Last night was another in a series of nights at Howl! Happening Gallery during the exhibit Secrets of the Great Pyramid: The Pyramid Cocktail Lounge as Cultural Laboratory. The opening night celebrated Cafe Iguana and last night was Whispers hosted by Hapi Phace (Marc Phred) and Hattie Hathaway (Brian Butterick). From their own description back in the day Whispers was conceived as a response to the gentrification and pasteurization of New York in 1984, and billed as;
“The Complete Suburban Gay Experience as a party for hairdressers, display queens, theatre folk, fashionistas, florists, and sensitive straight people.”
Whispers was tongue firmly-in-cheek and last night brought it all the chickens home to roost. Back in the day I hosted a Sunday night series called Straight To Hell and as I explained to the crowd last night, STHwas the Manhattan Review of Unnatural Acts, which was true homosexual exploits in ‘zine form. (The exhibit includes the issue of STH with a 19 year-old me on the cover.) I put together a lineup which I cannot believe in retrospect. The first dozen or so Sundays featured John Waters, Cookie Mueller, Fran Lebowitz, Jackie Curtis, Taylor Mead, Quentin Crisp, Kenneth Anger, and on and on. We also had wet underwear contests and sexy guys dancing on the bar. I enlisted party promoter pal, Daniel Nardicio to find me a guy and he sent me the very cute Alex Killborn, who danced on the bar along with David Caskie as “The Painted Man”.
Hapi and Hattie bantered along and introduced the performers when they weren’t cracking us (and each other) up with corny jokes. The night began with pioneering experimental theater guru Agosto Machado who told a story of dancing on the bar with the late drag legend Ethyl Eichelberger. Drag icon Charles Ludlam appeared in the crowd and when they saw her, they hopped off to head to the dressing room where Charles asked Ethyl…
“WHY, oh WHY are you dancing on the bar! You’re a legend!”
To which Ethyl replied,
“For the view.”
So Ethyl, and so true. It was THE view from up there. (You could see all the cute boys you wanted to flirt with when your set was over.)
Poet Kennon B. Raines was up next and –not to toot my own horn– but she gave me a surprise shout-out from the stage, saying I was one of the first to encourage her to read her poetry. Well, she mesmerized the crowd and it all came back why I thought she was SO good. Electrifying. Probably why I didn’t get a better picture. Sorry, Kennon. (I’m also sorry I stepped outside for a minute and I missed Edgar Oliver but I heard he was fantastic.)
In from Montreal, our resident chanteuse Marleen Menard wowed us as all with an original composition and in a tribute to the late trans superstar, International Chrysis, Bobbie and her own hot guys gave a updated taste of glam and sexy bar moves. And to top it all off Whispers & Pyramid co-founder Sister Dimension pulled off a last-minute performance that left us all wanting more. Butch icon Dee Finley finished off the night with her own brand of bar dancing.
It really was a fun night night marred only by our missing comrades and the very recent passing of Edwidge & Anita Sarko. They along with Ann Craig, John Sex, Wendy Wild, Bobby Bradley, and unfortunately scores of others were toasted and adored. As I said to Johnny Dynell as we were leaving;
“This is what happens when you don’t die.”