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Some jokes are only funny told once. Given its 16 years snowballing toward hell, Orlando's treacherous Gay Days confab can hardly punch out a burp anymore from this particular gastric bypass, so I'm content to skirt the guest-list periphery of its surrounding affairs, take an Ambien and pretend it never happened. This comic minefield is barren. Hell, Gay Days is old enough to drive itself, just 24 ketamine jokes shy of 40.

And I, frankly, am too old to care.

"Isn't it funny that our own version of glamour is taking a Yellow Cab at midnight to the Parliament House to see Taylor Dayne sort-of-live in concert in 2006?" I half-laugh in Savannah's direction.

"Some-day-love-will-find-you," she swings her pink hair and her smoker's alto across the grimy upholstered taxi ceiling. "Break-those-chains-that-BIND-you!"

Our "separate ways" are only being amplified by the measured unpleasantness of our cab driver, who seems to rue this Journey (and the one blaring from his car stereo) more than the ingrown pubic hair on his chafing bikini line.

"Motherfucker!" he barks into the still, unforgiving air of a Colonial Drive traffic jam. "Dammit!"

Charming. But somewhere in the universal political dialogue involving homosexuality and its ability to sign a marriage certificate without its wrist going limp, tonight must contain a small blip of proud significance. This is, after all, the (other) weekend of the year that gay pride reigns supreme, the weekend that going out to a bar constitutes an act of sociological upheaval and nonviolent resistance. I'm fuckin' Gay-ndi, here. I will not let the grumbles of an obese chauffeur with depilatory issues bring me down. God, and I bet he's a homophobe, too.

My self-imagined Cindy Sheehan almost goes all Ann Coulter, though, when the godless guest list at the godless Parliament House refuses to list our names. Phone calls are made, eyes are rolled and eventually everything goes through, landing Savannah and I square in the middle of the end of everything. Dilated pupils in sunken faces drip down to bare torsos and, inevitably, jean shorts, and for a moment I take a mental note from the trenches about just what it means to be gay. The mental page, I should note, is blank, with just one puka-shell bead on it.

"It smells like wet, cologned ass," I sniff.

Within moments — the duration of Savannah's Red Bull — I've dragged us through the entire shoulder-to-shoulder bar affair, each of us taking turns moaning, "Somebody just touched me, and it was gross," while pressing a pillow over the face of the night's potential. We came, after all, to see Taylor Dayne. Savannah even has a pot story that involves Taylor Dayne. Me, I can't believe I've got a heart of stone; I've seen my tears fall when I thought I was alone. In short, we're ironic disciples, and in addition to making fun of people to make ourselves feel better, we've come to be entertained.

And we are.

Through all of her plastic surgery ("Fuck Angelina Jolie!" Savannah Red Bull—hiccups, "Taylor Dayne originated the horse-lip collagen!") Dayne is still a bleating master of glorious, howled drama. Sure, she has zero back-up dancers and zero backing dance tracks away from being a has-been playing a gay pride event, but she's still got it. Whatever "it" is.

For now, the best "it" is brevity. Six songs in and she's done, which means we are too. Savannah walks out into the middle of OBT to hail a cab like she's still in New York, and one happily obliges. Except it doesn't really, but in our tight circle we write our own fiction.

So we end up sharing a cab with a girl from Minnesota (recently relocated to Ocala; "I really like it!" she lies) who actually ordered the cab for her and her gay friend on drugs.

"Are you THE Savannah?" Ben, the taxi-man guffaws, eventually recognizing me too. We're totally cabby famous. "Oh, look. There's a pussy crossing the road," he tries to make a crude joke that isn't funny anymore, telling our co-captives that "if you knew how these two talked, you'd think it was funny."

Nope.

Ill-advisedly, we pull a second night of cab-riding to the gay end of the '80s, attempting this time to catch Lisa Lisa on Sunday night at the P. By the time we finally arrive, everything's gone horribly Kim English and a pregnant and reportedly tone-deaf Lisa Lisa is nowhere to be found. A girl named Paula tells me she's my stalker and pays my friend Taylor $5 to introduce her. Things are entirely too uncomfortable.

Instinctively, Savannah and I follow a trail of foam and fat people to the back of the lot behind the hotel, peering discreetly into windows with Spencer Gifts fiber optic collections and twin old-lady drag-queen knitting circles along the way. By the time we reach the foam pit, our collective reaction is a decided head-shaking wince.

"That is so gross," Savannah foams at the horde of skulking large men apparently preying on a smaller one. "We're so much better than that."

"Yeah," I yeah.

"But it's kind of hot."

"Yeah, I'm kind of aroused."

"Let's get out of here," she unsticks her thighs. Because, well, that joke isn't funny anymore.

billymanes@yahoo.com

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