The Perils of Petunia PapSmear is a serial column printed in every issue of QSaltLake, Utah's gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and ally magazine. Growing up in a small farming town in northern Utah as a gay Mormon boy, Petunia blossomed into a magnificent queen.
Petunia is hilarious, poignant, raunchy and dignified in every way.
Here is a snippet from the first chapter. More can be found at GaySaltLake.com
This project is to publish a 180-page book of her tales thus far — 60 tales so far. It will cover the cost of a minimum order. If we get more funding, we'll up the number we print. Thank you for your help!
The Birth of a Queen
My name is Petunia Pap-Smear and this column is the beginning of my story as a gay Mormon boy living in the “Crossroads Of The West,” coping with whatever the world decides to throw my way.
A long long time ago, during the Eisenhower administration, (in gay years, this makes me older than God’s Dog) in a galaxy far far away from West Hollywood, namely Cache Valley, I was born. According to the Chinese calendar it was the Year of the Cock, how lucky am I?
I am a fifth generation Cache Valley, Utah native, my ancestors having done the whole pioneer thing in the 1800s. This means that my historical roots go much further than my actual roots, which need another bottle of Clairol even as we speak.
I was born on a potato and sheep farm in Dayton, a very small farming town (OK, “town” might be considered a gross exaggeration) in the Idaho end of Cache Valley (I always fantasized that it was “Cash” Valley and we were all rich and fabulous like Alexis Colby on Dynasty).
According to Mormon tradition, when I was a month old, my father blessed me in the Dayton Ward house on the first Sunday in June. The very next day after the blessing, they tore the church house down to make way for a new one. Of course with me crossing the threshold they would need to get rid of the evidence, posthaste, before J. Edgar Hoover’s Salt Lake friends found out. You should see the home movie they made when they attached a chain to the steeple and pulled it down with a tractor — very dramatic, just like when they pulled down Saddam Hussein’s statue with the tank.
The demolition of the church building was perhaps the first sign that all would not go as officially planned for this little Mormon prince, or should I say princess? Little did Jack and Orthea (yes that’s my mom’s real name, a composite of Orson and Althea) nor anyone else realize that I would grow up to be a full-fledged, rainbow flag-waving, high heel wearing, sheep tending “Ida-Homo.” The only problem being the outrunning of the sheep. It’s hard to do in heels!
Upon reaching adulthood, (I’ve always said that I may be getting older but I refuse to grow up) it became time for me to put away girlish things (meaning the Suzy Homemaker oven that I stole from my sister) and become the full-fledged queen that I apparently was meant to be. It was time to choose a drag name.
As I understand it, there are a couple of rules that govern how an up-and-coming drag queen gets her name.
#1. Use your childhood pet’s name as your first name.
#2. Use your mother’s maiden name or the name of the street where you lived as a child as your last name.
Honestly, my childhood pet’s name was Fluffy.
My mother’s maiden name was Cox.
The country road that I lived on had the unofficial name of “Balls Avenue.” I kid you not because five families named Balls lived on the road. One of them was even named Harold (Harry) Balls, for real! The name permutations could have been Fluffy Cox or Fluffy Balls.
Since I was a “high-minded wannabe” and the possessor of a fabulous pink feather boa, I didn't think either of these names sounded very dignified. Being civic-minded, like all good queens should be, I chose a name that would help remind people of good health practices. I learned at the national Gay Men’s Health Summit, after the naked sunrise frolic workshop (true, we got naked, danced around to 70s music and jerked our neighbor off as we watched the sun rise), that every person should get a pap-smear on a regular basis. I think this must be to check for hang nails, worms or scurvy or some damned thing. Oh, they don’t make workshops like that anymore. Too bad!
With my new name, miniskirt, size 14 pumps and a borrowed wig, I threw some glitter into my mustache and delved into the world of drag. I was part of a threesome called “The Full-Figured Girls.” Alas, I do not make a glamorous queen. Such is the tragedy that we all can not be as fabulous as Crystal Carrington. “Butt Ugly” is probably the best that I could ever hope for. Perhaps I could be a stand in for the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
So here we are in 2008, and I present myself and my stories of conquest and defeat to you. I’m a geriatric drag queen with no style or grace facing life’s perils as they are thrown at me, but I sure am having fun with it. To quote Auntie Mame, “You’ve got to Live! Live! Live! Life’s a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death.”
This story leaves us with several burning questions:
1. What exactly does a pap-smear check for?
2. If I had used “Fluffy Cox” as my name do you think I could be a spokesperson for Viagra?
3. Had I been reported to J. Edgar Hoover, do you think that he and I could have shared dresses and make-up tips?
4. I wonder if Harry Balls was permanently traumatized?
5. Would the Coffee Garden object to a naked sunrise frolic workshop?
6. Is it tasteful to wear a miniskirt when you are a size 24?
7. How long can you tastefully let your roots grow between dye jobs?
8. At what point does a geriatric queen morph into a troll?
9. At that point will someone assign me a bridge to live under or must I find one myself?
These and other burning questions to be answered in future chapters of The Perils of Petunia Pap-Smear.
Risks and challenges
The book is fully written, edited and laid out, ready to print. All we need to do is give cash to the press and they will hit the "print" button.
This is being published through the publisher of QSaltLake, which has many print and binding vendors available to them. If one press or bindery cannot take care of it, we have many more who can.
Risks? It's possible the price of paper could suddenly skyrocket. But, while it has been rising steadily over the past few years, we have yet to see a huge, sudden spike. There is a bit of padding in the prices to ensure we can afford any potential price increases.
Perhaps the USPS will go down in the next month. There are other carriers we could use in that case.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (15 days)