This is the third part of my experiences at the larp Just A Little Lovin’ the story itself. Previous posts are a review in danish and one in english.

For my fellow time travellers:

I won’t say much about Sterling before you all met him, except that he grew up in rusty old Pittsburgh and that he ran off to Canada, away from his family, to avoid the draft. He’d always loved music, as long as anyone can remember. You met him when he’d just started living his dream: Working as a producer in glamourous New York City. Married to his beautiful Chantelle, whose star was clearly rising to the top of the charts. Some might say it was a fire and water marriage, but it never lacked love.

She was the one who invited him to the 4th of July celebrations with her Saratoga survivor friends. He’d met them the year before, just after the honeymoon, of course. Some of them in the city too, Kohana’s drum circle with Laurence, Wallace and Lester. Kim, who held Chantelle in focus. Mary Lou through the studio and of course Chantelle’s best friend Beatrice. Poor Beatrice’s cancer had returned, so Chantelle or Sterling sometimes slept with her, when Chantelle decided to be good to her friend.

Anyway, let’s get on with the real stories:

4th of July, 1982

This year was a year of introductions, the party had been merged with Mr. T’s next door. Lot’s of new and exciting people to meet, old and new friends. Some interesting characters from the city’s musical club scene on the gay side: Leon, star of the 70’s; upcoming Urban Rennaissance, Enrique from the dope crew at Studio 54 and Chantelle’s horrid little half-gay friend, Chain the porn actor.

But enough about the neighbours, what Sterling really loved was being part of the whole Saratoga New Age stuff. The massage circle was wonderful, three weeks of painful studio work gone, though new guy Micky was kind of creepily groping. Kohana’s drum circle was just great, sitting on a rock above the sea with the guys, beating a rythm and talking about your troubles. All of the traditions and community activities made the whole thing feel like a big family get-together. Chantelle was sort of on her own thing, flitting around like a pretty butterfly. He loved her so much, even if there were some small fights over the little things. And it was fun finding dancers among the drags and gays for her upcoming music video in Max’s hardware store, doing things together. After the drag show, the fireworks down on the beach and the traditional green drink, things got a bit dramatic and some of the homos showed their dark and decadent sides. Mickey the creep nearly had Beatrice’s ex-husband Walter rape Lester for art, until Walter punched his lights out. Sterling did what he could, just kept the Saratoga disco going, until there were no dancers left.

5th of July, 1982

A morning of gossip over Peggy’s wonderful breakfast, old and new friends at all the tables. Then back to the city and the rat race.

A year passes

Chantelle’s star just keeps rising, her hit is on the charts and the video on tv. Sterling feels a bit lonely with her touring the country, so he spends more time with Beatrice even though Chantelle told him not to, after finding about about what Beatice did in the gang bang room at the swingers club. In the spring, the Saratogans get together for Wallace’s funeral, a sudden, unexpected death of some random little cancer…

4th of July, 1983

A year of rampant fear. The AIDS, a new disease spread amongst and by the homosexuals. Noone knew how it infects, just that it kills in the ugliest possible ways. Sterling struggles with his personal fears and his need to stay on good terms with the gay community, the communal barbeque was scary, what if the disease spreads via food? Chantelle got all upset because Sterling nearly forgot to get her a spot in the evening’s show, but it wasn’t really all that a big deal, or was it?
Skye, one of the Urban Renaissance guys collapses on stage at the show and afterwards Leon falls over from a seizure. There was almost none of the Saratoga community activities, instead people started fighting and shouting. Sam and Kim got beat up by one of neighbours, Sterling nearly get’s in the fight, but chickens out and punishes everyone by shutting down the disco. It all leads to a horrible meltdown of Saratoga in the aftermath. Kim out cold from the punch and Sam so drunk she can’t even stand up or talk. Everyone’s shocked when Lester starts beating on her.
People left to take care of poor Sam, except Kohana who looked completely despondent. So Sterling tries to listen and give his amateur advice to the guru. It turns out that Kohana is completely empty inside, just a shell of a man, he needs to leave Joani. When she enters Sterling leaves to give the two of them time to talk. The heart of Saratoga is broken. Sterling finds Max and to reclaim some sanity the two of them have a nice talk about baseball watching the moon over the water.
He had no clue where Chantelle had run off to and just gives up and goes to bed alone, thinking this might be the end of the Saratoga pact and at the very least the joint party with Mr. T. Maybe his marriage?

5th of July, 1983

Lots of hangovers, both from drink and bad breakups all around. People are still scared and angry over the disease. Escape back to the city and burying himself in work.

Another year passes

The followup single from Chantelle mysteriously flops completely. Sterling works harder and harder in the studio to try and catch up, until he is hospitalized and nearly dies of pneumonia in early spring. An observant young doctor connects the dots to AIDS, Sterling tests positive. At the same time Beatrice discovers she’s also got it. Sterling and Chain, who is also infected, drag Chantelle to the clinic to get tested, though she won’t have him in the doctor’s office. The test is negative, she is safe. Afterwards Chantelle refuses to speak to Beatrice, knowing she was the one who infected Sterling. Sterling hires Allan, the nurse that took care of Wallace, to tend to his health and fears along with Evelyn. Both Sterling and Chantelle find new meaning in helping them with the AIDS-prevention movement.

4th of July, 1984

Sterling knows he’s going to die. This will most likely be his last 4th of july in this beautiful place. Everything glows with meaning and beauty. Waiting for the original Saratoga survivors to come back from their pact reaffirmation, enjoying every single bite of Peggy’s hamburgers, the evening sky over the water. There’s no room for animosity between the Saratogans and Mr. T’s guests, everyone is too tired from losing friends and loved ones for that. It’s all really one group now, united by love and death. Even Chain has turned out to have a good side and Sterling can’t hate him after realizing how much he does for Chantelle.
At one point Sterling tries to talk to Barbara who is full of thoughts on her dad’s death of the sickness. But he ends up having to tell her about his own condition and instead drowns her troubles in his own, and he can’t even give her a hug. Telling Lester too, on the deck, and telling him to take good care of his daughter now that Sterling will never have any.
The drag show is packed with acts. Max singing Elvis to Steven is the perfect picture for the new unity. Chain and Chantelle do a little act to advertize condoms followed by a rather disgusting safe BDSM demo. Chantelle takes pity on Sterling and hides his face so he doesn’t have to watch. The finale was Kohana showing of his new side as Karl, the disco dancer. Sterling just watches Joani watching him with awe.
Sterling had promised not to speak to Beatrice until Chantelle had made up her mind, but when she reaches out to him during a break in the show, he just holds her tight and cries for Chantelle “I almost killed her. We almost killed her.” In the end, Chantelle and Beatrice make up. Giggling like little girls again under the fireworks on the beach. Sterling tries to talk to his wife’s old friends, to get their promise to take care of Chantelle once she is alone. And she will be alone: Sterling, Beatrice, Chain and Kim, all dying of this disgusting disease. Everyone around her. But tonight the group is all here, together. Sterling dances, until he can’t stand up anymore.

5th of July, 1984

A beautiful morning, friendships mended and new loves discovered. It’s okay to be dying now.

.

I could tell many more stories about Sterling, but these are the most important ones. I don’t know how it went after the 5th of july, I left him there. His story is done and there are many more lives from those three years that could be told. If you were there, please tell yours.

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