Monday, April 8, 2002

Drag Hangover

What a weekend! Even if I'd had an internet connection this weekend (which I didn' dial-up went kaput on Friday afternoon and just came back on this morning), I was just too busy to blog! I'm now at the halfway mark in my three-Saturdays-in-a-row Drag-A-Thon...and, darlings, these aren't the regular "drive to Marin and do a couple of numbers" kinds of shows, either—these are the "future-tripping anxiety-attacking laying-awake-at-night totally-freaking-out-under-mild-stress" kinds of shows. Pressure, honeys, pressure! And I am getting tired!

So last weekend, I did the Rainbow Cabaret...this was, or shoulda-been, just the two numbers and a finale walk-on that I usually do with the Galaxy; but it was in Sacramento (an extremely tedious two-hour drive away), I would be working with people I've never worked with before (who haven't done a lot of show-organizing), in front of a mostly-straight audience. All these uncertainties make it difficult enough...but to make it all the worse, for the finale we were supposed to make a rainbow effect by each of us wearing full-length beaded evening gowns in one of the colors of the rainbow...and I got stuck with green. I like green, it's one of my favorite colors, and I love shopping for evening gowns—but this became my very own drag-queen Holy Grail Quest. Would you believe that out of the millions of colors of the spectrum, the one that is almost universally ignored by the manufacturers of beaded evening gowns is basic green? I looked everywhere trying to find a green beaded evening gown, online and offline, wore myself utterly ragged, and finally finally found one—it was six sizes too large, the wrong shade of green, and about $50 more than I wanted to spend, but I got it anyway (let's not address the fact that, after all that, I ended up being the only one in a beaded gown).

Well, I went to Sacramento (the traffic was hideous, the Convention Center where the show was being held was much too far from the public parking structure, and was ludicrously vast with more wasted space then the Winchester Mystery House, my bags were unspeakably heavy with glass bugle-beads, and it was hot outside); the show went very well, the audience loved us, and everything worked out in the end; then Miss Daisy and I had a great time exploring Sacramento's Old Town after we were done (the waiters at La Terraza were yuh-uh-um-eeee...the food was pretty good, too).

So then another work-week crawls by like a wounded tortoise, the highlight of which being that all of my drag shopping and anxiety shopping and regular shopping ended up completely draining my checking-account (I know myself too well to allow myself revolving credit) not only was I stressed out, but I couldn't continue to medicate myself in the usual manner. Eeeep!

Well, this last weekend I had the Spring Follies show, which I was co-emceeing with Miss Daisy. The performance here involved a duet with the Daiz and another performance of "Lady Marmalade" with Les Girls, as well as ten changes of costume (one outfit per two introductions) and having to come up with patter and euphemisms and suitable epithets for all the performers. Getting ready for that one was hell...I didn't stress out much beforehand, I had little trouble with the clothes or performances...but Saturday was just one of those days where my makeup wouldn't go on right. I felt horrible, because I felt that I looked horrible. Then the traffic going into San Francisco was utterly evil, with an accident on I80, the Bay Bridge backed up all the way to University Avenue, and the City streets completely clogged with lunatics and morons.

But then I got there, nobody noticed that the foundation under my eyes and on the bridge of my nose was all pebbled and smudged; the duet with Daisy ("Little Me" from the musical of the same name) went really well, despite the very making-it-up-as-we-go-along choreography; I surpassed myself in tawdriness and bawd in the Lil' Kim role of "Lady Maramalade," wearing a black satin Merry Widow with diamonds and lewdly shimmying all over the place, shocking the crap out of many of the audience (used as they are to my more demure renderings of the Great Ladies of Jazz); Daisy and I were given many an accolade for our handling of the introductions, as we managed to keep up a sprightly pace and bring the show to a close before the wee hours of the morning.

Then Sunday rolled around, and I was so tired I could barely move. Shiloh took me shopping for housewares (he just moved to a new place and needed all sorts of basics) and for new jeans, then we went back out to the City for a meeting and dinner...where I encountered many of the previous night's audience members, still buzzing from my performance. It felt very strange to be in my regular guy-self, dressed with futzy-putzy Everyman blandness, and yet hearing how utterly fabulous I am. It made me think about the subject of Drag Hangovers (well, it's about time she got to the point!)

On the one hand, there is the sort of drag hangover where your arches hurt from the high-heels, your ribcage hurts from the corset, you still have smudges and crumbs of mascara flaking around your eyes and Dermablend clogging your pores, your hair is squashed flat and stringy from the wig, and you're just plain old tired. I had that kind of hangover, too...but more difficult and bizarre is the mental hangover: for a whole evening you are so freakin' fabulous that everyone who looks at you applauds wildly and then comes over to tell you how fabulous you are (at great length and with many adjectives)...lesbians and straight men admit to becoming erotically confused by your more-than-womanly femininity, your dresses and wigs and makeup and jewels are praised beyond their real value, and you just soak it all up like the attention-starved whore that you are—and then the next morning you crawl out of bed and you're just another balding, pasty-faced schlub with a tummy and baggy eyes. It's hard to reconcile the two selves.

Like Hedwig sings in "Wig in a Box":

"I put on some makeup, turn on the tape-deck,

I'm taking the wig down from the shelf;

Suddenly I'm Miss Farrah Fawcett from TV

Until I wake up, and I turn back to myself."

Well, that's what a drag hangover feels like. Like going back to work after a great vacation. Like waking up from a super erotic dream. Like having loved and lost. In short, it sux to come down, but you're better and happier for having been up there at all.

And now to the third event of my Drag Triptych: the 2002 Miss Gay Marin Pageant. The two other stress-induced freakouts were mere dress rehearsals for the utter mess I'm about to become. Because, you see, I want to win very badly. Being attached to an outcome is a very dangerous place to be—I wish I could convince myself to just show up and be my best and have a good time, but I feel very competitive and very focused (I mean "obsessive") and very wiggety-flippety. I'm holding it in for manners' sake, and to keep from scaring the other girls with my rabid intensity, but it slips out now and again. And I'm still broke and can't shop my cares away. It's going to be a strange week.

But I guess I'd better get going. It's time to go to dinner with my sponsor and admit to God, myself, and her the exact nature of my wrongs (Program stuff, honeys, most therapeutic). Until we meet again, adieu, adieu, to you and you and you!

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