Monthly Archives: March 2003

March 31, 2003

It is I, Faustus. I have returned.

The talk at Columbia went smashingly, and while there are still two songs to be written for the cabaret that opens a week from tomorrow, we’ve started rehearsals and they, too, are going smashingly. So those of you who live in or around New York are invited to my show, “Spontaneous Combustion: In Which Our Heroes Realize That It’s Okay to Be a Completely Neurotic Homosexual so Long as You Don’t Run Out of Hair Product.”

Here is the relevant information:

When: Tuesday, April 8 and Tuesday, April 22 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Upstairs@Red, 356 West 44th St., between 8th and 9th
How Much: $15 cover + 2 drink minimum OR $35 prix fixe dinner and show
Tickets: call SmartTix at 212.868.4444 or go to

I promise the show will be very funny and entertaining. Plus, if you are reading this and think you might want to date me but aren’t sure because you have no idea what I look like, this is your chance to find out from the relative safety of anonymity.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 9 Comments

March 30, 2003

Faustus is still out of it. More ramblings from David about Dreamcatcher, with its vaginas dentatae. What is it with straight men and the fear of emasculation? Here we have worms from outer space, shaped like the female sexual organ with wicked fangs, biting off men’s genitalia, penetrating their rectums, causing men to become “pregnant” with alien life forms. Then the army flies in and tries to blow up the aliens with neato helicopters. The movie is a festival of gynophobia and homophobia, with masculine soldiers there to save the day and validate our concept of manhood. It could not have been timed better, considering current events. I beat my head against the walls, trying to figure out the “thinking” of the Bush Administration, to separate the outright lies from mere twisted truths about why they felt it necessary to begin World War Three at this point in time. But maybe it all comes down to straight men lashing out because someone came and knocked down their big phallic buildings.

Perhaps if the Saudi terrorists had targeted the Jefferson Memorial instead, we would not be in this mess.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 4 Comments

March 28, 2003

Faustus is still otherwise occupied, so here I am. Last night, my boyfriend Rob suggested we see one of the worst movies ever made. Well, actually, he said, “Do you want to see Dreamcatcher?” but the result was the same. We saw what one reviewer said should have been titled Anal Worms from Space at the 9:15 showing.

As near as I can figure (and I read the book), Dreamcatcher is about four fart-joke-telling guys (who, by the way, are psychic), who end up getting attacked by alien creatures that resemble nothing so much as vaginas with row upon row of pointy teeth. One of these men, nicknamed “Beaver,” says “Fuck me, Freddy” a lot. I believe he is also the one who, at one point, instructs one of his friends to “bite” his “bag.”

No wonder the vaginas kill him first.

There is a connection between this film and the sociopolitical climate in post-September Eleventh America, but I do not feel like discussing it.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 4 Comments

March 27, 2003

Faustus has asked me to guest blog for an unspecified amount of time so that he may make progress on those numerous obligations he mentioned. In continuing his occasional theme of remarking upon lapses in grammar, I will discuss today something that happened in my youth in Silver Spring, Maryland.

In my youth in Silver Spring, Maryland, I lived near two brothers, one of whom was around my age, and the other of whom was considerably older but mentally retarded (is there a nicer term for that now?). I was playing Atari with the younger brother in their living room when their mother came in, distraught because she had asked the older brother, Paul, to sign his grandmother’s birthday card, and he had signed it “Paul B.,” as he did in school.

Naturally, I was horrified, not because he had written “Paul B.,” but because he had actually written “Paul b.,” with a lower-case last initial. To me, that was the true drama of the situation. So while the mother worried that she did not have enough time to purchase a new card, I suggested that she simply take the crayon Paul had used to sign it and complete the “B” by drawing in its upper arc. Then it would be grammatical. The lower-case “b” assaulting every nerve fiber in my young body, I bravely volunteered to do this myself if she did not feel up to it.

The mother, however, looked at me as if I were Dracula. She had not even noticed that the “b” was incorrect, nor was she interested in learning this; she was only concerned that its unnecessary presence (presumably, the boy’s grandmother would know which Paul signed in red crayon without the helpful prompt of his last initial) would spoil the card. In the end, she decided it could not be helped, and she dropped it in the mailbox as I watched, seething over the uncorrected “b.”

The incident haunts me to this day, twenty-three years later.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | Leave a comment

March 26, 2003

N.B.: I posted twice yesterday, in an attempt to make up for a lost day. At some point in the near future, I’ll post twice again, and be completely caught up.

On April 4, 1996, the world suffered a tragic loss in the death of Larry LaPrise, known to all and sundry as the author of “The Hokey Pokey.”

The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in . . . and then the trouble started.

Okay, I admit it, that’s just about the stupidest thing ever, and probably you’ve already all seen it, but I never had and it made me laugh hysterically.

Of course, Larry LaPrise was only one of three men who held the copyright to “The Hokey Pokey” (the other two being Charles Macak and Tafit Baker), and the three of them almost certainly stole the song from somewhere else. (Earlier variants have shown up elsewhere, with names like “The Okey Cokey” and, alas, “The Hinkum Booby.”)

But I couldn’t quite figure out how to convey the accurate information and still maintain the integrity of the joke.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 2 Comments

March 25, 2003

N.B.: This is my second post for today, making up for missing a day a few weeks ago.

I am faced with a cruel dilemma.

I have an insane amount of work to do in virtually no time at all. I have a cabaret show of my songs opening in less than two weeks, and I still have all of the patter and two songs to write and rehearse. Also, I am presenting a paper at a conference at Columbia University on Friday. Don’t ask me how this happened; it’s a mystery to me. The conference is about writing and social justice, and the session I’m scheduled for is about writing outside the academy (which means writing if you don’t have a Ph.D. but people want to read/hear/see what you write, as opposed to writing if you have a Ph.D. but nobody wants to read what you write except other people with Ph.D.s, who don’t actually want to read it either but they have to). And of course not a word of that is written.

So my cruel dilemma is: do I go to sleep at a normal hour tonight and fall even further behind, bringing more stress into my life and risking failure at the conference and the cabaret, or do I consume large quantities of chocolate and caffeinated soda, thereby enabling myself to stay up late writing but also ensuring that I get fat?

God, it’s so hard to be me.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 7 Comments

March 25, 2003

Here is a picture of Alan Cumming, three gay cheerleaders, and my dog.

He called her a sweetheart.

I can die now.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 9 Comments

March 24, 2003

For the next few days, not only will I be maintaining this blog, but I will also be guest blogging at Upside-down Hippopotamus and Troubled Diva. I’m not quite sure I’m up to the challenge, especially since I’ve had blogger’s block lately and am consumed with worry that people will start finding my own blog boring and then stop reading me because they’ve come to hate me.

Wish me luck.

Unless you’ve come to hate me, in which case, is there anything I can do to win you back?

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 2 Comments

March 23, 2003

N.B.: For the next few days, in addition to this blog, I’m going to be guest blogging at Upside-down Hippopotamus, so if you want even more of me, check me out there.

After getting home last night from the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo, I wasn’t sure whether the seven hours I’d spent cheerleading counted as my cardio for the day, so I decided to go to the gym, just in case. Unfortunately, I decided this at 9:47, and my gym closes at 10:00. Since I’m trying really hard to make daily exercise a habit, I thought, okay, well, it’s nice out, I’ll just go jogging.

So I got dressed in my too-tight shorts, picked up my walkman, inserted the Best of Debbie Gibson CD I’d bought the day before for exercise purposes, and headed out the door to Riverside Park.

Where the strangest thing started happening.

As Debbie Gibson sang “as real as it may seem, it was only in my dreams,” bringing me back to those halcyon days in the 80s before I had any real problems, I looked around and saw that the park was deserted, which made sense, it being 10:00 on a Saturday night. So I stopped jogging and danced for half a second and started jogging again.

Let me hasten to assure you that I am not a dancer. I often feel so uncomfortable and graceless in my own body that I wonder if in fact I really belong there at all. But that half second of dancing, during which I’m positive I looked utterly ridiculous, felt wonderful. So I did it again, for a little longer.

By the time twenty minutes had gone by, I looked like a scene from a movie starring Kirsten Dunst or Reese Witherspoon—specifically, the scene in which the heroine decides she’s going to turn her life around and there’s a montage showing her having all sorts of fun while doing life-turning-around things, like playing air guitar with a mop as she cleans her heretofore filthy apartment, or collapsing in hysterical laughter as she misunderstands how to use the weights at the gym. Anyway, I looked like that. I was twirling around, jumping up onto benches and doing funky dance steps on them and jumping back off them, and singing along with “Electric Youth.”

I looked like a moron and I don’t remember the last time I felt so fucking good.

Except, of course, for the agonizing pain caused by a half hour of jogging.

There’s got to be a way around that somehow.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 3 Comments

March 22, 2003

Today I was at the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo with the gay cheerleading squad. I jumped up and down and cheered and did stunts for seven hours. I am exhausted. Tomorrow I have several more hours to go, so I will conserve my strength and contain myself to one event that simply cannot go unremarked, which was that Robin Byrd was there. I’m not sure if those of you who don’t live in New York are able to have the Robin Byrd experience; if not, know that she is a 47,000-year-old woman who hosts a show on public access television on which porn stars (gay or straight, depending on the evening and time) appear and dance and strip. Then she interviews them. At the end of the show, all the porn stars who have appeared on that episode sit in a semicircle and, while the closing music plays, Robin Byrd sucks on the nipples of the women and simulates oral sex with the men. It’s truly a sight to behold.

Anyway, Robin Byrd was at the Gay and Lesbian Business Expo, introducing performers from the off-Broadway show Zanna, Don’t (a theatrical experience I highly recommend), and she was clearly trashed out of her mind. She could barely pronounce words of more than one syllable, and words of more than two syllables were completely beyond her. She kept almost dropping the huge card on which her patter was printed, and she couldn’t quite stand up straight. She was everything I might have hoped she would be and more.

I wonder if she’ll be there tomorrow.

Posted on by Joel Derfner | 6 Comments