Dream Girls

When reality is too much and illusion is not enough, we find ourselves at Lips

"Judy, you left reality in the parking lot," Cashetta prodded her. "Now: how old are you?"

But poor Judy was stymied. "I feel 17," she offered.

Moving right along, our hostess ventured over to "a table full of homos." "Been together long?" she asked one couple.

Tony Gleeson

"A couple days," one replied.

"A long term gay relationship," she quipped. "Got a ring?" she asked, but before they could answer, she said, "Not anywhere we want to see, I bet!" And then she headed toward us.

"Are you lesbians?" she pried as the spotlight hit our table.

"No," Keely quickly answered, but I was as fast with, "Occasionally."

Cashetta liked my answer better: "I think all women are."

Now that we were all acquainted, the show could begin. Rebecca Glasscock started with the typical lip-synched song-and-dance routine. My jaded friend was easily impressed.

"Look at her make those curls bounce," she said, jealous her own hair was nearly straight from its weighty length. "I need a haircut like that!"

I have been to enough drag shows to know a bio-girl should never compare her persona to the hyper-reality of any queen's feminine mystique. I put things in perspective: "Her hair is polyester." But when the performer's three minutes were up, Keely had her fingers in her mouth, whistling like a redneck butch.

After another straightforward lip-synched performance, I was starting to wonder if the show would be the low point of the evening. But our own Martina quickly turned things around with a humorous impersonation. In a plaid skirt on her hips and a white top tied beneath her breasts, Martina delivered a young Britney's "Oops, I Did It Again," but with older Britney's jiggly midsection. Finally, the blond wig came off. With short dark hair, she was the most up-to-date Britney ever.

The other queens followed up with notable performances. Twat LaRouge, who as a server had merely had on a blue wig and white makeup, now had on a large full-head mask, like ancient Greek meets puppet theater; her dramatic movement equaled the scale that the mask demanded. Queen Velvet stood out, not only for topnotch camel toe, but for the athleticism of her performance, including a full split with each foot on a separate chair.

But you've never seen anything until you've seen what Cashetta (according to her the world's only drag queen magician) can do after inflating a balloon more than three feet long. Linda Lovelace could learn something — even if later Cashetta insisted that this, like drag, was just another illusion.

When the show was over, the queens came on stage for an encore, and those celebrating a special occasion were invited up as the deejay played the Miss America theme and loved ones took advantage of a photo op.

Her life recently impacted by creating another generation, Keely was overcome with emotion. She began to weep while the entertainers wrapped their robust arms around the frail 81-year old mum in this big celebration of a long life.

Even though her song was meant just to mark the end of a fun evening, Nelly Furtado broke me. As the recorded singer reminded us that "Lovers to friends, all good things come to an end," I began to weep, too. Surrounded by lovely illusions and confronted by stark realities, Keely and I were filled with nostalgia and with hope and fear for the future — and there we were, in each other's arms at Lips, celebrating the real and the right-now.

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