It was three in the morning at the Granville St White Lunch, where the night was ending for some and the party was in full swing for others.
Faces, Champagne Charlie’s and the August Club had sent their revellers home for the night, but those who were too stoned to sleep, or had no place to sleep, joined others of the demimonde to compare notes about the tricks, the drugs, the rip-offs and the assorted scandals of the preceding evening.
It was my job, at $20 a week, to write it all down for my Georgia Straight column, QQ Writes . . . Page 69.
The drag shows, the Gay Liberation Front meetings, the boycotts and the hair-pullings, the late nights at the after-hours booze cans and the early mornings at the White Lunch.
You may have been there one of those nights and wondered if you’d show up in next week’s column.
Molly, the fire-breathing waitress, was dispensing vile coffee and shrill instructions to the junkies to stay the hell out of the washroom. A waif-like youth was practising to become the radical shit-kicker celebrated as Jamie Lee Hamilton. Alone at a table by the front window, cantankerous Chez Victor owner Victor Coté surveyed the scene with his customary gloom.
I was 19, lurking in a corner booth, taking notes and hoping to finally get laid.
It was 1970 and we didn’t have a clue.
A better quality of drag queen held court a few paces south at Love’s Skillet Café, under the motherly eye of hostess Edie Robinson, soon-to-be Empress I Charity and bevies of lovelies in sequins and heels.
And a more desperate kind of junkie found refuge and a quick score further down Granville at Davie, in the Chick & Bull, today’s Two Parrots.
But for those of us who liked the scene a bit betwixt and between, the White Lunch was the place to be at three in the morning.
Alan Judge was a helluva guy to share a booth with in the White Lunch, surrounded by speed queens, drag queens, junk queens, tea-room queens and the rest of the family. For one thing, he always sat on the outside, between you and them.
Alan did not perform this service deliberately, or even willingly. At five foot four and a hefty 118 pounds, Alan was not much help against a six-foot tranny armed with White Lunch cutlery. No, what really drove Alan to the outside seat was the memory of a hot, hopeless week spent in a Cuban prison while his cellmates were taken out, one-a-day, and shot. But that is another story, and not one of mine.
As a result of the Cuban episode, Alan had screaming, clawing claustrophobia.
We were very protective of Alan, because he gave us hope.
Well actually, he kept us amused, and that amounted to the same thing.
He also gave us a name, which a few of us cherish to this day. We were, he told us, The People of the Post.
Alan had once seen a movie that was about, or at least had in it, a bunch of people in an insane asylum. Some of the inmates met daily in the exercise yard, by a certain post. It might have been a goal post or a tetherball post or a watchtower leg. That detail is lost to us now, like the name of the movie.
It was enough that they met there, recognized one another, and for reasons clear only to themselves, believed that they were much less crazy than the rest of the residents. Perhaps even sane. And they called themselves The People of the Post.
Alan said we were The People of the Post because we were, as we never tired of telling one another, much less of some things and much more of others than anyone else in the White Lunch at three in the morning.
So there we sat, night pressed upon dawn, the White Lunch’s own People of the Post. Alan, of course, “Riga,” the semi-retired circus clown, Raymond Hull, the famous “how to” book author, and Jack Card, the tits-and-ass choreo-grapher from Izzy’s on Georgia.
And me, of course, but I was doing research.
Into the morning, until the street sweepers began their progress down Granville St and Blackie the crippled news hawk and alleged police informant set up his stand with the morning papers, we’d talk about our differences, especially those between us and those not of the Post. The terminal junkies, the suburban chicken hawks in from Surrey to check out the cute newcomers, the Bay Rum rubbies with their one-cup-till-dawn coffee. You know the ones I mean.
The real lost causes. Not us.