There were pots of foundation and blusher, caked-up mascara brushes, aeons-old eyebrow pencils, a tube of lipstick worn down to the last blob of neon pink, stick-on fingernails set out neatly in a row. All this paraphernalia sat on the dresser in a state of organised chaos. Just below the autographed picture of Liza Minelli in ‘Cabaret’ stuck to the mirror with chewing gum. Staring morosely at his reflection, Spike applied lip liner with the experience of over two centuries. That’s right, two centuries. It all started back when he and Dru used to get kicks out of hunting rich ladies, stealing their best frocks, playing dress-up and having tea parties. It was actually as kinky as it sounds and well… he looked bloody great in taffeta. Angelus seemed to think so anyway… The three of them took their cabaret routine around Europe. Went down a treat.
‘Course that all ended when the big poof fucked off one night in Bucharest and got his soul back. Dru was gone now, and here he was still slapping on the war paint. But just like the make up, the act was getting stale. He needed an injection of new blood, pardon the pun. Frankly, woofters were beginning to tire of his one-man Abba tribute. Depending on which side you were looking at he was either Saint Agnetha or her counterpart Queen Frida.
Which meant, finding someone new to fill Frida’s size 12 white kneeboots.
His last partner was an anagogic demon. Upped and left without so much as a bat of his fake eyelashes to LA to run a karaoke bar of all things. Not only that, he nicked that floor length sequined gown once worn by Shirley Bassey in Las Vegas, circa 1976. *And* the matching earrings. Spike knew he should’ve slit the little green bastard’s throat for that. Oh, well, let sleeping drag queens lie in a puddle of their own vomit… Still, Spike had a tacit belief in karmic repercussions because that could be the only explanation for Celine Dion being unleashed on an unsuspecting world.
Spike cursed as the eyeliner pencil slipped, leaving a dark score across his cheek. Bloody cheap Walmart crap. With a sigh he took a sip from a vodka martini to steady his nerves before carefully wiping the black smear away with a scented tissue. He tried to ignore the Europap dance tunes that shook the walls and floors with their shrieking wannabe divas, tubular bells and naff beats. That was provincial Sunnyhell for you. How he longed for the days of Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor and their royal Swedishness Abba. Nowadays everything was done with some insipid postmodern smirk. Even Yanks were in on it and they didn’t know their arses from their elbows when it came to irony.
The stench of human sweat, poppers and broiling young blood reached his nose, seeping through the gap under the door. Time to invest in a draft excluder, luv, he thought. He could hear from the cheers and the refrains of some duff plastic boyband that the poofs were getting restless in their cropped t-shirts and tight trousers. So effing predictable, the disco bunnies. Not half a wit between the lot of them, even as they cooed and preened over how *supple* his skin was, how pale and, ooo! What moisturiser does (s)he use? She doesn’t look a day over twenty-five! Wankers.
That was the sort of crap you had to put up with hosting Sunnydale’s only dedicated gay night, every third Tuesday upstairs at the Bronze. Miss Edith’s it was called. Yeah, named after that damn doll of Dru’s. The venue was so small it was like performing in someone’s living room. Except without the IKEA furniture. So, as you can imagine, it was the last bloody place he expected to bump into that closeted twat Xander Harris. More surprising was the fact that he was wearing his girlfriend’s dress with a cute pair of pumps. Talk about a deer trapped in headlights. Did the whole nervous stutter thing so well that even Willow would’ve been proud of him.
Spike just rolled his eyes. "Victoria wasn’t the only Queen of England, y’know," he said in blasé explanation, adjusting his tiara and brushing aside the still gaping Xander.
It wasn’t till much later, when he was saturated in alcopops that Xander worked up the balls to approach Spike, or Magenta as she was known in these parts. "Well?" Spike demanded impatiently. "Are you going to gawp at me all night?"
"Uh, you know, I’d appreciate it if you kept this between us," Xander began sheepishly, gazing intently into his bottle of something cheap, overly sweet and ridiculously overpriced. He had pretty eyes, Spike noticed idly and shook himself at that observation. And, hmm, lovely big biceps. Totally ruining the lines on that dress though.
"Bloody right. You think I want the Slayer knowing about this? I’m humiliated enough with that effing chip in my head," Spike muttered darkly. "Besides, I don’t want her thinking she can borrow my clothes. We don’t all want to share her pastel hell."
Xander nodded in empathy. "And what’s that perm all about?"
"Don’t *go* there." There was a brief silence as Spike eyed the other drag queen with appreciation. "Y’know, you’re quite a little mover. Ever thought about… performing?"
An awe-struck expression passed over Xander’s face. "You mean… like you? On stage? I mean, those times in my bedroom don’t really – Okay, stopping now."
Spike just raised his eyebrow. "Well, I’m the market for a new Frida. ‘Course, it takes more than a sparkly frock and lip-syncing to make a good drag queen. Takes years of practice and a good teacher."
Xander’s clasped his hands together in a plea, eyes all large, and puppy doggish. God, I’m turning into such a fucking sap, Spike realised bleakly. "Name your price." Xander frowned briefly. "And, oh my god, I actually mean that."
"First thing’s first, luv." Spike pointed one imperious fake fingernail at Xander’s garish gingham outfit. "Lose that hideous rag. It’s looks like a bloody souvenir dishtowel."
A look of embarrassment came over Xander. "It was… Cordelia’s."
"I don’t care if it belongs to the fucking Queen Mum. Just get rid of it." With an exaggerated sigh, Spike grabbed Xander’s hand. "I’ll let you borrow one of mine, as long as you don’t stretch it out of shape." He paused to pass a critical eye over the other man. "I’ve got just the thing for you."
"Look, My Two Left Feet, how bloody hard can it be?" Spike despaired, taking a long drag on the cigarette holder and exhaling a graceful plume of smoke. One hand rested lazily on his Christian Dior’d hip. "It’s sashay, sashay, *twirl*."
Spike stalked over to the table, high heels clacking on the floor of Xander’s basement where they’d been practicing their routine for past hour and a half. Unfortunately, Xander’s potential of the previous evening was mostly down to the booze and the lowering of his inhibitions. In the harsh light of sobriety, he was more Morris dancer than disco diva.
Swallowing a sigh, Spike hit the play button on the pink Barbie tape recorder and turned to face the other drag queen. As the music floated limply from the tinny speakers, Spike demonstrated the moves for the umpteenth time, mouthing the lyrics as he went.
"See that girl," he pointed demurely at Xander, "Watch that scene," undulated a few baby steps forward, "Digging the Dancing Queen," and finally pirouetted on the spot. Again, he stopped the tape. "See? Doesn’t take a ballerina. Now, try again Nancy Spice and try not to fall on your arse again."
As he watched Xander murder a few more dance steps, Spike prayed to Judy Garland for strength and double Stolly.
Continued in 'Karaoke Queen'