John Murdock likes to make balloon dicks.
He also can make a mean balloon pussy too.
He is a killer comedian from the NYC scene and when he isn’t on the mic, he is usuallat Washington Square hustling balloons or making some sort of statement by dressing up like a chicken. No lie— the guy is a legend and lives in the golden realm of the true artist: the perpetual state of not giving a fuck. I met Murdock back at an open mic in Matawan, New Jersey. He had left the city for a while and decided he was going to try out the open mic world in the Garden State. We tore through different open mics, getting the stage work, and blazing after the shows. We began to corner the market and put on our own showcase—One Species was the culmination of six months of work we mixed poetry, comedy, and music into shows that we thought were going to destroy the world.
But there I was. Sometime in March standing outside of some building in the Lower East Side next to four crack fiends were tearing through the garbage cans outside for cans and bottles to recycle. They were zombies with soars on their flesh, their clothes in tatters and their fingers dirtied. We paced back and forth outside, trying to ignore the degeneracy that was before us.
“This the place man?” Dylan said. He had taken the train with me to the city for the show.
I shrugged. One of the side doors opened, by some maintenance worker, and we were ushered upstairs up four creaky staircases, past a nightclub, and into a large red room. We ordered our drinks ($30 for a fucking shot and a cheap beer) and began to soak in the atmosphere of the place. The stage was set up with a banner behind it, the chairs and benches were set up just like any other club we had been in before. The entire staff were women, not very attractive women but I thought that was cool and progressive. I walked out into the bathroom and opened the door, a small topless Asian girl shrieked and jumped away, I practically shit myself, apologized, and skipped my ass back out to the floor.
She walked out five minutes later, her face covered in neon makeup, a sequent dress, and a fairy wings. “Didn’t mean to scare you big boy,” Came the voice from behind neon lips. It wasn’t the voice of a small asian girl but a deep, dark, mans voice.
“You ain’t ready,” Came the deep voiced asian girl, blowing me a kiss and slapping me on the ass.
I took a step back, my jaw jarred open, and made my way back to Dylan who nursed his drink.
“Drag queens” I said.
And it all made sense. The bartenders, the waitresses, the asian girl with the raspy voice all of them were drag queens. I squinted in the red light and could see the adam’s apple on her neck. What the hell had John Murdock done this time? It wasn’t the first time we had been in an interesting spot before but this was one for the books.
“Cigarette break?” Dylan said and I followed him out the double doors that led down the hallway. As the bartender Lyla, who later told me his name was Stan, told us that to get to the balcony to smoke we had to go through the nightclub.
No biggie right?
The second we stepped foot through the tinted glass doors, every single set of eyes hit us all at once. It was like in those goofy movies when the record stops and screeches and everything goes into slow-mo. We not only were the only white folks in the bar, we were the only pieces of shit not adorned in jewelry and tailored clothes. With eyes burning into our backs we escaped to the rooftop and lit up our cigarettes staring down to the now dark streets where the junkies had beat feat to other sets of dumpsters.
We finished our cigarettes and pushed back through the bar which had the same exact reaction as they did the first time— we bounded up the steps back to the red lit room and it was full now. Performers and audience members, drag queens adorned in head dresses and short skirts, some were more compelling than others— some more grotesque, more Bowie with their makeup. The show began all at once with Murdock puffing on his e-cigarette, some performers told jokes, others sang songs, and then there was me. Cradling the mic, looking into the red lights that tried to mask out the episodic confusion that grew with each sequential moment.
I ate a bag of dicks up. Not literally, but I bet if I did than I would have had a better set. My poetry bombed. No one wanted to see poems. It would have helped if I remembered my poems. Would have helped if I could read off of the cheat-sheet I kept in my flannel pocket but the lights were too bright. I died a slow death up there and did a twenty minute set in a staggering three and a half minutes before jetting off the stage and finding Dylan who sat along the farthest wall.
The final performer was the short asian drag queen I had walked in on in the bathroom. He danced and sang and told stories and flaunted himself around the room, straddling one of the musicians fathers and planting lipstick riddled kisses along the poor reddened face of the old bastard. Dylan and I crept to the walls trying to hide as best we could in the shadows but of course, like the student who has no idea what is going on but tries to act like he does— you can never hide at the end of the day. The queen grabbed my hand and brought me up as he sang into the mic, bending over and pushing himself and his short skirt cladded ass into me.
I laughed it off and then, he dropped to his knees and simulated blowing me in front of the entire room. Murdock howled in the back corner and I squinted through the red lights and knew that this place was fucking crazy but I felt right at home.
Not with the queen blowing me though.
Don’t get it twisted.