The show must go on, and if you're the only one who can do it, then you have to step out and do what you Can-Can.
Copyright Transfemme, 2003. All rights reserved.
KC is considered the rising star of Spencer District Dance Academy, a talented newcomer tipped to claim the gold at the State Ballet Finals. But when his friend Janey sprains her ankle ten minutes before the Grand Finale, KC is conscripted to take her place, leading to some extremely embarrassing moments for Chamberlain's star performer.
K.C. waited back stage with the other boys, his tummy fluttering with nerves and excitement. It was shownight for his dancing school, and everyone was rushing about frantically preparing for their numbers. Very soon, he'd be out on stage dancing before a large audience, the culmination of months of exhausting rehearsals. The long period of training had left him as tense as a tightly strung bow.
The murmuring crowds he'd seen out in the theatre had added considerably to his last minute butterflies. The place was utterly packed with people - parents and kids, teachers and students, old folk from Chamberlain Retirement Village. Hundreds of interested parties, all turned out in their Sunday fineries to cheer and whistle and hoot as the latest generation of Fred Astairs wove through their steps.
All those faces, all those eyes, turned up towards the stage!
KC took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. He really had nothing to worry about. He and his troupe were doing a Broadway style tap-dog number; complicated and tricky at times, but none too difficult after so many hours of repetition. It was pretty silly, really. He knew he'd perform the drill without a hitch, he'd done it at least a thousand times before. But then, he always felt this way on shownight.
Turning away from the curtains, he walked back towards the dressing rooms. Backstage was currently in a state of siege; girls running everywhere in tutus and leotards, boys decked out in vests and tails climbing the wings. A gabble of mothers trailed close behind, fussing and scolding, calling for order above the din.
Well, at least I've got half an hour to practice, KC thought, glancing around in the general chaos, if I can just find a spare corner with enough space to tap a shoe. He considered going outside and using the loading bay, but decided against it. Didn't want miss his curtain call; he'd never hear the end of it. He pushed his way over towards the stairs leading to the changing areas. Everyone seemed to be down here, the dressing rooms were probably empty.
"Huh?" KC whirled towards the voice.
It was Ms Deane, his ballet teacher. Evelyn Deane was a long, streamlined woman in her mid-thirties, willow-slim and lean hipped. Her eyes were always hard and serious, no matter what mood she was in. The woman was wading through a cloud of Lilliputian Kylies, her classical features marked with impatience. KC wandered over to meet her halfway.
"There you are", she said, looking him over with a familiar knitting of the eyebrows, "I've been searching for you everywhere". KC's heart sank roughly six fathoms; he was in trouble. No idea what the problem was, but he knew that tone: honey laced with razor blades.
"I was just looking for a place to -" he stammered in a high, uncertain voice. Ms Deane cut him off with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"You'll have to get changed again. You're on in ten minutes", she said, gesturing for him to follow her up the stairs. He hurried along behind, not quite certain what his teacher had meant. As far as KC knew, he was already in costume: black top, black jeans, and size five work boots. What was going on here?
"I thought I was on in half an hour, Ms Deane", the boy protested fretfully, "I'm in the Tap-dog number".
"Not any more. Toby Macklin will be taking your place".
"You're out of the Tap-dogs, KC".
"But why?" KC exclaimed, still not understanding. He'd spent what seemed like six years perfecting his routine, and now Ms Deane was tearing it out from under his feet.
"Look, we don't have a lot of time, KC", Ms Deane explained, shooing him up the stairs, "Janey North just twisted her ankle and we need someone to replace her. You'll be taking her place".
"You're taking Janey's place".
"Janey North? But she's in -"
Suddenly, KC understood. Everything. He gaped up at his teacher, his face a mask of disbelief. Janey North was one of the girls in the Montmartre number, the one everybody had been talking about for the last three months. KC's eyes widened in dawning horror.
"But she's doing the CAN-CAN, Ms Deane!!" KC wailed, "I can't do that! I'm - you - you'll have to get some one else!!" He knew precisely what she had in mind. Panic rushed in on him like a runaway horse.
"There isn't anybody else, KC. You're the one".
They reached the top of the stairs, dodging a swarm of pink fairies darting out of the girl's dressing room. KC faced his teacher, colour rising to his cheeks in a soft red haze.
"Ms Deane, I CAN'T do it", KC cried, as if in real distress, "I - I just can't!!!" He had to get out of this. Somehow. Anyhow.
"I'm afraid you'll have to".
"No buts, KC", she interrupted, vague amusement spicing her tone, "come on, I'll help you get changed". Taking the boy's hand, she led him into the change room, ignoring his shrill objections. The enticing scents of perfume and stage powder wafted through the door. KC dragged his feet, squirming uncomfortably. They were entering the dreaded GIRL ZONE.
"But, Ms Deane-" KC's voice trembled like an infant's, protesting even as he complied. His heart began turning somersaults as they stepped through the open doorway. A few of the older girls were loitering by near the mirrors, powdering their faces and doing their hair. KC recognized more than half of them from the Modern Dance Class. Tricked out in jet-black leotards and ghostly white makeup, they were the Ravens (like in that movie with Brandon Lee), Ms Deane's elite troupe. KC moaned inwardly. This was getting worse by the second. He groped for an excuse.
"I've never rehearsed with Katrina and the others, Ms Deane, I don't know the routine! I'll make a mess of it, I know I will".
"No, you won't, you'll pick it up in no time. You're one of the best students we have. Now take off those clothes, KC. I'll get your costume".
"Take off my -?" KC sputtered, glancing wildly around the room. The blood virtually froze in his veins: he could image nothing worse than undressing before a roomful of girls. He shot a sideways glance towards the Ravens, all of whom were regarding KC with considerable interest. A huge wave of embarrassment surged through his system, his lower lip tremored in despair.
"Noooooo", he begged, pulse racing in his throat, "please Ms Deane, I don't want to, not in here -"
Unfortunately for KC, Evelyn Deane was not a woman to be defied. Transfixing him with an irresistible stare, she leaned in closer, towering over the eleven year-old like a hungry, red-tressed virago. "GET those jeans OFF young man!"
"No, no, PLEASE Ms Deane", KC pleaded in the hopeless, quailing voice of a first grader, "don't make me do this -"
"NOW", the tall woman growled in a tone that could liquefy steel.
Moaning in shame, KC peeled off his top and began unbuttoning his pants. He bit his lip in childlike dismay, struggling to hold back the whimpers threatening to escape his throat. This COULDN'T be happening! In a matter of moments, the evening had flip-flopped into a nightmare. The girls by the mirror whispered to one another and giggled. KC's blush deepened to the shade of a maraschino cherry.
He wavered on the verge of tears, knowing he had no choice but to follow his teacher's orders. Turning completely away from his tittering little audience, he slipped the jeans slowly down his thighs, revealing his fresh, white briefs to all and sundry. A ripple of tinkling laughter filled the dressing room.
Meanwhile, Ms Deane had stalked over to the costume racks, pulling out a can-can outfit and examining it carefully. KC had a trim figure, a shape as feminine as any of the girls performing in the Montmartre number. He could probably squeeze into a size six with the help of a waist cincher and a suspender belt. Yes, this one would do nicely.
Stepping helplessly out of his jeans, KC stood up in his singlet and underpants, two bright roses standing out on his cheeks. He felt completely disgraced, divested of what little dignity he'd ever known as a boy. Humiliation poured over him like some thick, warm liquid; he shivered with silent outrage - she had done this to him, forced him to parade half-naked before a bunch of giggling eighth graders. Once word got 'round at school next Monday (as he was certain it would) the teasing would never stop.
Truth be told, KC actually looked like a girl, with his wavy blond hair and his soft, pouting features. He'd always possessed a rather feminine appearance: even now, people often commented on how 'pretty' (and rather effeminate) he was. Narrow shoulders, tiny waist, full lips and a delicate bone structure all contributed to the illusion - which was probably why Ms Deane had chosen him to replace Janey North in the first place (or so he imagined)
He was wearing a snowy white vest and a pair of bikini underpants; the simple, unadorned kind that could be worn by either sex. From a slight distance (or even at extreme close up, for that matter), he could easily have been mistaken for a young girl wandering around in her vest and panties, waiting for the curtain call. His smooth, tapering thighs and slender forearms were almost shining with youth and femininity.
Ms Deane strode up behind him bearing an armload of satin frills. Recognizing the boy's air of soul-consuming angst, she administered a sharp, stinging smack to his pantied bottom (Evelyn Deane had never tolerated self-pity, even in herself). KC spun around with a yelp, hands flying protectively to his firm, round tooshie.
"Oww!" he cried, more embarrassed than ever. The Ravens laughed again, noting his evident discomfort.
"Yes, quite", Ms Deane agreed dryly, placing the costume on the make- up counter, "this is what you'll be wearing, KC. The underwear may look a little complicated, but I'll help you with some of the trickier items."
She spread the ensemble out across the counter like a Las Vegas croupier fan-tailing a deck of cards. The dress was a blaze of garish red satin embellished with florid yellow lace. The halter-style top was studded with rhinestones and oversized frills around the bustline. Brilliant white petticoats had been sewn into the skirt's lining; KC could see the frothy material peeking out from beneath the hemline. The whole outfit looked loud, gaudy and wickedly expensive.
A cold thrill seemed to run the length of his spine as KC surveyed the garish spray of polyester ruffles and gauzy nylon flounces. In a few minutes, he'd be zipped up into this - this PARTY DRESS - and sent out on stage to make a public spectacle of himself. It wasn't fair! Why was she doing this to him?! Why was she making him dress up like a SISSY when there were at least a dozen girls downstairs who could have taken Janey's place?! Hovering at the brink of hysteria, KC looked up at his teacher, his eyes huge and moist and imploring:
"Miss Deane, I can't do it, I just CAN'T!! I - I'm a BOY, not a girl!!!"
(Parts 2 through 5 withdrawn at authors request, a new and longer version of Show Time will be available at this site in the future.)
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