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(to the audience) Feel free to applaud. Oh, go ahead. I enjoy it. You like my outfit? Versace. A far cry from that tacky Spice Girl drag I had to wear on stage. You haven't lived until you've tried to maneuver around a raked stage in radical platform shoes while worrying about your bosoms popping out the top of your costume. But now I am an opera diva. My bosoms don't pop out unless I tell them to.

So. Can everyone hear me? Love this little headset mike. Makes me feel like Madonna. Or a telephone operator. I do hope you're not expecting me to sing. Sorry. They only paid the lecture fee. My singing fee is much higher. Besides, this ... person ... isn't my regular accompanist. I can only sing with someone who knows me, preferably in the Biblical sense. Singing, for me, must come from the groin. You have to feel it ... down there. It is all very well to make pretty noises. But if there is no passione behind it, you might as well be Kiri. But I am not here to deride my colleagues. This is a classroom.

So ... where is our first pupil? Not a cancellation at this level! Oh, surely not. Perhaps just wishing to make an entrance? Or perhaps she is afraid. It is true. I have a reputation. But I don't bite. Well ... only occasionally. For vast amounts of money. They say everyone has his price. Now take what's-his-name here. (to the accompanist) Excuse me ... what IS your name? Oh, it doesn't matter. We will just call you The Accompanist. I could never sleep with you no matter how much you offered.

(to the audience) He doesn't have a look. A look. You know what I mean? No offense, dear. I am sure you are a wonderful accompanist. I am just saying that I would not sleep with you. You aren't Greek, are you? No. I thought not. Who is in charge of these lights? God. Something pink, please! I mean, if you are going to sing in big theatres you must make sure you have a rosy glow! It can hide a multitude of sins. Less than perfect skin can be death to a career. But I am not here to discuss the complexions of my rivals. I have no rivals. Now Angela Gheorghiu, she has lovely skin. She looks like a film star on stage. Unfortunately, she sounds that way too. No, do not applaud. I am not here to bash my colleagues. They do the best they can. Basta.

Well, we are still waiting for this silly little tart to arrive. Let me see what she was to sing for us. Lord. Not that stupid aria from La rondine. If that is her idea of an aria, I am not surprised she didn't have the balls to show up. You must have balls to sing opera. Unless you spcialize in early music, of course. La rondine! The only worse aria I can think of to do at an audition is "Glitter and Be Gay." Especially if you sing it like Renee. No laughter, please. I am not here to jeer at other artists.

While we wait, perhaps this is a good time for one of those flashbacks you are all so fond of. The ones that give the dirt on the diva. Some mood music, please ... I'm sorry ... what is your name? Oh, it doesn't matter. Just play.

Time: 3:15 in the AM. Place: Renato's Boom Boom Room on South Street. I was a hot blonde and it was a cold night. This is my story. I ain't ashamed to tell it. I was hungry and tired and looking for big uncircumcised Greek dick. Or any dick. Any dick other than the little English wanker attached to Rupert, a budding sculptor, my soon-to-be-ex manager and ... sometime lover.

"Bitchy, you are making your debut at Covent Garden in Rossini's Armida. The Royal Family are here. The Queen. The Queen Mother. The Prince of Wales. Elizabeth Hurley."

Please. Please, Rupert? Didn't I tell you that your PA would spoil me for other men? But, NO! You went and had it done anyway! And now I have to go out in front of Elizabeth Hurley and sing the grueling rondo-finale from Rossini's Armida. You don't understand how difficult this music is for a former Spice Girl. You know I must sing from the groin. That is where my center is. But ... I feel empty! How can I hit that high F when I feel empty? Empty! Why, I feel like Carol Channing! You know people are waiting for me to fail.

Mother? Yes, Mother. I know I have no talent. Yes, Mother. I am doing my bust exercises!

"No, Bitchy! Don't worry. You are going out there a former Spice Girl, but you'll come back an opera star. And I promise to shag you within an inch of your life the moment you return to your dressing room."

But, Rupert ... I need it NOW!

"Bitchy, listen to me. I have just completed a sculpture for which Clyde Stryker, the stagehand, graciously consented to pose. I was planning on using it the base for a halogen lamp. Perhaps it will be... of use to you?"

Rupert! Mon dieu! Perhaps you have not spoiled me after all. Is Mr. Stryker Greek? I will sing Armida with Mr. Stryker's sculpture as inspiration! Quick! Get some masking tape!

My music begins. How quickly it all comes back. Sparkle, Bitchy, sparkle! With Mr. Stryker firmly lodged in place, I hobble out onto the stage of Covent Garden and sing my first phrase: "Se al mio crudel tormento." Not a sound from the audience. They are afraid to breathe. I am afraid to walk. Mr. Stryker really IS big. So I plant myself like a latter-day Luciano and perform a careful plie while doing my most difficult runs.

But why would Rupert sculpt a lowly stagehand's wanker when I was available for inspiration? And why would a dark, brooding hunk like Clyde (so that's his name!) Stryker pose for a twit like Rupert in the first place? Could it be Rupert is planning a new career in stagehand manipulation? Maybe those rumours I'd heard of Rupert and the Merchant/Ivory crowd were true!

The audience applauds and I begin the second section of the scena, "Dove son io? Fuggi, fuggi!" Moving slowly around the stage, I feel like I am weaving a spell. It is almost an out of body experience. Thank God for the masking tape!

The audience is mesmerized. The caressing movement of the sculpture plays me like a violin. The slow movement, like foreplay, is finished in a blink of an eye ... On to the allegro! "E ver gode quest' anima." I sing for all I am worth (and, trust me ... I am worth a great deal). Rupert is merely a figment of my imagination. Higher and higher I go. Scales, high notes. I am like a banshee. Somewhere the chorus and the maestro get confused and are not together. But I ride the ensemble (and Mr. Stryker) heading toward that final high F. No one matters. Not my mother, not my prettier sister, not Rupert, not those Spice twats who threw me out of the group. All that matters is Miss Bitchy Spice, Rossini, Armida and the private part of a stagehand. With one last contraction around the girth of the sculpture, I hit the high F at the same moment I reach orgasm. I hold the note for an incredible 30 measures while the audience stares at me in amazement. Some appear to have had orgasms themselves ... or, at the very least, to have soiled themselves.

Slowly I sink to the stage floor. The crowd goes wild. I have won!

But I cannot move. This was by far the most violent orgasm of my career. What I really need is a clove cigarette. Slowly the curtains descend. Rupert rushes to my side.

"Bitchy! Quick! Give me back my sculpture!"

He shoves up my gown and yanks the stagehand's wanker from its resting place. And ... once again ... I feel empty. I can barely speak. Rupert, why?

"Yes, it is time you learned the truth, Bitchy. You are a wanker buster. You have always said my center was anal. Well ... it actually IS. I, Bitchy, am a poofster. And I am leaving you for Clyde Stryker, the stagehand."

I collapse on a pile of sets left over from a production of Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher that starred Maria Ewing. But I am not here to razz my colleagues. I open my mouth and scream: "I don’t need anyone! Bitchy! Bitchy Spice! Bitchy! Bitchy Spice!" I have just made love to thousands of people but I will be going home alone. Unless I meet someone at the bus stop.

(to the audience) We will take a break now. You ... yes, you. Whatever you name is. Play something. You wouldn't happen to have a clove cigarette, would you? No? I thought not.

I need a drink.


Bitchy Class, Act Two