Last weekend I threw a copy of The New York Times, some sun block, a pair of sunglasses and some extra hot wasabi peas into my beachiest tote in preparation for my first excursion to Rockaway Beach.
“Hey Girl!” yelled Matt and Nick, two of my go-to gays, as they rounded the corner in a zip car to pick me up outside of my Prospect Heights apartment.
Nick is a pocket gay with a James Dean face. His boy is an upstate neurotic with the sexiest legs I have ever seen. I jumped in the ZipCar with my newly purchased iced Stumptown coffee and was welcomed by the scent of new car and monogamy.
Soon James and Casey jumped in beside me with the most amazing beach road trip collection of CDs I will ever see. Two Rupaul CDs, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and of course TLC’s CrazySexyCool. Perfection! We rolled down the window and commenced bragging and commiserating about the previous evening, when it struck me. Where are we going? What kind of beach is Rockaway?
My understanding of Queens is that is alternately boring and dangerous. I mean no offense, we have borough pride and I know where my allegiance lies. We drove south on Flatbush Avenue toward the Marine Parkway bridge, and en route passed S.T.D Liquors and O.K Meats. I was only a little sketched. As Lauryn Hill belted "Everything is Everything" I began to imagine the oiled up meatheads and the super tan old creep shows. We all prepared ourselves for the worst.
A big red pick-up truck pulled up next to the car, as I was vogue-ing, quite hard, to one of Ru’s hits. I noticed a glare from its passenger and I gingerly uttered, “You heard me.” What I meant to say is, ‘I’m not sorry for who I am and your judgment has not gone unnoticed.’ My comment was met with a little sourness, but nothing I plan on writing the Human Rights Commission about. Then and there I decided that this day on the beach would be spent guarding my wits and my wares.
After an emergency pee break and some whining, we parked in the desolate concrete wasteland of Riis Park, easily spotted by the two towering bathhouses. The five of us, a veritable gay pride parade of acid wash jeans and flip flops, headed tentatively toward the waters edge, where we came upon an almost Parisian view of crowded umbrellas and tans. We set down our blanket and broke out some of Jamie’s homemade seltzer.
No sooner had we laid down our load did I hear a collective gasp from our whole crew. Sauntering down the beach was a vision of thick golden tulle covered in what looked like a black and gold shower curtain fashioned as an understated sweetheart top. A dream, she quickly made her way down the beach with her flowing pink neckerchief, green beard and live parrot atop a kinky gold wig.
James recognized her from the Village and we all watched with the simultaneous horror and respect that a statuesque orange drag queen generally solicits as she struts proudly by. “He usually has a poodle with him,” said James disappointedly. "This beach is so gay," I thought.
It just got better as our sunny Saturday pressed on. After a refreshing and much needed dip in the fierce Rockaway waves we retreated again to our blanket where we laid around and gossiped. Nearby, two moms hand-in-hand strolled by, one with a baby shaped tapestry hanging from her shoulders.
“Wow, twinky,” I turned to hear the approving tone from over my shoulder as two super thin boys in ironic tees and barely there shorts skipped by. “I had no idea,” I responded.
In another direction, a pair of cute shapely boys approached us from down the beach sporting shaggy emo hair. “He has funny curves,” I said. As the words escaped my lips I was corrected.
“He’s trans,” the group concluded in a near sing-song. Sure enough we could spot the scars from a breast removal surgery on his hot tan torso. His burgundy speedo was coupled with bright yellow flip-flops and a brave secure stride that made the beach gayer and cooler all at once.
We ogled many a boy and girl as Casey took some candid beach shots. And there she was again in a costume change. Our beachy queen sported a new dress, her tie-dyed poodle now in tow prancing freely at her socked feet!
This time she was rocking a dark brown one-piece, poking at her technicolor beard with a plastic fork. She stopped to pose for pictures, vogue, and generally amuse and alarm anyone in her path. She grinned a confident ear-to-ear man-eating smile at any and all passersby. “Work!” “Do you!” and “Get it, Gurl!” were among the affirmations our group had to offer.
We spent sometime speculating, “Does she live out of car?” I asked. I thought of her life and of this very gay beach as we shook sand from our towels and packed up our picnic. Little is known of the mysterious parrot queen, but her fabulous stamp of approval on RockaGay Beach is a guarantee that I won’t be walking away with just a sunburn next time. You heard me!
Here’s your chance to go to RockaGay Beach with Dykes on Bikes. Sunday, August 16, at 10:30am in Grand Army Plaza, the ladies of Dykes on Bikes are taking a ride to Riis, either the long way down Flatbush Avenue, or via a ferry from Brooklyn Army Terminal.