It wasn't the first time in my many adventures that I've taken a moment to soak it all in and wondered, Damn. What happened? It's been a long and winding road for this former Sunday-school teacher, and last weekend at Imperial Court de San Diego's Easterbasket fundraiser, it really sank in.
Supporters braved Sunday's inclement weather and gathered at one of my favorite haunts, The San Diego Eagle (3040 North Park Way) to partake in the benefit, now in its ninth year, that raises money, through the sale of adult-themed Easter baskets, to purchase bicycles for underprivileged youth.
If you're a regular reader, you know that The Eagle holds a special place in my pervy heart; some of my best nights there have turned into columns, while the really good ones I've kept between me and Layla, the friendly woman at the free clinic.
Getting ready for the roll of the dice, I asked the bartender for something cheap that would keep me warm. “Look around,” he replied, surveying the clientele.
“It sure is nipply outside, huh?” he added for good measure, as I crossed my arms, covering my perky headlights in Catholic shame.
Bourbon in hand, I made my way to a buffet table set up in the leather-bar extraordinaire, where many sticky “blackout” parties have taken place, and did the unthinkable: I actually ate something.
“Wear your favorite undies, tight jeans, gear or any basket-enhancing garment you like, as we may have an impromptu ‘What's in Your Basket' contest,” the invite read. “Christi will be defending her title from last year.”
A who's-who of local pageant winners and title holders were on board, including current Mr. San Diego Leather Kurt Wendelborg, Ms. San Diego Leather 2004 Karen Yew, a gaggle of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in full religious garb and more Bears San Diego board members than you could shake a honey-dipper-shaped dildo at.
Taking in the sights while shamelessly sucking the cream center from an éclair, with no hint of irony, I was approached by a glamorous individual who would become my buddy for the night. “My name is Jesús, but tonight you can call me Gaga,” she said. She was dressed to the nines, emulating the pop star down to the fishnet stockings and the crimped platinum-blonde Cleopatra wig.
A misfit who, like me, marches to the beat of his / her own drum, the Fresno native shared how several past lovers shunned her for her love of drag. “I would tell them: ‘Criticize all you want; just remember who the woman in the relationship is, bitch!'”
Next to us, the reigning Ruby Empress Ajax—the night's emcee—sat in a barber chair that doubled as her throne, prepping for her shtick, and shared the fundraiser's importance. “We started out with a few kids showing up at Trolley barn Park, and last year there were 800; it's become a University Heights tradition,” she said. “Outside Christmas, for some of them it's the only gift they will receive all year. You should see their faces light up.”
Her counterpart, the Obsidian Double Dragon Emperor Tom Brian Dickerson, agreed and sang the leather community's praises for staging the night's event. “Because of their involvement in something like this, some people would like to make them out to be pedophiles, but leather really cares,” he said. “In the darkest times of [LGBT] history, it's always the leather community and the dykes that rise up to help.”
The show underway, Ajax laid out the ground rules and stated that cash and checks were the acceptable forms of payment.
“What? No EBT?” my girl Gaga exclaimed.
If I'd had a ring, I'd have proposed right then and there.
Needless to say, these weren't Walgreens-variety Easter baskets—they were stuffed with everything from harnesses to “instructional” DVDs and bondage rope.
“How many people here like smut?” the hostess asked as she picked up a basket containing a video titled G.I. Jizz.“Oh my God, did you just feel your ovaries move? I did,” Ajax added as she started the bidding with the vocal dexterity of a seasoned Texas cattle auctioneer.
Other items, like a handbag filled with dental dams, followed.
The event took a slightly more serious turn when a scantily clad bunny who'd been making the rounds selling jelly-bean-filled plastic eggs was properly introduced. turns out it was Will Walters, the man arrested for public nudity during Pride festivities last year for rocking a loincloth.
“I hope that we rally together and tell the SDPD this is fucked up,” Emperor Tom said. “The time will come when we have to step up as a community and have our voices heard.”
“Look around this room tonight,” Ajax chimed in. “We are all different, and we are all free to express ourselves. Doesn't this feel like home?”
Wiping a tear from her heavily done eye, my pal Gaga asked me to take a picture with her by the food table before calling it a night. Getting our pose down, she unfortunately scooted too close to the veggie platter and got her glittery, spandex-clad behind covered in ranch dip.
“Oh well, I was planning on doing a sploshing video when I got home anyway,” she said, wiping it off.
White goo dripping down her Lee Press-Ons, she barked, “Paws up, bitch!” and I gladly obliged as her associate snapped away.
Man, it feels good to be home.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Enrique blogs at elzonkeyshow.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @enriquelimon.