National Coming Out Day: The Stardust

Gay men are telling their stories for National Coming Out Day.

This is mine

Some context

I was born in South Carolina.

My family lived in a housing project in downtown Charleston.

My Mother was a night shift waitress at a local greasy
spoon: The Coffee Cup.

Unknown to me, she was a ‘Mother’ figure to some of the
younger gay boys who hung out at the gay bar.

In 1967, when I came out at the age of 16, my Mother took me
dancing at the Stardust Lounge, Charleston’s only gay bar.

In writing The Stardust, I’ve used the accent I had at the time.

Geechee, an African-American dialect spoken on John’s Island,
South Carolina influenced my accent.

I wrote ‘The Stardust’ in 1984 as theatrical piece and used poetic
form to shape the lines.

My goal was for the piece to work as performance on the page.

The Stardust is an excerpt from a monologue named,’ Bobby’.

Portrait of an avatar posed to illustrate a dissociative alternate named Bobby

‘The Stardust’

***

There was only one queer bar in Charleston.

It was off on a musty alley behind the Old Slave Market.

You had to kiss the doorman the first time you went in to prove you
was queer.

There was this narrow strip of stage of stage behind the bar where the boys would dance when the drag queens wasn’t doing a show.

The first time I went to the Stardust Momma brought me so I didn’t have
to kiss no one.

Momma lent me some creamy Peach Cover Girl and a hot pink blouse.

I sipped my Pepsi and watched the queers gawk.

Aretha Franklin was on the jukebox wailing Respect and I
said: “Hey Momma. Let’s dance!”

Well she hauled me up on that stage and we did the dirty dawg.

There was this one dyke named Roxie.

She sometimes worked the door.

She was so butch she could give the kiss test.

When I went to the bar alone she’d let me in; if the cops came I’d have
to hide in the lady’s room or get “discovered” and get throwed
out.

Sometimes the cops came and didn’t do a bar check.

Sometimes the cops came and took money and left;

Sometimes the cops came to watch the ‘dirty little faggots’ play: three
straight white dudes with mean little smiles on their faces.

One night I was cruising the Battery when this cop stopped me and
ordered me into his car.

“Whatcha doin’ out all gussied up?” he asked, “solicitin’?”

“What does that word mean, solicitin’’?” I said. I had just finished
reading
The Little Prince.

“Sellin’ yer ass to the fags!” he replied.

“Oh that ain’t what I’m doin’” I said. “I gotta little Sister at home and Momma
says I gotta set a good example by screwin’ every girl I see!”

Well, he drove me around, tryina get me to say I pushed drugs.

“I bet you’re gonna turn that little Sister of yours into an addict!”

“Oh I wouldn’t do that at all sir! I warn her every day against such wickedness!

God strike me dead if I don’t!”

I guess we wore each other out.

The cop took me home to the projects. “Keep up the good work with yo’ Sistuh!” he sneered.

Illustration for Bobby and Miss Queen of Hearts
Bobby and The Queen of Hearts

At the Stardust a drunk ex‑priest named Mother Rachel did the weddings.

 One guy dressed like the bride and the other wore a tuxedo.

 At the Stardust the Queen of Hearts drag show was the major event.

The drag queens wrecked every dress shop on King Street.

On the big night the butch dykes wore three-piece suits and their women wore gowns.

Mother Rachel was emcee and he’d open every show with a report on how safe the Greyhound Bus Station was to cruise.

“The place is jus’ hoppin’ with Vice!  He said, “So ya’all be careful. OK?”

There was one drag queen named Miss Tillie who always did My Life.

At the end of the song where Shirley Bassey screams,’ This is myyyy liiiiife,’ Miss Tillie ripped off his wig and thew it at the crowd.

Then at the close of the show, everyone in the Stardust joined hands and sang There’s a Place for Us.

Street graffiti that reads 'There should be a Place for us
Street Art by Eclair Bandersnatch

The Stardust and all other artwork (c) Rob Goldstein 2017 – 2018 All Rights Reserved
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Zack: Shoot me for Jesus

7/04/2012

Hey Kev

I thought I’d drop you a few lines since this week makes
five years since we left Iraq.

I know you say you ain’t the same without ur leg but I hope
ur feeling better.

I’ll feel hella better when I throw out these pills for crazies. 

Why does the fuckin’ V.A. give me pills when I say I need food?

Why don’t shrinks know people go crazy from hunger?

My partner died of AIDS last year so I got no one to talk to so I
went to Reno last month.

That was a big mistake, but the ticket was a free one way so I
figured I’d go see family.

My sister wouldn’t let me meet my nephew ‘cause I came out gay.

Her holy roller husband kept sayin’ he’d shoot me for Jesus.

So I spent the rest of my food money for a one way back to Frisco.

My family can kiss my faggot ass!

Oh well, that’s life for crazy fags and stupid war ‘heroes’

I keep hoping you’ll send me a card so I know ur alive.

I’d call but I can’t buy a phone.

I get $300 a month disability and it costs $200 for a week in a
crap hotel, so’s I won’t have a place for the next three weeks,
but please write to that address I sent anyways.

Please.

Love,

Zack

Photograph of graffiti left by homeless people who sleep on Clation Alley in San Francisco
The writings of the homeless men and women who sleep on Clarion Alley in San Francisco

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018

Spy Maid, Episode 5: The Device

 

4 KGB-TV 8PM Spy Maid, The Device (in color)

A bloated Third World tyrant occupies the White House and threatens the Free World with a Remote Lobotomy Device.

Spy Maid vacuums the Oval Office in a desperate
race against time.

Beverly Garland as Spy Maid, Roger DeBris as the Tyrant

 

Rob Goldstein 2018

“Spy Maid” is based on a 2011 Blackberry shot of a mannequin in the window of a cleaning supplies shop in the Mission District of San Francisco.

9th and Harrison

Harry watches television in silence.

God plants clues in everything, and Harry thinks
with enough silence, God will say who he is.

But these distractions, these sins; they’re not Harry’s
sins, but they want to be.

These sins want to inflate Harry’s ego and obscure God clues.

Harry searches God’s hiding places: asylums, dumpsters,
crack dens, hustlers, and speed freaks.

God swims in oceans of puke and dares Harry to follow.

Harry sleeps for two or three days in the sanitized houses
of God where pious friars who don’t know God tell him to
pray and give him deodorant.

Harry wants to belong to these men.

He wants clean hair and an eternally pregnant mother
dressed in stars.

But God is on the street across from the church sleeping
in a stream of piss.

How did it begin?

When Harry was five, he lapsed into the unhurried sleep of the
child and had a dream

 

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2018