Fear and Lingerie in Portland, Oregon
Gonzo IFGE 1994

a story by Callan Williams ©1994

A massive fucking lingerie explosion. Bras, panties, garters, camis & stockings hang from every projecting point, cover every surface. Awake slowly, pulling tap pants off my face. Struggle to the toilet. Cheap tricot slips underfoot. Grab the wall, stop the world from spinning. Mirror: huge black raccoon eyes over chocolate brown contour skids and fuzzy red-blue lips. The aspirin goes down. I stagger to find the source of the horrific ripping noise drilling my melon.

She is in the other bed, her pillow streaked with makeup. A huge, evil lump, swaddled in shiny black nylon. Shamu in repose. From her gaping yaw emerge the sounds of the devil. I let fly and she rolls over when the flame-red four-inch spike heel hits her head. Blissful quiet for a precious moment.

Another morning at the 1994 Portland IFGE Coming Together, Working Together. The fucking Drama Queen in the other bed drags a gaggle in at 2 AM when the bar closes to kill the rest of the bottle and laugh themselves silly trying on every piece of underwear in the place. Ah, crossdressers. I vaguely remember coming to and dragging the covers over my bare butt, which was about to decorated with a Maybelline lipstick sampler stolen from Safeway. Lollipop and Frosted Apricot on my cheeks. How fun.

Seminars to attend, squabbles to review. Who was saying something new and why? Insight or cat fight? Turning point or training drill? A time to build a head of steam or just to blow it all off? Does anyone get the point yet? A quick visit to Michael Jordan's shoes in the NikeTown attraction across the street? Big shoes, big swoosh, so they say. Gotta be the shoes.

I find my boobs, rolled under the bed. Mount the shower. The hot water stops with my hair lathered up. A perky hotel operator says "about 15 minutes." The price of a Hilton, the elegance of a Motel 6. Rooms so small you have to go out in the corridor to change your mind: especially when she is in there. (Rimshot optional.)

I hear Linda's "guy-in-a-dress thru the airport" story. 36 hours in the same corset, heels through the fresh deep snow. Blasted ratcheting sounds erupt again and I realize she would like that. Go figure. Joanne shows gifts from the kids when accepting her Trinity Award, and fights getting beamed down. Billie Jean shows up, the pretty, sleek lines of her body contrasting her pretty warped insights. Holly Boswell, mild & wild. They are all here.

Even her, growling, demanding a double extra tall cafe latté from the streetcorner. Five sugars. I stagger downstairs, ignore the hissing fear in the elevator. Portland is cool, but set in the sweeping rocks of the religious right. An enclave only a few hundred miles from the racial purity capital, Idaho. Don't pee in the lobby! I pick a plastic rag off Monica's dress and she blots at my smeared Love That Red. So much makeup, so little time. Sunday Brunch comes early.

Lunch with my beard shadow. Tsks from someone in a lime-green puckered-polyester cocktail dress. The taste in my mouth is greasy strawberry whip passing as dessert.

Another transgender seminar, another fight with the prince. I love my mom but I don't agree with her either. Tori comes up with some pisser insights: It's all about people, about freeing them from fear, about letting the potential out. So simple, but buried deep in obtuse semantics and big silicone breast forms.

Growing up is not simple. Be 13 forever. Hold on to your cock, even if it is inverted. Feel the jism. Phallocentric surface tension. Loudly proclaim what you deserve, quiet about what you give. Monte Carlo night, seven come eleven, big-gulp co-dependence.

Tonight, the big-ender of the convention, where Trinity Award winner Wendy Parker introduces me and her, and we have to make a ballroom full of genderoids laugh. Summon the Drama Queen power, pump the energy. Until we get told who to lighten up on, who not to hit. Let Go, Let Free: just not that free.

IFGE 1994, my first. Layers on layers, an archeological dig of gender. Treasures amongst the trash. Gold amongst the dross. Like the schizoid local TS by the UFO Museum walking to a wax job: We are still crazy, we are still gods. Opening to humanity is opening to love. Another Henry's brew? Thanks. Don't mind if I do.

Party and prattle, go through the motions, not the emotions. Breakthroughs are required. Walls to scale, hierarchies to topple. Headaches that cripple the status quo. Life's a bitch and now I am one.

I pack her off to Orlando and head home, a raft of semi-recognizable wigless heads on the plane. Coming Together, Working Together, Breaking Apart. The best we have to offer is the best I offer, the best you offer. What do we decide to offer?

I gulp down my ibuprofen with a Jim Beam miniature. The sea is dark, and dangerous, and deep, and I have miles to go before I sleep.