By Gabriel San Roman
By Gustavo Arellano
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By Eric Hood
Any guidebook to the local Disney parks, much less a 226-page book, seems sort of silly. What of the joy of self-discovery? Why write a paperback designed to impose structure on what ought to be a place of untroubled escapism?
Then how about a gay and lesbian guide to Disneyland and California Adventure? That ought to be a fun read at least, no? Umm, no. Queens in the Kingdom writers Jeffrey Epstein and Eddie Shapiro, y'see, aren't just gay—they're really, really, really gay, a couple of bitchy bitches whose only trips outside their WeHo or Chelsea ghettos seem to be when they're vacationing in Anaheim or Orlando. Like many gay men (but not this one; give us Knott's Berry Farm any day), they loooove Disney. Love it! And they want you to love it like they do, even if reading their book makes you want to barf from all the eye-rolling you'll wind up doing.
Though they state upfront they "wanted to provide information to gay people who weren't just like us," they don't, aside from maybe a stray bear reference about Splash Mountain. Jeffrey and Eddie are big, raging queens, and after a few pages of their witless girl-talk banter, they become like drunk gay boys at a party who won't shut up and leave you alone—sorry, no threesomes with us, kids. Queens is instead written for fags and lezzies whose entire self-worth comes from being queer 24/7, for whom being gay isn't merely just a part of who they are, but the Most Important Thing In Their Lives. And so they put dated references to shit like AbFab and Barbarella and name-check such aren't-they-dead-yet? celebs as Carol Channing and Elizabeth Taylor.
Particularly dreadful is when they force themselves to pad out the gay content with lame descriptions. Using a FastPass "feels like being on the VIP list at Studio 54." Walking down Main Street is "akin to hearing the opening bars of the overture from Gypsy." On the Pirates of the Caribbean, "Keep an eye out for the pirate straddling the cannon in a not-too-subtle fashion." Of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: "It's set in a mining town, where, typically, women were scarce." They also note the "suspiciously phallic" rock formations in Tomorrowland and dis California Adventure's Grizzly River Run water ride thusly: "Do you really want to mess up your hair?" I swear, it's enough to make you go hetero.
As outsiders to OC, they naturally show their ignorance by proclaiming there's "not a whole lot to do in the area" other than trek down to Laguna Beach, and they blame the lack of a gay scene in Anaheim "to the fact that Anaheim is located in conservative Orange County"—obviously they don't read the Weekly or our fabulous Calendar pages. They also review bars such as the Frat House in Garden Grove, which they say "can be a bit dicey, given the neighborhood," even though they admit they've never been there.
But there are even lower moments, like the NAMBLA joke they crack when scribbling about It's a Small World and the furthering of the religious-right-propagated lie that queers have "huge disposable incomes"—would Epstein and Shapiro care to see the bankruptcy papers we filed a few years ago? There's no real sense of gay Disney history here, either—how exactly did a theme park that was once so anti-queer it was successfully sued for not allowing same-sex dancing come to evolve into the gay-friendly mecca it is today, anyway? Stories like that should be obvious, but they aren't here.
A lot of their basic park info is stupid-fuck obvious (to avoid crowds, "weekdays are always best," and hey, didja know the parks "get particularly crowded on Saturdays"?). Ultimately, I just didn't care that they think the best thing about the Matterhorn is that "you're seated between the legs of your companion," or that there's no "Trolley Down the Castro" ride in California Adventure, or that cunty closet-case-for-convenience Rosie O'Donnell narrates the Boudin Bakery tour, or that a gay director made the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience flick, or that the best places to get romantic with your partner are almost all dark locales like the Haunted Mansion and the Tom Sawyer Island caves—so much for encouraging queer visibility. And so much for asking us to shell out 15 bucks for info that could've fit better in a pamphlet or a webpage.
Queens in the Kingdom by Jeffrey Epstein and Eddie Shapiro; Alyson Books. Softcover, 226 pages, $14.95; Epstein and Shapiro sign copies of their book at an event hosted by Bruce Vilanch at Compass Books, Downtown Disney, 1565 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 635-9801. Sat., 5 p.m.
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