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Jesse Helms and the Theatre of the Depraved

by SUSIE DAY

On July 8, the resplendently Caucasian, flag-loving, fag-hating, five-term Senator Jesse Helms exited the political scene, stage right, to begin his long-awaited dirt nap. All the world being a stage, a host of players, including Dick Cheney and John and Cindy McCain, assembled sorrowfully near the starred-and-striped coffin containing the body of the hidebound conservative who never changed, never apologized. Seeming to take his cue from absurdist theater, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell eulogized Jesse Helms as one of the “kindest” men in Congress. No matter who you were, intoned McConnell, “he always had a kind word and a gentle smile.”

Strangely, there was nothing in McConnell’s script about the time Jesse Helms, in an elevator with fellow senators – including Carole Moseley-Braun just after she’d spoken in the Senate, denouncing slavery and the Confederate flag – turned to his friend Orin Hatch and said, “I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.” Or the times he called civil rights activists “Communists and sex perverts,” and accused “Negroes and whites” on a march from Selma to Montgomery of participating in “sex orgies of the rawest sort.” Or when he described gay men and lesbians as “weak, morally sick wretches” who engage in “offensive and revolting conduct.”

Then there is Jesse’s deeply kind Senate record. FOR: tobacco companies. AGAINST: the Civil Rights Act; school desegregation; affirmative action; sanctions against Apartheid South Africa; commemorating the birthday of Martin Luther King; HIV-positive people entering the country; funding for “indecent” art; funding for AIDS research…

Verily, Jesse Helms’s brand of kindness makes Jesus look like a commie fag. That is why we – the Theater of Morally Sick Negro and White Wretched Communist Perverts – wish to salute Jesse Helms in a powerful piece of government-funded, rightwing performance art! Since most of us can’t remember our lines, we’ve decided to rip off Marcel Marceau’s loveable little character, “Bip,” and present this play in pantomime. Observe.

Act I

A lonely horizon in liberal America. Bleak. Desolate. Depraved. Enter Bleep, the sad, heterosexual mime. A teardrop glistens on Bleep’s whitened face; the ends of Bleep’s mouth dip downward; even the stripes on Bleep’s little shirt droop dejectedly. Bleep suffers because the world is full of MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS. (Since this is one of those cutting-edge, didactic opuses, disgusting slides of lunch-counter sit-ins, ACT-UP demonstrations, women’s peace groups, Nelson Mandela walking out of prison, etc., are flashed onto a scrim, so we can see what the real problem is.)

Bleep dejectedly whistles “Dixie” as he mimes packing his wee lunch, picking up his briefcase, and setting off for work. Pressing a make-believe button, he steps unsuspectingly into an invisible elevator. Suddenly, horrible rap music blares, as Satan – played by Carol Moseley-Braun – enters and pantomimes slapping Bleep silly. She tries to strangle Bleep with a kente cloth, then dances luridly away, inadvertently dropping her handbag.

Alone in the elevator, Bleep kneels in prayer. He vows to lead a more decent life and fight MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS. Then, from Above, a spotlight falls and caves in Bleep’s head. We laugh until our sides ache, in keeping with government standards of decency.

Act II

Bleep, now wearing a neck brace and a cross, is ready to fight the good fight! He picks up Satan’s handbag and begins walking with it through a park, toward FBI headquarters, where he plans to become an agent. As Bleep walks, he tips his hat in a wholesome way to unseen nannies pushing strollers. He pauses to pet imaginary kitties and sniff phantom daisies. Naturally, you can tell exactly what is happening because Mime is the universal language!

Suddenly from nowhere, a gang of MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS sees Bleep’s purse and decides he is “coming on” to them. Overcome with sexual lust they cannot control, due to their inferior genomes, they pile on top of Bleep and participate in a sex orgy of the rawest sort!

Boxer shorts, bras, condoms fly tragically across a maroon-tinted backdrop. A witch cackles. Somebody gets an abortion. A couple of extras, dressed as the HIV virus, recite marriage vows. But because only criminals have rights in this society, Bleep is the one who ends up in the police station.

Act the Third

A farmhouse. Bleak. Desolate. Foreclosed. Because of his whiteface privilege, the cops have released Bleep with a warning. Enter Bleep, distraught and bitter. Big Government has failed him. Bleep has decided to “Kill them all and let God sort them out.” As he waits for his sheets to come out of the dryer, Bleep smears his body with Semtex and sprinkles dynamite on the floor. Then he rolls around in an arty, yet Pro-Life, fashion.

A knock at the door. Pete Seeger has just wrecked his boat, the Clearwater, about a mile downstream. Will Bleep let him use the phone so Pete can continue to clean up the Hudson? Covered in explosives, Bleep seethes with rage at this final communist insult. Opting to become the first ever rightwing Christian suicide bomber, Bleep hurls his little body at the interloper, blowing up the entire theater and everyone in it.

Which only goes to show how evil MORALLY SICK NEGRO AND WHITE WRETCHED COMMUNIST PERVERTS really are.

The End. Maybe.

 

©  SUSIE DAY, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

SUSIE DAY can be reached at: sday@skadden.com

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