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.


The Characters

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.
ROY: Isaiah.
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.

balenciaga book vintage gown

(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)

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