|SERVING SELFIE: Rachel and I at Ervay and Main Steet.|
It was at the Magnolia Gallery — the opening of my first show as an artist.
That night, I was a ball of nerves.
Friends and relatives were being so supportive.
But I had no idea how people I’d never met would respond.
That night, the Magnolia Gallery was crowded with my muses: a flock of drag artists and supreme transgender beings.
These special ladies filled the gallery with blingy heels, vintage floral gowns, blue eyeshadow and architectonic boobs.
With so many scene-stealing glamazons in such an intimate space like the Magnolia -- other people tended to blur out.
But as I was threading my way through the gallery, an imposing female figure — with shoulder-length rocker-babe hair and wearing a concert T-shirt — excitedly rushed towards with the force of an incoming tsunami.
She grabbed my forearm and said, “Oh! My! Fucking! God! I love your work. Jesus Christ!”
It was Rachel.
And she was as overzealous as a teenage boy seeing breasts for the first time.
I might add: We were indoors. It was nighttime. And Rachel was wearing sunglasses.
On the night of my first time to exhibit artwork, Rachel’s reaction helped repair so much damage of self-doubt, fear and insecurity.
Rachel literally shook me from my core.
She distracted me from letting my neuroses eat me alive.
She helped restore my ability to put my work out there.
Rachel was like high-octane inspirational fuel.
•••The next time I saw Rachel was in this very building at CentralTrak — one room over.
Heyd Fontenot had been mentioning that Rachel and I should get to know each other.
Heyd knows that sometimes I can get so I excited that I almost combust.
And I think he realized Rachel’s intensity and my own were more than a little similar.
I’d barely stepped foot into Heyd’s studio. And before we even exchanged niceties, Rachel turned to Heyd’s laptop and said, “Hey, let’s watch some porn.”
In her own adrenalized manner, Rachel began issuing high praise to website that specialized in a very specific brand of kink.
This erotica featured passive partners who suffered outrageous verbal and genital humiliation.
But what really impressed Rachel was that at after the climax, the obedient sex-slaves were finished off with violent, bare-knuckle punches to the face.
For a split-second, I was a little aghast.
But then Rachel locked eyes with me.
And I saw a girl ..... with the world’s worst poker face.
Beneath the gusto of Rachel’s commanding, “Come on, man! Let’s do it” was a hint of panic; wondering if she’d gone too far; worrying that maybe she offended me.
I’d seen that expression before.
... On my dog.
... When I’d come home after he just dug through the trash.
The instant I saw Rachel’s eyebrows wrinkled in guilt-stricken, apologetic anxiety, my heart melted.
And we bonded.
•••Since then, it’s hard for me to remember attending a Dallas gallery show where Rachel didn’t practically tackle me in one of her enveloping bear-hugs.
•••I vividly remember the last time I saw Rachel.
It was the day after a very rough night of personal disappointment.
That would be Dec.18. At noon...
I was biking down Ervay Street. And right near Nieman Marcus, I spotted Rachel stomping down the sidewalk.
I hollered at her from across the intersection.
She greeted me with, “Shut the fuck up. I didn’t know you biked.”
Rahcel immediately began admiring me, “Dood. You look so fucking sexy.”
Rachel knew how to pour it on thick.
A small pack of female pedestrians were waiting for the light to change, and Rachel interrupted them with, “Come on. Doesn’t he look hot?”
The women gave me the once over... And they charmingly humored both of us.
That exchange — when my self-esteem was at an all-time-low — couldn’t have come at a better time.
Rachel totally inflated my spirits.
Then we each busted out our cellphones: Rachel took a picture of me, and I took one of her.
I asked Rachel where she was going.
She explained that she was literally pounding the pavement, looking for a job. She asked, What do you do now?”
I explained that I’d entered the public sector as a civil service employee.
She looked at me like I was a freak and asked, “Ewwww. What’s that like?”
I explained, “The work is really tedious and grueling. The hours suck. And the pay was shit. But ... it’s a job. I could send you a link where you can apply.”
Rachel flipped her hand in dismissal and said, “Fuck that shit. No thanks.”
Then she kissed me and we were on way.
I went down Ervay.
And I could see Rachel stride down Main Street, with her club-kid backpack bouncing to her pace.
That afternoon, Rachel possessed an unshakable confidence. A trait of hers that I just envy.
•••Tonight, I invited a performance artist to reinterpret a folk-hymn that dates back to 1748.
I only wish I could sit right beside Rachel, so we could watch this together.
I’d like to introduce y’all to miss Sally Duvall.