As you know, one of the things that has been keeping me Too Busy For Love is my photo scanning adventure. I had to put that on hold a few months back when Drag Season hit full throttle. I'm back to it a little and I stumbled upon some of these pics from the 90's. This reminded me of a little story ; a painful event and my "me" way of handling such things.
Picture it, the early 90's, I moved into this building, very close to the University of Texas at El Paso where I could walk to school and work (alright, I usually drove to work.)
It's interesting to me because I had attended a party in this building about a year prior and thought to myself, "Golly, I'd love to live here." Lo and behold, here I was moving in...
Ever reliable best friend, Ted, helped me get my stuff in (actually I can't recall where I got any of my bedroom furniture...) and stock my fridge with yogurt and sandwich fixin's. It's college people. I didn't need living room furniture because that was being brought in by my new roommate, This Guy
I'll call him Shelby Davenport, because that's his name. We had recently met in the theater department and had experienced the tragedy of JULIUS CAESAR together. Believe me, that production put the tragedy in the Julius Ceasar that Shakespeare hadn't written. We hit it off as friends immediately and I remember thinking he looked like Ted Shackelford on Knott's Landing, which I LOVED, so yeah, he'll prolly be a good room mate. Cut to a year later where there are sch strange goings on in the apartment, including an attempted friend-steal (as reported by Ted) wherein Shelby actually kissed Ted in an attempt to seduce him away from me. Here's the thing, the only person in this scenario who was gay at the time was Ted! I don't remember where it all started going wrong in the apartment, but Shelby and I were at major odds. I started spending much less time in the apartment, keeping busy with rehearsals & shows - which left Ted to hang out with Shelby, which I didn't mind, Ted is his own person. When I was with Shelby in the apartment, we got to the point where we wouldn't talk to each other, but he would work out shirtless just outside my bedroom door in full view of me or towel off fresh out of the shower with the bathroom door open in the shared bathroom that was between our two bedrooms. Finally, at the end of the semester, he decided to move back to Austin. While he was moving out, I spoke to him just to ask if he had "accidentally" packed my Coors Light mug (It had great sentimental value, you see, I drunkenly stole it from the Surf Club on my birthday the year prior.) He took that as his cue to punch me in the face- with some fancy ring on. If I recall correctly he mocked me asking the question then said, "I've been looking for an excuse to punch you." I replied with perfect aplomb, "That's clear." I went down to my friend Cody's apartment and called the police. They came and took him away. Interestingly, enough, they only took him because he had some traffic ticket over due and had an arrest warrant out. They weren't very interested in the assault or my profusely bleeding lip. While they were asking questions about my assault, they asked if we were lovers, "because that makes it different." I was confused. That may have been because I was losing blood out of my mouth. I went to the ER and got 12 stitches 6 on the inside of the top and lower lip. His ring had split my lip by smashing against my sharp I-teeth.
That's my real blood, right where I was warshing dishes before that fateful and non-sexual,
sexually frustrated blow!
Looking back at it, I surmise that what was going on between me and Shelby was good, old-fashioned, MOONLIGHTING sexual tension. Since we were both living in a time where one is told to believe everything that says they are not gay and gay is bad and YOU'RE NOT GAY, all that tension had nowhere to go. It manifested in weird arguments, desperate acts and violence. All that tension cost me 12 stitches.
I must admit that when I came home from the hospital, freshly stitched and feeling VERY vulnerable, I was very anxious coming back to the apartment. What if they had released Shelby and he was back in the apartment waiting for me? They police made it clear that they weren't interested in enforcing any laws against assault. I made it in and spent the next few days looking like a b Actress overacting in a horror movie, reacting to any little sound or cautiously opening closed doors. It was no fun. How did I deal with it?
The next weekend I had an exorcism! I invited friends over and re-enacted the events of that day
including Cody playing himself as nonplussed neighbor with phone.
Then, I took a tube sock Shelby had defiantly left behind and burned it in a frying pan on the balcony and then lit sage from the burning cotton/polyester foot cover and went room to room allowing the smoke to spook away all the bad energy. Then we proceeded to have a great time
I even got aggressive playing a game on the table Ted stole from Taco Cabana for me.
Later I went through my photo albums and recast Shelby in our fun time photos, like these...
(I've always been crafty)
I also went back and added quotes from magazines that I thought were appropriate or funny, like in the first pic of Shelby. It was then, that I took some markers and exacted therapeutic revenge on Shelby in the cover photo. I think it made me feel better, then. I think it's hilarious, now.
About 2, or so years later, I finally accepted that I was gay and came out to my friends. I don't know if Shelby is actually gay, but I do know that that tension is undeniable and I still have the scar from it. It was all so strange while it was happening and the assault, while not terribly dramatic or life threatening, stays with me. When I feel the scar tissue with my tongue from time to time, I don't much dwell on Shelby having punched me with that fucking ring on, I ponder more how different it would have been if it were okay to acknowledge our feelings without shame and figuring out what was going on with us, instead of the bottled up frustration exploding all over my face.
Mostly, when I remember my time in that apartment, I see my bedroom window from the street,
on the second floor, complete with tiny Evita balcony. Then I remember the happiness of my independence, fun times with friends and finding out who I am.
(Looking back, I think I understand now why I didn't mind that right outside my window was a very active and loud Fire House, with firemen who'd wash the truck...)
Most of that is all possible, because not long after Shelby left, the best roommate of all time & eternity moved in...
(Danny accepted and celebrated my craftiness, including the vinyl cow dots
applied to our refrigerator with magnets)
Danny Lopez moved in and taught me all about patience, generosity, acceptance, self security
and true friendship. We stayed room mates until he married his lovely wife, Lisa, with whom he shares two lovely children and a fabulous house. We are friends to this day, even though we rarely exchange more than a few sentences in any given year, when I see him it's like we saw each other just the day before.
As a Gay of A Certain Age, I know how important it is to look back and see where we came from, re-examine our experiences, see if we can solve any mysteries, as well as looking back and cherishing the things that contributed to us being our BEST us. Also, it helps to have a sense of humor even in the face of violence.
The deadline was nearing, I only had a few days to make sure everything was ready. I had spent a good portion of my time getting my talent together. I did that with the help of my fellow Chico's Angel, Ray Garcia, who graciously helped me with choreography, and one of my favorite hunks, Duke Shoman, who agreed to be my shirtless pinata hitter.
In the final weekend, there was the big, all day, full cast rehearsals, which despite my inability to absorb choreography quickly, were an absolute blast in the capable and helpful hands of Jeffrey Drew!
First I had to load-in and get all my crap sorted out...
Then, make-up magician, Glen Alen, made me up to be pageant gorgeous!
While I was getting ready downstairs, my friends, Mike Pingel and Kevin Alpert, were handing out postcards and Reba Areba pins to audience members as they came in..
Before I knew it, it was time to hit the stage for our intro/opening number
Perhaps you can see my two danglies in the pic below... During my intro I said, "I am wearing a blue bonnet on my head because that is the state flower. The state bird is the mocking bird, and the state tree is the Pecan Tree, known for its nuts!" At which point, two large pecans drop from under my dress.
Next, I quickly ran down stairs to get into my swimsuit attire!
For my swim suit, I entered stage in my Nacho Poncho
Made my way to center stage
Where I took a dip in a pool of guacamole
And stepped out to reveal my Jalapeno Bikini
John Coulter really took my original idea to the next level, he knows everyone loves a reveal!
After the swimsuit final looks, I rushed downstairs again to get into my Talent get-up!
As I was rushing, I took a moment to note that it REALLY helped to have my dressing room mate, Miss Louisiana's talent partners in the room for inspiration
Once in my costume, I took another moment to appreciate them
It REALLY helped.
Not that my talent partner was any slouch!! You remember Duke Shoman, don't you??
He graciously agreed to be my HIT MAN. you see, for my talent I was a human Pinata
...except that my hanging cable snaps and I'm left on stage to avoid being beaten by the blindfolded shirtless hunk man
while I sing my HIT ME MEDLEY live. And every time Duke hit me, a piece of my pinata costume came off.
Then, with the final hit, we reveal my candy dress!
Then, back down stairs, which is really challenging by the way, to get ready for Evening Gown/Interview!
For my Evening gown, I enter dressed as the Virgin de Guadalupe, carrying my lit-up sunburst of holy rays background with me (This you do not get to rehearse, so I almost fell over when one of the background's feet hit a step as I made my way down to the stage. I teetered, but recovered- knowing full well, everyone watches intently for a spill!)
Once down center stage, (Crown falling forward from the near-spill)
Then turn my background around to reveal a message
A subtle message about Trump's wall,
then I step out to reveal my Yellow Rose of Texas dress
I had a little trouble with my cherub shoe, but that didn't seem to bother anyone, much.
Next was the interview portion...
My question was, "What is your greatest fear?"
I replied, that after heights, my donkey losing his way home, and looking Bruce Willis in the eye, my biggest fear is becoming ill and losing my home. For example, many people living with HIV are homeless and have nowhere to turn for shelter or medication. Then I mention Alliance for Housing & Healing and Aid for AIDS. I did this in character, most contestants break character to get the seriousness of the subject across, I decided to try to find a balance and stay Reba Areba. Finally, I added that I am also afraid of cucumbers.
The competition was over, all that was left was to crown a winner!
Honestly folks, I knew going in that I couldn't spend half a year prepping for this beauty pageant all just to win. I went in with the goal of putting on a great show and if I didn't win, I could look at it like any other show I've done in the past and played my role well. Then, at that moment I FUCKING WANTED TO WIN! No, I just thought it would be super neato, right?
I was in the final three with Miss Colorado and Miss Washington...
Then I was in the top two with Miss Washington!!
I thought, could there be a bucket of pig's blood right above me?
Then, they announced the winner,
IT WAS ME!!
This is me, BEST IN DRAG SHOW 2018
But wait, there's more!!
After the initial hoopla & Pics
We got to meet the judges,
Kathy Kinney, Arden Myrin, Patrick Rush, Lance Bass and Dot Marie Jones
It was a bit surreal.
I love me some Dot Marie Jones! She is such a kind and gracious woman!
Lance Bass didn't call the police on me, this time!
Then, the most fabulous part was going out and seeing my wonderful friends and family!
John Coulter, whose work with Robin Chartier, really took my ideas, expanded them and made dream come true costumes for me! CONFESSION: Going into this I knew John as a talented friend, artist and supermodel; it wasn't until I was looking up information to include in my program bio, that I found out, John actually designs costumes! Shut Up! I know! THAT'S why he always had rockin' Halloween costumes! Check out all of his super neato work HERE
Here's Mike & Kevin, who helped cheer me on in the lobby!
The Chico's Angels kidz in some form or another...
Muh DAB, Dennis Hensley was there...
Muh DAB, Glenn Gaylord was there...
My family: Brother in law, Charlie, my Ma, sister Julie and Charlie's sister, Melissa came all the way from El Paso!
It's always nice to have family there for you, but the best moment of the night, for me, was seeing my Mom so happy!
I guess even in a dress & slap, I'll always be my mama's boy!
Certainly, there were more of my close friends who were in the audience cheering me on, but didn't make it to the secret back alley for pics and I thank them all for coming, but special thanks goes to Ted and Eduardo who, also, came all the way from El Paso a few days early and helped me in my many hours of need!
So, there you have it, my story about half a year spent prepping for a one night show, keeping me very busy.
So, while I'd love to go have some of that pumpkin spiced hooha with you, I can't! I'm too busy helping raise over half a million dollars for Alliance for Housing & Healing and Aid for AIDS!
Disclaimer & Thanks: My blog is usually all illustrated with my own photography, but these past posts couldn't be made with out photos stolen from Mike Pingel, John Paschal and Geoffrey P Vitrano (and maybe a few stolen from Facebook...)