I met Jackie in 1984, in Athens, GA. I was a freshman at UGA-- young, cute and funny. I was definatley not gay acting then. No one knew- at least I thought no one knew. A friend of mine from work (Suzanne) invited me to a bar named "Cloud Nine", to help her cheer for a friend of hers that was in the Mr. Athens contest. I didn't know Suzanne that well-- I didn't even know that she was a lesbian (although all of the signs were there, I don't know how I didn't recognize them). I'd never heard of "Cloud Nine"- it turns out it was a gay bar. I had never met her friend Rick, but I joined Suzanne and her friends that night to cheer him on to victory.
I probably realized within 30 minutes that this was a gay bar. I felt dirty just being there, but I was having a good time. Several times I would find myself alone at the table, and men would come to talk to me. They'd offer to buy me drinks and I'd accept. At one point, I had about 5 guys sitting with me- all intent on getting me drunk. Out of the blue, this amazingly large woman walked to my table and told them all to leave me alone- and they did. She sat down on the stool next to me and introduced herself as "Jackie DeLorean". She was obviously a man in a bad Tina Turner wig, but she had saved me and I appreciated it. We had a great talk-- she told me all kinds of interesting stories about her travels and her loves.
I returned to Cloud Nine (later made famous by the B-52's in the song they named after the club-- in the song they called it the "Love Shack") just about every night after that first initiation. Jackie would always be on the sidelines, ready to pounce on anyone that got too close to me. It was nice to know that I was protected, but I felt a little too protected. I wanted these men to buy me drinks- -I loved the attention they gave me and sometimes I resented Jackie for stopping their advances. But I loved Jackie. I loved going to her trailer after the bar closed. She'd perform Eartha Kitt and Tina Turner numbers for me til the sun came up; she'd cook her specialty (Chicken Divan) for me on Sunday nights. We were never more than friends, but it was nice having a friend that I could open up to for a change.
Jackie and I were the best of friends, and I'd never seen him out of drag. I didn't have a clue what he looked like as a man- without the wigs and make-up. I could've walk right past him on campus and I wouldn't have recognized him. About 6 months into our friendship, he revealed himself to me. I showed up for Sunday dinner and Jackie wasn't there. The man that answered the door was Thom, Jackie's alter ego. The relationship didn't change at all-- I just saw a new side of Jackie. Jackie and I were the best of friends for a couple of years. Even after I moved from Athens to Atlanta, I'd get letters and pictures from him. I visited him a few times over the years, but we eventually lost touch.
Sometimes I think of him and wonder what he's up to. Is he still living as Jackie and protecting young boys in the bars? Is he even still living? The last time I heard anything about Jackie, they said that he was touring with the band REM as Michael Stipe's assistant. I hope that was true. I miss Jackie and I especialy miss his Chicken Divan!