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Spilled Milk: Tea and Coco



This post is the seventh in a series of Spilled Milk columns by Emmy Award-winning writer and producer William Lucas Walker that chronicle his journey through parenthood. Spilled Milk, which originates in The Huffington Post, appears on these pages every Saturday.

Every young girl should have a fairy godmother. Mine does. Her name is Miss Coco Peru.

Just how does one go about locating a fairy godmother? It’s best if they appear at your daughter’s crib when she’s quite young, wag a finger and say, “I wanna be her fairy godmother.” That’s how it happened for us.

It all started at a Club Med, as so many things do. Years before I became a dad. I was nursing a pretty devastating heartbreak and needed to get away, so I’d booked myself a solo pity party at Club Med Playa Blanca on the Mexican coastline.

I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t those Club Meds kind of… cheesy? And it’s true, there are lots of cheese platters, most of them repurposed from earlier cheese platters. But I wasn’t there for the cheese. I was there for the all-inclusive, up-front prepayment. Club Med is one of the few vacation spots where you pay one lump sum for everything before you arrive, including tips. Which means that for the rest of your trip… no thinking. Thinking just aggravates depression, especially thinking about money. Thinking is the last thing you need when you’re trying to focus on what’s important: overeating, over-tanning and moping. Which you can never overdo. The only thing Club Med could have done to improve my stay would be to have someone stick a needle in my arm and feed me intravenously by the pool.

But they said “No,” so I was forced to take my meals in the dining room. They don’t like people eating alone at Club Med. It’s practically an actionable offense, so I was presenting a problem for the GOs. Club Med originated in France; staff members are referred to as GOs, which stands for gentils organisateurs. Roughly translated this means “pains in the ass.” The main task of these overzealous smilers is to encourage guests to mingle, socialize, connect. My mission was to disconnect. So whenever my GO would approach, trying to coax me into joining a group table, I’d put up my hand, signaling my GO to STOP.

I might as well have been flipping him the bird. My GO became more and more discombobulated, his smile finally collapsing under the weight of all that sweat now pooling on his lip. That’s when I noticed him nervously glancing over his shoulder at his gentil supervisor, who was standing behind a palm glaring at us both. And that’s when he whispered, “Please, señor, I am on probación.” Finally it dawned on me: Great, I’m about to get somebody fired, which would mean feeling guilty, which would mean thinking, which was unacceptable. So I moved to a group table.

It was there that I met a gentle, soft-spoken man with huge blue eyes and a huger mouth. He introduced himself as Clinton Leupp. All I knew about Clinton was that he was (a) from the Bronx; (b) wickedly smart; (c) delightfully funny and (d) like me, being harassed for dining alone. We immediately became pariahs-in-arms and took most of our meals together after that. We’d ogle the bronzed Adonises crowding the group tables around us — they tend to travel in packs with a single suitcase for all their Speedos. Clinton and I couldn’t help fantasizing what it might be like to poke one of their balloon pecs with a fondue spear to see if it would actually explode.

It was probably our second or third lunch before I got around to asking Clinton how he’d come to be at Playa Blanca by himself. Sipping his tea he casually remarked, “Oh. I’m doing a show here Saturday night.” Alarm bells went off inside my head. There’d been an excruciating show the night before. You have no idea how much can go wrong when a hypnotist stutters.

“What kind of show?” I asked Clinton, casually. He dismissed my curiosity with a wave of his hand. “You’ll see.”

So I was concerned, to put it mildly, as I took my seat in the outdoor theatre on Saturday. I don’t remember exactly how the show began. I do remember that the lights dimmed as the announcer introduced a woman with an unusual name. As she stepped into the spotlight I took her in from the bottom up: sensational legs, iridescent blue minidress, killer rack and lovely… Adam’s apple. Smiling at the crowd were the same huge blue eyes and huger mouth I’d been lunching with all week, framed by a deep orange wig with a perfectThat Girl flip.

Miss Coco Peru had landed.

When film critic Pauline Kael famously wrote of Barbra Streisand,”Talent is beauty,” she could have been describing Clinton as Coco Peru. Anyone can do drag; it’s Clinton’s writing that dazzles.


Actually, “landed” is exactly the wrong term. Seeing Coco Peru in person for the first time is like watching a spaceship blast off, fiery and dazzling, shooting straight into space and taking you along for the ride.

Over the course of the next ninety minutes, striding the stage on a pair of tasteful yet practical high heels, this spectacular creature — well over six feet tall — defied not only the laws of gravity, but any expectation I might have had. Not because she was a man in a dress. Men have been putting on dresses since the dawn of taffeta. Because she was this man in a dress. Though I’d never heard of Miss Coco Peru, I realized immediately I was in the presence of a true original, somehow wildly improbable yet inevitable at the same time.

When film critic Pauline Kael famously wrote of Barbra Streisand,”Talent is beauty,” she could have been describing Clinton as Coco Peru. Anyone can do drag; it’s Clinton’s writing that dazzles. Expertly combining monologue, song and hilarious storytelling, you soon realize, as odd as it seems, it’s the humanity spilling out from under that vermillion wig that makes it impossible not to be mesmerized.

Miss Coco achieves this by weaving a complex tapestry of tales from a singular life. Growing up in the Bronx as an effeminate boy, chased home by bullies and mortified one day to discover that his mother had painted their house. Pink. A life-changing fall through a glass shower door as a teenager, from which he nearly bled to death. The day he discovered the thrilling voice of soprano Eva Marton, whose name he hilariously mispronounced, along with “Wagner” and Tristan und Isolde, to a withering New York record-store clerk. All this combined with songs, stories of his unflappable, devoted mom Helen, exotic tales of world travel, his childhood ambition to form a tribute band to Josie and the Pussycats, meeting his husband on a nude beach in Spain, cocktail party disasters and tribal vision quests in — where else? — Peru. Every word of it delivered in a thick Bronx accent.

But most amazingly, by the end of his show, this man in the minidress and ridiculous wig had somehow pulled off the impossible: He made you feel Miss Coco was you. Whoever you were. Over the years, I’ve brought many people to see Coco — straight neighbors, work friends, my mother-in-law, our children’s egg donor and her husband. They all come away with some version of the same reaction. That was me up there. It’s sort of transcendent, while at the same time being — did I mention? — pee-your-pants, gasping-for-breath funny. That is the sublime gift of Coco Peru. Somehow she connects us.

Clinton and I have remained friends since that first day as dining room pariahs at Club Med. On one of my first dates with my husband, I took him to see Miss Coco’s Glorious Wounds… She’s Damaged. I knew it would make him love me more, and it did. As a bonus, I had the pleasure of introducing two of my favorite people.

Soon after our daughter was born, Clinton visited us all with his mom Helen (lovely, and exactly as described). He brought Elizabeth one of her first baby gifts, the book On the Day You Were Born, which celebrates the uniqueness of each individual who arrives on this planet, signed, inevitably, “Love, Aunt Coco, a.k.a. Clinton Leupp.” We still read it. As we laid our baby girl down for a nap in her crib, Clinton declared then and there that Miss Coco Peru would forever be Elizabeth’s fairy godmother.

And so she has been. On Elizabeth’s first birthday, she received a lovely, very small gift box from Aunt Coco. Inside? A perfect, tiny, white feather boa, with the inscription, “For Elizabeth, because you deserve it.” It came in very handy for dress-up princess teas. There have been birthday presents and cards ever since, and whenever Kelly and I attend one of Coco’s shows, she always sends us home with a gift for her fairy goddaughter, usually a purse with lots of sparklies.

Though she’d heard of Miss Coco Peru all her life, seen a photo or two and received gifts bearing her name, Elizabeth recently began to wonder whether her fairy godmother really existed. Once you’re past the age of 5 or 6, unless you’re Cinderella, the scuttlebutt is that they don’t.

To Elizabeth, Coco might as well have been a unicorn.

So she began asking to meet her. I told her that Miss Coco only appeared on stage, at night, and that she was too young to see the shows. The best I could offer was to see if we could arrange for Elizabeth to meet the man who played Miss Coco Peru. Of course Elizabeth was disappointed, but I explained that it takes hours for Clinton to transform into Miss Coco. Besides, asking a drag queen to get dolled up, in daylight, for no money, is like asking a drag queen to get dolled up, in daylight, for no money. But they are the same person, I assured her. “Coco may be the wrapper, but Clinton is the candy.”

Clinton was delighted at the invitation, and since both Elizabeth and Clinton love tea, we decided to meet at the Tea Rose Garden on a Tuesday afternoon in Pasadena. In my email to Clinton confirming our date, Elizabeth asked if she could type him a personal note. She wondered if he might – please? — consider bringing along Coco’s red wig. I think she wanted proof. We got a nice note back from Clinton stating that though he was very much looking forward to tea, “The wig stays at home!”

The next day I picked Elizabeth up from school. In the back of the car she brushed her hair and changed into her most elegant red dress and low heels. We arrived at the Tea Rose Garden running a few minutes late. After jamming some coins in the parking meter, we rushed up the sidewalk and opened the glass door, already mouthing apologies for our tardiness to Clinton. But Clinton wasn’t there.

Sitting at a table about twenty feet away, smiling at us, was Miss Coco Peru.

Gravity could not contain my daughter. She leapt up and down in the air, clapping her hands, and went flying into the arms of her fairy godmother. Clinton smiled at me through Coco’s makeup, his eyes saying, “Come on, Bill, how could I not?”

For the next hour and a half, Elizabeth might as well have been having tea with a unicorn. It was that magical. And that rare. Coco Peru doesn’t appear in the daytime. Ever. Spotting her at three in the afternoon — in Pasadena? — you’re more likely to see a herd of unicorns galloping through Target.

Elizabeth was in heaven. Over scones and finger sandwiches, she launched into a flurry of questions, the sort any child might ask: “When did you start wearing a dress?” Why did you start wearing a dress?” “Can I touch your wig?” “Do you go grocery shopping like this?”

“Well, Elizabeth,” smiled Coco. “First of all, here’s how I explained it to one of my nephews. I said to him, ‘Do you like getting dressed up for Halloween?’ He said, ‘Of course! I love getting dressed up for Halloween!’ So I told him, ‘Well, so do I. So think of this as me getting dressed up for Halloween. Only… Idon’t have to wait for Halloween.'”

“Elizabeth,” Coco said, “that’s all I had to say. He got it completely.” So did my daughter.

Coco went on to tell Elizabeth that as a child she’d never enjoyed doing “boy things” like sports, and had always gravitated to “girl things, like-”

“Like my dad!” said Elizabeth.

“Exactly, only…” Coco glanced at her press-on French-tip fingernails, “I’m guessing a lot more.”

Coco related how she’d been bullied by her peers from an early age as a child for being different. “I was a really nice kid, but all they could see were the things that weren’t like them. Like my funny voice and my funny walk, which I didn’t think were funny at all.”

“I love your voice!” exclaimed Elizabeth.

“Well, thank you,” said Coco. “And I’ve loved yours since all you could do was gurgle. Tell me, have you ever been bullied?” I’d mentioned to Clinton that Elizabeth was going through some painful mean-girl exclusion at school. Elizabeth quietly nodded. “Sort of.”

“It feels pretty terrible, doesn’t it? And you have no idea what you’re doing wrong, right? Because you’re notdoing anything wrong. You’re just being you. And they treat you horribly. It’s very hard to understand as a kid. I know. But those kids are wrong.”

Elizabeth was riveted.

With a matter-of-factness devoid of self-pity, Coco went on to spell out how things had gotten worse once she became a teenager, long before the advent of “It Gets Better” videos. She learned to hide the “girl” part of herself, partly for her own survival, partly in a misguided attempt to please her parents and partly to protect them from learning what her days at school were really like.

“Then, when I was about 20,” said Coco, “something major happened. I began to read about these Native American tribes, and how in these tribes there were these people called ‘two-spirits.’ They were called this because their bodies were thought to manifest both masculine and feminine spirits. And I thought, ‘That sounds familiar.’ But unlike where I came from — the Bronx — instead of being bullied and tortured and mocked, these two-spirit people were celebrated by their tribes. Celebrated for being exactly who they were. They were considered by the tribe to be spiritually advanced, special. Well, Elizabeth, it rang a bell. It dawned on me that I was a two-spirit. Which could only mean one thing. Far from having anything wrong with me, I was special. Just as you are special and your dad is special and that lady serving us tea is special. I decided to embrace who I was. And that was the moment, Elizabeth, that Coco Peru was born.”

Now Elizabeth had been studying Native American culture in school, but somehow they’d never gotten around to the chapter on two-spirits. I had a feeling she was going to bring it up the next day.

Coco went on: “I soon realized that as Coco, I could celebrate the very things I’d been taught to hate about myself. And I began to turn that celebration into entertainment — because I am a performer — so that future generations of kids like me wouldn’t have to go through what I went through. You see, my goal is that by the time I finish a show, my audiences don’t see a man in a dress, they see the person underneath. And in that person, they see themselves.”

It took a moment before Elizabeth finally spoke: “So, are you going to finish that scone?” They both burst out laughing.

I told you it was magical.

Of course Miss Coco had brought gifts: a bottle of pale green fingernail polish and Elizabeth’s first set of false eyelashes. Which I will encourage her to put to good use in a science project about caterpillars. She’s 11.

As we were leaving, in true, selfless, superstar fashion, Coco handed Elizabeth an 8×10 of herself, autographed in Sharpie. How could she not? She is an entertainer.

That night, I got a call from Clinton. In his delicious Bronx accent, he began, “Bill, I had to call and tell ya what a lovely afternoon I had with you and your daughter today. But I gotta be honest, I almost didn’t do the drag. It takes hours, you know, the makeup, the wig, and besides, I knew I didn’t have to. I knew you weren’t expecting it. But then I thought to myself, ‘Coco… how often do you get invited to tea by an 11-year-old girl?’

Then he went on, and his voice became less steady. “But Bill, when she walked through that door… when she saw me, your beautiful daughter… and her eyes lit up and she…” His voice began to falter. “… And she jumped in the air like that and she came running at me with her arms wide open to give me that big, beautiful hug, I just…” He began to cry. “It was worth it.”

“It was just so worth it.”

It was then I realized how unexpectedly powerful the afternoon had turned out to be for Clinton. In giving so kindly of himself, he’d received the one thing that had eluded him as a child: the complete and total acceptance of another 11-year-old.

Two spirits.

An inscribed 8×10 glossy now sits framed on my young daughter’s desk. It reads: “Dearest Elizabeth, Keep making the world beautiful. Love, Aunt Coco Peru.”

I’m sure there are many people who’d rush to call me a bad parent for taking my daughter to tea with a drag queen. I’d say they’re wrong. I think every kid in America could benefit from an afternoon with Miss Coco Peru.

It might just change the world.

* * * * *


* * * * *

William Lucas Walker is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer whose television credits include Frasier, Will & Grace and Roseanne. He co-created the critically-acclaimed Showtime comedy The Chris Isaak Show. Bill and his husband Kelly are the parents of Elizabeth and James, born in 2001 and 2005. The children were gratified by the legal marriage of their parents in 2008, an event that rescued them from a life of ruinous bastardry.

Spilled Milk chronicles Bill’s misadventures in Daddyland. The first recurring humor column by a gay parent to appear in a mainstream American publication, Spilled Milk has regularly landed on the front page of The Huffington Post.

Follow William Lucas Walker on Twitter: @WmLucasWalker, @SpilledMilkWLW or Facebook: “Spilled Milk” by William Lucas Walker.       

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‘I Don’t Want Reality’: Senate Republican Explodes Over Origin of Concept of Race – Calls to Teach ‘Jesus Loves Me’ Instead



U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) exploded in a committee hearing on child care on Wednesday after he introduced a book designed to help children understand race, and declared he opposes socialism and wants schools to teach about Jesus Christ instead.

Sen. Mullin, a former U.S. Congressman who once told a House Democrat to “shut up,” began by explaining how expensive it is for private companies to set up child care – the topic of the hearing – but quickly transformed the hearing into one on race, socialism, and religion.

He wove a web that started with his concerns over “federalizing” education, which he declared is socialism. He then attacked the committee chairman, Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who heads the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), for being a “self-declared democratic socialist.” That led to his claim that the book he opposes, “Our Skin: A First Conversation on Race,” would be taught nationwide.

Sen. Mullin said he opposes the book because it teaches young children that the concept of race, especially the white race, was created by white people to place themselves above other people with different skin – which has been documented in numerous studies, reports, articles, and books.

READ MORE: DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns

Senator Mullin, who supports a federal vigilante “Don’t Say Gay” bill,  tried to get members of the panel to support his desire for schools to teach about Jesus instead.

“I have a book here in here in front of me called ‘Our Skin,'” Mullin told the committee, “and I’m going to read exactly what this book says. You guys might find it interesting. ‘A long time ago, way before you were born, a group of white people made up an idea called race. They sorted people by skin color and said that white people were better, smarter, prettier, and they deserved more than everybody else.’ This would be taught if we socialized our pre-K system, this would be taught.”

“How about we teach Jesus Loves Me?” Mullin demanded. “How about how about this? And teaching ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children.’ The lyrics go, ‘Red and yellow, black and white. They’re all precious in our sight.’ Now, which one would you think would be better? I’ll ask everybody on the panel, which is better to teach? This, that is a story that was made up to teach kids, three year olds who have no idea what race is.”

“Now all of a sudden being taught that white people said this as a truth, someone pointed me that this being a truth, that white people developed race, that white people develop that. That all of a sudden that was our word that we developed. By the way, I’m Cherokee, Native American. I think we have experienced a little bit of racism before in my life,” Mullen said.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

“So I ask everybody on the panel, which one is better to teach? This,” referring to the book he had brought, “or the ‘Jesus Loves Me’ lyrics? Ma’am. I’ll start on here.”

“I think it’s important to teach that all children are seen and valued for who they are,” one panelist told Sen. Mullin. He was not pleased.

Another panelist who appeared to agree with Sen. Mullin on teaching Jesus responded, “It is important that we teach Jesus. Jesus is what we teach. But the reality is –” she said before being interrupted by Mullin.

“I don’t want reality,” Mullin proclaimed, which evoked immediate laughter.

“Got it on tape,” one person announced.

“I misspoke,” Mullin claimed.

Watch portions of Mullin’s remarks below or at this link.


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DeSantis Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Tour With Claim Teachers Are ‘Forcing’ Students to Pick Pronouns



Governor Ron DeSantis kicked off his official presidential campaign tour on Tuesday, traveling to Iowa after announcing last week he was launching a White House run. On Wednesday, the Republican bragged to GOP voters that in Florida he recently signed a bill into law banning teachers from forcing children to pick pronouns, insisting it is happening in other states.

“It is wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body, or that their gender is a choice,” DeSantis announced.

“We don’t allow this in the state of Florida, and we actually just signed legislation protecting students from having teachers force them to pick pronouns, which they are doing in some parts of this country, at [a] very, very young age. We’re not competing in the ‘pronoun sweepstakes.’ We’re going to have school just like school’s been, from time in memoriam [sic], we’re not going to do all this other stuff,” he declared.

READ MORE: ‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert

While DeSantis is insistent that teachers are forcing very young students to pick pronouns, NCRM found no news reports supporting that claim.

We did find several news reports of teachers suing for not wanting to use a child’s preferred pronoun, which are issues for the courts.

We did find one report of a teacher who allegedly insisted on calling a 9-year old girl who identifies as a girl a boy, and the parents are suing.

News12 on Long Island, New York in March reported, “the lawyer representing the girl’s family…says the student was bullied and had suicidal feelings.”

“She says the teacher told the student to ‘try being gay.’ The teacher is also accused of calling the girl a male name.
‘The teacher had some kind of agenda to have these students have alternate sexual preferences or gender identities they may or may not have had,'” the attorney said.

READ MORE: ‘It Has to Be Done’: These Are the House Republicans Open to Firing Kevin McCarthy as Speaker

In April, Colorado’s KRDO reported, “During the last Colorado Springs School District 11’s board meeting, officials tabled a controversial pronoun policy that would prevent educators from asking students their preferred pronouns. While the policy isn’t in effect, some teachers are concerned about how it would hinder them inside the classroom.”

Watch DeSantis below or at this link.


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‘Will Make a Great Trial Witness’: Experts Thrilled Jack Smith Is Investigating Trump’s Firing of Election Security Expert



U.S. Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed former Trump administration staffers possibly involved in the firing of Chris Krebs, a top cybersecurity official who had published a report calling the 2020 presidential election “the most secure in American history,” just days after the election, infuriating then-President Donald Trump.

The New York Times reports the special counsel’s investigators have “been asking witnesses about the events surrounding the firing” of Krebs (photo), who was appointed by Trump to the newly-created position of Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

Krebs was fired by Trump on November 17, 2020 after tweeting that election fraud claims were bogus: “59 election security experts all agree, ‘in every case of which we are aware, these claims either have been unsubstantiated or are technically incoherent,’” according to The Washington Post.

READ MORE: ‘Sure Wasn’t by Drag Queens’: DeSantis Slammed for Ignoring Florida Mass Shooting That Included Children

“Krebs’s statement amounted to a debunking of Trump’s central claim that the November election was stolen,” The Post reported at the time.

The New York Times on Wednesday reports the Special Counsel’s investigators “appear focused on Mr. Trump’s state of mind around the firing of Mr. Krebs, as well as on establishing a timeline of events leading up to the attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6, 2021. The latest subpoenas, issued roughly two weeks ago, went to officials in the personnel office, according to the two people familiar with the matter.”

But national security and civil liberties journalist Marcy Wheeler asserts the Special Counsel’s efforts go further.

“I think it likely erroneous to imagine that Jack Smith is getting into Chris Krebs’ firing JUST to get to Trump’s mindset,” Wheeler tweeted. “He fired Krebs for doing something his Admin had specifically bought off on. It was a necessary part of the plot.”

“So,” Wheeler adds, “1) Trump fires Krebs for saying the election was fair 2) Trump fires Esper for saying he couldn’t invoke the Insurrection Act,” referring to then-Trump Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

“Then he sought about sowing an insurrection based on claims the election wasn’t fair,” she notes.

RELATED: ‘Fired for Telling the Truth to the American People’: Legal Experts Blast Trump for Firing Top Cybersecurity Chief

MSNBC’s Steve Benen agrees, writing: “Presumably, pulling on this thread would also offer investigators additional evidence that the then-president was presented with the truth by his own team, even as he pushed his anti-election lies.”

Andrew Weissmann, the former FBI General Counsel who spent 20 years at DOJ, heralded the Special Counsel’s investigation into the firing of Krebs.

“A very natural thing for Jack to examine as part of plot to overthrow the election. AND Krebs will make a great trial witness for govt.,” Weissmann tweeted.


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