"I'm bisexual" said Ray.
"We'll have none o' that filth 'round here!"
"I'm bisexual" said Ray.
"We'll have none o' that filth 'round here!"
Dear Jane, Part Nine:
The Show Must Go On...
by Jonathan Furst
Ray, a journalist, is covering the Queer Central performance art benefit with his date, Erika...
Erika, almost over Jane, is feeling uncomfortably het with a male date at a queer show...
Barbara, janitor by night, poet by day, won't be reading at the benefit until after this episode is over...
Jane, meanwhile, is probably lurking about offstage somewhere enjoying the singing nuns...
Valerie, Ray's dyke editor and Vic's former lover, is off gloating about playing matchmaker...
Vic, the hunky security guard, is volunteering with the benefit...
"Take it now, queer boy!"
Ray opened his eyes around a pair of size 12 Doc Martens Face Stompers. A grizzled mouth raged perilously close, and Ray realized he lay flat out on the wooden stage, surrounded by a dangerous combination of laughing monosexuals, aging sound equipment, and spilled beer.
"Take it now, straight boy!"
Ian McMacMannus, lead singer of Fag Haggis, raised the hem of his kilt to reveal a gigantic dildo, ominously wrapped in blue ribbon. Ray knew he should say something brilliant now. But all he could manage were three words:
"This is art?"
The evening had started out unpretentiously enough. A quick dinner with Erika, a quick pounce on the couch, an even quicker shower, and then out into the chill night.
"So how did Valerie take it when she heard your date for the Queer Central event was a girl?" Erika asked as they boarded the uptown bus.
"She really surprised me. Didn't seem to faze her at all."
"So did you invite me just to see how cool your boss was?"
"I invited you because you love performance art. And because you're the hottest date in town."
That wasn't strictly true. Ray still hadn't told Erika about last night with Vic. Sure, Erika was sexy, and even willing to accommodate some of Ray's more adventurous preferences. But Vic was downright enthusiastic. And thinking about what he'd done with that eggplant --
"Wake up, lover. Java Sutra, next stop."
It was a short run from bus to coffeeteria, but they got no further. A long line stood outside and Ray, jacketless, shivered in the cold. "I'll get you warm," Erika said, as she reached deep into Ray's front pocket. Ray smiled, but Erika pulled her hand out, now holding his two free tickets.
"Reserved seats. Press pass. Hot soup, coming through," Erika shouted. She waved the tickets furiously above her head. Amazingly, people in line made way. They walked right past the box office, down the stairs and into the warmth.
"I can't believe that worked," Ray said, awed by her audacity.
"Neither can I," said a menacing voice. Suddenly, Ray and Erika found themselves pinned to the wall by a pair of enormous hands. "What the hell kind of stunt was that?"
"The kind that works. Hi, Vic!" Erika said.
The burly security guard/stage manager shook his head. "Erika," he laughed, "I knew you two would make a scene. But at least I thought you'd wait 'til you were inside."
Ray looked from Vic to Erika and back in shock. If Erika had told Vic she was coming with Ray tonight, had Vic told Erika how he had made Ray come last night? This was getting too complicated.
"Vic, we need to talk."
"We sure do, gorgeous. One of the acts needs a ringer, and you're the perfect volunteer."
Anything to get out of this mess. Ray bowed his head. "You got me, officer."
"Don't worry, Erika. I won't punish him too hard," Vic grinned. Erika waved as Vic herded him backstage. Ray smiled in relief, but Vic stared seriously. "Now here's what I need you to do... "
The downstairs lounge was smoky and dense, like no legitimate San Francisco coffee shop since the anti-smoking laws. But Java Sutra still operated without a license. Some said it was because Mayor Brown was a silent partner; others argued that it was because he couldn't rezone the unstable property into yuppie high-rises.
A tiny wooden stage, hoisted high on stolen milk crates, shimmied out of the dusky downstairs corner as Fag Haggis' all-Scots rhythm section bomped and blatted at the densely packed, high-nicotine audience. Mack and Alyce McMacMannus traded blasts against the patriarchy between bagpipe and tin-whistle riffs, while sister Clara McMacMannus' subsonic backbeat churned the visible air.
As their hymn to the glories of singer-actress "Amazing Grace" Jones reached its climax, lead ranter Ian emerged from the slam-jigging mosh pit, grabbed the microphone and announced that their bassist would finally expose America's moral center. Clara goose-stepped to the front of the stage, traded her axe for a chainsaw, and proceeded to hack apart a bulging effigy of Bill Clinton.
Shredded waffles spewed out across the audience. A man in a blue dress cried out for more maple syrup, another demanded eye of Newt, but both were drowned out by a chorus of drag-nuns singing "Jesus Christ, Kenneth Starr." Then Vic, splendid in an "I'm too sexy for the HRC" T-shirt, stepped from behind the curtains and tried to restore order.
Erika hooted from the safety of reserved seating. She felt a tap on her shoulder and looked up to see Ray scootching in beside her. "Hope I didn't get you in too much trouble."
"We'll see," Ray shouted. The Scottish art-rock combo started up again, and she could barely hear him over the highland horns. "I need you to kiss me."
"What?" she asked.
Ray leaned forward and slid his mouth over Erika's. She hesitated. Kissing Ray in the middle of the gay event just felt wrong. Intrusive. And a little like kissing your girlfriend at an NRA fundraiser. Hmmm, there's a thought. Erika jumped into Ray's lap and enjoyed the transgression.
Wailing bagpipes split the air, then silence. Erika and Ray continued passionately, but a hot brightness interrupted. They opened their eyes to a white, angry spotlight. A voice from the loudspeaker cleared its throat.
"Oy there, laddie," Ian McMacMannus said in an over-the-top Scots accent, "whot's a straight boy like you dooin' here?"
"It's okay," Ray said, looking up. "I'm bisexual."
McMacMannus pointed back like an angry god, forehead veins bulging. "We'll have none o' that filth 'round here." The audience laughed.
"No, really," Erika said, "I'm bi, too." More laughter from the crowd.
"Sounds like forced conversion to me," the singer-activist said. "By kissin' the lassie, ye've revoked yer rights to pass in queer society."
"I've got every right to be here. In fact, I'm queerer than you are," Ray said.
"Prove it, big boy." With a dramatic sweep of the kilt, Ian revealed a Jeff Stryker strap-on adorned with a blue ribbon.
"He who can take all of Excalibur here is right-born Queen of Scotland!"
Ray leaped to the challenge, but landed on a beer bottle mid-stride. He sprawled on the stage, stunned.
That wasn't in the script, Ray thought, as Ian covered by planting a foot squarely on his head. Ian posed in victory and the crowd cheered.
By now, Ray was supposed to have ripped the dildo from its sheath and begun treating the entire McMacMannus clan to a simulated bisexual schtupp-fest. Instead, Ian was improvising incoherently, and spilled beer oozed dangerously close to the frayed electrical wires of an ancient amplifier.
It was times like this that Ray realized why he'd gone into journalism instead of theatre. He was no good at improv. And -- ouch -- had he slipped a disk?
Ray vowed never to laugh at another performance artist again, if only someone would get him out of this alive.
Jonathan Furst is a licensed minister, DJ, and part-time performance artist. To book Jonathan for your next wedding, orgy, or children's show, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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