Before AIDS: Paul Wegman as Miss P

Follow the Manic Bouncing Ball:

Needing to sleep again. Feeling the jolts of electricity that were not so conducive to sleep. I put on Amazon Prime’s 80’s music to sleep by. About the 3rd song in was Bette Midler’s The Rose.”

Memories of my days at the Parliament House here in Orlando with all my gay boy friends (& sex-capaders) watching drag shows flooded my brain.

It was 1979. I was 18 years old. And I was a Fag Hag.
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Parliament House, circa 1979 – Hotel, Restaurant, Show Bar, Disco, Leather Bar, Vintage Store, Lake and Pool (and hotbed of random sex!)

Quaaludes. Poppers. Sex with strangers in cars. Amaretto with cream and OJ. Friends taking acid & having bad trips. Walking by rooms with open curtains & open doors, inviting whomever in to be with whomever as whomever watched from not-afar. The Baths. Glory Holes. Gay Porn. Learning to suck dick and get fucked in the ass (with the ever-present can of Crisco) by my 8-gay friends I lived with in various locations, including the “PH.”  (When we were with our parents, we called it the “Pancake House.” We were so slick. snort).

Laying on the bed, I sang with Bette, thrice through, crying, missing my friends who have died from AIDS. After “The Rose,” I remembered I had Bette Midler’s Divine Madness on my Kindle, putting it on.

Loud.

By the time “Shiver Me Timbers” came on, I was sobbing remembering my wondrous friend, Paul Wegman

paul-wegman
Paul Wegman, Orlando, Actor, Beloved Friend

Miss Pwho died in 2004 from AIDS. Paul used to sing “Shiver Me Timbers” just for me. I tipped him whatever I could so he would.

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Miss P,  Orlando, Parliament House            circa early 1980s

While I first met P (he initially was Miss Pauline, then Miss P, then he dropped the Miss and was “P” for the years I knew him) as a Drag Queen, we became wonderful friends and worked together at the Subway Sandwich shop in Winter Park, by the infamous Sinkhole. During the time I knew him only as P, I, of course, used female pronouns, but when I used “she” at work once, he spun around and told me “HE!”. So that is why I use “he” even as he is P.

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Parliament House Drag Show, circa 1979… P (in white), Heavy Duty (in red), Gerald (next to Heavy), Rusty Fawcett (next to Gerald). You can see Lori DelMar’s head (over Gerald) and Von Gretchen (second in on back row, right side)

Paul and I, while there were 17 years between us, were really compatible. We shared a love for books (we shared books a lot), music, Broadway shows, the theater… and black men.

I loved Paul. I mean. LOVED. I ached to have him take me in his arms. He never did. He did sing “The Rose” to me whenever it came on while we were working. I remember it like it was yesterday.

So, if I couldn’t have Paul, I could have the next best thing. His straight, blue-black boyfriend, Tuna. Long passed is why he was nicknamed Tuna, but that’s how we all knew him. Tuna had a bullet still lodged in his thigh. He taught me the word “Nut” for orgasm. He loved my ample white ass. I used to have sex with Tuna while Paul was on stage. Tuna told Paul years later and when I went to visit him (Paul) with my new son in my arms, he confronted me. I was (rightly) mortified and apologized profusely, claiming stupidity as a child of 17, 18, 19, 20. He barely forgave me, but I am glad our last contact was wonderful and positive.

The Flood Abates

So many waves of memories lick the shore of my mind, but I want to get this out before it grows too long.

So much more to say. I need to share it so those after me can know there really was a completely hedonistic time before AIDS. I lived it. (I do also carry scars, but we’ll share those another time.)

To Read More About Life Before HIV/AIDS:

Do You Remember Gay Life Before AIDS? – yes

Death Rush: Poppers & AIDS – there was an enormous belief for awhile that Poppers were The Cause of AIDS. That was the Grasping at Straws time.

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