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Authors: Frank Anthony Polito

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Drama Queers! (3 page)

BOOK: Drama Queers!
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And he’s got the sexiest little mustache. Plus a totally hairy chest and a totally big dick.

Wanna know how I know this?

Every day after Swimming back in 7
grade, Rob used to walk around butt naked in the locker room. You can bet I took my sweet old time getting dressed while I secretly checked him out toweling himself off. I’m pretty sure Rob Berger was the first guy in our class to grow pubes.

“Hey, Asshole!”

Suddenly, I realize Max is barking at me.


This is about all the response I can muster up.

“What do you want?”

I’m thinking,
Rob Berger’s totally hot bod
. Until I discover I’m at the front of the line where the nondescript middle-aged woman behind the cash register patiently awaits my order.

“Two bacon double cheeseburgers, small fry, and a medium Pepsi,” I tell her, polite as punch. Followed by, “Please.” And then I’m right back to my staring.

“I’ll see you in Drama,” Rob promises, catching my eye. “Don’t be late.”

Again, I’m gonna wet myself!

I watch his every move while he picks up his double Whopper with cheese, large fry, and large pop at the opposite end of the counter. As he slips away joining his jock friends at a booth in the corner, I take in one final glimpse of Rob Berger’s totally hot ass…5
hour can
come soon enough, you know what I mean?

By the time 1:00 PM rolls around I’ve endured about as much of “Call me Hal” and his sweat dripping as I possibly can. The second the bell rings, thru the Choir room door I fly, like a bat outta hell.


I’m about to enter the auditorium across the hall when I hear a voice call out my name. I turn to find fellow Drama Queer, Liza Larson, dressed in her uniform—black spandex pants, and black leather jacket complete with fringe. Her bottle-blond hair is perfectly feathered, and her signature penciled-on spider sits dangling from the web its spun in the corner of Liza’s left eye.

“What’s up?” I ask, slightly outta breath.

Liza gives me a look. “You gotta pee or something?”


I can’t help but wonder why she’s questioning me like this. Until I realize I’m hopping back and forth on one foot like I gotta find the nearest boys’ room. Really, I just wanna get into the auditorium ASAP and save a seat for somebody…Guess who?

“Wanna head out to Skid Row real quick?”

In addition to being one of my Senior classmates, Liza is also my post-Chorale/pre-Advanced Drama smoking buddy.

“I think I’m gonna pass,” I decide, even though I can’t believe the words just came outta my mouth. Mind you, I’m not a Burn-Out myself. I don’t partake in the whole Mötley Crüe, knee-high moccasin boot worn over tucked-in tight jeans-wearing culture. I just love to smoke.

“Your loss,” Liza sighs, sauntering away.

For a second, I think about running after her as she heads down the hall and out the side doors. For the life of me, I can’t figure out who started calling the spot across the street from HPHS
Skid Row
. They didn’t see
Little Shop of Horrors
, I guess. Me and my friends used to always call it
The Log
. Until we discovered it’s really a downed telephone pole laying on its side. Regardless, it’s in front of the Blue Building, and where all the badass Burn-Outs go to do their thing.

Unfortunately, I got other business to attend to.

“This seat’s saved!”

My fellow fire-haired Senior, Audrey Wojczek, just tried to join me in the third row of recently reupholstered auditorium chairs, complementing the newly painted walls: maroon and gray, respectively.

“Who you hoarding it for?” she asks, as if it’s any of her business.

“Um…” I start to say. “Somebody.”

Aud turns her head slightly to one side, furrows her brow, and purses her lips. “Somebody who?”

Thank God I’m saved by the ringing bell, freeing me from having to succumb to this infernal interrogation. Only I don’t see Rob Berger anywhere.

What the fuck?

Audrey takes a seat beside Tuesday Gunderson, a slightly overweight Senior girl with stringy black hair, just as our Drama teacher calls out,

“Right here, Dell.”

I give a wave in case Mr. Dell’Olio can’t pick out my Howdy Doody hair in this low-level light from where he sits on the lip of the stage, scratching his receding hairline.

“Where’s your scene partner, Mr. Berger?”

I look around the auditorium again. Finally, the place is starting to look like a real theatre. My first year in Drama, you should’ve seen it…Torn curtains, lights that didn’t light, graffiti spray-painted on the backstage wall by some Class of ’86 breakdancer dudes.

“Not sure,” I sadly report. “I seen him at lunch.”

How am I gonna make it thru the next fifty-eight minutes when I’m wracked with worry?

“Right here, Coach!”

All heads turn towards the deep bass reverberating thru the room. I don’t know why Rob insists on calling Dell
. Maybe because he plays a lot of sports. If you ask me, it’s fucking charming as all get-out.

“You’re late, Berger!” Dell shouts, taking on a tone only a Varsity football player could relate to.

I can’t say I’m attracted to Mr. Dell’Olio—he’s at least thirty-five. But whenever he talks to Rob, it’s like he becomes a totally different person. Like maybe when he was in high school, he always wanted to be a jock, but instead he got stuck being a Drama Queer. I never realized it before, but it’s sorta hot the way he butches it up.

“Sorry, Coach.” Like an embarrassed little boy, Rob’s cheeks burn bright red. “It won’t happen again.”

When I see him looking around for somewhere to park his totally hot ass, in my best stage whisper I hiss, “Berger…. I saved you a seat.”

Rob nods and smiles.

Scootching in beside me, he puts an arm around my shoulder and gives it a manly squeeze. “Thanks, Bradley.”

I think I’m in love

Let’s Hear It for the Boy

“Maybe he’s no Romeo

But he’s my loving one-man show…”

—Deniece Williams


The only thing
than being a Band Fag is…Being a Drama Queer.

At least according to the Hillbilly High Handbook.

I see why being in Band can be viewed as sorta lame. I mean, there you are, wearing this wool uniform along with this funny plumed hat and spats, stomping around the football field while all the Cool Kids sit up in the stands enjoying the game. Not to mention having to wake up at the butt crack of dawn for practice. Plus giving up your weekends to march in some stupid parade somewhere.

But how can Drama possibly be considered geeky? You perform plays in front of an audience of admiring fans. What person in their right mind wouldn’t enjoy the applause? I know I do. Why does everybody think
stars are totally cool, but not the ones on stage?

Back in 10
grade when I decided I wanted to be an actor, I didn’t realize this would be the case. I totally thought cheerleaders such as Shelly Findlay and Betsy Sheffield or Vikettes like Lynn Kelly and Angela Andrews would be trying out for Drama Club. Maybe even a few football players like Tom Fulton. I remember he seemed to enjoy himself performing in this play we presented back in 7
grade in Ms. Lemieux’s class.

Well, it wasn’t so much a play as it was a skit, but I did have the lead opposite Tom’s then-girlfriend, Marie Sperling. I guess maybe it wasn’t
acting since I didn’t have any lines or anything—it was a silent skit. I did get to soft-shoe to Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” as this strobe light flashed around us the entire time, making everything look all Charlie Chaplin-esque.

Don’t bring this up to Max. Originally, Ms. Lemieux cast him in the lead, but after a few rehearsals, she decided he didn’t quite cut it. Not to brag or anything, but once I took over the part, she told me I was a natural talent. Did I mention she was our hot-to-trot Enriched English & Social Studies teacher and her first name is Cinnamon?

Wanna know who showed up to try out for
—I mean,

When I walked into the auditorium that afternoon in March ’86, I seen none of the kids I expected to see. Instead, there sat Pee-wee Herman’s #1 fan, Charlie Richardson, and the slightly overweight stringy black-haired girl I mentioned before, Tuesday Gunderson.

“You slumming or something?”

Outta nowhere, the only person I recognized as being remotely acquainted with appeared, her bright red locks falling past the bottom of her purplish pink striped sweater.

“Hey,” I said, happy to see Audrey Wojczek for the first time in my life.

We may seem like pretty good pals now during Senior year, but at the time, I barely knew her. I mean, we went to junior high together and all, but we weren’t exactly friends, you know what I mean? Audrey only transferred to Webb during Freshman year, after spending 2nd thru 8th grades at St. Mary Magdalen’s. Judging from the mouth on her, you’d never know it!

“What the fuck are
doing here, Dayton?”

Audrey served as treasurer of Drama Club. She also played the mother in
The Skeleton Walks
, the fall play first semester. Her performance came as a bit of a surprise to me when I seen the production, but as the recipient of the Class Clown mock award, I guess Audrey has never been much of a wallflower.

“I’m trying out for the play,” I remember telling her. “What do you think I’m doing?”

Back at Webb, me and Audrey constantly fought whenever we found ourselves together. She loved picking on me, saying my hair would fall out someday just because our Health teacher, Mrs. Strong, said that most redheaded men eventually go bald. Shit like that.

“The word is
” Audrey corrected. “And it’s a
, not a play.”


The spring play—I mean,
—that year, like I said, was none other than
You know,
“where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain,”
and the
“shiny little surrey with the fringe on the top.”
By the guys who wrote
The Sound of Music,
Rogers & Hammerstein. Well, I never seen it before, but I knew the movie version had the mom from
The Partridge Family
in it, who happens to be the real-life mother of my very first crush ever. No, not David, but

Growing up, we never had much money. Evidently, James Dayton didn’t make a whole lot working as a cop in Troy while getting his degree in Physical Education from Wayne State. And once Laura Victor married him, she gave up the job she had since turning Sweet Sixteen working as a secretary in the tissues and pathology lab at Detroit Osteopathic Hospital to stay home with me and my sisters, Janelle, Nina, and Brittany.

Yet every so often, Mom found a little extra cash stashed somewhere. Her (quote-unquote) mad money, she liked to call it. I used to think so because she spent it whenever Dad made her mad, which seemed a lot more frequent the longer they stayed together and the older me and the girls got…No wonder their marriage ended in D-I-V-O-R-C-E in 1983.

I’ll never forget this one time my parents were out bowling on their bowling league…

After we put on our footie pajamas, me and Janelle gathered in front of the television with our babysitter, Sheryl Killian. Nina and Brittany must’ve both been in bed because they were still babies. I’m pretty sure I was in 1st grade at the time, so they were like three and two.

“Ooh, he’s cute!”

I’m sure
thought it first, but Janelle beat me to saying it out loud. After all, she is two years older.

“That’s Shaun Cassidy,” Sheryl informed us when
The Hardy Boys
came on channel 7 at 7:00 PM. “Isn’t he a fox?”

At the time, we were living in Center Line. The Killians lived down the block from us on Sterling, and Sheryl went to high school at St. Clement’s. I remember her being very glamorous in her bell-bottom jeans with her long blond Bionic Woman hair. Me and Janelle liked to sit on the back of the couch and braid it for her while we all watched TV.

“Is he your boyfriend?” I asked, feeling a tad jealous that Shaun Cassidy just might be.

Sheryl laughed. “I wish!” Then she told us, “He sings ‘Da Doo Ron Ron.’”

How could I not know that? I loved “Da Doo Ron Ron”! Except I always thought it was “Da Doo
Run Run

Every time we took a ride somewhere in Dad’s car, me and Janelle would hear it on CKLW, so we knew all the words by heart. Boy, did I wish
name was Jill!

Thus began our weekly ritual…

Every Sunday night while our parents were up at Pastime Lanes, Sheryl would pop the Jiffy Pop, melt an entire stick of
(“Everything’s better with…”)
Blue Bonnet on it, while me and Janelle waited patiently in the family room, counting the seconds till show time.

From the moment Frank and Joe appeared in twelve-inch black and white, we sat glued to our seats, not even getting up to pee unless we absolutely had to. This was back before they invented the VCR, you know what I mean? And even if they’d been around, the Daytons certainly couldn’t have afforded one.

Wanna know what I remember most about
The Hardy Boys
, other than how cute Shaun Cassidy looked in every episode?

That creepy music from the opening montage! And all the various book covers appearing one by one:
The Clue in the Embers, While the Clocked Ticked, The Hidden Staircase.

Back then, I didn’t know the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were literary characters that had been around for fifty years, but oh how my 6-year-old heart skipped a beat when Shaun Cassidy began clapping his hands high above his head, wearing that groovy striped sweater with the scarf draped around his neck.

My favorite episode of all time had to be “The Last Kiss of Summer.” ’member, the one where Joe got married? I’ll never forget when I first heard about it, I was devastated. Joe Hardy couldn’t have a wife. It would ruin the show!

Sure enough, the scene opened with Joe and that girl, Jamie, driving down the coast in Joe’s convertible, staring lovingly into each other’s eyes, the wind blowing both their long blond hair while that romantic ’70s song played in the background.

“If a picture paints a thousand words…”

After Joe and Jamie professed their undying love for each other and shared a passionate kiss, they walked along the beach, arm in arm.

“If a face could launch a thousand ships…”

I remember thinking how beautiful Jamie looked in her cutoff jean shorts and blouse tied in a knot in front, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Shaun Cassidy’s smile. I remember wanting to press my face against the tiny screen—and kiss it. Imagine how confusing that must’ve been for a 6-year-old boy. Especially one who spent so much time surrounded by his sisters, he sometimes felt more like one of the girls.

“Joe Hardy is sooo cute!” I gushed, scootching closer to the TV set.

“I like Frank better,” Janelle decided, even though I couldn’t understand how she could think such a thing.

Obviously Sheryl Killian didn’t realize how things worked in the Dayton household. “Joe is a boy,” she took it upon herself to point out. “You
think he’s cute, Bradley.”

I turned to Janelle.

She turned to Sheryl. “It’s okay…Sometimes Brad thinks boys are cute.”

To Janelle, it was totally no biggie. She even let me play Barbies with her.

And then tragedy struck.

I knew there’d be trouble the second Joe and Jamie got into their car after the wedding rehearsal and we cut to that jerk, Jocco. Coming from the opposite direction, there he was driving drunk with his bimbo girlfriend. Only I never expected Joe and Jamie to get run off the road.

“Look out!” Me, Janelle, and Sheryl cried out in three-part harmony.

I covered my face with my hands, the way Mom taught me to do whenever there was a scary part, like when Bugs Bunny met Dr. Jekyll and he turned into Mr. Hyde. Yet I couldn’t help sneaking a peek thru my tiny little fingers the second I heard that horrible sound.

“Oh, my God…”

I started crying soon as I seen Joe slumped over the steering wheel and Jamie laying against the dashboard…blood on her shoulder. Thank God that other car with them two guys in it pulled up. How could they just drive away without stopping to help?

Poor Joe…He took one look at his soon-to-be wedded wife and knew there was nothing he could do. Holding her tight, he sobbed, “Jamie…Jamie.”

Leave it to the Hardy Boys to go undercover and catch the killer!

I particularly loved the part when Joe befriended Jocco and they threw that party out at their fancy beach house. I immediately recognized the Muzak version of “How Deep is Your Love?” from the
Saturday Night Fever
soundtrack playing in the background…God, I wanted to see that movie sooo bad!

I remember being confused when Frank arrived and Joe acted like he didn’t recognize his brother. Really, it was all just part of the plan to set Jocco up and bust him for selling stolen goods. Until Jocco got wise to Frank posing as a big-time surfer, and sent him out on his board in shark-infested waters…I’ll never forget the sight of Parker Stevenson in that wetsuit, even though my heart would always belong to Shaun Cassidy.

The only other part of “The Last Kiss of Summer” that I remember comes at the very end. After being haunted by her memory the entire episode, Joe spots Jamie walking down the beach in her bikini bathing suit. He runs up to her, touches her on the shoulder, and says, “Excuse me…”

“If the world should stop revolving, spinning slowly down to die…”

She turns around—and it’s some other girl.

How Joe could’ve been mistaken, I never understood. This broad looked nothing like beautiful Jamie. In fact, wasn’t she kind of a dog, if I recall correctly?


Later that evening when Laura returned with Jim, she reached into her purse. Besides watching
The Hardy Boys
on TV, this was always my favorite part of the night.

“Hold out your hands and open your eyes…”

BOOK: Drama Queers!
5.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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