BLISTER 


;I oughta be in pictures. I'm wonderful to see.

;

;But, seeing as on this particular drizzly Thursday evening my hair has lost both its height and its resemblance to hair at all, it's probably better that I'm not.

;

;Anyway, Alan and I have bellied our way up to some sort of VIP celebration for the launch of the first Aida's Big Phat Florida Film Festival at the downtown History Center, and even though Alan's threatened to kill any transient who tries to cop his beloved sticks of nicotine (last prospective body count: three), things appear to be going swimmingly. I have swimmer's hair.

;;At the party's entrance, just past the silent auction for glassware and assorted ornamental fineries, a mohawked mullet (or moh-let) peaks out from beneath giant rockist sunglasses and pressed catering garb, emitting a fair indication of just where things stand tonight. This isn't TriBeCa, ladies and gentlemen. No matter how you dress it up and smear it with gourmet truffles, this is Orlando.

;

;And so am I. Or at least I thought I was.

;

;"How come I don't have a glamorous head shot and a superfluous bio?" I feign an actor's astonishment, thumbing breathlessly through the festival program. "I guess I must be invisible."

;

;"If you'll remember correctly," Taylor pantomimes through his teeth, "you said, ‘I don't have a head shot and I don't have a bio. I don't really neeeeeeed the publicity.' Oh, but then you were really sick when I asked you. Hmm."

;;So sick, in fact, that I didn't actually "find out" until yesterday that I'm to be a presenter throughout the weekend. Taylor's been helping out his boyfriend, Tim, a budding cinéaste whose very life has been this event for the past three months (his production company, Cochino Gordo Productions, launched this digital situation), and it probably isn't fair for me to be pulling out my publicity ham here at this juncture.

;;"My twin!" the male version of Sam (Miss Sammy) Singhaus beckons from two feet away. On to him, then.

;;"I think it's more like older cousin, younger cousin," chimes in omnipresent gal pal Margaret Nolan. "Like the one you would sleep with."

;

;"I've really rubbed off on you," Sam leers, ruffled tuxedo shirt all aflutter.

;

;"You've really rubbed up on me," I play victim, because I do.

;

;Precisely six fragrant hors d'oeuvres later Savannah arrives, fresh from cutting off an irate she-trucker en route. She's got our mutual hair-a-curist, Joel, on her arm, which is an effort to make me cosmetically jealous.

;;The program itself is supposed to go off like this: two hours of mingle-get-drunk followed by two hours of documentarian delight in the form of Frances, Tim's film about Frances Milstead, the mother of giant, shit-eating cross-dresser Divine. But the film isn't ready. Tim and his business partner Michael have been sweating over the past 24 hours with hard drive crashes and whimsical hours of "rendering," whatever that means (filthy!), and by the time 8 p.m. rolls around, neither of them is here yet.

;;A corps of professionals is needed, or more precisely a band of idiots, so the stars of stage-and-speaker — Michael Wanzie, Doug Ba'aser, Sam Singhaus and Savannah — are called upon, along with muted little old print me, to stretch and wow as a means of shock and awe. Giant, shit-eating cross-dresser Wanzie trumps our collective ham with a whole pig and effectively hogs the proceedings, allowing us each a moment of superfluous overstatement before yanking the microphone away for more fantastic show-ups-manship.

;

;"It's OK," offers Michael through caustic amplification. "Just thinking about your failed mayoral campaign is funny enough!"

;

;The pig roast doesn't stop there. Frances Milstead herself is in attendance, and Michael calls her up for a quick reflection upon her son, her life, the film, murder, whatever.

;

;"How many people have you killed?" he graces.

;

;She says three but we get uncomfortable answers for just two: the first, her husband, died of natural causes related to MS; the other, a married man, keeled over while dancing with her.

;

;"His wife says that he went out happy," Milstead laughs through her nervous tears. She's a complete delight, if a little overwhelmed by the audience and Wanzie.

;

;Next up is Aida Molina, for whom the festival is named, a philanthropist with a tendency to hike barefoot in Ecuador to feed children. She, too, is nervous, but without a deceased overweight movie star son in a tutu and cha-cha heels, is fairly safe.

;;Fellow John Waters alum Mink Stole is here, too, and a little sharper against Wanzie's presentational belly. Michael pulls out his fan face, and starts to list his glowing bits of association with the performance artist/actress. "I've seen all your films!"

;;"But not But I'm a Cheerleader," she gaffs him before professing that she has nothing to say tonight because she's saving it for her own event tomorrow. Savvy.

;

;And the film arrives after a quick introduction. Savannah, Joel, Alan and I need to go. Savannah's got a kid at home in need of a tuck-in, and I'm a little light in my cha-chas.

;

;On the way out, Savannah poses for a picture with Michael from Cochino Gordo while my friend (and co-stepsister) Roy pretends to pose with me in the background, thinking we're being funny. Because we are.

;

;"I kept you cropped into the picture," the photographer laughs. As well you oughta.

; billymanes@yahoo.com

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