How I Earned KC Frequent Flyer Miles by Debra Shaprio, MD

Img_1154Deb Mosk and Debra Shapiro, MD with Kate. Debra writes:

I have memories of seeing KC in the early 80’s in Santa Cruz, California.  Of the entire routine, I have to admit, I remember mostly the “menstrual standards”:  laughing hilariously as she mimed wrapping her sanitary napkins in rolls and rolls of toilet paper to avoid her brothers’ discovering them. I had no brothers in the house growing up, but the jokes seemed timeless. I probably still had the vestigial napkin belt in an underwear drawer at home. I remembered the 5th grade films..I guess I empathized with the idea of being uncomfortable with your body and its peculiar functions.  I wasn’t very politicized yet, but as a budding college baby dyke I appreciated the early line:  “she wouldn’t say lesbian even if her mouth was full of one.”  That left an impression and an image that I could sink my teeth into, if you will.  I knew she was a “recovering Catholic” and that was cool…it was the disco 80’s and I thought religion was dead anyway. I wasn’t concerned about the Pope one way or another–I didn’t fear religion as I do now — I just enjoyed the beautiful out comedienne with the sly smile and soft voice who was telling me that it was okay to be gay.

Over the next decade (of medical school and Ob/Gyn residency) I saw KC’s shows only 3-4 more times. Once while being heterosexual, I went alone and felt empowered anyway and a little disappointed in myself for being such a traitor.  She also made my heart beat faster, though I didn’t know why at the time. 
Then came the elections of 2000 and 2004. My partner and I became quite political, furious really.  While on a break from all the ranting and fuming, we ran into KC on an Olivia Cruise to the Greek Islands.  I probably knew she was booked as part of the entertainment, but never dreamed I’d ever get to really engage her in conversation.  However, our other traveling companions were friends of KC and her wonderful partner, Urvashi, and so, after a brief meeting…dinner for six was arranged. 
All of a sudden my school girl crush returned. I was seated next to KC and  she was now thinner, she was definitely still KC and I was pretty terrified: shaking, unable to eat, trying not to say anything stupid, trying to be cute, trying to be smart and funny (can you imagine trying to be funny for KC?!?)  Well, my partner was more of a hit:  she brought funny balls to the table which everyone took turns placing under their shirts to make large “breasts” and everyone was laughing hysterically.  We had the most amazing time on the cruise with KC and Urv.  Once when we couldn’t visit an ancient Church because we were not wearing skirts, Urv shouted “Down with the Patriarchy!” at the top of her lungs at the mystified Greek attendants. During all the times we spent on the cruise together, I reined in my crush, so I felt only a dull roar from my distant memory.  I tried not to embarrass myself or spill anything on my shirt!
One of the most intimate moments occurred on Santorini. The 6 of us were traveling out to the northern tip of the island to a town called Oia (pronounced E’-uh).  We were eating and talking at a restaurant with a fabulous view. Classic Greek calendar stuff.  And as we were finishing up, Kate told me ‘that she had to tell me that I had something in my teeth.  She knew that if she didn’t tell me,  I would be furious with my partner for not telling me and allowing me to socialize with KC with something in my teeth.  So, really she was doing this to help maintain peace in my relationship’.  I ran off to the restroom to fix the problem. I was still slightly mortified but had to admit I would have felt much worse had I discovered the offending lettuce fragment four hours later.
KC ‘s performance on the ship was perfect. But because of the scopolamine patch I was wearing for sea sickness, I can’t recall much of the material. But I remember she clowned around quite a bit during two other entertainment segments and I thought of Lucille Ball as I watched her and felt a new kind of love and admiration for her. My crush vanished on the cruise, as crushes do when the object of the crush becomes more real.
We traveled to NYC to see Rosie O’Donnell in “Fiddler on the Roof” and arranged to also see KC and Urv at their home and for my brother, poet and art historian, David Shapiro to take us on a private tour of the Met to see the Van Gogh drawing exhibit.  David was in his best form and I think they enjoyed each other. The museum tour was fabulous and we had coffee at KC’s favorite Starbucks after walking across the park together. David was very impressed with KC’s exiting quip, “I’m Van gone!”
So, now it was just the four of us in their lovely art filled apt. on the upper west side of Manhattan at 12:30 am. They served sushi and chicken and we brought chocolate. Urv is the sweetest woman and so smart. 
We stayed in NY to catch KC’s show at Joe’s Pub in the Village.  The tough NY crowd was something I wasn’t used to. I beamed in appreciation…we thought she was great.
So this brings us to the 25th anniversary tour of 2006. I went alone to Santa Cruz. I sat by myself in the middle of the hall, with my memories…the memories of the crush and the memories of the real times spent with her, mingling together as she did the menstrual standards.  Now, the religion jokes took on a new meaning. I was proud to be more than just the “baby dyke” I was in the 80’s.
My partner and I took 11 people to see her show in S.F., including Debs’ 70 year old parents and her ex-husband and his wife. KC was flawless–like on the ship.  As Keats wrote: “a thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Now, we were on a roll.  Next stop: Victoria, B.C. where we were supposed to hook up with our friend Thea Gill from QAF. She had met KC in P-town and adores her, but Thea had to fly off to Hawaii to film “Dante’s Cove”…so we invited Krista, a Victoria native who had served us tea at the Empress Hotel when we there with Thea in Sept. ’05. She had been discrete, of course, in Sept., but we got the gay vibe and knew she’d enjoy KC.  We had front row seats in the church turned theater where KC performed, and Deb and I got into some trouble because we couldn’t help starting to laugh just a few seconds too soon … we knew some of the material so well.  Krista was also a Catholic, so she loved KC entirely, laughing until the tears came. I even think she knew what “limbo” was!  We all went out for some food after the Victoria show. I gave her a back/shoulder rub.  An honor to show my appreciation for 25 years of being out and proud and inexhaustibly funny.
You all know that KC’s tour is being sponsored in part by NCLR.  And this was my big year to sponsor a table at the NCLR Gala on 4/22 in SF. KC will be the emcee. I get to treat 9 people to KC and support this important organization at the same time. We invited Jan Wahl, a local Bay Area TV personality (the movie critic on KRON).  Jan also loves KC and interviewed her on the air during KC’s SF run. We met Jan Wahl at an Equality California fundraiser. We actually bought an afternoon tea with her at the silent auction. She was thrilled to be invited to the NCLR Gala and to see KC again. My mother-in-law, Pearl, will be attending the NCLR Gala for the 2nd year in a row, both to support her lesbian daughter(s), and to see KC one more time. 
And there is more: friends we made on the Olivia cruise just invited us to see KC in Santa Rosa on June 3rd. That will make a total of four anniversary tour shows plus the Olivia cruise, Joe’s Pub and NCLR.  We’re having a KC year and every moment in her presence is pure joy!!

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