Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-23

April, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

I don't know if they give medals for this but I am officially out to the parental units. You know I had to do it. I was never good about lying. And I certainly wasn't going to start inserting feminine pronouns into my conversation.

They were both dumbfounded. Finally Mother says, "You don't look gay!"

"Well, Mami, I figured the push up bra and the purple passion lipstick on the first day might be a bit much."

Father stormed out screaming that I'm never serious about anything. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to be flip. But it seemed like such an ignorant thing to say-- akin to Megan's comments about my not acting Hispanic.

Then I realized that they were ignorant. It was my job to educate them. They believe all the stories of child molestation, maladjusted people and butterflies in heat. I mean look at Dad. He's spent the last twenty years of his life in the jungles with armed men planning a revolution to overthrow a government that nobody seems to give a damn about.

And Mami, switching between Catholicism and Santería. Whichever gave her the quickest results. It was like the religion food court at a shopping mall. I'll have a Bible and fries with a Changó shake.

As usual, Abuela was the voice of reason.

"What's the big deal? That's probably why the boy moved so far away to California. So that he could do whatever he wanted to. And if you keep asking stupid questions he's going to move to the moon."

When I spoke to her in private she told me, "We left a country that persecuted anyone who didn't fit into their mold. We came to a country where everyone is free to be whoever they want. Just because you want to be something I don't want you to be, doesn't mean you can't be it. Your mother lived her life like she wanted to. I put her in the best boarding schools in Havana and she managed to run away from all of them. I introduced her to the cream of the crop of Camagüey society and she still ended up marrying your father. That's not the life I planned for her but she lived it anyway. So you're not going to give her grandchildren. You'll give her other pleasures."

Dad didn't speak to me for three days. I guess he was digesting the information. When he finally spoke he asked me if I wanted to go to a psychiatrist or go for hormone shots.

"Dad it is neither a physical nor a psychological problem."

"Fine! If you want to stay sick, then stay sick."

I tried another tactic. I told him of the thriving gay life that existed in Havana in pre- Castro days. It was the Castro regime that invented concentration camps to put all the gays in. Is he in agreement with Castro?

That one seemed to do the trick.

"If that man is against it, then I'm for it."

And typical of a Catholic household, not another word was said.

I had gotten all my information about gay Cuba in the fifties from Miasma. She was this Cuban-Chinese female impersonator who sang with his own voice. She worked the entire circuit back in Cuba. Even the Tropicana. Now she owned this dinky little bar in Miami Beach called The Harlequin. Now Miami Beach has always been known as God's waiting room because of all the retirees. Now the wait has been shortened. It seems that after the Mariel boatlift all the unclaimed refugees have been put up in the same fleabag hotels. Needless to say, this place is like a Western ghost town. You either get killed by one of the junkies or get beaten with a cane by an irate senior citizen. Most people avoid Miami Beach like a plague. I guess it was the perfect place for this clandestine, little gay bar.

It catered mainly to a Latin crowd. Mostly gays that had been kicked out of Cuba in the boatlift. See when President Carter said that all who wanted to come could, Castro decided to get rid of all the undesirables. A lot of people faked being gay just to get out. These guys didn't feel comfortable with the open gay liberation of Ft. Lauderdale.

I was his opening act…dancing in little Lycra shorts and suspenders to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" or "Beat It." One guest came up to me and stuffed a bill into my shorts. He tried to rummage about a bit to see what he could feel. I took the bill and threw it back at him. It was a hundred. I don't care. I'm an artist not a stripper!

Romero and I were pretty much over. He was steadily seeing Rumba now. Once in a while, after the show, he'd get in the car with me, but basically it was over.

Now for something mind-blowing. Did I mention Lily to you before? How I paint her nipples white every night 'cause she doesn't want them to be seen through the white Lycra top that she wears in the ballet sequence? Well she tells me the other day that she knows that I'm gay but she would still want to date me. And I actually thought about it.

She's gorgeous. Almond shaped brown eyes and this toned, dancer's body. That's probably what attracted me the most. See I've always had a problem with breasts. They just move around too much. I like the firmness of a man's chest. But Lily's breasts were firm. They didn't jiggle like gelatin.

I really thought about it. And I thought about Abuela's comment about Mami wanting grandchildren. I mean she already had Juanchi. But I did like her. I really considered it. Then Eric came to mind. What happens if?...if I'm in a relationship, I'm faithful. So what happens when that part of me that needs to be with a man decides to work its way to the forefront of my libido? Then what? Go to mini-movies with a bag full of quarters? Or join a bathhouse in another town?

The cast party decided all of that for me. I was slow dancing with Lily and actually enjoying the feel of her body. Then all of a sudden they started playing "La Bamba." It was a fifties party. I miscalculated a step and twisted my ankle. But I couldn't allow Lily to see me in pain. I wanted to finish the dance with her. So I did. When the song was over, so was my ankle. I had to be carried away. I figured if this is what a testosterone rush does to me, God knew what She was doing when She made me gay.

A Legend in His Own Mind-22

March, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

I had lunch at TGIF's with Arcadia. She went on and on about her life. It seems she was living with a guy for two years who told her that although he hadn't done it yet, he thought he might be interested in guys. As if that wasn't bad enough he told her that the only reason he was with her is because her body reminded him of a young boy's

What a bastard, right? How could anyone be so cruel? As if she didn't have enough to deal with, he has to put doubts on her womanhood. I really can't believe some people.

She asked me if I was gay and seemed so disappointed when I confirmed it.

I've been helping this Jet girl named Aurora with the choreography. It seems that one of the girls might not be able to do the whole run and she's one of the contenders to replace her in the "Cool" number. She is this really naïve girl from New Mexico. She's of Uruguayan descent and when she speaks Spanish she has the most adorable accent. She has a model's face and body…milky white skin and green eyes; with the most luxurious red hair that you’ve ever seen. I mean we’re talking Breck commercials here.

Arcadia has decided to take her under her wing and show her the facts of life. I can hear the explosion now. Aurora is a little Daddy’s girl and Arcadia’s been sneaking men into her bedroom since the age of twelve. I even caught her and the actor playing Riff having sex in Maria’s bedroom right on stage.

I should’ve warned Aurora but I was too busy in my own soap opera. Besides spending all my time with Romero, I was taking Dainty to all the local gay clubs for lip- synch competitions. He wants to get in as much practice as he can before the big contest. And I do mean big. It seems that there’s this contest called Miss Florida at Large. It’s for drag queens of a more robust nature. You should see the size of these guys...girls. Whatever.

Kevin is now upset at me because I barely have time for him. So he’s decided to date one of the Jet girls. I guess bisexuality runs rampant in the state of Florida. In the meantime, I am completely ga-ga over Hector. He’s another Shark. He is also my dream guy. I mean Romero is great sex but he is only eighteen and how can I possibly relate to him on an intellectual level? For the healthy long-term relationship that I’m looking for, you need intellectual stimulation. Besides, Romero keeps insisting that he’s straight. He even made a move for my cousin Rumba the other day.

Hector is twenty-six and a flight attendant. These chiseled French features on caramel colored skin. And what a voice! This deep, rich baritone. That man could serenade me for the rest of my life. Of course, he’s not interested. He’s dating Conrad, the rehearsal pianist. Now I don’t want to sound superficial but Conrad is a toad. A fat-bottomed chubby white boy. What does Hector see in him? As Dainty would say, “I am Bittah!”

I told Rumba I have no problem if she went out with Romero. I realize I’m just an experiment with him. He’s a horny kid who can’t get enough and I happen to be available. He’s not really very passionate with me. Energetic, yes, but passionate in a loving way? No! I thought maybe it was his youth but I’m starting to think the he really is not into men. Then why is he with me? I don’t know. I see no future in this.

I keep flaunting myself more and more at Hector, much to Kevin’s chagrin who has now decided to flirt with Arcadia. He seems to think, in his bisexual mind, that Arcadia and I have something going on. I’m sure Arcadia has done nothing to dissuade him from this idea.

I like Kevin but I’ve got to tell you something. After you’ve been with a Latino you just can’t get used to anything else. See! I am in touch with my roots; even if it is by injection. Kevin seems to have taken all of this in stride. We were never serious about each other. It was just a run of the show affair that ran out of steam after dress rehearsal.

I asked Hector if he wanted to go see Dainty perform. I was so excited! He said yes. I had to pick up Dainty. Problem is he doesn’t want his sister to know he does drag so he made me park my car under the balcony and open the trunk. It was a shower of wigs, heels and accessories that fell into my car.

We drove to this club called “On the Waterfront.” It has nothing to do with the Brando movie. It overlooks the Miami River and it is a nightmare. Everything you can possibly imagine about the netherworld of gays is stuffed into this place. Drag queens roaming the parking lot screaming hips, lips or fingertips. Under age kids stoned on Special K and coke. The chicken hawks supplying it to them in the hopes that the drugs would imbue their features with some sort of attractiveness. Big, burly diesel women dressed in flannel shirts and men’s pants elbowing each other when a good-looking woman passes by. Calling them chicks like those disgusting guys on the porch of our building. Now I was scared for Hector to come. What will he think of me?

I need not have worried. He was distracted. He arrived with Conrad. I should’ve specified alone but I didn’t want to be tactless. White boy couldn’t even dance. This was my chance. I decided to cut in while they were playing Celi Bee’s “Superman.” Once he saw me dance I would have him hooked. Just as I started to gyrate they stopped the music to announce the start of the show. Dainty interrupts me yet again.

Renatta Skatta Fitzgerald comes over to me. When her name was Scott he was the quarterback for the local university football team and is still the son of the police commissioner. Boobs out to here and so much collagen in his face he looks like Bugs Bunny. She came over to tell me that my woman wanted me. I assumed he meant Dainty. What had that obnoxious drag queen done now?

He couldn’t find the tape of the song and wanted me to see if he left it in my car.

“Like you left your fake tits in my mother’s bathroom?”

“Miss Thing, that was an accident!”

“My mother came running in with your tit in her hand asking me what that was. I told her they were your falsies”

“You are the world’s most evil cunt. How can I face your mother after that.”

“Be more aware of where you leave your tits. And what did Renatta mean by your woman?”

“Oh don’t break a nail! You like being a butch queen so I told everyone you were my sugar daddy. All of the girls have one and I felt just so left out.”

He, of course, won the contest. Hector left right after with Conrad. I felt flushed at the whole scene so I went to the bathroom to put water on my face. There I saw Arcadia. Did I go into the wrong bathroom? No. There were urinals in this one. Actually Arcadia was standing in front of one.

“I’ve decided that I have rotten luck with men and I have so much in common with lesbians that I have to become one.”

Arcadia people don’t become lesbians. You either are or you’re not. Are you even attracted to women?”

“That’s not the point. I’ve read everything that Rita Mae Brown has written.”

“So why are you in the men’s room?”

“I have to practice pissing standing up.”