In the alternate-universe narrative I maintain for Russell, he was once the biggest queen on the circuit. From Miami to Brighton to Sydney, the queers, dykes, fag hags and fag stags would fill the clubs every night almost breaking into riots to see the glorious Mama Rose perform.
But after a time it became too much.
The boys.The alcohol.
Well, darling, one can never have too many boys. But, still it became such a strain on Mama Rose that he started dusting his margarita glasses with crushed painkillers rather than sugar or salt. Eventually, it all fell apart and Mama Rose slipped into anonymity and legend.
Now, his estranged niece, daughter of his ridiculous heterosexual brother (honestly, how embarrassing!) has come to ask Mama Rose for help. Innocent little Flavia dreams of winning the glitter-ball trophy.
“Honey, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into,” says Mama Rose, signalling with a swizzle stick to one of his be-thonged cabana boys that another cocktail is desired.
“Please,” begs Flavia. “I know I can win.”
“You think it’s that easy, do you?” snaps Mama Rose. “This is the glitter-ball trophy, sweetie. Do you even understand that? You think you can just show up with your little abs and white teeth and they’ll just hand you the glitter-ball trophy?! Ha!! They. Will. Tear. You. Apart.”
“Uncle Russell, indeed. Don’t play the family card on me, darling. I will never understand what went wrong with my brother that he ended up with a woman. Ugh. I feel ill thinking about it.”
“Mama Rose, please. Please. I know I can win. I know we can win.”
And so Mama Rose came back. And word spread. And again they cheered his name from the balconies.
But now, the old ghosts have come back, too. The old fears. And new pain. Mama Rose is not the vibrant queen he used to be. And this past weekend he was out of it. Tired and moody, removed. Maybe Mama Rose just doesn’t have it in him anymore. Can Flavia pull him back? Can the greatest be great again?
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