Emergency exits

Getting crazy in a time of crisis
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marke@sfbg.com

I've got one copy of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace strapped under my right foot, one strapped under my left. The new 1,400-page Penguin Classics translation by Anthony Briggs makes for a great pair of platforms. My fantasy party posse's at my side: Felicia Fellatio rocking a hot red bandito bandanna, a full white tutu, and a number 5 Tim Hardaway jersey; Baby Char Char in an oversize pajama-print homeboy hoodie and a pair of random, paint-spattered Levi's; Nova all angles on her retro-future '80s Nagel dangling neon banana earrings, turquoise ruffled skirt, and shoulder-padded acid-washed cropped jacket trip; and Hunky Beau in Juicy Couture pipe pants and war paint.

Somebody else is in the corner, wearing pink panties on his head and a giant chain, but no one knows his name.

I feel great. I just finished six weeks of Third Street Gym boxing boot camp, and you could bounce a full congressional subpoena off my abs, darling. (OK, that's a lie — but I think about going to the gym every time I light up a smoke. That should count for something, no?) We're out the door to my drag idol Juanita More's weekly Saturday all-nighter, Playboy, at the Stud (www.juanitamore.com), when suddenly it hits me: today is Saturday, right? I better check the Internet.

I put down my flask of Cuervo and log on, and this little box of "gay news" pops up. (How does the Internet know? Oh, that's right: all my online porn accounts.) "UN Confirms Anti-Gay Death Squads in Iraq" the top headline reads. Kidnappings, mutilation, charred bodies found by the road. Hmm. A few clicks later: "Iraqi Leaders OK Gay Pogroms." According to activists, Shiite militias are engaging in one of the "most organized and systematic sexual cleansings in history" with the government's two-cheeked kiss of approval, and the US is refusing asylum to gay Iraqis.

Oh dear. Suddenly the thought of whooping it up while my gay Iraqi rainbow family burns seems kind of, you know, gross.

I'm so fucking sick of feeling powerless against this stupid war. Of always tucking the grief of it somewhere in the back of my mind as I down another shot and hit the dance floor. Not only is it a major buzzkill among other omnipresent buzzkills — global warming, fundamentalist terror, constant surveillance, government-sanctioned queer discrimination, bad hair days — but, as a citizen of the allegedly participatory democracy that started the whole thing, I feel somehow responsible, no matter whom I voted for however many times. And just admitting that, I feel like a spoiled American. It sucks.

On top of that, I have to watch myself and many of those around me struggle to keep the flame of resistance sparkling. It seems exhaustion has seeped into our consciousness and may actually be taking root. I fondly recall the first exhilarating flush of protest — of taking back the streets until my pumps wore through on the first night of "shock and awe," of lying down and blocking traffic in an orange jumpsuit (on purpose for once) as the bombs continued to rain down on civilians half a world away, of wildly dancing with Code Pink and cute Puerto Rican socialists in the NYC streets during the 2004 Republican Convention, hoping the nets the cops threw over us wouldn't snag my weave. Sure, I still bang my pan with a stick at the occasional ANSWER weekend protest, despite my massive hangover. But after four years of war, it often seems I'm banging fruitlessly. If a club freak chants in a vacuum, will the killing please stop now?

Thank goddess I've got the beautiful souls I've met at the clubs around me. The kind of nightlife I love is inherently subversive: when one kind of music, location, or style becomes dominant, a host of alternatives immediately springs up. That energy refuels my rebellious spirit and keeps my fight up during the day.

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