Memories of a Queer Childhood
I would open the lock of the fence behind which the machine lurked, during my duties as morning janitor, and I would pretend that I was a mad scientist in some fantastic film. I would push the secret upper button, and the machine would come to life. I was a child, obsessed with horror and science fiction films, certain that my future was to be a horror film actor. I stood there, as the machine came to life, its lights flashing and blinking, its wheels turning, the lethal rabbit ears alive with their electric fire ("Don't get close to that, it will electrocute you," Doc Jones warned me once). The recorded sounds were on high volume, and the entire experience of standing so close to this amazing creation was -- transporting.
Doc Jones had me get into my robot costume and pose beside the machine for a publicity photo. I felt like I had entered an amazing Wonderland, being able to work for this gentleman, in his magnificent museum. I grew up with parents who scolded me for loving monsters. My father, once in a rage, made me place all of my issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland into the basement fireplace and set the match to them. When I met Walter Jones, I encountered a grown-up who collected the magazine! It blew my mind and delighted my soul.
My main job became to dress up wearing monster masks and a cloak and walk inside or just outside the museum. Then Doc Jones had the museum's name put on the cloak, and I discovered that wearing greasepaint was a lot more comfortable than wearing hot rubber masks, and much more effective. I became the vampire of the Seattle Center.
I miss yem days. The museum wasn't the same when it moved from the third floor of the Center House to the lower floor. But I still loved working there. Count Pugsly had become a part of my soul. When I put on that cape, that wig and hat, those plastic fangs -- I changed. I loved to be that creature, to act that role with all of my dramatic talent, such as it was, to try and convince people of Pugsly's "reality." I often succeeded. I miss that. I miss the way I would walk along the Seattle Center grounds and my vampire's cloak became one with the movement of my limbs.
I miss my old friend Olaf, the petrified giant viking.
Ah -- those childhood days -- that dreamy era -- that awesome occupation. It was my first job, and it molded me as few things did in my youth. I loved Walter Jones, and pay tribute to his memory.