Missing Persons

The frumpy girl with dirty-blond hair sat in the back of the taxi. He legs were too short, her face not remarkable enough. Not remarkable enough to be the lead singer in a rock and roll band. Not enough to be the canary for Missing Persons. But that’s what she was. She looked in her small make-up compact and evaluated herself as soon as the mirror flipped open. Inside on top was the obvious pink powder she kept for the shine on her nose. Under that was the hidden layer of white powder for the courage she needed to face the audience. She took a bit of both, one with her puff, the other with her silver spoon. Then she looked in the mirror at her nose, both to check for shine on top, and for powder marks on the bottom. There was neither. It was such a pretty nose. Too bad it was the only part of her she liked.

“I just don’t got “it,” she thought, “Whatever “it” is, I just don’t got it.”

She closed the compact, adjusted all three scarves tied around her neck, the blue one first, the pink one second, the yellow last because it was on top. When they pulled up at the Roxy she got out, and walked into the alleyway to find the back stage-door entrance. She had a gig tonight.

A dark-haired girl about seven was playing with a ball in a square of light provided by an open kitchen door a few yards away. Her dress was tattered, her shoes in threads. She looked to Dale to be Haitian.

“A poor kid,” she thought, and motioned her nearer.

The child obeyed.

“Here, Honey,” she said, taking off the yellow scarf. She wrapped it gently around the girl’s neck. Her brown eyes brightened immediately.

Then she walked into the stage-entrance door and disappeared.

The Haitian girl caressed the yellow scarf. How could she thank the nice lady? She put the ball down on the pavement and returned to the kitchen door and went inside closing it after her.
Her mother wasn’t home, so that was perfect. She would never allow her to do such things even when she was there. She opened the drawer, and got out a candle. Then she looked for some aluminum foil and string. Finding them, she now searched for her crayolas. Then she got some scissors and cut a bit of string from a cotton mop her mother used to clean the floor. She laid everything out on the kitchen table. Now she was ready.

Inside the Roxy they were having an argument. The band didn’t have enough room to dress in. Dale needed a separate space. The rest were guys, so she needed some privacy. Finally it was arranged by putting a rope from a pillar to the wall, and hanging a blanket from it, giving her a kind of screen.

“A girl’s got to have some privacy when she gets ready!” she had screamed, so they gave her her way. Besides, this was the eighties. The guys all wanted to use her mascara and her hairspray. It completed their eighties look. The drummer would have given her her way anyway; he had many times before. He was in love with her. She got her way, the screaming stopped, and all was forgiven.

In the kitchen the Haitian girl started carving the candle with a knife. This was her first time. She needed a model to copy, so she grabbed her Barbie nearby. It had no clothes on.

“But that’s alright,” she said to herself, ‘I’ll make my own.”

So the legs, exceptionally long, got carved first. Then the boobs.

“I’ll make ‘em just right,” she said.

She continued until she got up to the hair. Her Barbie was bald.

“But that’s O.K.” she said, “I can always make hair.”

Back at the Roxy, the guys were pleading for hairspray.

“Come on Dale, we haven’t got all night.”

A hand appeared near the curtain holding the hairspray can.

Then it was, “Dale, can we borrow your mascara?”

The answer came back, “When will you guys ever get your own?”

But she handed it, along with her eye liner, from behind the curtain anyway.

“Here,” she said.

In the kitchen the girl thought the mop string would never do for hair.

“It’s bleached white from the Clorox,” she said to the doll, “But don’t worry, I can fix that.”

She picked up a blue, then a pink crayon and crushed them into the hair with her foot, putting pink on one side, blue on the other.

“There,’ she said.

Then she took a piece of pink crayon that was left and twisted some on both of the doll’s cheeks for rouge.

“Almost done now.”

She took scissors and cut out pieces of aluminum foil and pieced them together with string. Now she would have an aluminum-foil-string-bikini.

“Only one thing left to do,” she announced to the doll proudly.

In the Roxy the stage hand came to the door of the dressing room and announced,

“Five minutes!”

“Five minutes!” the guys told Dale.

Her voice came from behind the curtain.

“You know,’ she said, “I hope there’s a big crowd. It’s been pretty slack. If we can’t bring ‘em in any longer, I’m ready to quit.”
“Don’t say that honey,” said the drummer, “they just want something different, that’s all. We just haven’t found it yet.”

“Maybe this is it,” she announced, and drew the curtain aside.

In the kitchen the Haitian girl was putting the yellow scarf around the neck of the doll.

“To make a good voodoo doll, you always need something of theirs, something personal,” she said, “Mama taught me that.”

She walked over to the stove and turned on the fire.

In the Roxy when they walked on stage, the drummer said, “What shall we give them, Dale?”

“Let’s do Words, then we’ll give ‘em Destination Unknown.”

Cyndi Lauper wasn’t there. But Dale had her effect on her. Lady Gaga wasn’t either. Lady would have to wait twenty years to go Gaga under Dale’s influence, but she would. She knew a good thing when she saw it. But Gwen Stefani, when she was thirteen, was right there, sitting in the seventh row, and here is what she saw:

A girl of exceptional beauty, long legs of perfect proportion, a shiny abbreviated costume she’d designed herself, bleached blond hair, part pink, part blue, with cheeks stained by all the rouge money could buy, belting out a song with a voice nobody had heard since the nineteen-thirties. No matter when they saw her performance, her image became fixed in their brains. They liked what they saw, and a girl remembers what she likes.
Dale Bozzio was the original two-in-one girl. In one woman she combined the two most popular icons of American sex. She had the look of Marilyn Monroe, and the voice of Betty Boop. Two- in- One.

Cyndi took note of the Betty Boop squeak and squeal in her voice. Gwen noticed her bleached blond hair and her idiosyncratic movements, quick movements, like the way you’d pull back from a flame. She’d save these for No Doubt. Lady Gaga couldn’t help but notice her unique costume. She definitely picked up on that and would file it for future reference, when it was her turn in the spotlight.

In the kitchen the girl was finished holding the voodoo doll over the flame.

At the Roxy, when Missing Persons finished their numbers, the drummer told Dale,

“Finally, they were going wild. Honey, you were hot.”

“Yeah,” she answered out of breath, “I felt like I was on fire.”

They were going to take a cab home as usual, but when they all added it up they didn’t have the money.

“We’ll have to walk, “said the drummer.

“Walkin’ in L.A.?” Dale Bozzio answered, “Nobody walks in L.A.”

They went outside and found a cab waiting. After explaining they were broke, the cab driver began to turn away. Dale started to poke around in her purse. Then he gave her another look and started reevaluating her perfect Barbie legs.

“Hop in Lady,” he said with a leer, “I’ve got it.”

Her eyes were in the purse. She was reaching for her compact out of habit. He thought she’d found the fare but that wasn’t it. She was self-absorbed. She’d found something else, something more valuable than the fare, something about herself. She clutched the compact in her hand, but instead of raising it to her face as usual, she tossed it in a nearby trash can sitting on the curb. She’d never need it again. Then she hopped in.

“No,” Dale said, smiling back to the driver, “I’ve got “it”. I guess I’ve had “it” all along.


https://youtu.be/g1pahozFjK0 Destination Unknown