Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fernando Remembers

Fernando, recently the object of scorn, was first performed at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in the late 80s as part of more intimacies. I have performed the character for more than 20 years, in venues all over the world; most recently for Hollywood Remembers at a Lutheran church. I will let the piece speak for itself.

"A man needs to be fucked."  Those were his exact words.  This white boy with yellow hair, the color of corn. From Ohio. Or Iowa. I do not know the difference. "A man needs to be fucked."  Jim. I call him Jim-Boy because he looks like he could have been on The Waltons. That's my children's favorite show; they watch all the reruns. Jim showed up at the club where I have been dancing for the past twenty-three years--since before he was born. He'd seen my picture in a newspaper advertisement. "I like manly men," he said to me. "Macho men, dark men, older men. Men with sturdy legs and strong stares."  "I guess I fit the bill," I said to this boy with much guts, "but I am not gay." He did not blink. Those clear blue eyes starred right through me, penetrating me. "A man needs to be fucked," he whispered. Everyone assumes male dancers are queer. Not true!  I grew up with kids taunting me. "Here comes the dancer," they'd say. As if dancer meant fairy, pansy, fruit. "Here comes the dancer." I learned to outrun them. Most of those guys are dead by now. Gang fights. I outran them and I outlived them. Dancing was not what my father had in mind for his only son. "Dancing is for sissies," he'd hiss. In order to go to dancing school, I had to prove I was no sissy. I became a ladies man at a very early age. My father was impressed--if not with my dancing ability, with my ability to attract beautiful girls. I got married to please my Dad. I was seventeen. Marrying Gabriella made it easier for my father to accept the idea of me becoming a dancer. There was never any question about what kind of dancer I'd be; from the time I was a little boy and saw a picture of a flamenco dancer, I knew. While other boys wanted to be Superman, I longed for the power and the passion I saw in that dancer's strong stare. His impenetrability. I tore that picture out of the book and carried it in my pocket. For inspiration. Thank God I was good enough to get a steady job, flamenco dancing, about the same time Gabriella got pregnant. After I moved away from  home, I remember only two serious discussions with my father and both of them were about ass-fucking. One of these "man-to-man talks," as he called them, was when Gabriella ballooned up from the pregnancy. "You must not commit adultery," he said, being a strict Catholic. "Yet, being a man, you'll have urges and your wife will be too sick or too fat or too something," he said, looking me in the eye. "Find a boy, a puto, to fuck in the ass," he said, as if this was the Eleventh Commandment. "Find a puto to fuck in the ass. Feels great," he said. "You won't know the difference." Like Ohio and Iowa, I thought. So I did. And it did. Our second man-to-man talk came when Gabriella was pregnant with our third child, less than three years later. "You obviously haven't figured out how to practice birth control," he said. I knew he wasn't talking about rubbers, forbidden by the Church. "You must learn to fuck her like you fuck those pretty boy putos. Then no more babies." Suddenly I knew why I was an only child. Gabriella wouldn't go for it--"hurt too bad," she said--so we had two more kids in as many years. Five hungry kids to feed on the salary of a flamenco dancer was not easy. Many women at the club had offered me gifts. And I accepted. I knew they wanted to feel what was between the flamenco dancer's sturdy legs. When a lady presented me with a hundred dollar bill, I knew she wanted more than a feel. I blamed Gabriella. If she'd let me do what my father suggested, I wouldn't need to fuck this old bag for a hundred bucks. But I did; the kids needed to eat. It became a weekly ritual with this rich old broad. Then I started servicing her girlfriends. I was exhausted but I was making an extra thousand dollars a month. That was fifteen years ago. I still--even at my age--get offers. As long as they don't see my feet, I can make a few extra bucks. As long as it doesn't spread up my legs. Onto my face. Into my mouth. There's one conversation my father and I did not have about butt-fucking. A conversation that might have saved my life. "A man needs to be fucked," Jim-Boy said. He's rubbing my feet. We're in his hotel room, which he's rented for the weekend. The picture of me in the newspaper advertisement is on the dresser. "You have so much attitude when you're onstage," he says. I don't understand "attitude." "Charisma," he says. "Oh! Garbo is what you're meaning." "Garbo? Like in Greta Garbo?" he asks. We laugh. He begins licking my feet, putting each toe in his mouth, like they are cherry popsicles. Sucking my toes. I am feeling things I have never felt before. He tickles my feet with his silky yellow hair; I feel his finger slide into my ass as he works his way up from my feet, kissing my ankles, my calves, my knees, my thighs, my balls. I am completely wet. His tongue is inside me. I will never be the same. He fucks me with his tongue and then he's on top of me, kissing my face, whispering in my ear. "Tell me how much you need it," he says. "Tell me how much you need it." "I need to be fucked," I hear myself say, under the spell of this boy from Iowa. Or Ohio. It does not hurt but I feel tears on my face. Or could it be the juices from his mouth? I am coming. I am gay! I am not gay! I am a husband and a father. A good Catholic. I am a Spanish flamenco dancer. I am not Mexican. I am a ladies man. Those are not lesions on my feet. They are badges of passion, purple tattoos oozing from places on my skin where his lips touched, feet first, then moving up my legs, inside my ass, up my chest, inside my mouth, until I am covered with his lovely kisses, his deadly marks. A violet shroud of love and death. I will not die. He gave me his youth. Injected me with immortality. Into my brain. I do not have AIDS. I am not gay. I am not a grandfather. I am impenetrable. Superman. Immortal. Spanish, not Mexican. A ladies man. A man needs to be fucked. I am a ladies man who needs to be fucked. Now I know the difference. Before Jim-Boy I did not know the difference. Between straight and gay. life and death, Ohio and Iowa. Now I know. The truth.


  1. Fascinating. I would love to have been in the audience as these hypocrites "celebrate" AIDS but don't want to examine how or why it's spread. It's a tough piece but anyone who would be offended by it has no business being at an AIDS event. Thanks for posting.

  2. Raw, tragic, and painfully real - just like early AIDS. It's also quite beautifully human and I am sorry for those who fail to experience that in this piece. Thank you for posting this.