a Cheap Holiday: 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003

Cheap Holiday

Welcome to a cheap holiday in my life. At least you get to go home at the end of the day!

Monday, August 25, 2003

The youngins don't know it all. Sometimes the older, simpler pleasures are best, instead of all this high-falutin' technology. How ironic then that it's the youngins that are reviving such time-honored entertainments as the sideshow act and burlesque.

This past weekend I enjoyed one such burlesque revival as performed by Philly's own Peek-a-Boo Revue (this is an old article link; no official site at this time, unfortunately). The Revue, as led by locquacious MC Scottie Johnson, conducted a long-form gala show at The Trocadero, instead of their standard, shorter show at The Five Spot. This included approximately four sets split by band breaks with Doctor Goodfoot and The Funky Things.

The use of The Trocadero for this show (besides its capacious stage) hallmarked a return to the original purpose of the venue. Though currently used as a crumbling grande dame of a rock club, The Troc originally entered business as a vaudeville house, turning to burlesque when vaudeville lost fashion. Thankfully, The Troc now charges a small "restoration fee" on top of their ticket prices. I hope the owners of The Troc do a good job with this restoration project, as the space would be gorgeous if restored to a semblance of its old glamour. MC Scottie did a fine job educating the crowd on the finer points of vaudeville and burlesque before getting to what it is the people truly want.

And that would be breasts. In most people's minds, burlesque conjurs a vision of "your grandad's titty bar." Though the salacious aspect of burlesque cannot be denied, at least in this instance, a majority of the dancers in the show not only danced in larger choreographed numbers, but also sang and sang quite well. As a seque between numbers, MC Scottie would stand in front of a suspended screen and quell the restless crowd with as much patter as possible.

Compared to the tastes of today's youngins, the best adjective I can ascribe to a burlesque show would be "quaint," but quaint in a fun, entertaining, almost brainy way. Perhaps the funniest thing about the presentation had not so much to do with the jokes being told on stage, but a simple fact about Pennsylvania obscenity laws: from what I can tell from numerous shows and balls I've been to in the area, the display of the female nipple while in a venue serving alcohol is verboten. Had I only seen pasties at the Peek-a-Boo Revue, I would have thought they were simply being purists, but I've also seen the venerable pasty (or it's cheaper modern-day equivalent--electrical tape) in a couple of settings about town, so I'm going to have to cry "legal mandate." It's somehow odd seeing a volume of breasts, bare all except for these little dots of unnatural color. I'm uncertain at this point whether the presence of the pasty has a sobering effect on the voyeuristic nature of the burlesque or is a winking nod to it.

All soap-boxing aside, the Peek-a-Boo Revue was absolutely adorable, filled with cute, talented, and skilled boys and girls. I hope that should The Troc ever be fully restored and host a grand re-opening, that Peek-a-Boo is top of the bill.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Discovered today how to set the commenting feature for my blog. It probably does little to actually improve the quality of the blog, but it's a merry bit of geekage.

Friday, August 08, 2003

I found out a couple of weeks ago that my Cajun Boy passed away in April.

How do I begin to articulate the weirdness of getting an email from a complete stranger--yet with the same last name as your friend--that begins "I'm Cajun Boy's brother. I was looking through some of his old email and found a reference to you in an email dated in February. Have you gotten an update on CB lately?"

The last time I'd talked to CB was a few weeks after his surgery in early December. He's telling me on the phone the doctors had just done an MRI or a CAT scan on him, but couldn't get a clear view of his kidneys because of a "large mass in his abdomen."

Then he has the utter gall to tell me "But it's nothing, I'm sure."

You know what I hate? I hate it when sick people make it sound like everything is going to be all right, just to keep you from worrying. It really fuckin pisses me off now. Because, what happens when you make something sound less serious than it is, what happens is that people DON'T worry when they SHOULD. They don't call or write as often as they should, because they get this false sense of security that the sick person is going to recover.

And the next thing you know you're getting emails out of the blue from a sibling that you've never even met wondering "if you'd heard anything lately."

I feel bad for Cajun Boy's poor brother. Here he is, settling his brother's estate. A younger brother who died even more tragically at the age of 29. I have no idea what email he found, but apparently my name figured prominently and he got the impression that I had meant something to CB, even though his family had never met me. So, out of a sense of duty and honor and remembrance of his brother, he feels he has to write this complete stranger to tell her a friend of hers--his brother--died 3 months earlier. Oh, and what exactly was the nature of your relationship to his brother?

Talk about awkward. But I was very demure and instead of recalling my fondest memories of his brother (like, oh, "your brother Cajun Boy was my only instance of 'robbing the cradle'--I dated him when I was 28 and he was 18--and you know that gigantic scar you put on his ass by running him over with the lawn mower, well, that was one of my favorite features whenever he was on top of me, thrusting himself into a sweaty fury"), I was generic and salutory. I recalled the Halloween party we had met at, our fond but slightly distant friendship, how we had lost touch for 8 years, only to find each other again. A couple of years ago, Cajun Boy told me he had been having trouble with a swollen testicle, and the doctor had put him on antibiotics. My own brother had had a bout of testicular cancer, so I asked if he had been screened for it. I'm still not sure if they actually did, I don't recall CB's answer. Then last year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I get an email saying "You know that undesirable outcome we had talked about? Well, that's what it is."

CB had surgery a couple of days after Thanksgiving and then began chemotherapy a few weeks later. After his last email in January, I suppose it was, I stopped hearing from him. And yes, I was afraid to call. His mother had answered his cell phone in November while he was resting and it was very disconcerting to speak to a family member that I had never met. Frankly, I was afraid to have it happen again, but not because CB was simply laying down for a nap.

According to his brother, CB passed away as a result of complications from the chemo in mid-April. After I related to CB's brother briefly about our friendship, I said he should feel free to call me anytime, or email, whichever was more comfortable. I have yet to hear from him since that last email. I think he probably realized that his brother and I had "been a bit more than just friends," at least at one time, and was beginning to feel even more hinky about speaking to me. I don't blame him. Again, "awkward" doesn't begin to describe this interchange.

I did love Cajun Boy, but in many ways, more as a little brother figure than as a lover. CB was full of the youthful enthusiasm that I felt I had lost. He was an unfocused boy, struggling to find his niche in life. He was a very good listener and never failed to listen to my rantings and ventings when I had to have them. He was a devilish thing, constantly trying to get me to send him naked photos of myself. Thank God I never did, or his poor brother probably would have found those on his computer too! He worried about making enough money, or never finding anyone to love and marry. He loved to row and had talked about buying a skull for his father and mother to row on a pond near his family's suburban development. He loved his siblings and nieces and nephews and large, extended Cajun/Creole family. His skin was a gorgeous brown color and his eyes were almost black. He was not the most sophisticated lover, but his energy was boundless.

We were friends til the end, a premature end though it was.

I think the whole situation has put me into a bit of a spin. I sometimes wonder if there will be anyone around to laud my passing and have fond memories of me.