New Orleans, early 2010. Crammed inside a sweaty bounce music show, listening to DJ Rusty Lazer and watching Vockah Redu and Katey Red and Big Freedia the Queen Diva. We are with our sister from another mister, who just so happens to look like Daryl Hannah in a Western-apocalyptic remake of Clan of the Cave Bear.
“Clan,” we’ll call her, is beautiful, imposing, the center of attention everywhere she goes, goddess-mother-figure to her tribe, and always the life of the party. When drunk, which is rare, she is … even more noticeable.
We sit against the banquette, out of breath from dancing. She’s weaving; we are sober. She reaches back to grab a cigarette from the MOUTH of the person behind her, upon whose lap she had previously spilled half a bottle of vodka. This person is a large, fierce, now-angry drag queen, who looks sort of like this, but more Southern, like a femme linebacker in eyepaint and a tube dress.
The queen has been glowering at us already, since the vodka incident has caused her to appear as though she’s wet herself. On such a high holy sissy-bounce occasion, too. We are on bitchfight terror-alert yellow. We feel for the queen, as we watch her stare bullets through the back of our friend’s head. That’s when — swoop! — Clan snatches cig from mouth of Queen, and in her drunkenness, BREAKS IT IN HALF.
A wave of uh-oh-ness washes over onlookers. We are strong for our size, but we can’t imagine how exactly we’re going to get us out of this. Drunk Clan of the Cave Bear is a literal sharpshooter and a knife-fighter. If she throws down with this majestic Ninth Ward Amazon, we don’t think we can pull them apart without landing in the hospital.
“YOU!,” the Queen screams. She marches around the banquette and stands toe-to-toe with Clan. We freeze. This is out of our hands. Somehow, strangely, despite all appearances, we sense the Queen’s not going to strike. Queen puts her meaty finger in Clan’s face.
“YOU,” she intones again. Her purple wig trembles with rage. Her shoulder and fleshy underarm shake violently, as does her finger, while her hand decides whether or not it wants to form a fist. Queen opens her mouth again, hesitates, and then shouts:
“I fuckin’ LOVE YOU. I LOVE YOU.”
Clan nods, as if this was an expected response. She’s used to adoration from strangers, and she’s already forgotten about the cigarette incident completely. AND the vodka incident. Queen is PISSED. Onlookers and we wait for the other shoe to drop. This is some sort of Tarantino-esque lead-up to a beatdown. Right?
“I fuckin’ LOVE YOU. I love you. I FUCKIN’ LOVE YOU.”
The way she’s saying “I love you” seems like a curse folding in on itself. Queen is transforming her ego into enlightenment, right before everyone’s eyes. She has practiced this. She was saving it, for when something really ticked her off. (Did we mention it was her LAST cigarette? We watched her take it out of the pack.)
Queen pulls back her pointing finger, thinking of walking away. She points again.
“I. fuckin’. LOVE. You.”
Clan sits quietly, finally chided by the subtext of Queen’s admonitions. We bum a cigarette from an onlooker for our new Queen and hand it to her, reverently.
“I love YOU,” we say. She doesn’t hear us. But she already knows.
To have put up with so much bullshit in her life, undoubtedly — and to still act like a LADY.
That’s what’s up.
[red pills on Gulf earl spillage. swallow]
Herald-Tribune: Will oil bring death to Gulf’s rich web of life?
Atty. Stuart Smith: Letting BP off the hook: Blurring the line between environmental and economic damage (“One thing is very clear: The economic damage to our nation will be severe and long-lasting if we don’t fully restore the Gulf environment as soon as possible.”)
Factbox: Oil spill commission findings (“No evidence at this time to suggest there was a conscious decision to sacrifice safety concerns to save money.” HAHAHAHAHAHAAAaaaa.)
YouTube: Corexit, The Movie: Dispersant Toxic Poisoning
(if you’ve been avoiding the news and want a crash course in Corexit, here it is)
Over 6,000 birds collected dead so far because of BP oil spill (don’t ever forget if “cleanup” workers find dead animals with no cameras or citizens around, they destroy the evidence. always.)
Youtube: There is no life without rhythm (badass 10 min documentary about the Baro people of Guinea, Africa)
Follow Summer Burkes on Twitter.