The Thrill of Pride...the Agony of the FeetPardon the egregious pun, but honeys, my feet hurt!
If anyone ever invites you to walk for four hours over hot asphalt in thin-soled high-heeled shoes and nylon stockings, just say "NO"!
Oddly enough, it was the heat and the nylons that caused more damage than the heels themselves. I was sweating, and the shoes were hot, and the friction between the sweaty feet and the hot nylons gave me blisters between the balls of both feet. You don't know pain until you've got a blister between the balls of the foot. Oy! And then there's all the walking and standing, standing and walking, for miles and miles and hours and hours, not to mention the dancing and the climbing stairs and the more hours and hours of standing and walking after changing back into my sneakers...so alongside the pain in the feet, the legs aren't real happy, either.
But, God, it was worth it!
This has to have been the best Pride ever for me! It was glorious! GLORIOUS!!! OH MY GOD!!! AAAUUUGGGHHH!!! GLO-REEE-OUSSSS!!!!!
Calm yourself. Deep breath. Sit back down. Okay, let's back up and put ourselves in proper narrative order...
So I got up at 6:30 AM on Sunday...a most unnatural act. I made some coffee, puttered around the house, and packed my drag bag for the day, including not only the outfit and the jewelry, but also the means to take off makeup later on, and anything else I might need during the course of the day. Then I showered and shaved the arms and chest, and then shaved the face as close as I could and had a nice facial. Then I got all my goods and chattels into the car and drove down to the office.
Once here, I checked my email to get the directions and instructions from Craig (Mr. Candie Swallows) so I'd know where to go when I got to the City. Then I went into the bathroom and put my face on. While waiting for the powder to set, I went and blogged a bit over at the Galaxy Girls site. Finished everything up in just over an hour, put everything back in the bag (so I could change into boyclothes as soon as the Parade was over), and traipsed across the street to the BART station (that's why I got dressed at the office, because it's right next to a BART station...plus it's private, and the bathroom lighting is great for makeup). It was right there that I made my first mistake of the day...I should have put my sneakers back on instead of starting out in the pumps. Walking to the station and standing on the train and walking from the next station to the parade staging area, all while carrying a rather heavy bag as well as my rather heavy self, is not something to do in heels, no matter how sensible those heels are...the blisters got started long before the Parade did.
Well, after many initial mishaps, trying to read the map of the area provided by the Parade organizers (which was printed totally ass-backwards with south-south-east at the top of the page, so confusing), and wading through three or four other contingents that I wouldn't mind running away with (the Altoids float was surrounded by the most unbelievably beautiful boys), I finally met up with Miss Candie, Miss Romy Michele, their Significant Others, two very nice men from the Marin AIDS Project (one of whom I would like to date, despite his being married), and five really cute go-go boys in designer boxers, all grouped around a lovely dark-purple Chrysler Sebring convertible (Candie claims its color was "cranberry," but cranberries are redder than that...I would have said boysenberry or perhaps olalliberry, but really it was the exact color of a young Merlot).
I arrived at the staging area at around 11:30...Candie and the rest had been there since 10, the hour appointed for bringing cars into that staging area, but we wouldn't be actually moving until 1. So for the next hour and a half, I hid from the sun under the freeway offramp, hung out with my Galaxy Girlfriends and their lovely S.O.s (it takes a lot of chutzpah and patience and plain old wonderfulness to be married to a drag queen), applied sunscreen, repaired my makeup and sweat-proofed it with a generous application of Rave (that's a drag tip, girls...if you sweat a lot, glue your makeup on with hairspray), ogled at and chatted with the go-go boys (who were not just cute, but actually quite nice and very entertaining, though sinfully young...practically fetal, between voting and drinking ages), flirted with Brian from Marin AIDS Project (such beautiful eyes), and hugged some unexpectedly-present friends who were marching with the Metropolitan Community Church, three or four contingents ahead of us.
Once we finally got underway (almost exactly at 1 PM, kudos to the organizers for that!), I was out in front, setting the pace and keeping our contingent close, but not too close, to the float ahead of us (which was sponsored by Ikea and showcased the West Hollywood Cheerleaders). It was great to be a real figurehead! I was about ten feet in front of the car bearing Candie and Romy, waving at people with cameras and soaking up all the love, posing for pictures (I have to pirate the links from Philo and Bill, since I didn't bring my own camera) and spotting friends among the spectators, and sometimes turning around and walking backwards (one of my many skills, and quite a doozy in heels) to watch my contingent...those boys were naughty! There was mooning, bumping-and-grinding, dousing each other with water, and other various eye-pleasing monkeyshines. One of the parade monitors asked me (when we were halted for a traffice cross-over) how I could stand being around five hot nearly-naked boys for two miles...I smiled and said "I'm wearing a panty-girdle."
But there are no roses without thorns. The Ikea float drove me nuts...the cheerleaders were doing a routine to the theme from The Brady Bunch. It was a lot of fun the first four times I heard it, but after a few blocks, it got a little wearisome, and by the halfway mark of the route I wanted to run up there and rip out their sound-system. Plus, I had to be very careful not to step on the heel-trapping grates covering the Muni system vents, which occur every five blocks or so...one either has to walk all the way around them or, if possible, balance on the foot-wide strip of yellow-painted cement that runs through the middle of them. The parade itself was difficult to pace...we'd stand perfectly still for a long while, then have to practically run to keep up, then idle a while, then trot, then mosey, then stand again. And, finally, if you think that it's painless to hang out with hot boys and ogle the beef on the streets and other people's floats, while your genitals are tightly tucked into a Maidenform panty-girdle, think again. And remember, my feet were hurting before we started marching, and every time we had to start out again after standing still I thought my soles were going to explode with pus and pain. But still, it was worth it!
So once we got to the end of the route, I changed into my sneakers (a day late and a dollar short, but hey), met up with my darling Dalton, hugged those toothsome little go-go boys one last time, bid adieux to the Girls and their Guys, and Brian (mmh!), and Kelly from South Carolina, and headed over to the Green Room in the War Memorial building on Van Ness to help set up for the Living Sober "Sobrie-T Dance."
Of course, "helping" consisted of locking myself into one of the restrooms and getting out of that gown and makeup! That took quite some time (it's difficult to get around a restroom walking only on the heels of your feet), and once I was finally de-Marlénèed and re-Roberted in my Endora t-shirt and off-white chinos and purple overshirt and white fishing hat (though I kept most of my jewelry on), the Green Room was already set up for the dance and people were arriving for the pre-dance meeting. I wanted to go to the meeting, but there were events at the Festival that I had to see...namely Pansy Division, Dead or Alive, and, most importantly, Marc Almond on the Main Stage in front of City Hall.
I had a lovely time walking through the Festival with Dalton, brushing up against shirtless hotties, getting my feet trod on by messy drunks, perusing the shoddy wares in the stalls, eating a turkey corn-dog, and running into more friends here and there. We finally made it back to the Main Stage in time for the adorable Pansy Division, who sang a number of great short songs, including my two favorites, "Luv Luv Luv" and "Negative Queen." which are really fun. Then this very vanilla-skim-milk boyband reject named Oryon came on with a few tedious club songs (he's very pretty, but couldn't sing or dance, so what's the point?) and then ended with a much-protested encore in which he murdered the classic "Celebration." After that came Dead or Alive, and they brought the house down (if an outdoor festival can be called a 'house') with all their old favorites from the 80s...I had forgotten how many of their songs were my favorites, too...as well as something off their new album. Pete Burns looked fabulous, though he was a lot shorter than I expected and much younger-looking than just makeup allows (Botox and collagen pick up where Max Factor leaves off). Then came Snatch, a very big and very scary drag queen in leather gear and a Cher-like headress made of CDs and black rooster-feathers. She did a couple of songs I'd never heard before but which were quite entertaining, brassy and bitchy and throbbing, with plenty of hot-n-hunky backup dancers (all of whom had sunburns) in minimal leather and club gear.
Then Sir Ian McKellan came on stage, and I almost DIED!
I love Ian McKellan! LOVE HIM! I loved him in The X-Men, and I loved him in Lord of the Rings, and I really loved him in Cold Comfort Farm, and I really really loved him in Gods and Monsters, and I really really really loved him in Richard III...this man is fab-u-lous! It was so exciting to see him in person!!! So exciting, in fact, that I screamed like a teenage girl. And then, as if his mere presence weren't enough, he introduced Marc Almond! MARC ALMOND!!! EEEEEEEK!
Hi, I'm Robert and I'm a secret Marc Almond fan.
Let me explain: my former best friend Kevin was a huge Marc Almond fan, had every piece of music the man ever produced...and when your best friend is a huge fan of something, you can't be a huge fan, too (unless it's something you discovered together, or if your fanship predated your friendship)...one must maintain a certain amount of individuality in these relationships. So though I love Marc Almond and love his music, I only have one of his albums (Tenement Symphony...yum!!) and never put any effort into keeping track of what he's up to. I had no idea he had a new album. I had no idea he was still performing. I had no idea that seeing him in person would send me into hysterics, raptures, and near-orgasmic plotzing!
It was, all in all, just too much for me to handle. After his set was over (he looked great, very young, and did "Jackie" and "Tainted Love" among other hits, and was so electrifying that the other performers' back-up dancers came barrelling up onto the stage to dance behind the Creative Genius), I was totally depleted. My ears were ringing and my eyes were ready to pop, I was hoarse from screaming and my whole being was all aflutter.
EEEEEEE!!!!! (that was the last one, I swear).
I went to the dance and danced a little, talked to many friends, had a few iced teas (Brisk is better!), and when it was all over I helped clean up (since I had done nothing at all for the set-up). Then I schlepped back to BART (again carrying the heavy bag), and, on rearrival at the office, got into my car and drove home. I made myself a sandwich and a glass of milk, then plopped in front of the TV to watch WB-20's live Parade coverage I had taped earlier in the day.
It was great fun watching the parade from outside of it, and I saw more of my friends who had been in contingents that preceded mine. But when I once again heard the familiar strains of "The Brady Bunch Theme" in the background and the yellows and pinks and blues of the Ikea float hove into view, momentarily concealing me and the Miss Gay Marin contingent from the cameras, the goddamned TV station cut to a commercial! After all that, I didn't get to be on TV!
But I did get to see Sir Ian McKellan and Marc Almond, and I got to be cheered by tens of thousands of people, and I got to look fabulous in public. I'll just have to console myself with that. And this...