Behind “Temperance”

Okay, call me the most sheltered ’90s baby in all of existence, but I only recently learned about the wonder that was the Club Kids phenomenon from my fabulous girlfriend, comedian and pop-culture expert, Sarah Kennedy.

For those of you who may also not know about “Club Kids,” they were a bunch of amazing performance artists, socialites, and provocateurs in the nineties who would dress up in elaborate garb, almost in drag, and attend the hottest clubs in NYC and eventually other cities. They were all about pushing the limits of what “fashion” could be, about throwing off what was societally acceptable in terms of “something to wear.” Some of them were in it for the thrill, some of them were in it for the scene, some of them were in it for art’s sake. Others, mostly Club Kids who jumped onto the movement later on, were hoping to become paid club promoters for the places they frequented.

Perhaps the best way to understand what a Club Kid is is to watch this clip from an interview with Club Kids on The Joan Rivers Show.


Here’s an example of a Club Kid. This is probably someone that Beth from “Temperance” would want to hang with on the regular. 

Thus the protagonists of “Temperance” were born. Ronnie was the tough, older Club Kid, who probably met Beth at a club somewhere and took a liking to her. (In case you didn’t catch the queer subtext of the story, Beth and Ronnie are totally doing it, like all the time, before Rodrigo enters the picture.) Then when Ronnie moves in with Rodrigo, Beth is like, oh shoot, where do I go? But she kind of plays it off as just another adventure, as just more fun.

Except it’s not fun. And of course it’s not fun for her. Listen, I love Greenpoint. LOVE IT. But I’m not a Club Kid. A Club Kid would think Greenpoint was hell, with its many dives and its hipsters that are too lazy to get down to Williamsburg or Bushwick or Jefferson, and its older Polish population. Because a Club Kid would have nothing to do in Greenpoint.

At least, that’s what I thought when I went into Gutter. Gutter is a wonderful bar. It’s truly one of my favorites. Sarah always says that it looks like the owners just one day opened a door to some back room and instead they found an old 1970s bowling alley, kept perfectly intact. Plus, it’s featured in the Saturday Night Live opening theme, as Bobby Moynihan’s location of choice. But it is a woeful place for a Club Kid to end up.

gutter 1.png



So, of course, that’s where I put Beth for this story. She’s already so torn down by the erosion of things with Ronnie (and the fact that Ronnie is kind of abusive), that of course showing up to Gutter of all places in full Club Kid regalia would be a devastating blow. To her identity, to her dignity. To her sense of pleasure. But Club Kids, like drag queens, are tough. So rather than just breaking down in tears, what does Beth do?

She wreaks havoc. With scorpions. Because, hello, scorpions are just really cool.


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