Monday, May 9, 2011
Scandals.... of the Privileged Few! A Novel by Julian Ayrs! Chapter 7!
Butch had just gobbled down the last morsel of her omelet at “Eggs, Bagels & Beyond”, situated in a quaint little nook on Market Street just off the Castro District, when she spied the photograph staring up at her from the front page of the Calendar section of the newspaper.
If she was not mistaken, it was a publicity still of Chad.
Once she pushed back her carved wooden chair - which let out a little squeal as she did so – she was able to reach forward and snatch up the newspaper just as a flippant waiter plopped her bill down on the counter next to her car keys.
“Thank you, dear,” he drawled with a bit of a girlish twang, as he roller-skated off to the other side of the diner to deliver up a mug of steaming hot java to a tourist who was closely scrutinizing a downtown map of San Francisco with a female companion.
“Oh, you might want to hop on the trolley and spend a day in Noe Valley,” the server quipped, as he hovered around the table for a second or two.
“’Ya just have to get a gander at the Maiden’s Breasts,” he roared raucously, as he rolled his eyes for effect.
“Where do we catch the train,” one of the twenty-something gals in a maize-colored sun dress quizzed, as the zany server proceeded to tap a spot on the map with a long boney finger splashed with an eye-catching dash of ruby-red nail polish on a well-manicured nail.
Meanwhile, Butch proceeded to plunk the morning daily down in front of her with one pudgy hand, as she slipped a pair of horn-rimmed glasses on the end of her finely sculpted nose with the other.
Fortunately for her, she’d inherited her mother’s genes, which was reflected in her overall physical looks.
“Not so, with Chad,” thought Butch to herself, as she examined the photograph – about a quarter-of-a-page in size – which graced the front page of the popular arts section.
For starters, her long-time acquaintance kind- of looked-like a chipmunk.
That was partly due to the fact her cheeks were chunky-looking (as if they were packed chock-full of little nuts) and somewhat reminiscent of a rodent’s.
It didn’t help matters that her eyes – caught squinting in the bright studio lights – had a sort-of beady quality to them, too.
Definitely, the angle the photographer chose to shoot from was not a flattering one.
But why – pray tell - was Chad's mug gracing the cover?
As Butch read on, she became fascinated by the report which zeroed in on the intriguing details on Chad’s controversial sex change now making headlines around the country.
Apparently, a filmmaker documented Chad's transition from female to male for posterity’s sake, and now the revealing tell-all was about to be ceremonioulsy unveiled on Oprah Winfrey’s struggling OWN network Tuesday Night.
Oprah - who Butch jokingly nick-named Big “O” a scant few months ago (with a nod to Jackie “O” and Warhol of “Soup Can” fame) allegedly got fed up with dealing with the brass at ABC every time she wanted to sneeze.
So, she jumped ship to rustle up her own broadcast outlet.
“She’s taking a detour before she lands on the net,” one friend kidded to Butch, at a luncheon a week earlier at the Ivy on tony Robertson Boulevard in WeHo affectionately known as gay gulch.
Once the undisputed Queen of the afternoon airwaves, Big “O” was now the butt of a raft of endless cruel jokes, and had Dave and Jay on the talk-show circuit to thank for the merciless roast.
Now, that her “vision” was blinded by the blight (poor ratings, poor baby) the Gab Fest Queen (the hostess with the moistest, as Butch put it) Winfrey was scrambling for heady controversial bill-of-fare to lure in viewers.
For good reason!
According to press reports, right out of the gate, OWN failed to dredge up ratings worth writing home about.
“It will take some time to build up an audience,” Oprah’s right-hand woman (rumored to be her faithful lesbian lover) argued with a poker face to all within earshot.
Although the channel whipped up a dozen-or-so innovative shows to kick off the network in January – on topics that ranged from travel, to nutrition, and self-help tips on home decorating – few managed to gel with American TV’s audiences.
American idol, the Apprentice – even Glee - continued to snap up the ratings while OWN languished essentially viewerless on the sidelines.
In fact, according to the Nielsen ratings, fewer than 300,000 tuned in on average during prime-time hours since the novelty Network made its grand entrance into the highly-competitive media rich cable market.
A gimmick drummed up to promote “Becoming Chad” may turn things around at OWN.
“Oprah says it’s a Documentary Film Club ,” Chantel explained to Butch, who didn’t quite get it at first.
“Oh, I think I understand now. Documentarians will telecast their projects on OWN each month. Then, after the premiere, viewers can order a copy for their DVD collection or rent it from Blockbuster on the cheap.”
“It will probably be available on Oprah’s official web site, too.”
"Where they'll have to swim through a sea of annoying slick pop-ups, no doubt!"
The new venture was causing quite a buzz on the Internet.
If the ballsy talk-show host kept plugging away, OWN might eventually become a respected film producer, and a force to reckon with in Hollywood.
Tuesday night, the premiere production of – “Becoming Chad “ would either emerge a boffo hit or a boob tube bomb.
“It depends on how curious and open-minded the American public is,” Butch found herself speculating to her best friend later in Macy’s where they were shopping for a few odds-and-ends.
Once folks got wind of the fact Chad (subject matter of the controversial material) was the only child of one of their favorite unstoppable Pop Divas, Chantel and Butch both expected fireworks to erupt.
"Just betcha, Chad - and mommy dearest - are in for a bumpy night or two ahead as Bette Davis would say,” Butch surmised.
Chantel agreed in so many words.
“People are a lot more open-minded in Hollywood. Artists forget that. Once they step out of their protective bubble here, they suddenly get a rude awakening,” Chantel snickered, matter-of-fact.
“I doubt those red-necks on Main street are going to warm up to the idea much,” Butch astutely pointed out to her friend.
To some, after all, a full-blown sex change is downright freaky, no matter which way you cut it," bellowed Butch.
Ooops! Wrong choice of words?
At this juncture in the conversation,a news clip caught Butch's eye.
“Paul McCartney to get hitched”
Well, at least one person wasn’t down on love.
“As Barry Manilow would say, he’s ready to take the plunge again,” Chantel laughed.
“Chance,” Butch corrected her.
“It’s more like taking a plunge. I know, I’ve been there big time.”
“Some people can’t survive in life without the thought of a mate or love in their life,” Butch found herself waxing philosophically.
“I guess that’s why Chad is going the route he is,” Chantel mused.
“If anything, it looks like Oprah is counting on liberated sidekicks, sex changes, and gay interior decorators to boost up the ratings on her network in the next few weeks,” Chantel giggled.
“Most Americans find it difficult to turn away from a train wreck, no matter how disturbing the images,” Butch reminded her pal with a slightly cynical tone in her voice.
A light bulb appeared to go off in Chantel's head at this point.
“Heh, that’s it. Oprah’s handlers should try to land an exclusive on the Osama bin Laden photos. If she broadcast those gruesome suckers, her ratings would go through the roof!”
“TMZ probably scooped them up already, if I know Harvey.”
“I wonder what kind of money those kids make on that show, anyway? Do you suppose Levin tosses them a bone every time their mugs get featured on-camera?” she casually quizzed her friend, as she spritzed a little Oh! That! Perez Hilton cologne on her wrist.
“I hear that Levin is a cheap bastard, so they probably get paid in glory. Can’t hurt their sex lives, though,” Butch muttered under her breath, as she tossed an over-the-top over-designed hat on her head, courtesy the Princess Beatrice Royal Threads label.
"By the way, is he gay?"
"How would I know?"
"Well, I sort of thought, gay people had the scoop on each other. Who was, or isn’t. Bi perhaps. Don’t you have gadar or something?"
The remark triggered memories of the old days when the gay lifestyle – and being “out” – was basically in its infancy.
Back in the late sixties and early seventies the loved that dared not speak its name didn’t.
"In contrast - today - it won't shut up," hissed Butch.
Butch, for one, used to be terrified at the thought of being exposed (outed) in high school.
Once the damning snicker-and-cold-stare treatment started up, a student's dance card usually ended up short-circuited for the rest of the semester.
One had to endure the occasional slur, too.
Butch hid behind the pretty frilly frocks lavished on her by a dotting mother, crossed her legs like clock-work whenever she took a sitting position, steered clear of plaid shirts, and avoided black sensible shoes like the plague.
Spending the night with a butch horsey-looking female pal was out-of-the-question, too!
Hooking up - preferably with a male hottie - was the best case scenario.
Early on, Butch recognized a great beard in a nerdy computer whiz who sat behind her in Science class, and jumped on his sorry carcass before he knew what hit him!
Whenever Butch reflected on those breathy clandestine coming-of-age high-tension pre-gay daze– she couldn't help but utter up a raucous bell-laugh or two.
Why was youth wasted on the young?
(to be continued)