No matter your religion or ethnicity or race, people inside and outside Hollywood will see your true colors. 1,782 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.
I used to do Roseanne.
No, no, not do Roseanne. I mean – hell no, are you kidding me? — I did Roseanne and Madonna and Cher as part of my “Tour Jetay’s Naughty Nasty Nineties” cabaret show. But Roseanne never really took off and people would boo even though I thought it was pretty clever, me going from sexy Madonna (hair flip/ pony tail/pointy bra: never gets old, bitches) and Cher (talk about never getting old: Cher is my spirit animal) to a fat frowzy housewife. Come on, she had the most popular show on television. You rooted for her. Everybody rooted for her. Roseanne was a heroine. Back then.
I’d lip sync to “American Woman” wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, the only concession being 5-inch pumps — because, hello, 5-inch pumps? — with a strip to a lamé version of jeans and a flannel shirt. Funny, right? A teased-up black wig and an exaggerated mouth. In the middle of the number, I’d usually let out a Roseanne-inspired, “Oh, Dan.” But it never caught on. “Sweetie pie, honey bunch,” Amber Skyes said to me once, “Tour Jetay is class. You’re high-brow. You’re drinking tea with your pinky stuck out. Roseanne is a bowel movement. And not an especially satisfying one.”
So Roseanne was a bust. Instead, I added Britney and Princess Di. And they worked much better. Sorry, Roseanne. I tried. But it wasn’t meant to be. Cut to two years later.
April 2018. I’m still Tour Jetay sometimes, I do some shows, and DragCon, but pushing thirty and a big ole mortgage made me decide to sashay a little less and concentrate a little more on nine to five. So I found myself with a new job working as an assistant wardrobe supervisor with an old friend, Guy McTeague (formerly AssShaka MyDreemz). Guy’s been working in television on and off and he’s done well. Two Emmy nominations, two CDGAs. He’s the most laid-back person ever. So naturally when he asked me if I wanted to work with him, I said yes. We did an hour cable legal drama together and the wardrobe was d-u-l-l, but the people were great – cast, crew, production team. And next up is a feature. (I’m not allowed to say who the lead is. Let’s just say it rhymes with Tanning Chatum.)
But there’s also some downtime, and Guy gets offered a “very special episode” of a new series, actually a reboot, and would I like to do it? They need to bring on another costume person because there’s a huge Wizard Of Oz fantasy sequence.
There’s only one wrinkle. A tiny one, Guy tells me. I don’t care. I’m already imagining Glinda’s crown. Silver sequins. Yards and yards of tulle.
“It’s the Roseanne reboot.”
Not good. Not good at all. Something’s happened to Roseanne. Now she’s a n anti-Semetic George Soros conspiracy theorist, an advocate for the alt-right, a wacko who dressed like Hitler in a creepy 2009 magazine photo shoot baking “burnt Jew cookies” for the satirical Heeb magazine — and the concept was her idea. No, I don’t get it. Mel Brooks and “Springtime For Hitler,“ that’s funny. Making fun of concentration camps and six million murdered people – not funny. Not ever.
Now she’s a huge, I mean yuge, Trump supporter. I can’t work on a show with someone like that.
“Munchkins,” Guy whispers.
“Mnuchin,” I say. “That’s munchkin when you take away a ‘K’ and add another ‘N’.”
“It’s one episode. Think how much fun it will be. You know you want to do it.” Guy starts to sing “Over The Rainbow.”
That’s below the belt, I tell him.
Anyway. I let Guy twist my arm. Seriously, he twists my arm and says he won’t let go until I agree to do it. And, yes, he’s right: I love the Wizard Of Oz and just because you disagree with someone’s politics, you don’t have to say no.
Except… even thinking that makes me queasy. When you disagree with someone’s politics, when you go along and don’t make waves, and then the next thing you know you’ve allowed a dictator to come to power. It’s a “how bad could it really be?” mentality. Yeah, we know how well Hitler worked out.
I grit my teeth and tell Guy I’ve changed my mind. I can’t work with Roseanne. Guy pleads with me; he’s desperate and, if it will make me feel better, he’ll donate half of his salary to the ACLU and the SPLC. He promises I won’t be making her costume (she’s the Cowardly Lion) and I won’t have to deal with her. It’s still an uncomfortable situation, but Guy is one of my oldest friends and so I agree to help him out.
I don’t see Roseanne around much and, when I do, she’s dosing Ambien and drinking kombucha. I stay out of her way. The rest of the cast is awesome and John Goodman is a good sport when I fit him for the Glinda costume. We talk about the original movie and how Billie Burke was Glinda perfection. She was fifty-four when she played the part (fifty-four!) and she was Mrs. Flo Ziegfeld of Ziegfeld Follies fame.
It’s hectic and crazy right up until taping night. Besides Glinda (Dan), I’m doing the Scarecrow (Jackie) and Toto (Darlene). Toto is a bear. Well, actually, Toto is a dog, but you know what I mean. The fabric is crazy hard to work with and sheds, believe it or not. But Sara Gilbert is patient and practices her bark until she sounds exactly like Toto.
The storyline is about Roseanne banging her head on a door that Dan keeps meaning to fix and when she’s knocked out she has a Wizard Of Oz fantasy that’s all about trying to find her missing cell phone which she named Dorothy. (It makes more sense in the script.) Can the Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Man (Becky) get to Oz to find the missing phone? They never actually meet the Wizard, but Glinda tells them a version of “you can do it yourself; you’ve got the power.” And when Roseanne wakes up, she finds her phone because it was right there in front of her all the time! (Like I said, it’s better in the script.)
The taping goes well. Naturally Guy and I are panicked over any wardrobe malfunctions, and there’s a moment when Toto’s little tail gets caught under a chair. But Sara Gilbert plays it for comedy and it gets a huge laugh so – whew.
And, for a moment, I forget about Roseanne and her insanity. Then I think back to how she accused Parkland student David Hogg in a tweet of making a Nazi salute. That was awful.
Oh, stop it, Tour. You did the episode and you survived. Anyway, Amber Skyes is having a big party at a Hollywood club that night. And it includes a mini-runaway and a competition with special guest judge Miz Cracker. So I beg Guy to let me borrow the Glinda costume and he says yes.
The Roseanne stage is empty and I’m making a few alterations to the costume (.John Goodman and I are close to the same size, thank goodness.) Now I’m wearing the dress and I look in the mirror and it’s incredible. What would be even better? A selfie of me on the Wizard Of Oz yellow brick road set. The work lights are on and I take a few snaps. Perfection. I am a sparkling pink goddess. And then I hear someone say. “Hey, did you see my kombucha?”
I recognize the voice. It’s Roseanne. She spots me under the work lights. “Are you supposed to be here?” she interrogates. And she takes a step towards me, but she’s forgotten they’ve lowered the door frame to set up the Roseanne-getting-knocked-out bit. Her forehead connects with the wood and — boom — she crumples to the ground.
Shit. I rush over to help. She’s groggy, but not unconscious. “Should I call 9-1-1?” I ask her.
She looks up at me, her eyes wide at the sight of the Glinda costume come to life again. “Whoa,” she finally says, “this is freaky.” She tries standing but sinks down.
I wave my wand at her. “Don’t get up,” I say, speaking in Glinda’s voice. “Would you like some water?”
Roseanne shakes her head no. “John?” she says softly. “Is that you? She thinks I’m John Goodman.
“I’m not John.” I wave the wand in the air again. “Don’t you know who I am?”
Roseanne looks confused. “If you’re not John…“
“That’s right. I’m Glinda. The Good Witch of the North.”
Roseanne laughs. “Yeah, right. And I’m the Cowardly Lion.”
I shake my head at her. “I’m here with you. I’m Glinda.”
“Glinda has powers,” Roseanne says warily.
“That’s right. Lots of powers.” The lights make the glitter on the tip of my wand glimmer. Like magic. “Do you believe in my powers?”
Roseanne nods. “Yes, Glinda. I do.”
“Good. Because I have a few things I’d like to say.” I run through a list in my head. “Pizzagate isn’t real.”
“Yes, it is,” Roseanne whispers. “Hillary and John Podesta organized a human-trafficking ring. ‘Cheese pizza’ was code for child pornography. They have the same initials.”
“Roseanne, think how silly that sounds. Pizzagate is a made-up conspiracy theory. Now will you apologize to David Hogg for saying he gave a Nazi salute?”
“I took down the tweets.”
“But the screenshots remain. Will you promise? Promises are very important to Glinda.” I wave the wand again.
Roseanne nods. “I promise. Is there anything else?”
“And about Donald Trump… ”
“He’s making America great again.”
Oh, brother. This might take a little time. I shake the wand and bits of glitter fly through the air. That damn glitter sticks to everything. Roseanne will have a hell of a time getting it out of her hair. But then she’ll know I was real, won’t she?
I’m late to the party and I’ve missed the awards, but it doesn’t matter.
“What took you so long?” Guy asks me.
“I had to destroy a witch. And I did it without throwing water or dropping a house on her.”
Guy looks puzzled. I’ll explain tomorrow. Before I left the lot, the EMTs arrived to take care of Roseanne and she’s fine. At least for a while.
End of May 2018. Roseanne has jjust tweeted that one of President Obama’s senior advisers is the offspring of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet Of The Apes.” Wow.
I’m glad Disney/ABC cancelled the reboot. Racism is never acceptable, duh. And i warned her. Don’t fuck with Glinda.