|Two celebrants dressed as â€śPeepsâ€ť embrace columnist Pollo Del Mar outside the Ducal Councilâ€™s Mr. & Miss Royal Bunny Contest Easter Day finale.
Notorious Sainted Glamazon About Town
At 26-years-old, I was tired of my ho-hum existence and dead-end job working as a production assistant for a major consulting firm in Cleveland, OH.
During a birthday vacation to San Diego, I fell in love with California and immediately upon returning requested a transfer to the first available position on the West Coast â€“ anywhere on the West Coast. My gut told me there was more to be experienced than my black and white world, though I wasnâ€™t sure what, and this is where I would find it.
When I landed at SFO some six weeks later â€“ April 11, 1999 â€“ I knew absolutely nobody in San Francisco. Not a soul. I remember it was an exhilarating if incredibly lonely feeling. Itâ€™s one I havenâ€™t thought much about in many years, yet it flashed through my head this past weekend as, ten years to the day later, I was dropped off in front of RetroFit en-route to Trannyshack: Reno.
â€śPollo!â€ť a chorus of familiar faces called as my belongings and I all-but-tumbled out of the car onto the curb in front of the fabulous Valencia Corridor resale clothing and finery shop owned by Steven LeMay. Even with a suitcase, an assortment of carry-on bags, two wigs styled on Styrofoam heads and almost a case of Sugar-Free Rockstar energy drinks, I was still traveling lighter than many, but I was ready for Trannyshackâ€™s legendary jaunt to the â€śBiggest Little City on Earth.â€ť By sheer accident, I planned to celebrate my big anniversary with what could quite possibly be considered â€śthe ultimate San Francisco experience.â€ť
Over the past dozen years, Trannyshack: Reno has earned its well-deserved reputation as the best weekend you might never remember. Last year was my first time making the five-plus-hour excursion aboard the two charter busses packed to capacity with upwards of 125 drag performers, our friends, fans and following. Known far more for that drug- and alcohol-infused bus ride than the show itself, the trip has a way of making mere mortals â€“ usually somewhat sloppy ones â€” into legends. In 2008, the dual winners of this distinction were Lady Bear and Turleen.
Lady Bear, in a drunken stupor, provided an assault on the senses of a suburban McDonaldâ€™s in Auburn, CA, during a lunchtime stop along the way. Turleen, covering herself in faux blood during an alcohol-induced blackout, provided a more personal attack on the performers in the dressing room at the show. Both were quite a sight to behold, and each returned to their roots for a second consecutive year.
Since Peaches Christ bowed out of her usual position as copilot to finish her feature film debut All About Evil, her counterpart Renttecca named Lady Bear and me cohosts of Bus #2, â€śThe Jackpot Jezebels.â€ť It was an exciting opportunity, since short of last Novemberâ€™s all-night sit-in at the intersection of 18th & Castro, Reno had been the highlight of my 2008. It also gave me an opportunity on to reflect on just how much my life has changed in the last ten years.
With some of my favorite people â€“ Javier Ruiz, Matt Renck, Sandra O. Noshi-Diâ€™nâ€™t and Anjie Myma, with whom I truly bonded during the previous yearâ€™s trip â€“ along for the ride, there was none of that sense of loneliness Iâ€™d felt that day a decade before. Around me, under all the wigs, glitter and false eyelashes, I knew almost everyone on our bus â€“ both busses, in fact â€“ to some degreeâ€¦ and even those I didnâ€™t know knew me. In Reno, where the Trannyshack show traditionally blends local standouts with San Francisco favorites, I also found many familiar faces. Empresses Felicia Jewel Halston, Pandora and Heklinaâ€™s cohost for the fourth year in a row, reigning Empress Ana Duvet, all of whom Iâ€™d met the previous year, greeted me warmly.
Of course, some things never change â€“ nor should they, especially when it comes to Trannyshack: Reno. Our bus was filled with rowdy partiers led by Ambrosia Salad and The House of Salad, which collectively won this yearâ€™s â€śBest Drunksâ€ť for Bus #2. Our return stop in Auburn saw passing traffic slow to a crawl as Evan Bee, dressed as an innocent-enough-looking Easter Bunny, fornicated with Tiara Sensation hostess Vivvyenne Forevermore in the front lawn of McDonaldâ€™s. People snapped photos, vomited, passed out, broke things. Someone, Iâ€™m told, even fished around in an on-board toilet to retrieve some illicit substances.
Lady Bear and I accidentally left two people off our return bus when they got lost in the Silver Legacy Casino during lunch â€“ a fact I didnâ€™t even realize until days later (and, to be honest, Iâ€™m still not sure how those poor boys got back to the City!). The whole thing was a steaming hot pile of tranny mess, but a once-in-a-lifetime-experience worth its weight in gold nonetheless!
On the way to Reno, Turleen endured some pretty ghastly results when she passed out courtesy of alcohol and mysterious Chinese pills. However, she pulled herself together for the trip home. We landed back at RetroFit with just enough time for Matt and her to race to the new Bar on Church to be crowned the Ducal Councilâ€™s 2009 Mr. & Miss Royal Bunny, a contest which raised over $4,000 for local charities.
Somewhere along the open highway, Anjie recalled something I told her last year, shortly after we returned from Reno. As she struggled to gain acceptance from her mother, who remains deeply upset over her young sonâ€™s drag alter-ego, I gave her the only advice I could offer. â€śWe lead very colorful lives,â€ť I said, â€śSome people just canâ€™t understand that.â€ť
Ultimately, I told her, we all get to choose which life we want to live. Do we want to live in a world made only of shades of gray â€” or do we want to live another way? Without even knowing it, I made my decision ten years ago. With events like Trannyshack: Reno reminding me just how colorful the world truly can be, I could never go back..
Contact â€śThe Glamazonâ€ť through MySpace, Facebook or Email at Pollo_DelMar@yahoo.com.