Friday, June 22, 2012

Frankie Saved Us

It took me a shocking amount of time to figure out what "gay" meant. Don't get me wrong...I'd consumed the fair amount of gay-hate in popular culture: Beverly Hills Cop being the most obvious (gay = disease HA HA HA 80s!!!). When I went with my friend and her older sister to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was eleven, I still didn't really understand it. Frankie, after all, went for both Brad and Janet...and Rocky...and maybe Meatloaf? Couldn't really deal with that one most of all.

In high school I knew many people who were gay. I was the only one who didn't realize they were gay...maybe the only person on earth, but I knew them. In my aged years I've thought about this and I've figured that I just didn't understand that "gay" could exist in the real, small world I inhabited. They only really existed in New York and Europe. My only logic is that I must have believed it was a choice. I KNOW. One of those assholes, right? YET.

There was Frankie, right? For so many of us, he was the first real gay man we'd ever encountered...and LOVED, loved wholeheartedly. There's no doubt in that. Here was this obvious Man. Dragged out in stilettos but a MAN. He created a man, he had a fan club, a castle, and he killed Meatloaf in the bloodiest way you never expected. All in a dress. From that first moment we saw him, descending in his heels and fishnets, you kind of had to step back and go, Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa. For those of us paying attention, Tim Curry's turn as Darkness in Legend was an obvious choice. There was an clear, androgynous sexuality about him, wasn't there?

When I first saw Frankie descending, all I could think was WHAT WHAT WHAAAAT. But all around me I heard people chanting his name. There was no respect for Milquetoast Brad and virgin Janet. But Frankie? Frankie was otherworldly. And, as it turned out, he really was...because he was from Transylvania, a world of transsexuals.

There's so much sub context in the music, obviously, about subterranean world of homosexuality in that world, this world, all worlds maybe. Rose tint my world, right? But the thing is: My exposure to Frankie and his freak show--and the fabulous music that ushered it all in--softened up my world. It made me begin to see that there were other lives, hidden lives, that were not necessarily "freakish" at all. Now Frankie is a succulent crumb, a sweet memory of childhood, even. My first gay man. Fearless and brandishing an ax.



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