By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
It's the teen vengeance fantasy du jour: Scorned by mean-spirited classmates for being "different," a high school misfit flees Arizona for the more tolerant environs of Southern California, blossoms, then finally returns for the 10-year reunion in a triumphant blaze of fashion fabulosity that sets the student body on its collective ear.
The plot of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion?
Well, not quite.
But reverse the sexes, divide by two, then doll up this former scourge of the campus in a wig, minidress and size-15 high heels. Voila! You've got the makings of a real-life scenario that promised to be every bit as outlandish as the antics of Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino's dizzy reuniongoers.
More than a month after Sunnyslope High's Class of '87 reunion, some attendees still aren't sure what hit them.
But that's getting way ahead of a story--call it Wong Foo Does Carrie--10 years in the making.
Flash back to the Sunnyslope High Junior Prom, spring 1986. Enter Dennis Bevins, a flamboyant gay teenager, who, along with his friend Lisa Currie, thought it'd be fun to blow everyone's minds by showing up at the dance dressed in semiformal monster attire.
Bevins sported a tux, dead-white makeup and a towering Bride of Frankenstein hairdo, complete with silver lightning bolts. His date, meanwhile, was only slightly less startling, sporting a conventional prom gown and what one classmate vividly recalls a decade later as "hideous makeup and hideous hair."
Their fellow promgoers were not amused.
"It was awful," remembers Dennis Bevins. "The minute we got there, some big jock started in on me. 'What the fuck you lookin' at my girlfriend for, fag?' This went on all night. People started throwing stuff in our hair. We had our picture taken and we were out the door. We couldn't have been in there an hour."
That evening, Bevins and Currie forged a pact. Combing debris from their mile-high coifs, the pair vowed that they'd make a surprise appearance at their 10-year reunion--and really give everyone a show.
During last month's reunion at the Scottsdale Hilton, the pair finally made good on their long-ago pact.
Or at least Bevins did.
Now a professional drag queen who works under the name Moist Towelette, Bevins--accompanied by Currie--confidently swaggered up to the registration table outside the banquet room.
When the reunion coordinator looked up from the desk, she was startled to find herself staring up at a seven-foot Amazon suggesting a cross between Peg Bundy and Frankenhooker.
"I was a little nervous," Patti Munzert, co-owner of First Class Reunions, later confides. "We've been doing 40 or 50 reunions a year, and this was definitely a first. We've been in business for 15 years, and I've never seen anything like this happen."
The afternoon of the reunion, the twin outcasts kick back in a friend's home and eagerly anticipate the event for which they've waited so long. Never mind that, a decade later, their motives aren't exactly running on parallel tracks.
In close touch with Bevins for the past 10 years, Lisa Currie has returned to Phoenix to lend moral support and see old friends. Sort of a misfit by association, the onetime "fag hag" claims she could easily move within the school's various social circles whenever Bevins wasn't around.
But her flashy sidekick has darker designs.
"I'm here to shock and show 'em," says Bevins, who, as "Moist Towelette," is now a player in L.A.'s flourishing drag demimonde. "Ha ha! I'm still a freak!"
In reality, "freak" was one of the tamer epithets that echoed through the halls whenever Sunnyslope High's answer to Boy George was in the vicinity.
"Everything was 'fag this' and 'fag that'; I was always getting pushed all the time," recalls Bevins. "Of course, I was the one who provoked it all," he adds sarcastically. "It was my own fault because I was the one who came to school with makeup on and my hair standing on end."
"Some of those kids really did give him a rough time," explains Currie, now a computer consultant living in San Diego. "This was 10 years ago, and a lot of those people weren't ready for what he was doing."
But what he was doing at school was nothing compared to his extracurricular activities with Currie. The inseparable pair got jobs working side by side at Carl's Jr., somehow finagling a work schedule that left every weekend evening free. Decked out in bizarre makeup and hairdos, they'd hit a popular teen club called Tommy's--or, when they got lucky, sneak into a gay bar.
"What was really difficult for Dennis was that he was living this weird double life," says Currie, now a computer systems trouble-shooter for a San Diego law firm. "At Tommy's, everyone knew him--he was a star. Then he'd go to school, and he couldn't even raise his hand without someone yelling 'fag.'"
Things weren't much better at home, a single-parent household Bevins shared with his perplexed mother and a half-sister who reportedly had little interest in her stunning sib. "Since high school, my mother's been telling me I look like a freak," says Bevins, who dropped out of school at the end of his junior year. "Now that she's seeing me on TV and I'm making a little money, she's finally getting used to the idea. A little."