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.
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.
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
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.
“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
The search for Jesus looked hopeless.
Paul said that he’d know Christ when he saw him.
Bobby and Maurice drafted a new story line.
The most radical change came from Maurice who wanted to play Magdalene as a man.
“Maurice Magdalene?” asked Paul.
Maurice replied, “Mandrake. Mandrake Magdalene.”
Paul frowned, “That sounds like the name of a porn star!”
Maurice called Paul a first-rate bitch and looked to Bobby for support.
Bobby leapt to the stage, “Make him a trucker! Big Mack Magdalene! A trucker disciple and saint!” Bobby stepped into the cab of an imaginary truck and dramatically belched. “Saint Big wrote the epistle to the Plebeians while driving cross country! VROOOOOM!”
Maurice was amused but not showing it. “They didn’t have Mack Trucks in those days, Miss Bobby!”
Bobby laughed. “If I was Jesus I’d stone you.”
The door to the bar opened and a tall man with blond hair and a tan walked in.
He said his name was Christopher, a recently discharged Marine.
He had a slight limp from what he later said was a leg wound he’d gotten in
Paul asked him if he had come to try out for the role of Jesus.
“In a way,” Christopher replied.
Bobby introduced himself and said he was almost like a normal guy. “I’m gonna play Judas. If you play Jesus we’ll need to practice that kiss.” Bobby playfully batted his eyelashes, “I still don’t know where it goes. “
Christopher grinned: “If I play Jesus I’ll give you a list.”
Bobby flushed and quickly sat to hide his reply.
“That kiss goes on the neck, Bobby, and only on the neck.” Paul gave Christopher the lyrics to Gethsemane. He went to the turntable and cued up the song.
Christopher climbed the stage; Paul turned up the stage lights and Christopher’s long blond hair shimmered like a halo.
Paul smiled. “I’ve found Christ.”
Bobby and Maurice lobbied the rest of the cast to support them in petitioning Paul to accept their rewrite to the story of Jesus.
They got their way.
The re-write went as like this:
Mary Magdalene is a trans woman.
She is miraculously transitioned by Jesus.
She loves Jesus but knows it’s hopeless.
The story moves along with Jesus demanding that people to get their shit together until one night, Judas, in a fit of jealously over Magdalene, betrays Jesus to the CIA with a rather deep and lengthy kiss.
The CIA and the KGB detains Jesus.
He is interrogated, tortured and publicly electrocuted.
Paul found a large pink Santa Throne used by the bar for the yearly Queen of Hearts drag show.
Paul painted the chair brown and equipped it with an electrified wicker basket loaded with flash bulbs that fired with a remote.
The finishing touch was that the half blind audience saw the ghost of Jesus rise from the chair and limp away.
Source image for “Jesus Kiss” found on the internet in 2009, source unknown.
The piss-elegant queen understood the power of the irrelevant.
The piss-elegant queen knew why a salad fork isn’t used to stab meat.
The piss-elegant queen conversed on most topics, was friends with
at least one famous dead person, and knew the power of a grand
Bobby’s teachers were the piss elegant queens of Charleston.
As the 1960’s merged with the 70’s fashion became a way of stating ones political beliefs.
A with it and out piss elegant fashion queen wore tight jeans, a semi-formal tweed jacket, a black turtleneck sweater, sneakers or work-boots, and he had a head full of freshly styled but fabulously unkempt hair.
As Bobby learned the speech and way of upper middle class men he also learned to play mix and match when it came to class styles and body Language.
He merged the style of the piss elegant queen with the macho swagger of a working class youth.
For Bobby, what began as pretension became a passion.
He wanted to be a writer.
It was a fantasy that started when he was eight.
When Bobby read the biographies of the working class writers that he admired he felt understood.
He admired the passion of the French surrealists writers.
He listened closely to the Beatles.
They proved that academic titles were not the same as talent and vision.
The Beatles gave working class kids like Bobby the hope that they could be writers and artists.
Bobby believed that somewhere there were people who would show him what he needed to know to be the kind of man he wanted to be.
His faith was that he would find them.
Paul and Maurice had gotten part-time jobs at a local Dinner Theater.
Paul was the director and Maurice was in set design.
Bobby joined them as a stage hand.
The only theater Bobby had ever seen were drag shows.
He said the drag shows at the gay bar were better than the, “Now Voyager Dinner Theater production of Little Mary Sunshine. “
Paul nodded, smiled, and said: “Brilliant!”
Paul gathered the cast of Little Mary Sunshine together and asked for volunteers for an experimental production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
He got them.
He met with the owner of the gay bar and secured a six night run.
Within a week Paul had the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar assembled at the bar
Maurice suggested that Paul change the title to Le Jésus Christos du Superstar.
Maurice was asked to leave the bar.
The production still needed a Christ.
A straight guy showed up to try out for the part.
Paul thought he’d make a good Judas and that Bobby should be Christ.
The straight guy said he wouldn’t play second fiddle to a fag.
Bobby was instantly in his face: “Get the fuck out of our bar!”
Maurice quickly grabbed Bobby by the arms and pulled him onto the dance floor: “Honey I told you not to swallow, it makes you jumpy!”
Paul apologized for Bobby and led the straight guy out of the bar.
He also decided that Bobby would make a terrible Christ.
(c) Rob Goldstein 2016 All Rights Reserved