Tuesday, April 20, 2004

What Is It?

Although I had a good time at Sacramento Coronation on Saturday, I'm starting to think that it might be a good rule of thumb to avoid activities that are impossible to explain to people who weren't there. I don't know how many times I have tried to explain what a Coronation (or Ducal Ball) is, with little success. Perhaps I simply don't understand what they're for, myself.

I told my coworker that Coronation is a big self-congratulatory party where the outgoing monarchs are lauded and made much of with a handful of performances and a whole lot of ceremony. Visiting courts, both Imperial and Grand Ducal, come and "walk," presenting themselves with all their titles to the local court with bowing and protocol and gift-giving. At the end of the night, the incoming monarchs are crowned. When you're not walking (which takes a lot of preparation but very little execution), you network with the other courts and drink, watch the command performances and the Candidate performances (some of which are fabulous, some of which are painful, some of which are surprisingly elaborate), and sometimes there's food and sometimes there's flirtation and sometimes there are jewelry vendors.

It's like Shriners for queens, I guess. But what is it all for? Why all the titles and protocol and walking? What purpose does it serve?

The Imperial Courts started off as a political organization of bar owners in San Francisco a million years ago, headed by the First Empress Ever (ahem, "Absolute Empress One"), Mama Jose the Widow Norton. The Court moved from civic power bloc to community support organization eventually, becoming rather more social than political. The Court spawned other Courts, which have since proliferated across the country, in many places branching into Grand Duchies as well as Empires in places where there are too many queens for one Court. They have mostly taken up fundraising as their purpose in life, or at least their ostensible purpose.

The real purpose, it sometimes seems, is to compete for fabulousness and fuss about with arcana. Expensive gowns (with and without trains, fur, beads, and/or feathers, more often than not custom made), immense jewelry (foot-deep necklaces and yard-tall tiaras costing hundreds or even thousands), towering wigs (sometimes so big the wearer can't turn her head), conspicuous largesse (tipping, buying drinks, giving snazzy gifts and commemoratives, etc.), these are all common sights in the Courts; many Court members are so enthralled with Protocol that they spend most of their time talking about how So-and-So defied Protocol by walking twice with two different courts, and how Whatsername neglected to hand in a protocol card for Whosiwhatsis and how angry Whosiwhatsis was even though she didn't tell Whatsername that she was coming, and how tacky it is that the reigning Empress of Wherever changed out of drag as soon as she was done walking and how awful that the reigning Grand Duke of Somewhere tricked with the reigning ICP of Somewhere Else (apparently you're supposed to be a paragon of decorum while reigning, but you can be a big sloppy slut when you're not)... and so on and so forth.

Sometimes as I'm sitting there, goggling at the jewels and listening to someone prate on about protocol, I sense a certain triviality to what we do. It is, in a sense, little more than showing off... showing off your ability to buy necklaces of paperweight-sized CZs, showing off your vast knowledge of the Court systems, and so on. And then there I am with my hideous competitive streak and my barely controlled shopping addiction... the Courts do good, but the good sometimes seems secondary to Keeping Up With the Joneses.

So why do I bother? I have to say that I enjoy seeing the conspicuous consumption (even if I do get struck with tiara-envy), and even a bad drag show is better than no drag show at all, and I love to be seen in my best and loveliest outfits. It's fun, even if it is a bit trivial and sometimes even slightly venal.

Still, I am glad that I'm done with Coronations and Ducal Balls for the time being... all that's left on the calendar, before our own Ducal Ball in July, are the Chico, Fresno, and Orange County Imperials... none of which I plan to attend (they're too far away for me, since I can't stay overnight). And of course we have local RGDC fundraisers to attend, the Decade Monarchs' "Return to Mother Goose" show next weekend and the "Mama Portugal Does 69" birthday show the week after, and then there's a Disco Show and a Duets Show and a couple of other things that I shall attend as Royal Crown Countess to the Twelfth Reign. Next year I won't have a title, and I can pick and choose what events to become involved in. That will be a relief.

So anyway...

I'm kind of exhausted today. After Coronation ended on Saturday night, we went out to Faces for the after-party so that Caroline could continue flirting with the Faces bartenders who had been serving at Coronation... and so I could see what Sacramento gay nightlife is like: it's very pretty (lots of people who look Abercrombie & Fitch models, many of whom were actually wearing Abercrombie & Fitch... Sacramento is very suburban, despite being the capital city of the state).

We left at a quarter to one, and then it's a two-hour drive home, and so I didn't get to sleep until nearly four... only to be waked at 8 a.m. to take the Grandmother to church. I took a nap after church and got to bed fairly early Sunday night, and after work yesterday I took another nap before dinner and got to bed fairly early... nevertheless, with all this napping and eight-hour-sleeping, I feel very very tired. There's an extra hour of sleep out there waiting, calling my name.

Or maybe it's the diet that's making me feel tired. When I put on my lovely lavender beaded backless gown for Coronation, a roll of extraneous flesh draped itself over the back of my bustier... aside from being unattractive, you never want loose skin rubbing against glass bugle-beads. It hurts. And since the theme of Coronation was "A XXX Night at the Chocolate Factory" (a sort of Willy Wonka theme), there was candy absolutely everywhere, in addition to a lavish buffet.

So on Sunday, coming down from a serious sugar high and rubbing my bead-abraded backflesh, I decided it was time to, first, fast for a day to flush my system (which I did yesterday, eating nothing but carrots and drinking juice until dinner time, when I had turkey and string beans), then cut out sugar and other carbs for a week, and, finally, go to the gym every day until I get back down to 200 lbs (or lower, I'm not picky). My body always resists these little health-crashes to which I occasionally subject it, but the resistance is always temporary and I usually feel better after a few days.

But until my body remembers that it can burn stored fat instead of recently-digested carbs, and until I get that extra hour of sleep back, my (slightly pudgy but still cute) ass is just draggin.

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