Trannyshack Reno or Bustier

An extreme road trip that's never just a drag

Roberts: "Well, it won't be long, before he takes off my thong."

El Diablo: "But it wasn't a thong until you put it on."

Roberts: "Shut the fuck up! I'm the one getting laid here. And he's back from the bodega with a case of beer, a bag of weed. So I'm on my knees pullin' out the seeds. He wants to squeeze my 34Bs."

Peaches takes roll call in Auburn.
Paolo Vescia
Peaches takes roll call in Auburn.
Roberts and George onstage at Visions.
Paolo Vescia
Roberts and George onstage at Visions.

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El Diablo has completely forgotten the blocking, and insists on stepping out in front where the spotlight would be -- if Visions had a spotlight. He's strutting about in his stiletto boots, his long hair, augmented with dreadlike extensions, swinging. For el Diablo, the point of performing is forcing more people to admire his outfit.

"Oh GOD I bombed," says George shakily when it's over. It wasn't the most creative "Trannyshack" number in the world, but the sheer perversity of the lyrics made it a hit with the crowd.

"Jason, you kept hogging the entire stage!" chastises Roberts.

"I'm drunk," says el Diablo. "I forgot the choreography."

Roberts and George return to the DJ booth to play dance music, but Marlin wants to board the bus back to the Cal Neva. El Diablo casts his eyes over the club and says peevishly, "I'm horny. I just want to get laid."

"Let's face it, Jason," says Marlin. "You're not going to get laid here or back at the hotel, so we might as well go back." It's the truth, and el Diablo knows it. He doesn't say anything.

For all his Johnny Depp-like looks, el Diablo doesn't seem to attract attention from boys. Neither does Marlin, for that matter. Most gay men prefer masculine-looking boys, the two attest, rather than femme guys who wear flawless makeup. But that doesn't mean el Diablo and Marlin are going to change. Though el Diablo had a moment of weakness, he isn't on this trip to get laid. He's here to be as big a queen as he wants to be. His gorgeous, custom-made boots have given his right foot a blister, but he is determined not to wreck his look. He hobbles back to the bus with his best friend, one of the walking wounded of "Trannyshack."

The posse is back at the Cal Neva, in el Diablo and Marlin's room. Roberts and George are lying on one bed, their two friends on the other. They are doing lines of cocaine, laid out on a red Bible they found in a drawer. Empty champagne bottles, clothing, and makeup litter the room. Marlin and el Diablo have cast aside their bourgie act and are relaxed and bitchy.

"Your friend tried to impress me by telling me she does vomit films," says el Diablo to Roberts and George. A female buddy of the couple came on the trip and hit on el Diablo earlier in the day, apparently believing that her porn career would appeal to his kinky side. "She's a little much," sniffs el Diablo.

"She's really nice, Jason," says Roberts. "Give her a chance."

Roberts is sweet and accepting to a fault; George sometimes jokes that he'll even go so far as to hire subpar go-go dancers for their DJing gigs because he doesn't like anybody to face rejection. He's tougher on himself. Accepting his body, for instance, hasn't been easy for Roberts. When he and George first started dating, he'd been taking female hormones to get his "physical to match up with the mental image" when he looked in the mirror. But she didn't like the way he looked. He was "getting fat in places that girls do."

George loves her boyfriend's current image: a streamlined glam-rocker who is almost as pretty as she. And really, he prefers this self-image, too. All the same, it makes him different from a lot of the transgender crowd, in that he doesn't take hormones, and from most of the "Trannyshack" crowd, including Peaches and Heklina, who do drag for performances at night, but by day look like boys. It wasn't until Roberts began performing regularly at "Trannyshack" that he felt he was part of the club, even though he was even more unusual, in some regards, than its other members.

The group wanders into the Cal Neva Casino; with a drunken gambler's lust in her eyes, George glues herself to the slot machines. Bored, in control of himself as usual, Roberts sits down in the arcade and starts playing the old video game Galaga. He's racking up the most points he's ever scored when he feels a presence over his shoulder. A male voice says, "Hey, how's it going?" Roberts loses his concentration, and his Galaga character blows up.

"You're bad luck," says Roberts, looking over his shoulder at the drunk boy in a baseball hat standing behind him. The guy sees that Roberts is a man and shoots back, "Yeah, you suck, DUDE."

Whenever men emphasize "dude" in that menacing way, Roberts knows, they're saying they've clocked you. There's no fooling them. All Roberts can say to that is, "Well, duh."

As Roberts walks away, he passes by Peaches and her friend Martiny, who have just sat down for a late-night snack at the diner. They're out of drag and look like normal guys; normal enough, at least, to fool a man sitting next to them at the counter. He nudges Peaches and growls, "Why are there so many gays here?"

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