Sunday, July 15, 2007
A Taste of Studio 13
TransGriot Note: Studio 13 was a legendary club back home that catered to the Black gay community for two decades. It's where I honed my presentation into the Phenomenal Transwoman I am today and had fun doing it. I met some wonderful people like Cookie LaCook, Tommie Ross, Tiffany Brooks and Lawanda Jackson just to name a few.
I'm writing a novel set in 1980's gay Houston called Miss Thang that chronicles one of the transgender characters in my writing universe named Brittany Ross. I also include her friends Markita Johnson and Erica (Ebony Halston) Rideaux along for the ride as well. Enjoy
Erica was in a celebratory mood as she and Markita Johnson arrived at Studio 13 dressed to impress. She received her spring semester grades in the mail a few days ago and was delighted to discover that she’d earned two A’s and three B’s in her classes. She’d aced four of her finals, and earned a B on the math final she was worried about thanks to Brittany’s tutoring.
Her successful orchiectomy helped speed up her feminization process. The estrogen she was taking no longer had to fight testosterone that used to be produced in her recently removed testicles. The other upside was that when she tucked Miss Penis she no longer had unsightly balls getting in the way. Erica hated the fact that it was still there but that would be eradicated soon enough.
June was shaping up to be a great month for her. She had the condo to herself for another three days. Allen was on a business trip and wouldn’t be back until Monday, so she invited Markita to spend the weekend with her. She’d met her three weeks ago as Markita was watching Talent Night in boy mode. She struck up a conversation with her and discovered that they had similar backgrounds and interests.
Miss Markita had a similar caramel brown skin tone, but was much taller than Erica at five-ten. She was headed to Texas Southern University in the fall and wasn’t a 365 girl yet. She'd already acquired hormones and was starting to take them despite the fact that she was still living with her parents. Their friendship had rapidly progressed to the point where Markita was now Erica's drag daughter and kept some of her femme clothes in Erica’s closet.
They entered the converted two-story house that served as party central for Houston’s Black gay population. She turned to her left and stood for a few moments at the edge of the steps leading down to the sunken dance floor and surveyed the club. It was only ten forty-five and it was packed. People were already standing in the narrow corridor that led to the DJ booth and Tony Powell was hard at work inside keeping the party going. The dance floor was mobbed with people swaying to the hypnotic dance music throbbing from the speakers.
As Erica inspected the rest of the first floor she noted that the stairs were packed with people traipsing back and forth between the two levels. As she spied the closed curtains for the stage she wondered if it was a show night. Cookie LaCook's regal full figured presence walking past her with cassette tapes and records in her hands confirmed that it was.
Her cheerful mood was tempered by the knowledge that she’d come to a decision that would disappoint Allen. She wasn’t going to compete in the Miss Studio 13 pageant. She was ready to retire her Ebony Halston drag persona for good and she dreaded telling him when he arrived back in town.
But for now, fun was on the agenda. She focused her attention on the back bar where three drag queens were basking in the attention being showered on them by their admirers. She recognized Carla standing with her back to them conversing with a mutual friend and made a mental note to talk to her later in the evening. She noticed Markita had managed to get a barstool seat on the front side of the bar and was quietly observing what was going on around her. A tall light-skinned guy approached Markita and asked her to dance. She politely declined the invitation but told the gentleman to check with her later on a more suitable song.
Ebony turned her attention toward the entry door just in time to see an old friend of hers wave and quickly scurry in her direction.
“Hey Miss Ebony”
“Hey Donnie, what’s up?”
“Nothing gurl,” he said as he hugged her. “You sure are looking scrumptious tonight.”
“Thank you, baby.”
“Who’s your fishy friend I saw you walk in with?”
“That’s my sista Markita,” Erica said as she led him over to where Markita was sitting to facilitate the introductions.
“Donnie, meet Markita. Markita, Donnie.”
“Nice to meet you,” replied Markita.
“Likewise.” he said as Markita returned her gaze to the dancing throng.
“Hold my seat, Ebony,” she said as she rose up from the barstool. “I’m going to see what’s happening upstairs for a little while.”
“Okay,” she said as Markita turned on her heel and headed toward the stairwell.
“Is that your new drag daughter you were telling me about?” Donnie asked as he watched her gracefully walk up the stairs
“You produce some beautiful children, gurl. We’re gonna have to get together one day and make a baby.”
“Yeah right. You know I have a man.”
“Umm hmm. I’ve been reading the tea leaves. The children say that you’re in need of some hot chocolate in your life.”
“Well, my White man is the right man for me.”
“Whatever, Miss Fish Basket. I’m gonna get me a cocktail. Would you like one?”
“Yes, I would Miss Donnie. A strawberry daiquiri, please.”
“Coming right up,” he said. The front bar where they were sitting was too crowded, so Donnie turned and headed for the back bar.
Just as Erica prepared to sit down six foot two inches of bad attitude and not-so-feminine looks walked up and deliberately bumped her. He stood less than two inches from her in an attempt to intimidate her.
“What do you want, Satan?” said Erica in a condescending tone.
“That’s Satin, bitch.”
“And I’ll always be a better looking one than you.”
“Don’t make me read you in here.”
“I thought you were devoid of the ability to read since you’re a tenth grade dropout.” Erica said as the club patrons watching the dissfest chuckled.
“You think you all that since you’re going to college.”
“I am compared to you. But like the UNCF says, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. What’s your excuse?”
“You better find an excuse to leave Donnie alone. That’s my trade.”
Bitch please. I got a man, thought Erica. I don’t want him. “Well Satan, he didn’t get that memo.”
“You call me out of my name one more time I’m gonna kick your ass.”
“Better queens than you have tried and failed.” Erica said as she rolled her eyes at him. “Don’t mess with me.”
“You better try harder to leave him alone before I cut you, bitch,” Satin barked as he stomped off toward the dressing room.
“You better go find some mouthwash for that stinky breath.” Erica said as she turned and focused her attention on the muscular chocolate-brown bartender busily mixing drinks. Donnie tapped her on the shoulder and handed her the daiquiri just as she let out a frustrated breath.
“What’s wrong Miss Ebony?”
“Nothing Donnie. Just have a few things on my mind.” she said as she took a sip of her drink.
“How my boyfriend’s gonna take the news that I’m not entering the Miss Studio 13 pageant.”
“You’re not? Why?”
“Donnie, it’s not because I don’t think I can win it, I know I can.”
“I’m just ready to move on to the next phase of my life. I wanna live my life as a twenty-four seven Black woman.”
“I hear you gurl.” Donnie said as she turned her head and spotted Markita talking to the light skinned guys who’d asked her to dance earlier. Erica observed him buying a drink for her, then resumed pondering her own personal issues.
“Donnie, I need to ask you something.”
“What is it?”
“What’s going on with you and Satin?’
“Absolutely nothing. I don’t want that ugly man.”
“That’s not what he’s telling the children. He’s says that you belong to him.”
“Oh really? Let me serve this sissy and put a stop to his delusions of grandeur. No wonder I haven’t been able to take any trade home to Casa De Donnie.”
He finished his drink, placed the glass on the bar and headed off at warp speed to the dressing room area of the club.
A few minutes later a half made up Satin came storming out of the dressing room with an agitated expression on his face. He rapidly turned his head right and left trying to locate Erica and once his eyes locked in on her quickly moved in her direction to confront her.
“You a hard headed bitch aren’t you?’
“Que?” Erica answered in Spanish.
“You trying to be funny? I ain’t laughin.’ “
“But we’re laughing at you, Satan.” she said as Markita and Donnie arrived at her side. “You better run back to the dressing room and finish slapping some more paint on that ugly mug.”
Enraged, Satin tried to grab Erica but only succeeded in grasping Erica’s shiny black straight shoulder length hair and pulling her off her comfortable bar stool seat.
“It’s all mine, bitch. Unlike yours,” she said as she jerked Satin’s wig off his head and threw it onto the dance floor. Satin mistakenly released his grip on her hair and tried to swing at her. She ducked the incoming right hook, landed a knee into his midsection and proceeded to give him a black belt karate flavored ass kicking.
Satin crawled away from Erica after the quickie beatdown and attempted to retrieve his wig. The dance floor patrons played keep away with it for a few moments before one of them threw it onto the steps descending from the stage.
“Okay, Miss Cleopatra Jones. Remind me to stay on your good side,” Markita said with a chuckle.
“Hey, I warned him to leave me alone.”
“Better watch your back, gurl. You know he’s gonna be looking to get you now.”
“I’m not worried about that stupid sissy, Donnie. If he tries me again he’s gonna get the same industrial strength butt kicking he got tonight.”
“All right, Wonder Woman. Want another cocktail?”
“Yeah. All this drama is making me thirsty.”