Blister 


There are buzz saws: the whirring and whacking and clicking and clacking, some unholy alliance between greased-down chains and prickly rotors in the rhythmic frenzy of destructive progress. The noises, the dust, the chugging along at a manic pace, the teetering on the edge of failure and everywhere, everything, a mess. There is a burnt cowboy hat in my backyard. I do not know why. Oh.

"You want to know the truth?" Alan unhinges at my telephonic query.

No, not really. The fact is, I can't handle the truth. These are strange days in the fluorescent garage of my mind, and the less I know the less I can ruin with splashes of bleach and cigarette holes in seats. Mental breakdowns have given way to whatever comes next — mental break-ups? — and every idea is a thought balloon in need of popping. I'll take two lobotomies with a side of fries, please.

"That's the thing about living together," copyeditrix Jessica Bryce Young swings her way into my passenger side. "You can't even burn a motherfucking hat at your own motherfucking house without having a conversation about it."

"True," I deflate a little. But just when did symbolism become reality? I mean, trees don't really fall in the woods with nobody hearing, do they? Then again, they do shoot horses, don't they?

Such rhetorical flubbery will have to take the back seat tonight, as I've made arrangements to engage in some literalism by way of a theme night at the Peacock Room. Local cute guy Rob Ward has taken his Fringe Festival chat-show coup as lovable Mohican Pepe and given it a new venue in which to self-destruct. "Let's All Play Truth or Dare With Pepe! and Miss Sammy" is what it's called, which is just about gay and binary enough to make the whirring stop, if only momentarily. Truth or dare, as we all know, is the more blow job—friendly version of Spin the Bottle, but still retains that odd smell of menstruation and sweaty freckles so important to growing up. Hmmm, what's that smell right now?

"This is my jam!" I start pogoing in a room full of people who would rather I didn't.

"What, REO Speedwagon?" Jessica feigns amazement.

"Heard it from a friend whooooo, heard it from a friend whoooo, heard it from another you been messing arouuuuund," my eyes turn into a nauseating funnel-cake midway. "You cannot deny the genius."

We're a little bit early for the festivities — meaning very early in drag time — so there's nothing for us to do but pretend we're action figures being shoved around the Millennium Peacock by the fingers of children called "Night" and "Life." The place is packed to the feathers with Orlando cognoscenti; you can't even throw a tantrum without hitting somebody's well-trodden name. Here comes a name now.

"There's not a lot that I won't do," smirks sexaholic Liz Langley, who is slated to be a guest tonight at her own peril. "But if I get teabagged again, I will punch somebody in the nuts."

Nice!

Katie Ball climbs over the melee to discuss the special powers of vodka and cranberry together — urinary tract, obviously — and we've got something of a C&V gang forming. But then the conversation starts slowly lifting to that vague area just above my brow and I begin to fade out to the perspiring hip thrusts of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." The whirring is starting again.

"Hey, Billy!" comes a voice from across the room from a name I do not know, one that drops the name Giorgio Moroder like he was Phil Oakey. "What year did this come out?"

"Uh, 1979?" I sense failure.

"No, it was before Star Wars," comes the nonsensical game-show host reply. I'm losing.

But the show is starting!

"Hello, beaches!" Pepe bitches. Turns out Ward's platform-heeled, vaguely Latin Pepe is a winning distillation of Bruno and Martin Degville from Sigue Sigue Sputnik, a combination that can't be good for any physical tracts, but one that tastes all the sweeter for it. "This is just like Nickelodeon, except if you get slimed here it's really messy!" he warns. Yay!

Miss Sammy is ushered out with the phrase, "If you hear the faint sound of a cougar," to which she camps, "I thought it sounded more like a Pinto," and we're off: "Let me check my contract," "I can smell your contract over here," etc.

What follows is a series of unfortunate events involving the rancid-fruit sweetness of free shots dribbling down my chin and into the rips of my postmodern Swamp Thing sweater, little fluffy clouds of invincibility teasing the space inside my ears, some talk of artificial insemination, slapstick hilarity and a spinning room. This cannot end well.

"You know I'm going to have to do this," I warn Jessica, perhaps unnecessarily. She knows the whirring; she's heard it before.

"So, who wants to come up onstage to play the game?" Pepe scans the room with his giant red Mohawk. And up go my arms.

"So what's it going to be, Beeely Manes? Truth or dare?"

I can't handle the truth. "Dare."

And then the world shatters into a million purple glass shards coated in vodka. Within seconds, the remaining tufts of my dignity are thrown into the fire as I hike up my jeans, drop to my knees, and start swinging my ass around like a buzz saw. Like a stripper in a heroin blackout, before long I'm grinding my ass onto the knee of an actor guest (his boyfriend sitting not 2 feet from my face), just wielding my backside like his leg was a tree — whirring, whacking, clicking and clacking in the lapdance heard 'round the world (or, later, Facebook).

In the distance, a tree falls. Nobody hears.

bmanes@orlandoweekly.com

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