Friday, February 04, 2005

The Key West Handshake

Have you ever been to a cabaret evening, similar to the one depicted in that episode of “Friends” where Chandler goes to visit his Dad (played by Kathleen Turner!!) in Las Vegas who’s performing in an all-male burlesque show? No, me neither… until last night, that is, when I was dragged (not quite kicking and screaming) to a drag show.

“We’re all going to the La Te Da club next week,” Suzanne announced a few days ago.

Right there was my first clue; the La Te bloody Da club, located at the more “colourful” end of Duval Street in downtown Key West.

“So.. eh.. what’s on there?” I asked, in my most gruff and manly sounding voice.

“You’ll see,” came the reply.

What was on turned out to be Randy Roberts, entertainer extraordinaire, as performed through the guise of Bette Midler, Cher, Mae West and others. An hour of show tunes, raucous comedy, discarded clothing, miraculously disappearing testicles and not enough beer for me.

All week, Suzanne and her brother Porter, had been winding me up with comments like, “he doesn’t always humiliate members of the audience or haul them up on stage during his striptease act” and “keep an eye out for the Key West handshake.”

“That’s great,” I mumbled quietly to myself, “but which eye?” Sure enough, recipients of the Key West handshake have apparently no need for the use of either hand.

As we entered the La Te Da club and climbed the stairs to the cabaret room, I felt confident that the four of us (Porter’s wife Sarah was with us) would be given some safe seats to the side or at the back.

“Front and centre okay for you?” said the ticket lady excitedly, leading us off before I could argue.

There are many times that front row tickets can be a rare treat (The Police at Ingliston in 1981 or Kylie, anytime) but there is also such a thing as being too close; close enough to see the layers of make up, the wig fixings and the missing sequins.

As we sat down, our waitress Michelle scuttled over to take our drinks order.

“Bottle of Rolling Rock please, quick as you like” I said, hurriedly.

“Would you like a glass with that sir?” asked Michelle.

“NO!” I snapped, rapidly losing touch with my secure masculine side. “No glass.. just the bottle.. so I can drink the ice cold beer straight from the bottle.. without a glass.. and leave the top on so I can rip it off with my teeth. Thanks.”

Ten minutes later, the lights dimmed, the booming backing-track overture began and I still didn’t have a beer in front of me. Bette Midler burst out, quite literally, from behind the magenta curtains and launched into song. I cowered at once from the sight of her/his improbably high platform shoes and the blinding glare of spotlight hitting perfect teeth. With nothing in my hands to drink, I started fixating on how I was sitting.

“Am I too tense/casual/conspicuous? And where the fuck’s my Rolling Rock?

The drinks arrived just as the divine Miss M was exiting for her first costume change and I grabbed the bottle, chugging on the neck voraciously.

A short video entitled “Randy on Randy” was shown to pass the time until the show re-commenced. It was billed as an “intimate insight” into the man behind the make-up but was not, in fact, as intimate as the title suggested. It consisted of Randy sitting stroking his little Shitsu puppy while he outlined his background and experience and the benefits of constant moisturising (see Keith, I told you no good could come from all those male toiletries).

Seeing him sitting and talking without all the intimidating lipstick, mascara and ceiling-high wigs, put me at my ease and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the show. This guy/gal has one hell of a pair of tonsils and he even got me to join in with the exuberant choreography that accompanied “YMCA”... or “KYCW”, the alternative version demonstrated by the dyslexic tourist from Pennsylvania at the next table.

Randy finished the performance by answering questions from the audience and just when I thought I’d returned to my comfort zone, he dropped the bombshell. Asked how he managed to look after his hair so well in the humidity of Florida he answered,

“Oh honey, I just let it curl naturally; after all, nothing stays straight in Key West very long!”

“MICHELLE! More beer over here, NOW!”

Randy is available for children’s parties, bar mitzvahs and private engagements and can be contacted at


At 4/2/05 10:10 pm, Blogger DC said...

Haven't actually read this one yet- sure it's almost as good as all the rest.

Anyway, just been watching American Idol,I'm disappointed that you've not plot spoiled on this one,Ryan Miller , Orlando, in addition to Kevin ( our secret love child ), this 23 yr old Soapy lookalike ( minus beard), must be your boy-minus your exceptional voice of course- check it out !



At 5/2/05 12:57 am, Blogger Keefer said...


You'll thank when your forty (or sorry 50) for using top male toiletries that protect your fair Scottish skin

At 5/2/05 12:58 am, Blogger Keefer said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6/2/05 2:30 pm, Blogger DC said...


I've now read it - instant classic- sounds like you've passed a watershed ,or possibly a pain barrier, in your long and eventful time on Earth.

Checked out Randy's site - he's not an unattractive man, but the Cher outfit I think is particulary disturbing .

Would I be right in presuming your Rolling Rock was some kind of low carb, low calorie, low taste. low alcohol , with added minerals & vitamins kind of a deal ?

Bye for now,

At 8/2/05 4:37 pm, Blogger Green Glass Beads said...

Rolling Rock is mingin'- what are you drinking that for?

My ex is a dog, for the record. I am a sausage.

And check out the blog of Things I hate about my flatmate...I swear, the guy/gal is living with my old flatmate!


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