Friday, July 23, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-27

October, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

Time rolled on and this crazy scenario with this rather odd theatre family has come to a rather tumultuous finale.

Buffo invited me to a penthouse to discuss the choreography for the following show. It was still six months away but he said he liked to plan ahead.

He told me he was housesitting a penthouse overlooking Biscayne Bay for a friend that had just been deported. He didn't want to meet me at his house because Arpeggia disapproved of "American" music. He didn't want her negative influences disturbing us. He asked me not to tell anyone about this penthouse because it was the perfect party place and then everyone would want to go there.

When I get there he tells me that he just came from an interview with some producers who are developing a sitcom a la "¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A?" and they want him for the starring role.

Remember when we were in high school, “¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?” was the big bi-lingual hit on PBS about the Cuban-American family in Miami? Remember it made a star out of Steven Bauer?

So he says to me, "As a matter of fact, there's a part of the young Anglicized son that would be perfect for you. I'm going to suggest you for it but first I need some information."

"I can bring a picture and resumé to the theatre tomorrow," I said all excited.

He said "No, no. I have all that. It's for the costumer. They would need your measurements."

I told him I didn't know them off hand and he said, "No problem."

He dashes into the bedroom and comes out with a tape measure. He then proceeds to measure me. Then he keeps insisting that I take off my shirt.

You know that I don't do that. If I had your muscular build I wouldn't mind, but with my little boy chest there is just no way. I think the only way I managed in "Queen's Reich" is 'cause the dancing took my mind off my slim build.

He kept insisting. He said that he couldn't believe that I, who was always bitching about the heat in Miami, could be in this hothouse.

I politely refused.

He stripped…down to a black and white striped bikini brief with his pot belly hanging over the crotch. Now you've got to picture this scene. I'm sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table with the costume designs for the dance numbers and he's perched up on the couch, knees tucked under his butt, pot belly and pelvis thrust out in the forefront looking at me with beads of sweat rolling out of his orange Afro. It was like a porno starring Ronald McDonald.

I discussed the songs that I wanted and he discussed the costumes. All of a sudden he leaps from the couch, puts his hands on the coffee table and stares me right in the eyes.

"I never noticed your contact lenses. They're huge!" he says to me.

I explained to him that I have a flat cornea so I need these special spherical lenses that make up for the curvature that my eye doesn't have. That's why you can see the rim of them around my irises.

He told me to take the sketches home and work on some ideas.

Next day, Bambi is in my dressing room ready for a dramatic denouement.

"I thought you were my friend!" she says all teary eyed.

I told her, "I am your friend."

"Friends don't keep secrets from each other. Why didn't you tell me you went to Daddy's penthouse last night?"

I told her that he asked me not to tell anyone 'cause it's not his.

"It's his! He bought it as his escape from Mom."

I was shocked. I told her that I don't betray confidences. "He said not to tell anyone and I didn't"

"I'm not just anyone," she says very defensively

I told her that he didn't specify, but she wanted to know what happened.

So I told her we discussed the dance numbers for the next show.


"And when I finished discussing them I left."

"Look, I don't mean to pry, but I love my Daddy and I want him to be comfortable. I know how he is about his things. Tell me, was there a TV set in his bedroom?"

I thought that was an odd question but I told her that I didn't know 'cause I never went to his bedroom.

"Well, Fausto's been to his bedroom."

Now I'm getting upset. I told her to ask Fausto about the TV. I didn't know.

This was getting very strange. What was she trying to find out? If I slept with her father? Please, I would turn straight first. Did he call me up there for a big seduction scene? If he did, I must have missed it. Did he try that on Fausto? ‘Cause he told me he was straight. Bambi even accused him of the possibility of having gotten her pregnant. Now he’s giving another meaning to “Dancing the Worm.” I didn't know what was going on.

Then at the end of the day, when Arpeggia was handing out the paychecks, she thanks me for reminding Buffo about his interview with Ibis.

"He used to have me to do those things for him but I'm glad he's found you."

Now I know my Spanish is pathetic and l lose a lot of things in the translation, but I think she's broadcasting this loud and clear. And I still don't know what she's talking about. Ibis has a talk show on a local cable station and Buffo invited me to go with him to publicize the show. Then he asked me to call him and remind him.

I don't know anything. Except the facts. Buffo announced that he was changing shows in two weeks. He told me that my choreography would be used for the big extravaganza that he’s planning after he comes back from having his eyes done. Then he handed out the scripts. Sugar had a solo belly dancing number. Fausto and Candy were doing a break dancing number with a kid in a gorilla suit. And where was the lead dancer and choreographer? Acting, in Spanish, in one of his skits playing the Indian Rubber Man in a blue uni-tard and a dragon mask.

All of a sudden I felt like Neely O'Hara in "Valley of the Dolls." When Helen Lawson cuts all her songs. I have a run of the show contract and until then I will be in this show in whatever capacity. I just told Pablo to strike my name from the program as choreographer. I really had nothing to do with those numbers.

A Legend in His Own Mind-26

September, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

The vanished wanted daughter is invisible no more. Bambi has made an appearance. And she has decided that she wants me. Regardless of my orientation. It seems that she's basically a lesbian but says that I am the perfect combination of masculinity and femininity. I have both territories covered. I never knew I was Prince.

Anyway, she’s been stuck to me like white on rice. She even joined my aerobics classes. My students have dubbed her Miss Piggy. Let me tell you, the moniker fits.

She calls me every night to scold me for not looking at her in class. She says I individually point out the faults of every other student except hers. The truth is I can't look at her without breaking into spasmodic laughter. When my glance happens to meet hers, she starts picking up her blonde hair, whiting out her eyes and rolling her tongue in little oval strokes around her puckered lips. It's like Little Orphan Annie does Dallas.

So she calls me in the middle of the night to announce that she's holding a bottle of Seconal in her hand and that it's looking pretty good to her.

She's driving me crazy. Thank God Pablo is there to calm me down. Pablo is the theatre manager. He came from the Mariel boatlift and barely speaks English. With my lousy Spanish you can imagine our conversations. But we find other ways to communicate.

It seems that he was in his last year of veterinary school at the University of Havana when the government found out he was gay and kicked him out. His career shattered and his life in ruins, he decided to join the mass exodus.

He's made his interest known to me and I can't say that I don't reciprocate. He has jet-black wavy hair and ebony eyes that just pierce your soul. Of course, Coca-Cola colored skin. He's sweet and tender and makes me laugh, even though I usually don't understand the jokes.

We actually made love on stage one night. After everybody had left, he turned on the blue gels, took me up on stage and said that while I am dancing up here, he would fantasize that he could take me in his arms and move with me that way. We tango-ed our way into total ecstasy.

The problem is that he's too ashamed of being gay. I really can't identify with that. Never went through that "woe is me" phase. And I certainly never lived in a country where you were abused the way he was. I tried to understand his position but I guess my militant heart wasn't into it.

The day he told me that if he could change he would, did it for me. I personally don't think anyone can change their sexuality but hell, if I lived a life of misery like he did I certainly would try to make any kind of adjustment that I could to better my existence. He wouldn't listen to me about gay pride and our gay history. He said he accepted his “weakness” and that was that.

That certainly was that. Although one evening we made love for the entire night and how often does a man like that come along in a lifetime? I still couldn't continue. He was a very honest man and I couldn't lead him on just because he had incredible stamina. He deserved more than what I was willing to give.

Aside from our opposing views on homosexuality, there was also the ghetto-ization. I'm an American of Spanish descent. I am not a Latin American immigrant who grew up over there. I will not spend the rest of my life speaking Spanish and listening to Walter Mercado broadcasts and watching Iris Chacón TV shows.

Don't get me wrong Lázaro, I love salsa music but I'm not ready for Spanish only parties and subtitled films. I mean could you submerge yourself into Irene's French culture all the way?

He did try to warn me that he receives death threats for Bambi practically every day at the theatre. He was worried that one day at a disco, in the middle of the Tango Hustle dip, the bullet that was meant for her would find me instead.

You think this is a good reason to tell her to leave me alone?

She confronted me in the dressing room to ask me if I thought her father was gay. She says she knew that he and her mother were not sleeping together. I didn't know what to say. Didn't she know that story that everybody was telling? And why was she asking me to find out? How was I supposed to find out? Who was I? Closet buster?

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-25

July, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

I think I have had a very strange weekend. I'll let you decide.

Dainty is down in Key West playing in "The Wiz." Of course he's Evilene. Arcadia and I decided to drive down to see him. Romero wanted to go too.

Arcadia's passenger seat has a tendency to fall backwards. So she kept revving the motor so that my head would land on Romero's crotch all the time. Then she kept falling out of her bathing suit. She kept asking one of us to put them back in because she couldn't let go of the steering wheel.

In Key West, I told her she could have the bedroom and Romero and I would sleep on the pullout couch. She suggested it would be cozier to sleep together. Romero of course agreed.

"You two can sleep together if you want. I'll stay out here." I said, directing the "you" at Romero.

Romero caught my message. He may be straight and free the rest of the time but when he's in my company, he's gay and mine.

She tried everything she could to get us over there. She screamed in the middle of the night that she was scared. Came out wrapped up in a sheet saying that she was cold. I suggested she would warm up a lot quicker if she got dressed.

Finally, late at night, after a long while without one of Arcadia's personal appearances, Romero and I started to get a little frisky with each other. At one point when Romero couldn't emit a sound, I heard a whirring noise. I turned in the direction of the bedroom door and saw it opened a crack. I jumped out of bed and walked over there. You're not going to believe this. I found a tiny movie camera lodged between the doorframe and the door pointing up at our bed

I was too shocked to even confront her with it.

I opened up the film holder, exposed the film to the light and put it back. Try developing that at Fotomat tomorrow morning!

August, 1983

Wowee Lázaro,

This is the soap opera of the century. I mean even Susan Lucci would get an Emmy with this one.

I told you about my choreographing job, right? Well it's for this big shot comedian. He's like a Hispanic Milton Berle. Ibis, who introduced me to him, told me the whole scoop.

It seems he's married to this lady who's the lesser-known sibling of a famous singing duo. She's bitter about being relegated to second banana status to her husband.

Arpeggia, the second rate chanteuse, is also up in arms about the fact that her niece is an international singing star while her own daughter is married to a member of Si,Si, Si. I thought it was a Latin Rock group. It's actually C.C.C. The Colombian cocaine cartel.

She's jealous of everyone that comes into the show that might be competition. All other women, for example, or dancers. You see, she only sings in Spanish so anybody who introduces music to the show that she cannot participate in, she resents.

Now it turns out that both Arpeggia and Buffo are gay. Their marriage is pure convenience. Problem is, Arpeggia has her lover, Lambada, who lives with them and passes herself off as the nanny. Buffo has no one so he's always on the prowl. She is really paranoid that his tomcatting might become public and shed some suspicion on their marriage thus trickling down suspicions on her. Very Reaganomics.

It gets better. Neither of her two daughters is biologically his. He only legally adopted them. The first daughter, Bambi, who hasn't been around in years since she turned in two drug dealers and two Miami narcs, is from her first marriage. She's named after a female lover that she had back in Mexico. The second daughter, that she's so desperately trying to groom for stardom, was from a tryst while waiting at a snowed-in airport.

Is this wild or what?

I had a pretty wild surprise myself at The Harlequin. Though not totally unexpected. I told you that I thought something was amiss with my nephew Juanchi? Well something is amiss. He is a miss. He came in full drag calling himself DelMonte De Rivera. He said he named himself after the fruit cocktail.

After the show I had a long talk with him.

"I've always felt this way, uncle. When I had a bad day at school, I'd go home and put on some of Mom's makeup and clothes. It would relax me. Problem was, Mom has no taste. I looked like a Salvation Army drag queen. Then I got that meat market job at Publix. I was the only butcher with black pumps under his apron. I tried to wear red ones so that they would match better with the blood, but the manager wouldn’t let me. I don't think I can walk in flats ever again."

"You don't go to school like that, do you?" I asked him, imagining the look on the nuns' faces at Our Lady of Perpetual Motion.

"I don't go to school."

It seems that my sixteen-year-old nephew had dropped out of school four months ago. Of course his mother has not noticed. She became an evangelist after Richard's death. Remember when Richard died in Vietnam? He had the misfortune of being with a kamikaze prostitute who had plastique inside her vagina. Talk about going out with a bang. Sorry…couldn’t resist.

Lucy spends so much time in church since then that when she kneels down to pray people put coins in her hands expecting her to light up.

So now Juanchi is a drag queen high school dropout. And he's hanging around with a very bad crowd. I guess hanging around Dainty sort of inured me to the realities of the transgendered world. These guys have breast implants and collagen cheeks and silicone butts. Most of them support themselves by either prostitution or drug pushing. Or both.

He hasn't gone that far yet. He's still physically male. But his best friend is Bunny Hutch. She's this top drag artist who has a forty-inch chest and a twelve-inch penis. And doesn't hesitate to show them both off at the same time. She also manages to work as a secretary to a councilman in Miami Springs. She claims no one at city hall knows that she's a man.

I really don't know what to do. My nephew should be in school regardless of his orientation. He's too young to be traipsing around in clubs. But I can't betray a confidence. And my sister is so far gone into her cloistered lifestyle that this could just kick her over the edge of the convent.

A Legend in His Own Mind-24

May, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

I'm so glad to hear that your tenure is finally up. It seems like forever that you've been there. I'm sure it feels the same to you. So Irene is coming stateside with you? That's fantastic! I'm dying to meet her.

Maybe you can come down and see the show that I'm choreographing. It's my first time. I'm no Gene Kelly but I'm enjoying it. I'm working with this mother/daughter combo (Sugar and Candy Cane) and this young break-dancer (Fausto) who specializes in "The Worm." That's this new dance where you throw yourself on the floor face first and start wiggling around up and down. It looks suicidal.

I'm also teaching aerobics part-time at a condominium complex. I still remember all of Ms. Fonda's routines. My ladies have already dubbed me "The Executioner." They got me this T-shirt that says "Stomach In." They said that way I could just point instead of screaming it every two seconds.

The masseuse is constantly offering me a free massage. Well I finally took it. I really never have the time 'cause I'm always running out to rehearsals and besides the idea of being touched all over by a stranger doesn't appeal to me. But Plexus is a fellow employee. He's Brazilian with an olive complexion on an incredibly toned body.

I'm laying there under this towel and he starts rubbing me with this smelly lotion that he says is supposed to relax your muscles. I'm sure it keeps vampires away too. As he's moving around the table, he brushes up against my hand and I could swear that he has an erection. I can't really tell 'cause he wears the tightest shorts and he seems to be extremely well endowed.

He said, "Excuse me!", 'cause he accidentally rubbed his crotch over the back of my hand.

I said, "It's okay!" trying to be polite.

I don't know if it was a language barrier but he took this as acquiescence on my part. He opened up his fly and took it out. I wasn't wrong about the endowment. I don't think I've seen anything that big. But I did not come in here for that. But it was being offered. I didn't want to offend him. I mean, I had to work with him. But that thing was huge. What could I do with it? Throw it over my shoulder and burp it?

Not another day went by that I didn't go in for a massage.

June, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

Hector gave a costume party and I went. With Romero. Yes he's still with my cousin but he told me that he had always had a fantasy about being a harem boy and who better to be his master. My knees were weak when I saw him. The little vest barely closed around his muscular brown chest and revealed his ripped stomach. If the turban hadn't been so big that it made him look like a Q-tip, the outfit would have been perfect.

Arcadia decided to go as Annie Lennox…except she went a little crazy with the hair dye. It streaked her whole scalp. Now it looked like she had been in a major car accident. She was desolate. She was dressed in male attire and had her hair slicked back and had no idea what to go as. All of a sudden she goes into my drawers and takes out a pair of rolled up gym socks.

"I know. I'll go as a transsexual mid way through the operation."

She took off her shirt so that her breasts were exposed and inserted two pairs of socks into her pants. This thing looked like a python. Or my masseuse Plexus.

Dainty, being the diva that she is, went as Agnes of God. Except he decided to drag the baby with him...on his umbilical cord. He painted this little doll all red and tied her to a string that went under his habit. It was the grossest thing you have ever seen.

Conrad was nowhere in sight and I didn't ask. Hector made it very clear that he considered me a kid. Shades of Gary. Besides, tonight I had my little Hispanic harem boy; who made it perfectly clear that he was my slave for the evening and would be forced to do my bidding all night.

I should charge Rumba for the training I'm giving this kid.

Not that Rumba was the inexperienced ingénue she pretended to be. She had been married in Chicago to a drug dealer who used to have orgies in his Dom Perignon filled Jacuzzi. She even lied to Romero about her age. I figured that would be what turned him on the most. The whole older, experienced woman bit. But to each his own. Her secret's safe with me.