It’s Raining Men

There isn’t much time now. Nate has sent someone out to announce, to the surprise of no-one, that the drag show will start fifteen minutes behind schedule. Most of the partygoers are filtering in and finding seats. Leon has managed to slip inside without encountering Rain again.

He spots Enrique hovering near the door. There’s just one thing to check on, to make sure the young bartender is ready for his part of the show.

He sidles up. “We all set?”

Enrique grins salaciously. “Hell yeah.” Then he hesitates. “There’s just one thing.”

Shit. Leon isn’t sure he can deal with complications, not now.

“What?” he says, trying to prepare himself for the worst.

“Well, the thing is…” Enrique takes his hat off and turns the brim around in his hands. His stash is still affixed to the inside. “You’re into me for a few, Leon. You’re my friend so I don’t mind floating you for a bit, but I got my own bills too, y’know?”

The young bartender is, in fact, a med student, a thing not widely advertised among the current crowd. He deals on the side just to make enough to keep himself fed.

“So I’ll pay up after the party. I just don’t have enough cash on me right now.”

The truth is, he may not have enough cash right after the party either. Lately he’s been struggling a bit to stay ahead of his residuals, and he’s into a few more people than just Enrique. He’s the good time guy, but good times have become a bit more lean these last couple years.

It’s okay. This next record is going to be a smash. He just has to get there.

“You’re not backing out, are you?”

“Naw, I just think…” Enrique gives him a sly look. “I think we should flip things around up there. Y’know. You do me.”

Leon grimaces as he considers. It won’t have nearly the impact he wanted. But… it would still give the crowd a show. And he’s pretty sure nobody else will do something like this.

“Fine,” he says. “Just try and make it short.”

“No performance anxiety here, man.”

Leon nods. “When Nate calls us.”

“Yep.”

The lights flash, and Tony stops the record with a scratch. Leon and Enrique hustle to the front benches, reserved for performers. There’s the crackle of the needle being set.

A gloved arm rises gracefully in the gap between the front curtains. “A kiss on the hand may be quite sentimental…”

The Queen of New York, Nate’s drag persona, emerges in all her glory. “But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

She’s resplendent in a stunning bright pink dress and wig of tumbling blonde curls. She takes a turn on the stage, showing off her heels, her sparkling barette, her smooth figure. Her brows are painted high and arched, her lips luscious red.

The crowd goes nuts.

“A kiss may be grand, but it won’t pay the rental on your humble flat, or help you feed your own pussycat.” The music fades out, and The Queen strikes a pose, her back to the crowd, looking coyly over her shoulder. Her long false eyelashes create a dramatic downturned effect.

A new song begins. Upbeat rhythm with snare on the backbeat. Bass coming in on a catchy ostinato, a syncopated pair of triangle chimes. It repeats, and this time a woman’s high voice pops two “Oh!“s along with the chimes.

“Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me, I think they’re okay.” The Queen runs her gloved hands over her own body, her hips, her chest, and ends with both arms up in an adoration-accepting pose. “If they don’t give me proper credit – ” She turns, rubbing thumb and fingertips together, and stalks slowly toward Sinclair in the front row. She abruptly turns again, haughty. ” – I just walk away.”

The Queen knows exactly how to work a crowd. Every movement is controlled and intentional, and her lip-syncing could nearly fool Leon. Two more performers emerge from the curtain: Chain, and the dancer Reginald. They join The Queen, fawning over her and being pushed away by turns.

“Cuz we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl! You know that we are living in a material world, and I am a material girl!”

Reginald drops into a full split at the end, arms in a triumphant V above his head. Chain takes a knee, arms in a similar pose, and together they draw the focus of every eye in the room onto The Queen.

When her song is finished, The Queen takes the mic to applause and wolf whistles. “Thank you, thank you, thank you my darlings, my dears,” she says, blowing kisses. “We have a wonderful show lined up for you tonight. We have some new talent gracing our stage for the first time; we have all your Club Diamond favorites; we even have a few ghosts among us, such as Leon’s career.”

The audience chuckles. Leon forces himself to smile.

“So! First up is a newcomer to our stage, but someone I’m sure you all know: the lovely and talented Pen!”

There are a few murmurs of surprise here and there; many of them had no idea Pen would perform.

She takes the microphone. Her voice is strong and she walks confidently around the stage as she sings. “Touch me. How can it be? Believe me, the sun always shines on TV.”

“Next,” The Queen announces after Pen’s performance, “another newcomer. Let’s hear it for singer songwriter Marylou!”

The woman who emerges seems a little hesitant, a little shy. She struggles with adjusting the microphone stand to her guitar, and Tony and Rain both step up to help.

She closes her eyes, and her opening breath trembles. But her fingers know the strings by heart, and her voice is velvet-smooth and achingly lovely. “Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick, and think of you. Caught up in circles, confusion is nothing new.” The song continues, a plaintive call to someone loved and lost.

The applause, when it comes, seems to shock her out of a trance. She takes quick, nervous bows, and disappears backstage.

“Absolutely beautiful,” The Queen says. “A credit to our stage.”

Next is Diane, with a strip tease to “Whatever Lola Wants” that falls just short of revealing her breasts, then Lady Verona, who seduces the crowd with a smoking lip sync of “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

When Lady Verona disappears behind the curtain, Leon looks over and nods to Enrique. His stomach is knotted up despite himself; much as he’s tried to pay them no attention, he’s heard the whispers of “has been” and “washed up” and “pitiful” that cut the air behind him wherever he goes.

“And here’s Leon,” The Queen says. “I’m sure he’ll entertain us with one of his hits.”

Leon takes the stage from the left, Enrique from the right. They meet in the center, and wordlessly come together for a passionate-looking kiss.

Then Leon goes down on his knees.

There are whoops of delight and shocked gasps as he undoes Enrique’s belt. Pushes his fly open. Blows him fast and hard, right there, in front of everyone.

Good to his word, Enrique finishes quickly, and leaves the stage to howls and whistles with a satisfied grin and a flourish of his hat.

Leon stands up. Faces the crowd. He feels defiance in his face, his stance, his voice. “Disco might be dead after all,” he shouts, “but I’m not, and I’m here to prove it! Hit it!” he adds to Tony, and takes his opening pose, head lowered, fists clenched at his sides. The music starts. An insistent hammering beat, a rising melody that crescendoes a fifth above the octave. A roll of electronic thunder.

His head snaps up and he looks out seductively from beneath lowered brows. “Hi! I’m your weather girl.” The backing track chimes in “Uh huh!

“And have we got news for you!

You better listen!” adds the track.

“Get ready, all you lonely girls, and leave those umbrellas at home. Alright!”

Electricity runs through the audience; he can feel it. Whispers: “Oh my god.” “Holy shit.”

He isn’t dead. He’s here, he’s alive, he’s on top of the fucking world.

“Temperature’s rising. Barometer’s getting low. According to all sources, the street’s the place to go. Cuz tonight for the first time, just about half-past ten, for the first time in history, it’s gonna start raining men!”

The crowd explodes.

“It’s raining men! Hallelujah, it’s raining men! Amen!” He raises his arms to the heavens, inviting the rain, inviting the applause, inviting it all. “I’m gonna go out, I’m gonna let myself get absolutely soaking wet! It’s raining men!”

It all begins to blur together. The screams, the heat, the lights, the glory. He burns like the fucking sun.

“It’s raining men! Hallelujah, it’s raining men! Amen!” Everyone is singing with him. The song ends with a fade-out, and he lets the backing track take over as he throws his head back and his arms open wide.

The applause is thunderous.

Leon!” they scream. “LEON!

And now, here, in this moment… it’s enough.


“Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” © Jule Styne and Leo Robin, 1949
“Material Girl” © Peter Brown and Robert Rans, 1984
“The Sun Always Shines on TV” © Warner Bros., 1985
“Time After Time” © Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman, 1983
“It’s Raining Men” © Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer, 1982

Songs used without permission.

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