Another Ring Cycle
BY SUSIE DAY | Gay men think they know about opera. Hah. They don’t know about lesbian opera, which — like lesbians themselves — is deeply misunderstood. I just happen to have a scenario for a grand opera by and for lesbians, absolutely chock full of tragic splendor. Regardez:
Naughty and heedless Clarinda, a baby dyke just out of reform school, arrives at the lesbian town of Uterville on the very day the locals are holding their joyous Festival of the Social Change Workshops! Lesbian peasants and nobles alike, in brightly colored overalls and drawstring pants, sing and dance to their simple womyn’s folk songs, while the naughty Clarinda goes around putting itching power on everyone’s sex toys.
Perspective: Snide Lines
Enter: Phallopia, Queen of the Lesbian Social Change Activists and Keynote Speaker. Stunned by Phallopia’s beauty and momentarily paralyzed with infatuation, Clarinda sings the ever-popular aria “La Donna Immobile.” At last, Clarinda gains an audience with the Queen by pretending that an evil therapist has turned her into a Republican male, and that only the kiss of a Lesbian Pure in Politics can break the curse. Phallopia, who can never resist a cause, kisses the naughty and heedless Clarinda, and the two fall in love.
Suddenly, the lights dim and all the oxygen is sucked out of the theater.
Scene: U-Haul Rental Office, holy site of the happy duo’s Legal Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony. Nuptial music fills the hall as a retinue of swans smoking cigars escorts Clarinda, in nymph costume, to the altar. There Phallopia stands, dressed as Leon Trotsky. The lovers plight their troth, singing the majestic and politically aware “Coupletalist Duet.”
“I was once a working-class Capitalist,” recalls Clarinda.
“And I was once an upper-class Communist,” replies Phallopia.
“But now,” both sing, “we are as One: The People’s Republic of Us!” And they take turns piercing each other’s belly buttons.
Comic relief is provided by a chorus of Celibates, who perform the piquant “Dance of the Test-Tube Babies.” Villagers offer the couple an homage of toasters and microwave ovens, as Clarinda asks the musical question, “Is That All We Got?” A golden U-Haul arrives to take the newly committed pair somewhere else.
ACT THE THIRD
A year later.
Scene: A humdrum rent-stabilized cottage, deep in the forest. The naughty Clarinda feather-dusts the Certificate of Legal Same-Sex Marriage hanging on the wall while she awaits the arrival of her Activist Queen. In an attempt to spice up their relationship, Clarinda has donned a Bo Peep costume and sings of how wonderful it will be when her beloved returns home to act out the part of the sheep.
Enter, finally: Phallopia, exhausted from a hard day on the picket line. “What’s for dinner?” she cries. “How about some nice hot sex!” teases the naughty Clarinda, shaking her bootie fecklessly in the face of her paramour.
“What?” gasps Phallopia. “Sleep with you while there remain states in our country that deny our people the legal right to wed? NEVER!” And she sings the magnificent aria, “Ne Me Touche Pas, I am Fighting Injustice.”
To drown her out, Clarinda plays Goth love songs real loud on the radio.
That night in her dreams, Clarinda is visited by the Twelve Steps, each more hideous than the last. She wakes up and gets a cat.
Repeat Act III, but with more cats.
At last, every region in the world has legalized and accepts same-sex marriage. This is the final blow to the couple’s sex life. In deep mourning, they hold a huge, government-sanctioned renewal of their wedding vows but refuse to admit swans. The lonely and bereft Clarinda sneaks away from the crowd and sings: “’Tis awful to be lawful; O Phallopia, why canst we not elopia?”
The residents of Uterville are unable to attend the wedding but send toasters instead. More and more toasters pile up onstage. A fight breaks out in the audience.
Susie Day is the author of “Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power,” published by Abingdon Square Publishing.