June 20 2003. "Citizen Keller"


* June 20th, 2003: The Gallery Cabaret (Graduation party for Jordan Keller)

Invitation follows:


Citizens, WE SEE YOU! Ye, drunk with the summer sun and sweet squeezings of lemon; we see that you have grown WEAK for want of THEATRICAL STIMULATION! And yet back from that fat and feeble edge we will bring you! We! The Better Boyfriends! Who:

(Located at 2020 North Oakley, one block northeast of the corner of Western and Armitage)

will perform the strangest and most sensational shit ever seen…by anyone! Anywhere! EVER!

Could it be? This very Friday? Yes, it COULD be! And it WILL BE!

(Those somewhat younger may have to put up the good fight, but this is one battle worth winning, we large-heartedly assure you!)

Though some wiseacres may try to put a silly cover-charge over on you, it will be so absurdly small you will be shaken from head to slipper with calamitous spasms of jolly laughter!

(Full directions, bizarre images from the 2003 Spring Formal, shudder-inducing medical photographs of Jon's recent bear attack, and 10%-off coupons redeemable at Sir Wacks-A-Lot's Funtasy Pavilion and Adult Booze Garden are all available at www.betterboyfriends.com!)

You will be worth more dead than alive if you let this opportunity slip through your congenitally webbed fingers, my wine-weathered friend!

Why, you might inquire coyly, does this promise to be such a once-in-one's lifetime occasion? Well, you smug, sick-making weirdo, I'll tell you. The robots have risen…AGAINST US! Yes, at the most inconvenient moment we could have imagined, THE MACHINE which The Better Boyfriends have wisely served for nearly TWO THOUSAND YEARS went straight into the shit, taking with it all the millionfold powers with which these spellbinding geniuses once produced their appalling masterworks.

What does this mean TO YOU, exactly?

This means that their ability to pre-record peels of well-metered hilarity got rotted away at the core, leaving them bereft of every trick they had been accustomed to employ in order to distance themselves from their audience- that familiar mountain of strategically executed sound, music, and voice- ALL MELTED NOW INTO SCRAP!


Bound by a Faustian edict to perform regardless, your proud, toiling super-somethings will do what they never dared think possible- present to you, trembling viewer, their own selves, LIVE! Yes! All voices will be seen rising from the very flesh-troughs out of which they originated- IN REAL-TIME, AND COMPLETELY INTACT, and almost wholly unadorned!

Watch as Jon, Peter, and Erik Burns, through split-second transformations, become the characters who before were only SUGGESTED by sudden changes in the atmosphere of their all-holy and ever-living backing-tracks! Watch the performers drink emphatically draft after horrible draft of warm, insulting beer as their terror at the possibility of being called out as charlatans and imposters RISES!

Ever wonder who actually emits all those ridiculous voices? Now is your chance to find out! Ever wonder what it would be like to call someone a charlatan? Now you can know for sure!

And it's all wrapped around a concept we've entitled 'Citizen Keller!', a special tribute to legendary Chicago underground theater personality Jordan Robert Keller, on the occasion of his graduation from finishing school!

See Peter fall in love with a Rug Doctor!
See the hideous consequences of Jon's cage-match with grizzlies that were talking smack about his MAMA!
Watch as Erik Burns brings his companions up on time-worn, Confederate-era sodomy charges!

And thrill to the joymaking of special guests The Abe Zipperman Orchestra, who will be performing the piece that brought down the house at Ye Olde Towne Skool of Fuck, THE COLORS OF TERROR!


This will be your last chance to see The Better Boyfriends before they disembark on their summer 2003 'Billy Bleeds!' Tour in support of their upcoming third release, 'Blackasaurus!' The 2002-2003 season is ending, folks, and this is its final performance: Next, year, multi-mediocrity!

Live the moment when you'll turn to the unconscious or possibly dead superfan next to you and say, 'These guys sure do flatter those suits!'

Here are some fun and informative websites you should become familiar with before attempting to take on what we have got to give you:

First one hundred punk-ass suckaz through the door will receive a well-intentioned sock on the chops by Jordan Keller himself!

Your gift to you every day of your life,
Drs. J. Benehoutsos Praetorious Octavius Ambrosius & P. Grooteclau$ Mindbender
Juju Noonglow, woofer and wimper

Logbook Entry

Possibly the most disgustipating debacle ever engineered by (or, for that matter, to befall) The Boyfriends, this bleeding, kicking failure was initially conceived as a graduation present for Jordan Keller, a colleague of Peter's at Columbia College Sorrow House and Bitch Farm, who had hatched the plan of hosting his graduation party at ye olde Boyfriends haunt The Gallery Cabaret. Accordingly, the script spinning out of control below was pieced together as a jolly send-up of this figure of some significance in Chicago-area independent theater, employing at its core the well-known structure of that old chest-nut, Citizen Kane. The full nutchest of good intentions, however, was the only good thing in what follows. Precisely five days before the event itself, at the moment when The Boyfriends gathered themselves together to record the finalized script in preparation for production, the PC (piece of crap!) necessary for the process went totally horrorshow on their quickly puckering asses, leaving only three open options: try to repair the machine over the course of the following few days, and risk forcing a shabby, soft-boiled version of the show to be ground out in the remaining time- unacceptable- cancel the show altogether- unthinkable- or the unconceivable: actually perform the show live, scripts in hand, with Peter processing the musical cues manually, with the aid of his IPod- thusly allowing the audience an unprecedented keyhole-peek into the process through which most of the shows by this enduring (grueling) group come about. This final option, first regarded with no shortage of horror, soon seemed the only possible way out of the dilemma, and- as the few days left passed- became, in all actuality, a cause for great excitement among the performers. They imagined that humanizing the process would place a fine, fresh face upon that which had become almost automatic, and- perhaps- against all odds- they wondered if they would realize all they'd been missing out on by not presenting themselves live the whole bloody time. No fear of this, however! Instead, a series of dread realizations came in quick succession, and far, far too late (bitterly ironic, given that this show was preceded by more rehearsal man-hours than any other show ever had enjoyed). Firstly! The mechanical problems involved in negotiating a script, a microphone, and props, and- for Peter as well- an IPod; not to mention the difficulty in mastering the lag between tracks on the device, resulting in frequent, grating gaps in the normally airtight sound-design. Secondly!, trouble with the sound system itself. The nightmare of mixing a single audio track was compounded unimaginably by the need to maneuver feeds from three microphone plus the IPod- a problem that remained unsolved throughout the performance, punctuated by hateful feedback playing grab-ass with the performers, and softened only by the valiant, but ultimately futile, on-the-fly work of gallant Michael Cassady (who took control of the controls RAF-style- with feeling). Thirdly, and probably most importantly, a stark absence of Boyfriends regulars- an exception being the omnipresent Auduny, whose normally rousing exclamations of "You suck!", "Get off the stage!", and "Play some fucking music!" became devastatingly inappropriate (by which I mean, wholly appropriate) in context- leaving in its place a roomful of strangers who not only hated The Boyfriends, but hated them in a compound-interest sort of fashion; the ultimate injury arriving when the absurd bearded buffoon who was somehow in charge persuaded Jon to bring the wretchedness to an end before the final- and, let me tell you, very funny- scene. To add salt-stick lashings to already irritated wounds, Jordan Keller, the man of the hour itself, was convincingly present in giant, drunken body, but absolutely absent in spirit- one would be hard-pressed to convince oneself that Keller was even able to recall, the next day, the substantial amount of time he spent on stage, at The Boyfriends' bequest. (Following Keller's calling to the stage, Michael, from the wings, gasps and whispers, 'He exists?!') His clear and dangerous lack of enthusiasm made the performers' tough but loving roast of him seem like the worst sort of insult, deviously detailed and wholly unrelenting, and- in fact- culled in large part from the four high school yearbooks (from Wisconsin fucking Dells High, no fucking less!) provided weeks before by Keller. The post-show drinking, it should go without saying, took on a green-beret-style focus unpleasantly detached from any sense of celebration. The script, as it survives- great portions of which were rehashed and improved for inclusion in The Great Scotch Race- cannot be here married with the musical cues used by Peter, as no proper backing track exists to guide one with regards to the other. Therefore, I shall list the musical cues first, simply for the archivists, and follow with the shooting script- which will then be shot, and dumped into the East River. It should be noted, as well, that the voice of Jordan Keller- originally intended to be a booming disembodied specter, vaguely attached to a mounted photograph of the man- was play-acted in the end by Peter, holding up a mask to which said blown-up photograph was attached. This made for some passing amusement during those sequences in which one character, as played by Peter, was engaged in dialogue with the Keller character itself. But too passing. Or perhaps not passing enough.
The musical cues:
Theme from My Three Sons * Blue Skies (Les Baxter) * Theme from Dick Tracy (Danny Elfman) * Introduction (from Bryter Layter) (Nick Drake) * Washington Post March (John Sousa) * Clementine (Duke Ellington) * Idiot's Prayer (Nick Cave) * Roll the Bones (Rush) * Untitled #3 (Sigur Ros) * Things That Make You Go Hmmm… (C + C Music Factory) * An Oscar for Treadwell (Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie) * I Won't Last a Day Without You (The Carpenters) * Bei Mire Bist Du Sch'n (Benny Goodman) * Wildside (Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch) * Breaking Up is Breaking My Heart (Roy Orbison) * How Does It Feel To Feel? (The Creation) * Orange Skies (Love) * Theme from Hook (John Williams) * She's Gone (Hall and Oates) * Kaleidoscopic Gaze (Stereolab) * Christmas Time is Here (Vince Guaraldi) * Appalachian Lullaby (J. Aaron Brown) * Jalousie (Esquivel) * Tiger Rag (Bix Beiderbecke) * Jesu, Joy of Men's Desiring (Mormon Chubby-Knuckle Choir) * Easy Money (King Crimson) * Theme from The Benny Hill Show * People Make The World Go Round (Ramsey Lewis) * Danny Boy (Eric Clapton) * Clarinet Polka Yodel (Mary Schneider) * Springsville (Miles Davis, Gil Evans) * Sepia Panorama (Duke Ellington) * Theme from I Love Lucy

Citizen Keller: Script for the Gallery Cabaret, June 20th, 2003

Scene I

The group had originally thought it would be fun to make use of the humiliating bicycle accident that temporarily turned Jon into a marvel and a monster, by having him rush into the show, late, wrapped from the tip of his pointed little head to the scruff of his neck in medical bandages, which would only be removed gradually as the show unrolled. In keeping with the barrage of misfortunes marking this show, however, Jon's wounds were healed up too well to be well visible from the audience in the dim lighting of the Cabaret by that Friday night, and so it was decided instead that his late arrival would remain unexplained, though pimped up to include him being totally absent from the venue until Peter, on the verge of announcing the show would have to be cancelled in his deficiency, calling him from center-stage on his cell phone. Jon, waiting in the apartment next door, rushes in then with a briefcase handcuffed to his right wrist, which he opens and out of which he distributes the scripts which he had "just finished". Grudgingly- presciently grudgingly, it would seem- Peter and Erik agree to go on with the show, even under the glowering eye of these highly unorthodox methods.

P: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome, once again, to the show you are watching now. Perhaps the keenest among you have noticed a little extra excitement around the theater tonight- maybe you've noticed that our cheeks are a little rosier, our hose a little cozier, our songs a little Holland Holland Dozier- and there's a powerful good reason for it, let me assure you! For the first time ever, you see, The Better Boyfriends, who you, up until now, have known only as the singing, swinging, swashbuckling progenitors and purveyors of extreme, gladiator-style meta-disco theater, will tonight present a fully orchestrated multimedia spectacular.

J: (From off-stage) Pssst! Pete! Peter! Peter!

P: (Chuckling) Yes, your disengaged wad will ricochet wildly through the June atmosphere as…Jon? What is it, man? Can't you see I'm presenting?

J: Yes, I can see you're presenting, but this is very important…

P: It can wait! Listen, Jon, don't even make me pregnant with rage- you know how my lusty blood boils!

E: (From the audience) Hey! Ginger snaps! If you and your girlfriend Nancy here are done shooting the breeze, maybe you wouldn't mind keeping it down! I'm showing some undergraduates the grounds, if you catch my meaning! Thank you!

J: Where the hell did Erik find undergraduates?

P: Your school?

J: The University of Chicago? Oh, hell no. Way too many skorts and tennies.

P: Well, it certainly couldn't have been Columbia…far too much riffraff…

(Both come to the same realization at once)

J/P: State school girls! V.D. machines!

E: I told you quiet!

(Hissing at each other)

J: You ain't all that!

P: You ain't all that!

J: You are!

P: Your mom is!

J: Your…mom…is…

P: Just go!

J: All right, but you are not going to like it..!

P: Anyway. As I was about to…

J: (Off-stage) I'm just saying!

(Peter pauses, tosses blunted projectile off-stage)

J: (Off-stage) Oh! My zone!

P: Hmph! Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to be with you on this occasion without equal, during which The Better Boyfriends will be enabled to unveil to you our newest invention, the ripest and most mindslaughtering exhibition ever to be committed within the walls of this historic Chicago amphitheatre, a raging, three-ringed edition of H.P. Lovecraft's haunting masterstroke At The Mountains of Madness, a rare, dear marriage of film, dance, and acrobatics, complete with a laser-light show engineered to the sounds of The London Symphony Orchestra playing Pink Floyd's The Wall; Jon, if you please, throw open the fantastics!

(Jon struggles onto the stage, grunting, lugging an overhead projector- actually a microwave)

P: What in the fuck is this?

J: It's an overhead pro-

P: I can see that it's a microwave! What I mean is, where're the lasers? Where're the bare-headed Turks on the thousand white elephants? Where's my masterpiece?

J: I tried to tell you, but you just wouldn't listen!

P: You…asshole! All my work…ruined!

(Peter breaks into tears, flings himself around Jon's neck and chest. While beating himself there and wailing, his hand gradually makes its way to Jon's ass.)

J: Oh, there…it's all right…I guess…it's…wait a minute…okay, now!

P: Well, what happened to our funding?

J: Believe it or not, it turns out the Federal Arts Project was shut down fifty years ago.

P: Impossible! The next thing you'll be telling me is that the United Nations is nothing but a farce! Dammit! Now we'll never be able to stage our voodoo rendering of Noel Coward's Cavalvade. I'll have to call our people in Harlem…

J: Yes, it seems the Rumbly Grahams and Kool-Aid and booze from the prom put us back in the red.

P: Blast! I knew we should have just given them gasoline!

J: So the best I could come up with on such short notice was this cool transparency machine.

P: Double-blast! How will we ever realize At The Mountains of Madness with this infernal contraption?

J: Well, I'll tell you, I managed at least to scare up a copy of this.
(Jon removes a videotape- Schoolgirl Killer- from the microwave's central bay and hands it to Peter)

P: Hmm. What is it?

J: Oh, but the things I did to get it.

P: Say, wait a minute…

J: I'll never be clean again.

P: H.P. Loveshaft! Leave me, Satan!

J: Loveshaft? Aw, damn! I done been railroaded!

P: I suppose there's nothing to be done but to make do with what we've got here. Say- what's this?

(Peter removes four yearbooks strategically left in the microwave)

J: I don't know, I guess it must have come with the machine.

P: Why, this is amazing! There's most of a man's life on these slides!

J: Who was he, Peter? Oh, tell me true!

(Peter stares in astonishment at Jon's feyness; moves yearbooks away)

P: Oh, I don't know…

J: Well, what the hell else are we going to do for forty-five minutes?

P: You state a strong case, my womanly companion. The show, after all, must go on…and on…and on…and on…

(Erik enters)

J/P/E/: Hereby, The Better Boyfriends are proud to present…

P: Citizen Keller!

J/P/E: (Whispering, faces hidden) Panties! Panties! Panties!

(Peter holds up a mask of Jordan in which the eyes have been comically X'd over.)

Jordan Keller, played here and hereafter by Peter: Aaah! I'm totally dead now!

Richard Burton, also played here and hereafter by Peter: Now am I dead / Now am I fled / My soul is in the sky / Tongue, lose thy light / Moon, take thy flight / Now, die, die, die, die, die.

VO, Erik: News…on the march! Jordan Robert Keller…irrepressibly dead! In Wisconsin Dells did Tommy Bartlett a stately pleasure dome decree…and today at Robot World and Exploratory was held the strange funeral of its latest lord and master, the late Jordan Robert Keller, whose lifeless corpse was permanently installed in a special hands-on exhibit, 'Death Rattle and Roll'.

Child's voice, Jon: (Sounding something squishy being handled) Death feels fucked!

Benevolent educator's voice, Peter: Ho, ho, ho! Yes, there's nothing quite like the grim touch of the grave to suck all the warmth right out of you!

VO, Erik: A potent figure of our time, America's own Kubla Khan, Jordan Robert Keller was loved by millions- and hated by as many more! From his humble beginnings in the beaver-stocked swamps of Wisconsin to his eventual domination over the sensational Dells themselves- the largest monument man has built to himself since the pharaohs- Keller fashioned an empire upon an empire…and yet no amount of worldly riches could succeed in bribing away the fate which awaits all men. Death came to Jordan R. Keller, a gust through the sealed gates of the mammoth compound where he spent the last years of his life in complete solitude. The exact measure of his wealth at the time of his demise…no man can say! News…on the march!

Scene II

(Peter and Erik affect the sound of loose film flapping; Peter is then seen engaging Erik while Jon is seen sweeping)

Voice: Should I run it again?

P: No, no, not yet! I'll let you know if we need it again.

E: What'd ya think of it, Chief?

P: Not bad, not bad- but it's missing something! Something…like…an angle! Yeah! It's not enough to tell the people what a man did, you know, you've got to tell them what he was! Listen- do you remember what Keller's last words were?

E: They were…they were…(snapping fingers) It was panties!

P: Panties! How extremely unsettling! What could that possibly mean?

E: Gee, Chief, I don't know. Maybe it was something he lost!

P: Of course! The man lost his panties! That's brilliant! That's our angle!

(At word 'angle', in his excitement, Peter throws up his fist, upper-cutting Erik. Erik falls; Peter fails to notice)

J: Santa Maria! (Rushes over to Erik)

P: I can see it now: 'For want of a good pair of panties- Keller, that feller who fell…'

J: This man is dead!

P: Of course!

J: Either that, or my watch has stopped.

P: Dead man loses panties! Now that's Judge Judy Justice!

(Jon stands; Peter, not noticing he's switched men, grabs him [Jon] by the shoulders and continues speaking)

P: You've got to find out about those panties!

J: Whose panties?

P: I don't know! Who is panties? You must find it out, man, and find out what she meant to Keller!

J: Hey, listen, now, I just came to empty the ashtrays…

P: Yes! Empty every ashtray in the city if you have to, but find me panties! Track down everyone who knew Keller and badger them until they're blue in the face!

J: Mister, I think you've got the wrong guy-

P: Find everyone who's even heard of Keller, break down their doors, go through their trash, whatever it takes…just find me panties!

J: All right, man, but I'm not making you any promises.

(Peter grabs Jon around the shoulders, looking to the horizon, makes a gesture)

P: Can you smell it?

(Jon, cautiously, moves his nose to Peter's extended fingers)

P: That's the smell of truth…fever!

J: Oh, thank god.

P: Now go, you, like a terrible bullet!

J: Um, okay. Bye. (Exits)

P: Ha ha! Panties!

Scene III

(Peter is in schoolmaster's garb; Erik, with goatee (his actual goatee, shaved many months earlier, and until this night stored in a plastic baggie on The Boyfriends' apartment wall), stands in the corner looking tough. Jon has bookstrap, books, and onion. He shines the onion with a swiftness and hands it to Pete, who takes a bite, chews it meditatively, and then spits it at Jon's chest)

P: Jon, this is the third day in a row that you've been late for homeschool. How do you ever expect to impress MENSA living like this- running around like a joyboy, no respect for the clock?

J: Aw, damn, y'all! I hate homeschool!

P: Gasp! Curb your filthy tongue! You have no idea what I've given up to give you this opportunity! But if you insist on testing my patience, I will send you back to public school so fast it will make your ears water!

J: You wouldn't!

P: Oh, I wouldn't, wouldn't I..? Standing there, with your brash talk, your hands full of fingers, your head full of syph- you'll be lucky if you can make it into the College of Hamburger Knowledge when I'm through with you, little mister!

J: Aw, but it totally sucks here! The other kids treat me like a gypsy!

P: What other kids?

J: You know, like that guy who hangs out in the kitchen! Look at that sinister bastard! Look at how menacing he is!

(Jon and Peter turn to Erik, who makes several suggestive gestures)

P: Pish posh, Jon! That's just Erik Burns' evil identical twin brother, Decepticon!

J: That's Erik's evil twin?

P: Sure! See, he's got a goatee and everything.

J: Huh! How about that.

P: Maybe if you even tried to make friends with him you wouldn't have such a hard time.

J: But he makes me eat sand!

P: Oh, Jon, I think you're the one who's making him eat sand…in here. (Indicates heart) Now run along and do your tapes before I beat the tar out of you.

J: Oh, I am so doomed.

P: I'll just be in my workshop if you need me.

(Jon goes over by Erik, who immediately begins to push and poke him menacingly)

VO, Peter: Ille quidem obsequitur…'the meatball is a shape-shifter'.

P: (From position on other side of stage, contemplating videotape) 'H.P. Loveshaft', eh? Pretty nice…pretty nice!

VO, Peter: Utque leves stipulae demptis…'I am distended with pleasure'.

(Porn music begins to play)

Female voice, Jon: Gosh, Wally, I don't know how we'll ever make it through a whole night in old Dr. Nemesis's spooky castle!

Male voice, Erik: Hey, baby, not to worry…I'll keep you safe with my special forcefield of red hot fuck!

FV: How does it work?

MV: Just push this giant purple button!

FV: But it's so big! Where do I begin?

P: (From underneath blanket) Push it…push it..!

MV: Have you ever heard of the Colorado lode?

FV: I think I'm about to!

P: The Colorado lode? Oh, sweet Jesus..!

VO, Peter: Videt igne micantes sideribus similes oculos…'I'll take the wastrel with the facefull, please'.

J: Goddammit. Goddammit, would you quit it? Just stop. Just stop, would you? Oh, I am so totally over this. Pete! Peter!

P: What! What! Nothing! What! I was just…shaving.

(Peter clicks off television, uncovers himself- he is outfitted under his trousers with a vacuum cleaner utensil, predictably placed)

J: Yeah. Well. I'm through with it, Peter. I've got bigger fish to fly, I'd like to have you realize! I've been sent on a very special secret mission to uncover the shocking truth behind Jordan Keller's unprecedented descent into madness. How you like them apples, huh?

P: They are dry and bitter to me, Jon, like all fantastic fruits of men's passion. But if you must go, go soon, and take this- it's beginning to give me a rash.

(Peter dislodges the vacuum cleaner attachment and hands it to Jon, who immediately throws it behind him)

J: Yeah, thanks, it will bless me and keep me, I'm sure.

P: I hope you find what you're looking for.

J: Me too, Pete. Me too. (Exits)

P: (Biting fist) I'm going to miss that tiny man. Oh, dear- Jon, wait! Jon, you forgot your vacuum cleaner..! Oh, well, I guess that's all right. He'll get along fine without it. Hmm. Hello, there. Why, yes, it is a lovely day! Hmm. (Removes wig, adorning a skull, and positions it on the peak of the handle) Yes…a very lovely day! (Whips around to face Erik) Who are you to judge?

(Erik holds up hands and backs away; Peter begins to wheel the vacuum cleaner off the stage in the opposite direction)

P: (His voice fading) Yes, who are any of them to judge? Come, let me show you the gardens…what's that? You do? Ha ha ha! Yes, I see…I suppose it is, isn't it…I suppose it is… (Exits)

Scene IV

(Peter is Ramstein, an old, balding Jewish gentleman with glasses. Jon is himself)

P: Well, young man, I suppose that you want to know what I know about Jordan Robert Keller.

J: Yes, sir, Mr. Ramstein, that's it. I understand that you were with him from the beginning.

P: That's right, young man, I certainly suppose I was.

J: Cigarette?

P: (Studies, gives it back) Yes, it is. But certainly you came here to ask me about more important things than that!

J: Yes, well, that's certainly true. To tell you the truth, what I'm most interested in is Keller's last, dying words.

P: Oh, yes- 'panties', was it? That was all over the newspapers these last few days. Panties. Huh! Say it with me, would you?

J: Um, sure.

J/P: Panties. Panties. Panties.

P: No, no, now, emphatically! Panties!

J/P: Panties! Panties!

P: Oh, I think I'd better sit down!

J: Yes, I think you'd better. Do you have any idea what it could have meant, Mr. Ramstein?

P: Panties?

J: No, thank you, I have a pair.

P: Yes, I see. Well, son, panties mean so much to so many men. When you get to be my age, you'll know that for a fact! Panties mean more to me now than ever. A good, steaming plate of panties is worth more to me than just about anything. But, to tell you the truth, it was frequently hard to say what Jordan Keller meant by anything he said. And to understand that, I think you've got to go all the way back to the first years of his life.

J: Don't get off track now, Mr. Ramstein.

P: (Speaking over him) Yes, the events of Keller's life are well-known enough…

J: (Emphatically) Panties! Panties, Mr. Ramstein!

P: (Beginning to wander off-stage) As we all know, Jordan R. Keller was born in the last quarter of the 20th century…his century..!

(Jon tries in vain to make interjections)

P: His story is the stuff of legend…but, then again, that's not so surprising, given what he did…

VO, Erik: Torn from the shank of a god, Jordan Keller was swiftly deposited into the time-rotten swamps of America's dairyland, where the abandoned babe was raised, up until his adolescence, by beavers. Jordan Keller, at an early age, learned respect for wood.

J/P/E: Wood!

VO, Erik: Doubtlessly, he possessed the sweetest voice that side of the mighty Mississippi River. Then, at the late age of fourteen, Keller's testicles dropped…everywhere.

JK: Wha- what the! Aaaaah! Aaaaah!

VO, Erik: So, terribly, is innocence lost. The year was 1994! Keller befriends Hymen Ramstein, and together they scrape together a meager living, busking on the street corners outside of Extreme World with Barry, the human beatbox, and some other weirdo.

(Peter performs an abbreviated version of ye olde hip-hop favorite 'Walk on the Wildside' as Ramstein, with Erik as Barry, beatboxing; Jon hangs out on the sidelines, looking cool)

VO, Erik: Through the influence of these rough fellows, Keller had his first psychedelic experience.

(Erik and Jon pass a joint back and forth between them. They are expressing great excitement over the activity, but Jordan remains unsure)

JK: Oh, guys, I don't know…hmmm…well, I-

(Peter, as Jordan, takes the joint and we hear a great sucking noise, immediately followed by 'How Does it Feel to Feel')

JK: Whoooaaaa! Yiiiiippeeeee! (Etc.)

(Jon and Erik dance ecstatically while Jordan freaks out)

VO, Erik: The myriad mystical properties of drugs open up Keller to unforeseen levels of his rich mental capacities…complete control over the minds of men followed soon after.

(Peter holds up phone as Jordan; Erik, snickering, hangs out nearby)

JK: Whoa, man, be cool- don't make me laugh!

(Sound of phone ringing; Jon enters as stock housewife character, picks up receiver)

J: Hello?

JK: Hello? Is your refrigerator running?

J: Well, I don't know, I guess I'll have to go-

JK: Kellered!

J: Aaaah! (Clutches head) My eyes!

(Erik stares in disbelief, then flees)

JK: Ha ha ha! I am a mindbreaker!

(Begin 'Mindbreaker' theme song- a rversion of 'Orange Skies', mutilated in nearly the same fashion that claimed 'Pink Moon' many months before)

VO, Erik: The rise to fame from this point on was sure, swift, and mighty. As a celebrated impressario, Keller introduced the world to such legendary musicmakers as Sissy Gogo and the Acid Wrench.

(Perform 'Do You Sail'; afterwards, the performers tell a number of jokes. While Peter's and Jon's jokes both contain some elements of genuine humor, Erik's are clearly meant to be bewildering)

{Jon's penguin jokes:
A penguin is driving through Arizona (as they do) on a hot summer's day when he notices his oil light is on. He gets out of the car and, sure enough, it's leaking oil all over the road. The penguin drives around the corner to a service station and asks the mechanic to take a look at it. The mechanic says he has a few others to look at first but if he (the penguin) comes back in an hour he can tell the penguin what is wrong with his (the penguin's) car. The penguin agrees, and goes for a walk. He finds an ice cream shop and thinks to himself (his penguin self) that some ice cream would really hit the spot. He sits down at the counter, orders, and the starts in on a big bowl of the stuff. Of course he has no hands, so it gets to be a rather messy ordeal. By the time he is done, he has ice cream all over his flippers and his mouth but, being a penguin, he thinks, 'Fuck it!', and lets it dry there. He walks back to the service station and says to the mechanic, "Did you find out what's wrong with my car?" The mechanic replies, "It looks like you've blown a seal." "Oh, no," says the penguin, surprised. "It's only ice cream."
One day a bus driver is driving his route when he runs across a delivery van stranded on the side of the road. The delivery van driver, who works for the zoo, pleads with the bus driver to do him a favor. He gives the bus driver a $100 bill and asks him to deliver a truckload of penguins to the zoo. Agreeing, the bus driver proceeds to load two dozen penguins onto his bus, and off they all go. An hour later, the delivery driver, his van fixed, heads off to the zoo to catch up with his delivery. As he's driving down the road, he sees the bus driver and the busload of penguins heading in the opposite direction. He turns his van around and, catching up to the bus, motions him over to the side of the road. Confronting the bus driver, he says, "You motherfuck! I thought I gave you a $100 dollars to go and take the penguins to the zoo for me!" "Calm down, " the bus driver says, "I took the penguins to the zoo. But we had change left over, so now I'm taking them to the movies."}

VO, Erik: But when Keller sensed that one of his laboring toilbots was not living up to his witheringly lofty standards, his wrath was a bitter pill indeed.

(Erik is alone with Jordan)

JK: Aaaah!

E: I'm sorry, Mr. Keller, it's just that the public doesn't seem quite ready for my rough-and-tumble approach to post-post-modern jokecraft!

JK: No yuks! No yuks!

E: If you'd just give me one more chance…

JK: (Thinks about it, decides otherwise) Mmmmm…Kellered!

E: Aaaah! My brain-pan!

(Peter re-emerges as the aged Ramstein; Jon is again himself)

P: Yes, that was Jordan Keller all over, all right. I never did see very much of him after that…

J: So, Mr. Ramstein, you're telling me you never once heard Keller say anything about 'panties'?

P: Well, let me see, now…

(Peter pauses, thinking; disembodied voice of Keller emphatically screams, 'Panties! Panties! Panties!')

P: No, I…

JK: (Insistently) Panties! Panties!

P: Nope, I don't think so.

J: Well, I guess that's just how it goes. Thanks anyway, Mr. Ramstein.

P: Thank you, young man. Oh, say- you don't happen to have any good cigars on you, do you?

J: No, I'm afraid I don't, Mr. Ramstein.

P: Oh, that's all right. You see, there's a young doctor here who looks after me who insists on keeping me alive…doesn't want me to smoke, heh heh heh!

J: Well, I guess that's a good thing!

P: Oh, no, I so want to die! Say, you don't happen to have a sickle or a flat-iron I could beat myself unconscious with, do you?

J: Uh, no, I-

P: How about a screed?

J: I-

P: Any sort of bludgeon would do.

J: I don't think so.

P: Okay, then. I'll just use my trowel, as usual. You go on, now, son…though, if you want my advice, you'll go see Burton. He was with Keller right up until the very end, don't you know.

J: Burton, eh? I'll check up on that! Thanks, Mr. Ramstein! (Exits)

P: (Hobbling out) Yes, I suppose I am still good for something…now, where did I put those brick tongs…

Scene V

J: Burton, eh? Yes, I remember that name. He was with Keller when Keller took on the most powerful man in the whole Wisconsin Dells- and, against every odd, came out on top. He was also with Keller when the great man had lost everything- when he was just a broken soul occupying the husk of a former human form, slumming it on the carnival circuit for penny-candies and unhandsome dance lessons from dry, time-broken fishermen's wives. Where was Burton now? The last I'd heard, the years had treated him little more kindly than they had treated Keller himself.

(Peter enters as Richard Burton)

VO, Erik: All right, Bourgan, you ready to try this again?

P: That's Burton, you idiot man, Burton!

VO/E: Yeah, sure it is, Dick.

P: That's Richard!

VO, Erik: Whatever you say, Welshy. Cue the children's choir!

(Begin 'Christmas Time is Here'; Peter speak-sings along, but falls horribly behind, on account of his uber-dramatic reading of the text)

VO/E: Cut, cut! What the hell was that?

P: What? What was what?

VO/E: You were dropping time again, Richard.

P: No! That's a lie! It was those goddamn greasy children! With their round heads, and their short pants, and their cotton-candy bottoms…

VO/E: You're drunk, man!

P: Drunk? Unlikely!

(Perform 'Hercules Versus the Moon Men' with 'drinking' lyrics)

P: Drunk? Ha! No, I am merely emoting. Acting, man! Have you not heard of it?

E: Ah, Jesus, here he goes…

P: Perhaps you've forgotten my recent triumphs on the awfully off-Broadway stage. (Acting now) Shane? Shane, it's your old pal, Joey. Shane, don't go. Don't go, Shane. Shane! Shaaaaane! (Pauses, contemplates flask) Is it water? Is it wine? (Drinks) Oh my god, it's turpentine. My word, I really have hit the skids, haven't I?

(Pair of tiny shoes rockets at Peter's head)

Child's voice, Jon: Eat it, Burton!

P: Tiny shoes! Tiny shoes! God, what does that remind me of..?

(Peter's mind drifts away into the past)

P: Keller, it's me, Richard. What are all these…what are all these tiny shoes doing in your basement? Where did all these shoes come from, Keller? Keller! Answer me! What have you done!

JK: Children!

(Peter comes to with a start)

P: Oh, Keller, what in the blazes happened to you..? Hell hell hell hell!

(Jon enters)

J: Mr. Burton?

P: (Emits girlish shriek) Oh! It's…only a boy. (Clears throat) I meant… 'ah!'

J: Mr. Burton, my name is…

P: Yes, so I drink a bit- it's a gentleman's failing, after all! What the deuce..? Oh, dear, I've soiled something. Be a dear and tell me if you can see it. Oh- never mind. It…it was from earlier.

J: Mr. Burton, I've come to-

P: Yes, you've come to talk about Keller, haven't you? Well, I already know he's incredibly dead- what else is there left to say? Do you want me to tell you that I loved him?

J: No.

P: Good. Because I did! I loved him, damn you! Everybody loved him! Not that it ever mattered to him. Oh, Keller, I would say. Rock me gently. Rock me slowly. Take it easy. Don't you know..? I have never been loved…like this…before? He didn't even know what love was!

J: Oh, hey, so you're saying this is a bad time, and that's totally-

P: Rock the cradle of love, Keller. Rock! Rock the cradle of love. The cradle of love- it don't rock easily, yeah.

J: I'll just be going.

P: All right, I'll tell you everything I know. Anyway, what he did to me was no worse than what he did to Eddie Fischer. He drove that man to drink. Not so for Burton! He drove drink to me! I just need a few in the morning to get my eyes open, you know…a feat which otherwise would require a warm, damp rag and a hacksaw!

J: All right, if you think you're up to it, shoot.

P: Give me a cigarette.

J: Sure thing. (Hands over a cigarette)

P: No, give them all to me. And I'll take this…and this…and this…and these. (Emptying Jon's pockets) These things belong to me now, do you understand? Good. Where shall I begin?

J: Well, I was hoping you could-

P: The year was 1997! Jordan Keller and myself were employed as charter members of the globe-squatting Abe Zipperman Orchestra. It was an exciting time for conceptual folk theater- America was hungry for it, its giant pink tongue angling for a bite- for whatever it could get- and we served it to them with gravy! Zipperman's latest invention was a prescient piece of politicized zing-zang he called 'The Colors of Terror'…

(Erik takes over, and presents the piece he had performed a week earlier at a bar in Lincoln Village, in which he passes out a thick slew of noisemakers and toy instruments to the audience, and proceeds to conduct the rising, paranoiac white noise of a full-bodied terror alert)

P: (As Burton) But Keller was never satisfied for long working as anyone's second banana. And soon he wanted Zipperman's organization for himself…no matter what Zipperman himself thought of it.

(Erik enters as Zipperman, a doddering old kook)

E: Well, Jordan, that was a fine, fine performance we all did this evening.

JK: Keller!

E: Oh, to be so young again, with such life left before you. It's just like Ricky Brunner used to say, Jordan, you've got a real black voice in you…

JK: Brunner!

E: Now comes the hard part- putting it to use in a way that will move the audience.

JK: Keller!

E: Your voice is like a wild, untamed mustang.

JK: Mustang!

E: Beautiful and imposing.

(Long pause)

JK: Keller!

E: Now we need to make you into a trained racing stallion.

JK: Keller?

E: Oh, it's not what you think, Jordan. No, I'm not the man who can help you. My brain has been completely eaten away by syphilis. I don't even know what I'm saying right now! And I assure you, it's a very pleasant sensation.

JK: Aaaaah! Sick!

E: Oh, I wish you could feel what I'm feeling now, Jordan. I'm seeing what I think! I'm thinking what I see! Sometimes I wish I could have experienced all the venereal diseases nature has seen fit to give to us, but that, I suppose, is the work of a younger man.

JK: Moooooom!

E: You should go out and find yourself a nice, easy-spirited French girl to make 'amor' with, son! Oh, you'll be pissing in ways you never dreamt possible! In all the cardinal directions at once! And, oh, the colors, Jordan, the colors! What a menagerie!

(Jordan continues to grunt despairingly throughout the following)

E: There was this girl Nanette- you would have liked her, Jordan. She was built like a processing plant! Had a funny eye, though, if I remember it. One eye would be looking straight at you, and the other would be gazing at something clear out in the distance. I never understood that. I mean, that wasn't funny at all! No, that was terrifying! I called her 'old terrifying eye'! And she gave me something I can't even pronounce! Of course, I never could pronounce all those fancy French words…I wonder if I have it written down somewhere…let me just see now…

JK: Aaaah…Kellered!

(Erik pitches back in his chair, then slumps forward onto the floor)

P: (Entering, as Burton) Stage gasp!

JK: I didn't do it!

P: Why, Keller, why! You mad, mad, crazy fool!

JK: (Grunts nervously)

P: Oh, god, he's…gone…everywhere. We'll need a large mop, and- oh! Who am I kidding! We'll need a hose. Well, I hope you're happy, Keller. You know that he trusted you! After all, he left you everything he owned, didn't he!

JK: (Lightbulb) To…Keller? Ah, ha ha ha! I am bitchin' like Nixon!

P: You really are mad, aren't you, Keller! Look at you! Jesus Christ!

(Jon enters as Jesus)

J: Whoa! What! What's up! I'm sorry, I was…in the thing…with a catalogue. What happened? What did I miss? (Sees Erik) Aaaaand…you're raised! (Erik rises) Go ye and spread…something.

E: (Exiting) Here I go!

JK: Bigger than all y'all!

J: Whoa, wait a minute, man, you ain't all that!

JK: Oh, I'm all that and a bag of pretzels! Jesus…on your knees-us!

J: Yo, man, be cool, be cool…

JK: Aaaah…Toporovsky'd!

J: (Spins and collapses) Yippee-ya-hoo!

P: Unbelievable!

J: Aaaaand….I'm risen! (Pulls self up by hair; exits, whistling)

P: (Backing away) Well, I'll just be-

JK: Burton!

P: Yes, Keller?

JK: Who is bigger than Jesus?

P: Don't do this, Keller!

JK: Cross me not, Burton! I be doin' fools by the dozen!

P: Well, Keller, I think you know as well as I that there's only one man more powerful than Jesus Christ in the Wisconsin Dells!

JK: Yes! And I will summon him by invoking his fearful name! Tommy Bartlett, meet me now on this battle plot!

(Erik enters, duded up like Rip Taylor, complete with rainbow wig and confetti)

E: Heeeelloooo, Jordan Keller! Oh, it's too much! Aaaaaah! It's funny! (Tosses confetti)

JK: Tommy Bartlett, you have ceased to amuse me, and therefore, you must be melted down for scrap. Your amusement empire, on the other hand- particularly, Amazing Maize Adventures Corn Maze, Laser Storm, Wonder Spot, Alligator Alley, and Dick Clark's Ultimate Rush- interests me still.

E: Oh, I'll give it to you! Look at me, I'm giving it to you right now! (Lifts shirt, licks finger, rubs nipple) Aaaah! That's genius! Aaaaah! Release the crotch goblins!

JK: You are like a clown-man to me, Bartlett! Are you ready to be annihilated?

E: Oh, Keller, I consider myself more of a harlequin! A harbinger of funsmithery! Aaaaaaaah! It's raining paper! Aaaaaaah!

JK: Enough of this, Bartlett! Prepare now to be a clown who is bleeding on the inside! Nothung!

E: Oooooh! That tickles! Oh, heavens, I'm all moist!

JK: Huh?

E: Well, you asked for it! Confetti'd!

JK: Aaaaah! My eyes!

E: (Shrieks with joy)

JK: Aaaaah…Kellered!

E: Mmmmm….affordable fun-ray'd!

JK: Aaaaaah….Kellered!

E: Mmmmm…..wacky-watered!

JK: Aaaaaah….Keeeeeelleeeeered!

E: Ooh! That was a big one! (Collapses)

(Jon pulls him off-stage by the feet- meanwhile, Erik continues to toss the confetti)

E: Oh, look at me, I'm stone dead! Or dead stoned! Who knows! Aaaaah! Good-bye, Tommy Bartlett! Aaaaah! It's marvelous!

JK: (Breathing heavily) All powerful…never-ending…Keller! Now, you will dance, suckas!

(Perform 'The Way You Take Your Beating')

P: (As Burton) And so Jordan Keller scored an open empire upon which he built the most extraordinary tourist pit ever conceived- a pit for tourists, set on fire, their flesh farmed for fuel, brains milked dry to service his thousandfold hideous enterprises: The Thunder Valley Floor-Show, Big Chief Karts and Coasters, Serpent Safari, Uncle Gene's World of Wheels, Wax World of the Stars! Each more sinister than the last! But the bigger they get, the more ill met are they by fate, in the end. When did I last see Jordan Keller, you ask?

Jon, as himself: I didn't ask that.

P: Well, I'll tell you! The last time I saw Jordan Keller he was nothing but a freak in one of his own exhibits, a two-bit hustler telling the fortunes of anyone who threw a dime his way!
E: (As child) No, I told you I didn't want to, I- eeeew! Gross! What the hell is wrong with you?
JK: (Coming to) Aaaah! Children!
E: (Reading) 'Oracle of Keller'. Uh-huh. Okay, Oracle of Keller, what do I do to meet girls?
JK: Destroy them with kisses!
E: Oh, that doesn't sound at all right! Anyway, I already have a girlfriend. What I really wanna know is how to get to third base. I'm stalled at second, ya know what I mean, pal?
JK: Keller says, the best lubricant…is fear! Now booze me!
E: Mooooooom! (Exits in a hurry)
JK: Wait a minute! You can't do this to me! I'm Jordan Robert Keller! I'm Jordan Robert-
(Last word 'Keller' is cut by the sound of a door closing, coinciding with the sound of the horn of a passing auto; played out by Jon as the door and Erik as the horn)
JK: Huh?
P: (Entering as Burton) Why don't you tell my fortune, Keller?
JK: What? Who is it? What do you want?
P: Who is this voice from your past, Jordan Keller? Is it foe, or is it brother? How could you know, you ugly mother?
JK: (Recognizing, sort of) Oh! Burton! Rhyme-maker! Hey, hey! Yeah! Hey, Burton, beer me!
P: Ah. I see. So, baby wants his bottle.
JK: Ha ha ha! (With clenched teeth) Beer me…!
P: Well, I guess it's true we've all been down that road, haven't we? Six, or seven times, a day, for…(counting on his fingers) thirty-five years. Here you are, Keller- take it to the limit. One more time.
JK: (Drinking) Oh, yeah…stiff drink for daddy…(Empties flask; in disbelief, turns it upside down) Aaaaaah!
P: No drops, left for drinking…and look at you, not even stinking. Sorry, old chum. On and on spins the perilous wheel of fortune…better yet for some than others.
JK: Don't do me like this, Burton!
P: Come along, Jordan- give us one of the old sweet songs, like you used to…
('Danny Boy' begins to play)
P: There's the music. Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes, are calling. Take it, Keller.
JK: From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
P: The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying.
JK: Tis you, tis you must go, and I must bide.
P: So long, Keller. I'll see you…on the flip-side. (Exits)
JK: (Plaintively) Burton? Keller?
P: And that's the last time I ever saw Jordan Keller…again. (Another tiny pair of shoes whips across the stage, makes contact) Thank you.
(By way of an entr'acte, the performers invite the real Jordan up onto the stage, to be introduced to the crowd, and to participate in an audience game in which Peter and Erik enact a scene from a film- Charade- in Scottish accents, and an audience member [Auduny] has to guess what it is. She does, of course, and receives a Rick Springfield t-shirt for her trouble.)

The 'Charade' bit:

Erik, as Cary Grant: Now stop that nonsense!

Peter, as Audrey Hepburn: Stop bullying me, everybody's bullying me.

E: I'm not bullying you!

P: Yes, you were, you said it was nonsense! Being murdered in cold-blood is not nonsense. Why don't you try it sometime? (Pause) Would you mind seeing me to the door?

E: Of course not.

(Enter elevator)

P: It's a good place for making friends.

E: You said this afternoon your husband was mixed up in something.

P: How do you shave in there?

E: What was it?

P: What was what?

E: What your husband was mixed up in.

P: Look, I know it's asking you to stretch your imagination, but don't you think you could pretend just for a moment that I'm a woman and you're-

E: Now, listen, I could already be arrested for transporting a minor above the first floor. Here you are.

P: Where?

E: On the street where you live.

P: How about once more around the park?

E: How about getting out of here? Come on, child, out.

(Exit elevator)

P: Won't you come in for a moment?

E: No, I won't.

P: I don't bite, you know! Unless it's called for.

E: How would you like a spanking?

P: How would you like a punch in the nose? Stop treating me like a child!

E: Well, then stop acting like one! Now, if you want to tell me what's troubling you, fine- if not, I'm tired, it's late, and I want to go home to bed.

P: Do you know what's wrong with you?

E: No, what?

P: Nothing.
Scene VI
(Peter enters, sharpening knives, whistling to himself an old German folk song; Jon enters, taps him on the shoulder)
J: Excuse me, I'm-
P: (Spinning around, snaps arm out in front of him; as German) Sieg heil!
J: Huh?
P: (The look on his face turning to one of icy terror, he does not know enough to even lower his arm) I mean…High five!
J: I-
P: High five!
(Jon tenderly extends arm in like fashion, lightly slaps Peter's palm)
P: That is good. Now you are my dawg! Do you understand? Now you will have my back, and I will have your back and together we will have many backs! Is that acceptable?
J: Mr. Diekunstistot?
P: That is I.
J: I'm, uh, from the associated press.
P: Ah! A newzi. Do go on.
J: Yeah, well, as I, uh, understand it, you were in the employ of Jordan Keller for a number of years as a-
P: Yes, I was Keller's servant. I served Keller. But it is not how you think. It is not like you've said. The Keller was good. The Keller was clean. The Keller did not say this 'booze me'. The Keller did not say this 'Keller!' It is not at all like what you've told them.
J: Yeah, well, I haven't had a whole lot to go on here.
P: You didn't even try, I think!
J: Hey! I ran into a car with my face!
P: It is because you are weak- and the Keller…he was mighty! Now, what do you want to know? I will tell you everything.
J: Well, I was actually curious about finding out what I could about this 'panties' character Keller was raving about on his deathbed.
P: Ah, yes. The panties. The panties, the panties. I can tell you what I know about the panties.
J: Oh, yeah? Well, gosh, go ahead then, Mr. Diekunstistot.
P: Okay, so, I know what you're thinking- your heart's broken. You sit around, moping. Crying and crying. You say you even thinkin' about dyin'? Well, before you do anything rash, dig this! Everybody plays the fool…for Keller! Because he was the best of them all. The year…was 1996! And the world was splintered by warring factions! Terror lay in hiding in the well-masked caverns of Afghanistan…
(Erik enters as Ossama Bin Laden, Jon as his second. They are eating from sticks they are dipping into pails, and chewing loudly)
E: (Eyes widening) That's it! Ah ha ha ha!
J: (Gasps with delight)
E: (Frowns) Trojan…goat. No, they'll never go for that. Hmmm.
(Back to eating)
E: (Eyes widen) That's it! Ah ha ha ha!

J: (Gasps with delight)

E: (Pauses; sighs; continues eating)

J: What? What was it?

E: No, it passed.

J: What!

E: No, you can't get it back. The moment is gone, and that's just it.

(They continue eating)

J: Ossama, what do you like most about me?

E: All right, listen. I'm going to say this once, and then I'm not going to say this again. I brought you along because you are tender and plump and your wounds look like they're juicy and when I run out of grout I'm going to eat you. And that is the extent of our relationship. No ifs, ands, or butt-nachos about it. Except maybe when I become terribly lonely I will allow you to touch it. But you must wear gloves and you are not allowed to enjoy it or I will feed you to weasels. Now pretend I just laughed maniacally, because I'm really not feeling it right now.

J: Okay. (Gasps with delight)

E: Okay, so here it is. Listen, Rick, what do the Americans have that we don't have?

J: Pants!

E: And why is that?

J: I don't know, but they seem like a really good idea.

E: Yeah, hella-idea, right? But did we have this totally clever and well-intentioned idea? No. Hell, no! What were we thinking?

J: Well-

E: We weren't, Rick. We weren't thinking. That's just the problem. The Americans? Thinking. All the time.

J: Are you sure?

E: Oh, yeah, I've seen it. That look in their eyes…? Glazed over…glassy…black, like a doll's eyes. Rolled deep into the backs of their skulls. That's the look of thought in action, my friend. I know. This guy knows.

J: Wow. You're so right.

E: I know I'm so right. But how long did it take for me to think of that? How long have we been sitting here? It took me, like, so long, right? And why is that? Libraries, Rick. It's because we don't have libraries.

J: Well, we don't really have food, either.

E: Oh, see, Rick, you're thinking like an Arab now, and that's no good. You've got to start thinking like an American. And for that, you need libraries. But you take away the libraries, and the American, he thinks like an Arab.

J: No pants!

E: No pants indeed. And then we just walk in and take over. That should take, like, a week tops. So keep your next few days open for the unrolling of our next caper.

J: Yeah, I don't think that should be-

E: We must destroy every library in America! Do you understand this mighty decree, Ricky?

J: Yes, master!

E: Now tell me I'm your Ossamamama! Ha ha ha ha ha!

J: You're my Ossamamama!

E: Ha ha ha! Now, say it with verve!

J: You're my Ossamamama! (Tears open shirt)

E: Now, Rick, put them away!

J: Yeah, okay, sorry.

Scene VII

(Peter enters, clutching ass)

P: Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! I've got the scoots or something! Joooooon!

J: What! What is it, man!

P: Something's happening!

J: What is it? What's happening? Can you describe it?

P: I don't know, but my ass is full of something angry!

J: Jesus! What could it be! How could something get up your ass! (Scolding) Peter…!

P: No, man, I don't know! Ever since all the libraries in America got themselves incinerated my brain's not known what for that it should be supposed to be doing. Ach! Just see if you can see what it is!

J: I can't see anything! It's these goddamn infernal pants!

P: Well, get them off of me!

J: How, man, how! They look like they're on there really good!

P: Whadda I do? Whadda I do?

J: Just- whatever your ass is full of- just get it out of there before it gets through to any other part of your body!

P: Okay! Oomph!

(Peter grimaces, releases, with an explosive dislodging noise; he is dropped to the floor under the weight of his expulsion)

P: Oh…oh…it's terrible. That's it, I'm putting it back in.

(Erik enters)

E: Ooh! Ooh! Lookit, guys, lookit what I found! A rag! In the alley! Someone just left it there!

J: Far out!

E: What should be done with it, do you think?

P: An alleyrag! What luck! But here, there's something on it…what the…why, it looks like Kool-Aid and vermicelli!

J: Oh, neat! Well, what next?

E: Let's chew on it!

(Jon and Erik begin to feed on the rag; Peter reappears as Jordan)

JK: Ho, ho, ho! You silly shitheads! That's not Kool-Aid and vermicelli!

E/J/P: It's not?

JK: Oh, no! That's blood and hair!

E/J/P: Cool!

JK: Cool? No way! Unhygienic!

J: And that's..?

JK: Not cool!

J: (Throws down rag) Well, I'm cool, so forget it!

P: Jordan, how come you know so much? Ever since the libraries got blowt up I been dumb as hay!

E: Wait, I've got it- just look at the size of his head!

E/J/P: (Admiring noises)

J: Oh, my, it's awful large!

JK: Yes, my friends, I'm committed to carrying the burden of all America by keeping knowledge safe in my gigantic skull until this nation is once again fit for thinking men!

J: Oh, that won't be for at least another year!

JK: Or maybe five! Who knows! But I'm willing to wait! Carrying, all the while, this awesome weight upon my ample, yet Greekly handsome neck!

J/E/P: Huzzah! Huzzah! Huazzh!

VO, Peter: (Majestic) And so Jordan Keller kept all knowledge safe from the clutches of pantless madmen everywhere. And when he died, his awesome brain was placed in a giant robot's body! And the robot…he loved to dance!

(Majestic voiceover fades into German voice from before)

P: Dance, robot man, dance! You are a dancing machine! You are dancing queen! Long and lean! You are only seventeen! Oh. Oh, I am sorry. Something came over me, I think. Do you wish to humiliate me further?

J: (Checking his watch) No, I don't really have the time. But, listen, I was still pretty interested in finding out anything you might know about panties, whoever, or whatever, it is…or they are…or…whatever.

P: Oh. It is still all about the panties with you, is it? You feeble, mouth-breathing wound. You want to know about what I know about the panties? Nothing! Nothing! The Keller never mentioned the panties! Now good day to you!

(Peter extends arm as before; both stare at it with suspicion; Peter waves good-bye with the extended hand)

Scene VIII

VO, Peter: 1983!

(Erik is now Jordan; Peter enters as Christopher Walken)

P: Hello, son. Do you know who I am? I'm your daddy. I'm your real daddy. Sergeant Colonel Gropius Halverson Keller. I was just speaking with the beavers who've been good enough to look after you, lo these many years. They seem like very fine people. A little freakin' creepy, if you ask me, but I guess that just goes with the territory when you spend all day eating frickin' wood. Nevertheless, I find them very unsettling. But this is neither here nor there. Jordy, I think you deserve an explanation for why I haven't been present in your life up to now. You see, I've been a guest of old Mr. Bushlord Charlie in the Nam Dinh hotel for what amounts to almost two years of my life. I know it's difficult for you to understand, but I've been tied to a very unpleasant pole for a very long time so that when you become a little man, the pole to which you're tied- emotionally, I mean, of course- might be a little bit more slack of winding cord, if you know what I mean. But that's neither this nor that. The point I'm trying to impress upon you, son, is that during this entire irritating period of my existence I could think of one thing and one thing alone- and to put it bluntly, that one thing was this pair of panties I had hidden in my asshole. I'm not going to try to explain to you why I had panties up my a-hole, son, but suffice it to say that when I tell you they were hidden, what I mean is that they just happened to be there when the plane I was commanding went down, because it was something I was into at the time, and I assure you, if God were to let me build a time machine and go back in time in it, it would be something I maybe wouldn't have made such an important part of my life. But that's neither in nor out. The point I think I'm trying to make clear to you, o sweet child of mine, is that for sixteen straight months I had this pair of panties shoved up my ass, and now that they're out, by what I would say amounts to arguably a miracle of the pseudo-scientific process, which included, but was certainly not limited to, the deployment of a wrench and powerful mind-altering drugs, I never want to see them again. They were a part of my life, but I'm over them now, and while I was just going to throw out my car window, possibly after burning them and sealing their ashes in a steel apron, I thought it would be ultimately more poignant to pass them on to you. So here! Take 'em! Have at 'em, you freak! God! Anyway, son, I'm off to see the world in a bicycle attached comically to the bottom of a hot-air balloon. And by 'see the world', I presume you understand I mean 'be eaten alive by pissed-off badgers after sliding down the side of a mountain into some freaked-out secret party they're having in the woods'. Possibly involving fairies. Maybe some wood sprites. I don't know. Like I know everything all of a sudden. Good-bye, then, son. And take care of those panties. Or I'll gitcha! Pft. Who am I kidding. Like you'd even see me coming. (Exits)

JK: (Gurgling, childlike) Panties! Panties! Panties!

Scene IX

Erik, as Russian: Good evening, boys and girls, welcome to act three of tonight's performance, somewhat linked with act one. Those who came in late may leave now. I am Bludyokov, here to present famous Russian folk story, Pygmali…Pygmali…Pygmalion. Pygmalion? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Oh, wait- no, it's actually 'Pig Man'! Yes, that's much better. This is the story of Pig Man, sorrowfully lonely so-and-so who is left all by himself in his apartment for way too long and begins to mold a woman out of ivory which to ogle.

(Peter enters with vacuum cleaner, duded up with skull, wig, bunny ears, etc.)

E: Wait, story has taken clever and/or unnerving turn. It appears it is actually vacuum cleaner man is turning into woman. Via placement of trinkets. This guy has got to get a girlfriend. Or at least a subscription to interesting periodical.

P: I shall call it J. Edgar Vacuum!

E: Very clever, no?

P: And, boy, does it suck!

E: Not as clever, but we are almost at end of show. Anyway, Pig Man is heavily involved with morbid fantasy contraption and all is well until townspeople start to inquire into the dicey state of his mental well being.

P: Hello, townsmen!

E: (As townsman now) What in the hell is that?

J: (Also as townsman) Pig Man, you're a perve, you know that! Total perve!

E: That is some fancy shit!

J: Pervey!

(Peter, blocking vacuum with his body)

P: Listen, you manholes, I will not stand to have you talk to my lady companion in this brutal fashion!

E: (As Bludyokov; chuckling) Oh, boy, this guy is going to totally get it.

J: Listen here, Pig Man, I'll have you know that we could have the whole town after your ass for breaking a whole gang of anti-perve laws!

E: (As townsman) Yeah, there are a few of those.

P: Well, townsman, I can see that you are gentle of spirit and light of slipper- possibly we could find a way to strike some sort of bargain.

E: I don't really think we're going to be able-

J: Now, just wait a minute, Brutus. What kind of bargain are you speaking of, Pig Man?

P: Well, I just don't know. What kind of bargain do you have to give me?

J: I should warn you outright, Pig Man, I drive an awful hard bargain.

P: Well, I should warn you, I can take an awful lot of your awful hard bargain.

E: (As Bludyokov) It goes on like this for a little while.

J: Why, my bargain is getting harder the more we talk about it…

E: (As himself now) Faaaaaaaggooooots!

P/J: Huh?

E: Man, I don't believe it. I just caught on. You guys are a couple of card-carrying chocolate-bottoms, aren't'cha?

J: Erik, I don't know what you're talking about.

E: Oh, I think you know exactly what I'm talking about. Though it's not like it even matters to you two! You guys are chained for life anyhow.

J/P: Dear god, it's true!

E: Listen, you've got to understand what this is doing for my image. People are going to think I'm wrap-around shades gay. They'll think I'm motor-boat rotors gay!

P: Oh, Erik, no one's going to think you're…well, they might think you're motor-boat rotors gay.

J: Erik, wait. I think you're overreacting. Let me prove it to you. Ladies of the Gallery Cabaret, what do you think of Erik Burns?

(Pause for general swooning)

J: All right. Pete, join me, please. (Showing off his awesome manliness) And how about this, huh? Huh? Am I right?

(Pause for general disgust)

J: See! Safe for now!

E: Okay. But I'm still going to have that press conference.

P: Press conference?

E: With the neighborhood action association.

J: Peter, they do really have a right to know.

P: Oh, goddammit.

E: All right, everyone, thanks for coming. So, it looks like we've got a couple of ridiculous nancy-lads moving into the cul-de-sac, so the alderman and I thought it would be a good idea to make sure everyone was on the same page about what this would mean. So, yeah, we'll start taking questions right away. Yes, sir, go ahead.

Peter, as disembodied audience voice: Yes, which bathroom does the homosexual use?

E: Well-

P: Will he be using my bathroom?

E: Where do you live?

P: Right here in the bar.

E: Then, yes, he will be using your bathroom. The men's room to wash, and the women's to get high.

P: Will the homosexual always be wearing that ridiculous hat?

E: Probably not.

P: Then how will I be able to tell it's him?

E: I'm afraid you will simply have to use your keen sense of perception.

P: Does the homosexual find me attractive?

E: No, I'm sorry.

P: Why the hell not?

E: Because you're terribly ugly.

P: What about me? I'm awfully handsome.

E: Yes, I can see you think that.

P: What do I do if it tries to attack my butt?

E: Well, you'll just have to remove him.

P: What if he's been made super-powerful by mind-altering drugs?

E: Then I suppose you're out of luck. All right, that's enough questions. This press conference is finished! Well, guys, what have we learned tonight?

J: That we can live together in the same world, no matter who we are!

Peter, as himself: Yeah, okay, that's great, but guys- we're exactly the same. I mean, you know, we're not really gay- and we're all white, mid-twenties, middle-class, low-brow, remarkably dressed and mustachioed, currently godless but raised Christian peoples.

J: So maybe the point is, be like us!

J/P/E: Be like The Better Boyfriends!

(We contemplate a mask of Jordan)

P: Wait a minute. (Peter pauses, draws on a moustache) There.

J/P/E: Happy graduation, Jordan Robert Keller, from The Better Boyfriends. And happy graduation to all our brave conceptual soldiers the world over.

P: Thank you, and goodnight.


Peter, re-entering as Ironsides: Ladies and gentlemen, The Better Boyfriends would like to thank you for joining them in this stereoscopic tour of Jordan Keller's fictionalized life story. Thus ends our little troupe's 2002-2003 season here in Chicago- The Better Boyfriends will be on the road in July, but will return for the official celebration of the release of their third recorded masterpiece, 'Blackasaurus', at the end of the summer. And now, a good cast deserves a second mention- so please welcome back to the stage: Jon! Pete! And Erik Burns! I'm Jeremy Ironsides, speaking on behalf of Jordan Robert Keller and the Fabulists' Animatronic Radiophonic Theater, bidding you good-night, and…awaaaaaay!



©1999-2006 Better Boyfriends