Homo for the Holidays

Has anyone but me noticed that Arizona Jewish Theatre Company never produces plays or musicals that depict Jews as whiny cheapskates? And that the Black Theatre Troupe never presents shows in which people of color are portrayed as lazy, shiftless field hands?

Fortunately for fans of pitiless stereotyping, there's the Alternative Theatre Company, a local gay and lesbian troupe that seems to only ever produce shows depicting homosexuals as sex-crazed, disco-obsessed, AIDS-infected, mincing queens. There was A Night in Vegas, a series of playlets celebrating homosexual stereotypes in a hotel room, and Dirty Secrets, a two-act homage to sluttiness set in someone's apartment. And the company's most recent show, The Player, which broke box office records by promising (and apparently delivering; I didn't have the nerve to go look at it) lots of naked pansies rubbing off on one another.

Alternative Theatre's holiday show, which opens Friday, December 3, continues in this tradition with Joe Godfrey's critically acclaimed A Queer Carol, a retelling of Charles Dickens' holiday classic A Christmas Carol as it might happen to gay men in contemporary Manhattan. Godfrey's play is a soupçon of swishy slings and arrows aimed directly at the hearts of holiday homos everywhere.

The synopsis says it all, and quite sibilantly: Ebenezer Scrooge is a fussy interior decorator whose assistant, Bob Cratchit, is "married" to Tiny Tim, an East Village office temp who's struggling with HIV. After Scrooge refuses to let Bob stage a fund raiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, he's visited by a bunch of walking clichés, each of them crankier than the one before. There's the late and very buff Jacob Marley, who of course was once Scrooge's lover and whose ghostly chains are part of a leather biker getup topped off with a pair of handcuffs. Naturally, the Ghost of Christmas Past is Marilyn Monroe (you were expecting maybe Judy Garland?), and the Ghost of Christmas Present is a bitchy drag queen. I don't know who the Ghost of Christmas Future is, but I'll bet you he enters twirling and wearing a tree skirt.

It's a rewrite that puts the dick back in Dickens but does nothing good for homosexuals anywhere. Godfrey's sugarplum fairies provide perfect fodder for those right-wingers who want to persecute homos, because his people aren't human beings, they're sassy, boa-wearing stereotypes come to life. Scrooge's late beau was a slut who died from complications of AIDS. Fezziwig is a lisping party animal. Tiny Tim is concerned about the size of his penis. (Get it? Ho ho ho!) And, of course, all of these guys are suffering from the other gay plague, Internalized Homophobia. The only thing missing from Godfrey's shamelessly intolerant script is a chorus of "O bring us some faggy pudding!"

Thank you, Joe Godfrey and Alternative Theatre Company, for making our Yuletide so very gay. While you're busy fostering queer stereotypes, I think I'll write to Santa and ask him for a magic potion that will help homosexuals see that the reason gays and lesbians are so handily discriminated against is because we're such good teachers about how (and why!) to victimize us. While I await Santa's reply, I'll probably listen to some Bette Midler records. And do my nails. And have 17 martinis. And fist the doorman. Oh, and just all kinds of faboo things!

Mary Christmas!

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela