Ok, so I am about to acknowledge another lapse in my education as a proper gay man. I am 34 years old and just saw, for the first time, West Side Story. Jeff and I were on a nice Sunday afternoon walk when we noticed that it was playing at the Castro Theater. So, we decided to crawl in, as it was just starting, and catch the film on the big screen of a historic theater (if you’re going to see it, you might as well see it like that, huh?).
Well, of course, Jeff had seen the movie version numerous times and as he proudly puts it, “I am one of the few that can say, ‘I was both a Shark and a Jet.'” Oh yes, that’s right, for one very special summer stock type of performance they painted my dear Jeff’s face to look Puerto Rican. Although, they did that in the movie, too. Baaaaaad make-up. But, gooooooood dance fighting!
I am going to go out on a limb here and just make a sweeping statement that could possibly affect the lives of every man, woman, and child on the planet. Prepare ye for this great revelation…it’s coming…it’s coming. If we would arm ourselves with dance belts, a good solid pair of dance shoes, a tube of ChapStick®, and the choreography of Jerome Robbins, and fight like real men, this world might have a good chance. I mean seriously, have you ever seen dance fighting? It is one of the best things I have ever seen. The only thing that kept me from having a full-out giggle fit was the appreciatively nodding, serious movie patrons surrounding me. To them it was some of the best choreography ever created. To me it was the answer to the question, how do we achieve world peace. Answer: one dance fight at a time.
The single best thing about dance fighting is that you never really even touch the other person. It’s very physical, but it’s all interpretive. Lots of high kicks and theatrical rolls. All this said, actually my favorite scene was after the rumble, where they are trying to “cool” down. It contains some of the “coolest” choreography. Here are the lyrics to the song…
Boy, boy, crazy boy,
Get cool, boy!
Got a rocket in your pocket,
Keep coolly cool, boy!
Don’t get hot,
‘Cause man, you got
Some high times ahead.
Take it slow and Daddy-O,
You can live it up and die in bed!
Boy, boy, crazy boy!
Stay loose, boy!
Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it.
Turn off the juice, boy!
Go man, go,
But not like a yo-yo schoolboy.
Just play it cool, boy,
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Right. So, slightly homo-erotic, huh? Rocket in your pocket? Seriously. I about busted my gut. Which, reminds me. The only part of the movie that my fellow serious movie-going gays laughed at “inappropriately” was during one scene when Maria says to Tony, “Oh, and Tony, when you come, be sure and come in the rear.” There was a whole lot of snickering going on. You have to love old movies that cannot be watched seriously because almost every term or word has new meaning in our present society. Words and terms like “gay” and “come in the rear.”
I know that this makes me a bad gay. Making fun of West Side Story puts me on seriously dangerous ground. And, I hope that I don’t create a division in the gay community. But, if I do, we’ll just have a dance-off. You heard it here first, folks. I challenge all ye who think my joking isn’t funny to a dance-off. Castro Street, Midnight, bring your gear (don’t forget your tube of ChapStick®) and leave your chains, knives, and rocks at home.
Oh, what the hell, here’s the “Cool” video: