"Today my life began. My parents do not know it yet. I am as small as the pollen of a flower, but it is I already. I will be a girl. I will have blonde hair and blue eyes. Nearly everything is settled already — even that I shall love birds."
Actually, I prefer blokes, but considering that I'm currently culling my personal memoirs from a Tract League pro-life pamphlet procured from a pay phone at Barnes & Noble, I can't be too choosy. Tonight, my life is an abortion.
"I don't trust anything that doesn't come from a pamphlet," I double negate to Tony. "In fact, I only read pamphlets. Sooo much shorter than magazines, and with none of those pesky ads."
Peskier still is the task at hand tonight. VarieTEASE, a theatrical collaboration between lesbo Baby Blue and the drama queens at Naked Orange Theater Company, is to mark its debut on this very evening at Southern Nights, draping its implied torn taffeta around a "back to school" theme, one that probably isn't appropriate for the Trapper Keeper set.
Both trapped and kept, even potentially unborn, I don't know that I really belong in this circumstance. I think I have the back-to-school jitters.
"Hi!" David Lee stumbles to greet us at the door. "Welcome to Bob Marley … High!"
More hemptastic shenanigans will follow, most notably David Lee picking up my seat reservation nameplate and pretending to smoke it, and I'll try to hazard a laugh or two as all of my jokes are told and enjoyed for me. His shirt reads "Bithlo High, Class of '74," so the irony is already taken care of, too.
"My mouth is just now beginning to open. Just think — in a year or so I'll be laughing, and later I'll start to talk. My first word will be ‘mama.'"
Or Margaret. Art-scene fixture Margaret Nolan has been assigned to my table, which has her wondering aloud whether my presence brings down her age or cancels her out altogether.
I like Margaret. She loves herself more than I do.
"It still looks like a cruise ship in here," she grumps like a sailor. "They can dress it up all they like, but you'd still expect a buffet in the corner."
In response to no response at all, Southern has decided to mute its half-baked wine-bar ambitions and return the old show bar to its original druggy, draggy purpose. At least for tonight, it seems to be working. The room is teeming with Fring-ies, Fring-ettes and female impersonators, most with smiles so big they make noises; a Singhaus here, a Wanzie there, three wigs, and a lot of talking without listening.
Tony and I have choreographed a synchronized grimace routine of our own, staring between things and acting like our minds are already too populated to even begin to care what any of this is about. In short, it's my weekly bout with queer endurance, and I'm loving every minute of it.
"Tiny fingers are beginning to form on my hands. How small they are. One day I'll stroke my mother's hair and tell her how nice she is."
Just as my fingers accidentally burn themselves while trying to put my cigarette where my pen should be, creating a miniature fireworks display right over my lap, the stage darkens and the sounds of an imminent event rumble forth. A tall, skinny, sharp angle of a man flips into full-on geek-conductor mode to the pounding of a marching band; he begins to lose composure, arms and legs are flying everywhere. I don't think he's cute, but he might be. Oh, well.
Following him, each of the five other "student" archetypes overstate their assigned identities in syncopated vignettes: homecoming queen, good girl, bully, black guy, black girl. Everything, naturally, coalesces into a lip-synced interpretive redo of Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher," as Blue makes her way to the stage as said warmth-creating instructor.
The proceedings are mildly rousing, rarely if ever missing a beat. It's hard to miss a beat while lip-syncing.
"I wonder if my mother hears the delicate beat of my heart? Some children are born with sickly hearts, and then the gentle fingers of the doctor perform miracles to make them healthy. But my heart is healthy. It beats so evenly: tup-tup, tup-tup. You shall have a healthy daughter, mother."
Further themes find their due exploitation through the rest of the show — marijuana ("Smokin' in the Boys Room"), cheerleading ("Mickey"), gay at the prom ("Can't Fight This Feeling") — and if they seem as predictable as a bottle of Boone's Farm at a drama club lock-in, they mostly are. A couple of splashes of brilliance spit through, though, most notably the long-overdue revisit to Julie Brown's cult hit, "Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun," complete with slo-mo dancing effects.
And that's not all the homecoming queen's got, either.
"Ooops, I Did It Again" bleeds into "Hit Me Baby One More Time" as the princess dances around with first an EPT and later a Cabbage Patch Doll.
Blue's reappearance as a sort of intellectual grim reaper at the end of "Don't Stand So Close to Me" leads me to a quizzical furrow of something like, "Is Sting, then, the angel of death?"
"Yes," Tony stares away.
"Today my mother killed me."
And tonight, I'll go home. Repeat to firstname.lastname@example.org
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