Actually, it was anything but; I just like the play on words, hence the title.
Caroline celebrated her birthday this Saturday, and I was invited to her shindig by her friend Napoleon (yes, that’s his real name – and yes, he’s Black). I thought it was going to be a nice, somewhat quiet evening spent amongst friends. Perhaps there would be some wine, perhaps there might be a little bit of dancing. My first indication that I had perceived the whole affair wrongly should have come from the moment I received the e-vite:
Don’t be a DRAG! Come and celebrate the “Queen” C!
The words virtually yelled from the cobalt blue background. I should have made the connection between drag and queen, but I gave it no other thought, helped my husband tuck the children in bed and drove off to Tijuana Garage at 9 pm.
That should have been my second indication that this whole evening was not going to go the way I had imagined. Any place with the adjectives “Tijuana” and “Garage” hardly denote “quite”, “classy” and “peaceful”. Placed together, they only denote margaritas, tequila and regret. Tequila always leads to regret.
I met up with Caroline and her merry band of revelers, who were already in great spirits (literally and liquidly) when I arrived at the bar. Napoleon ousted a few patrons with his series of screams of “whoooooooooooooooooo!!!!” when the hostess finally seated us at our table. Our waitress was a sweet mousy girl named Kristin/Christine/Kris who dropped any number of plates and glasses on the ground in the time we were there. I’m sure the manager would like to fire her, or at least dock her pay for all the server ware that she’s undoubtedly shattered over her tenure, but she’s so mousy and cute that you can’t help but forgive her, tweak her nose and tell her to be more careful in the future.
A lot happened between the pitchers of margaritas and shots of Patron that kept coming to our table that I hardly recall. I do remember Caroline looking at me and reiterating with a grin that she could not believe I came to her birthday. (There’s that pesky being a Christian thing to contend with, you understand.)
“Of course I did!” I screamed over the music. I love my friend, and was happy to be around her band of her very inebriated, very gay friends if that made her happy.
Suddenly, the lights got redder, the music got lower and a twenty something brown skinned man with glasses and a lisp introduced himself as the host of the evening’s festivities. Between the stream of “b*tches”, “mutha f-kers” and “f-kers”, I translated that there was to be a drag show. He introduced the prostitutes (as he called them) by name.
The first one that came out was a queen, and I mean a true QUEEN. I am 99.99% certain that underneath that skin tight dress, he had a body shaper to give him the appearance of an hour glass physique. Her (and from now own we will refer to the performers in the feminine – it’s just easier that way) hair was HUGE. Her eyelashes were HUGER. Her lips were HUGEST! Like I said, I was not ready, so I can’t recall what song she was miming to. We clapped enthusiastically when her performance was done. We were all meant to tip the performers by putting dollar bills in their bosoms. Hey, when was the next time I was going to get to see a man in drag up close? I’d play along. Napoleon (or Napo-Leon as he referred to himself) got us change for our large bills so that we could reward the prostitutes for their work.
After the buxom one left the stage, the host introduced Brent Star a.k.a Grey Skull. Mr. Star (he was a man in a dress, not in drag) came rushing out to the ‘stage’ with a velvet cape over his head, performing the 1995 pop culture smash No More I Love Yous. I tried SO hard not to lose it, but when the first snicker erupted from our table amongst the stunned silence from the entire audience, I cackled until I was hoarse. Suddenly, Brent Star took off in “flight” flapping his cape like a giant brown condor, his white face paint shimmering in the red restaurant lights. A few people gave him a couple of dollars. I held tightly to mine.
Next, the host excitedly informed us that this next act was the headliner! She was a star! She had performed at Whatever Really Impressive Drag Extravaganza and won top prize! He directed us to show our love for Nyesha!
Nyesha intro’d to At night I think of you and was wearing a red wig, a black unitard and 6 inch heels (no platform). There was so-much-make up! I was waiting to see what was so extraordinary about her, when my thoughts were interrupted by her whizzing at top speed across the stage and ending that run in a full split. The audience erupted into frenzied, manic applause. With another rapid fire round of dance tricks, her set ended, leaving us mesmerized…until the dude that looked like Twisted Sister came out in black shredded leather leotards and hip high boots and confused us all. The show came in waves and ebbs of the bizzare, the impressive and the confusing. For a first timer like me, it was a little bit much to take.
There was an audience participation portion of the show, which involved dancing and all men having to take off their shirts while dancing, and declaring their sexuality and availability. Nyesha was playing “Vanna White” and you could easily see the disappointment in her eyes when every male participant was either “gay and taken” or just plain ol’ “straight”.
The show ended when each performer had done 2 or 3 numbers each, with Brent Star leaving his final imprint with a rousing version of Supaman Dat Ho. And yes…yes he was wearing a belly baring Superman shirt and red booty shorts.
I spoke to Nyesha after the show was over, who implored us to come see her at The Jungle on Cheshire Bridge this Friday to cheer for her.
“All the tips will be going towards a good cause,” she drawled, a single tear sliding down her cheek. I saw him again (now that he was in street clothes and sneakers) making the rounds with the patrons.
“Dude!” I screeched incredulously. “Like, what are you by day? An account manager? Inside sales??”
“No,” he replied. “I work at UPS during the week and at Lowes on the weekend.”
“You’re so handsome!” Caroline interjected.
And then I looked around. All these guys, both the performers and the attendees, were very handsome men – just regular men. They work construction and courier jobs. The one with the huge lipstick stain on his bald head who was lecherously running his tongue against his teeth at Twisted Sister looked like he could have been a foreman at a power plant. I was amazed.
You just never know. Your mail carrier could be delivering your packages by day, and tucking away his package into a dress later that night.