Twelve years ago (or so; give or take a month) I wasted the better part of a day at the Mall of America:
The mere fact that I spent Saturday night at a mall says more about me than I’d like. But it happened. And it was completely surreal.
Up first? Dinner for one at a – dare I say – authentic Texas eatery: the Alamo Grill. Yes, there is a Texas eatery in Bloomington, Minn. Trust me: Albeit only to kill time, I was there.
The whole place was faux Texan. The French fries were, well, not French. They were faux Texan-shaped like lil’ boots and hats. After waiting about five minutes for a table, I heard over the speaker: “Now seating Katrina, posse of one!” I have to assume that I was the most Texan thing in the place. I was wearing a Bastrop Bears T-shirt and no one recognized the reference to a Texas town on my chest.
I chronicled this in a column for the Texas Triangle entitled “Trans of America.”
But the restaurant that was more faux than Rick Perry’s brain (Gov. Hairball was only Lt. Governor then; the elevation, of course, occurring thanks to a coke-snorting, draft-dodging rich brat who was even more faux) was not the weirdest aspect of the evening. I at the Alamo Grill because I was killing time waiting for a show at Knuckleheads, the comedy club within the confines of the Mall of America.
No, not Mitch Hedberg.
Jackie Mason: the guy who did the voice of Krusty the Clown’s father; the guy who – to hear him tell it – was blacklisted for over 20 years because he allegedly flipped off Ed Sullivan on the air (the videotape of the incident is inconclusive); the guy who, to hear other people tell it, found out the hard way that when Frank Sinatra said not to make jokes about Frank, you had better not make jokes about Frank.
I sat through Mason’s entire act and I really couldn’t decide whether or not to be pissed off. It seems as though homosexuals made up at least a third of his act.
Even a bit that could easily have been unquestionably hilarious, was tinged by a questionable use of what I can only assume is yiddish for “fag.” The word sounded like “faggaluh,” but through Mason’s accent, it was hard to tell. [Kat’s 2011 note: I was later reminded that the word Mason was saying was “feygelah” – the first syllable sounding like “fay” (long a) insteaf of “fuh” (short u) – which I actually had heard on occasion, perhaps most memorably from Harold Gould to Billy Crystal on Soap while Crystal’s Jody is in the hospital not having SRS, but simply could not recognize due to Mason’s speech pattern.]
In the bit, Mason mused about how some of the biggest hits in Vegas seem to be two things thrown together that no one would ever pay to see separately. One example went like this:
“Siegfried and Roy: two ‘faggaluhs’ and a tiger. Two ‘faggaluhs’? Nothing special. A tiger? Nothing special. But two ‘faggaluhs’ and a tiger? A hit!”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not pitching a PC bitch for non-heterosexuals or for tigers. Any overly-glitzy Las Vegas act is fair game when it comes to humor – even humor of a questionably-phobic nature. Shit happens. Moreover, there are ways for heterosexuals to deal with sexual orientation in humor without being offensive and bigoted (Steve Martin’s now-ancient “Are there any fags in the audience tonight?” bit comes to mind.)
But it seemed as though Mason was constantly mentioning homosexuals. Usually it was something to the effect of: “I see gay pride everywhere. I have nothing against homosexuals. They should be proud.” Then he’d point at someone in the front row and say, “You! Stand up and be proud.” And laughter would ensue.
I think that even that could have passed the legit-ness test, once. But constantly? He pulled the same sexuality-challenge bit repeatedly – far too many times to count.
Think about it. He did that bit apparently not caring that there actually might be some homosexuals there. I’m sure there were some; there was at least one transsexual.
For purposes of this article, I’ll take the guy at his word that he doesn’t have anything against homosexuals. The fact that he could continually get laugh with it, though, says that society – even a society such as Minnesota, a state that has the best human-rights law in the country – does have a problem with homosexuals. And that’s a problem for all of us.
I wonder if Marcus Bachmann was in the audience that night?
The reason I’m recounting that night at the Mall of America – and the column I wrote about it – is that I’d forgotten that I’d snuck my camera into the club. I just ran across the pix (and the negatives.) The above shots are two of the better ones (sorry, but if I’d had any idea that I’d have been going clubbing in the evening when I left home down in greater Minnesota that day I’d have loaded the camera with something better than 400 speed film.)
I wonder if Marcus Bachmann was in the audience that night? Michele?