Commonplace Book: Belize describes Heaven to Roy Cohn
A final hurray to MP Johnson Week with an excerpt from Angels in America, by Tony Kushner.
BELIZE, a former drag queen and former lover of Prior’s. A registered nurse. Belize’s name was originally Norman Arriaga; Belize is a drag name that stuck.
ROY M. COHN, a successful New York lawyer and unofficial power broker, now facing disbarment and dying of AIDS.
ROY: Let me ask you something, sir.
ROY: What’s it like? After?
BELIZE: After …?
ROY: The misery ends.
BELIZE: Hell or Heaven?
(Roy stares at Belize.)
BELIZE: Like San Francisco.
ROY: A city. Good. I was worried … it’d be a garden. I hate that shit.
Big city, overgrown with weeds, but flowering weeds.
On every corner a wrecking crew and something new and crooked growing up catty-corner to that. Windows missing in every edifice like broken teeth, fierce gusts of gritty wind, and a gray high sky full of ravens.
BELIZE: Prophet birds, Roy.
Piles of trash, but lapidary like rubies and obsidian, and diamond-colored cowspit streamers in the wind. And voting booths.
ROY: A dragon atop a golden horde.
BELIZE: And everyone in Balenciaga gowns with red corsages, and big dance palaces full of music and light and racial impurity and gender confusion.
(Roy laughs softly, delighted.)
BELIZE: And all the deities are creole, mulatto, brown as the mouths of rivers.
(Roy laughs again.)
BELIZE: Race, taste, and history finally overcome.
And you ain’t there.
ROY (Happily shaking his head “no” in disagreement): And Heaven?
BELIZE: That was Heaven, Roy.
From Act Three: Borborygmi (The Squirming Facts Exceed the Squamous Flesh), Scene 4
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, Part Two: Perestroika (1992)