Last Thursday, Eddie Dane — producer, comedian, MC, pioneer, son, and friend — died at the age of 42.
For the past couple of days, I’ve struggled to articulate my thoughts on his passing; something a little more eloquent than “man, this fucking sucks.”
This totally fucking sucks.
I can’t quite remember exactly when I met Eddie; but I think it was at Tease-o-rama in 2002, when he was ripping on a makeup-free Marilyn Manson, who was standing in front of Bimbo’s in a very staid brown suit while Dita performed inside. At the time, I thought he was kind of a jerk — Eddie, I mean; not Manson.
Anyway, In 2005 we sat next to each other on a panel called “How to Be a Burlesque Star for Fun & Profit” — when we both made the same joke at the same time, I laughed and put my hand on his knee….and he told me to knock it off or he’d get wood in front of everyone. The entire room laughed and I turned bright red in shock and embarrassment.
We’ve been pals ever since.
Eddie was a true pioneer of the burlesque revival; he founded Dane’s Dames, one of the very first neo-burlesque troupes in the country, which he brought to the very first burlesque convention ever, Tease-o-rama in New Orleans in 2001. He went on to co-produce Hubba Hubba Revue with cohort MC Kingfish — and the show was recently named one of the top 10 burlesque shows in the world by the Travel Channel.
It was Eddie who first introduced me to the Hubba crew, booking me for their second show under the Hubba moniker — just weeks after I had moved to San Francisco. I remember checking my email via a hotel lobby computer somewhere half way through my cross-country journey; thrilled to find an invite to perform from Eddie. I vividly remember rushing back to the room to tell my driving buddy – who just so happened to be Gorilla X, another core member of Eddie’s crew. His response was: “Good. Those are the people you need to be with.”
And he was so right. Hubba Hubba truly became my family, in every sense of the word. I remember feeling at home the moment I set foot on the DNA stage and the “Hooray!” sign went up. We all have the tendency to reflect on the past with rose-colored glasses; but truly, my first show with Hubba Hubba was a pivotal point for me — one of those simple moments that seems so profound, but at the time you just can’t figure out just why. I had the same moment of clarity when I met my husband the first time; and as with him, when I met Hubba — I just knew it was meant to be.
Over the past few days, as we’ve all shared moments and memories, a lot of folks have said they’ve always liked Eddie, but felt they didn’t really know him well. It’s an understandable sentiment; for all of his boisterous behavior on stage, Eddie was actually a soft-spoken guy when the spotlights weren’t on. And it was that reserved part of Eddie’s personality that fueled such great comedic timing; Heaven forfend the fool who mistook him for shy. Eddie was sort of an insult ninja; waiting in the wings, deceptively quiet, until he swooped in to deliver a viciously hilarious one-liner that would leave the recipient boggled, laughing until the ribcage rattled. That was one of Eddie’s true gifts; the man could ruthlessly mock you to your face, and not only would you not feel offended or hurt, you’d be gasping for breath as the tears of laughter streamed down your face.
One of my favorite past times was heading right to the front of the Uptown stage on Monday nights, and letting loose with the heckling. Eddie would burn me so fucking hard, I swear, I almost peed myself a couple of times. I’d hurl off a crack about his saggy balls; and he’d marvel that I managed to pull the whiskey-tinged sailor’s dick out of my mouth long enough to string together a sentence. I’m sure, to some outsiders, it looked like a vulgar, crass volley of insults — but in reality, it was a delightfully deft tango of wit; one that he danced time and time again with any friend who was brave enough to taunt him. And it was a dance that both parties enjoyed to the fullest.
Eddie also understood the extremely delicate line of insult comedy; he knew the difference between a good-natured razor-sharp jab, and just being an asshole. I’ll never forget the time a fellow “comedian” – who was actually just an asshole — threw a punch at me that was way below the belt. It wasn’t funny, it was petty and mean — and Eddie immediately phoned him up and called him out. I didn’t need someone to come to my rescue — Eddie later told me he knew I was perfectly equipped to deliver my own comeback. But Eddie said something anyway, because it wasn’t right, because it wasn’t cool, and because that’s just the kind of guy he was.
Like so many of you, my life was immeasurably brightened by Eddie Dane. I’ll never forget the shit he would get into, with his impish little grin — whether it was stuffing a blowup doll into an unattended meter maid vehicle in North Beach, lumbering around the stage in his big pink bunny costume, or sacrificing his last shred of dignity solely for the sake of a laugh. Despite the fact that he wouldn’t want any of us to be sad, the sense of loss is profound — and the glitter seems just a bit more dull and drab now that he’s gone.
Farewell, my friend. I look forward to the day when our paths cross again, and we dance the insult tango one more time.
The Eddie Dane Memorial Bash will take place on Thursday, April 14th at the DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, San Francisco. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $5.
–Sparkly Devil, Blood, Sweat & Glitter, 03.16.11