The Queen Of Puerto Rico (Show)
|WBAI And NPR Playhouse|
|Original Broadcast Date|
He was seventeen, on vacation with his mother and father in the Caribbean.
Joe published a book of the same name, containing a slightly modified version of the program text in short story form.
"Morning/Midday" (Max Roach)
0:10: Joe tells of a 17-year-old on vacation in St. Thomas. Too old to play with the other children, he doesn't feel comfortable with the adults. He hangs out at an outside bar by himself, drinking. He sees a beautiful woman, dressed in pink, falls for her, never gets up the nerve to talk to her.
3:30: Joe tells of driving around old San Juan, accompanied by the sound of a powerful engine, by the Bacardi factory.
6:00: A polite middle-aged businessman befriends him at the bar; the 17yo accepts the man's invitation to his house. He's already drunk too much. The man promises marijuana; he notes he hadn't smoked any since he had arrived at the island. They watch a movie. He gets so stoned and drunk that he gets sick, passes out in a bed. The man gets into bed with him, caresses him; he doesn't remember anything that happens after that.
8:40: Joe is with a man in hospital who refuses to accept that he is, thinks he's still in business.
10:00: 17yo wakes up next morning; the man is gone, but he's left a note and $400; the man professes love; the 17yo felt 'fear, revulsion, shame', leaves the money behind.
10:30: Back at the hotel he packs his stuff, they go to the airport. An 'official-looking man in a uniform' diverts him to a room where the businessman wants to see him again.
13:00: Every Friday an airline calls the 17yo, telling him that there's a first-class ticket to St. Thomas, or Puerto Rico, where the man had moved, for him. Then he gets letters from the man, telling him how much he means to him, that if 17yo would live with him he'd make him 'the queen of Puerto Rico' and buy him a Maserati. 17yo rejects these advances.
14:10: He takes a piece of pink costume jewelry from his grandmother because it reminds him of the pink lady, wears it hanging from his neck, imagines meeting her again.
16:20: He's about to graduate from high school; the tickets and letters keep coming. 17yo asks for $15K for his Latin disco band; the man demurs. A few months later the man's in hospital, had a stroke, lost some of the use of his limbs, worries that he's losing his mind.
18:20: After some time he's a 'junior at community college', working at a fabric shop, partying and picking up girls; his band has broken up. He's getting nowhere so he moves to St Thomas.
19:40: Another day with the man in hospital; he imagines he can make big business deals.
21:30: In St. Thomas his bartender-friend tells him the pink lady has 'gone back to the States'. He takes a job at a canvas and leather store, grows his hair long, gets a dark tan, wears clogs that add inches to his height, wears tight jeans and cut-off t-shirts, Paco Rabanne cologne, smokes Gauloises. He makes a point of putting on a show in everything he does. At night he wears pale blue satin shirts and white slacks at the clubs. 'He did everything as if he were onstage.' He begins to use makeup, wear an earring. One night he becomes acutely aware of a young man staring at him.
26:10: A third time with the old man in the hospital, ever more demented. A hospital attendant comments to Joe, 'that's some car you have in the parking lot'. An old woman, dressed in pink, in the hospital, is physically familiar with the old man.
28:30: Joe again tells of driving around old San Juan, accompanied by the sound of a powerful engine.
A teenage boy visits a Caribbean island with his parents. He watches the pink lady in a bar. He meets her on the beach. Brief monologue about driving through the countryside against the sounds of a racing car. He meets a man in a bar who invites him to a beach house. He gets stoned and drunk and winds up in bed with the man. A man in a hospital imagines he is in a resort. The man follows the boy to the airport, later calls him and sends him letters, invites him to visit and becomes the queen of Puerto Rico. He wears his grandmother's necklace, think s of the pink lady. He writes the man and asks for money. The man goes to the hospital. Later he drops out of school and returns to the island. More scenes of a confused man in the hospital. The boy gets a job on the island, begins wearing makeup, becomes the pink lady. Breakfast in the hospital.
- Shares some text with Fat Man Down (not the same audio)
- In the short story, the youth is named Nick and the businessman is named Perry