In a piece dated July 7, 2000, I wrote a somewhat cunty column called “FEMALE TROUBLE” for Fab! Newspaper, where I describe my first time at the notorious and hilarious Dragstrip 66–an event that does not need much introduction for anyone who grew up at or near Los Angeles. DS66 delivered 20 years of drag queens, club kidz, art, fashion, music, madness and mayhem propped on high hooker heels.
Co-founder of Dragstrip 66, DJ Paul V., and producer Phil Scanlon are currently smacking the pavement in an effort to raise funds to help in the completion of the movie Dragstrip 66: The Frockumentary, which promises to deliver a celebration of the LA nightclub that offered a crazy collision of performance art, music, fashion, masquerade, community, and fun, dating back to the early 90s. And judging from their footage, it seriously looks like the closest thing to Studio 54 this side of the western hemisphere.
Before we continue, check out their tubestarter page by clicking this here link: Dragstrip 66 : The Frockumentary and please, please, PLEASE, dig, dig, DIG into your pockets and give, give, GIVE this documentary a chance at its rightful place in our fabulous LGBT history.
Anyway, the name of the Fab! column is an obvious nod to my favorite John Waters film of the same name, and it turns out that the Frockumentary not only references Mr. Waters, but Mink Stole, who plays Taffy in the movie (with the face of a retarded brat…uh, to quote the movie), was known to attend and perform at this crazy event during its heyday.
Check out the link here to hear what Mink Stole has to say about her memories of DS66
For more information on Dragstrip 66: The Frockumentary, visit their website at: ds66thefrockumentary.com/
Now regarding the column I wrote for Fab! Newspaper, keep in mind that I fancied myself a true incarnation of a WeHo boy and barely made it out of that gay ghetto, so like, of course I’m gonna confuse Rudolpho’s for Adolfo’s and cut Dragstrip 66 down to simply Drag Strip, because that’s what my friends called it, and of course Dragstrip 66 was the only reason any WeHo queen had any excuse to brave the migration to the Latin jungles of Silverlake…where we would undoubtedly get lost.
I attended DS66 several times after this column was published, but I never dressed up in drag because (a) I had way too much internalized homophobia to don a dress on any night other than Halloween, (b) I was a lazy fuck and doing drag was way too much work and (c) the last time I did drag, somebody confused me for Sandra Bernhard, which–no offense to Sandra B–but I took offense.
I have some crazy–if not fuzzy memories of that event (ugh, my friend Josh and I made out with a cute guy in a three-way kiss on a double dog dare–it’s the only time I ever locked lips with a friend–meaning it’s the only time I dabbled at lesbianism). The events below actually happened, except for the part where I pretend not to know Temple Drake (that’s her actual photo in the column). I’ve known that bitch since 1991, which is why I was able to quote her verbatim. My friend would morph into Temple with the help of some booze (lots of booze), and she became this monster who LOVED to embarrass me by pretending she didn’t know me and then spewing a bunch of crazy shit as you will read below.
Here’s a little flashback to Dragstrip 66–Murillo style.
FEMALE TROUBLE – July 7, 2000
How the fuck do three Angelino bitches end up lost in the heart of LA?
My portly and pleasantly plump friend Whorenando, his older—buck-toothed friend Carlos, and my fabulous self (in my usual state of perfection) were on our way to Drag Strip at Adolfo’s. This was a first for the three of us, and from the looks of the Downtown L.A. skyscrapers, I could tell that we were lost somewhere in the scary Latin jungle of Silverlake (did you know there was an actual lake in Silverlake? I didn’t. I feel like a damn fool.)
The three of us bickered like a bunch of catty queens on the rag at every wrong turn. Carlos kept complaining that he didn’t even want to go out that night, while Whorie was barking directions that lead us nowhere. I sat in the backseat, trying to spare them a serious tongue-lashing–“Relax, relate, release…” I chanted.
We were ready to give up, when Whorie noticed Adolfo’s signage practically smacking us in the face, while we paused at a a stoplight. The night had been saved!
Or had it?
I always heard that Drag Strip was a hot spot for some real cute boys, but never gave the place a chance. I figured the place would be crammed with sweaty, obnoxious, drag queens, even though I was told the place attracted a lot of cuties out of drag.
We entered Adolfo’s and I could not believe the crowd. The place was fucking packed! It was a breath of fresh air to see new faces and not the same tired Weho queens (you know who you are). The place reeked of fresh meat and was filled with positive and fun energy.
“Is my hair too high?” I asked Whorie, while patting my head down (speaking of Weho queens…).
“No,” he responded.
“Do I look fat?” he asked in return, looking up at me weakly, like a baby seal about to be clubbed upside the head.
“Yes,” I answered, “Yes, you do” and I lead the way to the patio.
Nothing prepared us for the crowd standing outside. The place was crammed to capacity. We squeezed through all sorts of body types as we made our way to the bar at the far back. I felt traveling hands pinching my ass, pulling at my dick, and my nipples were raw from being tweaked left and right. Gay men are pigs. The sexual harassment was a Goddamn free-for-all (whispering) and I loved it.
I ordered a drink, leaned against a wall, and adjusted my pants feeling completely sodomized with my two sidekicks not too far off. I looked around at a few drag queens, feeling completely unimpressed. You’ve seen one man in a dress, you’ve seen ‘em all, I thought to myself unfairly. I was more amused by the guys that looked like girls without meaning to. You know the type; they pluck their eyebrows and try to look pretty, thinking no one will notice the clumps of cheap mascara and guyliner cracking around their eyes.
All train of thought was interrupted when my eyes rested upon this fabulous freak of nature elbowing her way through the crowd. This “girl” was unlike anything I had ever seen. She had pasty white skin, big ass bulging Bette Davis eyes (reminiscent of Baby Jane Hudson), and her lips were a blatant Lucille Ball rip-off. with a smile that can only be described as demented. She was proudly sporting a light blue baby doll dress that flared out at the knees with ruffles around the bust area. Her hair was a ratted blond mess that was held together with a huge bow, very ala Madonna Lucky Star (she called it her “Power Bow”).
She stood in front of me nonchalantly, but did a double take when she saw me staring at her in complete awe.
“Hi, my name is Temple Drake,” she spoke robotically and fed me an introduction that went along the lines of. “I have an eleven-inch uncut clitoris, I am an aggressive top. My passion is wrestling. I enjoy Vienna sausages and picnics at the Wayfarer’s Chapel in Palos Verdes. I have a Temple Drake Missionary Fund, which provides make-up advice to the natives and beauty impaired. I also have my own templedrake.com web site that describes my many adventures. Wanna wrestle?”
Her head tilted to the left and her eyes diverted to the far right. It was pure lunacy! I was in love.
I leaned to introduce myself, but she yawned, and picked at a pretend hangnail and feigning boredom. “Honey, you remind me of a freshly poked monkey from the Central Park Zoo.” She blurted out randomly and loudly for a packed audience at the patio. Seriously, how do you respond to such a comment?
She then turned to a passerby and made a reference to his gaping loose hole making suction noises. People laughed, but the queen was none too impressed. Pearls were clutched—“Ugh! She is a mess!” He shrieked to his friends.
Carlos walked over to us–eyes round with curiosity. Temple broke into a sudden tap dance that looked more like a crazy-chicken-dance with elbows flailing.
The events that followed seemed to happen in slow motion. Carlos sucked on his beer, while Temple did her chicken dance. Temple gained momentum and accidentally elbowed Carl on the face—ramming the beer bottle down his throat. Carl had that “Oh shit!” look in his eyes that people get for a split second when they fall or get popped on the face. He leaned forward and when he looked up, there was a gaping black hole where his two upper front teeth should have been. I saw his tongue feeling around his mouth. He coughed and spit one tooth out, then was on his knees looking for the other. I just about died, from horror mixed with this horrible inappropriate need to laugh.
I wanted to help him—I swear I did—but I was in too much pain from busting up internally to even move. Whorenando saw his toothless grin, noticed me in tears, and he turned his body around. All you could see were his shoulders shaking with nervous laughter.
Temple was unaware that she had just bashed someone’s teeth in. She walked off, lost in her world of grandeur. Whorie and I scrambled to look for the missing tooth, but never found it (I think Carlos swallowed it). We put the remaining tooth in a cup full of ice as if he had lost a limb. Needless to say our night was cut short, which really pissed me off. I had no choice, but to comply, since Carlos drove.
As we left Drag Strip, we came to complete halt, due to the exit area being jammed-packed. We stood there like cattle not able to move. I then noticed Temple Drake standing next to a tall, blond, and very fuckable guy.
Temple tapped the guy, pointed directly at me, and said, “My friend likes blondes. You can penetrate him if you like.”
Everyone heard this and laughed, much to my utter humiliation. “That would be the second time tonight,” Temple continued to more laughter.
I looked at the guy cringing—“Tha-tha-that’s not true…” I sputtered. Blushing is not one of my better attributes, but when it happens, it is a full Technicolor event.
We left Drag Strip, only to realize that Carl’s troubles were not over (Did I mention he wanted to stay home that night?). After walking for almost 15 minutes, we realized his car was nowhere in sight. We walked back and forth, very determined, until finally admitting defeat. His Car had been towed.
That night pretty much ended the same way it began with three catty queens on the rag, pointing fingers, in what had to be one of the biggest bitch fights to happen far east of La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevard.
The 2015 Outfest LGBT Film Festival delivered last night, when it screened Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary as part of their Legacy Project, and later offered a special Q&A with T.O.D director Alek Keshishian, M’s backup singer and dancer of the moment Donna DeLory, as well as dancers Kevin Stea, Carlton Wilborn, and of course, Luis Camacho.
I did not expect to have so much fun.
I ran into so many friends who share my love, loyalty and fanatical fascination with all things Madonna and anything or anyone who is connected.
Watching the film on the big screen 25 years later with a bunch of Madonna fans was a real riot. Everyone screamed and hooted and laughed at all the right moments and some of my fellow gays even quoted lines throughout the movie, but not in an annoying way–at least not that night anyway, because that sort of thing would royally annoy me in a different setting.
It was very interesting seeing Donna, Kevin, Carlton and Luis reunite on a stage. What I wouldn’t give to take a looksie inside their heads last night as they watched the film, because there was the Truth or Dare that was shot, the Truth or Dare we all see, and then there’s the REAL Truth or Dare that only they got to witness and experience.
It was seriously a fantastic night with a room full of fun peeps and it was all made possible thanks to the efforts of the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project–now on its 10th year.
The Outfest UCLA Legacy Project is the only program in the world devoted to preserving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender moving image media that are becoming lost to deterioration and neglect.
Outfest combined forces with the UCLA Film & Television Archive to take the queer film expertise and publicity force behind the longest running and most recognizable LGBT film non-profit and blend it with the preservation, conservation and academic strength of a formidable archive and educational institution.
For more information, visit outfest.org/about-the-legacy-project/
I give the entire evening a triple X for extra, extra, extra fun.
I wanted to have one last shitty sandwich at the French Market restaurant in West Hollywood before the place closed its doors, but it looks like that’s yet another opportunity lost in my lifetime–on account of the place closed its doors yesterday, after months and months of crying wolf and threatening to close down since last March.
Of course, I got text messages and emails telling me that the restaurant had finally sunk. I drove by there today to see it for myself, and yep, I stood in that empty patio feeling like a lost soul in a ghosttown.
According to reports, building owners are still unsure of what will happen to that space, but whether they decide to reopen a remodeled version of the French Quarters, a different restaurant altogether, or if they go with the most obvious option, which is yet another disgusting retail at the bottom/condos on top monstrosity–The French Market in West Hollywood as we knew it, is gone, baby gone. No more. Kaput.
I remember the French Market in WeHo.
I ruined many meals in my day at this eatery. I used to eat there on a bi-weekly basis on the weekend, back when I wrote a trashy column for a bi-weekly newspaper, so that my meals coincided with the publishing of a brand new “Love Ya, Mean It” piece, which was always received like the opening a steaming turd. Those bitches would look up at me with my open page over their plates and give me a disapproving side-eye, while I nonchalantly ate my Oeufs Pain Perdu.
One of my earliest memories of this place takes me back to my friend Whorenando. He told me that he was going on a fancy date with a fancy guy. Of course, I asked him where this guy was taking him, and he answered very confidently, “Oh, I don’t know, we’re going somewhere nice…like The French Market…”
“THE FRENCH MARKET!!!??? I barked at him with rabid foam forming on the corners of my lips (or at least that’s the way he tells it).
“What are you going to order?” I asked with utter disgust. “a le hamburger with a side of pommes frites?”
Whorie never let me forget that one, but truth is, I was just being a bitch–forever on fancy-ass perpetration status and probably jells that he had a date and I didn’t that night, because The French Market was mighty fine for an 18-year-old kid from the hood.
I have’t eaten at this place in well over a year, but I think of the owner or manager–I forget his name–who always worked there–very fondly (I’m awful with names), as well as the waiters, who were fixtures at this restaurant for decades and always treated me like I was a big deal (back when columnists were cool).
The place may have been an outdated shit hole, but it was our very own shit hole, and even though the prices went up and the menu along with the quality of the food stayed the same, I gottah say that I’m gonna miss this kitschy restaurant. I will forever look back and smile at all those turgid gays who gave me dirty looks while they devoured my every word with a side of flavorless coffee.
Au revoir French Quarters with your greasy pommes frites. You join the list of gone, but never forgotten West Hollywood fixtures of my youth.
Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary will be magnified on the big screen this Monday July 13, for the 2015 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival, as part of the Legacy Project 10th Anniversary Series.
The last time I saw Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary in the big screen was back in 1991, during the tail end of its run. The movie was playing at a shitty theater in Manhattan Beach and my friends and I simply HAD to devour those Madonna moments one last time to engrave whatever we had missed from the previous five times that we watched the movie.
Truth or Dare didn’t just inspire me to practice fellatio on an Evian bottle (I’m gagging miss thing)—she didn’t just teach me the difference between a poll and a pole (ram it up your ass)—the documentary also altered my way of thinking (about Kevin Costner), how to throw a diva tantrum (“Somebody stuck some big fat man up in the front to give me dirty looks.”), and of course, it changed the way we gay kids spoke and “blah, blah, blah.”
We loved it–all of it. We wanted to be in it.
Choreographer, dancer and overall entertainer Luis Comacho, was in it. He influenced a lot of Madonna’s dance moves of that moment (he basically taught Madonna how to vogue) and had the life-changing opportunity to strike a pose all over the globe.
Never in my wildest young Inglewood dreams did I ever imagine I would one day meet one of M’s main backup dancers, and that I would also interview him for a magazine to discuss some tidbits about the big M and what life was like behind the scenes of Madonna’s notorious Blond Ambition World Tour.
My piece “Madonna & Luis” was published in The Fight Magazine this month to promote the Outfest screening of TOD. I sat with Camacho for a look back at the documentary that changed the face of concert documentaries and continues to titillate almost two-and-a-half decades later.
Space is limited in print media. Below is the full transcript of my Q&A
Do you remember when Truth or Dare first premiered?
Oh yeah. It was in New York. That moment was everything–the flashing lights, the cameras, being there with Madonna. It was everything I wanted to be. It was how I always thought my life should be. It was great.
What was it like when you saw the documentary for the first time?
To be honest, I wish there was more of me in the film [laughs]. My ego at the time wouldn’t let me–you know–be alright with what was shown on the film, so my immediate reaction was, I wish I had more face time on the film.
When was the last time you saw Truth or Dare in its entirety?
I think I saw it about a year ago. The last time I looked at it, I felt very nostalgic. A lot of memories come flooding back and most of them–about 95 percent of them–were good memories. I don’t like looking at it too often—especially with friends, because it turns into a performance piece for them and it becomes a Q&A session.
Do you view it differently now that you’re more umm, grown?
I was very excited when I first saw it. Of course, I wished there was more of me, but looking back, I’m like Luis, you’re in it plenty, don’t worry about it. I realize the impact that it has now on people and it’s a gift. The best things that I took away from that film and the whole experience was this impact it had on other people—and not only gay guys that were coming out, it was women too–women would come up to us to say, ‘You don’t know what you did for me and my family. My brother was afraid to come out to our parents and we saw this film together and we bonded and were able to tell our parents about my brother and he was able to basically release himself from himself and it was amazing. That was the biggest takeaway and the gift that this whole experience has given to me. It’s so profound to hear people say that to you.
Did you have any a sense that you’d become like a role model for young gay kids by being so openly gay in the film?
Nope, not at all, we were just having a good time and we were just doing us.
How did you approach the entire experience going into it?
Speaking for myself, I was really focused on getting as much out of it as I could. There was a consciousness within myself to really be aware and be very in the moment at every moment–whether I was being naughty off stage, or being fantastic on stage—I wanted to see everything, I wanted to taste everything, I wanted to experience it all. If there was an excursion going to wherever, I had to be on it, no matter how tired I was.
There is a moment in the movie where we’re in Amsterdam on a boat. I think Vogue was playing in the background and there’s a shot of me where I kind of turn and smile half-assed into the camera. I was so tired and for a lack of a better word, hungover at that time. I had only gone to bed like 3 or 4 hours before that, but I was damned if I was not going to see the canals in Venice and get on this boat ride in Amsterdam. I would be damned if that was not me on that boat. I wanted to see everything. If there was jet skiing in Portofino, I was on a jet ski. If there was a Mercedes limo ride in Paris at dawn with Madonna, you know I was there. Those are the sort of things that happened where I made sure I was there. I was real hungry—not just for the performances and the dancing, which loved to do anyways, but to see the whole world and to see that world in particular, because for so long, I thought that is where I belonged or at least it’s where I wanted to belong. Every time I stepped in front of a mirror with a hair brush on my hand—that was me. I wanted to take it all in, because I never knew when I would have that again.
What is your proudest moment in the movie?
Well, my two favorite songs in the whole tour were Papa Don’t Preach and Like a Virgin. The Like a Virgin number was special to me, because it was just me Jose and Madonna on stage. What was so great about that was that even though we were in front of 30-40-50 thousand people, the moment was so intimate, that it was like we were in this bell jar. We could see everybody, but we really couldn’t hear them because everything was so loud. I was so focused on this bed, on her, and our movements. It felt like were were alone up there–it was great.
And I loved the ballet sequence in Papa Don’t Preach. It really took to that element of we were voguers, we were street dancers. It really took us to our training, which she didn’t really know that we had, you know, classical, ballet, and modern training. It was another reason why she really liked us and it solidified why she chose us.
Did you get to keep the costumes from the concert?
Not all of them, no. I got ‘Keep it Together,’ ‘Where’s the Party,’ and the ‘Holiday’ costume.
Was there a moment in the tour that you wish had been included?
Oh my God yes, there was a part when we were in Spain, when she met Antonio Banderas. I did a drag show for them. That would’ve been fun to see [laughs]. I just dressed in drag–I didn’t dress up as a character, but I remember we were in London and they got my wig. It was called the Isadora Duncan Wig. They got it from Vidal Sassoon and the people at Vidal Sassoon cut the wig themselves. It was amazing. They did my hair, it was jet black and that’s when I felt like, ooh child, I’ve arrived. There was a photographer, we went up on this balcony and he took my picture—it was fantastic. I couldn’t believe it. There was a designer and went to her shop and picked out a dress and I was like, this is fabulous.
At what point did you realize you had reached a level of fame?
When we got back from Japan–we did Japan first and came back to the states, and that’s when things started to change for us. Then we went to Europe and it was a frenzy.
It appears that you Jose maintained a friendship with Madonna after the tour, did you think that would ever happen after you got the gig?
No. But I’m glad it did.
What was it like having cameras follow you around?
You know, I would really like to say that it was weird, but it was everything I dreamed about. I loved it. I loved all of that. There were moments after the tour where I would go visit Madonna at her house. We went down to a magazine store to look through fashion magazine and kind of hang out. And we were followed by paparazzi from her house all the way to the magazine store and all the way back. Oh my god, I liked it. I liked acting annoyed by it.
Do you agree when people say Truth or Dare is the first reality show ever?
I totally agree with that, yes. I mean, there was nothing reality-based before that, at least not to my knowledge anyway. It was the first time that anything like that was ever documented in that way for a tour. I think that’s what sets her apart from all these other artists. She really had the sense that this was going to be something successful–And I’m just talking about the idea of shooting the documentary. Nobody had seen that before. It was fascinating to watch.
Have you kept in contact with some of the dancers?
I just saw all of them…not too long ago. I did.
Really? You had like a get together or what?
Umm. All I’m saying is that I saw them all not too long ago. I gotta leave it at that [laughs].
How do you think the documentary holds up today?
This documentary has proven to everybody that it has legs, it has teeth. I think it’s still a benchmark for all documentary projects that have followed it. It has set a really high bar, because it was the first of its kind. It was so revealing and there were no holds barred. It’s hard to really come up with a better idea today. She did it first, so anybody who does it after, will always be compared to–oh this is like a Truth or Dare-type documentary. There was ultimate access. You saw things that you still don’t get in concert documentaries today. Others have not been able to match those intimate moments—not even her own follow-up documentary [‘I’m Going to Tell You a Secret’]. It’s all about that first one. The show was fantastic and that show was also the first of its kind, where you see this cathartic theater play out with big-ass sets coming out of the floor and from the ceiling–it was theater, and this documentary gave you access to everything in front and behind the show. It was monumental. All the stars were aligned on this project. She caught lightning in a bottle with that one honey. It was the moment when she went from rubber bracelets to Gaultier bustiers. Everybody gagged. It was the ultimate backstage pass.
If you ran into Madonna tomorrow, what would you say to her?
I would say, ‘Hey girl!’ And you know what she would say–she’d say, “Hey queen! What’s up?” The last time I saw her–that’s what she said to me.
When was the last time her you saw her?
It was backstage at one of her concerts before she went out. They cleared the hallway and let me stay and as she made her way to the stage, she saw me and we had a chance to chat for a moment. It was really fantastic.
Luis Camacho will join Truth or Dare director Alek Keshishian and others for a Q&A after the Outfest screening. Tickets can be purchased at: outfest.org