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TIME: The late 1960s

PLACE: Boston

Jimmy Davis, a gay, mixed-race adolescent, age 19
Mrs. Davis, Jimmy's mother
Professor Richard Zakon, age 30, tall with glasses
Brother Simpson

Scene I: Mrs. Davis, a 40-year-old black woman, is tidying up her son Jimmy's room.

MRS. D: How is the Lord treating my Jimmy today?

JIMMY: Morning devotions – I couldn't sleep.

MRS. D: With your conscience, hanging around with those…

JIMMY: We have a name.

MRS. D: Are you happy being…

JIMMY: You can say gay, momma. God won't strike you dead.

MRS. D: You wouldn't say that if your father were alive.

JIMMY: All he did was preach to me too.

MRS. D: Didn't help. You were born bad.

JIMMY: Whose fault is that?

MRS. D: I did commit adultery with the Assistant Pastor when Daddy first got sick. What was a young woman to do back then? I was only twenty-one, and I fell. I never even knew my daddy. I was perverse in my ways, and I guess you are too.

JIMMY: Momma, why don't you take your own proverbs to heart?

MRS. D: I gave up the Assistant Pastor. He was a wolf. I'm living for the Lord now.

JIMMY: Sure, Momma.

MRS. D: And you're living for the devil's crowd.

JIMMY: With you, everything has to be black and white. How come I'm not black or white?

MRS. D: You think we got both in all of us?

(Jimmy goes over to the phonograph and puts on Motown music.)

MRS. D: That's Lucifer's music! Lucifer was a musician. Where are you heading for, Jimmy, so early in the morning?

JIMMY: The gym. I'm trying to build up my muscles so I won't be picked on any more.

MRS. D: I tried to make you a healthy boy, but you were always so thin. I had to send you to grandma's, because there was no food you liked here. But then what do you do? You go putting on grandma's earrings. She said you weren't growing up right, always hunting in her jewelry box.

(A car horn is heard.)

MRS. D: Who's beeping that horn so early in the morning? Is it that New York professor always running around with Tom, Dick…

JIMMY: Stop that, Ma. I got to get ready.

MRS. D: It was probably my fault – keeping you with me all those years, taking you shopping with me and to the hairdresser, and never having any friends. Oh, that professor's at the door.

(Door opens, Richard Zakon enters.)

MRS. D: What time you boys go to work? I don't want my son hanging around the gym all the time.

JIMMY: Tonight, Ma, I'm not coming home. Richard is taking me to a foreign film. He prefers Italian ones these days.

MRS. D: I haven't been to a movie since I don't know when.

JIMMY: Ma thinks movies are of the devil's party.

RICHARD: Mrs. Davis, I'll take good care of your son.

MRS. D: I was worried about that. Why don't you tell Jimmy to go on to college like you? I know you support Jim, but why? I try not to guess.

RICHARD: We have our reasons for our relationship.

MRS. D: I don't want to think evil; but my son was brought up in the church. I even had him street preaching at four years old.

JIMMY: Bye, Momma.

(After they leave, Mrs. Davis goes to the telephone and calls Brother Simpson at the Holiness Prayer Line.)

MRS. D: Brother Simpson there?

SIMPSON: Speaking.

MRS. D: It's Sister Davis. My Jimmy's backslidden again. I know he needs deliverance. I know I've done wrong by him. But what can I do now that he's a grown man?

SIMPSON: Pray and fast, Sister Davis; pray and fast.

MRS. D: Yes, Brother; pray and fast.

Scene II: Richard and Jimmy at a gay dance club.

RICHARD: Jim, I have something to ask you. I'm going to be in Morocco on sabbatical. Would you like to go?

JIMMY: But if I tell Mama, she'll say it will kill her.

RICHARD: My mother in Brooklyn says the same thing. We can't live to please our mothers.

JIMMY: At least you have a profession. Ma thinks I'm in the oldest one.

RICHARD: Well, we did meet on a cruise near the Public Gardens. And you and I both thought we would only be ships passing in the night. And we gone on.

JIMMY: What did you see in me?

RICHARD: My own childhood, I guess, if I have to be honest.

JIMMY: But you weren't like me.

RICHARD: I was confused like you. When I was your age, we only had the Mattachine Society.

JIMMY: What I liked about you, Richard, was that I didn't have to be in any masculine society. I used to dress up when Grandma wasn't watching. You like when I dress up, Richard.

RICHARD: I bought you those clothes.

JIMMY: I just like to crossdress sometimes.

RICHARD: Sometimes when you do, there are special times for me too. I am an admirer. But I like all kinds of guys – from the most butch to the most femme. Let's say I'm a gay who's broadminded.

JIMMY: I was thinking, Rich, if I should do impersonations.

RICHARD: I've done them all my life.

JIMMY: Remember at the loft, at the New Year's party, I did those gay charades and had the whole house screaming?

RICHARD: You're not thinking of becoming a drag queen or a transsexual?

JIMMY: Why, are you prejudiced? First you tell me, Rich, how liberal you are. I think you're afraid I'll become a street fairy. Tonight is talent night, and I want to go on.

Scene III: Jimmy is introduced by the club manager, Mr. DiSano as Cherisse Fontaine. He does a routine where he imitates Carmen Miranda, Carol Channing and Eartha Kitt. The audience goes wiled.

Scene IV: After the performance, Richard and Jimmy are at a table in the club.

JIMMY: You should have congratulated me. I got a contract from Mr. DiSano, and that's unheard of in this place.

RICHARD: With all those guys giving you high sign, and rubbing your back, I wanted to be low key.

JIMMY: Oh, I thought I rubbed you the wrong way. You're probably too professional to be with me now.

RICHARD: I busted my ass for you, played uncle for you by getting you off from school, signed all your sick notes to get you out of gym class where you were picked on and pulverized. Now I'm willing to take you to Morocco, and that's the thanks I get.

JIMMY: Like a honeymoon?

RICHARD: Call it what you like.

JIMMY: Maybe you don't really like me now.

RICHARD: I will always be there fore you. What do you take me for?

JIMMY: I want to be a winner on my own. I like being a female impersonator.

RICHARD: Maybe Mr. DiSano will even take you home.

JIMMY: You think I'm just a sweet candy-assed kid. Then how come I have a contract?

RICHARD: I have to go, Jimmy. It seems your boss wants to talk to you.

(Richard walks out. He looks very depressed. Mr. DiSano walks over with some drinks for Jimmy and the contract.)

DISANO: You live with him?

JIMMY: Right now I live with my mother. But I want to get out.

DISANO: Well, there's an apartment upstairs you can have. All that you have to do is look after the place and see that no rookie cops come around. There are always people who want things banned in Boston. But I have always managed to keep this place open. I have connections. Have some drinks on me, Jim.

Scene V: Before Richard leaves the country, he drops by the drag show. He sees the five-star dressing room of Cherisse Fontaine, and knocks on the door.

JIMMY: Come in.

(Jimmy speaks in a high voice. He opens the door and sees Richard.)

JIMMY: Oh, Rich, isn't this a miracle.

RICHARD: You never called me. I'm leaving for Paris and Morroco and came to say au revior.

JIMMY: My name is already in lights. Perhaps I'll perform in Paris too. Paris is where it's at in the drag world. I hear.

RICHARD: What is this spoon here? Is this a drag world or a drug world?

JIMMY: Well, I have to be high all the time. I've been taking hormones, too. And don't you dare try to be "father knows best" to me.

RICHARD: I want to be your friend like always.

JIMMY: You're probably just in a horny mood, and then you'll probably report this to my mother to get back at me. Well, I can tell you, I live above the club house here, and I spend the day rehearsing and putting on these hormone creams. I need to be told I'm beautiful.

RICHARD: I'm trying to get used to all this.

JIMMY: I'm more spontaneous than I've ever been. It's the sixties!

RICHARD: I'll send you a postcard. I brought you a pair of hoop earrings that I thought you'd like.

(Richard leaves a small wrapped gift on the bureau, and watches himself and his former lover in the mirror as he leaves.)

Scene VI: After a semester's sabbatical, Richard returns and comes by the club and sees Mr. DiSano.

RICHARD: Where's Jimmy?

DISANO: You mean Cherisse? Cherisse is at another club, the 1100 – she didn't work out here.

RICHARD: But that's a dive.

DISANO: He/she took one since you left.

Scene VII: Richard comes to the 1100. Cherisse is performing and Richard waits to see Cherisse at the bar alone.

JIMMY: Richard, sweetie. Thanks for sending some money to Momma's house. You never forgot me. But I need some money quick for an operation. Momma found out where I work after the cops caught me with a little smack. It was a frame-up. But Momma got me out, with that Brother Simpson. They still want me to street-preach on the Boston Common. Can you picture me?

RICHARD: Why do you need an operation? Is it serios?

JIMMY: I'm a woman really.

RICHARD: How can I go along with it?

JIMMY: Sexist bitch! As long as you thought of me as a guy I was okay in your black book.

RICHARD: Jimmy, I love you.

JIMMY: You have an image of me. You think of me as you want to. But now I'm a liberated woman, and you can't stand it. Oh, you didn't mind if I cross dressed for you, or did a little light bondage with you, or played master/slave in a plantation with you, or you dressed me up for the ball at that penthouse in Manhattan. But I really think you like me being a boy. Like the time you got me that motorcycle jacket, or dressed me up as a sailor boy or as a cowboy. But I'm not your boy anymore. And let's face it, you are embarrassed being here with Cherisse Fontaine.

(Richard walks out of the 1100. He wanders in the street outside. He sees Mrs. Davis with Brother Simpson street preaching. He walks away and crosses the street.)

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