Topher Cusumano

Writer | Performer

PLAY WRITING SAMPLES 

KNOWN FOR MY SINGING  

The Lady & Bo don’t get along. The Lady never stops singing, and Bo hasn’t taken off that dress in years, however today all of that is going to change. Bo’s leaving, for the first time in god knows how long. He has a date with the man of his dreams, and nothing The Lady can say or do is going to stop him.

 

 

OLD TIME JAZZ: A Poetry Play 

[OLD TIME JAZZ was first produced as a segment of FORBIDDEN KISS, a monthly erotic performance art showcase produced by Stage Left Studio. The piece stared drama desk nominated actor, Frank Blocker as "Man."] 

Man and boy sit facing the audience. They’re luxuriously viewed in black and white like an old movie, faded into a sullen blue/gray/silver—parts of them blend into the background from age—or lack thereof.

boy. It was one thirty and I was already coming down. That’s what cheap blow gets ya, but at least I wasn’t facedown in a public bathroom yet. It was early. Ended up in an out-of-the-way bar that seemed gay enough to land a few drinks—maybe a joint—a coupla bucks. Spotted a trick who was alone. He was sitting at a table instead of the bar, so I could tell he was the classy type. Would wanna show a young thing like me a good time. Sell him shit about being new to the city. A runaway. The classy type eat that shit up.

man. I was sitting at a table by myself. Sex was the furthest thing from my mind. I’m an old cliché—I like to watch. There was a couple sitting by the pool table the whole night pretending to be in love. Or at least it seemed like they were pretending. They kept laughing, and holding onto each other’s sides as if the floor might cave in at any second. The blonde kept making eyes at me—I gave them a week.

boy. I sidled over to him, like I had made a mistake—like maybe I needed directions or something. I sat myself down like I owned the joint—touched his thigh—when he jerked away I knew I was in the right spot.

man. The kid was brazen—too full of himself considering he wasn’t that good looking. He had that unwashed air about him you find in street kids and men in fraternity pornos. Kept saying he was thirsty. Bought him a drink just to shut him up. I wasn’t in the mood.

boy. He wasn’t in the mood, and his eyes kept drifting over to this jacked up blonde with his hand down some dude’s pants. I had to keep his interest. Offered him a blow job—he laughed and said

They face each other.

man. Boy, I could teach you a few things about—

boy. –what’s that mister?

man. Boy, I could teach you a few things-

boy. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, huh?

man. I’ve been known to say that myself.

boy. Then I’ll say it again. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, huh?

man. No sir, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Homegrown bodies—home fed—mother’s favorite—raised up on hot meals and daddy’ belt. Got to the city with five dollars and a black eye—sucked dick from penn station down to the Village—

boy. It’s a living.

man. Man.

boy. Sweat.

man. Man.

boy. Arms.

man. Man.

boy. Lips.

man. No one talked after. Or during. We didn’t call attention to ourselves. Had to blend. Nobody named names, or told tales. We knew better. Boy, I could teach you a few things.

boy. He kept going on about the old days. About bathhouses and the hanky code. He told me how he accidentally fingered Bette Midler at a birthday party. It didn’t matter if he was lying—like any history, we only remember the stuff we want too.

man. The kid wasn’t taking the hint, and between the cracks of my annoyance I couldn’t help but see a small part of me in him. The way he kept insisting–

boy. Take me home with you tonight.

man. I’d wake up broke and handcuffed to the bed.

boy. This isn’t about the hustle.

man. Listen, you’re playing me at a game I invented. It’s always about the hustle.

boy. What if we’re soulmates?

man. No such thing.

boy. Ain’t you ever been in love mister?

man. Winter, 1978. You could still see the bloodstains from Stonewall on the sidewalks, and no matter what you read in the textbooks, people hadn’t moved on. I met him when I was twenty-five—already convinced myself I was an old queen—I had no idea. He was only seventeen and I took him back to my loft for some food and a shower. He ended up staying twelve years.

boy. boy.

man. Sweat.

boy. boy.

man. Arms.

boy. boy.

man. Lips. It was that winter, during a transit strike that we walked thirty-three blocks from the park to my apartment. Halfway there it started to snow. He grabbed my hand, and held on. I kept saying “Someone’s going to see” and he said “Let them see. I want them to see.” For a split second this kid reminds me of him. And I knew that look in his eye, that look that said I’ve seen this story play out in hundreds of old movies, filmed in luxurious black and white. And all I wanted to tell him was that they wrote those movies about me.

Silence.

man. No. I’ve never been in love, kid.

boy. Take me home with you tonight and we’ll fall in love.

The man laughs like Rock Hudson.

boy. Don’t laugh.

man. Boy I could teach you a few things about—

boy. Take me home with you, and we’ll fall in love. And we’ll play jazz records and we’ll slow dance around your living room. I’ll rub your back when you come home from work, and you’ll tell me how you never knew something so amazing could be real. And I’ll never hurt you—unless it’s completely necessary.

man. He reminded me a lot of myself.

boy. Take me home with you, and we’ll fall in love. You could cook me hot meals. And I’ll never talk after. I won’t name names or tell tales. And when we go out, people will stare at us—and you’ll be embarrassed to introduce me to your friends, so you never will. But you’ll come home, where we could be in love.  You’ll sing me jazz (man starts to hum, then sing) and I’ll dance for you, even though I’m a terrible dancer.

Man. How much would this little fairytale cost me?

Boy. This isn’t about money. But everything has a price.

Man. More then I got.

Boy. Try me.

Man. I’d rather not.

Boy. I knew when I was beat. I couldn’t tell if I was drunk, or if the old guy was getting to me. It could have been the blow, but I doubt it.

Man. He reminded me so much of myself.

They kiss. In luxurious black and white.