Everett Quinton, 71, was a downtown/uptown theater icon, unofficial mayor of the Greenwich Village and one of my dearest friends for more than 35 years. He died from glioblastoma on Monday, January 23.
When I first came to New York and heard about him, and his partner, Charles Ludlum, of Ridiculous Theater fame, I was terrified. Men in drag, performing in basement theaters for predominantly gay audiences. As a closeted gay man, there was nothing more threatening.
A few years later I was performing in a off-Broadway basement in a play about phone sex, called Jerker. Charles and Everett came back stage after the show. They both had fabulous coats draped around their shoulders and were so gracious. Who are these dignified creatures? I was still awed and terrified of them. I never saw Charles again as he died of AIDS soon after. But I did see Everett. I met him when I stopped drinking in 1987. He stopped drinking five years before me and gave me his number. I have called him about any issue, mostly mundane, for more that 35 years.
One of my fondest memories of him is on my first Christmas after I am disowned from my father for being gay. I was not allowed to any family event for more than a decade.
The first Christmas is hard. Everett takes me to Tiffany Diner on Sheridan Square.
The food is sub par, and the dreary place is filled with mostly gay men. It fills me with dread. By the end of our Christmas breakfast I look around at the other gay men and I feel lighter than when I first walk in. These men, like me, are with their families of choice.
Everett was my family. My brother, mentor. He taught me how to live and accept the shame of being queer. He did it through his courage of living his true creative self and not allow his doubts and homophobic self-hatred dominate his life.
Another fond memory is his starring in the Off-Broadway revival of Irma Vep.
The scene is after midnight, Everett walks on stage in a nightgown and a long flowing wig of brown curls. In just the tilt of his head he is the weary countess grieving her beloved. At that moment he is the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.
He is one of the most beautiful men I have ever known. Gutted, but so grateful.