I'm not an Opera Queen.

Oh, I'm gay, all right, and of course I love opera, but that's not nearly enough to qualify. A real Queen worships a diva, and I do mean that literally: a Queen waits on line for hours to buy standing room for every performance and then he waits outside the stage door in a blizzard afterward to exchange a few words with -- her. He collects every tape, every review, every clipping. He follows her to the most unlikely locations the world over, where there is literally nothing to do but sit in a cheap hotel room until it's time for the performance, and he calls that his vacation. He gets sucked into violent arguments-- I mean with fists flying-- about that woman up there on the stage.

He performs acts of Divadienst like making a special trip to a record store to ask for his favorite singer's CD - and if if's not in stock he talks the manager into ordering a dozen (he has the serial number memorized). He spends the whole night on the web or on the phone describing the evening's performance to other Opera Queens in Santa Fe or in Barcelona, even though they all may have to trudge in to their respective wretched pointless jobs in just a few hours. But he's happy, perfectly happy, because he believes with an almost religious devotion.

I have never heard the call. I am sorry to say I never seen a perfect performance, though I will admit there are a few artists who have inspired in me truly something like unalloyed fanatical demented, all right -- Queenlike-- admiration: Renata Scotto was one, when she was at her best. Gwyneth Jones, Leonie Rysanek - maybe a few more. A real opera queen is at the opera house as often as Lois Kirschenbaum, and he's not just there listening quietly-he's throwing flowers and making pirate tapes and sitting up all night drinking diner coffee and arguing over the 2002-2003 season-oh, you know, the whole Secret Seven thing.

Guys, I enjoy doing all this stuff on occasion (maybe once every couple of months), but that's not enough to qualify. I mean, I don't go to the opera but maybe once every couple of weeks (and even then I leave before the last act every now and then), or occasionally when there's a week of unmissable events I may go three times in a week. But then it takes me a month to recover.

I would be hard-pressed to find a single autographed photo among my things, and there are huge gaps in my CD collection: as far as I can recall, I don't even own a single recording of Trovatore. Can you imagine? Anyway, the point is, I just can't take the whole opera thang that seriously -- and that goes double for the zine, croce e delizia though it may be! I understand that parterre box is a joke, and knowing it's a joke sustains whatever tenuous grasp I have on reality.

I wish I were an Opera Queen, but, you see, I just don't measure up.