Gigi set the third round of drinks in front of the fat businessmen, who were now sticking straws up their noses and bucking out their teeth.
“No tickie no laundry,” said one of the fat guys as his gin and tonic dribbled out his nose. Gigi looked at the clock and thought another five minutes with these jerks and she would be setting herself on fire.
The front door of the bar slowly opened and three scrawny young men hesitated to enter the bar. Gigi saw fear on their faces—as if a hungry bear was going to jump out of the shadows and eat them alive any second.
“Come on in boys,” Gigi said with spirit. “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.”
The timid young men gradually edged forward as if an invisible rope bound them together. All three wore bellbottom jeans and styled their hair to emulate the Beatles. The blond leader of the group overcame his shyness and sashayed into the bar waving hot-pink, painted fingernails in the air. Gigi had had a long history with gay men and adored them. She seated the young men near the jukebox on the opposite end of the bar away from the fat businessmen, who cast award-winning dirty looks in the direction of the gay boys.
“Are we welcomed here?” asked Pink-Painted Nails. “Most places on Jefferson Street rudely ask us to leave or throw us out.”
“But there was that time you dated that cop and lost your underwear in the bushes,” Pink-Painted Nail’s friend revealed.
“I don’t think the nice lady wants to hear about that!” Pink-Painted Nails said sharply, gouging her pink talons deeply into the flesh of her friend’s arm.
“I have only one rule in my bar,” Gigi said with a serious expression on her face, the three gay boys sat in rapt attention. “At the end of the night, I want you to leave my bar having had the best time ever!”
The gay boys immediately fell in love with Gigi at that moment, bursting with wide grins and laughter.
“I’m Gigi, the owner of Chez Gigi.”
Pink-Painted Nails fluffed his blond bangs in the mirror before he spoke.
“My name is Princess Love and these two whores are Lucy and Ethyl.”
“She doesn’t like anyone to know her real name is Dick Burns,” Ethyl said.
“Speaking of burns, your face looks like it caught fire and somebody tried to put it out with a hammer,” Princess Love roared back.
Gigi knew there would be hair, teeth and eyeballs flying through the air if she didn’t quickly change the subject.
“It’s time for a joke,” Gigi said lightly. “What’s the difference between Spanish gays and Irish gay guys?”
The gay boys pondered the riddle, but shrugged their shoulders.
“Spanish gays are señor-eaters and the Irish gays are gay-licks,” Gigi said.
Princess Love laughed so hard she almost toppled off her bar stool and had to be rescued by Lucy and Ethyl, who emitted shrieks of laughter that sounded like laughing hyenas.
“Hey, Miss Gigi, where are you from?” asked Princess Love. “I love your accent.”
“I’m from Paris,” Gigi said. “The city of lights—gay Paree.”
“I speak French,” Princess Love said. “Toute ma famille parle français Cajun.”
Gigi and Princess Love began a long conversation in French. She was so engrossed chatting with the queens that she didn’t even notice the fat businessmen leaving the bar. As soon as they were outside, one turned to the other and huffed.
Gigi brought the gay boys another round of drinks and at the same time told them a joke.
“What did the termite say when he entered the bar?” asked Gigi, smiling at three blank faces. “Is the bar tender here?”
The three queens sat dumbfounded for a moment, but then Princess Love caterwauled in glee.
“Is the bar TENDER here?” Princess Love explained to Lucy and Ethyl. “Termites eat wood. Duh!”
The gay boys laughed, chatted and told more jokes and stayed until closing, really not wanting to leave their new-found paradise. Gigi gently escorted the boys to the door to bid them goodnight.
“Miss Gigi, we’ve laughed so hard our sides hurt,” Princess Love said.
“I’m sure I soiled my tighty whities,” admitted Ethyl.
“We’ll be back tomorrow,” the gay boys promised. “We’re getting on the phone and calling all our boyfriends.”
“That one knows all the queens in Lafayette because she’s slept with them all,” Lucy said, pointing a finger at Princess Love.
“Bitch!” Princess Love huffed, staggering out the front door.
The next evening, Princess Love strutted into Chez Gigi dressed like a Las Vegas hooker drowning in a vat of tie dye, wearing skin-tight, hot-pink stretch pants, orange platform shoes, a chartreuse day-glow tank top, and a large silver peace chain. A silk purple scarf and a cheap dime store perfume trailed behind her.
“What did I tell you?” Princess Love said. “My Lafayette girlfriends will make Chez Gigi the most popular gay bar from New Orleans to Houston.”
“Merci beaucoup, Princess Love,” Gigi said.
“I’m the lucky one,” Princess Love cooed. “I’ve never gotten laid so much in my life.”
“Mary, you better hurry down to the VD clinic and get an industrial-size shot of penicillin in that skinny little chicken ass of yours,” Ethyl hissed. “I heard your screams coming from the restroom.”
“I probably caught it from you,” Princess Love snarled. “You’ve been entered more times than the front door Walgreens.”
A week later, the word had spread in the gay community and Chez Gigi was full every night. The overflow crowd spilled outside onto the sidewalk, and many had to stand in long lines, attracting the attention of passing cars. Downtown Lafayette had never seen anything like Chez Gigi and tongues began to wag furiously.
“I heard all those men get naked and have sex with each other,” one tight-lipped woman nattered to her friend as they slowly drove by the bar with their windows rolled up and car doors locked.
“Drive around the block!” her friend said, gawking. “I haven’t seen any naked men yet.”
“Get a grip, Maud,” the tight-lipped woman hissed. “When I get home, I’m calling Pogey Moity. He’ll shut that bar for freaks down!”