Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Revenge of the Duke

After the show on June 11, 1979, a gaggle of us headed out of Dirty Jack’s Theater in the direction of the town square in search of a drink. Just to the south of Dirty Jack’s along Cache Street was the local cinema, where we saw the guy who ran the cinema up on a ladder spelling out a message on the marquee… at 11:30 on a Tuesday night. He was weeping. He told us John Wayne had died.

We were a group of professional actors, by God, and we instantly sensed our vocational obligation to show proper reverence to the Duke’s passing. After a respectful few seconds of throat-clearing and foot-shuffling, an actor blurted out, “Awwww, I never liked him anyway.”

Neither did I. Still don’t, but that is beside the point. The point was that we were in search of a drink after sweating all evening under hot lights providing giggles for the touristi. The death of a cultural icon could not stand in our way.

We made our way to the Pink Garter Bar and from there to the other rowdy clubs on the square. I chatted up lots of non-theatrical friends and smoothly hit on a few ladies. When I stumbled home later I discovered, to my horror, that I had somehow forgotten to remove my makeup after the show. I had been schmoozing and working the rooms with about four pounds of Max Factor on my fiz.

Remember now, I played a bad guy in the ’79 show, so my makeup was kind of grotesque. Over a thick pale orange basecoat, dark vertical hash marks accented the creases between my brows and the frown lines around my mouth. I had heavy mascara on my lower lashes and one of my teeth was blacked out. It all looked cool in the glow of the green room or under the glare of the stage lights, but I think it was probably pretty bizarre at 1:00 am in the Cowboy Bar. But nobody said a fucking word; at least not to me.