When Alexis Carrington Met Baby Jane, Her Sister Blanche, and GI Joe on Halloween
By Hellen Back
Ms. Back is a performer, originally from Santa Cruz, who now makes their home in Portland. She has kindly agreed to share recollections from her life, in and out of drag.
Dried leaves rustled across the streets and sidewalks as the sky glowed in rich amber hues like a Maxfield Parrish sky began to sparkle with stars illuminating the twilight. Costumed children dart from porch to porch chiming “trick or treat” in unison, their plastic pumpkins held outstretched, eager for candy treats.
A ghost here, a witch there and I was Kharis, the mummy! High priest to the princess Ananka. Swathed in shredded linen bandages I held one arm outstretched, dragging one leg in my very best Boris Karloff impersonation that I could muster as an earnest eight-year-old…but that was long ago. Travel with me some twenty odd years later and those sweet Halloween memories now lay in the distant past.
Nope, no Maxfield Parrish sky this time, no Norman Rockwell Halloween magazine cover here.
There I was, my evening gown pulled up around my neck, in a dark little shed as my neighbors teenage son banged away at me so hard I swore that any minute he’d either strike oil or the damn shed would rattle apart. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. It was once again Halloween, or “The Bitches Christmas” as we always called it. Months had gone into preparation for my costume, every detail was perfection…I was every inch Alexis Carrington Colby!
Dynasty was the hit of the year and I was prepared! Though I was a good foot or two taller than Joan Collins, I felt it only added stature to my characterization. I was in a word…flawless! The evening was a huge success, cocktails, cocktails, and more cocktails. The party was up at the old Pogonip Lodge in Santa Cruz, used as the house in the movie Lost Boys which had just been filmed in town.
The party was loud and wild. Everywhere were fabulous costumes, hot guys, and great dance music. It was the 80’s and drugs were plentiful. Clouds of dope hung lazily in the air and if there was a flat surface somebody was laying a line of coke out on it! But, Cole Porter said it best, didn’t he?
“Some get a kick from cocaine,
I’m sure that if,
I took even one sniff,
It would bore me terrifically, too,
Yet, I get a kick out of you.”
Now, being a bit high-strung bitch I was never one for cocaine. I really didn’t care for it…I never turned it down, but I really didn’t care that much for it. But what the hell, ‘tis the season! I guess.
At one point, while dancing madly and having long since dropped my sophisticated Joan Collins persona, I lapsed into something closer to a drunken, drugged-up Tallulah Bankhead. I spied across the dancefloor Jesus and the Apostles! And it wasn’t the drugs, there really was a group of 13 fabulous men in biblical garb all perfectly done!
Opposite them, heading in their direction, were two drag queens done up as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in their roles of Baby Jane Hudson and her sister Blanche Hudson. Jane was pushing the wheelchair and “Blanche” was wringing her hands and giving it her Joan Crawford all!
Well fucking Hell, what a convergence of characters! I immediately sprung into action. Racing to the center of the dancefloor I grabbed Blanch/Joan by the wrists and hauled her heavy carcass out of the wheelchair while calling on “Jesus” to “Heal this woman! Make her walk again! We need a miracle!”
Oh, it was perfect! What a scene, though I did begin to notice through my drunken haze that Joan/Blanche was putting up quite the struggle as I hauled her out of the wheelchair. Not only that, her companion Jane seemed to be overreacting just a bit to the whole situation and was flailing and gesticulating madly at me. But why?
That’s when it happened, Joan/Blanche hit the floor like a sack of potatoes, Jesus freed himself from my clutches and took a few steps back along with the rest of the apostles and the entire dancefloor froze as baby Jane scrambled quickly to her friend’s side and attempted to haul poor Blanche Hudson back into her wheelchair, because, well…it was her wheelchair. It was the wheelchair she lived in and not–as I supposed–a Halloween prop.
Yep, the bitch actually needed the damn thing. She was paralized from the waist down and I had yanked her ass right out of her wheelchair and tossed her on the floor like a rag doll. (Unless of course, she was a student of method acting.) I now stood over her thinking, “What would Alexis do?”
I adjusted my flawless wig and the fabulous gown. I looked around the room of horrified faces and said, “Well, so much for miracles,” and made a hasty exit through the crowd before they could turn into an angry mob. Heading home, gunning my enormous convertable Cadillac, I roared around curves squeaking my tires, cursing that damn bitch for rolling around in her fucking wheelchair and ruining my evening!
I mean, who the hell did she think she was?
I slid into my gravel driveway a bit drunker than I should have been, when behind a wheel. But, fortunately no Hudson sister, Blanche or otherwise, met me at the gate. Hell, let’s face it, i was so high I shouldn’t even have been allowed to walk home let alone drive! But I made it…I was home and just about to put the entire debacle behind me when I heard a voice in the darkness cry, “Happy Halloween.” I turned and could see a vague shape in the darkness.
“Happy Halloween” I answered.
“Who are you supposed to be,” he asked insolently.
Smartass, i thought. And so responded: “I’m Alexis Carrington Colby, who the fuck are you?”
“I’m GI Joe,” he said as he stepped out into the porchlight.
Dear gods, it was Bobby, my neighbor’s hot, teenage, surfer son. He was wearing a full army uniform and looked amazing! I’d spent the past couple years watching his daily routine of stripping out of his wetsuit behind their home when he returned from surfing. He’d peel out of his wetsuit like a banana and then slowly hose himself off. Sometimes his brother would join him.
They had a little shed behind their parents house where they hung out, drank beer, smoked weed and hosed off the sand and saltwater from their nubile, strong, young bodies. it was a daily routine that was not lost on me. The memories still are not lost.
“Wanna smoke a joint?” he offered.
Yep, that’s all it took and that’s how I found myself moments later drunk, high and dressed like a seven foot tall Amazonian Joan Collins, getting my brains banged out by the neighbor’s son. No, this was not the Halloween of my childhood memories, though I’m sure that if I had craned my neck as I bent over his surfboard I might have caught just a peek of a lovely Maxfield Parrish sky through the shed door.
And if my head hadn’t been pushed into the wall, and listened very carefully I might have once more heard the soft rustle of fall leaves as they skittered across the pavement. And though that part of my Halloween experience somehow managed to slip past me, all in all it wasn’t a bad night. Not a bad night at all, and though we came up a bit short on miracles, I still got my trick or treat.