2 min

Natural allies

Redneck surprises at wedding

Credit: Xtra West files

He was a bona fide self-styled redneck from Saskatchewan. It was the only possible place for our social circles to intersect-the wedding of his sister, my friend. I’m probably the only openly queer person either of them know.

Amidst a huge, mostly elderly crowd of good upstanding prairie farmerfolk who’d travelled hundreds of miles to get drunk in honour of his sister’s wedding, I was blending in reasonably well, I thought. I wore my black tux ‘n’ tailcoat, men’s shoes, and too much lipstick. He looked uncomfortable in his rented suit, as if he missed his baseball cap and beer shirt.

Then it happened. The harried DJ, after a run on ’80s pop tunes, spun Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” onto the turntable. Forgetting where I was, I leapt to the tiny dance floor in time to begin lip-syncing Meat Loaf’s part of the duet, channelling “horny teenage boy” with glee. As a drag king performer, I often do Meat Loaf tunes on stage. I love the music.

My brawny redneck acquaintance watched me for a moment and then, grinning, he launched into the female part of the duet right on cue. I was thrilled.

I swept … her… into my arms and dipped her, as we sang the chorus together. Something about being barely dressed. We continued hamming it up, doing the question and response of the ultimate song for heterosexual teenage lust-but doing it all apparently backwards. We began to gather stares.

A point comes in the song where the lustful duelists cease agreeing.

“Stop right there!” he lip-synced, palm out forcefully in my direction à la Pointer Sisters, his outraged girlishness unmistakable.

He warbled about love and marriage before any sex would be had. I sang lyrics that stalled for time, snarled demands to think about this marriage thing and answer her in the morning. Not only had we gathered a gaping crowd, but flashbulbs were going off and every hand-held video recorder in the room was trained on us.

I dropped to my knees for the finale. He clasped his hands to his barrel chest to croon his part tenderly, the hall lights forming a brief halo around his bristly mullet. The song trailed off into the silence. The DJ, transfixed, hadn’t cued up anything else. We waited for the applause. There were a few nervous coughs.

In desperation, the DJ slapped the Chicken Dance song on the turntable one more time. With an almost audible sigh of relief, the assembled began to flap their elbows vigorously, and quack. My redneck friend winked at me. We were, in that moment, natural allies.