My grammar school, Sts. Peter and Paul, had a yearly, school-wide Christmas talent pageant. Everyone was crazy for it. In second grade I brought down the house with my lip-synced interpretation of “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas.” I outshirleyed Miss Temple. The lip-syncing should have been my first gay clue.
I had rehearsed for months. When I nailed the line, “I put a tack on teacher’s chair; somebody snitched on me,” I saw the curvaceous, raven-haired, fourth grade teacher, Miss Como laugh so hard she slid off her chair. The juicy pleasure of bringing the Gina Lollobrigida of lay teachers to her knees reinforced for me the necessity of meticulous preparation for performance.
Even now Miss Como is my coach and muse when I have January downtime to write a new show. She helps me guard my writing time from bouts of SORD, what my dear wi-fi hotspot calls “Seasonal-Off-Road-Disorder.” After a few weeks of not performing, I get a little jiggy and/or whiney.
Then if I’m not careful, I expend precious creative energy in random pop-up performances for unsuspecting delivery people, Bob Newhartish conversations with automated phone voices and interviews of small children in woolen dinosaur hats. My dear galpal rolls her eyes when I do that hysterical thing with the retractable vacuum cord. Again.
The image of Miss Como pitching and rolling to the floor keeps me focused on the task at hand. She is my taskmaster, my Miss January Dominatrix and this January, I am writing for my 2015 show: “Hello, Katey! A One Woman Pussy Riot.” I’d rather be trying to get the grumpy Fairway cashier to laugh at me and the bit I’m doing with the gnarly claw of ginger.
It’s not for lack of material. I can hardly keep up with LGBT news. When I first started performing, if something gay happened in the news, I could talk about it for five years. Lily Tomlin wore purple. Discuss. Now two or three states pass marriage equality rulings in the time it takes me to fly cross-country and that night after a Seattle show someone tells me they’re surprised and disappointed I didn’t mention the historic news.
As a recovering Catholic it would be easy-peasy to do a whole show on Pope Francis. In his Christmas message to the Vatican Curia, he did a “Top 15 List of Ailments of the Curia.” They were not amused to be called on their “terrorism of gossip” and “the spiritual Alzheimer’s” of forgetting why they became priests. In our house, we pray the Pope has a food-taster.
But after the LGBT and papal news, it’s all downhill. In my business, what’s bad for us is good for me and currently it’s meta-bad. So Miss Como has to ride my ass to look at NYC police turning their backs on Bill de Blasio. It’s a short step from treating a tall, white mayor with such insubordinate disrespect, to “shooting to kill” young black men. Next stop: the torture report.
Speaking of Guantanamo and Cuba, Miss Como got out the riding crop to spur me on to write about the hypocrisy of Joyboy Marco Rubio touting the spread of free-market capitalist democracy in the world, except of course in Cuba, where it won’t work.
Currently Miss C is yanking my chain to make a hysterical connection between colonialism and “man-spreading,” the problem of men and boys sitting so spread-legged on public transportation they occupy two or three seats.
Miss Como, I would much rather be waiting for a light on the corner of 70th and Broadway, crouched down, informing an old lady’s older dog that Pope Francis said dogs are allowed in heaven.