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for March 5, 2003

Lap Dog Obedience and Finishing School
by Your Diva, Robin Pastorio-Newman

Historically, our leaders employ lap dogs whose function is to inspire fear and obedience. Even ostensibly benevolent kings and queens have always had their vile Torquemadas to keep their subjects in line. Sometimes inquisitors' antics define a whole era. The House Committee on Un-American Activities pops instantly to mind, doesn't it? Even those of us born after the death of disco understand the terrifying meaning of "Mr. Chairman, I have here a list..."
Perhaps Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn can finally do us a favor and serve as catwalk models in the Bad Dog Fashion Show. The former, our model number one - let's call him "Jurgen" just for fun - elected himself King of American Morals through blackmail, intimidation, and, some say, murder. Our model number two is a more interesting specimen, and through him we can learn a thing or two. Mr. Cohn, whose life's work was prosecuting Communists and homosexuals, turned out to be gay himself. It was a really big secret. Aren't you scandalized? You are! You aren't! You are so! You are not, you cagey savant! The cat's been out of the bag at least thirty years and has great-great-great-grandkittens by now. "Please, My One Heart," you plead, "can we get to the present tense? Or at least one acknowledged by grammarians?"
Certainly. Your Darling, Your Diva, Your One True Love invites you to play Point & Laugh. You know down to the bottoms of your tasseled maroon loafers that the two people you can't stand are the one who's your opposite and the one too much like you. The moment a crusade is declared, be suspicious. It's a good bet McCarthy wanted to be Capone and Cohn wanted be Carmen Miranda, and you can find the red flag anytime someone starts shouting about some other people's inherent loathsomeness. This brings us to right now. At this moment Title IX is under attack, and John Poindexter is allergic to your privacy, Donald Rumsfeld shows an aversion to domestic harmony and John Ashcroft is terrified of boobies. Short of a ten year hard labor sentence in an African-American lesbian childcare collective, the best thing that could happen to these partypoopers - and to us, if you buy that trickle-down theory - is their rehabilitation with the menopausal, realistic and totally fabulous Sweet Potato Queens.
Like roaches to a dorm fridge, so do the repressed and powerful scamper to persecute and prosecute the very people they want most to be or, shall we say, do. Jill Conner Browne's Sweet Potato Queens, whose poise, glamour and punchlines derive from financial and romantic strife, look like neon-colored targets, should the politics of middle aged ladies taking young lovers and no crap from anyone suddenly be brought home, pop culture-wise. In the new millennium, legions are unemployed, welfare is the only option for many, and the old targets are so ... nineties. When ruby slippers, investment advice and HRT combine, anything could happen and let's hope it does, like that tables turn and our prickly gentlemen are released into the custody of sequinned diner waitresses.

©2003 Robin Pastorio-Newman

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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