A couple of years ago, a friend in New Orleans forwarded an email request looking for homos of a certain age willing to be interviewed for an article in the AARP magazine about “gays in middle age” which I correctly translated as “old queens.” If this is my Middle Age, I will live to be 122 years, a prospect that makes me shudder.
I know from experience how hard it is to scrape up participants for a story so I said I would be willing. The writer called and we had a chat during which we realized we had been Ladies of the Club in New Orleans at the same time, a happening little era called the 80s. We very decorously avoided trying to figure out if we had done each other.
I also know from experience a writer goes into a story with an idea about where the narrative needs to go and, consciously or not, the questions will flow in that direction. In this case, I could pretty quickly tell we were launched on the “Noble Fags who Survived the Plague” plotline. I am not particularly fond of this take on history so I tried to give a short shrift to the noble part and just answer honestly about what I remembered as a very scary and dark time. But I also wanted to give credit to my friends (and me) who refused to sink into a morose puddle of self pity.
We also talked about my cats.
Afterwards, I got a mass email thanking everyone for participating and saying that after editing, he would let us know who would be included (I wasn’t worried; who in their right mind would cut ME?) and that they would be in touch about getting photos for the story.
As I mentioned, this whole thing started in early 2014 and has been floating along, sort of desultorily, but then in mid-April, the photographer surfaced to set up a time on May 5 for me. When Secret Agent Fred texted to suggest coffee that afternoon, I got to use a reply that I had waited my whole life for: “Can’t sweetie, I’ve got a photo shoot scheduled for then.” I’d like that engraved on my tombstone, please.
It was pretty hilarious, the photographer and his assistant were very nice, not in the least pissy. They set up a backdrop and sat me in front of it and then we moved on to my living room, the garden, a stretch of Market Street that has a great view of downtown behind it and a rocky outcrop on the top of the canyon above my house.
He liked how much I wave my hands around as I talk (Hello? Gay, remember?) and also my bright red tennis shoes, possibly excessively so. He wanted to use Saki in some of the shots, but of course, the evil shit would have nothing to do with it even after I explained I was going to beat him if he didn’t cooperate. So there are several photographs of me with a cat squirming out of my embrace.
There was lots of “Lower your chin. Look over my shoulder. Look over your shoulder. Be glad you’re here” just like in movies of the glamorous modeling life. I kept trying to work in the pose Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous always employed of saying “Thursday” while looking smoldering, but the photographer wasn’t having it.
So now I’m going to be immortalized in the American Association of Retired People monthly, a magazine I wouldn’t read on a bet. It’s just proof that if you can avoid dying, you wind up doing all kinds of ridiculous things.