17 St. Phillip Street –Part 18-

Art by Rob Goldstein
Annabelle Zelda Marshall

Annabelle Zelda Marshall was sipping an iced tea (sans ice) when the raid began.

She was confused and asked a sprinting drag queen what the shouting was about.

“It’s a raid!” he shrieked, as a policeman gathered him up and shoved him through the door.

Margaret sat quietly and watched the commotion.

Eventually a cop went to her table.

“Come with me, please.”

“Why?” asked Annabelle.

“This establishment is closed.”

Annabel slowly rose, using her cane to support her weight.

“I thought prohibition had been repealed,” she said, as she gave the cop her arm.

The cop took Annabel’s arm and examined her closely. He had never seen a fag who look so much like his grandmother.

Outside Paul was in a headlock and demanded to see his lawyer.

Annabel wondered what kind of crime Paul could commit.

She looked up at the cop who had her arm and said: “I thought I was going to see a play about Jesus. A friend did say it was blasphemous but I surely didn’t know that one could still be arrested for blasphemy!”

“What is your name, please?”

Annabel was proud to say her name: “Annabel Zelda Marshall!”

“No—,” said the officer. “Your real name.”

“That IS my real name!”

The officer again examined Annabel’s face; this is one convincing old drag queen, he thought to himself. “Step into the light for me.”

Annabel lost her patience: “My Pappy was one of the noble heroes in the great battle against Sherman in Atlanta. My Pappy almost died trying to save that honorable city but he didn’t die, no! He came back here to his home and his Pappy’s home and his Pappy before that and now I have to stand here because some Yankee transplant doesn’t know my name? Marshall. Marshall. M-A-R-S-H-A-L-L!”

The cop had heard the name: “As in Gunsmoke?” he asked.

Paul, who was face down in the street with his hands cuffed behind his back heard Annabel’s speech and shifted slightly: “That’s her real name!” he said.

That earned him a kick in the face.

“Cuff the old fag!” said the cop that kicked Paul.

“She’s a woman!” screamed Paul. He got another kick.

Annabel hiked the hem of her skirt: “Do ah have to lift mah skirts to avoid incarceration!” spat Annabel.

The cop’s eyes grew wide and then he laughed.

“What the Hell is a woman your age doing in a queer bar?”

Text and image Rob Goldstein (c)2016 all rights reserved

17 St Phillip Street – Part 17-

Art by Rob Goldstein
Battery Park, Charleston

 

Bobby and his friends taped opening night announcements to the streetlights
and buildings of Downtown Charleston.

Paul even had the blessings of the aristocratic Annabelle Zelda Marshall.

Annabelle Zelda Marshall lived in the finest of the decrepit old plantation homes
on Battery Park.

Art by Rob Goldstein
Annabelle Zelda Marshall

Bobby often saw her when he rolled past her house on his skateboard;  she gazed from her veranda at Fort Sumter as if she still heard those first shots.

Bobby never heard the story of how she and Paul had met, but Paul said that Annabelle loved him as a Son.

Her support lent credibility to the production and she used her influence to get Paul an interview with the News and Courier.

Maurice quipped that he saw Paul’s star rise in the West like the Sun.

Art by Rob Goldstein
PS Clemens Discusses His Production of Jesus Christ Superstar

The News & Courier: Why did you choose Jesus Christ Superstar?

Paul: I have always had the profoundest belief in God and I feel that this retelling of the story of our Savior brings Gods message to a new generation.

The News & Courier: What is your response to accusations that a rock opera about the Passion of Christ is blasphemy?

Paul: They said that about Michelangelo, Galileo, and Rembrandt.

The News & Courier: Tell our readers about the cast.

Paul: They are gifted children, each grappling with questions of life and mortality.

The News & Courier: They’re quite young, aren’t they—but Jesus is a veteran?

Paul: Well…the actor is.

The News & Courier: Is it true that they don’t actually sing.

Paul: No, one of the cast members sings. We are blessed with the gorgeous and gifted Arianna Pravora as Magdalene.

The News & Courier: Why did you choose such a notorious venue to present your show?

Paul: One may as well ask why the heathen rage. I have no doubt that this production will drive out the devil and make everyone who watches it happen better people.

The News & Courier: Is there anything else you want to say about the show?

Paul: Oh yes, please come. Ours is a message of love that will surely appeal to everyone, and the children have worked so hard!

Art by Rob Goldstein
Bobby Liked to Board to Rehearsal

The next morning Bobby and Maurice read the interview over morning coffee.

Freddie joined them.

Freddie had also moved into Miss Jennie’s boarding house.

“The gorgeous and gifted Arianna Pravora!” sputtered Maurice.

Bobby brightened: “Paul and her go to the bar after it’s closed, Paul says they’s rehearsin’ but I think they do stuff.”

Maurice rolled his eyes. “What kinda stuff”

“Dance.”

Freddie didn’t know what to make of it. “They go to the gay bar after it’s closed to dance? And?–So?”

Bobby had just finished reading the Naked Ape by Desmond Morris: “I read that dancing is the same as sex, only more fun.

“They go to the queer bar to dance? That is SO cute!” Maurice laughed. “It’s cool that Paul has a chick!”

“I think it’s gross.” said Freddie.

“Oh! My! God!” Bobby was back at the interview, “They called it us the Flambé Players!

“Flambé?” Maurice said. “I thought it was Floodlights.”

“No,” said Bobby. “It’s Searchlight!.”

“What’s flambé?” asked Freddie.

“It’s a kind of food.” Bobby replied. “I think French folks eat it.”

Art by Rob Goldstein
Paul has a Dance with Magdalene

 

17 St. Phillip Street – Part 16-

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Society Street

Consider the culture of the City of Charleston in 1971.

These were the early days of the Second Reconstruction.

Charleston was in a state of pleasant decay.

 

Art By Rob Goldstein
A state of pleasant decay.


The Old Slave Market still had its holding cages and rusted shackles.

Most of the old aristocracy and white middle class old openly longed for the good old days before the War of Northern Aggression.

They referred to the South as a conquered sovereign nation.

Bobby was glad that the South was defeated.

Bobby hated the thought of slavery.

He hated anyone who defended it.

He felt nothing but contempt for what he called the wannabe
royalty of Old Charleston.

Charleston’s transvestites loved the Old Aristocracy.

They loved its pretensions.

And Bobby loved the drag queens.

They adored 19th Century drag.

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
The United Daughters of the American Confederacy Night


They organized a United Daughters of the American Confederacy drag pageant  every Halloween Night at the gay bar.

Halloween Night was the one night of the year that it was legal in Charleston for men to publicly dress as women.

Dozens of drag queens gathered at the bar in hand-made antebellum costumes.

After the contest was over and the bar closed they gracefully strolled to Battery Park in their gowns.

The scents of cheap perfume, wilting roses, and wisteria mingled in the
humid autumn night.

And if the fog was thick enough, the city looked haunted.

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
And if the Fog was thick enough, the city looked haunted.

 

Rob Goldstein 2016
Text and VR based graphics (c) Rob Goldstein 2016

17 St Phillip Street – Part 15 –

Art by Rob Goldstein
At Rehearsal

Paul was the new manager of the display department at Sears.

Every night Paul brought lighting, cloth, and anything else he could steal from Sears to the bar.

Jesus Christ Superstar was his obsession.

Paul covered the mirrors along the back of the stage with black felt.

He attacked the ceiling which perpetually twinkled with orange day glow stars and covered it with black felt and strips of dark grey gauze.

Opening night was a two days away.

The album used for rehearsals was worn and scratched.

Paul sent Maurice to buy two new copies.

Maurice discovered that a Baptist group had organized to have all recordings of Jesus Christ Superstar removed from Charleston’s stores.

Paul was frantic.

He cleaned the record and lowered the treble.

It wasn’t ideal but it worked.

Then Bobby decided to make like a model and lifted the hem his bright red skirt before doing a pirouette.

The skirt swept the turntable and ground the needle across the record.

Everyone winced.

Bobby stood in shame as Jesus and his disciples glared at him.

Paul tensely held the record up to the light.

“It doesn’t look bad.” Paul looked like he was going to cry.

“Play it!’ said Freddie.

Bobby gasped.

The cast silently gathered as Paul solemnly placed the record on the turntable and switched on the stereo. He gently placed the needle on the rim of the record.

There was a new scratch but it wasn’t worse than the old ones.

This was the side on which Mary Magdalene declares her love for Jesus.

It was smooth playing until her song.

The needle stuck at ‘don’t’.

ah don’t (click) ah don’t (click) ah don’t

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Magdalene


Ariana wrapped her arms around Paul’s neck and silently wept.

“Profunda is the only one in the cast that can act.” whispered Freddie.

Freddie nicknamed Ariana ‘Profunda’ because of her habit of shouting “Oh wow! Profound!” at the sight of anything she considered unusual.

“Oh Paul! What are we going to do!” she sobbed.

Paul extracted himself from Ariana’s arms: “We will stay calm, we will delay the opening of the show, and we will send THAT QUEEN,” he pointed at Bobby, “to Columbia to buy a new recording.

Paul grabbed a magic marker and a large sheet of white construction paper and sat cross-legged on the floor.

We regret to inform the public that the much-anticipated Searchlight Players performance of Jesus Christ Superstar is delayed because of ruthless sabotage. Information about the new date of our opening is forthcoming. Sincerely, P. S. Clemens, President.”

“President?” said Maurice.

“What’s the S stand for?” asked Freddie.

“He left out the M.” replied Bobby.

 

Art by Rob Goldstein
Bobby At Rehearsal

“Let Profunda use her real voice”  said Freddie.

Ariana clapped her hands together. “Oh Paul! Can I?”

Everyone knew that Ariana had a crush on Paul, including Paul.

“If-you-can-“ Paul sighed.

Ariana climbed onto the stage

“Sing it girl!” screamed Maurice.

Arianna cleared her throat.

“Ahhhhhhh, don’t know how to luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuv haaaaam….”

Paul pulled up another piece of white construction paper and wrote in Magic Marker: Due to fortuitous technical difficulties the role of Mary Magdalene, performed by Ariana Pravora, is now sung in Ms. Pravora’s original voice. We know that you, the audience, will be as charmed as we, the Director… P. S. Clemens, President

“Who’s ‘we’ the director?” asked Maurice.

“How we gonna make her look like she’s lip syncing.” asked Bobby.

Paul crossed his arms and sighed.

“Where’s the M?” asked Freddie.

Images and text (C) Rob Goldstein 2016 all rights reserved