50 years. 50 queers.

Patricia Wilson

Patricia Wilson

Mar 12, 2013

Name: Patricia Wilson
DOB: July 5, 1954…the day Elvis recorded his first rock and roll record and they say rock and roll was born!
Occupation: Musician/guitar player/co founder of the rock band Crackpuppy/ assistant bar manager/ bartender at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre for 20 years.
Favourite Book: Whatever book I am reading…usually biographies; currently, reading When They Were Giants by Mick Wall (bio Led Zeppelin) and The Power of Awareness by Neville and a couple other books I would rather not mention.
Favourite Movie: Still is All That Jazz not much of a movie person.
Favourite Music: Fucking Rock and Roll the louder the better.
Favourite Person At/Over 50: My partner Helene Ducharme. Never ceases to amaze me or surprise me everyday.
One Word About 50: Rules????

Whether she’s slinging drinks behind the bar at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre or slinging her guitar onstage with her band Crackpuppy, Patricia Wilson tends to be front-and-centre no matter where she is. Wilson has become iconic in Toronto’s queer community as the overseer of the “kids” who play at Buddies, dropping F Bombs as quickly as she offers a supportive word to those who pray at the altar of excess and indulgence every weekend.

Wilson sees the kids as people who still need to be watched over and she does it with a mix of rock and roll toughness and Mother Earth benevolence. “I’m not really a community-oriented person. When it comes to community, all I care about is our kids, our gay kids, our queer kids,” she says emphatically. “It’s one of the reasons I work at Buddies, I know there are kids there that get beat up at breakfast by their dads because they’re queer, and we supply a place for them to come and feel safe even on their own. I know we change and save lives.”

Wilson knows about the trials and tribulations—and possible deathtraps that youth face. She was a hard-partying rocker who wrung every ounce of debauchery out of the 1970s—back when she was in her 20s. “Myself and my friends never thought we’d make it to 30,” she recalls of those sex, drugs and rock and roll days. “That whole, ‘I hope I die before I get old.’ That was the 70s, right. We were doing LSD every day and there were other drugs that I’m not going to get into, but nobody thought they were going to make 30.”

“Somebody said I did 100 shots and they carried me out at 1:30, puking. So that was my 50th. It was a legendary night and people still talk about it.”

“With me, it was all about drugs,” she continues. “We all had heroin habits, I lived next to Detroit so drugs were easy to get and I went to California and drugs were easy to get. I played rock and roll and drugs were easy to get. Fucking 70s, right? I drove across country in 1976 and drugs were easy to get. I just never thought I’d make 30.”

Obviously, Wilson did make it past 30 and for her turning 50 was a memorable experience—at least for some. “My birthday party was in a booze can called The Vatican, and it started at 6:00pm and went to 6:00am the next morning,” she recalls. “But I never got to see it because all of my friends came and I was fucked up and drunk. Somebody said I did 100 shots and they carried me out at 1:30, puking. So that was my 50th. It was a legendary night and people still talk about it.”

Having survived the party, Wilson now sees that getting older is a double-edged sword; living in a body that’s getting older but still being young emotionally and spiritually. “I’m 58. Nobody wants to be 58. Who wants to be fucking 58?” she says with a laugh. “I feel like I’m in my 20s. I live like I’m in my 20s. It’s fine. By the same token there’s so many more advantages to being my age, because you learn, the knowledge you get being my age. That’s worth being 58. If only I could take what I know now and be 28. That would fucking rock.”

However, that doesn’t mean that she is envious of kids who are in their 20s, quite the opposite, having survived so much in her life to get where she is today, Wilson looks at being young without much envy. “I can say I don’t want to be fucking going through that again! I love to watch them in their turmoil so I really don’t want to be that young. You may not want to be 58, but if you’re 58, at least you’re alive.” She also thinks kids today really don’t know how to party like the older queers—which has both its upside and downside. “The kids are boring. It’s not like it used to be. For them it’s more about what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, who they’re being seen with more than even the sex thing,” she says. “We used to do dungeons at Buddies years ago. I was working at a dungeon night and we were walking through and all of a sudden cum hit Helene [Wilson’s partner of 20 years] right between her tits, because people were having sex and it got away from them and hit her. You can’t make this shit up.”

“There was a little bar I was doing shots at and there was a big curtain around the place and I kept getting bumped,” she continues. “I finally pulled the curtain back to see what was bumping into me and it was a fucking daisy chain. We don’t have that shit anymore. This is really sad, but the best times were from then and a lot of those people have died, either because of drugs or because of AIDS.” While she admits there is still a vibrant party scene in Toronto, Wilson feels the wild days of reckless abandon are long gone—and need to be resurrected. However, as much fun as that was, there was a price to pay. “We have the wall at Buddies with the names of everybody who was associated with the company that have moved on to the other gay world.”

“Queers are self-examining from a very young age…we’re so self-examining to be who we are that we really don’t worry about the future, we’re just in the moment.”

When the community isn’t partying, Wilson sees it as trying to come to terms with itself and with the idea of aging—or rather not. She freely admits she hasn’t done too much long term thinking about getting older and doesn’t believe many younger queer people do either, and she has an interesting perspective on that. “We‘re so busy being who we really are because we’re queer we never really worried about the future,” she explains. “We didn’t plan for the future. That means financially. I don’t have a pot to piss in. I was so busy trying to be who I am, like most queers. I don’t know if it’s really that conscious. I just think we all struggle so hard to be who we are, in the moment,” she continues. “The second you realize that you’re queer and different—straight people don’t get as enlightened as queers do because they’re not as self-examining. Queers are self-examining from a very young age. We know we’re different at a very young age so we examine our lives. I think we’re so self-examining to be who we are that we really don’t worry about the future, we’re just in the moment.”

Wilson also relates this to the current struggles of gueer youth and thinks that their perceived acceptance is actually not as wide-ranging and all encompassing at is may seem. Which is another pitfall. “They [queer kids] think that they’re being accepted by the mainstream, but they’re not accepted, they’re queer,” she asserts. “You’re only accepted as long as you have a dollar. If you’re a gay man, a lesbian or a trans person and you don’t have the dollars behind you, you get pissed on every day. Nobody cares. Even inside the community, no matter what, money always fucking talks. These kids really believe that they’re being accepted more by society and they’re not. We’re actually farther behind. There’s the charade that we’re being accepted.” As dire as that may sound, Wilson sees a strength that grows within as we pass through the years. “As you get older, what happens is, you get better with yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re straight, gay, a dog or a cat, or a fucking cow, as you get older, it gets better within yourself.”

While Wilson can be both critical and admiring of the queer community, she sees many of the issues queers face as being bigger and broader in scope. “We have to realize we’re human beings,” she says. “We’re not just fucking queer. We’re fucking human beings and some of these issues are worldwide. I’m proud to be queer. I think we’re a higher level of consciousness being gay. In my band, the men around me are really high level; they should be queer, because they’re so cool. Any guy who wants to be in the band with me, they have a higher enlightenment.”

“We’re all the fucking same if we keep going: One foot in front of the other. Just keep fucking breathing!”

That path to enlightenment has come to Wilson both internally and externally through her work at Buddies, watching the kids and working with her peers. “I’ll give Buddies credit. They’re youth program is amazing for giving kids history,” she says. “Sky [Gilbert, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre founder], and myself, we partake of a mentoring program and we talk to kids, they ask us questions. That’s important. There are a lot of people who can teach a lot of stuff. Gerald Hannon has lots of stuff to teach. I talk to kids about Andy Warhol and I get a blank face, they have no idea.”

Wilson feels that a lot of queer kids don’t know where they come from when it comes to the history of the community. However, she doesn’t think it’s entirely a bad thing. “I think the kids don’t care. I think because there’s video games and stuff like that, they don’t have to worry about history. Everything’s already there. We’ve already done it,” she asserts. “Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s how we move on in to the future, I don’t know. Maybe they don’t have to know the past. Maybe they just need to discover it for themselves and not be told. Maybe we should listen to the kids instead of them being told. I can honestly say that, as far as being queer, there was nothing for me. There was no history for me to follow. I managed to make it through so maybe they can make it through without that.”

Patricia Wilson has seen and done a lot in her 58 years—and she shows no signs of slowing down, but that’s what a rock and roll warrior does, they keep on marching. That’s a trait she admires in herself and in others. “In the queer community, if you can keep going, I admire you. We’re all the fucking same if we keep going: One foot in front of the other. Just keep fucking breathing!”

One comment

  1. Vikas /

    you are f’n amazing!

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