Well Hooray for You

Two cultural artifacts from dogpoet’s formative years purchased today:

In 1991 I went alone to a little theater in Sarasota, Florida during college to see Paris is Burning, a documentary about the NYC “Ball” Circuit in the late 80’s, and was forever changed. A hilarious, painful and moving film featuring members of the House of Ninja (catch Willi on America’s Next Top Model) and the House of LaBeija, among others. Upcoming children share screen time with the legendary Dorian Corey holding counsel in her dressing room, and Venus Xtravaganza reading queens on the Christopher Street Piers (before they were covered in astroturf). Featuring live footage of the performers “walking” in various contests, like “Opulence” and “Banji: The Boy Who Robbed You a Few Minutes Before You Arrived at the Ball”. Also features the best use of the disco hit “To Be Real.” Fourteen years was a long time to wait.

The previous summer, after my first year of college, I returned home to Minneapolis and got sober (version 1.0) and became buddies with Al, who introduced me to Sandra Bernhard’s Without You I’m Nothing. We spent that entire summer drinking too much iced coffee at Cafe Wyrd and driving around town listening to the live show on, yes, cassette tape. Our summer’s refrain was “Why Not?!?” which led to various catastrophes with boys at the Saloon and the Gay 90’s. To this day I could recite the entire show from memory, and have encountered, along the way, several friends with the same gift (like Rob, who -sniff- left New York last week with Ted for California). Unlike the cassette, which was recorded at a live show before a rapt audience, the movie version takes place in a seedy cabaret, with a rather bored and hostile crowd, lending the show a certain poignancy. Or maybe that’s my own projection. At the end of that summer Al returned to Phoenix, and to heroin, and I miss my partner in crime. Oh Liza, what does become a legend most? You, lady, yooooooou!

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