A woman of similar age to me—I am a fifty two year old white straight man, son of an extremely difficult, intimidating, cruel but closeted, very cross dresser, recently deceased—contacted me on the Guardian Soulmates dating site not long ago. She works in stained glass and used to be an intellectual property lawyer.
She has been mordant and wittily sad about her fear and hatred of social media, of dating sites, of the invasion of privacy, of oneself invading one’s own privacy, and of the hordes of idiot men intruding on her. She has left the Guardian Soulmates site and before going told me how relieved she was, how relieved to be free of the “world writ large”.
She also boxes and says that she can pack a punch.
But she modestly, reassuringly, adds in her profile that her fitness and strength is just jolly useful if you need any help moving house.
Idiots and the writ-large-world can wear you down.
Even if you are possessed of a pugilistic common sense.
But I will say that one of the things that my much longer, and more creative, profile on that other dating site, OkCupid, is at root based on is fear.
And it leads – occasionally – to a stubborn sense of “f**k’em” – or f**k my fear.
I went to a show at The Soho Theatre last night – my gorgeous, generous, lovely, dazzling, blonde, lulu friend Bertha from Johannesburg (my primary reader – thank you Bertha. But “lulu”? And “Bertha” !!?? Can we use another pseudonym?), who does work as a software developer for social media for large companies, had tickets; and she does treat me so wonderfully to tickets for diverse and smashing modern dance, theatre and comedy and is fab to see things with.
An overweight American drag queen, Dina Martina, performing monologues and his own rambling songs in a faltering, floating voice to cheesey, sentimental electronic piano. And some pre-recorded, filmed spoofs of sugary American ads for cosmetic surgery and of eighties music videos – a large, wobbling, clownish drag diva and her wobbly voice smeared in lipstick and digitally plonked onto appropriated moving images of the twerking bodies of Madonna et al.
I thought at first:
“Here we go – the usual tragedy mixed with self-mockery, with loneliness, with ridiculous dresses on a large, hairy-backed male form, the Who’s Who of TV tropes, with the usual jokes about the pathos of a grotesque mock-majestic man—wigged, plastered in make-up, in gold lamé dress or superhero suit—wanting to be beautiful, wanting to be feminine, wanting to be loved.
‘And the usual clubby solidarity from a gay audience rather overdoing the hoots of recognition and following the script of ‘Go Girl!’ to the letter ”.
But this was well-crafted – not lazy, not self-regarding self-parody.
Every failure – in the singing voice, in the dire approximation of a musical hook, in the painful, the wincingly but mesmerisingly observed accounts of embarrassing situations (like a humiliating encounter with a rather unmagnanimous Maya Angelou, anxious to pull rank over this rival performer, this idolising but abject, interloping drag queen, this outsider) – was beautifully and lingeringly acted, scripted.
It stank—in the best sense—of a deliberately constructed character (and performer) coming to life, both moving and bathetic and hilarious.
S / he, My Fair Software—that indeterminate sign stroke slash of stage and screen and laptop or robot PC page—stole and stroked my heart.
F / * / * / k s / h / e / r .
And I’ll steal some slap and meaning that floats from h / i / m in the c / l / o / s / e / t as well.
Thank you, Dina. x x o o