Identities

Today’s Zippy, continuing the story of Lazlo Crannich:

To remind you: Lazlo Crannich is an actor who performs the character of Zippy the Pinhead: when you see Zippy in public, you’re actually seeing Lazlo, and who knows where the real Zippy is or what he’s doing. So Lazlo is a kind of double — a permanent double, so to speak. Lazlo has a (very constrained) private life under his own name, which we catch glimpses of in the strip, but Zippy’s private life is forever invisible to us. It’s a kind of magic irrealism., a counterpart to the literary magic realism I write about here every so often.

In my own fiction writing about two people called Sundance and Butch, there’s a good bit of magic realism, plus a lot of play on identities, names, and the performance of characters.

Background:  Around the turn of the 20th century, two outlaws joined forces:

Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, called The Sundance Kid

Robert Leroy Parker, called Butch Cassidy

Their story was made into an enormously enjoyable 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with the former played by Paul Newman and the latter (referred to and addressed as Sundance) by Robert Redford.

Then I came along and took up writing (largely X-rated) poems and short stories about the history of two gay lovers:

Michael Cassady (so spelled), called Butch

Charles / Charlie Kidd, called at first Sundance, but then (after the movie came out) Sonny

Links to this material are on the Page for “Sundance and Butch” in this blog. (The order of names reflects the fact that this material is written from Sundance’s point of view.)

Ok so far it’s pretty much straightforward, though there’s an assortment of nicknames and pseudonyms: there are the real-life outlaws;  the characters in the movie; and the characters in my “Sundance and Butch” material — and they line up one-to-one.

But then in my magic-realist short story “Vergissmeinnicht”, Sundance and Butch come across another gay couple, Nicky (Nick Charles) and Robbie Roberts, who are both stereotypically gay in manner (Sundance and Butch are not). Sundance is much taken with Nicky, and vice versa; but then Butch and Robbie get into a fight over opera (which Butch detests and Robbie just adores). (This all works out just fine in the end; getting into a fight is a bonding experience for many men, and eventually Butch and Robbie pair up sexually.)

Before this amicable resolution, bystanders drag the combatants apart, and Butch rages to Sundance:

Butch delivers his hot news to me in an undertone, his mouth a few inches from my ear.  “Christ, Sundance, these guys are the guys in the movie!  The guys that Redford and Newman played in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  No wonder Nicky was so startled to hear that I’m called Sundance and my lover’s called Butch.  Good thing I didn’t tell him about our years in Bolivia.  “But they’re such fags, honey!” — he sees that I’m about to give him the “We are fags, for Chrissake, get over it” lecture, maybe even my rant about the straight-acting mindset, which never fails to piss him off totally

Whoa! Nicky and Robbie are in fact the actual outlaws (magic-realistically still walking about after all these years and also unoutlawishly faggy), and Newman and Redford are/were just actors performing the outlaws’ roles. (I note in passing that Sundance and Butch magically escaped death in Bolivia over 100 years ago and then traveled to a new life in the Bay Area, where they are now young men.)

In contrast to the Zippy/Lazlo case, here the characters, and not just the actors, get to appear in public and have their own visible (indeed carnal) lives.

(Later in the story, Sundance and Butch are magically transported to Vienna. And yes, there are forget-me-nots.)

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