Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Influence

The time when I really lived for drugs was Boston, in Boston it was hard to find anything that could possibly mean anything to me. Except for clubs, which had always meant something but nothing. There was one club I went to every week, even before I moved to Boston, when I was still living in Providence, Paradise on Thursdays, the first club I ever went to where the dance floor was so clearly segregated: black fags in the front, white in the back, one little area where the dancing freaks congregated and we were more mixed and you’re probably wondering where everyone else went who wasn’t black or white or a dancing freak but in Boston it was black or white and I always went right to that one place in the back with the dancing freaks, in every club there was that one place and once I found it there was nowhere else. It took me a while to realize that, on this particular night at least, it was the black queens who owned the club, I mean they were in the front, remember? Everyone else had to back off. Once I went there on Christmas, and instead of that tiny place packed tight with everyone and everyone’s sweat it was just 10 or 15 black queens and me, really queens this time none of the usual straight-acting cruising types it was just a bunch of queens on the dance floor, we worked it out in the middle.

But oh the music, the music, that’s what it was all about. I mean, pretty much everywhere in Boston was segregated, especially gay Boston -- by gender, by race, by class aspirations, but some of those dance floors were the best I’ve ever been to, I mean the music, the builds, the jumps at Paradise with that one guy, who was that guy oh how I loved his jumps and that song with the child’s piano, that first child’s piano for me maybe I could be that child in the sky. Paradise was the one club in Boston where I never did drugs because the music was so good, that music and the one little area with the rest of the dancing freaks, crowded in the back by the DJ booth but there was so much space. Thursdays like Fusion, the club back in San Francisco with those shaking glass floors, I remember the time when I was dancing but something was wrong, I needed a bump to take it to the next level to really dance and that’s when I realized I needed to stop doing crystal, maybe that was one reason for Paradise without drugs, even if Boston was when drugs became everything, for a little while that felt like a lifetime the way lifetimes are collections of lifetimes and sometimes we can’t get in or out of each one, that’s when we’re trapped.

When Andee visited me in Boston and suddenly we became close, close in the way that might mean forever, one of the things he said was: you have to take responsibility for your influence. In Boston, I was kind of an anomaly, at least in the worlds where I circulated, which were gay worlds mostly, maybe one of the few times when my worlds were gay not queer I mean I was trying to make them queer but this was Boston, these were gay clubs, there were limitations. One of my favorite parts was after the clubs closed and when we didn’t want to hold the after-after-hours at our house anymore I mean I didn’t because one time someone got a hold of crystal and it’s a totally different world being around a bunch of vacuous queens on acid and ecstasy and special K, maybe a little bit of coke or pot or pills but when crystal showed up I went into my room and locked the door.

So then after that, when the after-hours club would close our little family of club queens really a family a kind of felt like a family at least with the drugs and we would get in my car and drive back and forth over the Mass Ave bridge and I would always be way higher than everyone else because I was always trying not to do ecstasy so when I finally did it it was later, in the middle of the after-hours club instead of at the beginning, that’s why the after-after-hours came to our house at first, because I was so high I’d say come on, come over our house, everyone, and then we’d have a caravan of queens crowded into cars and driving through neighborhoods they were scared of, they couldn’t believe we had such a nice place. But then after that was over, no more after-hours over that house and Gabby and I were fighting with our roommates, the ones who got up at 6 am instead of going to bed then, and we’d drive over the Mass Ave bridge as the sun was rising and then when we got to the end I’d say please, please can we drive over again, because someone else was driving, I didn’t want to drive when I was high but I would give my keys to anyone really, it’s easier to drive with someone who’s high, as long as you’re higher than they are, that’s the key, just enjoy the ride.

This was the Volvo, remember the Volvo? When we were kids, my sister and I had gnawed away at the armrest on the side, it was this weird squishy material that you could pull apart. This other queen we lived with, Gabby and I, I mean we didn’t really live with her until she slept with Gabby and then she just moved in and stole things from everyone: T-shirts, drugs, money. She had a Volvo too, but hers was fancier or that’s the way she made it sound, I mean she wanted it to be fancy and I wanted mine to be invisible so sure, she could take fancy. We called her Champagne because she was so snotty, but she didn’t even realize it was a joke. She would talk about all her gowns-- Versace, Armani, Gaultier-- but no one ever saw any of these gowns, supposedly her father had taken them away. She called herself the mother of the house, but let me tell you she was no mother. It’s true that her Volvo was one model up in the totem pole, and mine was ancient at this point, but really they weren’t that different -- we all know about liberals and Swedish cars, how safe, how safe until it broke down like that other Swedish car now trapped across the country, it broke down just like the rest of us. I was never very good at taking care of cars.

Oh, but responsibility, and influence. Andee meant this little world of queens around me in Boston, maybe I’d inspired them to kind of not care about everyone who wanted to kill us, I mean about what they thought, those people who wanted to kill us. But they still cared and so that made them kind of believe a bit too much in the drugs because they were trying not to care and drugs help with that too, but it wasn’t the same thing as a critical distance, it was just distance. Or, with Gabby, when I met her she was this red ribbon fag who worked at the gay bookstore, and then within a month or two she became a tranny hooker clubkid, and it’s not like I ever said honey, I think it would be great for you to become a tranny hooker clubkid because really I wasn’t that into clubkids and sure I was a hooker but it was never something I recommended. But there’s the way people see something about you and they think it’s what makes you, for me that was really my politics, it’s my politics that helped me to exist in my own world but my politics were harder to understand than dressing up and going out and turning it out, that was mostly my influence although no, it was also about disregarding the morality imposed upon us, especially the layers of hypocrisy in gay Boston, where people would make jokes about all those trashy hookers on the block, but then you were working the block and wait, who’s that over there?

So that’s what I mean about not caring -- you can’t care about bitches like that or your life is over. But then these other queens, the ones who weren’t exactly queens before they met me and sure, I might have given them a bit of a boost in that direction. But if I wanted to encourage people to claim their own autonomy, then how could I take responsibility? It’s a question I’m still thinking about, 15 years later.

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