SOMEONE ELSE FROM QUEENS IS QUEER is a solo play about activism and death in the age of AIDS. It tells of a love affair between Felix the Kat, a human cannonball shot out of Queens, and Gordie Benjamin, a stand-up “spritzer” who theorizes about everything: outlaw queerness in William Burroughs, Jewish assimilation in THE MUNSTERS and THE ADDAMS FAMILY, heroin, and the Panopticon.
It opens with one of Gordie’s speeches about activism. Performed as a direct confrontation with the audience, Gordie challenges the spectators to rethink their role as an audience in the theater, as well as demanding that the writer examine the options he will provide during the next hour.
Next, Felix tells of the night he met Gordie in a crowded Greenwich Village gay bar. The two haven’t seen each other since their childhood days, when they practiced for a Purim talent show at Bayside Jewish Center in Queens. Leaving the bar, Felix spends the whole night trying to get around to sex and Gordie postpones Felix’s first advances by “spritzing” hyperactively about Jewish writers in Hollywood telling their stories in assimilation through TV sitcoms. “Once he stopped talking, Gordie turned into an incredible lover.”
Felix continues narrating, telling about his early childhood in Queens. His father is a radio announcer who worships the Chairman of the Board. His mother continually rebels against her husband’s philandering with “a bimbo” named Maxine, and ultimately joins a women’s consciousness-raising group and moves the family into the city.
A fifteen year old in Manhattan, Felix discovers a William Burroughs record in his brother’s room. Mesmerized, he dresses himself up as Burroughs and runs downtown to a Mexican restaurant where Burroughs, supposedly, hangs out. At the restaurant, Felix meets the bartender Giacometti, who fucks him for the first time and takes him to see Burroughs.
Now an emancipated gay youth, Felix gets a job at the restaurant, shares an apartment with his father and picks up people at the bar every night. Catching up to his first meeting with Gordie, Felix tells us about the development of their romance. They move in together and turn their apartment into a harem, writing porn together to support their developing drug addiction. The insanity continues until Gordie, sick with hepatitis, takes off. Three years pass. No Gordie. The phone rings. It’s Gordie, he’s been living with HIV for two years. He has turned into a speechmaker and activist. His next march is against the FDA. Gordie gets arrested in a “die-in.” Felix becomes an avid activist support person.
Gordie becomes increasingly sick and Felix stays with him in the hospital, until he can’t bear it any longer. Felix finishes the piece riding the subway up to the funeral chapel. With the end of Gordie’s life comes the end of this story and Felix demands it: BLACKOUT!
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