One day in the mid-1990s, I was standing in the tiniest Kinko's in the world, at the corner of Broadway and Zimpel in Uptown New Orleans, waiting to buy a course packet.* On the tiny television, facing away from me, was a sitcom that sounded for all the world like a bunch of drag queens doing a campy send-up of a sitcom. I spent probably ten minutes listening, in fascination, wondering how on earth I had not heard that there was now a sitcom - a NETWORK SITCOM! - starring an entire cast of drag queens.
And then I heard, "Golden Girls will return after these messages." Ahhh. I see. It wasn't drag queens, it was freakin' Bea Arthur and the gang, with their excessive performance of femininity. Eye-opening, that was.
My other favorite thing about Bea Arthur isn't really about her. It's that my friend M. dressed as Bea Arthur for Halloween when she was in grammar school in the mid-70s. Which I think is hilarious. Perhaps I shall dress as Bea Arthur-as-Maude for Halloween this year. Where ever will I get such a wig, though?
Herewith, Bea and Rock Hudson (Rock! Hudson!) singing about doing drugs. This would never happen on network TV in this day and age. It's hard to imagine that the 70s were more progressive than the 'Oughties in some ways, innit?
*For those of you too young to remember a time before the internet and digital reserve readings and J-stor, a "course packet" was a xeroxed collection of readings for a class. Kinko's would bind them up and make a tidy little sum on these suckers. Eventually academic publishers decided that Kinko's definition of "educational use" had gone over the line, copyrights had been sullied, and the course packet went the way of the 2400 baud modem.**
** For those of you too young to remember the 2400 baud modem..... oh, never mind. Just pretend like I'm talking about an abacus or a slide rule.