By Kevin Isom

I was thinking the other day about writing a screenplay for a science fiction porn flick. About a bunch of astronauts trapped in a life-pod hurtling through space, with nothing to fill their time but -- you know. Smooth dialog like, "Prepare for re-entry!"; "Quick! The emergency restraints!"; and, "Sir! Hull temperature is rising--so am I!" The film's tag line: "In space, no one can hear you moan."

I know I'm wicked. In fact, I'm pretty sure Hell has a special place reserved for me. I just hope it comes with Tiffany handcuffs. Only kidding about the handcuffs. I'm really not into M & M's.

It all started at an early age. My sister and I are both wicked. We used to engage in battle on a regular basis. My dad says that once my mom came into a room where we were in heated conflict, threw up her hands, and wailed, "Why do you two fight all the time?" One of us looked up in surprise and replied, "What else is there to do?"

The trend would continue. It was I who taught my sister the joys of calling up Jehovah's Witnesses, identifying myself as someone I didn't like, and saying, "I've been reviewing your promotional materials, and I was wondering if you could send out a couple of missionaries to explain my personal salvation to me? Saturday morning around eight would be perfect. And be persistent. Remember, the devil's got me in his grasp..."

Wickedness is badness with a humorous twist. Style joined with substance. I'm proud to be wicked. The world can be a dull, sometimes even cruel place, without a little evil wit thrown in to balance the scales. You can be wicked and still be a perfectly lovely, kind, and generous human being. Look at Audrey Hepburn. Bette Midler in her earlier years. Murphy Brown on any given Monday night. In men, there's Gore Vidal, the novelist. Mr. Blackwell, of Worst-Dressed List fame--if he were on lithium. Al Franken, best known as Stuart Smally on Saturday Night Live, who wrote the new book, Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot.

People who are not wicked but might be confused for being wicked? Michael Jackson. He's just bad. Ellen DeGeneres. Too goofy to be wicked. Too closeted as well, if she really is a lesbian. Jerry Seinfeld. Too odd to be wicked. Hillary and Bill Clinton. Just plain careless. Wickedness requires intent, and they don't even inhale. Madonna. Close, but you're never quite sure if it's just a marketing ploy. Though if she ever came out with a life-size Madonna blow-up doll, I'd have to revise the estimation, based on sheer humor points.

Being wicked is about living life in an interesting way. About aspiring to be the best person you can be, but permitting yourself to be imperfect along the way. Among gay folks, there is often a tendency to try to be an exemplary human being by way of "showing" the world what a truly good and worthwhile gay person is like. The effort is admirable, but it's a bit misplaced. Though I'll admit that I succumbed to it at one point in my life. Being on the advance guard and setting the example seemed so terribly important to me. I couldn't allow myself the luxury, indeed the gift, of human imperfection.

Then wickedness drew me back to itself. I realized that I could still be a damned good gay person and be interesting, too. My inherent wicked tendencies began to resurface more frequently. I could enjoy telling an obnoxious biker, "Hey! The louder the bike, the smaller the --" And that I'm looking for a guy with a very quiet bike.

I sometimes wonder what life would be like if I didn't occasionally interrupt sex with a pizza delivery. Someone else's sex, that is. Or if I didn't every now and then page the Big Women Are Us escort service to the White House. Life would be a lot less fun.

And my absolutely, positively foolproof, make-them-jump-at-a-rain-check way to get out of a date or other engagement? Call and say calmly, "I'm sorry, I just can't keep anything down."

Kevin Isom is an attorney and writer in Atlanta. His columns appear in newspapers and magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. He can be reached at IsomOnline@aol.com.
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