Don’t disrespect Whitney Houston when Shaun Proulx’s near
I’m just back from our latest audience experience called The Shaun Proulx Paradise Plane (like my Facebook page to stay in the loop.
With nearly thirty Paradisers adventuring with us in Riviera Maya from all walks of life – men, women, straight, gay, ranging in age from 30-something to 70-something – I was actually so overwhelmed on the last night of this trip, our fourth annual, feeling so blessed to be doing what I love, that I fairly ugly-cried in my thank you speech at dinner.
When you do what you love, the most miraculous things happen that hold deep personal meaning and value to you, like – for me – witness the assembling of a large diversity of people for a week of cooperative joy in sand and surf and sun. I live for this. I see this as micro-evidence that harmony between all people is possible and closer than we think.
Unless of course, you’re a bad drag queen doing busted Whitney Houston before five gay men sitting together in row two, which was exactly the scene the second evening after dinner when Joao and Davide from Italy and I sat with Monty and Joey from Toronto to watch one of those evening shows resorts put on.
The show had some charms, something for the kids, something for the marrieds, something for the singles, and we had lots of drinks in us so it was easy to enjoy and laugh.
Until Bad Whitney came out.
Bad Whitney was bad because she didn’t even look like Whitney Houston. This was RuPaul’s Drag Race after taxes.
The song Bad Whitney performed was “I Will Always Love You”. Bodyguard dancers surrounded her – get it? Houston’s signature song is a beautiful song but a long and painful one when you erringly decide the version of Whitney you are going to present is the one high on crack when you erringly decide that as the song ends so should Whitney.
Yes, this performance included Whitney’s death.
Whitney is my girl. As I watched my eyes popped open like saucers, and when I looked over at Joao and Davide they wore scowls the size of Milan. To my right, Joey was giving Monty mouth-to-mouth; Monty had collapsed from the horror of it all.
“TOO SOON!” I yelled to the stage.
I had to defend my girl. Whitney Houston was so much more than a mental health issue, an early demise. There are so many ways for any impersonator or queen to portray her, to celebrate her. It seemed so wrong to focus on drugs and death – and how is watching someone die entertaining to people on holiday?
I have a broad and very dark sense of humour but I think for me it will always be too soon for the trivialization of one of the greatest performers of our time, who has brought all of us so much joy through her gift. And that night, my friends seemed to feel the same way. We stood in solidarity, on behalf of a legend no longer here to defend herself.
“TOO SOON!” we called. “BUSTED!”
And so it came to pass that, for one of the first times known in recorded history, a drag queen finished her number, with five tipsy gay men watching, and not one of them gave any applause.
Don’t mess with Miss Whitney. We’ve got your back girl, don’t worry. Because, unlike some people, gay men will always love you.