The week-end came and It. Was. Fabulous! The tri-birthday celebration party we were throwing was a major success! So good that when I got to work on Sunday, I had to askwhen we shut the night before. They told me it was at eleven-thirty in the morning, which meant that I had only three and a half hours sleep before starting my shift in the Rail on Sunday night. Ugh! The fact that I was so busy that I didn't even know what time we shut is a very good thing! Sunday was a slow start but, things went well and we were very busy for the drag show and the strippers. It was a great weekend! I went home and crashed into my usual Coma Monday, totally ignoring the increasing phone calls that were ringing my mobile off the nightstand throughout the day.
My gods, Tuesday.
My entire world fell apart on Tuesday. My entire life. My life for the past twenty-seven years. The centre of my life.
The incessant phone calls andmessages (twenty-three messages, sixty-three missed calls) were a clue that something was amiss. Something big. Something HUGE! But the first voicemail, from the club's office manager, was a nice call thanking me for letting her know that the employee paycheck sign-out book was missing. That was it. So far, so good.
The next message buckled myknees. It was Miss Patti telling me that, as she was speaking, they were boarding up the club. My club. My world. I literally fell to the floor. The next message was from Miss Tene telling me to ring her, NOW! I couldn't listen to the rest of them, I just rang Tene and she told me...told me...
Oh my gods, it's so hard to write this next sentence. I still am in total shock.
She told they shut the club for good. The ENTIRE complex. Everything.
I don't know how I didn't just pop a blood vessel in my head right at that moment. The next thing I knew, I was dressed and walking on the boardwalk, all I had were fifties and hundreds in my bloody wallet (I said it was a great weekend) and I couldn't get a jitney, which won't break anything over a twenty. I was on my mobile the whole way, talking to everyone, my GM, the office manager, Miss Patti, Miss Tene, EVERYONE!
They shut down my beloved club.
I get to my usual exit from the boards and walk down the street, trepidation and fear gripping me. "This can't be happening. This can't be true.", keeps ringing in my head like a mantra. I pass the Carnegie Library and my legs get tighter, they feel like leadweights, it takes every effort of will to keep on walking, to make that final half block walk down the street to the parking lot next to the club, to see the end of...everything. I pass the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial park. I pass the pawn shop. I pass the boarding house steps and then I see the parking lot. There's a Coca-Cola truck parked in the lot. For some reason, even though I know we don't use Coke products (our cola was spelled with a "k", forchrissakes), this tips me off that yes, indeed, it's true. I pass through, under the portecochere and I see my first real sign that yes indeed, my nightmare is true. They boarded up the hotel doors. My legs began to shake. I round the corner and there's Joey the Hatt and his boyfriend, loading their pick-up truck with his music. Twenty-two years of music, records, CD's, equipment. I begin to hyper-ventilate, the shock is wearing off and the reality is setting in. My eyes well up when I look over and see the Brass Rail windows and side door are also boarded up. I talk to them and see the look of shock and awe on Joey's face, mirrored in mine, I'm sure. I go to the front of the club and my heart broke in pieces. Shattered. Irreparable. There were plywood boards nailed up over my doors to the Studio. There were plywood boards nailed up over the doors to the entrance to the Brass Rail.
They shut down my life. They boarded up my life.
I pull out my camera, just to document this...this...hell wrapped in plywood, and take photos of the club from the street. Thank the gods I brought my camera. My camera that I found atthe club, go figure. I then remembered that I left my "drag bag" in the dressing room, I needed to get it. I run upstairs through the side door, the idiot workman standing there tries to tell me...ME!...how to get in the club to get my things. "My blood, sweat and now tears built this bloody club, I know where MY dressing room is, asshole", I think to myself but I say a simple, "thank you" and run upstairs to get my bag and for one last look. I walk by the bar, where I have worked for more than a decade, which looks the same and then I round the corner and pass the DJ booth and look in. It's completely torn apart. All of the equipment is gone. All of it. I enter my dressing room and think to myself, "This was not a snap decision. They knew for a long time they were shutting the club down. You can't dismantle this kind of equipment that quickly without having it preplanned". I grab my bag and take some final shots of my little dressing room, my little world for more than ten years where I spent so much of my life getting ready and getting fabulous and going on stage to entertain the crowds. I make my way out, taking one last shot of the station where I worked behind the bar, blinking through the tears that are falling on the camera viewfinder. As I am walking down the deck steps, I pass theflatscreens and plasma screens that were hanging all over the club. They are lined up along the wall wrapped in quilted covers, ready to be loaded on a truck. "Oh yes", I think, "they knew all along they were going to fuck us over."
Outside, I stand with Joey, he and his boyfriend finished loading up the truck and we just chat. I begin to joke about the situation, my coping mechanism kicking in. I told him that I am going to get a big cardboard box, put it under the portecochere and serve drinks from it as a make-shift bar, he'll use a boom box and play music, we'll have Miss Tene sitting at the corner of the entrance, just for show, and Joey G. will spin flashlights to the beat. We'll make our own club, right there on the remains of the Studio Six! We joke, reminisce, and chat for a bit more and then hug. Long bear-hugs, saying good-bye to each other but knowing that we are really saying good-bye to the Studio Six, using each other as human representations of our best friend, our home, our life for so bloody long.
I make the trek home, stopping at Evo for many, many dirty martinis. Ketel One, of course.
I stagger back to the penthouse, bumping into people I know along the streets of Atlantic City all asking me the same thing, "What the hell happened?!?". I have no answer. I don't really know. I am in a dense fog although it's a bright and sunny beautiful day. My mobile rings incessantly, I answer each call, have the same conversation with everyone. I get home, finally, and literally collapse on my bed and pass out.
I am a life long resident of this little island on the east coast of New Jersey and I am the walking representation of Atlantic City. Which doesn't say much for the city. I'm a professional party guest.