My ma had this saying that went to the tuneage of:
“If you want to know all your shortcomings, get married; people will dig up your dirt, talk about the people you’ve slept with, your financial situation and weigh in on how the wedding is a sham and how it will never last.”
“If you want to people to speak of your good qualities (long pause) … you need to die.”
I know you’re supposed to say that people are nice and people are good shortly after they pass, but being nice and a good person is something that was always said about West Hollywood socialite Patrick J. Vettraino–known to many as drag personality Lavonia Speaks– event producer, founder/CEO of Sassy, Inc. and promoter of WeHo’s Sassy Prom among other West Hollywood events.
Patrick lost to his battle with cancer this month and the loss is heavy and it’s sad and it’s felt by anyone who was touched by Patrick’s good nature, his sense of humor and his persistence to bring people together. Yep, Patrick was a decent guy. It’s a sentiment that surrounded him throughout his living, breathing days.
He sure as hell was nice to me during a tumultuous time when everyone else was being mean to me, because… well… my ass was being brutal to everyone during my WeHo Queen of Mean, “Love Ya, Mean It” columnist days.
I’m no different than most people who look back at the life of Patrick J. Vettraino. He inspired, promoted, supported and encouraged me to keep on writing and he went out of his way to lift me up, no differently than he did everyone he encountered with no hidden agendas. It was all part of his nature.
Even though I was never in his inner day-to-day circle, we actually go way back. I dug up correspondence that dates back to the year 2000. He took my photo on the street during the Halloween Carnival when my ass paraded around town in a diaper. He actually developed the picture and took the time to send that photo to the newspaper I wrote for with a short note thanking me for participating in the carnival. I remember that note was written in stationary from the show Will & Grace (I’m pretty sure he worked there at the time), and that show was EVERYTHING in 2000, so that whole correspondence was way too cool for me, because it forced my editor to recognize in case there were any doubts. I took that photo and used it for my column without asking his permission and forgetting to give him photo credit, because I was a selfish bitch and he was way too kind.
I didn’t meet Patrick in person till some time in the spring of 2004. We actually met on the beach in Miami of all places. I remember the Cuban queens I was hanging out with had been nasty to me all weekend long because I wasn’t dark enough, my butt wasn’t big enough and they didn’t take too kindly to my being Mexican. Then along came this guy and in front everyone said, “Aren’t you Paulo Murillo, the famous writer from Los Angeles. I am a huge fan of your writing…” Those Cuban bitches fell back and got sand in their bunched-up barely there Speedos after some random stranger recognized me from LA. That was Patrick. He never hesitated to give you props.
He was always involved in the gay community and was always cooking up some scheme to get people together. In 2005, he asked me to be part of a portfolio called Icons of Los Angeles for an event at Here Lounge, which was too damn generous. Again, his timing was perfect. It forced the haters to step back and again it reaffirmed my position in the newspaper I wrote for, where I was always getting into a shitload of trouble.
Patrick never criticized me. He never told me to stop doing what I was doing. He never said that I went too far, and he actually inspired me to quit my 9 to 5 job in 2007 and go for pro (or for broke), doing what I needed to do so that my day was open to write. He was horrified when I told him this many years later; he had no idea what he said that would possess me to do such a thing, even though I don’t think of him as ever conforming to a steady 9-5, yet he always managed to make ends meet.
He was game for anything. I remember the time I was writing about Harvey Milk Day in West Hollywood. The city was holding a photo project where WeHo residents held up signs with pulled quotes from Milk’s most famous speeches. Patrick was minding his own business, walking through WeHo park, when I hit him up to pose with a Milk sign and I asked him to give me a a quote for my WeHo Hot Topic Column in Frontiers Magazine during my more respectable (if not my most boring) days. The sign he chose was classic Patrick.
That’s how I think of him. That’s how I remember him. He was always there. He was always around, whether it was across the country in Miami, or on any random street in West Hollywood. I always expect to see him. There was always a comment on a photo on Facebook, there was always an invitation to an event—oh yeah, he was also a hardcore Madonna fan like yours truly. I still have some of the M goodies he passed my way whenever he hosted a record release party throughout the years.
I followed the updates on his cancer treatment. I took part in a video of all his friends wishing him well and I spoke to him about us reuniting again in the streets of West Hollywood…
I cannot believe he’s gone. I’m never going to see him again.
Cancer sucks ass. The guy never smoked, he didn’t drink and he never did drugs. They say only the good die young, so that must be it. It’s the only way losing Patrick at age 43 makes any sense.
I’m really going to miss my good friend Patrick J Vatriano a.k.a. Lavonia Speaks a.k.a. Trish to those who were super close to him. He was an all around nice guy and truly one of a kind.
May he rest in peace. Until will meet again.
This year for Halloween, I decided to dress up as a (slightly slutty) matador, which may or may not had been inspired by M’s Living for Love video (moving along).
As far as my friends were concerned, I might as well had dressed up as a mariachi or a Mexican folk dancer–meaning a bull fighter was waaayyy too close to home–kinda like a white guy dressing up as a cowboy, or a gay boy doing drag, which is like the exact opposite of groundbreaking, but whatevz, I do what I want.
The trick was to not break the bank this year in my search for some original costumage. Matador getups were going from 50 to 150, straight out of a bag, but if you know one thing about this bitch, it’s that I do not do generic costumes out of a bag.
The budget started out on point. My friend Dan found me the perfect bolero jacket at a garage sale for $4.00. I already had black Chinese slip-on shoes and these pants that I wore for my ninja costume a few years back that rode way past my belly button. I also found a corset in my possession (never you mind) that would cinch the waist to give me that bull fighting silhouette (tiny waist and big-ass padded shoulders). Then of course, I went nuts buying embellishments to up the game with shoulder epaulets appliques, tassels, gold lining, a cape, glitter, glue, white pantyhose and other trimmings. By the time my sister Hazel (try saying that name in Spanish) stepped in with her industrial glue gun to attach all this shit onto my costume, I had dropped well over $100 on these finishing touches. It made me so mad after I did the math.
The result, you ask?
My ass was not messin’.
I don’t know, what do you think?
With the costume complete, it was on to the West Hollywood Halloween Carnival 2015.
There really is nothing like this event anywhere in the U.S. that I’m aware of, where everyone comes together to put on a show, or to be shown how it’s done. The crowds did not disappoint (meaning, it was crowded as all fuck). From my vantage point, it looked like the costumes outnumbered the lookie-loos this year, which has not always been the case in the past—I’m talkin’ about gay, straight and everything in between. I’m talking about drag queens galore, devils, beasts, killer clowns, zombies, every version of a naked guy, slutty girls and I ran into a lot of couples with Dia De Los Muertos makeup, which was kinda cute (if you’re into that sort of thang).
Of course, the inappropriate Kaitlyn Jenners were out, as well as several funny versions of that crazy homophobic hypocrite Kim Davis, The Pope and Hurricane Patricia. I’m sure they were out there, but I did not run into another matador that night (or a Tarzan for that matter, as my friend liked to point out, who was dressed (undressed actually) as the King of the Jungle).
I kept bumping into this bloody guy in nothing but his bloody underwear and a menacing chainsaw. He asked me to email him some photos. When he spelled out his email with triple exes after his name, (Brett Ravage XXX), I knew he meant porn biz. Of course, I looked him up later that night and learned that he’s actually a straight male porn person (there’s no such thing as a straight male porn star let’s-be-for-real-here). Only in West Hollywood does a straight porn actor walk out in his bloody underwear to have a good time at the carnival, all by himself.
Some costumes were very elaborate, but my favorite for the entire night was a guy who dressed up as Frida Kahlo. He gave himself a unibrow, let his stache grow out a little, he slipped into a traditional paisana Mexican dress, put some flowers on his head, and called it a night. I don’t know why, but I found her so damn funny. She asked me to hashtag Frida (#Frida), so he could find our photo. That absolutely killed me. I don’t know why.
It really was an amazing turnout this year. I read that Boy George and Tim Curry were out that night for a photo-op with city council members and I saw pictures of trans diva Laverne Cox on stage, but when it comes to special guests and special performers it’s a you-had-to-be-there moment. I never know what time a night they come on in the many decades that I’ve been doing this shiiieeettt. Out of the long list of celebrity guests and performers, I caught Salt n Peppa performing one night, by chance and there was that one fateful year when I was trapped in the crowd and no-hits wonder Kevin Federline came on stage wearing dreadlocks to perform something that was supposed to be rap–“Yo, Yo, Yo, I’m feeling good…”
I screamed like a total queen, begging for a human stampede.
This year the night ended without any horrible casualties. Nobody burned to death, although I hear one guy got stabbed on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Huntley Dr., which is nothin’, considering the size of the event on a Saturday night. And of course you had your usual drunks who ended up in a holding tank during amateur hour.
The City of WeHo has the Halloween Carnival down to an art form–however, they seriously need to re-think (as in relocate) the food trucks that line up alongside Santa Monica Blvd, because that’s one part that gets so congested, you wanna scream, but can’t, because you can barely breathe from the stench of frying hot dogs wrapped in cancer causing bacon. They also need to emphasize that this is an adult event and pets need to be left at home. I saw way too many strollers and kiddies riding on shoulders looking down at a Caitlyn with a giant dildo protruding out her bathing suit area. There were also irresponsible idiots who risked having their dog being trampled to death on the boulevard.
Overall great night. Great costumes. Well done everyone.
I landed a floor seat at the very last minute on account of she only did one show in Los Angeles, which put me in a tight spot, but it all paid off, because the ticket I got had me THIS close to the catwalk. I can’t even begin to tell your asses what I loved best about the show. It was too much. I was gagging the entire time.
I sneaked a camera inside and took some pics for your viewing pleasure. I think they came out kinda cool, considering I used a Cool Pix Camera.
Next stop: San Diego (you think I’m playin’) to do it all over again–this time with my other half, before she goes overseas. I’m sure I’m gonna see some of you L.A. Forum bitches there.
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.