HOUSTON VOICE www.houston voice.com
APRIL 4, 2003 13
point ELLEN FELDMAN
If we are going to wear chains, let them be
harnesses of the leather and metal variety,
not psychic boundaries from our true selves.
at a Black Party
AM SITTING ON THE BACK OF THE
padded banquet at the Roseland
Ballroom, scene of the annual Black
Party in New York. I am propped up
against the wall. My husband is sitting
between my legs rubbing my feet while I
rub his forehead.
We are both pretty much blissed-out,
and we are watching the "bees" — our
word for the rhythmic swarm of humanity that is trooping before us. My husband
moved in with me after I took him to his
first Black Party (did I find the right man
for me or what?), and we have declared it
to be our anniversary
I'm considering visiting my friend
Kenny ("Ooooh, I just love straight people!") down in the ladies room, which is
filled with many gents and only a few
ladies tonight. But my thoughts have
caught a wave, so to speak, and my mind
is surfing through an idea.
I'm meditating on being happy with
one's self and the teachings of Quentin
Crisp. Yes, I have a little chemical wax on
my board, but the thoughts are my own.
Suddenly, sitting next to us are two
matching mustachioed muscle men trying
to get into two matching metal harnesses.
The harnesses are very complicated. My
mind is still hanging 10, but we try to
help. This is a not-uncommon good-
Samaritan action at the Black Party
I used to have a little joke with myself:
There are two rules to happiness. One,
never do anything with your life that
would make a good opera; and two, never
put food in your gym bag. Both are
recipes for disaster.
I'm beginning to believe that Rule No. 3
should be to keep your costuming simple.
("Sweetie, I don't think that goes over
MR. CRISP WOULD BE VERY PROUD OF
me. His philosophy, which I embrace,
states: Find out who and what exactly you
are and be it completely. He always
thought it was a good thing to gef famous
for being what you are.
He would approve of my writing a fag
hag column. "Do you like my gardenias?"
I ask of the men on the dance floor.
"They're my signature." Nearly everyone
stops and takes a whiff.
Mr. Crisp is one of my heroes and mentors. I say "is" rather than "was" even
though the marvelous gentleman has
passed away, because I keep him with me
like many other ghosts. I believe that his
philosophy transcends lifestyle choice,
and is a universal.
He tells us that the limits we know to
be our own are comfortable, not imprisoning. He spoke of the chains we forged for
ourselves as being light; as opposed to the
heavy chains society hangs on us.
Meanwhile, our friends are getting
nowhere with the chains forged by
leatherman. "No! I'm positive that abso-
Pykeg ToWaft.ll Out for by^liso_8ecfeW
lutely no part of this thing goes around
your knee. Now let me undo it so you can
IT TAKES A HUGE AMOUNT OF
discipline to stay in your "forgery." The
person you have created holds your personality and represents yourself to the world.
As every drag queen knows, there is no
affectation without effort. You have to be
completely committed to the idea of being
yourself and throw all your resources
toward that goal.
"These are really gorgeous, guys, they
must have cost a fortune."
It can be painful when others don't
understand your quest. "Hey, watch out
for that spike there." It can mean sacrifice; there will be no easy way out.
"You know, Love, you're not going to be
able to go the bathroom without taking
this all off." But in the end, it is how you
bring your true self to the people who can
appreciate you. "Oh man, did that guy
seriously cruise you or what!"
No matter how difficult it is to reinvent
yourself to suit your own design, the truth
is, there is just no joy without it. No one
can ever be happy living someone else's
life. "Oh, no thank you for offering, Love,
but it's just a waste of good drugs on me."
Our new, beautifully armored friends
have kissed us goodbye and danced off
into the swarm. I'm beaming at them
with auntie-like pride. They wanted to
present themselves as something special
to the people they care about, and they
I helped, which is, after all, a representation of my persona. And now, I think it's
time my man and I start dancing again.
wk Ellen Feldman lives in New York City
w and can be reached at