Longform

From Queer to Paternity

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"That was truly Doris' finest hour," says X, who co-wrote the script, which, true to form, found him playing dual roles as rival siblings battling over the galaxy. "Everything you saw up there was Doris."

But Doris Fish would never live to see the premiere of her magnum opus, which was finally picked up for release by Troma Films nearly 10 years after its completion. Diagnosed with AIDS (a fact she had somehow hidden from her friends until the later stages of the disease), Fish died in June 1991. Just two months later, Tippi succumbed from complications of the same disease.

"Doris, Tippi and X -- they were all so close that after Doris died, I think that Tippi just lost her will to live," says singer Pearl Harbour, a genetic female who co-opted the Sluts' garish style for her own stage act. A longtime friend of the Sluts who once co-hosted the Castro Street Fair with X (the pair made complete costume changes before introducing each of 32 acts), Harbour joined X and other friends in nursing the ailing entertainers in their failing health.

"It was so sad, particularly for X, since he was the only one left," says Harbour, who has since relocated to Los Angeles. "It really was the end of an era. We'd all been at the right place, at the right time, doing the right drugs, and everyone was having a fabulous time. And, then, suddenly, it was all over."


But news that the party was breaking up had yet to reach Phoenix, where X's future wife was studying criminal law at Arizona State University.

"I had to get out of this town," says Al Chandler. "I was suffocating; I wanted to live in a real city."

Adding to her discontent was her abrupt realization that she didn't really want to become a lawyer. That epiphany occurred after she'd been charged with resisting arrest and felony assault against a policeman (the case was later dropped) while attending a protest of a proposed toxic dump in Mobile, Arizona.

"I love reading about true crime, but after spending a night in jail, I knew that being a lawyer wasn't what I wanted to do with my life." Instead, she accepted a transfer from a genetic-testing lab she'd been working at in the Valley, moving to San Francisco where she managed a similar clinic.

As fate would have it, her decision to head to the Bay Area could not have come at a more fortuitous time. "There was sort of this exodus of all these bar people I knew from Phoenix," reports Al, who hit town just about the same time as her friend Leigh Crow, later to achieve a degree of fame performing as Elvis Herselvis, a butch Presley impersonator. "Everyone would get together for 'Phoenix parties,' and one time, we even baked a cake in the shape of Arizona."

While Alison's life at the time was that proverbial piece of pastry, her future husband was having a considerably tougher go of things.

"Within three months, I'd lost two people I worked with and lived with for the better part of my life," says X. "We loved each other. We were definitely a family. I felt very alone."

Although his professional life didn't suffer (X's post-Slut career would include plum stage roles in Dolls!, Sweet Bird of Youth and Jungle Red, a musical version of The Women), on a personal level, things couldn't have been worse.

"All my life, my whole thing has been looking for love," explains X. " I was always looking for Mr./Miss Right. My thinking was, 'Why cut off half the population if you don't have to?'

"Might as well give yourself the best odds, right?"


From the standpoint of domestic bliss, the ex-Miss X and the missus appear to have beaten the house, broken the bank and won the lottery.

Sitting in their home during a rare reprieve from round-the-clock rug rat duty, the duo reflect on a relationship that has been, as Al puts it, "unusual, to say the least."

"Could I ever have predicted I'd be 'Dad'?" asks X. "No. But looking back, I remember thinking all my life, 'Hmmm, that might be interesting -- but not right now.'"

From Al's standpoint, the timing couldn't have been stranger: After finally informing her parents she was a lesbian, she was put in the weird position of announcing that she'd just met the man of her dreams -- and a professional drag queen at that.

Her folks' reaction?

"Relief!" laughs Al. "'Hey, so what if the guy wears a dress? Okay with us.'"

Friends expecting a wedding resembling an unholy union between Sluts A Go Go and Dykes on Bikes were sadly disappointed. After a surprisingly conventional ceremony in San Francisco six years ago, the couple honeymooned in the Caveman suite at San Luis Obispo's funky Madonna Inn.

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Dewey Webb