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An olde, olde legend — newly shared for posterity by a handful of forthright and gay-friendly scholars — says that the wise man known as Kaspar liked on festive occasions and on birthdays to do drag. (Melchior and Balthazar were both straight, but not biblically narrow, or politically incorrect.)
These gay-friendly scholars add that the gifts carried on the magi’s most memorable journey were not — as we have so long erroneously been told — gold, frankincense, and myrrh, but rather gold, frankincense, and mirth. (Jokes help to make long journeys shorter.)
There’s a good chance, these same gay scholars urge, that Kaspar was also the world’s first standup comic (after Adam, who, as everybody knows, played The Big Apple, but got hissed into the outback along with fall-guy, Miss “Take a Big Bite” Eve).
Kaspar’s audiences were hillside sheep, cattle, and occasionally stray scapegoats. They bleated, mooed, and nannied at his funny one liners about chickens who cross-dressed roads to get to the other side, and camels who foolishly got stuck trying to pass through the eyes of knitting needles.
Kaspar billed himself as The Merry, and had a big following in Persia, where he headlined fancy B&Bs, royalty lip-gloss shops, and a chain of Babylonian Wig-Out boutiques. He wowed them on Tigris & Euphrates gambling showboats, but was banned in Thebes-on-the-Nile for making off-color remarks about Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors.
Bethlehem was his first Judaean gig. (He said, modestly, that the star was not there just for his Grand Opening.)
Some humanist archeologists, however, pooh-pooh the Bethlehem stopover, saying that gawdforsaken place is too dry to have much of a sense of humor. [And with the haggling going on there now, these guys may have a point.]
In contrast, feminist anthropologists wholeheartedly support the cross-dressing Kaspar legend. They say three telltale artifacts were just recently discovered at the site of an ancient roadside inn [and desert casino] where the wise men likely stayed on their eastward journey.
The artifacts were found near what was left of a prefab, low-rent stable, or creche. An unearthed — and liberally translated — sign buried nearby reads: “SRO. Next show at midnight. A Heavenly Mirage!”
Artifact #1 is a quarter of a wall mosaic of a “man” with teased hair, no beard, and red lips. He holds a jeweled clutch bag with a cuneiform G on it [for girth?]. He sports a tiara and a sash with a magnificent M [for mirth?]. His robe is hemmed with rows of lavender swing beads.
A pattern of stars, moons, suns, and rainbows is part of the spangly costume. Here and there is a dickey bird atwitter, bright feathers aflutter. [One pundit says these are actually angels singing “Day-O, Gloria in Excelsus, Day-O-O-O!”]
Artifact #2 is a theater token. On one side is a smiling, bejeweled terpsichorean. The inscription reads — freely translated — “ten centimes a dance.” And on the reverse (again freely translated), “Kaspar, Thou goest, Mary!” [Editor’s note: Obviously a misspelling of ‘Merry.’]
The last artifact is the most beautiful. It’s a 14-karat gold medallion with chain, finely crafted, with what appear to be two eye-lined, red-rouged ladies with wings and swooping feather boas, tooting tiny trumpets. The medallion is edged with small stars and a great big star at top.
There are two inscriptions. The first (give or take a word): “Eternal Limelight to Kaspar the Merry.” The second: “S/he made lowly shepherds, a travel-weary mom and a newborn babe laugh.”
(The cross-dressing chicken jokes, no doubt.)