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Priscilla: Perspectives From the Token Australian

3 a.m., 2A Hingham Street, Priscilla after-party
“This is the best night of my life”. “This”, I repeated slowly, “is the best night of my life”.

From one perspective, of course, I had no right to be saying this. I was in my living room, wearing a cheap dress and even cheaper makeup. I was not alone. In fact, there were at least 60 people in my living room, and another dozen or so scattered in the four bedrooms or ‘dens of iniquity’ as we like to call them. And these people had done the following: spilt beer in a speaker, started a food fight, cooked pasta in a kettle, dribbled peanuts into two radiators, fused cranberry juice with the carpet, smeared liquid foundation all over the place, challenged our In-Sink-Erator ™, started another food fight, and, one must not forget, smudged mustard on our TV screen.

Why then would I say it was the best night of my life? Why would my housemate Leo, sitting next to me on the couch, agree, despite the wasteland, the primordial swamp that lay before us. In an immediate sense it was probably four things – the fact that we were joined on the couch by five lovely ladies, the fact that our high heels were now off (as an aside, I have new found respect for ladies’ calves), the fact that our friend Thomas was providing the whole room with adult entertainment, and most importantly, the fact that the maids would be around in 11 hours. Of course, it was more than just this fleeting moment at the after-party – the whole fabric of the evening was something special, and we need to go back to where it all began…

5:15 p.m., 2A Hingham Street, Priscilla pre-party
“I think my underpants are riding up my crack.”
Such comments were prevalent at the pre-party. The NC guys, who clearly need more life experiences, ran into several last-minute problems. What color foundation do I need? What about the other stuff? (We later found the names: mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, lip pencil, blush, and a miscellany of other junk). Why can’t we get our nylons out of our (albeit firm, athletic, walnut-shaped) derrieres? WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL THIS BODY HAIR? (Aside from clogging every sink at 2A Hingham, and most of the drains in the Greater Boston area.)

Questions abounded, but fortunately, so did answers, as the ladies of NC were on hand to apply makeup, and build confidence for our debuts as Priscilla Queens. Delicious cocktails were made and served by people in various stages of undress. Delicious cocktails were taken and consumed by people in various stages of distress. Calves were beginning to hurt, lipstick was beginning to appear on front teeth, but nothing could stop the spirit and exuberance of the group as the time for the ball drew near.

8:30 p.m., Cyclorama, Priscilla Ball
“Dude, I don’t want to get drunk and end up in some sort of Crying Game moment.”
Sentiments like these, while irrational, were heard often in the early stages of the evening. To my knowledge though, this only happened one or two dozen times over the course of the night. For the majority, the night ran through three phases: scoping, groping and moping.

The scoping phase lasted until around 10 p.m. and was marked a warm childlike feeling of being in a candy store: “Daddy! Daddy! Look at all the new sweets! Daddy! Daddy! Look at all the old sweets in their new wrappers! I would really like to eat some of those! Can I? Can I?” I don’t really know who’s your daddy in that internal monologue, but I know it existed, because occasionally, I would hear it peep out from someone’s lips. Just as I heard a Homer-Simpson style “Hmmm – guys in dresses” slip out too. And so the vultures circled their still-beating prey for 90 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, people loved the open bar, and were desperately trying to amortize their entry fee over as many vodka-cranberries and G&Ts as possible. This fact led directly to the groping phase. I observed three species of groping. First, the infamous classmate grope, with its subspecies, the sectionmate grope. Never has so much skydeck material been generated by so few. Second, the
I-want-to-grope-but-I-can’t-because-I-have-a-partner grope. This one, despite its lengthy name, was very common. Maybe it’s because you can’t smoke in this Puritanical town, but I could smell the sexual frustration, and (like smoke) it lingered in our house until the next day. Finally, there was the non-grope. Who could blame the would-be gropee for rejecting the groper, given some of the lines that were used? The worst (or best?) was this one: “When it hits your lips, it tastes so good.” What you call a clever Old School reference, I call a strikeout.

Professional drag queens, belle of the ball awards, a cool music mix, and delectable finger food, punctuated the night, and eventually gave way to the moping phase. Here, people realized that the fantastic night was almost over, that the digital photos of them would soon be published on Ofoto, and that the lights were about to be turned on. They say beauty is only a light switch away, although once you flip it back, you can say the same thing about horror. Anyway, we filed onto buses and began the trip to a “home game”, an “away game”, an afterparty, or just sleep. In every case, we lamented the end, but looked forward to next year.

The night was special – few would doubt it. Cutting across all these phases was the tireless work of the Australians and New Zealanders who put all the logistics together months in advance, and ensured things ran smoothly on the night. Credit also goes to the people at Cyclorama who, despite their often surly demeanors, were patient and fair to us during the evening. Priscilla is not just a ball. Indeed, it is not even just an excuse for a bender. It is much more than this. It is a celebration of diversity, friendship, tolerance, and humor. It is all the things I’ve described and more. So, you do the math. Your house, your calves, your toes, and your reputation are broken, but you have had this night of celebration and fun.

Would you, at 3 a.m., say “this is the best night of my life?”
Endlessly. Effortlessly.

November 3, 2003
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