punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Being whistful of weird days gone by

A long time ago, during a strange period of my life I don't often visit, I had a confused moment of freedom. There was a time in the early 1980s, very early, that I had a strange new-wave, punk series of life interruptions that left me at age 13 on the streets of Georgetown with a bizarre set of actor friends. My home life was terrible. My mother was drunk at least half the time, my father was more abusive than ever, and my school was kind of a different hell that I only liked because... well, I wasn't home. My only escape was the world of acting. And the people who also used theater not so much as a place to act, but as a social life. Kind of like fandom, only more drinking, I would say.

There used to be this theater in Georgetown called the Key Theater, I think. Maybe I am confusing it with another name, but it was like the cheap alter-ego of a more snooty theater: the Biograph. I saw my share of strange films at the Biograph, to be sure, but the Key Theater, on Friday nights, had some of the strangest, weirdest, most glam-punk-pop-fucked-in-the-head films. Tippy Turtle, Rocky Horror, and bad slasher flicks showed there. They had all kind of films, shorts, and ... well, I saw stuff like this:


I had totally forgotten about Klaus Nomi. Completely. If someone had asked me if I saw some strange series of films by some guy who thought he was from outer space, I would have said David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. But I came across this trailer tonight:


And remembered. When a memory from that time comes back to me, I smell the street at night, the mixture of cigarettes and coffee, leather and paper, paint and wet concrete, and a strange series of spice and incense-like odors that wafted like interrupted passages in the symphony of a Night on Georgetown. I remember the dark theater with low ceilings, and there were always people talking in the isles. Maybe some young adults snogging in some corner, kicking away the trash heaped around a garbage can that separated their space from the rest of the world. Sticky red carpets with bald patches. The feel of a stone building sucking the heat from your body as you leaned against it, talking to some girl in a mohawk and 30 lbs of makeup as she smoked from a pipette, trying unsuccessfully to keep away the cold with a leather jacket with a broken zipper that didn't do anything to cover her exposed legs thrusting into day-glo pumps from a leather mini-skirt. The moisture from your breath visibly mingled with others in the cold air, and those who smoked always had bigger fogs than everyone else; almost like we all were breathing fire from deep within our shivering bellies.

Two drunken youths begin to fight. "Oh, gag me," says one of my friends at a time when Valley Girl speak was still hip. "What fags." We decide to stay away from the scene; when the cops arrive, half of us are underage, and that was always blamed for something.

I'd love to say I was cool and hip back then, but I was along for the ride and in the shadows of a mixture of posers and wannabes. Most of us were too young and too well pampered at home to be out on the streets this late at night. I followed them like a puppy, and I have to admit, I was dragged out to some of their soirees against my good judgement and timid protests. I saw films like Rocky Horror, and I was too young to understand what the hell it was about. I just thought the acting was another rude series of boos and jeers that spoiled rich teens did to anything "popular." It was popular to hate popular.

I still have that problem to this day.

But Klaus Nomi was up there. I saw him later on a rerun of Saturday Night Live with David Bowie, and though, "Huh... he's made it to TV." How little I knew.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days, just for one night, where I could be one of the hip ones. I could see with the wisdom of time.

Ah, well...
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded