David was a sub-mariner. How hot is that?! And he was hot, from his infectious smile to his tight little body, I had a little crush on him, I must admit.
He was also extremely nice. Out of the way nice. He was quiet and unassuming, that is until he was wearing a leather mini-kilt and dancing on a go-go block at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. Then he was a dynamo, full of energy and charisma, you couldn't not look at him pumping his body to the music in total freedom, total release.
His boyfriend, Jimmy Hyde, was a great friend of mine. They were together for a long time and David was his heart. His love. His everything. You could feel their connection when they were together. They lived in a house where they recovered furniture, high quality work, very professional. Everything they did was beautiful.
David began to get sick. Preparations were made. He seemed resigned, as much as one could be with a death sentence hanging over you. I remember him taking me aside one day and asking me something very personal, and he was very serious. He said, 'When I die, can you come to my funeral in drag. I have always loved watching you perform and I really want you to come to my funeral dressed up.'
At first I said no. I didn't think it was appropriate but, looking at how sincere he was, I told him I would. More out of getting this uncomfortable conversation over than agreeing to his wishes.
When his beautiful body failed, it failed quickly and he finally passed. He was finally released.
Miss Patti and Joe told me I had to go to his funeral dressed in drag. Jimmy insisted on it but I told them all that I couldn't do it. I just couldn't pull it together. To me, my drag persona was a stage performance, my art, a way for me to entertain people. Attending a funeral was not the place to put on my 'entertainment face'. It wasn't about me, it was about celebrating David.
I remember being in the bathroom looking at myself in the mirror, debating over and over with myself about whether or not I was going to get dressed. I thought I had convinced myself that I wasn't going to do it. But... slowly, I shaved, then began putting on my make-up, all before I even realized what I was doing. I knew that if I didn't go, if I didn't honor his last request, a very personal request, a dying request that I had never had anyone ask of me before, that I couldn't live with myself.
The funeral was beautiful, although the church where it was held is now Bally's Wild Wild West entrance. I walked in wearing a short black dress, high black heels, a long black overcoat, black drama hat, big bug-eyed black glasses, my long red curls draping down my back. I signed in and we paid our respects, walking by the coffin, hugging Jimmy, and took our seat in a pew.
The lady singing 'Ave Maria' was just this side of a karaoke performer and that sent Joe, Patti and I into laughing fits. We knew David did that for us.
There was a problem with the Navy, with them giving David a military funeral, but that was resolved at the grave site.
Afterward, at the wake, I had changed before we went to the family's house, and everyone was buzzing about the mysterious movie star that came to the church for David. Who was she? Why was she there?
Of course, they had no clue it was me.
David was a gentle soul. A beautiful soul. And every time someone reads this, he will still be alive somewhere in the world.
I remember you, David.