I went to overpriced midtown gay bar Therapy the other night to spend time with an old friend whom I don’t think I ever quite realized was a kindred spirit. He was visiting from DC.
Spending time with him was a delicious cake. The icing on the cake was
Lavinia Draper describes herself as a female drag queen. I believe she is probably a “failed” Broadway performer who has carefully crafted a dynamic cabaret show centering on her drunkenness, wittiness, and sing-i-ness.
She wears lingerie for gay men. I’m still trying to unpack my thoughts on what she means from a feminist perspective, which is how I view all representations of women in popular culture now that I’ve finished Bitchfest, an anthology of – ding! – feminist pop culture crit from – ding! – Bitch magazine. I’m not quite sure how the patriarchy is oppressing her, but I know that it is.
That, however, is a story for a different day.
Lavinia accosted several audience members, forcing them into a Go-Go Boy contest. And this is where I learned a VALUABLE LIFE LESSON.
The contest came down to two men. One of them – I’ll call him Brian, because that was his name – was soooo into it. He was grinding, gyrating, grabbing any writhing body near him and going to town, shaking his groove thing, as they say. When Lavinia demanded shirt removal, his was the first off, and he didn’t even blink at shedding his pants.
He was so passionate, he didn’t even care when his, uh, man parts, came flopping out of the flap in his boxers, which was more than we needed, but I respect that he was in the moment and ready to give his all for the $100 prize.
The other gentleman – I’ll call him – well, I don’t know what to call him, because he wouldn’t reveal his name. He was not American, so I’ll call him Foreigner. Foreigner reluctantly removed his shirt. He flat out refused to take off his pants. He allowed Lavinia to pull them down enough to show the top of what appeared to be boxer-briefs, but that was all he would give us.
He danced, but not with the vigor, the fervor, the joy of Brian. Brian was the clear winner. He just WANTED it so much. He was working for it. He deserved the prize.
But when Lavinia asked the audience who should be rewarded, Foreigner won. And it wasn’t even close. The clapping for Brian paled in comparison to the cheering for Foreigner. I think Lavinia recognized the injustice, and she split the money between them. But Brian deserved better validation for his efforts.
You might attribute this to the fact that Foreigner was better built than Brian – but he wasn’t smoking hot or anything. Lavinia also randomly gave them hats, and perhaps people were voting for the leopard print cowboy over the dull navy engineer. Who can resist leopard?
But I think it’s something else. People are drawn to mystery and coyness. Foreigner kept himself in his pants and that turned the crowd on. He refused to give it away, and that drove them wild. They wanted more, they wanted to know him better. They rewarded his enigmatic aloofness, his doesn’t-give-a-shit-about-you attitude.
Poor Brian. He worked his ass off. He gave that crowd a real show. He expressed a genuine love for the dance, for the nudity. It meant something to him.
And he was slapped down for trying too hard.
I know how he feels. This is a constant in my life. Trying too hard leads directly to a giant FAIL.
So the lesson is clear. Yet I have no ability to be coy, enigmatic, guarded. I wear my heart on my sleeve. If it means something to me, I can’t help but show it. I lay my cards on the table at the beginning of the game. I don’t like games, frankly.
I guess people don’t like my bluntness, my rawness, my aggressiveness. My sheer naked desire.
Turns you off, huh?
And so I will always be Brian, losing, no matter how much I give and love, no matter how much I care, no matter how badly I want it.
When your mother says, they won’t buy the cow if you give away the milk for free, she’s probably not wrong.
But now I’m going to be preoccupied by how oppressive that mentality is, and why men theoretically don’t have anything TO give away because society only places value on a woman’s virginity. Excuse me while I go contemplate this and have a feminist stroke.