Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Party for Mardi Gras Grouches.

Febuary/March has rolled upon us again, a time of year I feel lonesome and alienated for it's the weekend of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and I'm reminded what a nobody, ugly old failure I've grown into when confronted by the tidal wave of manicured and waxed youth in their expensive designer gear, all gung-ho for a system that had perennially disowned them. I was one of the original '78ers who started the whole shebang by marching down the golden mile of Oxford street and getting the shit kicked out of me by the reactionary cops at Taylor Square but now I feel there's no space for me, even at the head of the parade with the other ancient '78ers, for there's a ruling 'gay' headspace that I don't fully identify with and, being terribly twisted from a lifetime of predjudice, I can't find much to celebrate.

(I'm impressed by Gore Vidal's line, "there's no such thing as a homosexual, only homosexual acts". I resent being reduced to a "thing" based on my sexual preferences, I'm much more than that, I'm an artist, adventurer, atheist, travellor, a contemplator of science, history, politics and philosophy, a nurse, a pagan and a free-thinker to name a few! Yet I understand the oppression same-sex acts have endured thru-out history and I've always fought against it. I guess I'm resigned to the inescapable fact of being labelled "gay".)

Not that I would want the parade cancelled, it's fun for those who like an outrageous party and it does keep 'queerness' shining gaily in the public eye, but for the jaundiced, the jaded and the just plain fucked over it's somewhat of a trial to make it thru the whole month of activities as we're reminded of how it's all passed us irrevocably by, and we envy those fuckers who are making lots of money out of it. If I'd known what a money-spinner, cudos grabber and grandstand for careerist-queens it would become I honestly would never have marched all those decades ago. For the first few years it was an open cultural festival wherein any gay artist could get a showing, now you have to be a famous whore to get a look in. Even watching from the crowd is a terror, like when I spent hours trying to save my space by the curb only to have a scraggy bitch push me out of the way and when I complained she set her brutish boyfriend upon me who hissed, "fuck off fag!" into my hairy ears.

So it was with great relief that I was invited to a dinner-party by fellow disgruntled fags and I didn't have to wander the edge of the crowd lost and lonely, peering into strange heterosexual faces and getting my crotch sniffed by nazi police dogs. Charles Gropin decided to have an appocolyptic soiree of queer deadbeats at his Bohemian pad in Kings Cross, for it felt like the end of the world and his apartment looked suitably like a fall-out shelter after the Bomb had dropped. The other dispossessed guests were Peter Pumpkin, the talented young composer and violinist, Ayesha the bedraggled two-headed drag(on) lady, Nadine Sardine, a trannie as thin as a fish straight out of the can and just as depressed, and Allison, the one real woman, terminally ill, who seemed sadly bemused thru.out the night by the hysterical antics of us 'boys'. The set-up was the making of a riotious 'gay' farce, to be staged at a future Mardis Gras festival, only I wouldn't be able to kiss enough 'gay' arse to get it put on.

I love playing the bitter/twisted po-faced queen, it's a good cover for my inner Mother Theresa saintly self, (thus I dont have the onerous duty of the laying on of healing hands), so get ready for some vinegar-tits vignettes. And yes, I realise I'm only reinforcing the stereotypes and antipathies thrown like mud at my 'kind' by writing this tripe, I divest "poof" and "fag" of it's power to hurt if I sling it first, and I'd much rather be a "fairy" than a brute. I like to see it as therapy, getting hairs out of my arse and bravely laughing in the jaws of the BEAST as it cruelly devours me.

(Oh, yeah, I believe in political agitation, same as the Gay and Lesbian Marchers do, and I want equal rights with Hets such as marriage, tho it doesn't seem to give Them much happiness. Compared to other societies, Christian and Muslim fundamentalist for instance, we're in a paradise of freedoms so we should relish it and struggle for gays all around the world. I believe in a World Homosexual Revolution, so my fellow poofs and lezzos = fight on!)

My friend Charles always reminds me of a dissolute, 21st century Oscar Wilde, he writes effete plays and acts in anything he can fit his bum into, including TV ads for erectile dysfunction and enlarged prostate problems. He looks like a dugong with legs and is just as sweet and harmless. He'd slaved all day stewing a veal curry and the kitchen looked like a football stadium toilet after a big match, I had to close my eyes and hope for the best to swallow the brown lumps of meat, such is my esteem for him as I'm usually vegetarian and quite squeamish about sanitary cooking conditions. I arrived hours early, as I always do for every occassion, for I love to witness the preperations, know what I'm in for and catch the hosts with their pants down.

Charles was determined to dress in drag and I had to comment on one frumpy rag after another, all atrocious, no style, as if stolen from the wardrobe of a demented granny pensioner. He finally settled on a sheer white slip that revealed his pudgy tits, black tights stretched over his dumpy arse, a macrame shawl and a tie around his head so that he looked like Thoroughly Stodgy Milly, a tramp vamp from the Roaring 'Naughties. Then Peter Pumpkin showed up and he too decided bad drag was required for our Mardis Gras leftovers salon, quickly stretching over his great lumpen frame what he thought was a Dutch national costume, skirt, blouse and milk-maid cap. Then Ayesha the Drag(on) appeared in her black ratty Madonna cowgirl outfit and I realised the night was shaping up to be a psychedelic Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Sardine arrived breathless and late in a Labour Party apparatchick power-pants-suit and as I was the only one there in actual male drag I felt quite butch, the only real man in the room, and I got quite fussed over because of it.

Allison brought the ganjha for us Rasta freaks and we got very drunk and stoned as the non-celebration ground on, laughing uproariously at inane witticisms and vicious bonmots, the usual gay claptrap. There was a 7th guest who didn't show, but his ghost was ever present, a gorgeous young fellow named Chris who has lately favoured the Piccolo Freak's Club with his presence, finding us derelict fags fascinating, until he grows out of it and moves on to more saner pastures, as many engenues have done before him. He rides a motorbike, looks and dresses like something out of Tom of Finland but without the shlong stretching halfway down his thigh, leaving that up to our fervid imaginations, it's all in the packaging these days, and this boy is packaged like a blonde Adonis. He was all we talked about for the first hour or so, and thank nogod he didn't turn up for it would've been mighty uncomfortable to have a pack of desperate queens posturing and drooling over him with very litle partying accomplished. I imagined a surreal daisy-chain effect, for Charles is unnervingly obsessed with Peter who in turn is gaga over spunky Chris who I fantasise is secretly turned on by me, and like beauty attracted to the beast, chases me about the La Boheme dump while the 2 poofs and 3 "girls" glumly look on.

In reality Peter had no guy to focus on so he kept trying to feel me up all night, kissing and hugging me, because he trusted me and knew I wouldn't respond, (I love another, in a galaxy far, far away), all to get on Charle's goat, who never let up with the moonie eyes and declarations of undying love beamed in Pete's direction, quite boring. Like classic camp queens they played opera records all night, Maria Callas warbling loudly to shatter glass and nerves, till a neighbour had to bang bang bang on the door, furiously disturbed, to which Sardine yelled like a wharfie, "fuck off!" as she slammed the door in the irate, straight guy's face, confirming his opinion that "fags are the worst!" Charles left his vinyl records scattered across the floor and we all had to walk on them as we moved about, and when he put on Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" the record was so badly scratched it kept jumping tracks, shreiking, shredding, ripping and roaring till the paint peeled from the walls and Ayesha's tiny lapdog went nuts, spinning in circles, yapping and tearing at Charle's stockinged heels, the party descending into a hellish, crashing crescendo, the outre street parade outside reaching a climax thankfully unnoticed by us stoned freaks who laughed so hard we pissed our pants.

Charles had also left his weight-lifting dumbells out for us all to trip over, a signifier to Peter that he was really a macho muscle man under all that poofy blubber and we couldnt help calling him Charles Shwartzneggar all night and satirising his vain attempt at manhood. In the midst of all the fun Sardine ponderously announced that she was eternally depressed and considering suicide to which we giggled and said, "good, hurry up, you're such a dog, we'll help put you out of your misery!" Not very compasionate but in actuality we were all in the same sinking boat, leftover fops who few cognoscenti, ourselves included, found attractive or worthy of grand attention, and thus we filled the void with barbed jokes, pretend 'gayness' and histrionic poses, while the world burned and humanity fucked itself into orgiastic forgetfulness. We were 'human' after all.

I can't blame us for our hysteria at being rejected by a culture that worships youth, beauty and success, and abhors 'fairies', men who are less than zero if they're not brutish, breeding warriors with muscles for brains. We were all struggling to realise our potential as artists and probably none of us would, the competition was cut-throat and anti-pathetical. And, like Marilyn, we can't be loved enough, but none of us had ever had a real boyfriend, the life-partner of our dreams to share our ups and downs and protect our backs receded like a mirage in the desert the more we reached for it, at least we had each other.

Ayesha was once a famous drag artist and bemoaned the fact that she was no longer invited to perform at the Mardi Gras Party extravaganzas, she was sinking relentlessly into AIDs dementia, her costumes begrimed, daily looking more like Morticia badly in need of a shave, but she'd had thunderous applause and a thousand glorious fucks in her hey-day, she now let the young-guns hog the limelight, they'll learn the hard way that all that gliiters is not gold, and she had her lapdog, Yahoo, to keep her loyal company, fuck the adoring crowds.

And for all Peter's great talent, youth and beauty, he could never find a steady boyfriend, the pick-ups from gay venues like the Oxford Pub only toyed with him for a few days or weeks then dropped him for the next fling, superficiality still ruled, and he was let down by his own lust for rough-trade butch masculinity so that an adoring fan like Charles was not quite up to the mark. Poor Charles, for all his weight-lifting and swimming regimes, he remained a pudgy poof with a face like a camp Droopy the dog, and he always had half his dinner smeared down his daggy front, not very attractive.

And Sardine the trannie, forever bitching about morons in politics and the lack of style in the 'gay community', to me she comes across as damaged goods from too many drugs and a moribund career as a sex-worker, her femininity so razor-sharp and cutting she probably scared off prospective boyfriends, always teetering on the edge of destruction, getting more and more inebriated and addled as time wore on, she's notorious for flipping out and causing trouble, a put-off for everyone and not very attractive to real men in that L'Oreal "because you're worth it" sense. Too often told we're worthless, we have fought on, survived and achieved regardless. Lots of artists in history have been fatally flawed, suffering produces interesting art and much of CULTURE consists of our tortured, 'queer' contributions; anyway, at least we tried, delusions of grandeur are more glamorous than paranoid nihilism.

I don't have to say much about my own bent and fractured soul, it's all there to be read in my interminable Blog raves and, while FAME can go screw it's own vacuous black-hole, (it didn't do Elvis or Britney much good), I wouldn't mind a committed lover for I've never had a viable relationship either, too much of a crackpot narcissist and loner scumbag, I bullshit myself that I'm a godless new-age sadhu/sufi/taoist wanderer and have no need of a long-term companion in the flesh. But we fairies can still find other misfits to laugh and commiserate with, like at this party of the dispossessed, and that's better than Absolute Nothing, let the Parade pass us by and good riddance. To appreciate the moment and get sky high on it, that's something.

For me, this story shows the blues like bruises from a lifetime of battle, against predjudice, hate and brutality, screaming an intense pain that has no outlet except for bitchy jocularity. None of us at that party for grouches were bad people, we wouldn't hurt a soul, we worshipped love, fun and art, out of kilter and rejected by a society that makes money from war, degradation and disease, calling it economic growth. Over the last hundred years, politicians and lobbying industrialists have brought us all to the edge of destruction with bad policies and poisonous products, now they ask us to pay to clean up the mess while they continue to hog the best food, the classy whores, the stretch limmos and palatial mansions.

Worldwide, conservatives both left and right ignore the basic problem of a runaway population explosion, for they need that vast reservoir of slaves, consumers and cannon-fodder to fuel their elitist lifestyles, so easy to distract the masses with circuses, celebrities and religious nonsense, blaming 'gays' for decadence and civilisation's breakdown, when a major solution would be to encourage half the population to go 'gay', forget 'god' and live simple. Greed and stupidity rules, the world is being napalmed, pain shrieks from every byway, and humanity parties on regardless, let's consume it all now, fuck the future. It's a wonder we gay grouches are so hysterical, we dont even have grandchildren to worry about, but we are the world, we hurt.

And thus the midnight hour approached, we'd consumed all the intoxicants and wrecked Charle's flat, so we decided to venture out onto the streets to witness the aftermath of the Mardis Gras imbroglio. We wandered up to Taylor Square where the left-over celebrants staggered about, the peasants in their torn costumes who couldn't afford the party at the Horden pavillion, drunk girls sashaying about in loose bikini-tops, suburban rednecks in surf-shorts and thongs oggling the derelict fags, angry cops pushing befuddled revellors off the road, tramps kicking bottles and cans aside in search of lost drugs, and dread-locked hippies banging away on drums and blaring through trumpets while yowling punters frolicked and boogied to the beat, and I was reminded how Sydneysiders loved a wild party and will shake their booty at the merest tweet tweet of a whistle and thump thump of a bongo.

Myself, Charles and Peter ended up at the Flinders Pub, because it was free entry and looked to be happening. It was once a venue for all types of queers but in the last few years had been taken over by a "Bears Club", grossly fat, hairy men, virtually naked, strussed up in leather harnesses with a pseudo military edge, and we had to squeeze past their vast wobbly bellies and have their hairy, gorilla tits pressed into us as we pushed thru the crowd. But once we'd made it to the disco floor we let go of our inhibitions to the fabulous techno music and entered the paradise of Dance Abandoned, forgetting our differances, troubles, fears and desires, no need to cruise the morass of sweaty flesh, I let the Universe fuck me thru the music.

And I thought of all the poor souls in history who never got a chance to live and love, killed by wars, bigotry, disease and self-destruction, snuffed out before they realised they existed with open potential in a wondrous world, dead before they got to realise some of that potential. I felt rich, wise, celebrated and ecstatic in comparison, for all the shit, it was great to be alive and moving to the beat.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.