The bar was holding its annual Drag Attack competition, and a young queen who called herself Trashy Couture walked away with the golden blender. A few women there looked as if they could have been in drag, but were not. It was a jolly demonstration of gender indeterminacy. An older gentleman, with curly ginger mustache, kept warning me that I had to "pay" for the food and drinks TCH was plying me with. Another man, in just the right togs, wore a jacket that said "Mr. Fire Island Leather 2001." Competitions are a kind of communal ritual here.
At night we heard Sherry Vine, a drag queen, sing at the Ice Palace. She had beautiful, shapely legs and a good voice. She sang songs she wrote to popular hits, and those were usually pretty obscene, lit here and there with wit. Unusually, they looked at the darker side of gay life: drugs, sexual addiction, tranny chasers. She also sang a couple of Broadway tunes, including the theme song from "The Kiss of the Spiderwoman." Most enchantingly, she sang "Amsterdam" by Jacques Brel, a Belgian songwriter I did not know. Something about the singing, and something about the song fused into an entrancing moment. Towards the end of the song, she sang:
In the port of AmsterdamThere's a sailor who drinksAnd he drinks and he drinksAnd he drinks once again.He drinks to the healthOf the whores of AmsterdamWho have promised their loveTo a thousand other men.