rednecks, super heroes, how not to look for lesbian love, a song about plowing (who knew he farmed?), and Gay Boyfriend. You each were amazing. What a great way to kick off Pride.

Thanks so much to Chris and Andy for letting me be a part of it. (Can I play again, please?) Thanks to everybody who came out … the audience totally rocked. It was good to see all the usual suspects (with a pretty lady in tow), and an added bonus to finally meet some new folks.

And so, without further ado, or any more links, here’s my “Tale of Extremely Gay Gayness” ...

Just what is a tale of extremely gay gayness? As I sat down to write this, NY1 was on in the background, but apparently Paul Lombardi had the day off, so no gay inspiration there. I switched to channel 636. For any of you who might be cable-challenged, that’s the Broadway channel. Perhaps a muse will sing to me.

Marin Mazee’s belting out “You Can Never Go Back to Before.” I sing along. That’s pretty gay. But I have to get this done, because Larry wants to go to Folsom Street East this afternoon. Showtunes and leather queens.

Now I just need some drag queens and Judy Garland to run into the apartment, and I’ll have a heapin’ helping of homoliciousness. Wait a sec … drag queens, running, Judy Garland …, I can hear the bells.

Ever since I met Larry (12 years ago last Sunday, for those of you keeping score), he talked about wanting to run a marathon. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. The first week was more about which drawer he kept his condoms and lube in, why was there so much RID in his bathroom closet, and why did he move here from Canada? But in fairly short order I learned he liked to run.

For years we would watch marathoners finish their 26.2 mile runs, and he’d say “Someday, that’ll be me.” I on the other hand, thought it was a lot of work for a silly medal and a space blanket.

Gradually, I started what it would be like to cross the finish line. The enthusiasm and energy from the marathon crowd was infectious and I began to think “why be in the audience when you can be part of the show?” Plus, I was growing weary of the annual “I’m going to do this one day, eh?”

Not long after that, we saw an ad for the “AIDS Marathon.” The deal was you raise money for AIDS charities and run the Marine Corps Marathon in DC.

We were in.

My fundraising goal was something like $4,000. If you raised that much, you got this totally cute jacket. It was grown-up version of what the high school jocks wore, or one of those kicky show jackets that the Broadway and soap opera people had. Which makes me wonder, when I was acting did I want the career or the couture?

Anyway, as much as I hate asking people for money, this was an excellent cause, and I *really* wanted that jacket. One night, I hit up my friend Steven (aka Connie Cat) for a donation. “Oh honey, Connie’s kitty is kaput, but I’ll put on a show for you.”


“June Bug and I are filling at East of Eighth. How about we make one night a benefit for your run?”

Birth of a fundraiser.

“You know what would be great?” Connie asked me a couple nights later.

“Michael Reidel getting hit by a bus?”

“Well yes, that. But I was thinking that you and Larry should do a number in the show. It’d be gorgeous.”

“Or frightening,” I said.

“Oh please. You’ll make more money.”

“Mmm, let me think about it.”

So I tell Larry about Connie’s plan, and ask him what he thinks.

“You mean do a song?”

“That’s the idea … unless you wanna do a scene from ‘Night Mother.”

“What’s that?”

*sigh* “Never mind.”

“Okay, let’s do it It’ll be fun.”

“Cool,” and I walk away thinking, “Oh my god, I’ve never done drag before, what will I wear, I’ll be so ugly, I’m too tall to be a girl, what color hair should I have?.”

Connie and June, like many of our city’s dragtastic divas, sing in their own voices. They rewrite lyrics to existing songs, and make them a little bit more … fun. For example, a couple years ago, they performed at my birthday party, reworked a song from Chicago, and came up with a tasty little gem called “All That Jizz.”

This was clearly not the path for Larry and me. We were going to go the old fashioned route and lip synch. It’s good enough for Britney …

But what to perform?. Picking your drag debut is a lot of work. Should there a theme? Maybe a song about running? “It Keeps You Running” Ack, that would be just tired. There had to be some campy duet that would work for us.

One night, Larry says to me, “What about Liza?”

“She’s a crazy woman. What about her?”

“We could do a Liza song.”

That could be clever, especially since we’d taken to calling Larry Liza years ago. Aside from the obvious “L” thing, Larry/Liza, there other parallels -- he’s never been shy of the vodka, he enjoys his occasional party, and he falls in love with gay men. It worked on so many levels.

I started rifling through the CDs and found what might be the perfect duet.

Judy Garland and Liza singing “Together”. Bonus, it’s from Gypsy, which is Larry’s favorite show.

His face lit up with that smile that’s usually reserved for his second bottle of Merlot and a Lifetime movie.

“I could be mama?”

Yes, baby … you can be mama.

Now we just had to learn the number. And get wigs and dresses, but that’s the easy part … please, we live in Chelsea and have drag queens for friends.

“So Larry, when are we going to rehearse?”

“Why do we need to rehearse?”

Because I want this to be good, and I don’t want to go up there and look like an idiot.

“Bob, we’re going to put on cheap dresses and bad wigs and lip synch to Judy and Liza. We’re going to look like idiots no matter what.”

“Well, self-fulfilling prophecies for $300. Will you at least learn the words?”

He said he’d try.

I did all I could. I got in touch with my inner Virgo. I typed up the lyrics and color coded them to show which part was which. I made a tape of the song for him to listen to and I studied my part. I thought about choreography, but decided not to press my luck.

About a week before the show, we met up with Connie and June. “I’m wondering when are we supposed to get ready? I was hoping to be out in the audience and enjoy the show, but don’t want to be dressed like a lady the whole time.”

“No no no girl,” Connie told me. “We’ve got it all worked out.”

They’d devised a cunning plan to get us backstage. Right before our number, they were going to sing a reworked “All I Need is the Girl” (also from Gypsy), the new song being “All We Need is Two Guys”.

“We’ll pull you two out of the audience, you do a quick change backstage and then come back out, all prettified. The reveal will be flawless.”

Larry looked skeptical. “What do I have to reveal?”

“That’s show biz talk honey,” June assured him. “Just come out and sparkle.”

At long last, it was the night of the benefit. The room was to capacity. We grabbed seats up front, so we had easy access to us for our surprise number. And we proceeded to drink vodka. Lots of it.

Way too soon, Tulsa’s big number began and all of a sudden my stomach was like the dark kitchen at the end of “Silence of the Lambs” – full of butterflies and really spooky. Fortunately, I only had to deal with the pre-show jitters for a couple minutes before June grabbed my hand, and had us up in front of the audience.

There was much applause and heckling, I mean cheering, and we were whisked backstage. We had about a minute and a half to make our transformation. Jeans pulled down, t-shirt ripped off … I hadn’t gotten naked that fast since … well, no, that’s another story. On goes the dress (a sophisticated frock, not too many sequins), wig pulled on, a little finger fluff of the bangs, and I squeeze into my size 12 pumps (which do not, I assure you, feel like a sneaker). Larry even had time to tie a little scarf around his neck. “Nice. Where’d you find that?” I whispered as we stepped out from behind the curtain.

I’m certain, as my mother used to promise me, that they were laughing with us, not at us. God, do we look that bad? No time to think about it, because the next words I hear are Connie telling the sound guy to “Press Play.”

5-6-7-8 … “Wherever we go, where ever we are …” I think I got most of the words right, but who knows? About halfway through, I looked at Larry and realized that all my rehearsal requests had been for naught.

Apparently, since we were drinking like fishes that night, he saw no problem in looking like one on stage. God bless him, he was lip synching his heart out, but I have no idea what he was mouthing. He looked like the Incredible Ms. Limpett – pursed lips opening and closing like little Nemo after a starvation diet.

People pulled out their checkbooks and dropped bills into our bucket. Even people we didn’t know. We pulled in about 3 grand that night. Not a bad haul for a couple of sloppy amateurs.

We didn’t stay in drag for the rest of the show, but Larry did take a shine to his scarf and wore it on his head the rest of the evening. “I’m a Russian peasant woman,” he told me, daintily sipping another round of vodka.

I’d so wanted it to be perfect … and perfect it was, in a gay sort of way. But we had done it, and just the song said (if one knew the lyrics), we had done it together. And we both ended up with the jackets.