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Things could get dicey.

Pimples, man. When is the end of pimples? Had pimples in my Wonder years, but by my 20s I’d hoped they’d go back to high school and leave my face alone. Instead they keep coming, one at a time, maybe on my butt instead of my face, but relentlessly, and lately in the strangest places. Right now there's a juicy blackhead growing on my left gonad. Thought it was a flea bite it scratches so, but I lifted and looked and it’s hello zitty. That's one I won’t be squeezing.

♦ ♦ ♦

At the Castro, Myra Breckinridge (1970) was a complete camp-out, one of the weirdest tales ever told by a major studio, wherein a movie nut has a sex change operation. Tom Selleck services Mae West, and later she sings a couple of wacky songs. On screen, everyone’s emotions are reflected in clips from even older movies, and in the audience — this being the Castro neighborhood — there’s talking back and and ample drag.

The entire cast exuberantly overacts, except for Rex Reed of all galactic possibilities, who’s perfectly plausible as the pre-operative Myron Breckinridge. I only knew him as a movie review byline; who knew Reed was even an actor? And who would’ve guessed that after having his penis and testicles removed, a vagina installed, and gallons of hormones pumped into his/her blood, Rex Reed could become Raquel Welch?

Before the second feature, we were treated to an ersatz and impromptu fashion show, as a parade of painted ladies strutted up and down the aisles to whistles and applause. This is the city, folks. If you’re reading this anywhere else and maybe enjoying the stories, maybe you’re not where you belong.

The second feature was Mommie Dearest (1981), and the theater was packed, even the balcony. I’ve seen a lot of Joan Crawford’s melodramatic movies, often there in my usual chair at the Castro, where the mostly gay crowd always loves her butchy bitchiness, but her real story — at least, this is purported to be her real story — is even more melodramatic than Mildred Pierce or most of her other movies. Faye Dunaway plays Joan, who’s not too nice to her daughter Christina, and it’s all fabulously overwrought with inner and outer turmoil.

Clearly, the Crawford of this movie, based on her daughter’s non-fiction book, was sorta psychotic with her kids, but no more so than you’d often see in a random lower- to middle-class household. My mom isn’t a screaming boozer like Dunaway’s Crawford, and she never beat us like that, but I’ve known neighbor kids who had it worse than poor little Christina. 

Which is not to be dismissive — quite the contrary. I’m not saying ‘so what’, I’m saying ‘this is awful but it’s everywhere’.

It was a grand double feature, but it’s perhaps impossible to report it in writing, or recreate it anywhere else. The Castro is unique. Everyone in the sold-out crowd wanted to be Joan or Rex, Christina or Raquel. Whenever the dialogue grew especially arch and catty, which was almost always, hundreds of voices might recite the script. By the end of the second movie, when Christina had grown up enough to realize fight back against her monstrous mother, I was enjoying the spectacle in the theater more than even the spectacle on the screen.

San Francisco, man. This is my home town.

♦ ♦ ♦

Postscript, written the next night: It’s Wednesday, hours after work. The office is closed, and I’m about to return to the building to clean out my desk. Today was my last day there, though Darla doesn’t know it yet. Nobody does. The details are too complicated and there’s not enough space left to explain it here, and anyway I'm in no mood, so buy next month’s issue, ya cheapskate.

For now, please add a serious and somewhat desperate tone of voice as you read this final paragraph: I have almost no money, no source of income, no job prospects, and frankly no interest in looking for another job, so things could get dicey. If anyone reading this zine could offer bargain housing (say, a closet big enough to fit a fat guy?) or any kind of work here or near San Francisco or — fuck it — anyplace on Planet Earth, I’d love to hear from you. My number is (415) ██-███.

From Pathetic Life #8
Tuesday, January 31, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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